Alshon Jeffery fell into Eagles' lap, now maybe they ride his Super Bowl prediction

Thursday, 23 November 2017, 08:47:24 AM. After Bears' last game in 2016 Alshon Jeffery guaranteed 'we'll win the Super Bowl next year.' And maybe his prediction will come true now that he's with the Eagles.

In terms of misguided predictions, wide receivers have had some recent doozies.

Before the start of the 2014 season, predicted was headed for an MVP year. The front office and coaching staff were blown out at the end of that year, and two months after that, the Bears dumped Marshall via trade.

Standing at his Halas Hall locker last January a day after the Bears finished 3-13, their worst record since the expanded to a 16-game season in 1978, boldly announced, “I guarantee you we’ll win the next year.”

Perhaps he is on to something. The enter Sunday’s meeting with the Bears at Lincoln Financial Field with an eight-game winning streak and an NFL-best 9-1 record. The Bears (3-7) certainly won’t be playing in Minneapolis in February. Even if they run the table in their final six games — and odds are amazingly stacked against that — their chances of making the playoffs at 9-7 would be minuscule.

As Jeffery said Wednesday in a conference call with Chicago media, he never specified which team was going to hoist the Lombardi Trophy after Super Bowl LII.

Ha. Ha.

While there’s nothing amusing about the current state of the Bears’ depth chart at wide receiver, it’s worth recalling the Eagles were undermanned at the same position all last year. Rookie quarterback made a quick connection with tight end , but the passing game on the outside was inconsistent at best.

One of the top priorities entering the offseason was improving the skill-position players around Wentz, and you can envision the Bears in a similar spot at the end of this season as they try to rebuild around rookie Mitch Trubisky.

What’s wild is the one-year contract for Jeffery fell into the laps of the Eagles. He couldn’t generate the kind of money he was seeking for a long-term deal during the 48-hour legal tampering period leading into free agency. His agent, Tory Dandy, called the Eagles and said Jeffery knew people there. Was the team interested in his client? Jeffery played for Eagles wide receivers coach Mike Groh for three of his five seasons with the Bears, and the two developed a strong bond.

“I knew (running backs coach) Duce (Staley), D.J. (director of pro scouting Dwayne Joseph), (vice president of player personnel) Joe Douglas,” Jeffery said. “Yeah, I knew those guys from Chicago, I know Duce from South Carolina.”

Being a product of a small town, Jeffery liked having people in place with the Eagles he knew and trusted. Douglas was the college scouting director Bears general manager originally hired, and Joseph was a pro scout when the Bears drafted Jeffery in 2012.

The Eagles’ attraction was easy to figure out, and it has to be better for Bears fans than the alternative. Jeffery, who barring a second franchise tag from the Bears wasn’t returning, got late interest from the but wound up heading east. Imagine if the Bears had to face their former second-round draft pick twice a year.

The Eagles had signed , a speed option, right out of the gate in free agency March 9, and when the team had a deal in place with Jeffery less than four hours later, Wentz had a legitimate No. 1 target.

Adding Jeffery allowed the Eagles to slot their receivers properly. Smith lines up opposite Jeffery, and Nelson Agholor, the 2015 first-round draft pick who struggled through his first two seasons, was able to slide inside to the slot where he’s best suited. The presence of Jeffery has given Ertz a little more room to roam between the hash marks. Jordan Matthews, the team’s top wide receiver a year ago, was traded to the in August, no longer needed.

Jeffery’s numbers aren’t over the top, but he has 38 receptions for 567 yards and five touchdowns. Safety coverage often is shading to Jeffery’s side, and Ertz is flourishing in the middle of the field with a team-high 45 catches as is Agholor, who finally looks like a first-round pick with five touchdowns. Smith is averaging 13.8 yards per catch. Eight players have caught touchdown passes, and the Eagles have the second-most rushing attempts in the league.

“It’s just a great situation, man,” Jeffery said.

He’s not on pace for even 65 catches or 1,000 yards, but Jeffery is focused on a deep playoff run, the kind of thing he knows will get him paid. It would be surprising if the Eagles don’t make a run at re-signing him before he hits the open market again.

“He has been a bright spot on offense,” coach Doug Pederson said. “He works hard every single day. He doesn’t complain. He doesn’t come crawling into my office and say he’s not being targeted enough, or this and that, which sometimes receivers can do, especially premier guys. He hasn’t done that. He has been a professional about his job and his role, obviously, as a starter. But at the same time, he has made an impact in the season so far.”

It won’t be easy for the Bears to retool their wide receivers so successfully in just one offseason, but the Rams experienced a similar turnaround by bringing in and Sammy Watkins and drafting Cooper Kupp. It can be done.

As for why Jeffery is no longer with the Bears, well, he ran an out route on that one.

“How can I say this?” he said. “I think it was just a better decision for me and my family, honestly. I spent five years there. I loved it there. I had a great time. I appreciate the opportunity, me being in Chicago — it gave me a opportunity to live out my childhood dream, just playing professional sports.”

No further Super Bowl predictions. Fortunately, no predictions involving the Bears either.

Twitter @BradBiggs

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