Will J.J. Arcega-Whiteside still be with the Philadelphia Eagles next week?
Looking at the numbers, it’s been an embarrassing first two years for J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. The Philadelphia Eagles sophomore receiver was expected to do big things after being drafted before Terry McLaurin, D.K. Metcalf, and Darius Slayton. It was a surprise to many when his name was called at pick 57 in 2019. Heading into Week 17 of 2020, JJAW has 12 career catches for 214 yards and one receiving touchdown. D.K. Metcalf has 17 catches for 337 yards and one touchdown in his last two games against the Eagles.
It appears that Arcega-Whiteside’s time in Philly could be coming to a close. No one will defend general manager and vice president Howie Roseman for picking him in Round 2. Some analysts didn’t even have him going on Day 2 of the draft. Was J.J. ever utilized correctly by this Eagles coaching staff though? Not really if we are being completely honest.
Don’t get it twisted. J.J. has a clear ceiling and it isn’t anywhere close to the ceilings of McLaurin and Metcalf. He has made mistakes that second-round picks should not make. He noticeably struggled to read defensive coverages and find the holes in zone coverage at times. Cornerbacks easily bullied him in press-man coverage. There were multiple drops that were flat out unacceptable.
At the same time, J.J. is a contested-catch wideout. Rarely did we see him receive any opportunities to showcase that aspect of his game. Instead, he was expected to win with his route running. J.J. looked extremely comfortable in the red zone when lined up in the slot and in tight near the lineman. There were plenty of plays in which he was open and Carson Wentz didn’t get him the ball.
So, what did the Eagles coaching staff do? They gave him just nine percent of the offensive snaps this year. Not only that, but JJAW wasn’t as terrible in his rookie year as his stats suggest. There were plays in which he flashed the ability to run clean routes. This coaching staff has not done him too many favors similar to Jalen Reagor. Has Reagor been perfect? No, he hasn’t. He has things to clean up as well but look at how the San Francisco 49ers use Brandon Aiyuk. They get him the ball in space. Reagor did not get the ball enough on jet sweeps, end around, screens, and shallow crossers.
What does the future hold for the Philadelphia Eagles receiver?
While J.J. has his flaws, he was not given many opportunities to showcase any improvements this year. As mentioned, there were instances in which he recognized coverages a bit better. On the two-point conversion he caught against the Baltimore Ravens, he left Marcus Peters in the dust with a beautiful route.
Will J.J. ever live up to his draft value? He probably didn’t, but don’t be surprised if he has success elsewhere with the help of a better coaching staff. Nelson Agholor was solid for the Eagles from 2017-2018, but he has played his best football in Las Vegas this year. With better coaching on route running and an offense that uses him to his strengths, JJAW could be a decent red zone weapon for another team. Big body slot receivers like Larry Fitzgerald and CeeDee Lamb are more common than they used to be. That’s not to say J.J. will be on their level but the slot is not strictly limited to guys like Cole Beasley.
DeSean Jackson has not practiced this week due to an ankle injury. Quez Watkins was limited today with a rib injury and if he is not 100 percent, the Birds should not risk anything. Alshon Jeffery should not be taking reps away from the young wideouts.
With playoff hopes gone, the Philadelphia Eagles should give JJAW significant snaps versus the Washington Football Team on Sunday and make him part of the gameplan. One game might not alter his future with the Eagles but it could give them a better idea of what kind of potential he might have. If he struggles to box out and make decent attempts on 50-50 balls, at least the staff can have peace knowing that they gave him some opportunities to play his type of game.