Trusted Philadelphia Eagles voice says JJ Arcega-Whiteside can still excel

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside #19, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside #19, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

It’s been two years. In JJ Arcega-Whiteside‘s case that equates to 24 in-game appearances with the Philadelphia Eagles, and most of his career highlights would be better suited for a blooper reel than a hype video. It’s sad, but it’s true.

Who could ever forget his dropped pass on a hail-mary in Week 3 of his rookie season? That one came on fourth and 15, and by hauling it in, he could have, at minimum, set Philly up with a first-and-goal scenario, or, had JJAW stayed on his feet, he could have wound up in the end zone for a go-ahead score.

Instead, he dropped the ball. That resulted in a turnover on downs and an early-season loss for the Birds. To find other highlight-reel moments, you really have to do some digging.

For his career, Arcega-Whiteside has five starts in those aforementioned 24 games, and he’s hauled in 14 receptions for 254 yards and one touchdown. He has another touchdown on his resume, and he basically got that one by accident.

That one came in Week 6 of the 2020 season. Miles Sanders did all of the heavy lifting on an 81-yard scoring play, but he fumbled at the Baltimore Ravens’ five-yard line. JJAW jumped on the ball in the end zone and was credited with the touchdown. Yes, that’s the rule, but somehow it doesn’t seem fair. It just feels like the right thing to do is give that one to Sanders, fumble or not.

Poll anyone you know who self-identifies as a Philadelphia Eagles fan, and you’re sure to hear multiple reasons why it’s time to move on, but there is still hope. At least that’s what one of the more trusted voices in Eagles sports journalism says.

Reuben Frank defends the embattled Philadelphia Eagles receiver.

Whether you’re a young Philadelphia Eagles fan or one that’s a little older, you know who Reuben Frank is. Roob, as he’s affectionately known, is one of those walking franchise encyclopedias who covers the Birds for NBC Sports Philadelphia.

Recently, he offered his take on JJ Arcega-Whiteside, and even though he states that JJAW’s career has been like building something that “should have worked but just didn’t”, he still thinks this is a career that’s still salvageable.

Here’s what he had to say on the subject.

"I still think JJAW can be a functional NFL wide receiver because I don’t see a reason (why) he shouldn’t be. The only thing I can come up with is confidence. He seemed to lose it as a rookie and never really got it back last year when he was ineffective, benched, sidelined with COVID, you name it."

If you’ve read Frank’s stuff enough, you know that he can put a positive spin on anything, and here’s the silver lining he’s found in what’s been a very dark cloud for JJ to this point in his career.

"There was a reason he was a second-round pick in 2019, and with a new coach with a WR background, a new offense, and a new start, maybe we’ll finally see the JJAW the Eagles thought they were getting in 2019."

As Roob also mentions, none of this happens if JJAW doesn’t make the roster, however, and that’s why, though these are poignant and well-thought-out words (as you’d expect), this is why any argument that places him on the 2021 53-man roster must be met with skepticism. The Philadelphia Eagles, at the time of this story being written and published, have nine receivers on the training camp roster. They figure to carry six on the active regular-season roster.

Three of them are head and shoulders above the former Stanford Cardinal (DeVonta Smith, Jalen Reagor, Travis Fulgham). The argument can also be made that JJAW is staring up on the depth chart towards at least three others (Greg Ward, Quez Watkins, John Hightower). That means Number 19 is somewhere between the middle tier (or he’s on it) and the lower tier (Jhamon Ausbon and Michael Walker).

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Maybe you value Arcega-Whiteside over some of the guys on that list. Maybe you don’t, but the long and the short of everything is this. Ausbon probably should have been drafted, and he might surprise some people.

No one should be surprised if JJAW makes this team. No one should be surprised if he’s thrown off of the roster either. As it always is, the Philadelphia Eagles wide receivers will be one of the more talked about position battles at camp.