Don't expect a sophomore jinx by Eagles star Jalen Carter this season

Jalen Carter cooled down the stretch last season. Get ready for the bounce back.
Jalen Carter, Philadelphia Eagles
Jalen Carter, Philadelphia Eagles / Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

At the time of this story's release, it has been just over14 months since the Philadelphia Eagles scribbled Jalen Carter's name on a draft card and asked NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to announce that he was the guy the Birds would be taking ninth overall during the 2023 NFL Draft. As expected, everyone seems satisfied with the decision a year later.

The first half of his rookie season would end with him earning a spot on the Pro Football Writers of America's All-Rookie Team. We blinked, and just like that, it's year two. Mr. Carter is part of the offseason discussion again. The question now, however, is what does he do for an encore?

Pro Football Focus catapults Eagles star Jalen Carter on the offseason radar.

Here are the numbers from Jalen Carter's rookie season: 33 tackles, 20 of the solo variety, eight tackles for loss, six sacks, nine additional quarterback hits, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, a defensive score by way of return. Jalen Carter did all of this from the defensive tackle position.

Heck, we know a few edge rushers that would be happy with that type of production.

Stats, if we're being honest, don't tell us the entire story of his campaign.
Rook trailed off toward the end of last season, but some of that can be explained, sort of.

The first half of Jalen's first NFL season was truly phenomenal. He blocked a 34-yard field-goal attempt by Buffalo Bills kicker Tyler Bass while playing on special teams in Week 12. He almost pulled off the most impressive interception in NFL history.

Carter nearly timed a Patrick Mahomes intentional spike perfectly. Had he pulled that off, that would have been enough to win him the NFL Defensive Player of the Year trophy regardless of what happened the rest of the way, but rook's hot start suddenly cooled down the stretch.

Some say he hit the rookie wall. Some say the rigors of a long professional football season were more than Jalen Carter was ready for. He finished with 599 logged snaps during the regular season and Philly's lone postseason game per Pro Football Focus. He had never played more than 403 snaps while on the Bulldogs' roster at Georgia.

Jalen did provide a few more highlights during the back half of Philly's season. He logged sacks in weeks 15 and 17. He and Fletcher Cox combined for one of the best highlight-reel moments of the season in Week 14 versus the Dallas Cowboys, albeit in a losing cause.

Fletch forced a fumble. Carter returned the loose ball 42 yards for six points. It wasn't enough as voters would award the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award to Houston Texans star Will Anderson Jr.

Fear not. There will be no sophomore jinx, and our buddies at PFF agree wholeheartedly.

We'd never place pressure on a youngster by mentioning his name in the same sentence as Aaron Donald and J.J. Watt, but as crazy as it sounds, Carter, with proper coaching and work ethic should be acknowledged for having that same type of ability.

We're a long way from any finish lines. Hopefully, the 'Baby Rhino' will be in the City of Brotherly Love for a long time. Hopefully, most of his run will look more similar to what we saw from him during the first half of year one.

Frankly, we think he's going to be fine.

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