It’s generally believed that Alshon Jeffery is the mystery source feeding information to ESPN reporter Josina Anderson, sowing unrest in the Eagles’ locker room via anonymous snitching.
This narrative has become generally accepted over the last year or so, a topic that comes up whenever Anderson or Jeffery’s name is mentioned, as if one is inextricably linked to the other in 2020.
Thing is – do we really have any hard evidence connecting the two?
We don’t, actually.
This is basically a smoke and fire situation, with a lot of circumstantial evidence, but nothing concrete. The only on-record report accusing Alshon Jeffery of being the rat took place last October, when Howard Eskin went on the 94 WIP morning show and told Angelo Cataldi straight-up that Jeffery was Anderson’s source.
You know what happened after that. Anderson came out and denied the report, saying that Eskin had “no knowledge” of who her source was. Jeff McLane then asked Doug Pederson, later that day, if Eskin was leaking information on behalf of the team. Those two reportedly exchanged words after the press conference, then Mike Missanelli jumped into the fray, calling Howard a water boy and accusing him of buying his own Super Bowl ring.
Most of that was a total trainwreck, though it resulted in a great traffic day on Crossing Broad.
The real takeaway is Howard’s report, and what it means considering the fact that he works the sidelines during Eagles games and is privy to information that does not become public because of his role with the team. McLane was right to call bullshit on Eskin’s report, because whether it’s true or false, the relationship between Howard and the Eagles results in the murky disclosure of football intelligence. It would be like Steve Coates reporting that Sean Couturier is texting Darren Dreger and telling him that Claude Giroux is an asshole who doesn’t run the power play properly. That could be very well be true in our theoretical situation, but why would a radio guy affiliated with the team be reporting something controversial like that in the first place?
You can feel however you’d like to feel about Howard’s report and all the ensuing nonsense. Beyond that, we’re just looking for the source of the smoke creating the very large fire, and it boils down to these bullet points:
- Josina Anderson has known Alshon Jeffery for some time and previously reported on-the-record information directly from him.
- The original 2018 complaints from the anonymous source were widely believed to have come from an offensive player.
- When people began to believe that Alshon was the snitch, teammates didn’t exactly line up to defend him.
Let’s start with #1, and Brandon Lee Gowton over at Bleeding Green Nation was on this right from the jump, pulling seven Josina tweets that directly source Alshon.
Here’s a chunk of those:
That last tweet dates back to Jeffery’s pre-Eagles days, which proves they had a relationship when Alshon played in Chicago. That’s nothing unique, and Anderson reports a lot of information from players who contact her directly. She’s done a really nice job over the years of developing relationships with guys who trust her and share on-record tidbits with here.
It was actually the volume of Alshon-related tweets that raised red flags and made people believe he was the mystery source, starting with this video clip that dropped in November of 2018:
— IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) November 29, 2018
Josina, in part:
“He said I feel like we’re over-targeting Zach Ertz, which is the tight end. Right now, Zach Ertz leads them in targets with 111, and even though he’s catching 76% of those, the source said he feels as though it’s disrupting the rhythm of everybody else kind of getting into a groove on offense…. and lastly he said we’re still not running the ball enough…”
People thought that was an offensive player, since they were complaining about offensive issues. It could certainly be a defensive player bitching and moaning, since the Birds’ offense wasn’t exactly rolling at that point in time, but why would a corner, linebacker, or defensive lineman complain specifically about receiver targets? That was one of the hang-ups people had when trying to figure out who the snitch was.
In February of 2019, I went through Alshon’s game log to determine how many targets he was getting from each quarterback, which resulted in this stat:
- 18 targets from Nick Foles to Jeffery over 3 games = 6 targets per game
- 74 targets from Carson Wentz to Jeffery over 10 games = 7.4 targets per game
It was a small sample size that looked like this when you break it out in graphic format, to see weekly opponents and matchups:
On paper, it seemed like the target numbers were fine. Therefore, wouldn’t that disqualify Alshon from snitching, if he was being thrown to 7.4 times per game from Wentz?
Maybe, but the belief back then is that Jeffery wasn’t getting the type of targets he wanted, and when you go through the film you do find that Foles threw more of those downfield, 50/50, “jump ball” kind of passes that Jeffery had been so good at securing in the past. More of Carson’s throws were sure bets, when Jeffery was open on shorter routes and had some sort of separation. Keep in mind, this was also the bad back Wentz year coming off the ACL tear, and there was all sorts of speculation as to why he was throwing conservative stuff over the middle and not hitting much of anything beyond 15 yards and/or outside the hash marks.
This was a graphic I put together showing Alshon’s routes in the LA game vs. the routes he was targeted on in the Cowboys game, which was Wentz’s last game prior to season-ending injury:
More downfield stuff from Foles, while Wentz was hitting him on those shallow drags and outs and hitch patterns. We can speculate that the anonymous source complained about Zach Ertz targets because they were seam and mesh type of routes that Wentz could easily hit, while he wasn’t really throwing the challenging sideline and downfield stuff that Nick Foles was trying back then.
Does that mean Alshon Jeffery is the snitch? Did he complain about Ertz targets because he wanted a specific type of target? Are we tracing the source of the fire to the smoke emanating from previous on-record tweets from Josina Anderson? Did Howard Eskin’s report confirm the connection, or does his role as Eagles sideline reporter make him a compromised narc instead of an unbiased reporter?
I’m not sure, and that’s up to you to decide.
For what it’s worth, Howie Roseman has been on the record this offseason explaining that he and Jeffery are aware of what’s being said and written, which is an admission you don’t normally hear from general managers. The Eagles could waive Jeffery but have not, and perhaps they’re waiting for him to get healthy before trying to trade him for a lower-round draft pick. Or, perhaps they actually like the guy and think he can contribute when he’s 100%. He did, after all, play a huge role on the only Eagles team to ever win a Super Bowl.
So when it comes to proving that Alshon Jeffery is Josina Anderson’s mystery source, we can’t. We don’t have hard evidence, but there’s a lot of smoke and lot of fire and that’s why this narrative continues to smolder.
I should mention that other local reporters seem to think Alshon is the guy here, or at least shares some culpability in creating the locker room issues. In the latest BGN Radio, Jimmy Kempski goes as far to say that Jeffery has “trashed the quarterback to other media folks over the last couple of years.”