Alshon Jeffery still hasn't gotten over the loss to the Green Bay Packers, and he says his body is still healing a little from the season. But the Chicago Bears receiver, who had the biggest breakout season at his position in the NFL in 2013, has no time for jealousy or greed as methods of coping.
Jeffery made an insane jump from an inconsistent rookie season to supersonic receiving numbers this season: 89 catches, 1,421 receiving yards, seven touchdowns and, for good measure, another 105 yards on 16 rushes.
With that, he has far outplayed his rookie contract with one amazing season, which is one reason why he was nominated for the VIZIO Top Value Performer award.
Alongside Brandon Marshall, he and Jeffery formed the most formidable wide-receiver duo in the NFL this season — no matter who the Bears' quarterback was.
"It’s not for me to say, but just look at the stats," Jeffery told The Shutdown Corner by phone of how good he and Marshall are compared to the other receiver tandems in the league.
Marshall recently told NFL.com that he'd place Jeffery ahead of himself and behind only the Detroit Lions' Calvin Johnson as far as NFL receivers go. Asked about that lofty praise, Jeffery was unaware of Marshall's ranking.
"I hadn’t heard that," Jeffery said. "That’s pretty good, but I would say that I ain’t stopping until I get to the top."
He's close now, and you could understand if Jeffery was frustrated by the NFL's Collective Bargaining Agreement, which states that players cannot have their contracts renegotiated until after their third season in the NFL, meaning he'll have to wait until a year from now (he'll make $753,438 in base salary in 2014) to talk to the Bears about a new deal. Especially after his quarterback, Jay Cutler, just struck it rich.
Talk to Jeffery, though, and he's cool with everything happening the way it is.
"I am just playing football right now. I’ll talk about [my contract] when the time comes," Jeffery said. "For right now, all I am thinking about is playing and winning championships. The rest will come."
As for Cutler's mega-deal, Jeffery said: "I had no reaction. I am 100 percent behind him, and 100 percent behind the contract. I am just glad we got all that talk out of the way. No way he wasn't coming back. We all knew it."
Jeffery's next step: He'll get back to working out more heavily in about a week or so, which is about a month earlier than he did last season. From that point, once he gets back to football activities, Jeffery's goal is to be a far better route runner than he is now.
"I always think I can improve on everything, but if would choose one particular area it would be my route running," he said. "I want to be the best route runner in the league."
Asked who runs the best routes in the league, Jeffery paused then said, "Well, I want to run routes better than Brandon does. He's great."
And what happens if Jeffery perfects his route-running craft?
"The sky is the limit," he said.
Jeffery knows he has a way to go, even with Marshall's endorsement. He watched the Week 17 loss to the Packers and saw his dropped passes and even with a 67-yard catch, Jeffery knew he did not play his best in the Bears' most important game.
"I am still not over that loss," he said. "That's going to stick with me, and motivate me, for a long time."
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