After a few days of speculation, the Eagles finally announced the arrival of some much needed help at wide receiver. The team brought back their former first round pick, Jordan Matthews, after he passed a physical following a workout with the Birds’ yesterday. How will this impact the Eagles offense? Here’s all you need to know.
The immediate pros:
In a situation of dire need, the Eagles have found a wideout who not only has familiarity with the offense, but the coach, quarterback and their leading tight end, Zach Ertz. Matthews was the man who upon learning the team had drafted Carson Wentz, scheduled for the pair to hit OTA’s a week early in order to build that relationship. Chemistry upon Wentz’s return where offensive weaponry is at a minimum will be absolutely vital and although he was cut from New England due to an injury, Matthews looks ready to pickup where he left off before he was shockingly traded to Buffalo.
It’s also worth noting that Matthews had amassed the most yards out of the slot since 2014 going into what would be a season with the Buffalo Bills.
At 6’3”, 212 lbs, Matthews can use his body to his advantage and is simply a matchup nightmare for smaller nickel corners.
In his rookie and sophomore campaigns, he put up 8 touchdowns a piece, but was only able to manage 3 TDs in 2016. While it is concerning, the lack of playmakers on the Eagles’ roster can be somewhat to blame, as, defenses were able to really focus on Ertz, and Matthews in the redzone – not to mention a rookie HC, rookie QB, new offensive scheme, an under-achieving running game, etc.
Regardless of what you feel about Matthews, his fit in this offense and familiarity with the culture and characters inside that locker room are invaluable going into such a big week.
On the field:
Jordan Matthews is a slot receiver through and through. What’s likely going to happen is that Matthews will return to his role lining up next to Zach Ertz, pushing Agholor outside and up to a preliminary WR1 spot.
We saw plenty from Agholor outside on Sunday and at this stage in his career, he’s evolved exponentially since his last notable start outside. Whether it was a mix of mental confidence, physical development or just an unfortunate scheme to fall into, Agholor has left his days of despair behind him and has flourished into a lethal receiving threat who has the jets and route-running ability to burn even the most experienced corners. Until Alshon Jeffery returns, Agholor would likely be the perfect player to step into those shoes for a week or two.
At WR2, look for Shelton Gibson to make his mark. The former West Virginia speedster caught two beautiful deep touchdown passes in the preseason, showing that he too has taken a big leap forward. But let’s not forget, Gibson was an absolute home-run hitter during his days at West Virginia.
In 32 games for West Virginia, he received for 1,898 yards, averaging 22.6 yards per catch. The 5’11. 191 lbs, wideout was targeted on deep looks 29 times during his final season. Of the 17 that were labelled “Catchable”, he hauled in each and every one for 726 yards and a score.
Bizarrely, although depth is low, this may be an absolutely explosive receiving trio until Jeffery returns. When he does, Matthews could present some interesting matchups standing close to the line of scrimmage, or next to Agholor and Ertz in a bunch set which would just cause headaches across the board.
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