“I don’t know if it’s been more difficult, but it’s been challenging to integrate him.” The quote that defined 2018 in many ways for the Philadelphia Eagles came from offensive coordinator Mike Groh. It’s one that sticks out like a sore thumb to many, although it really shouldn’t.
When asked if it was difficult to spread the ball around after the acquisition of Golden Tate, Groh’s response caused absolute chaos for weeks. But his response was simple and very logical. Of course, implementing another slot receiver is going to be difficult…especially at the trade deadline. There are very few receivers acquired at the deadline who make an instant impact. They have to get familiar with the playbook, the terminology, and concepts that an entirely different offense runs.
Percy Harvin, Randy Moss, and Roy Williams are three key examples of deadline day flops. But regardless of whether the Golden Tate actually provided value to the Eagles or was deemed a whopping miss, Mike Groh has a shot at redemption.
DeSean Jackson would undergo surgery just days after the Trade Deadline, prompting the Eagles to source outside help at WR2. With the trade-doors firmly closed, the team brought back a familiar face in Jordan Matthews.
The 6’3, 212 lbs, wideout may be best known for his slot-dominance under Chip Kelly and in the rookie season of Carson Wentz, but during his second stint with the team last year, Matthews showed evolution to his game.
Catching 20 passes on 28 targets, Matthews recorded 300 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns, averaging 15 yards per catch. He did this playing only 16% of his snaps from the slot.
Matthews is physical through the stem of the route and drives through contact to locate the ball, which is much more than can be said for most Eagles receivers right now.
The most likely outcome here is that Matthews takes over WR2 responsibilities and flexes all around the line of scrimmage, taking Mack Hollins out of the equation and giving Wentz some familiarity.
But of course, this is all dependent on how Groh implements him, although, there was never an issue before. But after enduring so much criticism this time one year ago, the Eagles have added a receiver in a similar window and the challenge (although a lot less difficult due to the lack of production and consistency) remains the same. It’s a chance for Mike Groh to redeem himself and get Matthews, who’s already familiar with the scheme, the players, the coaching staff etc, firing on all cylinders nice and early.
Unlike one year ago, Groh sounded confident when asked about what his new receiver brings to the offense.
“Oh shoot, we can just pull up his highlights. The guy has made a lot of plays for the Eagles over the years. He has excellent football intelligence. He knows our system. He has familiarity there. I think there’s great comfort with him in the huddle. There’s rapport and chemistry with he and [QB] Carson [Wentz], which is important, so certainly nice to get him back.”
If Matthews can explode out of the gate and finally give Carson Wentz a valid passing option at the WR2/3 spot in a significant amount of snaps, sparking an offensive surge that pushes the team past two very difficult opponents, it may be enough for Mike Groh to at least regain some brownie points after a season of doing nothing but losing them, with the weight of the Golden Tate trade hanging heavy over his head.
Mandatory Photo Credit: Perry Knotts via AP