Setting Expectations for Eagles Rookies, OTA Edition


It’s a palpable energy in the air that always serves as one of my favorite times of the season, a time when no wrong can be done and all players have sky-high potential. It’s shorts and helmet time in Philadelphia, and the Eagles are going through their Organized Team Activities to get the team prepared for Training Camp. This is the time of year where legends are made, where no amount of “pure muscle” is too much to add on within three months’ time and it’s a foregone conclusion that the Eagles will go undefeated as long as they don’t have to play a defense (or stop an offense.)

There’s no way to write this article without looking like “that guy”, the prototypical pessimist who just refuses to believe that the Eagles are actually an extremely talented squad. That’s not the case. It’s clear that head coach Chip Kelly has his system firing on all cylinders so far, and third-year quarterback Nick Foles has choked the life out of any possible quarterback dilemma for at least one year. It seems that for now, the Eagles are on pace to not only meet their 2013 output, but possibly exceed it.

The issue lies therein, that there isn’t any “bad” news to report on the Eagles starting lineup because simply put, they aren’t playing real football yet.

About these expectations: The Eagles 2014 second-round pick, WR Jordan Matthews from Vanderbilt, was mentioned in the same sentence as Terrell Owens by’s Elliot Shorr-Parks. It was not a direct comparison, nor did he say “Matthews will be as good as Owens”, but that may as well have been what was said judging by my social media feeds. The problem is not saying that Matthews brings back memories of the “other” 81, it’s that the information is accepted as verbatim immediately. That’s a textbook way to set yourself up for disappointment.

Jordan Matthews is a rookie. A rookie who has yet to play a single NFL defense in pads (whether it’s another team or the Eagles themselves). Terrell Owens, despite the bad taste he left in Philadelphia’s mouth nearly ten years ago, is one of the most accomplished wide receivers of the last 25 years. I can’t help but wonder if tagging a rookie to the career of one of the all-time greats assists in “bust” labels being prematurely formed.

Whether fair or not, the Matthews-is-Owens comparison is now out there, and it’s a hope of many that Jordan Matthews will have as much impact as TO did at some point in his career. It doesn’t have to be this year, as that would just be not only amazing, but groundbreaking. However, with every season that Jordan Matthews is not Terrell Owens, but instead simply Jordan Matthews, is it going to be enough? If Matthews “only” puts up 65 catches for 900 yards and 8 touchdowns every season (only slightly worse than Jeremy Maclin’s career year in 2010), is he the “bust”? After all, it was Maclin who was taken inside the top 20 of the 2009 NFL Draft.

Given that this is not 2005, the Philadelphia Eagles offense under Chip Kelly (if all goes to plan) should no longer require a true “number one” receiver. Even then, the whole “number-one” term is essentially just bro-code for a player who gets 85 catches/1,200 yards/12 TD every year. Matthews can be a great receiver in his own right, even if he comes nowhere close to Owens’ season production as long as he helps the Philadelphia Eagles win games. After all, that’s what matters, right?

Now, off to start drafting my next article, titled “Josh Huff is not Jeremy Bloom”.