Oct 12, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews (81) is tackled by New York Giants cornerback Trumaine McBride (38) after a reception during the second half at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles defeated the Giants 27-0. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
The Philadelphia Eagles put together a complete game; start to finish, against the New York Giants on NBC Sunday Night Football and the 27-0 score pretty much tells the story of their domination over the Giants. Wearing their all-black uniforms on #BlackSunday inspired by a visit this past May from New Zealand All Blacks coach Graham Henry, the offense got off to a hot start with running back LeSean McCoy looking like his old Pro Bowl self rushing 22 times for 149 yards. The defense was equally impressive generating substantial pass rush while sacking Giants quarterback Eli Manning eight times and hitting him seven times. The special teams unit rounded off the stellar performance by the Eagles with rookie kicker Cody Parkey hitting 2/2 field goals and 3/3 extra points. With the win, the Eagles stay tied with division foe Dallas Cowboys 5-1.
With the warm feeling Eagles fans have heading into the bye week, I thought it might be a good time to take a look at the Eagles rookies this year and call out who I believe to be their MVP thus far. The first year players who were in the rookie MVP running in my mind are as follows:
CB Jaylen Watkins
NT Beau Allen
LB Marcus Smith II
TE Trey Burton
K Cody Parkey
DE Taylor Hart
WR Jordan Matthews
WR Josh Huff
Note there are five practice squad rookies including safety Ed Reynolds II, defensive lineman Wade Keliikipi, wide receiver Quron Pratt, and offensive linemen Kevin Graf and Josh Andrews who were not in the running as they have yet to see any substantial regular season game action.
Amongst the good candidates, my choice was wide receiver Jordan Matthews as Philadelphia Eagles early season MVP. It was a tough call to make, as a very close runner up is kicker Cody Parkey. I freely admit that when head coach Chip Kelly chose Parkey over veteran kicker Alex Henery who has held the Eagles kicking job over the past three seasons, I was a perplexed. Cody, a former Auburn University Tiger, definitely had an impressive preseason, but Henery didn’t do a poor job and I thought handing the kicking reigns over to an unproven rookie was a risk the Eagles didn’t need to take, but boy was I wrong.
Parkey has been a key contributor in the Eagles five wins making two field goals in each game while hitting 12 of 13 FG attempts on the year. In addition to being accurate, Parker has been good on his 38 kickoffs with 22 touchbacks and only three kicks not reaching the end zone. In his first game as an Eagle, Parkey kicked the key 51 yard field goal against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fourth quarter tying the game 17-17 which shifted the momentum in the eventual Philadelphia comeback win.
Parkey certainly has made his presence felt, but I believe the former Vanderbilt Commodore Matthews has had the biggest impact on the team thus far. Matthews had a stellar college career holding almost every major Vanderbilt receiving record while also ending his senior season as the SEC’s all-time leader with 262 career receptions and 3,759 receiving yards. Jordan was also a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist his senior year and established a new SEC record with 112 catches.
The Eagles drafted Matthews 42nd pick overall in the second round. Jordan has Philadelphia’s third most receptions with 23 trailing only wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper. Matthews also has the team’s third highest receiving yards at 226 trailing tight end Zach Ertz’s 306 and Maclin’s 445 yards. Finally, Jordan is tied for second most reception touchdowns grabbing both his scores in the week 3 win against the Washington Redskins, and he has the sixth most reception yards in the league for rookie wide receivers.
While Matthews two TD’s were crucial against Washington, I believe his nine receptions on nine targets and a team leading 104 yards in the Eagles’ preseason loss against the New England Patriots was his best NFL game to date. Chip Kelly said of Matthews’ performance after that game,
“I’m happy with Jordan’s performance today. He was a little overexcited playing in his first NFL football game in Chicago. The Jordan you saw in practice is the Jordan you saw today.” Kelly continued, “He did a good job with the run after-the-catch. I think he’s just such an emotional guy and he plays at such a high level.”
Jordan Matthews has had a good impact on the Eagles thus far. He is learning how to be a professional under the tuteladge of veteran wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper, and if he continues to progress at the high level he has been, he could make a case for the NFL offensive rookie MVP award.