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
After six games, Philadelphia Eagles rookie wide receiver Jordan Matthews has 23 receptions for 226 yards and a pair of scores. Among rookie wide receivers he ranks fifth in receptions, ninth in receiving yards, and sixth in touchdowns.
Is it time to see if Matthews, the second round pick out of Vanderbilt, can do more?
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The quick answer is yes – if Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly will allow him. Matthews has played only 58.7% of Philadelphia’s offensive snaps preventing him from getting in any kind of groove against opposing defenses. Taking nearly every other snap off could be Kelly’s way of integrating Matthews into the offense without overwhelming the rookie, but Matthews has shown when presented the opportunity he’s more than capable of being a go-to receiver in this offense.
Many viewed Matthews’ breaking out game as the Eagles victory against Washington in Week 3. He was targeted a game-high 10 times hauling in eight catches for 59 yards and two scores. The most telling part of the game that signified bigger things for Matthews was his high target percentage in the red zone. The 6’3″ wide receiver led the Eagles with three targets that game. It was a huge confidence booster for Matthews as he was able to haul in two of them for scores gaining the trust of both head coach Chip Kelly and quarterback Nick Foles in the process.
Eagles fans have been used to an unusual streak of wins following their bye weeks thanks to former coach Andy Reid. During Reid’s tenure the Eagles were 13-1 following their bye weeks. Why am I bringing this up? Because the Eagles face the Arizona Cardinals for the second year in a row following their bye. If last year’s game was any indication of how things may go, Nick Foles could have another big game as he threw for three scores and gave the Eagles the win – and Matthews could be an instrumental piece in the victory.
Arizona posts an identical 5-1 record as the Eagles but have been highly distraught with injuries. Going against the 11th-worst pass defense, Foles could have a great day moving the ball against the Cardinals and potentially hooking up with Matthews in the redzone. Arizona has allowed 2/3 of their defensive redzone drives to end in touchdowns signifying a big advantage for Philadelphia. A big day by Foles and his biggest red zone threat in Matthews could have the Eagles cruising to their third win in a row continuing their climb to the top of the NFC standings.
With a 4.46 40-yard time, Matthews has the ability to get by defensive backs for big time plays. However, he only has two 20+ yard plays to his name out of the 22 the Eagles have produced. Incorporating Matthews more vertically could help both Foles and the run game as the script of the game plays itself out. Granted, the Eagles have suffered some major injuries and setbacks along the offensive lines, but hope is on the horizon. The additions of Jason Kelce and Evan Mathis in the nearing weeks will be monumental for this offense giving LeSean McCoy running lanes in addition to allowing the passing game to incorporate more dynamic passing routes with extra time for Foles in protection.
Kelly has a valuable asset in Jordan Matthews and needs to find ways to utilize one of his most dangerous weapons more often. They are facing a very exploitable defense this week and Matthews should be used in the best manner to aid in the team’s victory.
It starts by putting him in the game, coach.