Philadelphia Eagles Are Using Jordan Matthews Completely Wrong


Jordan Matthews has been largely disappointing in his second year with the Philadelphia Eagles, but it may be his usage that’s hindering him more than anything else.

One of the most exciting storylines leading up to the Philadelphia Eagles‘ 2015 season was the maturation of second-year wideout Jordan Matthews. Drafted in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Vanderbilt product looked like a stud as a rookie. He hadn’t quite established himself as a household name, but he made it absolutely clear that he had the potential to do so. In his inaugural season, Matthews played in all 16 of the Eagles’ games and recorded 67 receptions for 872 yards and eight touchdowns.

In 2015, people were expecting Matthews to make a considerable leap forward. With a full year under his belt, it wasn’t hard to imagine him breaking the 1,000-yard mark, especially considering how he dominated in training camp over the summer. Matthews largely played a slot role as a rookie, but with Jeremy Maclin choosing to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs in free agency, that just meant there would be more opportunities for Matthews on the outside. However, that hasn’t been the case. Matthews has been hugely disappointing this season as the Eagles continue to use him in the slot even though he would be a more natural fit on the outside.

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Chip Kelly has this “bigger people beat up little people” theory, which is what continues to hold Matthews back from being a menacing threat on the outside. This philosophy suggests that by having a bigger guy like Matthews in the middle of the field, opposing teams’ typically smaller slot corners will not be able to match up against his size and strength. The theory makes sense and it has been proven to work at times, but the Eagles’ offense would be far more potent with Matthews on the outside and a shiftier receiver like Josh Huff manning the slot.

Matthews isn’t exactly going to juke anybody out of their shoes. One of the benefits of being a slot receiver in the Eagles’ spread attack is having the abundance of space in the middle of the field to create plays after the catch, which is an area that Huff excels in more so than Matthews. While he is strong and difficult to tackle, it only takes one man to slow Matthews down. By the time he is able to shake that man off, a safety is already bearing down upon him and the play is halted for a minimal gain.

At 6-3, 212 pounds, Matthews is the quintessential embodiment of a formidable playmaker out wide. His size and strength make him a nightmare to jam at the line of scrimmage and he has the ability to win in jump-ball situations.

Huff, on the other hand, is arguably the most elusive player on the Eagles’ roster. His quick feet and agility would hugely benefit the Eagles’ offense against zone coverage and would help create opportunities such as this one.

Now imagine Huff routinely running quick slants from the slot on third and short situations.

Yes, please.

Considering Philadelphia’s spread style of offense, Huff as the slot man and Matthews on the outside is the ideal situation for the Eagles’ receiving corps. Does this mean that Matthews should never run out of the slot? Not at all. Receivers as talented as Matthews should be able to move all around the field, but his snaps from the slot certainly need to be minimized. In too many situations this season, Matthews has caught dinky short passes and immediately gotten popped for a negligible gain, which probably could have been avoided with a quicker guy such as Josh Huff taking those reps in the center of the field.

We all know how unconventional Chip Kelly is with his schematics on offense (and as a general manager, which is a talk for another day), but in most NFL offenses, Jordan Matthews would be playing a role more similar to A.J. Green as opposed to the Marques Colston role he has in Philadelphia. Obviously, the Philly offense isn’t like most NFL offenses, but it’s time the Eagles place him in an area of the field where he will be able to better utilize his skills as opposed to using him in an area of the field where he might excel, sometimes, maybe.