Philadelphia Eagles: Jordan Matthews’ reunion hearkens back to Nick Foles

(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

After a premature exit bounced him around the league, Jordan Matthews is back with the Philadelphia Eagles and could fill a Nick Foles-esque role in 2018.

Earlier today, we here at Section 215 publish a piece on how the Philadelphia Eagles‘ ‘next man up’ mentality has the potential to become a crutch if the team fails to replace playmakers with playmakers.

With Mike Wallace by all accounts heading to IR (now official), and DeAndre Carter, the team’s preseason star and one of only three receivers to catch a pass this year, surprisingly waved to elevate Josh Adams to the 53 (Sproles and Ajayi are likely out for Week 3), Eagles fans waited eagerly to see who the team would bring in to pad out their receiver court, hungry for any semblance of playmaking.

On Wednesday morning, we officially found out who the newest Philadelphia Eagle would be: Jordan Matthews.

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A move that was almost universally maligned by the fanbase, one of the most decorated receivers in Eagles history is back in the City of Brotherly Love, and will presumably start Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts.

In my eyes, this is a fantastic move.

Now granted, the Eagles still desperately need someone to take the top off a defense and help to space out the field to unlock the running game’s full potential, but after watching the first two weeks of the season, it’s clear the Eagles would happily accept someone who can just catch a pass, let alone take it to the end zone.

Mathews hasn’t exactly had the best luck since leaving Philly in the very successful Ronald Darby trade, suffering a slew of injuries in Buffalo and another with the New England Patriots earlier this summer that resulted in the 26-year-old’s eventual release, Carson Wentz will now have one of his favorite targets back in his first start of the season, an addition that can’t be undervalued.

And not only is Matthews one of Wentz’s favorite targets but he also just so happens to be one of his best friends off the field as well.

Fans may hearken back to Jordan’s incredibly somber exit from the team last summer, devastatingly walking through the Philadelphia International Airport on his way to join Buffalo mere months before the Eagles’ eventual Super Bowl victory.

Now joining the team not as their all-time receptions leader through three seasons, but as a fringe injury replacement, Matthews is going to have to work his way back into the team’s good graces and prove that 2016 season was no fluke.

Fortunately for the team, that should be no problem: they’ve been in this position before.

Granted, we have no idea just how healthy Matthews is at this point, be that 70, 90, or 100-percent, but this is move is no flyer. Much like with Nick Foles, who also bounced around the league after a premature exit from the City of Brotherly Love, Matthews already knows at least most of Philly’s offense after spending the entire 2016 season, and much of the 2017 offseason with his head in Doug Pederson‘s playbook. While he may need to be brought up to speed on more recent additions like the Philly Special, Matthews should be able to rejoin the team and make an immediate impact in Week 3. While most free agent signings are calculated risks, as one never knows just how a change of scenery will affect a player, Matthews has already played his best professional football in midnight green and has chemistry with both of the team’s quarterbacks.

He’s a known commodity.

Related Story. Jordan Matthews makes sense, but won’t fix receiver issues. light

Furthermore, as previously mentioned, Wentz and Matthews already have great chemistry both on and off the field, a familiarity that should serve the duo well in Carson’s first start since last November. While it would be foolish to assume that Matthews will be on the field for even close to 100 percent of the team’s offensive snaps, don’t be shocked to see a familiar six-foot-three receiver hauling in 15-yard ‘Jordan Specials’ across the middle of the field.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pumped for Sunday.

There’s some that will be quick to point out that Matthews has a history of dropping the ball (65.4 career catch percentage), or that he’s more of a possession receiver than a flat-out star (fair), but at this point, the Eagles just need someone to catch the ball.

Kamar Aiken was targeted six times for five catches and 39 yards in Week 2. The previous week? He wasn’t even on a football team. Say what you will about Matthews, but his career 11.8 yards per catch could be a major upgrade over the team’s current clip of 7.2 yards per catch to wide receivers.

Does that mean Jordan is going to come in and catch 5 balls for 60 yards this week? No, but at the very least his addition should return some semblance of normalcy to Peterson’s offensive sets.

As we learned in last week’s post-game press conference, when a player goes down, Pederson typically tries to find a way to replace players using the path of least resistance. Ergo why Josh Perkins, a player we previously highlighted here, was targeted six times in Week 2 yet 2018 second round pick Dallas Goedert failed to log a single catch.

By bringing back Matthews, the team will now be able to return some semblance of normalcy moving forward, with Shelton Gibson likely slotting in as Wallace’s replacement, and some combination of Matthews, Aiken, and Agholor spread out over the remaining two positions. This optionality should allow Nelson Agholor to revert to his previous role as a space slashing slot receiver with a bit more regularity, while also opening up the possibility of Matthews returning to his previous role from time to time inside.

For a creative play caller like Pederson, the more options he has in the passing game, the more his playbook opens up.

So is Matthews the magic pill to fix the team’s offensive issues? No. The team still needs to find a reliable deep threat to open up the field like DeSean Jackson in Week 2, but if the first two games are of any indication, Wallace looked a lot more like the second coming of Torrey Smith than the second coming of Jackson.

Right now, the Eagles need people to catch the ball, and somehow resigning the player they by all accounts did not want to trade without having to give up any assets is a move fans should applaud, not look down on.

Next. When the ‘next man up’ philosophy becomes a crutch. dark

For the Eagles offense to truly become unstoppable, they need to find a reliable deep threat to take the top off the defense and haul in 75-yard bombs, but that’s not going to happen by combing through the waiver wires and looking at Week 3 free agents (save maybe Corey Coleman). A receiver should certainly be on the top of the Eagles 2019 draft targets list, but at this point, they just need to elevate their offense to above average and Matthews should certainly help to get that done while we wait for Alshon Jeffery to return to the starting lineup. A Nick Foles-led Eagles squad did win a Super Bowl with the seventh-ranked offense after all.