When the Philadelphia Eagles sent DeSean Jackson packing in the offseason, it didn’t make a whole lot of football sense. Why let go of your No. 1 wide receiver, who is coming off a career season in an offense that put up nearly 28 points per game?
Some of it had to do with Chip Kelly’s concern about Jackson’s off-field connections and the simple fact that the two really didn’t get along. But most of it can really be connected to what was going to be a hefty cap hit for Jackson in 2014.
Instead of using that $10 million on one player, Philadelphia went out there and added a three-headed monster at the skill positions. It acquired all-everything change of pace (COP) back Darren Sproles in a deal with the New Orleans Saints.
The Eagles then went out there and selected both Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff in the draft this past May in order to help fortify their wide receiver group.
In reality, Chip Kelly and Co. got deeper and more talented on the offensive side of the ball by replacing Jackson with these three players.
There is still somewhat of a learning curve for the rookie receivers. With that said, Matthews performance against the New England Patriots on Friday night may go a long way in determining what role he has as a rookie in 2014.
The Vanderbilt product caught every single pass that was thrown in his direction against New England, ending the night with nine receptions for 104 yards. This came on the heels of Kelly calling out Matthews as being “inconsistent” in his preseason debut against the Chicago Bears the week prior.
You mean Chip Kelly is using Jordan Matthews' skill set with which he excelled at Vanderbilt? Instead of changing him? You don't say?
— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) August 16, 2014
Matthews’ numbers might have been a tad inflated, as he was thrown a lot of short and intermediate balls. But that’s exactly what is going to be his game moving forward. The 6’3″, 212-pound receiver is more of your possession type. He will not take the lid off the defense. Instead, Matthews will get that crucial third down conversion by making the contested catch…something he also did on Friday night. He will also succeed on bubble screens and short slants. Two more things that we saw against New England.
There is little reason to expect Matthews to come right in and replace the production Philadelphia saw from Jackson last season. And in reality, that’s not what is going to be asked of him. He will likely be the Eagles No. 3 wide receiver behind Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper. In that, Matthews should have success in a defined role as a rookie.
If his performance Friday night is any indication, Kelly and Co. will be mighty happy with what Matthews will bring to the table when the regular season comes calling.