Jordan Matthews

5 reasons why the Eagles have such an insanely ineffective group of wide receivers

5 reasons why the Eagles have such an insanely ineffective group of wide receivers

This isn’t about Jordan Matthews, who probably was the best option out there for the Eagles now that the trade deadline has passed.

It’s about how the Eagles wound up with such an insanely ineffective group of wide receivers that they had to bring Matthews back here for his third stint as an Eagle.

How did it get this bad?

Like most things, there’s no one simple answer. But let’s take a look at five contributing factors:

1. The draft

The Eagles have drafted eight wide receivers since 2010, the year after they took Jeremy Maclin. Who has the best career numbers of those eight? Jordan Matthews, of course. Next on the list is Nelson Agholor, who has had his moments but has put up some of the worst numbers in NFL history by a first-round wide receiver. Riley Cooper had a decent year in 2013, but that’s about it. Josh Huff was a disaster as a third-round pick, Mack Hollins has done nothing to warrant being a fourth-round pick and JJ Arcega-Whiteside can’t even get on the field. It’s not just Howie Roseman. Agholor was a Chip Kelly pick and Huff was probably more of a Kelly pick, although Roseman was still the GM. The bottom line is none of them are elite. For the record, Cooper was drafted before Antonio Brown, Huff before John Brown and Agholor before Stefon Diggs. It’s too early to fairly compare JJAW with D.K. Metcalf, Terry McLaurin or Diontae Johnson, but the early returns aren’t encouraging.

2. Free agency 

Look at some of the outside receivers the Eagles have brought in. Last year, they added Kamar Aiken, Bryce Treggs, Mike Wallace, Markus Wheaton. They signed guys like Braxton Miller, Reggie Davis and Dorren Miller to the practice squad. This past summer, it was guys like Marken Michel, Charles Johnson, Johnny Holton, Devon Ross and Marcus Green. Greg Ward has been around for a few years but can’t get on the field. Now, some of these guys were just training camp legs, but none of them are even in the league at this point. You want your developmental guys to develop, and theirs aren’t.  

3. Trade deadline 

The Eagles didn’t make a move at the trade deadline, yet six days later Doug Pederson stood there at a press conference and talked about how important it was for the Eagles to add a receiver. It’s hard to imagine guys like Robby Anderson of the Jets, A.J. Green of the Bengals or DeVante Parker of the Dolphins couldn’t be had. The 49ers and Patriots are the NFL’s two best teams right now, and they went out and got receivers. The 49ers traded 2nd- and 3rd-round picks to the Broncos for Emmanuel Sanders and a 5. The Patriots got Mohamed Sanu from the Falcons for a 2nd-round pick. It’s a lot to give up, but the Eagles have plenty of picks, and even Roseman would have to admit the Eagles have a better chance of landing a productive receiver in a trade than through the draft.

4. Coaching 

The Eagles’ wide receivers coach is Carson Walch. He’s their fifth wide receivers coach in five years following Bob Bicknell in 2015, Greg Lewis in 2016, Mike Groh in 2017 and Gunter Brewer in 2018. When multiple players regress at the same time — and you can say that about Jeffery, Agholor and Hollins — and young players don’t progress the way they should, like JJAW, the first person you look at is the position coach. The lack of continuity at the position isn’t ideal, and so far the results under Walch are dreadful.

5. Compensatory picks

When last year ended, Matthews and Golden Tate were both on the roster. In fact, they were the only wide receivers to catch postseason TD passes last year — Tate the 4th-down game-winner in Chicago and Matthews a 37-yarder against the Saints. The Eagles elected to let both of them go, presumably to help them with the compensatory pick formula. Tate is averaging 64 yards per game for the Giants, and Matthews is now back after spending the offseason and bits of this year with the 49ers. If the Eagles like Matthews enough to keep bringing him back, why not just keep him in the first place? Sometimes it seems like Roseman’s decision making is geared too heavily to maximizing the team’s compensatory pick stash instead of simply putting the best 53-man roster on the field.



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Eagles bring back Jordan Matthews to help struggling wide receiver group

Eagles bring back Jordan Matthews to help struggling wide receiver group

With DeSean Jackson out for the rest of the regular season, Alshon Jeffery struggling, Nelson Agholor invisible, Mack Hollins less than invisible and J.J. Arcega-White even less visible than that, the Eagles are turning to Jordan Matthews.

Again.

Matthews, who was in town for a physical on Tuesday, has agreed to contract terms to rejoin the Eagles, a source confirmed. The signing was first reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Despite playing only 24 games with Carson Wentz, Matthews is Wentz’s 4th-leading all-time target with 91 catches for 1,091 yards and five touchdowns. Only Zach Ertz (261 catches), Agholor (149) and Jeffery (133) have caught more of Wentz’s passes.

Matthews has been out of the league since the 49ers released him. He has 270 career receptions for 3,255 yards and 22 touchdowns, most of it with the Eagles from 2014 through 2016.

The Eagles shipped Matthews to Buffalo during the summer of 2017 as part of the deal that brought Ronald Darby to Philadelphia, but he caught only 25 passes for 282 yards and one TD in 10 games before the Bills placed him on Injured Reserve and eventually released him.

From there, he had a brief stint with the Patriots during the 2018 offseason but was released early in training camp.

The Eagles re-signed Matthews on Sept. 19, 2018, and he caught 20 passes for 300 yards and two TDs plus a 37-yard touchdown in the Saints playoff game.

He had two stints with the 49ers this year but played in just one game without any receptions and has been out of football since he was released a second time on Oct. 26.

From 2014 through 2016, Matthews caught 225 passes for 2,673 yards and 19 TDs. That’s the 13th-most catches ever by a player in his first three seasons. He’s one of only six players in NFL history with at least 65 catches and 800 yards in each of his first three seasons. The others are Michael Thomas, Randy Moss, A.J. Green, Mike Evans and Odell Beckham.

The Eagles’ receiving corps has been a wreck since the opener, when DeSean Jackson had two 50-yard touchdowns in a win over the Redskins.

Alshon Jeffery has struggled badly, Nelson Agholor has been invisible, Mack Hollins doesn’t have a catch since September and JJ Arega-Whiteside can’t get on the field.

Eagles wide receivers don’t have a touchdown reception longer than six yards in the team’s last six games.

Since the NFL’s trade deadline came and went last Tuesday, the Eagles’ only chance to add a player at this time of the year was by signing someone from their practice squad or a player who is out of work.

Matthews ranks 21st in Eagles history with both 245 receptions and also with 2,973 yards. He's 19th with 21 TD catches.

Pederson in a rare admission acknowledged Monday that the current state of the team’s wide receivers made a change almost mandatory.

Asked whether the Eagles would consider a move, he said: “At this point, something we’ll take a look at. We’ve got to take a look at it. It’s real. We’re a little over a game after the halfway point of our season and we have time this week to make this decisions. We’ll take a look at it.”

The Eagles, 5-4, are off this Sunday and return with games against the Patriots and Seahawks.

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Eagles release Andrew Sendejo, another key defensive player

Eagles release Andrew Sendejo, another key defensive player

The Eagles unloaded another one of their offseason free-agent pickups Tuesday, releasing veteran safety Andrew Sendejo.

Sendejo, who had become better known for his stupid play than anything else, played in all nine games this year and started one, playing 237 snaps on defense and 166 on defense.

It was Sendejo who caused teammate Avonte Maddox’s concussion and neck injury that sidelined him for a month, and he also committed a ridiculous personal foul in the win over the Bears on Sunday.

By releasing Sendejo before Saturday’s cut-off date for free-agent acquisitions to count against the league’s net gain-loss formula, he no longer is considered as part of the Eagles’ free agency net gain. So the Eagles should gain a fourth-round pick in the 2020 draft by cutting him now.

The Eagles signed several free agents this offseason who didn’t make it through the season, including Zach Brown, L.J. Fort and now Sendejo. 

Sendejo, 32, is in his 10th season. He spent most of his career with the Vikings, starting 58 games from 2013 through last year.

The Eagles still have nine defensive backs on the active roster and could get Cre’Von LeBlanc back soon.

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