Jordan Matthews

Jordan Matthews released a day after leading Eagles skill players in snaps

Jordan Matthews released a day after leading Eagles skill players in snaps

Jordan Matthews' third tenure with the Eagles is over after just two games and four receptions. 

The Eagles released Matthews Monday just 14 days after they signed him for the third time. Matthews played 73 snaps in the loss to the Seahawks Sunday, more than any other receiver, tight end or running back. He played 62 snaps in the loss to the Patriots.

With Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor expected back Sunday in Miami after missing the Seahawks game and the Eagles wanting to get young receivers Greg Ward and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside more involved, Matthews became expendable. Mack Hollins, who hasn't caught a pass in two months, is also on the roster.

Ward, just signed off the practice squad, caught six passes Sunday in his first significant NFL action, and Arcega-Whiteside, the rookie second-round pick, had a career-long 30-yard catch in the game's final seconds. 

The Eagles did not announce a corresponding roster move, but it seems reasonable to think they might activate cornerback Cre'Von LeBlanc from Injured Reserve and add him to the 53-man roster. LeBlanc has been on IR with a foot injury since training camp.

Matthews, originally the Eagles' 2nd-round pick in 2014, caught one pass for six yards against the Patriots and was 3-for-27 Sunday against the Seahawks.

Matthews has 249 catches for 3,006 yards and 21 TD catches in 62 games in an Eagles uniform. He ranks 21st in franchise history in catches, 21st in receiving yards and 19th in TD catches.

Since training camp 2017, the 27-year-old Matthews has been with the Eagles, Bills, Patriots, Eagles, 49ers, 49ers again and Eagles. 

Matthews caught 224 passes in his first three seasons, most in Eagles history by a player in his first three seasons and 13th-most in NFL history.

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A Q&A with the Eagles' wide receivers coach Carson Walch

A Q&A with the Eagles' wide receivers coach Carson Walch

Every few weeks, as per NFL media rules, the Eagles’ position coaches are made available to the beat writers who cover the team, and Tuesday was our first chance to talk to receivers coach Carson Walch since the Eagles’ position-wide slump began.
The Eagles wide receivers, picked universally as one of the top wideout groups in the NFL coming into the season, have been a disaster since DeSean Jackson first suffered an abdominal injury early in the Week 2 loss to the Falcons.
The entire group has regressed to the point where none of the receivers has more than 353 yards through nine games, no wide receiver has caught a TD pass longer than six yards in the last six games, the entire group is averaging 72 yards combined over the last six weeks and two of the team’s top four wideouts don't have a reception since September.
So without editorial comment, here’s excerpts of our conversation Monday with Walch, the Eagles’ fifth receivers coach in the last five years:

How's Alshon playing?

“He’s playing good football. I think at any point in the season if you say someone’s going to be perfect game in and game out, you’re not going to get that. But he’s prepared every single week. He battles through the weekly injuries like any NFL player does, gets his body right every single week, but mentally he’s in a good spot and we have all the confidence in the world in Alshon, I think everyone can say that about the guy.”

Why has the group failed to perform at a high level?

“I don’t look at statistics, all we talk about is winning football games. That’s A-1 for us, how do we find ways to win football games, and we’ve done that the last two weeks against very good defenses, but at no point will I say in front of anyone that our group is satisfied with where we’re at. Every day we come in with a plan how we’re going to get better, our guys own it, I own it as a coach, and our goal is to win one game this week.”

Have the receivers met your expectations?

“Certain games they have, yeah, certain games we haven’t as a group. Our goal each week is to go out and play a great football game. We know it’s not going to be perfect. It’s football, it’s the NFL, there’s great coaches on each side of the ball, but each week we do have a standard and there’s been certain weeks we haven’t met that standard and we’ve got to get that right.

How much do you miss DeSean?

“We’re not going to go in the tank because one guy can’t play for the weeks to come. I think it’s a challenge for a lot of guys in the room: ‘Hey, it might be my time now to step in and do the job.’ … Does it hurt to lose DeSean Jackson? Absolutely. I think we can all answer that question. He’s a prolific player in our building, he’s a prolific player in the NFL, and he’s done it for a really long time, so of course it’s going to hurt.”

How do you hit deep balls without him?

“I think it’s just a work in progress. I truly believe that. We have hit some deep balls down the field. Have we hit every one? No. Have we hit all the ones we wanted to hit? No. But all we can do is continue to go back to the drawing board each week, continue to rep and get more throws with our guys with the quarterback, and we’ll get it done. It’s DeSean’s forte, we all know that. He’s got more than anyone else in the history of the league. It’s hard to replace that.” 

Why hasn't 2nd-round pick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside made an impact?

“J.J.’s ready. He’s cross-trained now. He knows the X position, he knows the Z position and if it came down to it he could probably play the F position. He’s in a good place right now. He’s positive, he feels good about where he’s at in the offense, so yes, I do anticipate him getting some snaps as we go.”

Why hasn't Mack Hollins caught a pass since Week 4?

“I don’t think there’s a direct reason. I know production is a word that’s getting thrown around a lot. Production as a player to me isn’t just how many catches you have in a given week. Each guy on our team has a role and right now Mack Hollins has done a very good job at his role, and a lot of it is blocking, but he’s running all the routes we’re asking him to run, he’s getting to his depth and when the ball comes to Mack he’ll make a play for us.

How's Nelson Agholor playing?

“He’s doing very well. He works harder than everybody in the room. He’s a great young man, he’s prepared every single week, and he made two great catches last week (3-for-21). Off-target catches. Went down and made a great play on both of them and we’re excited about the rest of the season.”

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With no need to acclimate, Jordan Matthews ready to produce immediately for Eagles

With no need to acclimate, Jordan Matthews ready to produce immediately for Eagles

Jordan Matthews knows the quarterback. He knows the coach. He knows the offense. He knows the building. He knows the city. 

The only difference is that Matthews has a new locker this time. He was happy to get a stall next to his good friend Zach Ertz. 

After officially signing with the Eagles again on Monday morning, the 27-year-old receiver is now in his third stint with the team that drafted him in the second round out of Vanderbilt back in 2014. 

“There’s not much of that process of acclimating,” Matthews said on Monday afternoon. “Every other place that I’ve gone, it feels like there’s a good two to three weeks where you don’t even know where the bathroom is. 

“But I was able to come back here and it’s just like back at home. See everybody, ‘what’s up?’ ‘What’s up?’ Back to work.”

That’s good news for the Eagles because they certainly don’t have time to wait for Matthews to get acclimated. 

They need him to produce. 

And they need him to produce immediately. 

“The guy has made a lot of plays for the Eagles over the years,” offensive coordinator Mike Groh said. “He has excellent football intelligence. He knows our system. He has familiarity there. I think there's great comfort with him in the huddle. There's rapport and chemistry with he and Carson (Wentz), which is important, so certainly nice to get him back.”

On the 53-man roster, Matthews replaced DeSean Jackson, who had one monster game before an abdominal injury derailed his Eagles reunion. Jackson is now on Injured Reserve after having core muscle surgery. 

Of course, no one is expecting Matthews to come in and all of a sudden replace the best deep threat in the NFL. That’s not realistic. That’s not his game. But Matthews has been a productive receiver in the NFL before and he’s been a productive receiver in Philadelphia. The Eagles are just hoping he can give a small boost to a position group that has struggled mightily in 2019 without Jackson. 

Step in and produce? 

Matthews says that’s no problem. 

“I feel like it’s been that way every single time,” he said. “I feel like when I got drafted here, that was one thing I heard: that we need production from the receiver position. Came in, worked hard and played. And then even last year, I was here a year ago at this time. … That was the same thing. It was like, ‘we need you to come in and immediately produce’ and that’s just what I do. When opportunities are there, I just try to work hard and make plays. The moment’s not too big for me. I just go out and play.”

In 14 games (three starts) with the Eagles last season, Matthews caught 20 passes for 300 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught a 37-yard touchdown in the Saints playoff game. 

But after the playoff loss, Matthews signed with the 49ers, who cut him, brought him back and cut him again in late October. Aside from the Eagles, Matthews has now spent time with the Bills, Patriots and 49ers, but he feels like Philly is his NFL home. He was thrilled when the Eagles brought him back again. 

“It was so crazy. I felt like it was kind of unprecedented,” he said. “I heard of guys going back to a team that drafted them once. But twice? It was just crazy. I was just texting all the guys, like, ‘guys, it’s happening!’ It was like a kid in a candy store, man. It was like getting drafted all over again. I was just so happy. I can’t even explain. Picked up my son, ran around like he was Simba. It was a good feeling, man.”

Groh said the Eagles will probably use Matthews as an outside and a slot receiver. It would certainly make sense for Matthews to take some playing time away from Mack Hollins, who has gone five straight games without a catch. 

Even if Matthews can just give the Eagles a slight boost, bringing him back will be worth it. And maybe everyone else will be as happy about the move as he was. 

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