Jordan Matthews is the rookie getting the most attention this summer. The WR from Vanderbilt isn’t doing anything groundbreaking, but I think he caught people off guard with just how good he is. That’s funny when you think about it. He was the best WR at the Senior Bowl. He is the all-time leading receiver in SEC history. Matthews has great credentials. But he’s from Vandy. You just can’t help but have a bit of doubt when a WR comes from Vandy.
That doubt is gone. The question now is how good Matthews is. Are we looking at a solid starter or does he have star potential?
— Chris Wesseling (@ChrisWesseling) August 1, 2014
I don’t recall this kind of hype around a rookie since DeSean Jackson in 2008. Normally there are articles praising a rookie for picking things up quickly and impressing the coaches. This buzz goes beyond that. Tim McManus had a good piece the other day on Matthews.
Jordan Matthews says he isn’t paying much attention to what is being said and written about him so far during training camp. He knows that buzz may only stick around for a news cycle before flying off to find its next host.
Rookie years in particular are filled with ups and downs. Today, for example, was a relatively quiet day for Matthews. Wednesday he was making plays all over the place. So it goes. The hype will swell and recede accordingly.
While it’s important not to get carried away, there’s no denying that he is making an impression early on in his time with the Eagles.
“Yes. A lot. A lot,” said LeSean McCoy, when asked if he’s been surprised by what Matthews has shown. “You don’t really get into it with the rookies, ‘Oh, who’s this?’ until you actually go out and watch them play. I’ve learned that from the older guys. That goes all the way back to[Brian]Westbrook, until those guys show you, OK, he can really play [you reserve judgment]. He’s showing it. His work ethic, he’s working like he’s a professional — a five, six-year, seven-year veteran. Sky is the limit for that kid, for sure.”
Michael Irvin is a believer. The Hall-of-Fame receiver spent the day at the NovaCare Complex, took in practice and spent time talking to various coaches and players, including Matthews.
“I like what I see out here. I like what I see physically as to body type, body size and everything. And then I like what I see internally as far as work ethic and most importantly, a strong desire to be the best,” Irvin told Birds 24/7 after practice. “He wants to garner all the information: ‘Mr Irvin, sir, whatever you see out here today, can you call me on it and talk to me about it? When you watch film can you tell me what you see?’ A young guy like that, man, that comes in with that perspective and those kind of thoughts, you can have some success with him.”
Does he compare to any specific receiver?
“He can be a combination of a few guys. You watch a big guy play the slot like a Marques Colston, he has that ability but he’s faster than Marques Colston. So now he gets outside he can probably do more things than a Colston can do. I look at him as a combination of a lot of good receivers in this league with an ability to be great.”
We are a ways away from that point, but it’s fair to say there is optimism internally. Pat Shurmur was describing what can make him a good slot receiver in this league, and mentioned his willingness to go over the middle and spacial awareness.
And then: “Once he catches the ball, he sets his hair on fire and runs,” said Shurmur. “If we didn’t have fences around here he’d run into the street. He’s one of the best finishers we have. He’s smart, he’s eager, he’s big, he can catch and he’s done a good job.”
Michael Irvin knows a thing or two about great receivers. Very interesting to hear his thoughts.
Reuben Frank also wrote a good piece on Matthews.
“It’s really easy to stay consistent,” Matthews said. “People who are inconsistent, that makes you average. If you’re good one day and bad the next day, you’re essentially going to ride that line of being average. But if you’re consistent each day, if you can stay up here [holds hands near head], you don’t even have to do anything extraordinary, you just got to stay right here.
“If you continue to play at that level, then you’re going to end up being great. So that’s all the older guys tell me. Jason Peters. Malcolm [Jenkins], I work a lot with Malcolm and talk to him and look to him for guidance because he’s actually going against me and sees me in competition each day, and he always says, ‘Stay consistent, stay consistent,’ so that’s something I’ve always tried to do.”
If Matthews sounds like a dream come true for his coaches, yeah, you’re right.
“He’s good against bump-and-run coverage,” Shurmur said. “His spacial awareness is good. There are different combination of things that can happen when you’re inside as opposed to outside. He kind of has a good feel for that.
“You’ve seen throughout camp he’s been able to get open and make plays. Then the other advantage is he’s young and he’s got courage, so he can run around in there and catch the ball with people around him. I think that’s important. He’s smart, he’s eager, he’s big, he can catch.”
Matthews is told of the high praise he’s been getting not just from Shurmur but from Nick Foles, from Chip Kelly, from anybody who’s asked about him.
“It’s good, but at the same time, that’s just who I’m trying to be each day,” he said. “If I can go out there and make my coaches proud, that’s huge, but at the end of the day, this is practice, that’s what I’m supposed to do. Supposed to come out here and give my best. Supposed to come out here and give my all.
“If they weren’t saying those things, I wouldn’t be taking care of my job. So it’s good, but at the same time, it’s the requirements. It’s what I’m supposed to do.”
Matthews may look and play like a WR, but he sure doesn’t sound like one. Here is a short interview segment from PE.com. He sounds way beyond his years. But he is still a rookie.
Due to some injuries, Matthews got some snaps with the starters this week. He had a couple of drops and struggled to get open at times. There is always going to be an adjustment period when you face the starters and you’re not used to it. Matthews is working through that and getting better each day.
Expectations for this season are a bit simpler. Matthews is spending most of his time with the backups for now, but most feel that he will be the starting slot receiver before too long. If he can put up similar numbers to Jason Avant from last year, that would be a good rookie season. Avant was 38-447-2. That is 2.5 receptions per game. I feel comfortable that Matthews could post those type numbers in the Eagles offense.
I’m in wait and see mode in terms of how good he’ll be eventually. Heck, let’s at least see Matthews play in a preseason game or two. I am intrigued and excited by him. Sure sounds like the Eagles hit a home run with their 2nd round pick.