Twitter Mailbag: On Maclin, Matthews And Bradford

Maclin's contract looks a little more palatable now.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

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Joel Corry touched on the Jeremy Maclin contract during our conversation Wednesday. I think his comments are worth mentioning here.

“Here’s the move that if Chip [Kelly] had more foresight or more experience in how positional markets work: you could have paid Maclin’s Kansas City contract. As the market has escalated since then, that would not be seen as out of line,” Corry opined. “Since Maclin signed his $11 million (per year) contract, you’ve had it get pushed down the scale because A.J. Green got a deal, Dez Bryant got a deal, Demaryius Thomas got a deal, Julio Jones got a deal and T.Y. Hilton got a deal. So it wouldn’t be a deal which is way up there in the receiver marketplace; and it’s going to get pushed down even more when Alshon Jeffery gets one.”

The table below illustrates Corry’s point (numbers are rounded and courtesy of Spotrac).

Nameaverage salary/yearguaranteed
Calvin Johnson$16M$53M
A.J. Green$15M$33M
Julio Jones$14M$47M
Demaryius Thomas$14M$44M
Dez Bryant$14M$45M
T.Y. Hilton$13M$28M
Mike Wallace$12M$30M
Vincent Jackson$11M$26M
Jeremy Maclin$11M$23M
Larry Fitzgerald$11M$22M
Randall Cobb$10M$13M
Jordy Nelson$10M$12M
Brandon Marshall$9M$9M

Five years, $55 million is rich no matter how you slice it, but it does seem a bit more palatable when you see where that market is heading.  As it stands, the Eagles have approximately $22 million guaranteed committed to the receiver position — a little less than what Kansas City is paying Maclin alone. Meanwhile, Kelly has committed $32 million to his running backs.

Not so sure about Riley Cooper being an effective slot receiver, but I do agree that we need to see more Jordan Matthews on the outside.

When the Eagles went to two tight-end sets against the Panthers, the receiver package that accompanied it often did not include Matthews. As a result, players like Josh Huff and Miles Austin actually ended up with slightly higher snap totals than the Vanderbilt product. Granted, Matthews has reportedly been working through a hand injury and has had some issues holding onto the football, but he remains the unit’s best player and needs to be on the field regardless of formation.

“I love playing outside. When I came to the NFL I was predominantly an outside receiver and I’d be a slot in special situations,” said Matthews, who has been getting a few looks on the outside since Nelson Agholor went down. “Obviously once I got here, it was predominantly slot pretty much the entire time. So now that I get some opportunities to go outside a little bit, I’m kind of back into that comfort zone of what I was doing pretty much my whole life. At the same time, you still have a learning curve because when you don’t do it for so long and you have to go back to it, you’ve got to continue to get those reps.”

Ha. Depends. Injured players usually don’t have the luxury of getting away. They stay local to get treatment. Others have the option of leaving town, whether that be to go back home or to sneak in a quick vacation.

As Zach Berman pointed out this week, Kelly actually had his team train on the Tuesday during their bye in his first year. That was a practice he apparently brought over from Oregon.

“We used it as improvement weeks,” Kelly said. “Usually our guys aren’t hightailing out of there and flying across the country and going home and doing all those other things.”

In the two years since, he’s given them the full week off. And rightfully so. His practice schedule — which includes training on Tuesdays and Saturdays in-season — pushes the limits of what many of these athletes feel comfortable with. No need to give them additional work.

This was Kelly’s explanation on Monday coming off the Carolina game: “Depending on how coverage expressed itself. They are playing a lot of top-down coverage. Safeties were high over the top, weren’t giving us anything there. So really just how people are playing us,” he said. 

While that should be taken into consideration, it doesn’t tell the whole story. There have been times over the course of the first seven games where opportunities downfield have presented themselves and Bradford hasn’t taken advantage. I thought Josh did a real nice job hitting on this in his All-22 piece on Bradford, which included this illustration: 

There are plenty of variables that factor into this — protection, where the read is on his progression, etc. —  but Bradford has been leaning on the underneath routes. That’s not exactly new. Bradford ranks near the bottom among active quarterbacks in yards per attempt for his career. 

Part of the issue this season is that he’s not responding well when facing a rush. According to ESPN, Bradford carried a completion rate of 38.5 percent and an average of 3.7 yards per attempt when facing pressure into the Carolina game. 

Albert Breer reported back in September that one of the main issues St. Louis had with him towards the end of his time there was his eye level. “[A]fter all his injuries in St. Louis, he had a tendency to stare down the rush,” wrote Breer. “It’s worth monitoring whether the problem resurfaces early in the season.”

Is that the case here? It’s hard to speak in absolutes. There are times when Bradford has properly identified open targets downfield — under duress or otherwise — and times when he has opted for something closer to the line of scrimmage, for whatever reason. Perhaps he’ll improve in this area as he gains more familiarity with the system and gets farther away from his injury. I’d imagine the Eagles are counting on it.