Eagles Wake-Up Call: Jordan Matthews’ Role
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In the Reid/Pederson offense, what receivers do you project to generally line up at the X (weak side), the Y (slot) and the Z (strong side)? Do you project Mathews and Trey Burton as halfback and fullback? How do those positions line up? -Anonymous Fan
I’d be shocked if a healthy Ryan Mathews is not the starting running back. As for fullback, Doug Pederson slipped in a nugget about that during his media availability on Friday. When discussing the running backs, Pederson went on a brief aside and singled out Chris Pantale as the guy he wants to see once the pads come on to determine if he can become a fullback.
Zach Ertz, Brent Celek and Trey Burton are locked in as the top three tight ends, but Pantale could make the Eagles keep a fourth tight end if he’s an effective blocker out of the backfield and contributes on special teams.
As for the two outside receivers, I’d project Nelson Agholor and Rueben Randle right now — it’s hard to be impressed with Josh Huff after all of his drops during the open OTAs — with Jordan Matthews in the slot. After saying several times he was looking forward to seeing Matthews on the outside earlier in the spring, Pederson acknowledged on Friday that the 23-year-old is best in the slot.
“He’s better inside because he’s got that big body and he knows how to use it in space,” Pederson said. “One thing that he can do — particularly in tight areas — is separate from man-to-man type coverages. That’s one thing we’ve seen [from him] this spring from the slot position.”
Matthews previously said he hoped he could play on the outside more this season so his playing time increases, but it appears he’ll still get most of his snaps inside. Neil Hornsby of Pro Football Focus touched on this yesterday, writing that “if Pederson runs the same balance of packages he did in Kansas City, and Matthews plays in the same ratio as last year, that could result in a significant reduction of snaps for Matthews—by my calculation, about 200.”
It’s unclear what ratio Matthews will be inside versus outside or what packages Pederson will employ, but after Pederson initially questioned whether Matthews may be better outside, he looks to have already found his answer.
The Eagles brought in 3 players who are primarily centers, i.e., Wisnewski, Seumalo, and Johnson. The writing is on the wall for Kelce to be traded or waived. I think the Eagles want to get bigger and stronger at the center position. -Tom
There’s no question in this mailbag entry and it’s more than a month old now, but Pederson reminded me of it when he addressed the media on Friday. After the Eagles added Stefen Wisniewski and Isaac Seumalo this offseason, I’ve heard a couple of people wonder aloud if that means Pederson wants to move on from Jason Kelce at center, or at least give him stiff competition.
Pederson was asked directly on Friday if Wisniewski is competing for the starting job with Kelce, and this was his response: “I see him probably more as a guard right now, with the opportunity to be a backup center. He’s really done a nice job at both positions. Kelce is definitely a solid, solid center and it would take quite a bit to knock him out of that spot. But yeah, just that position versatility with him and some of the guys that we have has been very beneficial this spring.”
I’d be surprised if Kelce loses the starting center job at any point this season (barring injury), but I do agree with one element of Tom’s email. When I talked to former Eagles offensive lineman Barrett Brooks back in February, he told me he thought Kelce would be fine this season — in part because he’ll have better guard play next to him — but he did say Kelce needs to get bigger and stronger.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Fletcher Cox and Darren Sproles reported to the NovaCare Complex as minicamp gets underway.
“I think my running style has a lot to do with it too, but I can’t change that. It’s just who I am.” Ryan Mathews on his style of play and how that’s contributed to his injuries.
Before Cox reported yesterday, Tim took a deeper look into his contract situation.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Cox and Bennie Logan will have to prepare for different roles on the defensive line, writes Zach Berman of the Inquirer.
Logan does not want to be a labeled as strictly a nose tackle. He played as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme at LSU, and he said his responsibilities are “a lot similar” to what he did then. In fact, when the Eagles drafted Logan, there were questions about whether he was big enough to man the middle of the line in a 3-4 scheme.
Through his first three years in the league, Logan has mostly been a run stuffer. He has only three career sacks. Logan came off the field in many passing situations, but that was not considered a strength of his game or a key part of his responsibilities. In the new defense, he will be more involved in the pass rush.
That’s why Logan has adjusted his body for the scheme. He dropped from about 315 pounds to roughly 305, which he thinks will allow him to rush downfield.
“It helps me get off the field quicker, helps me move better, and takes a lot of pressure off the body,” Logan said.
Dave Zangaro from CSNPhilly.com tells the story about Joe Walker‘s path to Philadelphia.
Walker played his high school ball in Los Angeles at Palos Verdes High School, where he had a stellar career, but for whatever reason, didn’t garner attention from schools. Coming out of high school, Walker didn’t have a single offer from a Division I program.
To make matters worse, Walker tore his labrum during his senior season, and although he was able to play through the pain in high school, he needed surgery.
So instead of continuing his football career as a college freshman, Walker gray-shirted during the 2011 season at L.A. Harbor, a junior college near his home. He went to class, rehabbed his surgically repaired shoulder, and got a job.
Walker started working with his dad, for a construction company, putting together stages for concerts and events. He was in school full-time and went to his part-time job three or four days per week.
It was tough work, Walker said.
As Day 1 of mandatory minicamp begins, Doug Pederson will address the media at noon.
Chris Jastrzembski contributed to this post.