Eagles news and notes for 12/31
JORDAN MATTHEWS expected so much more from this season.
He expected the Eagles to be a legitimate playoff contender, and he expected to establish himself as one of the NFL's top wide receivers.
Neither of those things happened.
The Eagles head into Sunday's final game against the Cowboys with a disappointing 6-9 record. Yes, six of those nine losses have been by seven points or fewer. But, as the saying goes, close counts only in hand grenades and horseshoes.
As for Matthews, he's been hobbled by a five-week-old ankle injury that has limited his effectiveness and killed any chance he had of crashing the league's top-wideouts party. He has only eight catches for 39 yards the last two games and might not even play on Sunday.
He practiced for the first time this week Friday, but was listed as questionable. There's not really much upside to putting him out there in a meaningless game.
"We gotta see," he said. "I don't make those decisions. We'll see what the coaches say, based on today. But I really don't know right now."
The injury has frustrated Matthews. This is a guy who had been the picture of health his entire career. He had never missed a game in his life before this year. Not in any sport at any level. He was one of those lucky guys who knew the team trainers only by reputation.
Then he injured his knee early in training camp when he got hit by an overzealous rookie, cornerback Jalen Mills, and missed the entire preseason.
When Bennie Logan takes the field on Sunday afternoon at the Linc, it could be his last time doing so as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.
The defensive tackle, whom the Eagles took in the third round of the 2013 draft, will become a free agent this offseason. But he’s hoping for a return.
“I’ve been around here for four years,” Logan said on Thursday. “I have a connection with these guys. I enjoy playing next to Fletcher (Cox), Brandon Graham, Connor Barwin, just the relationships we have, man.
“Trying to start over and do something new, is something I’m not looking forward to. Because I enjoy being here, the city and everything. This is where I see myself at.”
Logan, 27, is finishing up the fourth and final year of his rookie contract that paid him just $1.66 million in base salary in 2016. After another solid season in 2016, Logan is in line for what should be a considerable pay raise.
While Logan won’t get involved in contract talks during the season so he can focus on football, he said he thinks his agent has had talks with the Eagles. Logan’s agent is CAA’s Todd France, who was able to negotiate Fletcher Cox’s mega deal this past offseason.
“That’s cool and everything, but I just enjoy playing football,” Logan said when asked about the money that’s coming his way.
Jordan Matthews is big on chemistry. The Eagles receiver sees the bond Tom Brady has with his pass-catchers in New England and how Aaron Rodgers gets along with the Packers' wideouts, and he wants to develop a similar atmosphere in Philly.
He took steps toward fostering such a connection with former Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford last offseason by coordinating a mini-vacation of sorts. Matthews and tight end Zach Ertz visited Bradford's Oklahoma home to hang out for a week and run routes together as they prepared for the 2016 season, which was supposed to be their second one together.
But a week before the campaign began, the Birds traded Bradford to the Vikings and elevated rookie Carson Wentz to starting spot.
So, now, as Wentz prepares for his 16th and final start of the year Sunday against the Cowboys, Matthews has turned his focus toward another offseason get-together. Maybe two of three of them. He knows Wentz isn't going anywhere, and he wants to give the bonding thing another shot.
"We've already started talking about plans -- 'Ok, what is the plan for the winter?,'" Matthews said Friday. "We definitely need a plan for the summer, June and July. With Zach being engaged, he'll be married by that time, he has a home here. Carson has a home here. We're kind of brainstorming: What's the best way all of us can be around each other as much as possible? Throwing the ball, getting our chemistry right."
Wentz, the No. 2 pick in April's NFL Draft, is three completions away from breaking the rookie record, while Matthews and Ertz have established themselves as his top targets. All three are 26 or younger.
So an offseason meet-up seems like a no-brainer, so long as they can agree on a location.
4. What’s your prediction?
McLane: This is a tough game to predict because the Cowboys’ plans aren’t exactly clear. A record of 7-9 sounds a whole lot better for the Eagles than 6-10, although a final victory would have to come with an asterisk if Dallas were to rest most of its starters. On a personal note, I apologize if anyone had used my predictions to feed their gambling problem. I was utterly pathetic in picking games through the first half of the season, and only came on strong when the Eagles started to fold. See ya next season. Eagles 23, Cowboys 20.
Berman: The oddsmakers have the Eagles favored on Sunday, which should be a hint of how the Cowboys would look. On a different week, I’d pick the 13-2 Cowboys. But the Eagles are catching them at the right time, and this could be a chance for the Eagles to end the season on a two-game winning streak. Unlike the past two seasons, the Eagles won’t hurt their first-round draft position with a Week 17 win. I see the Eagles playing a good game Sunday, the locker room rejoicing with claims that it will carry over into 2017, yet a number of those players replaced during another busy offseason for the Eagles. Give me Eagles 24, Cowboys 19.