[Editor's note: Promoted from the FanPosts] -- Jordan Matthews has been a productive player for the Eagles over the first three seasons of his career, racking up 225 catches for 2672 yards (11.9 YPC) and 19 touchdowns, and he's been a relatively healthy player as well (playing in 46 out of a possible 48 games). But Matthews has been criticised by folks (including me) for not taking the next step. Most people believe he's a solid number 2 receiver at best, and a high end number 3 receiver at worst.
I wasn't originally planning to make a FanPost about this. My original plan was to go through every single target that he received over his career in order to determine how many times he failed to drag his foot or toe tap along the sideline (believe me there are a lot!), but then I decided to take a look at his game as a whole in order to properly evaluate who he is (plus I was bored, so sue me). My opinion of him is that he's an offensive version of Connor Barwin: a jack of all trades and a master of none. I didn't think Matthews was particularly good at any aspect of playing WR, other than his work ethic. But what does the tape say?
After watching all his targets, the one thing that stuck out to me is his ability to make plays after the catch. Matthews ran a 4.46 40 at the 2014, and this speed really shows up when he gets to use his long strides to run after the catch.
Everyone remembers the long run after catch game winning TD in overtime of the above game, but Matthews' great YAC ability stood out on this play earlier in that game (plus that GIF of that play is shown waaaay too much IMO). He's not Odell Beckham or Demaryius Thomas after the catch but once he gets those long strides going, he's tough to take own in the open field. His strength and speed really shows here. He uses his strength to run through flailing defensive backs with regularity.
Okay I lied about that game winning TD being shown too much, it's a thing of beauty. And because f*** Dallas.
The following two plays are examples of the types of plays that Matthews makes way too infrequently. He's 6'3, 215 pounds and he rarely plays to that size. This play against Green Bay in 2014 (for the love of f*** don't look at the score) is one of the only examples that I recall seeing him use his size to box out a DB. The second play is a great example of helping out the QB when he makes a slightly inaccurate throw.
"The New Style" by The Beastie Boys best sums up the biggest issue with Jordan Matthews' game.
Matthews doesn't create natural separation and he doesn't really play to his size, so he better be able to catch everything that comes his way. Unfortunately that is not the case. And what's even worse is that he tends to have egregious drops in the worst possible situations.
*WARNING: THE FOLLOWING GIFS MAY CAUSE TRIGGERING
Drop leading to a L. BUT LOOK AT THAT GREAT DEFENSIVE PLAY BY THE FUTURE SUPER BOWL CHAMPION ATLANTA FALCONS!
Drop that would've at least led to a field goal attempt.
I want to die.
Now we get to the main reason why I decided to make this FanPost. I don't think I recall a receiver who is this far removed from the college sideline catch rules that still has no awareness of his feet relative to the sideline.
These are tough plays, especially the Arizona one (check out the mystical back foot Foles in his natural habitat) but you'd expect him to make that catch in the Carolina game.
Okay I'm triggered.
3 of these plays happened in the 2016 season. But you know what the most frustrating part about this is? He's shown he can make these sideline/boundary catches. In the third game of his career!
He also made a toe tapping catch the following week against the 49ers. It's somewhat discouraging that he has regressed in this aspect of this game as he's gotten further into his career.
Also an additional note, Matthews had three offensive pass interference plays this season. I don't know how that number relates to other receivers around the league, but that number seems high to me.
I hate it when people say "the bottom line," we're not in bloody retail are we?
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that Matthews is a decent receiver and nothing that I saw in the making of this FanPost changed my opinion. I haven't really seen a lot of progression in his game. The player I watched in 2014 is more or less the same as the player I watched in 2016, although I do feel that his best overall season was his rookie year.
He is what he is at this point, a high floor low ceiling receiver who will probably be in the 800-1000 yard range for his career. That's perfectly fine, but not as a number 1 receiver. He'll probably be a more impactful player if he's playing alongside a bonafide number 1 wide receiver (*cough* Alshon Jeffery *cough*) and the Eagles will have a real decision to make regarding an extension. His agent will probably be looking at the Marvin Jones (5 years $40 million with $20 guaranteed) and Mohamed Sanu (5 years $32.5 million with $14 million guaranteed) deals from this past offseason as starting points, and I'm not sure if I'd be totally comfortable paying him that much.
That was my first proper FanPost that wasn't a shitty full round 1 mock draft. If the gifs slowed your computers and devices to a standstill, I apologise. Probably got a little too carried away with them to be honest.
Hope y'all enjoyed reading!