Jeremiah, who worked for the Eagles from 2010-2012, attended Philadelphia’s training camp practice last weekend. I noticed him there as he was chatting up Howie Roseman, who interviewed Jeremiah for another personnel job with the Eagles in 2016, on the sidelines.
Jeremiah shared a lot of good info on his podcast, but one of the most attention-getting moments was when he started to talk about Nelson Agholor. Bold emphasis is mine.
JEREMIAH: At the receiver position, I think they’re in great shape. Nelson Agholor has had a total rebirth. He’s in the slot. He’s gonna live in the slot. He’s gonna be their slot receiver. I’ll be shocked if he’s not. I don’t know what that means for Jordan Matthews.
BROOKS: Well I think Nelson Agholor, to be honest, I think athletically, he’s a little more dynamic [than Matthews].
JEREMIAH: He’s a lot more dynamic. Last year, remember last year against the Seahawks, he just turned Richard Sherman inside out, but he dropped the ball. Getting separation was not his issue last year. Just being able to finish. He was doing a nice job [in practice] and it sounds like he’s really focused. I think it’s kind of a bigger discussion there [...] To me, the interesting thing is, when you have a guy like last year, Nelson Agholor, really, you’re trying to force him to be a two. You really don’t even have a one, maybe he’s even trying to be the lead guy. Now you come in and say look. You’re number three, OK? It just puts everybody in the right pecking order. And it releases some of that pressure on these guys.
That’s a pretty definitive claim from Jeremiah. And it’s not like’s he some no-nothing hot-taker. Jeremiah is pretty knowledgeable and plugged-in.
Agholor has indeed had a good offseason. He looked surprisingly good in spring practices and he’s carried that over to training camp. Of course, Agholor still has to prove he can play well in the real games. Based on his strong offseason, there’s reason to be optimistic about his chances.
Agholor took all the first team reps in the slot during OTAs and minicamp while Matthews missed time due to knee tendinitis. Now that Matthews is back, however, he’s been the guy on the inside.
We’ll see how long that lasts. I highly doubt the Eagles will bench Matthews completely, but he could find himself splitting snaps with Agholor. It’s not like the Eagles will take snaps away from Alshon Jeffery. And Torrey Smith (more on him later) has been looking good, so the Eagles shouldn’t be rushing him off the field either.
Agholor’s success does nothing to quiet the speculation that this season could be Matthews’ last year in Philadelphia. Matthews is playing on the final year of his rookie deal. The Eagles have 18 players scheduled to be free agents after this season and they won’t be able to pay everyone.
Earlier this offseason it was reported the Eagles are open to trading Matthews. That report took some people by surprise, but it makes sense when you consider Matthews may not be around for the long-term anyway.
Personally, I don’t think Matthews will be traded. But not because the Eagles wouldn’t do that. Instead, it’s likely because there isn’t a strong market for him. He’s not a flat out bad player by any means but he’s limited in what he can do (slot only). His stats are inflated and he’ll be due for pay day after this season.
Just don’t expect that contract to come from the Eagles, especially if Agholor shows up in the real games.
Here’s some more interesting info from Jeremiah’s podcast.
“The ball barely hit the ground with Carson Wentz. Totally dialed in.”
BLG Note: Carson’s had a great camp.
“Alshon Jeffery just contorting his body, making the same crazy catches e always does. I know people are worried he’s with a shoulder [injury], and he’s missed three or four [practices] … look, they’re putting him on ice. They saw plenty. You don’t need to see a whole lot of him in the preseason. So don’t freak out if you’re in fantasy football or you’re a fan of the Eagles. He’s going to be just fine.”
BLG Note: BGN Radio reported earlier this week that Jeffery is going to be fine.
“Torrey Smith, they’ve told me all throughout the offseason [he’s] barely dropped the football. Caught it really well the day I was there. He got on top of coverage repeatedly. Tracked the ball easy, didn’t have any drops.”
BLG Note: As I’ve said before, get the idea that ‘Smith is going to be a surprise cut’ out of your head. He’s been good.
“Mack Hollins, by the way, another rookie that looked really good. He could be a Pro Bowler on special teams. I think he kind of could be like Kassim Osgood was, but a better receiver than Kassim was.”
BLG Note: So basically Mack Hollins is going to be the best wide receiver ever. Can’t disagree.
“Shelton Gibson, their fifth round pick, he’s struggled to catch the ball throughout camp.”
BLG Note: I’d be shocked if Gibson makes the roster. Maybe the practice squad, but I wouldn’t even guarantee that.
“Greg Ward was my sleeper. Quarterback from Houston, Bucky, they’ve used him in the slot some. This is one of those ones where it’s going to be a tough decision for them. He could show out in the preseason and you might have difficulty sneaking him down [to the practice squad].”
BLG Note: I think Ward does indeed make the practice squad.
“Another guy who I was not familiar with at all and it was one of those ‘asking around [moments]’ — who the heck is number 84? Marcus Johnson, who is from Texas, who had had some injuries there, this is the second year for him, he was outstanding.”
BLG Note: Marcus Johnson is totally making the 53-man roster.
THE WIDE RECEIVER POSITION IN GENERAL
“I mean this team last year where they were receiver-wise to where they are this year, they’re either going to end up trading or cutting some pretty good players.”
BLG Note: Hmm ... I wonder who from this WR group might be traded.
“The flip side of that is corner is a legit concern for this football team [...] Now, the question to me is on the defensive side of the ball, can this defensive front that’s very gifted, can they get home before they get exposed on the outside? They’re good at safety. Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod, that’s a solid duo right there. At the corner position, man, they got turned inside out the days I was there. Jalen Mills, I think, is OK. Sidney Jones [is] obviously the long-term answer, but I don’t know when we’ll see him, if we’ll see him this year coming off the Achilles. Rasul Douglas was a little bit of a rollercoaster, up and down as you’d expect from a rookie.”
BLG Note: Spot-on assessment here.
“The day I was there, Timmy Jernigan outplayed Fletcher [Cox]. The buzz is legit. We’ll see if he can stay healthy, carry it over, and have a big year.
Derek Barnett, solid. I don’t know how much he’s going to have to do. I imagine you’ll see him on [sub-packages], get out there and rush a little bit.
Chris Long looks like he has a little bit left.
This is a really, really good front that they have there. Linebacker, they’re OK. Again, corner, this team will go as far as these corners develop and take them.
I think you can make a case that they are in the top three [of offensive line and defensive lines]. Or they’re in the discussion on both sides.”
BLG Note: Don’t sleep on Jernigan. He looks pretty good. The only thing I disagree with here is the linebackers being “OK.” Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham are obviously both pretty good.
“Zach Ertz, another member of this offense. Offensive line looks good. I think they’re going to score a bunch of points.”
BLG Note: The note about the Eagles offensive and defensive lines being really good is true. And it’s not an accident. Roseman, who learned well from Andy Reid, has stressed the importance of building through the trenches.