I am STUNNED. The Jordan Matthews smear campaign has been in full effect for a few weeks now, but after a solid performance last night (and the complete absence of Nelson Agholor) it is downright remarkable, and maddening, that the Eagles pulled the cord on Matthews, even as he enters the last year of his contract.
The Bills also traded Sammy Watkins today, so Matthews will fill his role.
UPDATE: Ronald Darby was a second round draft pick in 2015 with an undeniably high upside. Pro Football Focus named him defensive rookie of the year in 2015, but his second season wasn’t so good. From Rich Kowalski of Bills Wire:
Darby saw a decrease in productivity. His passes defended dropped from 21 all the way to 12. The second-year player was plagued by multiple injuries throughout the year and his firm grip as a starter was slipping after a tremendous rookie season.
The Buffalo pass defense slid from being ranked 19th overall to 27th.
Near the end of the 7-9 season, Rex Ryan was canned.
Stephon Gilmore left the Bills for New England. Aaron Williams was released.
The once promising defense was being re-shuffled and again a new regime would start to process over again.
Nothing too concerning, but still not exactly reassuring considering the Eagles just traded their most productive receiver over the past two seasons.
UPDATE 2: Quite frankly, I don’t trust Howie Roseman to be the talent evaluator to make this decision. If Darby turns out to be a star and had Matthews walked at the end of the year, then he’ll come out on top. But the best – best – part of this offseason was turning wide receiver from a position of weakness into a position of strength, especially with a young quarterback. Matthews could’ve potentially been a top 5 slot receiver in the league. Now the Eagles will have to rely on the emergence of Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor or a rookie to come out with any sort of net gain at WR. I applaud getting a good young corner, but I think trading Matthews is foolish. Never mind that third round pick.
UPDATE 3: Flip side of this is that Darby was named one of Pro Football Focus’ best corners under 25:
In 2015, Darby came in and immediately started for the Bills and as a rookie, earned an incredible 86.1 overall grade — the third-highest PFF overall grade ever for a rookie cornerback. While 2016 was certainly a step back, he at least maintained a strong performance defending the run, and was far from alone in regressing in a Bills’ defense that capitulated over the season. Darby’s ability showed that he can play at elite levels from day one, earned him the selection here over his competition.
Glad to have him. Still don’t like the concept of trading Jordan Matthews. Wait until the game this season where Nelson Agholor and Mack Hollins are our starting wide receivers.
UPDATE 4: As I calm down a bit from hearing the news, I’m both excited to get a player like Darby and also infuriated at what the Eagles gave up. Adding wide receivers to give your young quarterback weapons was a great decision this offseason. The Eagles also had decent offensive line depth. Now in the past two weeks they’ve traded Allen Barbe and Jordan Matthews, chipping away at the assets and protection they built up around Wentz. Never mind that Alshon Jeffery already has a nagging injury and that Nelson Agholor, despite being the shorts and helmets star, didn’t register one catch last night. Suddenly, the passing game might not be so much of a strength anymore. How quickly we forget how painful it was watching it last year.