Posts for jordan matthews

Eagles – Giants: 6 Random Thoughts

Mark Saltveit - January 3, 2016

That was the perfect end to the Eagles’ crappy season — failing to lose the one game they wanted to lose. There were just as many inept tackles, turnovers, dropped passes, stuffed runs, and big third down conversions surrendered as in any game this year, but New York’s defense proved even worse than Philadelphia’s and Eli threw another pick six to spoil Tom Coughlin’s (likely) final game.

Or maybe Coughlin outsmarted Pat Shurmur, getting his team a top 10 draft pick and a trip to London next year, as his grand finale. The Eagles will pick 13th, as well as facing Seattle on the road next year and crushing the hopes of the UK Eagles fan club.

Tragically, it appears that both teams were trying their hardest to win. They are just both so bad that it’s hard to tell sometimes.

Here are six interesting developments as a terrible season thankfully shuts down.

1. Sam Bradford’s price just went up.

People who think no other teams will want Sam Bradford are crazy. At least half a dozen teams are desperate for a QB, even if you don’t factor in the likelihood that at least one aging great (Romo, Brees, P. Manning) will retire. Brandon Weeden stank out loud for Dallas, got cut, and was signed by Houston, where he won a game as a starter. Teams will definitely want Bradford.

He’s been getting better all year and notching yet another big game today will boost his price even more. It’s too early to tell if he can really be a solid starter, but if the Eagles don’t keep him, what’s the alternative? Sanchez? Gamble everything on some rookie when three of four QB prospects fail in the pros?

Sam continues to improve every week and did well with more audibles today, a great sign for whoever ends up calling plays next year. The Eagles clearly need to draft at least one QB this year and hope he develops, but they’d be foolish not to keep Bradford as their starter while new talent develops.

Oh, and by the way?

bradford eagles record

That’s even with all the wide receiver drops. Note that Sanchez’ record was set last year, also under Chip. So if you think ditching Chip Kelly and Sam Bradford is the key to a better Eagles offense, well good luck with that.

All of this means that keeping Bradford won’t be cheap. The smartest move is probably a non-exclusive franchise tag. It’s cheaper, doesn’t lock them in long term and if another team signs him away, the Eagles get two first round picks. That’s a deal they should be happy to accept.

2. The Eagles need new linebackers coaches.

Rick Minter and Bill McGovern are just not getting the job done.

After three years, Mychal Kendricks keeps overrunning plays, and he’s teaching his technique to Kiko Alonso, hobbled as he is. It’s clear that Kiko shouldn’t have kept playing after re-injuring his knee this fall, but Chip no doubt felt pressured to produce. It backfired. With the outside OLBs, Marcus Smith’s lack of development is as legendary as Kiko was supposed to be.

3. The offensive line will remain bad.

OL weakness crippled this team, especially in the run game, and it is not likely to be fixed this off-season. Arguably everyone except Lane Johnson should be replaced. Jason Peters is rapidly declining, the guards are bad and Jason Kelce was under-sized even in Chip Kelly’s highly mobile system. When the team reverts to a more power-based offense, his deficiencies will be even worse.

DeMarco Murray started the game with a 54-yard touchdown run, leading folks to wonder if Chip had been unfairly holding him back. Nope. He gained 15 yards on 11 carries the rest of the way, actually losing 4 yards total on his next three carries. He may do better if he gets a good front line, but so will Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles and Kenjon Barner.

4. The Eagles have a lot of talent.

At least three very good players missed most of this year due to injury — Cody Parkey, Jordan Hicks and JaCorey Shepherd. Kiko Alonso probably should have sat out as well. They will bolster an already talented team that underachieved this year.

I’m thinking that a lot of Chip’s acquisitions — Ertz, Agholor, Matthews, Mathews, Hicks, Thurmond, Shepherd, Rowe and Bradford – will eventually prove to be great players, but they developed too slowly for the pace of the NFL.

If Chip can figure out how to speed up the process, he may turn out to be a great coach some day too. But the Eagles and their fans were in no mood to wait and hope.

5. There’s a kicker controversy brewing.

He started out badly, but Caleb Sturgis has been steadily improving all year, especially on touchbacks. He didn’t allow a single kick return today. If the Eagles are confident in the recovery of Cody Parkey, who was better on field goals than Sturgis before his groin injury, they should look to trade one of the two this spring.

Sturgis has a year remaining on his contract, and good kickers are at a premium now, especially with the longer extra point kick. The Eagles are not going to keep a kickoff specialist so they ought to take advantage of their good luck.

6. Beware of statistics.

There are some revealing stats floating around today, hopefully even in this column. But a lot of the ones I’ve seen today are misleading. For example:

— Jordan Matthews didn’t reach 1,000 yards receiving.

Who cares? He had 997. That difference is no more important than the difference between 997 and 994. It’s like the odometer on your car rolling past 100,000. It’s just a number like any other.

Before the 2014 season, several people put down Jeremy Maclin by saying “he’s never broken 1,000 yards.” OK, but he had 964, 859 and 857 his previous three years as the #2 receiver behind DeSean Jackson. And when Chip featured him, he racked up 1,314 yards.

This year, he has 1,034 as Kansas City’s top target. That’s better than his pre-Chip high of 964, but just 70 yards better. No more, no less.

Then there’s this one:

Paunil Bradford yardage

Yeah, quarterbacks get a lot of yards when their team is behind a lot and can’t run, so they have to pass all the time. You know who doesn’t get many passing yards? Russell Wilson, who ranked 15th and 16th in the NFL in passing yards en route to two consecutive Super Bowls.

paunil ertz yardage

On a related note, a decent tight end on a team that has terrible wide receivers and has to pass a lot SHOULD rack up huge numbers. The bigger mystery with Ertz is why he didn’t start to explode like this a year earlier.

And finally, a defensive stat:

Berman thurmond

Walter Thurmond was a smart acquisition for Chip Kelly, and he’s had a great year. This ruling had nothing to do with the play Thurmond made, which scored seven points either way. But it means the difference between finishing 12th in the NFL with four interceptions for the year — tied with Josh Norman and Vontae Davis — and 19th (tied with Ricardo Allen and DRC).

The Many Wide Open Receivers Sam Bradford Didn’t See

Mark Saltveit - October 28, 2015

In Sunday’s frustrating loss to Carolina, Sam Bradford actually played much better than earlier in the season, and he was hurt by a bad rash of receiver drops. You’ve heard that several times already, and it’s true.

On most of the check downs he was criticized for, Carolina just did a great job of covering and Bradford made the right call. Other plays were designed swing passes.

But a close look at the coaches tape shows that he also missed several open receivers who would have made much better targets.

Start with the interception, which Jordan Matthews definitely should have caught — even though it was one of the few times Bradford threw behind his receiver in this game (after doing that far too often earlier in the season). Three receivers were open on the play for short passes at the 25, and Matthews was much less open than Josh Huff or Miles Austin out wide (circled in blue):

Bradford's read on Matthews int

On the next drive, Bradford took a coverage sack on 2nd and 9, and — as on many plays — Carolina’s secondary covered all of the receiving options very well. Here though, Bradford missed a great opportunity to run on the right side of the line. Every potential tackler within 20 yards had a blocker. Instead, Kawaan Short smothered him for a 7-yard loss: Continue Reading

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Eagles – Panthers Recap: 7 Drops

Mark Saltveit - October 26, 2015

I can’t even….

This was always going to be a tough game, on the road against the undefeated Panthers. Carolina has a legit defense with two outstanding linebackers (Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis) and the league’s hottest CB (Josh Norman), a tough workhorse RB in Jonathan Stewart, and Cam Newton, who can put his shoulder down and power for a TD or first down better than any other quarterback in the NFL. And give Carolina credit for having the best special teams unit the Eagles have faced in a long time, one that matched Philadelpia’s excellent special teams squad-toe-to-toe.

There was some room for optimism, since the Panthers have faced an easy schedule, and the Eagles defensive strength against the run matched up well with them. But the Eagles have struggled all year with chemistry problems and a rash of injuries among offensive linemen and inside linebackers. Vegas favored the Panthers by anywhere from 3 to 8 points.

The Eagles played sporadically great defense and intercepted Cam Newton three times. They ran well (177 yards) against a tough rushing D, and Sam Bradford was actually fairly decent in a Checkdown Charlie kind of way (26-46 for only 205 yards, no TDs, and one interception that wasn’t his fault).

But this loss was especially frustrating because it was so winnable. The Eagles were well on the way toward stealing this game, with three interceptions (they lead the NFL with 19 takeaways) and a beautiful 63-yard touchdown run by Ryan Mathews. But that hope was killed by a ridiculous number of drops and stupid drive-killing penalties on offense. Jason Kelce leads the NFL in offensive holding flags this year with six, one of which helped blow a very promising early drive.

I usually write a numbered list in this place after every game. Not this time. Seven drops is just that – the number of bad drops that Eagles receivers had today. Defining a drop is subjective, I get that. There might actually have been more. Even if you don’t count edge cases such as Zach Ertz’ potential touchdown – where Josh Norman tipped the ball and it floated in front of the TE, tapping his helmet – there were at least seven catchable passes muffed by Philadelphia’s receivers. Completing even half of them would have made this a win tonight.

It started on the very first drive. After three runs by DeMarco Murray for 20 combined yards — an excellent start — he bounced a perfect swing pass off his hands twice and dropped it. Then a false start penalty on Lane Johnson wiped out a 12-yard pass to Zach Ertz for a first down and a sack killed the promising drive.

The next drive was a single play — a four yard pass to (and a little behind) Jordan Matthews that went through his arms. As safety Colin Jones tackled him, the ball moved around and was pinned against Matthews’ stomach, but even then the wide receiver couldn’t get his hands on the ball and Jones pulled it in for an interception.

On it went all night. Matthews again. And again, until Chip had to bench him. Zach Ertz. Sproles, on a screen in the red zone (at the 11 yard line). Josh Huff — who had 11 receptions on 14 targets this year before tonight — in the back of the end zone, a great pass that should have been a touchdown. Then Miles Austin, who had previously caught 4 passes for 52 yards in the game.

The game ended, fittingly, on three ineffective checkdowns to Sproles and a drop. Actually the last play was more like a Hail Mary batted down, but by then it was far too late. Drops and penalties had limited three excellent scoring opportunities, stemming from interceptions, from touchdowns into just two field goals (and a miss that long snapper Jon Dorenbos took responsibility for).

These weren’t Sam Bradford’s fault for once. I count at most two of the drops where Bradford’s throw was a significant contributor, thrown behind the receiver as is Sam’s style. And it wasn’t just one or two receivers, (though Jordan Matthews was especially bad)– they were so common and crushing that the mind races to find some global explanation.

Greg Richards took the technical approach.

Greg Richards Tweet 10-25-2015

That may seem like a crazy idea, but it was seriously considered and posed to actual Eagles players after the game:

josh paunil tweet 10-25-2015

Kyle Scott had a more cynical take that, sadly, seems almost realistic:

kyle scott tweet 10-25-2015

It’s not the end of the world, going into bye week — the Cowboys lost, and the Eagles hold the tiebreaker over the division-leading Giants if they pick up a game on them, which shouldn’t be too hard. These problems should be fixable, but we’re almost halfway into the season and at a certain point, these flaws become what this team is.

Is Sam Bradford Bad?

Mark Saltveit - October 5, 2015

This is an ugly season for the Eagles, and yesterday was an ugly loss to an even uglier team. Leaders get the blame, and for the Eagles that means quarterback Sam Bradford and head coach Chip Kelly, who traded for the former.

Breaking down the tape from yesterday’s game, though, I don’t think Sam is the problem. He was 15-28 for 270 yards, with three TDs and no interceptions (or fumbles.)

That last point is important — Bradford was picked in large part because he protected the ball well. In games one and two, when he had two interceptions per game… well, that was bad. He seems to have corrected that.

Of his 13 incompletions, five were very well defended by the Skins’ secondary. At least two were probably tactical INCs, thrown to minimize interception risk in tight coverage. Three were thrown away under heavy pressure, and he was hit while throwing a fourth, which fell to the turf.

The Skins’ pass rush was brutal in the first half, as Bradford was sacked or nearly sacked six times on the first three drives. It doesn’t seem to be any one lineman getting blown up; Jason Kelce and Jason Peters (before he left the game) got shoved around too. It looked more like communication and adjustment to handle stunts and things like first-down blitzes, which you could blame on chemistry between shifting players on the dinged up line, or bad coaching.

Oddly, Sam’s protection got better after Peters left the game, with a makeshift line featuring Matt Tobin at left tackle, Allen Barbre at left guard, and Dennis Kelly at right guard. Since the Eagles weren’t able to sustain a drive, Chip started calling the long pass, and Bradford delivered. Continue Reading

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Falcons Safety Fined for Helmet-to-Helmet hit on Jordan Matthews, Which Went Unpenalized

Jim Adair - September 16, 2015

Jordan Matthews caught a pass and took a pretty hard [editor’s note: vicious and illegal] helmet-to-helmet hit that he sprung right up from. Here’s the hit:


Matthews was already wrapped up and going down when Falcons safety William Moore popped him. Moore has been fined $23,000 for the hit, but as you can see above, JMatt ain’t staying down for no one, unless he gets concussed and doesn’t know where he is. Then he’ll probably stay down. Or wander aimlessly. FOOTBALL.

Jordan Matthews and LeSean McCoy Put their Support Behind Nick Foles

Jim Adair - January 19, 2015

Photo Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

While everyone from Sal Pal to Randall Cunningham to Marcus Mariota is stoking the “Mariota to the Eagles” fire, current Eagles are backing Nick Foles as their quarterback.

Last week, LeSean McCoy backed up Nick Foles:

“I think Nick’s a good quarterback. He’s the leader of our team. Things just didn’t work out for him this year due to injury, but we’ve got his back. As a team, we didn’t play well enough to win and get into the playoffs.”

Shady’s thoughts are more “it wasn’t Nick’s fault” than “Nick is our QB of the future,” but Jordan Matthews takes it all a step further. “I think everyone has seen the type of production he can have. Before he got hurt he was 6-2,” Matthews told Fox Sports. “It goes without saying what he did his first year when he got the opportunity to play a whole season. I believe he’s a great quarterback and our franchise quarterback.”

So that’s two behind Foles and dozens of crazy people wanting to trade up to number one to get Mariota. Get ready for four more months of this.