Jordan Matthews is Back, Now How Does He Fit in?
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Jordan Matthews is back in Philadelphia to help the ailing Eagles' receiving corps.
Matthews, who caught 225 balls for the Eagles during his first three NFL seasons, was sent to Buffalo last summer, along with a third-round pick, for cornerback Ronald Darby.
Now he's back after one injury-plagued season with the Bills and a short stint in New England cut short by a hamstring injury.
"We are excited to get him back," coach Doug Pederson said at his Wednesday press conference. "It's part of where we are with the receivers, the injuries and things of that nature but we'll work him this week and see where his role will be and try to get him in the mix."
Philadelphia has been struggling offensively early in the season and is without its top three projected outside receivers: Alshon Jeffery, Mike Wallace, and Mack Hollins.
Wallace was the latest to join the list of the walking wounded when he went down with a fractured fibula against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday and was placed on injured reserve after undergoing surgery on Tuesday.
Of the trio on the shelf only Jeffery, who is still rehabbing from offseason shoulder surgery, will be back sometime soon so the Eagles needed a body to supplement the only healthy options available for Week 3 against Indianapolis: Nelson Agholor, Kamar Aiken and Shelton Gibson.
Ultimately when Jeffery returns the projected top three in Doug Pederson's default 11 personnel package are likely going to be Jeffery, Agholor, and Matthews if the latter has anything left after a host of leg injuries.
The problem comes with fit and one of the reasons the Eagles felt comfortable with moving Matthews in the first place was to open up slot work for Agholor, who has excelled there.
Now Agholor will have to play outside the numbers more because he offers significantly more speed to the offense than Matthews.
"I don't get into slot, inside, outside and the only reason I say that is because we move our guys around a bunch," Pederson said. "You've seen Nelson inside, you've seen Nelson outside. That could be by formation, matchups and different things.
"But yeah in [Matthews'] career he's been primarily an inside receiver and we understand that and we'll see where he's at and where he fits into the game plan this week."
On Tuesday, Agholor insisted he is comfortable inside or outside but admitted there is a difference.
“At the end of the day you have to find a way to create separation, whether you’re inside or outside,” he said. “And I think inside, you get a different route tree because of the space.”
Pressed if he could handle Wallace's projected role as the deep threat, Agholor quipped: “Are you asking me, can I run? I think it’s on tape that I can run. I, 100 percent believe I can run and take the top off.”
Pederson is counting on it.
"Nelson has been a really big part of the offense so far in both spots both inside and outside," the coach said. "He's obviously done a great job blocking in the run game and then in the passing game he's been outside as well. So, moving him around has been beneficial to us."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen