RIGHT now our 2014 Draft looks awful. DE/OLB/ILB/ Marcus Smith had played in 4 straight games before being held out of the Arizona game. That has all the earmarks of regression. At this point the EAGLES have to hope he was a 1st round reach, and not a 1st round bust.
Despite clear athletic talent, WR/KR Josh Huff has shown some really questionable instincts so far. This only adds weight to notion of him having been a reach in the 3rd round.
WR Jordan Matthews on the other hand has been a consistent contributor so far, but it’s clear that he’s underachieving and is somewhat trapped in his role as a slot receiver. When Chip Kelly said on Draft night that Jordan would start in the slot, I had visions of him working intermediate along and in between the hash marks. Keeping both opposing Safeties playing closer to the middle, and away from being able to help their corners against our WR’s on Fly routes and Fade routes. I didn’t expect him to be a deep threat, but I did expect a guy who allowed the deep threats room to roam.
Instead what we have is a guy who runs WR middle screens, and Bubble screens. That’s mostly because it’s what he’s asked to do. Seems to me that a WR selected in the 2nd round should be given more rope by now. It would certainly help the run game. Let me show you something:
That’s RB LeSean McCoy’s career. See that huge, across the board fall-off this year? That’s because up until this year he had 2 WR’s that could get vertical and be enough of a threat to open up room for him to create those long runs. Matthews and fellow WR Riley Cooper aren’t allowing for that. One on hand, routes called for Matthews keep him close to the line of scrimmage. On the other hand neither WR is doing much with yards after catch, as Matthews has 103 YAC, and Cooper has 75. So there is no room for McCoy to create long runs. Oh yeah! Then there’s the other thing. Let me show you something:
Combined Matthews and Cooper have fewer yards than WR Jeremy Maclin. Despite each having just 10 fewer catches than Maclin, neither man has even half his yards. Or TD’s. Maclin is also on a one year deal and will be an Unrestricted Free Agent after this season. He is clearly looking for a big contract and if someone offers him more money, he’s as good as gone. At that point our experienced WR’s are Cooper, Matthews and Huff.
It would be smart to sit Cooper and start developing (or trying to develop) Matthews into a starter ASAP. This offense was deadly with DeSean Jackson as our #1. It’s fallen to good with Maclin there. However if we lose Maclin too, we’re pretty much dead in the water.
Maclin settled for five million this just year (1.75 base, 3.5 signing bonus) , instead of signing for 5 per year on a longer deal. I’m guessing he’ll want the kind of money he saw DJax making, and will ask for something like 9 million per year. Odds are good there’ll be bidding and we’d have to overpay to keep him next year. Especially with what’s behind him, because as of right now the EAGLES have zero leverage. And oh, have I mentioned that there’s a salary cap crunch looming? Too much money paid for Maclin will, (not may) mean the difference between being able to afford someone and having to release or trade them.
If we don’t start developing Matthews soon, we’re going to be paying for the failings of this Draft through the nose.