WHILE we haven’t seen WR Jordan Matthews in action yet, we have seen WR’s Josh Huff, Nelson Agholor and TE Zach Ertz in two preseason games each. None of them has looked at all sharp out there, but I’m here to tell you that the problem is simple and is correctable. But it will take time to do so.
All of those players cut their NFL teeth under this team’s last head coach. They played in a system that asked them to do some pretty simple, awfully repetitive things. The downside of that was that they didn’t learn the in’s and out’s of being an NFL receiver. The job of WR is much more than “run to there and catch the ball.” If it were that simple then every WR ever to lace up cleats would have been an All-Pro.
The problem is that they have been developmentally stunted. They were taught to run a system, not taught to play football at this level. They learned to look at the sideline for Rocky or the Cheese Steak. As a result, all of the last regime’s best players were inherited, not developed. Andy Reid developed players. His successor has no idea of how to do such a thing.
The best indicator is WR Josh Huff. Until this year he’d been in the same system since 2010. He was drafted into a role that should have fit him like a glove. Instead, he struggled immediately. Couldn’t be because he was unfamiliar with the playbook or the core concepts. The role was the same, the system was the same. The only difference was the level he was playing at.
Knee-jerk reaction is to say that Huff is a bust. Okay, so what about Nelson Agholor? Remember when he was being hailed as a Jeremy Maclin clone? If not, just look at almost any publication about him around when he was drafted. In fact, here are a couple examples.
Agholor played against top comp in college and has all the tools a pro needs. So why’d he fizzle in the pro’s so far? Matthews, Huff, Agholor and Ertz. There have been a bunch of articles predicting, waiting for, hoping for, praying for a breakout year from these players, but not one of them has had that year yet. Why not?
The answer is that they don’t know how. The good news is that WR coach Greg Lewis is a former pro who’s played in a similar version of this system. In fact, much of this coaching staff is built out of former players. There is enough insight here to help along any student willing to apply themselves. However, it will take time to learn new things, and to UNLEARN some bad habits.
That all having been said, we still may have to spill a little blood to get things on track sooner rather than later. In the next article, I’ll tell you who’s blood, and why the Offense isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be.