I’m not sure I can think of a better landing spot for Jordan Matthews than the New England Patriots. He may be the slot receiver they were missing last year. Julian Edelman (32 years old in May) isn’t getting any younger and is attempting to return from a season-ending knee injury suffered last pre-season. Time to look to the future. At 25 years old Matthews has four NFL seasons under his belt. In Matthews first three seasons in Philadelphia, he showed very well and provided reason for hope. Especially considering the various injuries, and to say the least much weaker quarterback play than he’s about to catch passes from, he had to deal with. Jordan Matthews is a perfect fit for what the Patriots like to do.
Jordan Matthews was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the highly touted wide receiver class of 2014. Among Allen Robinson, Sammy Watkins, Kelvin Benjamin, Jarvis Landry, Davante Adams, Marqise Lee, Brandin Cooks, Martavis Bryant and, of course, Odell Beckham. Jordan Matthews finished his rookie season 5th in receptions, 5th in yards and 4th in touchdowns among the 10 rookie wide receivers mentioned. This was done playing behind Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper, with all three Eagles WRs playing 16 games. With eight games started by Nick Foles and eight games started by Mark Sanchez, I think it’s safe to say Brady is a nice upgrade at any age.
In his sophomore season, Matthews said goodbye to Jeremy Maclin and hello to Nelson Agholor. He also said goodbye to Nick Foles. With 14 starts going to Sam Bradford while the other two went to Mr. Butt fumble himself, Mark Sanchez. Jordan Matthews first 32 games saw him paired with 3 different quarterbacks: 14 starts from Sam Bradford, 10 from Mark Sanchez and 8 from Nick Foles giving him not much opportunity to build chemistry with a QB. While Jordan Matthews wasn’t allowed a grow a consistent rapport with a QB in his first two seasons, he still showed signs of growth.
In Matthews third and final season in the Philadelphia, the Eagles drafted their franchise QB Carson Wentz, and he likely thought to himself “It’s about time!” While it seems such a great move for the Eagles then, now and for the future, Jordan Matthews is now catching passes from his 4th starting quarterback week one of his third season in the NFL. This was also the season he came in with a slew of injuries including wrist and hand injuries that than deemed him “stone hands.” The season was cut short due to injuries before it started when he was banged up in pre-season. Matthews never seemed to get right but still went on to play 14 games before ending his final season in Philly short.
It’s hard to hold Matthews 2017 against him. Traded to the Buffalo Bills during pre-season Matthews would have little time to acclimate to the Buffalo offense. I look at this as his get right year, even though he played in 10 games I believe he and the team were beginning to learn how to take care of some of his lingering injury issues. He finished 2017 adding two more starting QBs to his list, being so lucky to get to be a part of the Nathan Peterman experiment.
In his fifth NFL season, Matthews will now play with his seventh starting quarterback, Tom Brady for the New England Patriots. I can’t think of too many situations for a slot receiver to get a boost in production. I don’t care what you say, Brady loves his slot receivers. We can talk about Gronk or the pass-catching backs all day but trust me Tom Brady loves his slot receivers and it’s nothing new to the Patriots offense.
Below shows the most targeted Patriot receiver each year for the last ten years.
Hard to not notice the two notable “slot” receivers Wes Welker and Julian Edelman. Even in 2015 Edelman played only nine games and received 88 targets, averaging 11.3 yards a reception.
I would say that’s some pretty decent and consistent production from the slot over the years. The average YPR of Julian Edelman and Wes Welker is 11.01 YPR over a 10-year span. Through all of Jordan Matthews ups and downs, he’s averaged 11.8 YPR primarily out of the slot. From 2014-2016, Matthews had 2,673 yards with the Eagles, 89% of that yardage came from the slot. That’s 2,389 yards out of the slot in his first three years a league-high from 2014-2016. It’s safe to say Matthews is comfortable out of the slot.
Of the highly touted 2014 wide receiver class Jordan Matthews is fourth in receptions, fifth in yards and 7th in TDs with 20 behind Allen Robinson and Jarvis Landry who are tied with 22 touchdowns each for fifth place.
Jordan Matthews landed in a great spot to rejuvenate his career. At 25 years old with four years under his belt, Matthews will enter his 5th NFL season at 26 years old healthy with a QB and offense that’s tailored for a slot receiver like Matthews.
Okay okay sorry I know what you’re thinking. What about Julian Edelman? Edelman will be 32 next month and hasn’t proven to be the most durable receiver. In his nine NFL seasons Edelman has played in 103 0f 144 regular season games with only 59 starts. Compare that to Jordan Matthews who’s played in 56 of 64 regular season games in four years with 43 starts.
This may be an unpopular opinion with his injury history and aged combined, I think Edelman is on his way out and should lose a healthy amount of targets to Matthews. As for Gronk who knows if he gets traded or possibly retires. The rumors will likely continue to rumble. Let’s say he’s on the team, typically a healthy slot receiver will see more targets than Gronk in this offense. I can’t imagine the Patriots without Gronk and if he’s around I don’t think he will hurt Matthews production.
Go get those Matthews shares with confidence.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Jordan Matthews (87) celebrates during a week 9 NFL football game against the New York Jets on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017 in East Rutherford, N.J. New York won 34-21. (Aaron M. Sprecher via AP)