August 08, 2017
Earlier this week, NFL Network analyst (and close friend of the Eagles' front office) Daniel Jeremiah said on his Moving the Sticks podcast that he would be shocked if Nelson Agholor was not the Eagles' starting slot receiver this season.
Ever since, Agholor vs. Jordan Matthews has become something of a surprise camp battle, and the dominant topic of conversation surrounding the team. On Monday, offensive coordinator Frank Reich was asked if Matthews' spot was up for competition.
"Every spot is up for competition," he said. "The way we kind of roll things is we're always looking for guys who make plays. So Nelson has had a real strong spring and camp. So the way we do it is it's kind of by play. Sometimes we'll switch guys up. We'll see what a defense does from a coverage standpoint, and then we want to attack that coverage. Then, within that coverage we have match-ups, and within those match-ups there are certain matches that fit certain guys better than others. We play to the players' strengths. And the good thing is, we have some players who have strengths to play to."
The reality is that every spot is not up for competition. Certainly, for example, Carson Wentz is not competing with Nick Foles for the starting quarterback job and Jason Peters is not fending off Halapoulivaati Vaitai at left tackle. If asked whether Wentz's job was up for competition, the answer would not be, "Every spot is up for competition."
When asked if Agholor has gotten over the hump in terms of catching the football, Reich went above and beyond to praise him.
"I really do think Nelson has gotten over the hump and had a great spring and a great training camp," he said. "He's just making a ton of plays out there. I mean, we're always going to have a miss or two. Every position does. But we’re very pleased with how he's playing, making a lot of plays. You know when he's on the field. I think the defense knows when he's on the field. I mean, he's been a threat."
Jeremiah's explanation on why Agholor would be the starting slot receiver is because he's more dynamic than Matthews, which would jibe with Reich's comments there.
When a reporter pointed out that Matthews' production, numbers-wise, has been very good the first three years of his career, and that it was maybe a little out of the ordinary for a productive player to have a reduced role (especially when he's only the third receiver now, as is), Reich did not offer up much in the way of praise for Matthews.
"Well, I don't know how it's going to play out," Reich responded. "[Whether] it [is] going to be a reduced role, [or] is it not. I think that's to be determined. And that's going to be determined by how things roll out, how he plays and how things play out in that room, competitively. What you see, whether it's with receivers or backs, sometimes somebody gets a hot hand, and you just build chemistry. Last year, Jordan and Carson, early in the year, were almost like Zach and Carson were at the end of the year. We know there's something there between those two guys [Jordan and Carson]. So we look to develop that, and certainly expect big plays out of Jordan."
Slot receiver, the Eagles' most intriguing camp battle... Who knew?
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