Jordan Matthews excited by play of Carson Wentz
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews sees the road to the playoffs as a series of baby steps that requires measured excitement in light of how the promising 2015 season went awry. But one thing that has him excited is the chemistry between him and rookie quarterback Carson Wentz.
That chemistry showed in that first step during the team’s 29-10 thrashing of the Cleveland Browns in the season opener. The next test is Monday night’s game against the Bears in Chicago.
“It’s only one game,” Matthews said after he caught seven passes for 114 yards and one touchdown in the win over the Browns. “I like to be excited and go out here to win games, but last year we did great in [the] preseason and everybody basically handed us the preseason Lombardi [trophy]. It means nothing.
“Then we went out and didn’t do as well as we should in the regular season, and it’s all for naught,” he recalled of the 2015 season. “I’d rather rest on the mindset of going out here and playing as hard as you can. Win, lose, or draw you have [to] correct it and put it behind you. We didn’t just come out here and do something crazy. We came out here and played football. We were able to get a win, now we have to go out and get another.”
Matthews and Wentz made for a nice passing combination in the season opener. The 6-foot-3, 212-pound Matthews dropped the first ball thrown to him but soon afterward caught a 19-yard touchdown pass to get the Eagles off to a good start in the first quarter.
Wentz, who was sidelined with a rib fracture after the Aug . 11 preseason game, had a great afternoon as the starting QB, completing 22 of 37 passes for 278 yards and two touchdown passes. His performance impressed the Eagles’ top wide receiver in 2015 and the team’s second-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft
“I knew it was coming,” Matthews said in breaking down the throw from the former North Dakota State University signal caller who was the Eagles’ top draft pick in 2016.
“It’s a man play on the front side, and I’m on the back side finding the middle void. But if they don’t go man coverage and go zone, the corners stayed under me and the safety was coming over top,” he said. “I knew the ball was coming so I just kind of slow played it and let him read the front side. I knew it was going to end up coming to me. I couldn’t even see Carson. I just saw the ball. That’s just another play where he’s going through his reads and breaking down coverages.”
“Most of the time if you’re on the backside the ball is not coming to you. All week he said if they go zone, it’s coming to that backside dig. We never throw that in practice, but in the game that’s what we saw and he hit it. That’s just another testament to his maturity and his ability to go out and implement things that he saw in practice and go on to do it in a game,” he added.
Wentz anticipated Matthews making that big play early in the game.
“It was just man coverage across the board,” Wentz said. “I knew Jordan — all week we’d been repping that — I knew he would get a good release and beat his guy. And that’s what he did and I just threw it out there and gave him a chance, and he made a heck of a play.”
Matthews has developed a good relationship with Wentz and have even bonded over the kind of music they like to listen to off the field.
“I really like music,” Matthews said. “I don’t really get into TV. I was like, ‘What do you all listen to out in North Dakota? I don’t know any rappers from North Dakota.’ He said his favorite album was from Jason Aldean. I went to school in Nashville so I heard of Jason. It was the ‘Dirt Road Anthm’ album.
“I thought if I’m going to learn this guy’s mindset, I have to listen to the whole album and it was pretty good. There’s a song on there called ‘Fly Over States,’ and it made sense because where he lives is a ‘fly over state,’ said the Eagles player from Madison, Ala.
“I’ve never been to North Dakota so I got a feel for who he is. He’s a humble guy from North Dakota and I’m a humble guy from Alabama. The bottom line is that I got to know him a little bit through that. I told him that if I listen to Jason Aldean, he has to listen to a Kanye [West] album. You have to know who I am,” he told the 6-foot-5 quarterback from Bismarck, N.D.
“We’re trying to grow off the field as well as get better on the field,” Matthews added.