Unselfish Jordan Matthews saying all the right things

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Unselfish Jordan Matthews saying all the right things

A reporter made the mistake of asking Jordan Matthews on Thursday about personal goals for the upcoming season.
 
“You must have some?”
 
Matthews didn’t answer as much as he glared at the questioner and then mumbled, “I don’t,” and then his voice trailed off into something unintelligible.
 
You’ll never get Matthews to talk about himself. Which might be the most impressive thing about the young wide receiver from Vanderbilt. He seems to have no ego.
 
Matthews, probably the Eagles’ most important rookie, and his teammates finished their spring workouts Thursday with a third day of mandatory minicamp following 10 OTA days.
 
It’s been an auspicious debut for Matthews, although it’s important not to put too much weight on no-pads workouts in May and June.
 
“I think I did all right,” Matthews said after the final practice of the spring. “The main two things that I always want to control are my attitude and my effort, so I feel like I was able to come out and give 100 percent. I just have to continue to get better at the little things, too.
 
“It’s been great, informative, definitely a great learning environment. I can’t ask to be part of a better team, a better organization.
 
“Coach [Chip] Kelly, coach Bick [Bob Bicknell], coach Pat [Shurmur], they’ve all made it a great atmosphere for me to come here and get better and I appreciate that. Now I just have to go out there and make plays for them.”
 
Matthews worked mainly in the slot during OTAs and minicamp, but he also got some reps outside with the first offense on occasion.
 
Don’t expect him to get too excited about that. It’s June. Means nothing.
 
This guy always says exactly the right thing.
 
“There’s no ‘teams,’” he said. “Everybody’s trying out, everybody’s trying to get better. We’ll find out what teams are once we get to [opening day] Sept. 7.
 
“When I’m in there with Nick [Foles], when I’m in there with Mark [Sanchez], when I’m in there with Matt [Barkley] or with G.J. [Kinne] it’s all the same thing, I’m just trying to go out there and get better.”
 
Matthews, the 42nd pick in this year’s draft, set an SEC record this past fall with 112 catches, and his 1,477 yards were third-most in conference history. He finished his college career with SEC records of 242 catches and 3,759 yards.
 
With his speed, size, hands, work ethic and intelligence, it’s intriguing to see what he’ll be able to do on the NFL level.
 
“Jordan has done a nice job since he's gotten here,” Kelly said. “Obviously, for all the rookies it's getting acclimated with what we are doing in terms of schemes and learning new terminology, but you get great effort and a consistent approach on a daily basis from what he gives you.”
 
Now the rookie second-round pick has five weeks on his own before reporting back to the NovaCare Complex for training camp, which opens July 26.
 
There are no rookie days at the start of training camp this summer, so starting July 26, the pads go on Matthews will start competing for playing time in earnest.
 
Matthews said the next five weeks won’t be a vacation. He’ll continue to do everything he’s been doing, except he’ll be doing it by himself instead of with his teammates.
 
“Continue to hydrate, continue to eat right,” he said. “I know I’m going to work out, I know I’m going to train hard, continue to focus on the little things, nutrition, making sure I get enough sleep and those things.
 
“I’m always looking forward to the next step. The main thing is getting better in these next five weeks that I have essentially off -- put that in quotations -- but just trying to get better each day.”

Mike Mayock: Eagles should weigh Gareon Conley vs. offense at 14

Mike Mayock: Eagles should weigh Gareon Conley vs. offense at 14

The Eagles need cornerbacks. Plural. 

It's not a secret that the team's biggest weakness heading into next week's draft is at the cornerback position. So it would stand to reason that their best bet might be to simply take the best one off the board when they're on the clock at 14.

But NFL Network's Mike Mayock, on his annual pre-draft conference call marathon extravaganza Friday, said he thinks they should take a different approach. 

Looking at the top corners in the draft, Mayock is convinced Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore will be off the board well before the Eagles are on the clock at 14. His next rated corner is Gareon Conley. After that, Mayock has Marlon Humphrey but pointed out his major flaw of struggling to find the football in the air. 

So if Conley makes it to 14, the Eagles should pick him, right? 

Not so fast. 

"So I look at it this way, if Conley's on the board at 14, you have to compare him to the best playmaker on offense on your board," Mayock said. "Because I'm not convinced the Eagles should go defense, to be honest with you. 

"If Conley's not there, I think you want to go get your corner in the second or third round and I think they need two corners. But my perspective is, you drafted Carson Wentz. You better support him. You signed two wideouts in free agency (Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith) who are both effectively one-year contracts. Your slot receiver, (Jordan) Matthews is in the final year of his deal. (Brent) Celek, the tight end, is 32 years old. 

"So you might sit there and go, 'This year looks OK,' but get a running back. Get a (Christian) McCaffrey or a Dalvin Cook. Get a tight end, O.J. Howard. Get weapons. Get one of those wideouts you like. So I would be comparing Conley to the highest playmaker you have on the board offensively. And I might be leaning towards offense if it was me." 

Zach Ertz hopes he and Carson Wentz can be NFL's next great duo

Zach Ertz hopes he and Carson Wentz can be NFL's next great duo

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham. Cam Newton and Greg Olsen. 

When Zach Ertz looks at the recent history of great quarterback-tight end duos in the NFL, he can't help but notice one thing stands out. 

"Those guys have been together for a long time," Ertz said Thursday afternoon. 

Brady and Gronk have been together for seven seasons. Cam and Olsen have been together for six. And Brees and Graham were together for five. 

"And I think just having that, where you're on the same page regardless of the coverage," Ertz continued. "If they give you this coverage, you know exactly what you're going to do. If they give you that coverage, he knows exactly what I'm going to do. When to expect the ball vs. certain coverages, it might be a little earlier, it might be a little later. So it's just that constant camaraderie where we're able to know what the other person is thinking without thinking about it."

Ertz hopes that's the kind of relationship he can forge with Carson Wentz, who will enter his second NFL season in 2017. 

Ertz and Wentz spend a lot of time together in the facility and away from it. A group of Eagles went to Ertz's wedding earlier this offseason, and of course, Wentz was present. If it seems like Ertz is going to great lengths to build a rapport with his quarterback, he is. 

After going through Mike Vick and Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez and Sam Bradford, the Eagles' starting tight end finally has a quarterback that isn't going anywhere for a while.  

"It's going to be huge," Ertz said about playing with Wentz for a second straight year. "I think when Carson was drafted, from the receivers and tight ends, that was the one thing we were really excited about. That we knew for the next five, 10, 20 years, hopefully, in Philadelphia, we knew who our quarterback was going to be."

Since he was drafted in the second round of the 2013 draft out of Stanford, Ertz has been an extremely productive player. But that has set up huge expectations as fans wait for a "breakout year." Zach Ertz might never be Rob Gronkowski, but the numbers are hard to argue. 

In the first four years of his career, Ertz has 247 catches for 2,840 yards and 13 touchdowns. Since 2013, here's the list of tight ends who have more catches and yards than Ertz: Greg Olsen, Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten, Delanie Walker, Antonio Gates. 

Ertz and Jeremy Maclin are the only two players in Eagles history to put up those numbers in their first four seasons. 

The argument often heard about Ertz's numbers is that they come in garbage time. Ertz has historically been an absolute beast in December. In the last few years, that hasn't meant much to a struggling Eagles franchise, but if they're in the playoff hunt in upcoming years, they'll probably want that trend to continue. 

The one statistic that doesn't seem to match the others: touchdowns. While Ertz has been among top tight ends in the league in receptions and yards, his 13 touchdowns rank 17th among tight ends since 2013. (It's not a stat, but for what it's worth, Ertz would likely be among the league leaders in touchdowns called back for penalties in the last few years.)

"I want to be the guy in the red zone, believe me," Ertz said. "For the first four years in my career, I think the most touchdowns I had in a year was four. So this year, we didn't have a lot of red zone touchdowns and that falls on us as players to get it down when we get down there, make plays when the ball's in the air. That's something I do pride myself on, making those tough and contested catches, whether it be in the red zone or third down. I want to be more of a go-to guy in the red zone, but I've got to earn that this spring and summer, earn that trust of the quarterback as well as Doug (Pederson). It's going to be a process, but when you look at the great tight ends in the league, the first thing that stands out is touchdowns."