Expect a Bounce Back Season from WR Jordan Matthews in New England

04/06/2018
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Former Bills wide receiver Jordan Matthews signed a one-year deal with the New England Patriots last night.

Matthews was traded to the Bills prior to the start of the 2017 season as part of the deal that sent Ronald Darby to the Eagles. From the moment Matthews joined the Bills, he struggled through injury, suffering a chip fracture in his sternum during his first practice. He was able to play week one, but all reports were that the injury lingered into the season. In week 4, he fractured his right thumb, requiring surgery. However, he came back after the week 6 bye. Matthews ended up getting season-ending surgery in December, which led to him missing the final 4 games of the year on a left knee injury that he stated had gone back two years. During this surgery, he also had a surgery to repair an ankle injury from 2016.

During his limited time with the Bills, Matthews started 7 games and was targeted 34 times, hauled in 25 receptions for 282 yards and 1 touchdown. When on the field, Matthews was primarily a slot wide receiver, lining up in the slot 73.1% of the time, per Pro Football Focus. Of his 34 targets, 26 were in the 0-9 yard range, and you can expect him to consistently align in the slot or off-line tight end position in New England’s offensive system. Matthews isn’t going to separate with his speed; he will need to be schemed open, but he is a very smart receiver. He knows when to take his drag or over route across the field, but is in tune to a defender’s leverage and knows when to sit in a zone window.

Aside from him being highly effective in the 0-9 range, Matthews is a very good blocker in the box and in space. He displays the willingness and ability to stalk block in the run game and screen game and will likely flourish in offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ system, most likely as a hybrid TE role.

Matthews hopes to regain the production of his first 3 seasons in the league, when he was a consistent WR option for the Eagles. If he is able to stay healthy next season and limit his drops, he should be able to get a long term contract.

 

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