Monday, November 7, 2016

Jordan Matthews: Expecting Greatness From An Above Average Player

Over the years, fans of Philadelphia sports have underappreciated certain players due to their need for those players to be bigger stars than their abilities have allowed. Philadelphia wants the next big star. A good player can only be a good player if we already have that great, transcendent player already on the roster. We have loved players like Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth and Carlos Ruiz because we already had Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins on the roster and in the limelight. Theo Ratliff and Eric Snow were cheered only because Allen Iverson was there to take on that star role.

This city will take a young player and destroy the good that they do, only because they feel like the player should be better than what he clearly is capable of being. Currently, we are in the middle of doing this to a good young wide receiver that the Philadelphia Eagles drafted 42nd overall in the 2nd round of the 2014 NFL draft, Jordan Matthews. Unfortunately for the Philadelphia media and fan base, it is quite possible that Jordan Matthews is exactly who everyone thought he was to cause him to fall to the 42nd overall selection. He was the 7th WR taken in the draft. I know that sometimes teams are wrong but to be honest, this may have been one that was correct. Jordan Matthews has played well, just not the next best wide receiver in Eagle history. He's not Terrell Owens. I would even go as far as saying he may not Desean Jackson or Jeremy Maclin. But to be honest with you, that's okay, and I'll tell you why.

Jordan Matthews (81) after scoring a touchdown.
(Photo Courtesy: Mark L. Baer - USA TODAY Sports)
I know most fans will hate hearing this but he doesn't have to be a star to be effective. He was over-hyped by the media because he looked like he could be that guy. He has the physical look to be that top wide receiver in the league, catch everything in sight, yearly all-pro contender look to him. And who knows, it is possible that now with Carson Wentz here, they develop chemistry to the point that he raises his game to the next level. All I am saying is don't count on it and don't let that ruin for you what he is capable of doing just because he's not capable of being who you were hoping he would be. He is a very talented player and would make a good #2 or even great #3, if we could find that #1 wide receiver first.

What is happening now to Jordan Matthews is kind of a shame because he is a good player. I feel a little dejavu when seeing this happen to him because I remember another young player that the Philadelphia 76ers selected with the 9th overall pick in the 1st round of the 2004 draft, Andre Iguodala. Now, to bring some context to the pick and round difference here, the NBA and NFL drafts are almost like night and day. NBA draft has 2 rounds and the NFL has 7 rounds. Depending on the talent pool of the draft, in the NBA you need to pick in about the top 3 to get that star player and in the NFL you can mostly find them through at least the top half of Round 1. So in a sense, Iguodala was taken in the NBA's equivalent to the NFL's 2nd round.
Andre Iguodala (9) while walking back on defense.
(Photo Courtesy: randomnerds.com)
Andre Iguodala was taken at a time that the Allen Iverson era was ending, just as Jordan Matthews was taken as the Andy Reid had just come to an end and the Eagles had just cut Desean Jackson. Sixer fans were looking for Allen Iverson's replacement just as Eagle fans were looking for that big player receiver to replace Jackson and give us that all around threat that Terrell Owens had given us previously. Iguodala came out of college as a Sophomore averaging 12.9 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game. This was obviously an intriguing stat line for a 6'6 swing man and the hype machine surrounded him as the 76ers drafted him. But as is the case with Jordan Matthews now, Andre Iguodala was exactly who he showed you he was.

He was an all-around player who could be a nice complimentary piece but he wasn't the star. He could make guys around him better but he couldn't do whatever he wanted on the floor. He could change the game on defense but he couldn't change the game with his scoring. He was a very good player who could have been a good 2nd option or great 3rd option but he was always asked to be the man. He played on teams that had it's highest scorer coming off the bench in Lou Williams. He never had that guy that could dominate the game on offense while he allowed Iguodala dominate the game on defense. And since Iguodala was not as dominant on both ends of the floor, though he absolutely tried to be, he was torn apart in this town.

Andre Iguodala has proven in Golden State of what he can do if he has more talent around him. He has been a key component in their success. This just goes to show what could have been here in Philadelphia had they been able to find a star to team with Iguodala in his prime. He was never going to be a team's true #1 star player and that is fine but the fact that he was the team's best player at the time garnered more criticism than he truly deserved. The same has been going for Jordan Matthews, and I hope that the Eagles can somehow figure out a way to find a true #1 receiver or put more offensive talent on the field around him (and for Carson Wentz as well) so he can flourish in the role that fits in and is capable of succeeding in.

Do you agree or disagree? Comment on the article, give us your feedback. Let's discuss.

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