Hold On, You’re Going Home: Part Two
This is the second installment in the “Hold on, You’re Going Home” series You can view the first installment here.
The case for keeping Matthews is simple when put in recent context. In a way Casey Matthew is the anti-DeSean. A player under Chip Kelly in college, Matthews has a long-established relationship with Kelly. Also, given that he’s still on the team it’s reasonable to believe that he buys into the “Chip Kelly way”.
Secondly, Chip famously said that there’s an obvious way for someone to make the team “special teams, special teams, special teams.” Matthews has certainly been a solid special teamer as well as he led the team with eight ST tackles last season.
However, the fact remains that he’s the anti-DeSean in talent as well.
Remember when a rookie Matthews was named Juan Castillo’s starting middle linebacker in 2011? Good times, right? While the stink of that catastrophe has gone away the fact remains that Casey Matthews has been unable to establish himself as a reliable depth option.
Just how bad is he? Najee Goode was added to the roster a week before the regular season started as a special teams LB. He played 192 snaps compared to Matthews’ 70 in 2013.
If Matthews can’t be relied upon to start then he needs to go because the Eagles linebacking unit is filled with special teamers. In addition to Goode, the Eagles added Brian Brayman and expect Jason Phillips to return from an ACL tear. All three are linebackers that play special teams. One of them can and likely will fill his role.
What makes Matthews’ fate a certainty in my eyes has to do with dollar signs. While Matthews’ contract is essentially irrelevant cap-wise, DeMeco Ryans is already being looked at as a cap casualty following the 2014 season. Who replaces him at this point at inside linebacker? If the Eagles are truly considering moving on from Ryans I expect them to draft an inside linebacker in the middle rounds who could plausibly succeed him.
What’s odd and surprising about all of this is that Matthews is one of the longest tenured players on the team. A member of the 2011 draft class, there are only 11 players that have been Eagles longer. However, it doesn’t change the facts.
Casey Matthews, you’re going home.