• May 19, 2022

Casey Matthews Is Well Ahead Of The Other Rookies

The Eagles were doing a one-on-one blitz drill, when rookie middle linebacker Casey Matthews was matched up against rookie running back Dion Lewis. I knew this was a mismatch. Matthews came up the middle running straight at Lewis who dropped as low as he could to get in order to get his lower body power up under him.

Lewis waited just before Matthews hit him, to explode and try to stop him, but the linebacker was ready for him. Matthews faked to his left then came back to right, grabbed Lewis’ shoulder pads, did an arm over move and headed toward the quarterback. It would have been a sack, if it were a game.

I could tell somebody had taught the young man how to blitz. As I watched him closely at practice, I could tell that somebody had taught him quite a few other things.

Matthews told me he was shocked to find out he was starting at middle linebacker when he arrived at the Eagles training camp.
He’s been able to jump in the driver’s seat and drive the car so far, but it’s hard to tell how good a player is, when the team does so little hitting.

I was surprised Jamar Chaney wasn’t the starting middle linebacker, but I do like what I’ve seen so far out of the rookie middle linebacker. He’s very fundamentally sound. He doesn’t have any false steps when he’s breaking on the ball or playing man-to-man in pass coverage. The young man knows how to focus and read his keys, then get off blocks and get to the ball.

The youngster told me he put 15 pounds while working out with his Pro Bowl brother, Clay as they prepared for the season. He may be heavier, weighing about 245, but it doesn’t seem to have slowed him down. He’s ahead of other rookie linebackers because of his knowledge he’s received from his father and brother. He was playing middle linebacker at Oregon and calling the defensive signals for the last couple of years.

Casey knows how to blitz and use his hands. I can tell that he’s been doing these drills for a long time. He understands football concepts which is a huge advantage over the other rookies. It’s one of the reasons he’s been able to pick up the defensive calls so quickly. He knows how to read formations and how to read pass routes.

During the team drills, he was able to get the defense in and out of the huddle rather quickly. Casey has had a short period of time to decipher the defensive calls and signals. So far the rookie has been on top of it.

Casey needs to get in some games and make some plays and that will make his teammates believe in him. He needs more confidence in his voice and demeanor, and that will come if he gets in there and starts making plays. He will be able to run the huddle with some swagger, as soon as he proves himself to the team’s defense stars, like Trent Cole, Cullen Jenkins, Asante Samuel, Nmandi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

He can’t be intimidated by the presence of these great players. He’s got to focus on doing his job and everything else will come along with him making plays.

I know his father has been able to teach him all the fundamentals of playing the linebacker position. I played side by side with his father at USC and I can see the facial similarities as well as resemblances of his Dad in his game. His Dad and I were both linebackers for the Trojans. Like his Dad, Casey and his brother Clay are chiseled with muscles.

The biggest thing I like about Casey is his instincts. The young man has a great feel for the game and you can’t teach this. He’s always around the football. I watched him at Oregon and saw that part of his game. I’ve seen the same thing from him at the training camp workouts.

I don’t know if the Birds are going to stay with him as the starter in the middle, but regardless he’s going to be on the field and playing linebacker this year for the Eagles. Right now, they have him on the field in nickel, as well.


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  • A three-down rookie linebacker. Possible weak point in year one but lookout later.

    Also have to take some of G’s reports in stride. Who was the little guy that was “quick as a cat” but failed in the regular season a couple 3-4 years ago? The returner, what’s his name?

  • Sounds like good, positive news.

    I hope that he is as good as his brother & Dad, but it is sooooo early in camp. If I remember correctly, weren’t we getting stories last year about how well Ernie Simms was playing…you know…the whole “shark in the water” stuff.

    News out of camp is great, but we need some perspective. I believe this defense will need a veteran MLB, and will not be suprised if they have someone in here before the end of camp.

  • Stop green, comparing Ernie sims to the pedigree of mathews, that family breeds stud linebackers, this cat will be a huge play maker

  • I wasn’t comparing the play of Mathews to Sims, I was reminding everyone that at this same time last year we were getting glowing reports about Sims, and not to put too much emphasis on early reports.

  • It seems the eagles woke up and finally started drafting/signing football players

  • After seeing MR. (Can this be the breakout year?) Bradley get rolled over and manipulated in the passing game this Matthews may be a breath of fresh air.
    We’ll see…..

    All teams will be gunning for us as now beating the Eagles will a playoff game for most of our opponents.

    I’m going to say this now…RIGHT TACKLE!!!!!!!!!

    The right tackle must be the best offensive lineman on our team….period.

    Blindside Tackles usually are paid more because they protect the QB and have all the tools.

    That is Right Tackle….No experiments this year.

    We need a Stud and Mauler there

  • Agreed Songs, RT is a concern. I have a better feeling then in the the recent pass since we have Coach Mudd leading the OL. No disrespect to Juan, but this guy is the best in the business. I think that he will provide the protection that we will need for Vick to stay healthy and the time to find DJax & Maclin down field.

  • HATER! Quote from Rob Ryan (cowboys)

    “I don’t know if we win the all-hype team,” Ryan told reporters in a thickly-veiled shot at the Philadelphia Eagles. “I think that might have gone to somebody else, but we’re going to beat their ass when we play them.”

  • Casey Matthews as you all know was my sleeper pick for the NFL draft months before the eagles even picked him, i saw his potential way back at oregon. The guy just makes plays all over the field. Hes always around the ball and is destined to be great… And i say that to say that he will be starting at LB this year, it ll probably be at MLB but he can play all 3 positions… hes smart, instinctive, fast, and has chisled up big time, hes been working out with his big bro clay matthews in the offseason, and it noticable…His early success honestly doesnt shock me at all, i expected him to be a better nfl player than college player and to be good quickly…

    I just want him to work at having that mean streak like his brother, yes the game comes easy to you, yes you have all the tools that i mentioned and more but the great LBs in this league have alot of intensity, Clay matthews, ray lewis, terrell suggs, patrick willis, james harrison, these guys put fear into there opponents, thats what Juan is trying to teach the LBs esp Casey and i think its gonna work,

    Also dont view this guy as a rookie because hes way ahead of all the other rookie LBs, he was taught by his father and his bro all the tricks so hes ahead…

  • Jakedog – Agreed.

    Since Howie has been doing the drafting, there has been less Torn ACL guys, Out of Position guys and Project guys.

    I thought Matthews was too small. But he realized it and put on 15lbs. That’s my issue with Desean Jackson. You’ve been in the pros for 3 years and have access to state of the art work out equipment, can eat the most nutrious food in the world and have world class trainers and you won’t make the effort to get bigger and stronger. To get Better. The difference between being very good and great.

    The Eagles must have seen something in Matthews to let Steward Bradley walk.

    Ernie Sims was out of position and over running plays so much last season, that it was like the defense was playing with only 10 men on the field. He was completely useless. Glad to hear they have someone with some football savvy.

    Trotter, Seth Joyner. It would be nice for the Eagles to have a McNasty in the linebacking core again.

    Pulling for you Casey Matthews.

  • I can agree somewhat with the premise of improving the RT position. The O line has to be better than last year period. It has been cited that the Eagles are an explosive and prolific offense. Explosive, yes. Prolific, absolutely not. The Eagles offense was extremely ordinary when faced with the top defenses in the league. They scored 36 points in two games against the defneding champs. They struggled mightily with Chicago until they went into a prevent and let the Eagles make it LOOK close. The Giants had them dead to rights all day allowing ten points in 52 minutes before they imploded. The Vikings smothered them as well. This offense was very ordinary against top defenses and struggled to put twenty points up. I don’t care what they did against the Skins, Texans, Colts or Cowboys. Those teams all had lousy defense. You generally don’t play lousy defenses in the playoffs. I personally didn’t watch the Packers game. I saw the writing on the wall and chose to spend the day with my daughter. I peeked in here and there and saw exactly what I expected. An offense that looked over matched and inept. The good news is that we should be able to win now without having to score thirty points. But we still need to be able to put up 20-24. For that, the line must play better and the offense has to play off the blitz much more effectively.

  • Getting back to RT since I ended up going off the rails a bit. Yes RT is Vick’s blindside because he is left handed. People love to rant about this. But guess what geniuses? The best pass rushers still play over the left side of the O line and they are generally not capable of just flip flopping to the other side effectively. Do you think Trent Cole could just go play LDE this year and get 12 sacks probably not. Guys play their side. So yes the right side is Vick’s blind side and yes RT has to be better. But you wouldn’t move Peters to RT because the best pass rushers are still lined up over LT. LDEs generally are not as good as pass rushers and they do have TE help. The Eagle should also look at having Celek sprint to the vacated hole rather than sit in and block. That will slow down the blitz more than his mediocre blocking would. Mudd will teach them this. You don’t see Dallas Clark in “max protect” blocking. He is finding the open seam and making the D coordinator sorry because he just ran wide open for 15-20 yards.

  • What does the oline have to do with casey matthews early success? Lets stay on the topic at hand people….

  • LOL…I agree that JBird went waaaay off topic…

    But Jon Hart, who are you to tell him what and what not to post?? you are a comical, cat, any relation to comedian Mike Hart?

  • jbird, So your saying theirs nothing wrong having an average RT cause the main pass rusher is on the other side? Thats a brilliant concept, You dont build a house halfway then stop, RT is a position that needs to be upgraded regardless what hand Vick throws with. As far as Casey Matthews coming in as a rookie an starting? I have no problem with it, This kid can flat out play and because of his family background is years ahead of any rookie out there, Look at Floyd Mayweather, He does things natural because of being around it his whole life which takes other people years to learn, It’s the same with this kid.

  • G:

    Rob Ryan coaching the cowboys’ D. ALL HANDS ON DECK! Let’s shut him up now, and stifle that “D”. He’ll be working on the Eagles’ Offense’s psyche for years, unless we blow them out this year. This is no joke.

  • Andrew P – What’s out there at RT? I don’t see much…If Mudd felt that there was a guy out there that was better than what we have, don’t you think he’d have Reid go get someone?

  • Andrew… I stated the whole line has to be play better. I was merely stating that LT is still more important than RT. But no we cannot have an average RT. I’m most concerned with that position. Not as concerned about LBs. We will play nickel 60-70% of the time anyway for two reasons. First, because that’s where our talent is and second because most teams will be behind due to our offense. Teams will come at us prepared to expose our weakness. They will try to run the ball because we will only be so-so at stopping it AND more importantly they would like to make our offense sit on the sidelines because they will be afraid of our offense. But more often than not, our offense should be able to make them abandon this plan by halftime when they have a double digit deficit to over come. Teams that can run the ball really well will give us trouble. However, only teams that run the ball really well AND play outstanding defense will be able to beat us unless we simply beat ourselves with mistakes and penalties. Teams like NYG, Baltimore and Pitt come to mind as being more difficult match ups for us. We could probably take advantage of the mental softness of Flacco and Eli though with our D line and coverage guys. Pitt would be a problem.

  • and lets be clear folks – Songs started the RT stuff on this post. He’s like many Eagles fans – obsessed with finding ‘holes’ in the Eagles roster and insisting that they get ‘plugged’.

  • Schill….good point about Songs. Let’s face it. As much as it hurts to bring this team up, the ’90s Cowboys are the last team that had virtually no holes. Back then when FA was not as prevalent you could build that type of team. EVERY team has holes these days. The ’08 Steelers and last year’s Pack won SBs with mediocre O lines. I didn’t think a team could ever win with lines like that but times have changed. You just have to be able to mask your weaknesses and play to your strengths. That’s what Mudd is here for.

  • jbird, I miss understood but i really believe with Dixon n Jenkens in the middle of the D-Line running against us is not gonna be as easy as you think, Ray Lewis always gives his DTs all the credit cause he says they make things so much easier for him, I believe its gonna be the same here.

  • Iam so tired of this guy songs, man. He ll find something wrong with perfection… Gcobb goes from talking about a bright spot on the team in casey to songs bringing up RT? Hes the type that calls wip and 97.5 everyday to find something to complain about with the eagles, after all the moves they made your complaining about RT? Cmon man are you serious? Your not a eagles fan, your probably a patriots fan… there website is newenglandpatriots.com, go there and get off you idiot

  • schiller, why the unwarranted shot at songs, but I must disagree with my friend songs on the need for stud RT, the way vick plays if he gets hurt it it will be out of the pocket, not getting blind sided

  • Nice article on Matthew’s prgoress and no doubt that with being a 2-3 Starter at MLB at Oregon where he called the Defenses,ran the huddle and changes that this with his family genes and klnowledge of the game that he has hit the field running and will not only be ahead of other Rookie players, that he may be ahead of other Veterans players who may have had too long of a break due to lockout..

  • andrew….we may be better against the run than I would hope for. Regarding Jenkins though, my first thoughts were the same as yours. Oh the line will be Cole Dixon Jenkins and Babin. I have rethought this and think I’m probably accurate here. First, Washburn will rotate a lot and who starts will not be that relevant. But I doubt Jenkins starts at DT. He will rotate with Cole and Babin at DE so that at least two of them are on the field at all times and he will play DT in the nickel while all three are on the field. That’s what I now believe to be the case.

  • Jbird – Who knows, but I disagree. I think they’ll use Jenkins almost always inside. He played outside more in green bay because of their 3-4 system, but in ours, especially with Wash using the wide 9, I don’t see Jenkins as a DE for us. But hell, I’d love production from him whereever.

  • I wanted to make a staement about Mathews as well. Does anybody remember a guy named Willaim Thomas? I’m sure most of us do. He weighed about 215 and he was a beast. Also Tulloch who we all were hoping to take a crack at weighs 230 and he isn’t even six feet tall. Everyone needs to stop obsessing about size. Bradley and Trot (both of whom I loved by the way) were big guys and they were a liability in coverage. I think the guys we have are the right size guys for the modern NFL.

  • Jbird – Amen brother. Size is one thing – but I care about performance/production. If we get an effective MLB, I don’t care if he’s djax’s size or nick cole size….just do the job well!

  • I have to make another comment in defense of Henery and people being worried about him. I hear a lot about “clutch” situations and it makes me laugh. First, this kid played big boy football in the big time. He didn’t play at South Dakota or even Louisville. He played where the stakes don’t get any higher. He made 89% of his kicks and hit a 57 yard game winner. Second, do you want Akers stepping on the field in the “clutch?” Maybe five years ago. Tell me the last time Akers hit a game winner? I believe it was 2006. Go back and watch him being horrible in the ’08 NFCC against the Cards and watch him miss that chip shot last year. My point? Henery could not be any worse. So there we are.

  • I’m not trying to rip Akers. He did a fantastic job here for many years and made some big kicks but its a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league. And lately, he has been a disappointment. He took us out of two games we a had a chance to win in two of our last three playoff games.

  • triple portions

  • Colts sign LB Ernie Sims

  • Im so serious guys, i think the eagles are really confident at LB… they figure if we coach them up we already have the talent here we ll be in a good spot… they could still make a move there but they drafted LB last yr and this year and have transformed that position to guys that are coverage guys… I say now that i feel were good at LB, they just resigned Akeem Jordan so they have good depth there too… just be patient guys

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