WILL EAGLES MISS EVAN MATHIS AT LEFT GUARD AT ALL?

By Michael Donovan

With all the hullabaloo created by Eagles Supreme Leader cutting left guard Evan Mathis, you might expect a lot of boo-hooing in Eagles Nation.

But that hasn’t been the case, which probably tells you that Eagles fans have a better grip on reality than the lame-ass media.

There is a belief at the NovaCare complex and around the NFL that the Eagles may not miss Mathis very much at all.

“I don’t know how much either one of them has left,” a league executive told Mark Eckel of NJ Advance Media about Mathis and fellow departed lineman Todd Herremans. Head coach Chip Kelly clearly didn’t think his team would miss Mathis, seeing as he opted to release his starting left guard over a contract dispute that, frankly, would’ve resolved itself.

In general, there seems to be growing sentiment that Mathis may not be as good as his reputation suggests or that guards are simply replaceable.

Maybe there is a little truth to all of that. Regardless, at the end of the day, it’s difficult to argue the Eagles are better off without an All-Pro up front.

Eagles’ Options at Guard
PLAYER AGE EXP GMS STARTS
Josh Andrews 24 0 0 0
Allen Barbre 31 8 48 8
Brett Boyko 22 R 0 0
Malcolm Bunche 23 R 0 0
Mike Coccia 22 R 0 0
Andrew Gardner 29 5 24 8
Dennis Kelly 25 3 16 13
John Moffitt 28 3 19 15
Matt Tobin 25 2 14 7
Jared Wheeler 24 0 0 0

Look no further than Mathis’ projected replacement.

The Eagles are high on Allen Barbre for some reason, although there’s little information to indicate why exactly. Barbre is 31 years old, has been a member of four different organizations and started as many games as he has years of NFL experience (eight).

Is he honestly a superior or even comparable alternative to Mathis?

Yet some are suggesting the drop-off might not be as huge as expected. The league executive in Eckel’s piece more or less bashed Mathis for asking for more money in the first place.

“(Mathis), that’s the craziest thing I ever saw. He either got the worst advice from an agent ever, or he made the dumbest mistake ever,” he said. “You watch him last year? He’s just a guy at this point. Why do you think he hasn’t been signed?”

There is definitely validity to comments about Mathis’ handling of his contract situation, as he is unlikely to earn as much money now on the open market. However, the rest of the exec’s statement is a tad curious.

Plenty of people watched Mathis play last season and were impressed enough to vote him to his second consecutive Pro Bowl, despite the fact that he only appeared in nine games. Pro Football Focus awarded him the second-highest cumulative score of any offensive guard for 2014.

As for Mathis going unsigned thus far? Any number of factors could be playing a role in that beyond front offices doubting his ability:

Mathis may remain on the market because it’s July and teams have already made other plans or used up their salary-cap space. His age (33) may make people hesitant to give him the kind of long-term commitment he’s searching for. Perhaps Mathis is even waiting for injuries to strike in camp, which may make a desperate general manager come forth with the best possible offer.

Perhaps Mathis’ play has slipped a bit as well, but that’s not necessarily the only reason he’s available. Plus, it still doesn’t change the fact that the Eagles are in a predicament without him.

 

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