Back in the offseason, the Titans signed Rishard Matthews to a three year, $15 million deal. At the time, it was considered a solid, underrated signing. Matthews finally broke out in 2015 with the Miami Dolphins, catching 43 passes for 662 yards and four touchdowns in just 11 games. Matthews was expected to come in be the No.1 or 2 option in the Titans passing game, but his season didn’t get off to a great start.
And that’s putting it lightly. His first three games resulted in a combined 10 catches for 98 yards and no touchdowns. Compounding his struggles, the Titans coaching staff decided to “bench” him for Andre Johnson ahead of the week four game against the Houston texans. But the coaches quickly found out that Johnson has no juice left in his legs and Matthews has plenty. Matthews only got two receptions in that game, but he took one of them for a 60 yard gain and the other for 22 yards.
Finally out of the doghouse, Matthews has responded with seven catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns over the past two weeks. He’s still not the target hog that many might have thought he’d be for the Titans, but that’s mostly due to the fact that we’re a run-first team. Targets aren’t concentrated in this offense, rather they’re spread out and there aren’t too many to go around. But he’s been incredibly efficient with his touches.
His early-season struggles could be attribute to the coaching staff. For those who watched Matthews in Miami, it was pretty clear that he wasn’t a guy that got open and/or went up to snag balls. He’s a guy that needs to be schemed open in order for him to have time to corral passes and do work in open spaces. Over the past two weeks, the coaching staff has called two great games, and Matthews has been reaping the rewards.
Kendall Wright coming back into the lineup has jumpstarted the entire offense. Wright’s speed draws defenders away from other receivers, allowing more pockets of space for guys like Matthews. Mariota seems to be developing a rapport with Matthews as well. considering he’s hooked up with him in the end zone in two consecutive weeks. It took a few games, but Matthews is really beginning to come on as a big part of this offense.