Two days after his NFL preseason debut, Matthews was as level headed and focused as he's been since the Eagles made him a second-round pick in May's draft. After a four-catch, 14-yard performance against the Bears that included two opportunities of which that Matthews didn't take advantage, he stressed the importance of being committed to the process of "improving myself every day, no matter the level of improvement."
Matthews watched the tape of the 34-28 loss to the Bears and came away thinking the same way he felt in the immediate aftermath: He had plays he should have made, and he can't allow that to happen again.
"It was the same thing I said before. When you're going through the game, you kind of know what you messed up on, anyway," Matthews said on Sunday at Franklin Field. "I'm going back and cleaning up some of the things I messed up on technique-wise and make sure I get the proper depth on my routes, and make sure I make those concentration catches I know I can make."
In a very short time, Matthews has displayed a maturity beyond his years. He hasn't let an ounce of the hype affect his daily preparation, and he certainly won't let any comments the other way impact his work for what's ahead. He is at once a harsh critic with high expectations of his performance, and yet he also maintains a sharp skill at putting what's in the past in the proper perspective.
There was nothing of surprise for Matthews on Friday in Chicago. The tempo of the game? No problem. The Eagles practice at breakneck speed every day. The physical nature of the Bears cornerbacks? That wasn't the issue at all. Matthews separated himself nicely from coverage.
But twice Matthews had balls he knows he could have caught: One a down-the-field throw early in the third quarter from
"It felt like things were going good. The speed of the game really didn't both me. We practice out here so fast that getting into the game actually felt like the game was going slower," said Matthews. "It's just making those plays out there that I know I can make. It's just about going back to the drawing board and working on the fundamentals and getting better.
"It was a cool and it was a good experience. I know it's one of many, so I'm just trying to keep an even head about it and continuing to try and get better."
One school of thought out there - among the media and fans - is that having some rough spots in the preseason opener will help Matthews in the long run. Why? Now he knows the NFL isn't going be as easy as he's had it in Training Camp when he's caught everything in sight this summer.
Matthews doesn't agree with that premise.
"Of course I know it's going to be a long, long road. This is the best of the best we're playing with and against every single day," said Matthews. "I know I'm going to have my moments. And everything that happens, I just feel that God sets me up for something greater. That's always my mindset and that's how I'm always going to approach practice every single day. Yeah, the game was rough, but even if it was good, I'm going to keep the same, even head and just continue to go out and get better."
This is a rookie? He isn't looking ahead to anything, other than a fresh perspective every day against New England this week leading into Friday night's (7:30 PM, 6abc in Philadelphia area) preseason game against the Patriots.
"It's going to benefit all of us a great deal," said Matthews. "It's going to be like a game almost every single day, and then we have a chance to go against them in a preseason game on Friday night. It's going to be a great challenge for everybody, and I'm excited about it."
The beat goes on. Matthews is swayed by neither the highs nor lows of the game, which is the right mentality to have in the rugged world of the NFL. He's just starting, with an eager anticipation of the next hurdle he must clear.