The Eagles came into week 3 with their backs against the wall, the media slating them and expectations at an all time low. But sometimes it takes a scenario like that to kick a team back into life. That’s exactly what happened today at the MetLife stadium where the Philadelphia Eagles outplayed the New York Jets to claim their first win of the season and their tenth in a row against the Jets.
The spotlight was very quickly moved from Sam Bradford early on and placed onto the efficiency of the running game. From a team that had just 70 yards over the first two weeks, came a first quarter of ground game dominance. In fact, the opening drive even resulted in a field goal. Now that doesn’t sound like much but for an Eagles side who were scoreless in five of their eight opening quarters..this was huge.
Darren Sproles exploded in the second Quarter to revitalise what was until now a struggling special teams unit to record a career best 89-yard punt return touchdown. The touchdown is also the second longest punt return in Eagles history.
Moments later, Sproles added a one yard rushing Touchdown to give the Eagles some serious steam. Sam Bradford then found Ryan Mathews on a wheel route to thread the eye of the needle and add a third touchdown to the mix. Bradford went 14/28 for 118 yards and a touchdown on the day and had a game of varying success. From more receivers dropping his passes to some poor reads despite a lot of time in the pocket, he had his fair share of problems. However whilst it wasn’t perfect, the former Ram did just enough to send his Eagles into a controlling lead.
BREAKING: Sam Bradford throws an accurate pass for a TD. #Eagles pic.twitter.com/EA8tixnuSy
— Will Reeve Jr. (@WillReeveJr) September 27, 2015
Ryan Mathews looked absolutely dominant out there. The first Eagles running back to hit 100 yards in a game this season was not DeMarco Murray but Ryan Mathews. Now this brings up an interesting debate as to why he was so prominent. Was it down to a much more effective Offensive Line, or was it down to Mathews being better suited to this style of Offense than Murray is? We’re not discrediting Murray or saying Mathews is the better back by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, this looks like a minor glimpse as to how deadly this three headed monster could be. But in Matthews’ first full start as an Eagle, he ran the ball like the Eagles want and need to and deserves full credit for keeping drives alive from start to finish.
The second half began to spring problems for the Offense however as it almost looked like a replay of what we have seen in both previous weeks. Quick three and outs, some poor reads, collapsing pockets for the run and dropped passes where if caught could have easily resulted in six points.
The result was a scoreless second half for the Eagles. But let’s not be too quick to criticise. They got the points on the board, they got the job done and were evidently trying to run the clock down in the last quarter. But there are still some question marks over Sam Bradford and like we said at the start of the season; his ability to sustain his accuracy throughout an entire game. The early signs are promising..but these Eagles are a long way from where they need to be.
This gave the Jets a lifeline to get back into the game and it was a lifeline they grasped with both hands. Fitzpatrick rallied his Jets to a 24-17 deficit but were unable to finish the job after a penalty moved the Eagles to a first down with under a minute remaining.
But why did the Jets struggle if the Eagles Offense were handing away possession so easily? Defense. The weakened Eagles Defense without Kiko Alonso or Mychal Kendricks combined for three interceptions and a forced fumble. All three interceptions came from players signed in the off-season. One from Walter Thurmond and the others coming from rookies Jordan Hicks and Eric Rowe.
Jordan Hicks put in a sensational performance as he stood in for Kendricks, recovering a fumble and of course grabbing that vital INT. Hicks looked impressive last week against Dallas but in his first full game experience..is EASILY already a contender for Eagles rookie of the year. With Kiko’s injury history, having someone so dominant yet so young is definitely encouraging for the Eagles. Hicks certainly made all the difference today.
Another player who stood out once again was Malcolm Jenkins, another solid performance and some crucial tackles kept the Eagles Defense on top the entire game, much like we eluded too earlier today in our preview.
One pleasant surprise was Byron Maxwell covering Brandon Marshall. Sure he wasn’t perfect but he looked a lot more efficient out there than he did a week ago. He looked like the player the Eagles paid for. He was constantly up in the face of Marshall and even drew a penalty..probably the only scenario drawing a flag is a positive. Maxwell was beaten a lot less and even made some impressive stops despite the odd wobble.
The biggest impact player of the day however was easily Nolan Carroll. Four tackles and two passes deflected don’t tell the whole story. The man was almost glued to the football throughout the game, making it incredibly difficult for Fitzpatrick to dip a ball over the top. Carroll was shutting down receivers left right and centre and we never saw him make a bad play. Great performance.
The game ended 24-17 after a sloppy penalty by the Jets and it was a much more convincing performance for the Eagles. The Birds dominated the opening quarters before slowing down Offensively in the second half. Like we predicted, this was a Defensive shootout and one the Eagles took a victory in. The Eagles were weakened, they were battered and they were criticised..but this team played with heart. This is the team we SHOULD be..not the team we COULD be.
There is PLENTY to talk about after this game following the birds first win and in the coming days we will be analysing every aspect of the game so be sure to check back for regular updates.
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