What went right, wrong for Eagles,
PHILADELPHIA — Well, that went as expected.
The Eagles lit up Luke Falk.
Carson Wentz didn’t have to finish the game. The Eagles crushed the hapless Jets 31-6 to improve to 3-2.
Sure, the offense wasn’t as sharp as you would have liked, and coach Doug Pederson said “no” when asked if his team played well. But Pederson also provided the boilerplate “it’s great to win in this league and it’s hard to win in this league” response.
You’ll like Jason Peters’ version better.
“Look, I’ve been playing a long time time,” Peters said. “A win is a win. I don’t give a f—- what nobody says. … A win is a win. We enjoy this today and tomorrow and get ready for Minnesota.”
Here’s what went what right and what didn’t.
A Good Start: On both sides of the ball.
Brandon Graham recorded his first sack of the season (more on that in a bit) to force the Jets to punt on their first possession.
The Eagles scored a touchdown on their first possession for the first time this season when Jordan Howard ran in a 1-yard touchdown.
Then Nate Gerry ended the Jets’ ensuing possession with a pick-6, cutting in front of a pitiful fourth-and-one pass intended for Le’Veon Bell and returning it 51 yards.
“Once I saw him take off, I knew where the ball was going,” Gerry said. “We knew how they were going to attack us on short yardage, especially third and fourth down. We had a blitz called, and I just made a play on the ball.”
Gerry said it felt “incredible” because he had “15 of them in college and didn’t score one of them. It was nice to finally get one in the end zone.”
The pick-6 was the Eagles’ first since Patrick Robinson’s 50-yarder in the 2017 NFC title game and first in the regular season since Jalen Mills’ 37-yarder vs. San Francisco the same year.
“We always want to start fast,” Zach Ertz said. “If we get our defensive in the position to rush the passer, I think we all saw today what they could really do. We just have to put them in those positions more consistently, and I think that is coming.”
The Pass Rush: A secondary’s best friend is a productive pass rush, and the D-line did its part with eight of the Eagles’ 10 sacks.
Yes, it came against the Jets and a frazzled QB in Falk, who per reports amazingly didn’t receive the bulk of the first-team reps in practice this week, but 10 sacks is 10 sacks.
It matches the second-highest single-game total in team history; the Eagles had 11 in 1991 when Reggie and company terrorized Troy Aikman and the Cowboys, and 10 against Detroit in 2007.
The Eagles are the first team in league history to have at least 10 sacks, a fumble return for a TD and an interception return for a TD in the same game.
Graham had a career-high three sacks to give him 10 career multi-sack games, his first since the 2017 season opener at Washington. He is now sixth in team history in sacks with 45.5, behind Reggie White (124), Trent Cole (85.5), Clyde Simmons (76), Hugh Douglas (54.5) and Greg Brown (50.5).
“I know when I look at the film, [Fletcher Cox] got me one. I owe him on that one,” Graham said.
“Honestly I’m just happy we went out there today and had one of those games we’ve been dreaming about as a defensive line. We’re coming together at the right time, especially after all of the emotional games we’ve played. We need one like this.”
The Eagles’ banged-up secondary, with newbies Orlando Scandrick and Craig James, held its own. Scandrick, just re-signed this week, had two sacks, including a strip-sack 44-yard touchdown. It was his first game as an Eagle.
“He just kind of fit in and did exactly what the defense and what Jim Schwartz dialed up today,” Pederson said.
Sidney Jones (hamstring) was active but didn’t play. Definitely the prudent decision.
Jordan Howard: The offensive line for the second straight game opened up holes for Jordan Howard, who found them and had 62 yards and a score on 13 carries.
The rest of the offense: After their quick start, the Eagles’ next four possessions ended like this: Turnover on downs, punt, punt, punt.
The offense seemed a bit … flat? Disinterested? Not the same group that scored 34 on the Packers.
The offense scored only two touchdowns and a field goal. Carson Wentz was stuffed on a sneak for a change; he’s now 24 for 27 on third- or fourth-and-one in his career. Wentz also saw a snap sail over his head.
If you were hoping Wentz would help your fantasy team and carve up the Jets, you were disappointed. He completed 17 of 29 for 189 yards and a TD. Pedestrian numbers. Wentz did use his patented duck move to avoid a sack and hit Ertz for 21 yards to convert a third-and-five.
“I love winning, but offensively, not our best,” Wentz said. “It’s something we definitely have to clean up — we definitely have to be better.”
While Howard found some holes, Miles Sanders rushed for only 15 yards on nine carries (1.7 average), and Darren Sproles had four yards on three carries and left with a quad injury. But not before he moved past Hall of Fame WR Tim Brown into fifth place on the NFL’s all-time all-purpose yardage list.
Muffed punt: Corey Clement’s muffed punt to start the fourth quarter led to the Jets’ first touchdown. Clement was motioning for everyone to get away from the ball before jumping to catch it on the bounce and losing it to Jets’ RB Trenton Cannon. Clement must have thought it touched Ryan Lewis, who after the game said he didn’t know if it touched him.
On the next play, wide receiver Vyncint Smith took a reverse to the end zone for a 19-yard score.
Run D: The Eagles entered the league allowing 62.0 yards rushing per game, fourth fewest in the league, and held Bell to 43 yards on 15 carries (2.9 per). The only way the Jets could make it a game was if Bell got loose, and he didn’t.
On the play before Gerry’s pick-6, Rodney McLeod, who had the Eagles’ other interception, stuffed Bell on third-and-one.
“In our game plan, we did have a lot of safeties on him,” McLeod said. “We have to match up well with him, and we felt our safeties matchup up well. I was on him a lot of the time.”
Jordan Howard, running in the first half, rushed 13 times for 62 yards and a 1-yard touchdown.