So, the Philadelphia Eagles are finally off the schneid after holding on to beat the New York Jets yesterday 24-17. It wasn’t the prettiest game to watch, but Chip Kelly’s squad got the job done, so let’s grade this one out.
Offense: C+: The offense probably deserves a C or even a C- after they were unable to score, or really move the ball at all in the second half. I was so surprised that the Eagles were able to run the ball effectively however, I’ll bump this grade up a bit. With DeMarco Murray sidelined by a hamstring injury, Darren Sproles and Ryan Mathews came through in a big way, rushing for a combined 125 yards on 33 carries. Mathews set the tone early with a spectacular 27 yard run that he punctuated by steamrolling a Jets’ defensive back. The offensive line looked better; they provided enough running lanes for Mathews and Sproles to get into the open field, and gave Sam Bradford enough time to get set and throw. The biggest problem with the offense was Bradford’s play at quarterback. Even with time to throw, Bradford, once highly touted for his accuracy, was erratic at best, going 14-28 for 118 yards. That simply will not cut it going forward. In addition to his inaccuracy, the downfield passing game was nonexistent, as Jordan Matthews ended the game as the only Eagles’ wide receiver with a catch. If the passing game continues to be a non-factor, it will get harder and harder for the Eagles to run the ball with any success.
Defense: A: After two shaky outings to start the season, the defense came out and really won this game for the Eagles. Billy Davis’s stop unit played fast, physical, and took advantage of its opportunities, ending the game with 3 interceptions and a fumble recovery. Without Mychal Kendricks and Kiko Alonso anchoring the defense, rookie Jordan Hicks filled in admirably, looking like a seasoned professional at linebacker. Hicks and another rookie, cornerback Eric Rowe both had key interceptions to help hold off the Jets in the second half. Walter Thurmond continued to look like a play-maker at defensive back, toe-tapping to intercept a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass in the fourth quarter. There was very little not to like from the defense’s performance on Sunday, and if they continues to take the ball away from opponents at this rate, the once maligned unit could end up becoming the Eagles’ strength.
Special Teams: A: Darren Sproles once again demonstrated why nobody in their right mind should even punt to him, running a Ryan Quigley punt back 89 yards for a touchdown. Getting touchdowns off of special teams is something the Eagles did a lot of in the first half of last year when they were rolling, so hopefully this is another sign that the good Chip Kelly Eagles are back. Cody Parkey made his only field goal of the game, but apparently aggravated a groin injury, so the Eagles will hold tryouts for an interim kicker (per ProFootballTalk.com).