It’s no secret that the Eagles’ offense was struggling heading into yesterday’s game against the New York Jets. While the Birds were struggling, the Jets were riding high following a prime-time victory over Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts where their defense dominated once again. So of course the Jets were going to shut down Philadelphia’s struggling offense, right?
At least that’s what all of the “experts” thought heading into yesterday’s game, just look at this:
Right when people start to doubt Chip Kelly and the Eagles, they manage to prove everyone wrong and bounce back. Now don’t get me wrong, I personally thought the team had no shot in New York yet I’m glad they shut me up. The Eagles could have easily come out flat against the Jets since they were without four starters but that wasn’t the case at all. Kelly had his team fired up and ready to go to war with one of the hottest teams in the NFL.
Right out of the gate, the Eagles looked like a completely different team on offense. Remember the team that was pushing the tempo and operating out of a shotgun formation no matter what the situation was? Those days are long gone…well at least they weren’t there during yesterday’s game. Kelly was finally mixing up his play-calling, proving that he can adapt to what defenses were doing against Philadelphia during their first two games.
Eagles wide receiver Josh Huff claimed the Dallas Cowboys knew what plays were coming in last week’s match-up. So Kelly made quite a few changes that likely caught the Jets by surprise. Sam Bradford was lining up under center for quite a few snaps, which produced some big runs. Then the Eagles were randomly slowing the tempo down in the first half, letting the play clock tick down to two or three seconds and then snapping the ball. At one point, they lulled the Jets to sleep by slow-rolling a few plays and then put their foot on the has and pushed the tempo. It was a thing of beauty and a promising sign.
Eagles mixing tempo today. Lulled the Jets to sleep with slow play, then went tempo on that Sproles 3rd down run. I like that approach.
— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) September 27, 2015
But the offense failed to show up in the second half yet it didn’t really matter considering how well the defense played. Once again, the Eagles’ defense was the star of the show, as they were against the Cowboys and in the second half against the Atlanta Falcons. Besides trying to stop Julio Jones, Philadelphia’s offense has played at an incredibly high level this season. No worries though, the rest of the NFL can’t slow down Jones either…or maybe it’s just an NFC East thing.
Either way, the story of the game was the surprising play of “The Replacements.” That’s right, the players that stepped in and made big play after big play in place of the injured starters. Ryan Mathews touched the ball 27 times for 128 total yards and a touchdown in place of DeMarco Murray. Darren Sproles saw an increased role with Murray out and had a ridiculous 89-yard punt return for a touchdown as well as a rushing touchdown.
On the defensive side of the ball, rookie Jordan Hicks led the team with 10 total tackles to go with a fumble recovery and one pass defended in place of Mychal Kendricks. Hicks was making plays all over the field throughout the game, it honestly looked like Kendricks just changed his jersey number to #58. Brandon Bair came up huge, both literally and figuratively in Cedric Thornton’s place. Bair batted down three passes and had four total tackles as well. Rookie Eric Rowe also stepped in for some outside reps at cornerback and snatched the first interception of his career to go with another deep pass breakup against fellow rookie Devin Smith.
6 of the Eagles next 8 opponents currently have a losing record.
Only teams with winning records are the Cowboys and Panthers.
— DiBirds (@DiBirdsBlog) September 27, 2015
All in all, it was an outstanding performance by the Eagles. While the offense disappeared in the second half, the defense proved once again that they are one of the more underrated units in the NFL. Now the Eagles head into what looks to be an easy stretch of games as 6 of their next 8 opponents currently have a losing record. The only teams with winning records? The Cowboys led by Brandon “LOL” Weeden and the Carolina Panthers who haven’t improved much from last year…and we all remember what the Eagles did to them last season.