Eagles Tie with the Jets in an Unreal Ending to the Preseason
Wow. Remember 8 days ago when I said the Eagles Patriots game was one of the weirdest games I can remember? Well this sure was up there, if not top of the list. After two really good joint practices against the Jets, the Eagles took the field after a delayed kickoff with their 2nd string offense(besides Quez Watkins and Jalen Reagor). We are going to focus on what really matters and then talk about the ending.
To recap, here were all the players that did not dress for tonight's game: Jalen Hurts, Darius Slay, Steve Nelson, DeVonta Smith, Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, Anthony Harris, Avonte Maddox, Craig James*, Jason Huntley*, K'Von Wallace*, Alex Singleton, Davion Taylor*, Brandon Graham, Isaac Seumalo, Gernard Avery*, Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson, Jordan Mailata, Brandon Brooks, Tyree Jackson*, Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Ryan Kerrigan*, Fletcher Cox, Josh Sweat, Derek Barnett*, Javon Hargrave all not playing. *=injury. Now there are many sides you can take on this. On the one hand, you'd love to see Hurts and the offense get extended action together before September 12th vs. Atlanta, but also you don't want any risk of injury to your starters. I side with playing them, at least for a drive or two. I don't really see an immense risk there, as you will be playing against a lesser opponent and the defenses will be masking a lot also. But that is over now, and the Eagles played a game without all their significant players.
Joe Flacco looked much sharper today, eventually finishing with line of 13/16, 188 Yards, 2 Touchdowns and a passer rating of 155.2. Even past the stats though, he just looked more conformable and was able to control the offense. On the first drive of the game, Flacco dumped it off to Boston Scott who bobbed and weaved through Jets defenders all the way for a 49 yard touchdown. Boston has been quiet all camp, so it was nice to see him step up in an actual game setting. Back to Flacco though, he also did something he is not known for, which was extending the play. He channeled his inner Hurts on one play when he scrambeled to his left and completed a pass to Kenny Gainwell. Some other notes from the first drive was a 15 yard catch from Reagor and Jack Stoll making a nice block on the Scott touchdown.
Now that we are on the topic of Gainwell, how about that second drive? Gainwell made an 11 yard gain on the ground, said catch from Flacco later in the drive, two more rushes(one of them resulting in a first down) and then a short yardage touchdown off a great block from Andre Dillard of all people. Gainwell also had another 10 yard catch in the 2nd Quarter and finished with 5 rushes for 32 yards plus 4 catches for 27 yards. You would be lying to yourself if you said you aren't somewhat worried about Miles Sanders' injury proneness and his catching ability, so having a reliable rookie back does not hurt. Even if Sanders is consistent, Gainwell will still have a major role in Nick Sirianni's offense.
Maybe the biggest storyline going into this preseason game was the roster battle at wide reciever. Smith, Watkins, and Reagor have all solidified their spots on the roster. You would think Greg Ward is in there as well, even though he had a bad drop in the 2nd quarter. So if the Eagles keep 5 WRs, the last spot will be up for Travis Fulgham, John Hightower and JJ Arcega-Whiteside(Marken Michel and Andre Patton are also on the roster but they are complete longshots). None of the 3 really did anything early, besides from a 11 yard catch in the first quarter from Hightower. Then out of nowhere, late in the 2nd, JJ Arcega-Whiteside beat one corner, caught a low throw over him, then broke off two defenders and waltzed into the end zone for a touchdown. This came soon after a play where he made a 1st down catch, and Fulgham limped off the field(he is seemingly OK). That was all from this game for JJAW, but what a performance for his roster chances. I still don't think he deserves it, but you'll see if I have him on the 53 man roster when I release my new prediction over the next two days. Hightower didn't do much in the 2nd half ether, besides from a nice 3rd down catch. Fulgham only decreased his stock in the second portion of this game, making a nice catch around the goal line but fumbling the ball for a touchback. Fulgham seemed like an almost lock to make the roster before camp, but he has really been poor in camp and the games. It should be super interesting to see if the Eagles keep 5 or 6 wideouts, and who they keep, because all 3 of these guys will not be staying on the active roster to begin the season.
I need to take some time to talk about some other guys that improved and decreased their stock today. First, I think TY McGil singlehandedly played his way onto the roster against the Jets. 2 sacks, 2 TFLs, batted down a ball at the line and made a great play to stop a QB rush in the 1st Quarter. We'll talk about another defensive tackle fighting for a roster spot shortly, but the depth at DT is very open. Michael Jacquet was the definition of up and down in this game, first being destroyed by a double move on 4th and goal in the 1st Quarter for a TD. Then late in the 4th, he had a strip fumble recovery for a touchdown to make it 31-23 Eagles. It sucks that Jacquet is a really poor coverage corner, because his physical attributes are really solid. I also liked what I saw from Elijah Holyfield today, finishing with 16 carries for 60 yards. He is a big longshot to make the 53, but should be on the practice squad if the Eagles want him. Marlon Tuipulotu has had a horrible camp and preseason so far, but I thought played better today and made a TFL. I doubt he has done enough to make it in that DT rotation, so we'll see if he is offered a practice squad spot. Zech McPhearson was a lot better today, not having his name heard a lot and picking off the 2 point conversion attempt by the Jets. There are loads of other people that had nice plays in this game, but I'll touch on them more in the 53 man roster prediction. Tarron Jackson played well also, having a sack.
A few injury updates- Patrick Johnson left the game with a shoulder injury, but eventually returned. Kevon Seymour, who had an interception today, was evaluated for a head injury but was cleared. Josiah Scott was ruled out for the game with a hamstring injury.
So, the Eagles were leading 31-23 after the Jacquet scoop and score. The Jets got the ball back with less then a minute and no timeouts left. After stalling for a while, the Jets settled for a Hail Mary heave from the 50 yard line, which was somehow completed in the end zone with zeros on the clock. The Jets then converted the two point conversion, and this game ended in a tie. New York celebrated like they won the Super Bowl. Yay.
So what is next for Philadelphia? As I've been teasing in this article, they will need to cut their roster down to 53 by August 31st at 4 PM. Then, Week 1 is September 12th against the Atlanta Falcons at 1 PM.