With one last opportunity to impress coaches before final cuts, the Philadelphia Eagles demolished the New York Jets, 37-7, at Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday night.
As with most Week 4 preseason games, the emphasis wasn't really on winning the game, but avoiding injuries and getting a final look at players on the fringe of the roster. As a result, we got a third-string quarterback battle between Matt Barkley and Matt Simms.
The former looked much better in Chip Kelly's system, completing 21 of his 33 throws for 253 yards, two touchdowns (one rushing) and an interception, as the Eagles nearly doubled the Jets in total yards, 568-300.
Eagles JV put 568 yards on Jets JV tonight.— Alan Hahn (@alanhahn) August 29, 2014
Why would Philly trade Sanchez? Foles gets hurt they couldn't win games w/Matt Barkley. He's the 3rd QB for a reason— John Middlekauff (@JohnMiddlekauff) August 24, 2014
Still, the former USC standout had his moments, like when he connected with Arrelious Benn for a 43-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
That served as an intriguing late development in the Eagles' competition for what could be the last wide receiver spot, as Delaware News Journal's Martin Frank pointed out:
Benn and Maehl in interesting battle for last WR spot. Benn has 43-yd TD, Maehl 32 and 16-yd receptions. #Eagles.— Martin Frank (@Mfranknfl) August 28, 2014
Benn finished with two catches and 55 yards to go with that score, while Jeff Maehl hauled in all four of his targets for a game-leading 84 yards.
The Sports Network's John McMullen offered his assessment of the situation:
tough to trust Arrelious Benn at this stage but he offers far more outside the numbers than a guy like Jeff Maehl #Eagles— John McMullen (@JFMcMullen) August 29, 2014
Another interesting battle in Philly resides at kicker. Cody Parkey was brought in a week ago to push incumbent Alex Henery, and when the undrafted rookie out of Auburn drilled a 54-yarder in the second quarter, Twitter basically exploded.
Well, as much as it can explode during the fourth preseason game:
Eagles announce parade for Cody Parkey will be held Tuesday. Route starts at City Hall. Public transportation encouraged.— Sheil Kapadia (@SheilKapadia) August 29, 2014
MVP voting: 1. Parkey, 2. Peyton, 3. Rodgers, 4. AP, 5. Brees, 6. Shady …— Reuben Frank (@RoobCSN) August 29, 2014
Henery is 2 of 5 on kicks from 50+ in his career. Long is 51. So Parkey's leg is a clear draw.— Zach Berman (@ZBerm) August 29, 2014
Henry Josey also continued to play well at running back, racking up 109 yards on 19 carries. It will be intriguing to see what Kelly does with him, Matthew Tucker and Chris Polk, who missed his fourth consecutive preseason contest with a hamstring injury.
On the other side of the ball, things weren't nearly as encouraging.
Simms completed just seven of his 21 throws for 121 yards, and 2012 second-round pick Stephen Hill certainly did not benefit. The New York Daily News' Manish Mehta summed up his night:
Looks like Stephen Hill's night is over. Two targets. One catch for 13 yards. One drop. Good enough to make the cut? #nyj— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) August 29, 2014
With other options including guys like Saalim Hakim, Clyde Gates and Greg Salas, Hill should make the team by default. But as he continues to disappoint and fail to take advantage of his physical tools, he becomes more of an option for a trade.
Mehta argued in favor of the youngster:
Preseason is almost over. Does Stephen Hill deserve to make the Jets 53-man roster? (I think he should make it. Higher ceiling) #nyj— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) August 29, 2014
Both teams now turn their focus toward the regular season, where both teams should be favored in Week 1. The Eagles will host the Jacksonville Jaguars, while New York welcomes the Oakland Raiders.
Before we get to that, though, many of the players on display tonight will hope to avoid the pink slip and make the final 53-man roster. Some can feel confident they did enough to assure that. Others will be wishing they did much more.