Philadelphia vs. New York Jets: Report Card Grades for Each Eagles Unit
Matt Barkley played a fine game from the quarterback position. The running backs totaled nearly 300 yards on the ground, which was helped by a tremendous all-around performance from the offensive line. The defense allowed just a single touchdown, coming when rookie safety Ed Reynolds misjudged a deep ball to Clyde Gates.
Winning a preseason game isn’t important aside from the fact that it’s good to know there is solid depth on the roster, but still, the Eagles couldn’t have asked for much better of a performance as a team.
Chip Kelly now has just two days to trim his roster from the current 75 players to the league-mandated 53. That means 22 Eagles who suited up Thursday night won’t be on the team, although up to 10 of those players are eligible for the practice squad.
In his first start since college, Barkley completed 63.6 percent of his passes, threw for 253 yards and a touchdown and ran for another touchdown. He led the Philadelphia Eagles offense to 23 points before giving way to G.J. Kinne.
Barkley did throw an early interception and a costly one at that, as it came with the Eagles inside the New York Jets' red zone. And he missed a deep touchdown pass to a wide-open receiver that he should have connected on.
Still, it was a solid performance for Barkley, and it all but assures that he wins the third quarterback spot ahead of Kinne (not that Barkley was in any real danger anyway).
Coach Kelly on Matt Barkley: Treated this week like he was a starter. Overall, offense was really productive and he did a really nice job.— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) August 29, 2014
Kinne did play well when called upon, though. He completed all three of his passes for 39 yards and a touchdown. He also ran twice for 12 yards, at one point juking his way to a nice first down.
All in all, Barkley and Kinne combined to complete 67 percent of their passes for nearly 300 yards, three total touchdowns and one interception. That’s a good night of work.
If LeSean McCoy goes down with a serious injury, the Philadelphia Eagles may survive after all. It seems that no matter which running back plays, he produces serious yards.
A week after compiling 182 rushing yards and three touchdowns, the Eagles put up 276 ground yards and two more touchdowns. That’s over 450 yards in a two-week span, which means the NFL’s No. 1 rushing offense from 2013 is already in midseason form.
McCoy and Darren Sproles didn’t dress, and third-string running back Chris Polk missed the contest with a hamstring injury. Kenjon Barner contributed with 21 yards on five carries, and Matthew Tucker added 39 on six rushes, but each departed early with minor injuries.
That means it was undrafted rookie Henry Josey who stole the show.
Josey rushed 22 times for 121 yards, averaging an impressive 5.5 yards per clip. Josey’s long was just 18 yards, meaning he consistently gained positive yardage and gave the Eagles excellent field position. He even had a 33-yard run called back due to a holding penalty, meaning Josey actually topped 150 rushing yards.
Henry Josey over 100 yards... Polk, Tucker, Barner all have some type of "injury" right now. Josey could get a spot.— Eagles Nation (@GoEaglesNation) August 29, 2014
Wide receiver Damaris Johnson played again in the Sproles role, rushing five times for 69 yards, including a 46-yard run in which he looked like a reincarnation of De’Anthony Thomas or Tavon Austin.
Chip Kelly will have a difficult decision ahead of him. Polk, Tucker, Barner and Josey are likely fighting for two spots. Polk seemed to be a safe bet, but his injury may make him a candidate for short-term injured reserve.
Tucker has scored four times thus far in preseason, which could elevate him to the 53-man roster. The Eagles did trade for Barner, but the draft pick only becomes guaranteed if he makes the team and plays in four games, and that’s now looking doubtful. Josey should at least get a spot on the practice squad, if not the actual roster.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
It was a quiet, unspectacular day for the wide receiver corps. The first four players on the depth chart—Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper, Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff—didn’t dress. That allowed a handful of receivers fighting for final spots the opportunity to play.
Jeff Maehl led the team with four catches for 84 yards. Arrelious Benn added two for 55, including a 43-yard touchdown on a go route. Quron Pratt and Will Murphy posted lines of two catches for 37 yards and four for 34 respectively.
Damaris Johnson’s fine day was already highlighted in his work as a running back, and he added 19 receiving yards in addition to his 69 rushing. Ifeanyi Momah had one catch for 12 yards.
The tight ends were without Brent Celek and Zach Ertz, but Trey Burton turned in a strong day. He caught six passes (tops on the team) for 45 yards and a touchdown. It seems very unlikely Burton makes the roster though; Celek, Ertz and James Casey are all but locked in as the top three tight ends, and most teams don’t keep four tight ends on the roster.
It’s looking like the Philadelphia Eagles could have a very strong offensive line even if one of the starters should get hurt. The backups played extremely well today, paving the way for 568 total yards. A ridiculous 276 of those came on the ground, and every running back who played seemed to thrive in the offense.
Not one player on the New York Jets finished with a sack either, which is a testament to the pass-blocking abilities of the Eagles offensive line.
Biggest surprise of the preseason for the Eagles? How well the second-team offensive line has played.— Bryn Swartz (@eaglescentral) August 28, 2014
Philly did get a minor scare when top backup Matt Tobin left with an ankle injury, but he should be fine.
X-rays are negative on Matt Tobin's ankle, but he won't return. His prognosis will be interesting. Could force Eagles to keep 8 O-linemen.— Zach Berman (@ZBerm) August 29, 2014
Perhaps the only problem with the offensive line was the surprisingly shaky play of suspended starter Lane Johnson, a 2013 first-round pick who will be inactive until Week 5. Johnson was flagged twice for false starts after committing eight penalties as a rookie.
It was a relatively average day for the Philadelphia Eagles defensive line. Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton were inactive, but last year’s starting nose tackle, Bennie Logan, did suit up.
Former Oregon Duck Brandon Bair continues to play well, and it’s likely he makes the 53-man roster at this point. Bair finished with two tackles and recovered a fumble, and he helped hold the New York Jets’ backfield by committee under 100 yards and with no touchdowns.
Fifth-round rookie Taylor Hart, who has been very quiet this preseason, tied for the team high in both tackles (five) and tackles for loss (one). And seventh-rounder Beau Allen looks to be a lock to contribute regularly in the defensive line rotation.
First-round rookie Marcus Smith was the key player to watch here, as the Philadelphia Eagles will be counting on him as a key pass-rusher this season. Smith did register a quarterback pressure, although he didn’t make an official tackle.
Travis Long had a fine game, collecting two tackles, a sack and a tackle for a loss. Casey Matthews led the team with five tackles, although he’s probably too buried on the depth chart to make the team.
Former first-rounder Brandon Graham had some solid plays himself as a pass-rushing specialist.
Brandon Graham playing another strong game. Nice flow down the line on that run #Eagles— Ed Kracz (@kracze) August 28, 2014
This unit was key in limiting the New York Jets running game, although Emmanuel Acho’s dropped interception early on was a near-turnover that needs to happen.
The defensive backfield played much better today than it did in the first two weeks, notably former third-round corner Curtis Marsh. While Marsh won’t make the 53-man roster, he did show noticeable improvement in his coverage skills.
The Philadelphia Eagles held Matt Simms and Tajh Boyd to under a 50 percent completion rate, and if not for rookie safety Ed Reynolds’ gaffe, there would have been an interception and a team shutout.
How did Ed Reynolds miss that INT? Ball was right there. Gotta make plays like that to make the team.— Tommy Lawlor (@lawlornfl) August 29, 2014
The defensive backfield should be set in stone, with Reynolds being the lone possible surprise cut.
Was this the end of the Alex Henery era? The way Cody Parkey kicked, it very well may be.
Parkey nailed a pair of 50-plus yard field goals, first converting from 53 yards and then from 54. His kickoffs traveled deep in the end zone, and he went 3-for-3 on field goals for the game.
Cody Parkey has as many 50-yard field goals tonight as Henery has in 49 regular-season games.— Reuben Frank (@RoobCSN) August 29, 2014
The Eagles may still go with Henery. They could go with a veteran like Jay Feely or Rob Bironas. Or they could roll the dice with Parkey, an undrafted rookie.
Cody Parkey is good from 53 yards. 3 for 3 tonight. Two FGs from 50+. No. 1 jerseys might be available at the team store tomorrow.— Zach Berman (@ZBerm) August 29, 2014
Punter Donnie Jones averaged nearly 50 yards per punt on his two boots, and long snapper Jon Dorenbos threw the ball between his legs with ease.
In the return game, Damaris Johnson looked like the speedy Johnson who dominated the Eagles’ 2012 camp. He averaged 17.3 yards on his three punt returns. This may be his ticket onto the roster.