Philadelphia Eagles Week 4 Stock Report
The Philadelphia Eagles desperately needed a win on Sunday, and they got one. Ugly or not, that's all that matters, and as a result, the team's stock should once again be on the rise—tentatively.
There's no reason to lessen the value of the Eagles' victory over the New York Jets, or how they came by it. Yes, the offense was inconsistent once again. Yes, they had to hold on until the very end to squeak out the win against what some would label an inferior opponent.
Yet the Eagles were without several key players. They went on the road into a hostile environment against an unbeaten team. They got just enough going on offense against legitimately one of the best defenses in the NFL.
It was by no means a perfect game for the Eagles, but it was one to build upon. Nobody's stocks were sent tumbling in the hard-fought battle, but quite a few rose exponentially, particularly on the defensive side of the football.
Again, this is tentative. If the Eagles lose to Washington in Week 4, you can bet the market is going to crash in Philadelphia. For now, it feels safe to reinvest back into this club, because should it get back to .500, that could send stocks soaring.
Stock Up: Ryan Mathews
Let's be clear: The Eagles did not finally have an okay game running the football because DeMarco Murray didn't play against the Jets. Having said that, Ryan Mathews' big day proved what some have been saying all along, that he isn't much of a downgrade at all from the reigning NFL rushing champion.
Some would ask, "How could that be? Murray ran for 1,845 yards last season." Yes, but he also did that while getting 392 carries, behind one of the best offensive lines in the league. In terms of skill set, Murray and Mathews are quite similar.
In fact, Mathews actually may be slightly more impressive.
That's what teams seemed to think several years ago, when he was selected 12th overall in the 2010 draft, and a year later Murray didn't come off the board until Round 3. In actuality, the two are very close in terms of size and athleticism, while Mathews' career certainly hasn't been anything to sneeze at, with a pair of 1,000-yard campaigns and an invitation to the Pro Bowl as a member of the San Diego Chargers.
Mathews finally got an extended opportunity to show what he's capable of in the Eagles offense, carrying 25 times for 108 yards—a 4.3 average—and hauling a 23-yard touchdown pass. He shouldn't necessarily be the lead back when Murray gets healthy, but Mathews should definitely share more of the load moving forward.
Stock Up: Eric Rowe
Simply put, Eric Rowe didn't look like he was ready to contribute for the Eagles as training camp and preseason were coming to an end. After getting off to a fantastic start, the rookie cornerback increasingly seemed to be struggling in coverage, and when all was said and done, Rowe wound up the fourth corner on the depth chart.
As it turned out, the Eagles would need the fourth corner on Sunday. The Jets were going with a lot of four- and five-wide receiver sets, while an injury to safety Chris Maragos had the secondary down a defensive back in the first place. Rowe was thrust into action—and did not disappoint.
If Rowe wasn't ready, you wouldn't have known it based on his performance. Twice, the Utah Utes product trailed a Jets receiver deep down the field, knocking one pass away and coming up with a key interception on the next. Rowe also finished the game with two tackles.
Defensive coordinator Bill Davis praised Rowe's efforts on Tuesday, proving definitively the 22-year-old's stock is up.
"Eric Rowe will get increased opportunities. It was what we needed to see from Eric: Under fire, under fire on a regular Sunday, he rises up and makes the plays that he's asked to. He did that."
Stock Up: Jordan Hicks
Heading into Sunday's game, the question was if the Eagles could get by with Jordan Hicks in place of Kiko Alonso and Mychal Kendricks for another week. Heading out of Sunday's game, the question has become: How do they keep Hicks off the field?
The rookie interior linebacker proved his NFL debut was no fluke. After racking up seven solo tackles, a sack and a forced fumble against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2, the Texas Longhorns product posted an even bigger line against the Jets. Hicks finished the contest with a team-high 10 tackles, a pass breakup, an interception and a fumble recovery in the victory.
That gives Hicks 17 tackles, a sack, an interception and a forced fumbles in two games. As long as he's playing like that, it's hard to argue the Eagles even miss the other guys.
Hicks' sack may have been the play of the season for the Eagles as well. While you never want to see players get hurt, there's no denying knocking out Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is a huge help for Philadelphia in its race to catch the NFC East rivals in the standings. Even when and if Kendricks and Alonso return, Hicks should remain an integral part of the rotation up the middle.
Stock Up: Brandon Bair
With Cedric Thornton and Taylor Hart both out for Sunday's game against the Jets, it seemed the Eagles might be taking a hit up front. Brandon Bair had not even been active the first two games of the season, and while he proved to be a steady defensive reserve in 2014, there was at least some concern it would be a step down.
The reality is the Eagles defense didn't miss a beat with Bair in the lineup. Quite the contrary; he was a force to be reckoned with. The 30-year-old defensive end made four tackles and swatted three pass attempts at the line of scrimmage, one of which wound up going for an interception. And as a team, the unit held the Jets to 2.9 yards per rushing attempt, another area Bair had a huge hand in.
The depth along the defensive line is just incredible at this point. Everybody knew Bair could be serviceable, but he took over the game at times. Hart, who was behind Bair last year, has taken a huge step forward in his second NFL season. Vinny Curry can rush the passer from anywhere on the field.
One thing you don't have to worry about with the Eagles is whether this line will hold up if there's an injury or two.
Stock Up: Connor Barwin
How much could Connor Barwin's stock really rise coming off a Pro Bowl season in which he led all NFC players with 14.5 sacks? Probably not a whole heck of a lot, but Barwin's performance during the early goings of this season, and against the Jets in particular, deserves recognition.
Barwin did it all on Sunday. He played his typical stout run defense, setting the edge and bringing ball-carriers to the turf. He got pressure on the quarterback, bringing Ryan Fitzpatrick down for his second sack of 2015. He even had a hand in keeping Brandon Marshall in check, lining up across from the five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver a handful of times.
Is there anything Barwin doesn't do in the Eagles defense? No. No, there is not.
Barwin's stock could be considered on the rise because there was some question as to whether he could repeat last season's performance. Whether he makes it to 14.5 sacks again remains to be seen, but one thing there is no doubt about is he is still one of the most important players on Philadelphia's defense.
All quotes and camp observations are firsthand.