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October 06, 2019

Eagles leave meat on the bone, but still cruise to dominating win over Jets

A win wouldn't have been good enough Sunday afternoon. The Eagles needed to pulverize the winless Jets.

With a mini-bye week and a more than favorable opponent waiting for them at the Linc (the Jets without Sam Darnold), the Eagles really had the chance to more than cover the two-touchdown spread they had in Vegas sports books this weekend.

Having played down to their opponents through their first four games, with all four decided by a touchdown or less, the Eagles have really spent the first quarter of the 2019 season turning preseason Super Bowl hype into mundane mediocrity. Injuries have already piled up — DeSean Jackson, Avonte Maddox, Ronald Darby and a slew of others missed Week 5 — but excuses get you nothing but a high draft pick in the NFL. 

The two losses by Philly — to the Falcons (who are now 1-4) and to the Lions (2-1-1) — were to teams many would argue should have been easy victories. The Eagles (3-2) needed to take advantage of a schedule win — and they did, 31-6, in a game that was never in doubt, but could have been much more impressive than it ultimately was.

It only took the Eagles one offensive drive (and two on defense) to build a 14-point lead as the defense forced a three-and-out to lead to a 53-yard opening drive touchdown march, paired with a Nate Gerry pick-six on a broken screen pass. 

However, old habits reared their ugly head during the middle part of the game, as drops and costly penalties stifled several potential Eagles scoring drives.

Carson Wentz was solid, extending several plays throughout the afternoon, but not spectacular, sporting a QB rating of just 89.9 — below his season mark of 95.3.

The defense, however, didn't let up as Brandon Graham led the way against a dull and predicable New York offense, tallying a trio of sacks. 

"Every time I get a sack for this organization, I want to keep being good for them," Graham, a veteran who just signed a big contract extension with Philly this offseason said of his breakout performance. "I want to stay here as long as I can... We talked about having a party. We went out there and had a party.”

A Rodney McLeod interception at the two minute warning led to a Zach Ertz touchdown catch to get the Birds back in the end zone and up 21-0 before the half. 

Orlando Scandrick — who until last week was sitting at home waiting to get a job in the NFL — had a strip sack (the Eagles sixth of 10 total in the game) and returned it for a touchdown to ice the cake in the fourth quarter.

In the box score, the Eagles defense flexed its muscles, holding the Jets to just six first downs through three quarters, a 3-for-14 mark on third down and 128 total yards from scrimmage (and most of it came in the fourth quarter).

The Eagles' red zone streak ended at nine in a row, as the offense settled for a field goal late in the third quarter. The potential shutout ended in the fourth, as a muffed punt return by Corey Clement led to a double-reverse touchdown run by Vyncint Smith — the two biggest mistakes of the game occurring in garbage time.

The Eagles led NFL in third-down conversion rate at 59% heading into game. They converted their first three before succeeding in just two of their last 10 third down chances. Nine penalties is also a bit too many in a game that was pretty much a cake walk from the opening kickoff.

"Offensively, it was not our best," Wentz said after the game. "We know we can be better, and we’ve shown it. That’s a good defense, but we can play better offense."

"We definitely need to do better we have to keep moving the chains, we have to stay on the field. We've shown it, we know we can but we have to execute it. The defense put us in great situations, shoot they gave us 14 points."

Finding easy wins the rest of the way (except for maybe the Dolphins on December 1) will be hard to come by as the season picks up pace. Expect the margin of victory to tighten a bit, with the Vikings, Cowboys and Bills all ahead on the schedule, and all on the road, in the three weeks to come.

"We can’t make those mistakes and expect to win next week," Pederson said looking ahead.

Still, a win is a win.

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