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October 15, 2023

Final observations: Jets 20, Eagles 14

A stagnant offense, massive injuries and four costly turnovers did the Eagles in, as they fall to the Jets in their first loss of the season.

This was pure disgusting football, as the Eagles lose their first game of the season 20-14 against the Jets. Here are my final takeaways from the game. You can read my first half observations here as well.

Let's get after it...

The Highs

• After his big first half miscue, Dallas Goedert attempted to atone for that drop-turned-INT with a 13-yard pickup on a tight end screen on the first play of the second half. Given Goedert's physicality and YAC ability, TE screens should always be an efficient move for the Birds. Left tackle Jordan Mailata was there to crush a Jets defender as well to break him loose. 

On the immediate next play, D'Andre Swift, who fumbled late in the second quarter, ripped off a nine-yard run with some nice burst. Knowing how this Eagles' coaching nucleus operates, I don't think it's a coincidence that the Eagles fed these players early given what transpired in the first half. They want to illustrate that they have trust in these two key skill guys. 

• When it felt like the Jets were about to punch the Eagles in the gut with a back-breaking third down drive in the red zone, Haason Reddick came up clutch. With New York facing a second and eight at the Birds' eight-yard line, Reddick crushed Zach Wilson for a 15-yard loss, forcing a field goal and preserving the Eagles' lead:

That may have been a four-point swing. Reddick started this season slow as he recovered from late-summer thumb surgery, but he's back in a big way. That was his second sack of the game (he'd add to that total later, too) and comes on the heels of a two-sack performance last week in Los Angeles. An All-Pro case for Reddick is building for the second consecutive season.

• Milton Williams is the most unsung player along the Eagles' front seven. It's understandable giving the big names he's lining up with, but he's gotten better and better every year since the Birds used a third-round pick on him in 2020. He helped them survive Jalen Carter being out

The Lows

• I usually present these running thoughts in each category in chronological order, but this game will be remembered for Jalen Hurts' hair-pulling third down interception late in the fourth quarter:

You just can't do that. There isn't much to say. It was Hurts' third pick of the game. The first one wasn't his fault but each successive INT became a worse and worse look for QB1. 

• Two easy drops for DeVonta Smith in this one? C'mon. His drop early in the third quarter would've been a huge chunk gain that put the Eagles into the red zone. The Birds ultimately punted on that drive. 

• The absence of Lane Johnson looms large. On the Eagles' opening drive of the half, a second and 15 turned into a third and forever after Jets pass rusher Bryce Huff blew up Jack Driscoll and helped force a sack on Hurts. Missing Johnson for an extended period of time is going to be felt in a bad, bad way. A relatively good update on the Johnson front comes from veteran reporter Derrick Gunn, at least:

• The Eagles' defense got killed in the short game with poor linebacker play and then Garrett Wilson continued to look like a superstar for longer chunk plays down the field. The Jets had the most efficient run attack of anyone who's faced the Birds this season. Uncoincidentally, Carter was out for this game. The Eagles really could've used Darius Slay in this one to slow down Wilson in even the slightest way, too. 

• Kenny Gainwell had an absolutely brutal third down drop with the Eagles deep in their own territory late in the third quarter. We've come a long way from Gainwell being the Eagles' go-to back over the summer and in Week 1 up in Foxboro. He's seeing fewer and fewer opportunities and not even remotely making the most of them. The Eagles need to explore taking Gainwell out of his role as the third down back given Swift's ability as a pass-catcher and the somewhat high floor that Boston Scott presents. 

• The Eagles were -2 in the turnover margin in the first half. They lost the ball for the third time in the Meadowlands after Hurts was hit while throwing, causing an errant pass that fell into the hands of Bryce Hall:

It wasn't as if Hurts riskily tossed a pass while defenders were all over him, but that's brutal. Driscoll was completely turned around while filling in at right tackle. It was been a rough showing for Driscoll all around. Depending on the next Johnson injury update, would Howie Roseman consider trading for a right tackle or will they hope the schooling of Jeff Stoutland University will carry Driscoll? I don't envy making that decision. 

• Jake Elliott has been better than ever this season, which makes a missed 37-yard field goal in the fourth quarter all the tougher. With the offense stuck in the mud and the team clinging to a 14-12 lead, that needed to be an easy make. 

• Will we here chatter about how Nick Sirianni should take over play-calling duty from offensive coordinator Brian Johnson? It's absolutely worth discussing...

The Whoas

• The NFL needs to ban turf. The players hate it. That simple fact alone should make waves. For a league that feigns interest in player safety, they sure don't take a lot of action when it comes down to it.

• Mark Sanchez rooted harder for the Jets in the broadcast booth than some New York fans did in the stands at MetLife Stadium. Sheesh. He also used the phrase "like a salmon covered in Vaseline" to describe Hurts' escapability in the pocket. It was "jawn" in the first half, now this. Just stop. 

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