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October 15, 2023

First half observations: Eagles 14, Jets 9

Jalen Hurts looking like an MVP, the loss of Lane Johnson and more observations following the Eagles' 14-9 first half lead against the Jets.

After 30 minutes of play against the Jets, the Eagles are up 14-9. A win in the Meadowlands will leave the Eagles as the NFL's lone undefeated team following San Francisco and Brock Purdy's meltdown in Cleveland. Here are my first half takes. Be sure to tune into PhillyVoice when that final whistle blows for my final observations as well.

Let's get after it...

The Highs

• On a third and seven on the Birds' first offensive drive, pressure was collapsing upon Jalen Hurts. He rolled right while Jets defenders were draped on him, refusing to go down before firing a first down pass to A.J. Brown along the sideline:

That was a Donovan McNabb-style play from QB1. Hurts has been way more of an electric runner than McNabb ever was, but the strength to move with the opposition hanging on for dear life and the accuracy on the run were reminiscent of peak No. 5.

• It shouldn't have taken this long into the Nick Sirianni era for the Eagles to make heavy use of 21 personnel with two running backs out there. Perhaps Sirianni is leaning into the magic that is Boston Scott playing in the Meadowlands, but a third and two fake handoff to D'Andre Swift with Hurts dumping off a short pass to Scott for a first down was crafty. 

• Though this play was originally ruled a turnover on down, a fourth and goal QB draw from Hurts was successful for the game's first touchdown:

For the cry babies out there, the Eagles can in fact score in goal-to-go situations with runs other than the Tush Push. The Birds' offensive looked smooth overall on that 19-play scoring drive.

• After a Dallas Goedert miscue that will be discussed below and the vibes off, Josh Sweat made an incredible run stuff on Breece Hall for a two-yard loss. This second drive could've given New York some stability with some favorable field position before the 40s, but Sweat wasn't having any of that. The Jets ultimately turned the ball over on downs after a failed fourth down attempt. Huge. Credit to defensive coordinator Sean Desai there for making Zach Wilson uncomfortable on the ensuing three plays.

• A throw down field to Brown off a deep post could've been six with a great throw from Hurts, but Brown slowed down mid route. It looked as if he didn't think he'd be getting the ball and slagged off. Not great. Brown, however, redeemed himself shortly after, on a 49-yard gain that featured some juicy run-after-the-catch ability. The Eagles punched it into the end zone shortly after. Brown quickly made up for that mistake. 

The Lows

• I'd say Lane Johnson is the most indispensable player on the Eagles roster, even more so than Hurts. Seeing him go down in the first quarter should have frightened Philadelphians. Johnson limped off the field under his control, went to the medical tent and then proceeded to head back to the locker room. This is potentially disastrous. Eagles fans are waiting with bated breath for these X-rays to come back. His return is reported as questionable, but I simply cannot envision the Eagles risk throwing him back in there in a Week 6 game. 

Enter Jack Driscoll, the fourth-year swingman. I don't envy the position he's in, replacing the best player in the NFL at his position and a Hall of Fame talent.

• Mark Sanchez being the color commentator for this game on FOX took me back to the 2014 Eagles. The Eagles were 9-3 after a 33-10 smackdown of the Cowboys on Thanksgiving with Sanchez at the helm. They then proceeded to lose the next three games and blow their shot at making the postseason. That's where my head automatically went! My ears began to bleed after Sanchez said "jawn" on the broadcast, too.

• Former Eagle defensive back Craig James made a hell of a play, diving with full extension and deflecting a pass in the end zone intended for Olamide Zaccheaus, forcing a third down. The Eagles, with an overturning challenge, would still punch in a touchdown on that drive.

• Here's a moment that Goedert assuredly wants back: 

That's rough. A catch and short run that even didn't result in a first down could've made for a manageable fourth down pickup or a long field goal attempt for Jake Elliott. That's somehow not the weirdest drop from Goedert that's turned into an interception in his NFL career. Strange. 

• Another bad turnover... Swift fumbled after hauling in a pass from Hurts and gave the Jets the ball near the 50-yard line with under twin minutes remaining in the half. The Eagles were driving and just got some help from a roughing the passer call. It looked like it would soon be 21-6, or at least 17-6, going into the half with the Eagles getting the ball to open the third quarter. The Birds may have been staring down a 28-6 lead in the next hour and now head into the locker room up by just one score. Not great!

It's pretty damn hard to win a football game when you're -2 in the turnover. That's where the Birds find themselves right now. 

• Garrett Wilson needs to be doubled the entire second half. 

The Whoas

• Not being able to hear the broadcast for the game's opening drive while FOX did a split screen with the 49ers-Browns game was infuriating. Yes, it was great to see the 49ers lose while Purdy turned back into a pumpkin, but this shouldn't be happening in the local market! Browns defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz did the Eagles a favor for the first time since 2019.

• I'm not breaking any news here, but Hurts is so fun to watch:

Last week was his best game of the young season and he continues to resemble the MVP form he had throughout the 2022 campaign. 

• The Jets' social media manager was salty after that Hurts fourth and goal TD:

Tough look! 

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