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September 27, 2015

Instant Observations: Eagles 24, Jets 17

The Eagles came into the Meadowlands extremely banged up, but they still needed a win in the worst way possible after starting off their season at 0-2. The Birds were able to escape MetLife Stadium with a 24-17 win and basically keep their season alive.

Will there be a lot of terrible jokes/stories about how the Eagles turned their season around on the same weekend that the pope visited Philadelphia? Of course, but the Eagles at least made enough big plays to get off the shneid on Sunday. Here’s what I saw: 

The Good

•    No DeMarco Murray today, but one spot where the Eagles are deep is running back. Ryan “Mr. Inside” Mathews and Darren “Mr. Outside” Sproles gave the offense a major boost in increased roles. They combined for 164 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns.

•    What an acquisition Sproles was last year. His long punt return touchdown showcased an amazing combination of speed and the ability to break tackles. For the first time all season, the Eagles were able to get out in front early.

•    The Eagles’ maligned offensive line generally did a nice job in pass protection. Unfortunately, Andrew Gardner left the game with a right foot injury and was replaced by Matt Tobin. Jason Peters exited late as well.

•    Ryan Fitzpatrick tested second-round pick Eric Rowe a couple of times down the left sideline with fellow rookie Devin Smith. Rowe broke up one attempt and made an awesome interception in the end zone on the other. This was a good day for Kelly’s 2015 defensive draft selections. Jordan Hicks had some quality moments starting at middle linebacker.

•    Speaking of Hicks, he made a huge play with a fourth-quarter interception when the Eagles needed it the most. Fitzpatrick’s pass was initially deflected at the line when fill-in/generally large human Brandon Bair was able to get his big paws up in the air.

•    After the Eagles offense again failed to sustain a drive (we’ll get to that), Walter Thurmond III made another highlight interception when Brandon Marshall dropped a pass near the sidelines.

The Bad

•    Ryan Mathews hit on it a couple of times, but in general, that sweep out of the shotgun produces a lot of negative plays. Kelly needs to make a major adjustment or scrap that one completely.

•    The Eagles offense will get overshadowed because the defense won the game, but they were still very poor. The Jets defense is really good, but this is still a unit that couldn’t get much going. Final stats: 68 plays for 231 yards, which is awful.

•    Much of what is said above also applies to Sam Bradford’s performance. He was victimized by some drops, but Bradford doesn’t look anything like the guy we saw in the preseason with the precision passing display he put on in Green Bay. 

•    What a bad fumble by Mathews in the fourth quarter with the Eagles trying to work the clock. That’s just inexcusable. Sproles also dropped one of Bradford’s good throws on a play that might have gone for a touchdown.

•    Another game, another game where the Eagles aren’t even attempting deep passes. This couldn’t have been what Chip Kelly imagined the offense would look like in the offseason.

•    Mon-MOUTH College, John Lynch? Really?

The Ugly

•    I haven’t crunched the numbers on Cody Parkey’s kickoffs, but he’s a serious liability in that department. His early kickoff primarily went out of bounds because it couldn’t reach the Jets’ end zone on the bounce.

•    Brandon Marshall’s failed lateral was a good play for the Eagles, but what in the name of Ronnie Brown was that?

•    How many third down passes are we going to see thrown in Miles Austin’s direction short of the sticks? Kelly and the Eagles still have a lot to work on offensively.

•    In general, the Eagles’ receiving corps was invisible. Jordan Matthews was the only receiver with a catch, finishing with six catches for 49 yards.

•    An illegal substitution after a timeout? And then a false start? Are you kidding?

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann