By Dylan MacKinnon
The Eagles did what they are supposed to do. They beat up on a bad team. It started kind of ugly. The Jets scored three straight TDs. But so did the Eagles. And while the Eagles went on to score 12 more points (all on FGs) the Jets got shut down the rest of the game. I don’t know if you can say they looked great, but they looked competent. And after the loss the week before to the Giants, we will take competent. Here are 5 numbers that tell the story of the game.
Since the Eagles traded Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert has averaged roughly 58.7 yards per game. That is not counting the Broncos game where he left early with a concussion. 58.7 may not sound like a lot, but stretch it out over the 13 games they played, it’s 763 yards. That would be 3rd among all Tight Ends, with only Mark Andrews and Travis Kelce ahead of him. Today he showed off with over 100 yards and two TDs. The massive contract he got may have seemed like an overpay given his production, but now that he is TE1, he is prepared to show he is worth the top TE money.
Jake Elliott has now made 15 straight FGs and is 22 for 24 overall. One of his two misses was blocked. He has been nearly flawless this year. As bad as he was last year, he is as good this year. We saw today with the Jets that a dependable kicker is a luxury in the NFL. There are teams that haven’t had even a decent kicker in years. Elliott has become automatic. Their patience with his struggles paid off, and now they have a guy they can rely on to make every extra point, and pretty much every FG.
Gardener Minshew finished with an 80% completion rate. It was a better completion rate than Hurts has ever had in his career. In fact, in Hurts 17 games, he has only had a completion rate over 70% once (vs the Falcons), and only had a rate over 60% six times. Now my point here is not to say that Minshew should start. We have seen enough of him in the NFL to know he isn’t a long-term option. They need to ride it out with Hurts and see what he has in him. But the point is the difference it makes in this offense when there is an accurate QB. Accuracy is one of Hurts biggest issues. It’s something he has to work on if he is going to last at this level.
Despite it all, the Eagles are currently a playoff team. For the time being, they hold a .5 game lead over several teams for the 3rd wildcard spot. They are ahead of the Panthers and the Saints (whom they hold the tiebreaker over), Washington (who are playing the Raiders now), and the Vikings. They play Washington twice still, so they control their own destiny there. The Vikings would be the biggest threat for that final wild-card spot. The Vikings just lost to the Lions. They also still have to play the Rams and Packers. So the Eagles still find themselves in a position where if they take care of their business, they should end up with that final wildcard spot. The question will be can they handle their business?
Early in the season, penalties were the Eagles Achilles heel. They had 45 through 4 games, which lead the NFL by a wide margin. Since then, they have only 39 in 9 games, including just 3 today. The Eagles have been a mediocre team, but give them credit for not only fixing the penalty issue but in the process becoming one of the least penalized teams. In those 9 games, they average just 4.3 penalties per game. Over a full season, that would be the second least amount per game. They have a lot of problems still, but they turned one major problem into a strength. Rookie head coach Nick Sirianni deserves credit for that.