Pick Of The Litter
Hurts 4Q Interception Clears Way For Lowly Jets To Steal Win, Hands Birds First Loss
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – It took a collective effort for the undermanned Jets to stave off the equally short-handed – and previously undefeated – Eagles, who lost for the first time this season Sunday at MetLife Stadium, a turnover-plagued 20-14 defeat.
The Eagles’ M*A*S*H unit defense nearly held firm long enough to preserve a narrow win and perfect record, but Jets safety Tony Adams jumped a Dallas Goedert route to pick off Jalen Hurts with under two minutes to play on 3rd-and-9, and his 45-yard return deep into Eagles territory set up Breece’s Hall’s 8-yard touchdown surge to invigorate the home crowd.
The Eagles turned the ball over four times – a season high, and one fewer than their entire turnover total entering the game – and kicker Jake Elliott missed a 37-yarder to let the Jets hang around before the Hall touchdown despite converting just two of 17 third downs.
Let’s go ahead with the observations.
* Despite activating LB Nakobe Dean from injured reserve, the Eagles opted to remain with the starting tandem of Zach Cunningham and Nicholas Morrow. As he has since Week 2, Morrow sported the green dot. CB Josh Jobe got the starting nod in place of an injured Darius Slay.
* Jets QB Zach Wilson looked shoddy but was bailed out on a 3rd-and-8 holding penalty called on Jobe – a handsy, physical corner who’s best suited for press-man and will be victimized at times for over-aggressiveness. The penalty inflicted little damage, however, as the Jets were forced to punt four plays later.
* Unlike one week ago – when the Eagles could sell out to stymie Aaron Donald’s game-wrecking impact – the Eagles had to be concerned with the multitude of disruptive Jets linemen. But while the Jets did all they could to turn up the heat, they had trouble rattling the fourth-year quarterback, who early on showed poise, delivering pinpoint strikes – a 10-yarder and 8-yarder to WR A.J. Brown – on the opening drive.
* RT Lane Johnson, among the team’s most irreplaceable players, appeared to get rolled up on at the tail end of a play on the opening drive. Jack Driscoll came in in relief for his first offensive snaps of 2023.
* The Eagles’ opening scoring drive covered 91 yards on 19 plays, including 12 passes, five of which went to different receivers. Replay determined that Hurts broke the plane of the end zone on his fourth-down touchdown run.
* CB Eli Ricks, who had been rotating throughout the week with Jobe, took the entire second defensive series opposite Bradberry. He missed a tackle on his first play – a 6-yard completion to RB Breece Hall to the right, but it makes sense for the Eagles to get Ricks some action at his natural position.
* Rookie DT Moro Ojomo, who played four snaps in Week 5 in his NFL debut, rotated in on the Eagles’ second defensive series. Also on that series, veteran DE Brandon Graham doubled as a standup rusher.
* The Jets made a concerted effort on their second offensive possession to get the ball out of QB Zach Wilson’s hands, taking advantage of an undermanned Eagles secondary and keeping an unrelenting pass rush at bay. They even ran a hurry-up offense and caught the Eagles with 12 men on the field. In the end, the 11-play, 49-yard drive resulted in a field goal.
* Every time I watched DT Quinnen Williams play, I’m fascinated at his athleticism and fluidity. On a 3rd-and-9, Williams was there to corral a Dallas Goedert drop into an interception, returning possession to the Jets at the Eagles 45 with 10:33 left until the break.
* Eagles continued to mix-and-match personnel in the secondary, with CB Mario Goodrich coming on the ensuing possessoin to play the slot. Following the play – a 2-yard Hall loss – CB Bradley Roby returned.
* WR A.J. Brown entered the game having accumulated 24 catches for 433 yards and two touchdowns and added a 49-yard catch-and-run to set the table for the Eagles’ second scoring drive, which culminated in a 9-yard catch by D’Andre Swift. One of Brown’s strongest attributes continues to be his run-after-catch ability, where he acts as a linebacker on the move. One would be hard-pressed to find a wide receiver playing better than Brown right now.
* Ricks, who saw his first extensive action at cornerback, exited late in the second frame with a knee injury and was listed as questionable to return. Tough break for the rookie.
* When Jets WR Xavier Gipson took an end-around for 18 yards, it appeared rookie SAM Nolan Smith was the primary culprit for breaking contain.
* The Jets’ pass rush proved to be problematic on the opening drive coming out of the break, as both RT Jack Driscoll and RG Sua Opeta appeared overmatched on a 2nd-and-15 that set up a 3rd-and-23.
* P Braden Mann, signed to the 53 last week, pinned the Jets deep in their own territory following a running into the kicker penalty, forcing the Jets to start at their own 7-yard-line.
* Zach Wilson got off some quality throws coming out of the break, perhaps the best being the 33-yarder down the right sideline to WR Garrett Wilson with Jobe closely defending. Jobe can’t play with his back to the ball there, but Garrett Wilson came down with some remarkable catches.
* Following the Jets WR Allen Lazard blindside block on S Reed Blankenship, the Eagles – who dressed only two true safeties – were forced to insert practice squad call-up Mekhi Garner.
* Following Blankenship’s exit, the secondary was comprised of: Bradberry, Terrell Edmunds, Jobe, Goodrich, and Garner. The electric Miami Dolphins receiving corps awaits.
*For as undermanned as they were, the Eagles managed to tighten up inside the red zone, forcing four Jets field goals. Not enough has been made about just how steady Bradberry has been given his role changes and the constant moving parts in the secondary. Bradberry tallied a nice pass deflection late in the third quarter.
* Far too many penalties in this one. The Eagles were tacked with five for 36 yards, while the Jets committed nine for 68.
* The Eagles again executed relatively well on third down, going 6-for-11.
* The Eagles’ DL turned up the heat late in the game. EDGE Hasson Reddick registered 2.5 sacks, while Josh Sweat recorded one. Graham, Williams, and Jordan Davis were each credited with a half-sack.
– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.