The Eagles for their part are still not eliminated from the playoffs, and actually don’t require that unreasonable a scenario in order to not only make the post-season but to win the NFC East.
As good as the Eagles looked in this game, and it was pretty good, the end result owed far more to the Jets and their performance than it did from the Eagles. So let’s take a quick look at what went so badly wrong for one team and so right for the other.
New York Jets – Three Things of Note
Problems with Wayne
After the game Rex Ryan said it was unfair to single out right tackle Wayne Hunter (-6.4) for the collapse of the offensive line and the torrent of pressure that resulted. Maybe it’s not fair, but neither is life, and Hunter was by far the biggest problem along the unit. All five starters surrendered some pressure, with even Nick Mangold (+2.7) giving up a sack (if nothing else), but Hunter was to blame for two sacks, two more knockdowns and a pair of additional pressures as he found himself completely overmatched on the edge. Like it or not Hunter was a huge issue for the Jets’ offense in this game, and it isn’t the first time this season that’s true (remember the Denver game?). The Jets are a team that goes as their offensive line goes, perhaps more than any other in the NFL, and in this game their offensive line only went backwards.
Just what to do with Sanchez
It can be quite easy at times watching the Jets to wonder just how Mark Sanchez (-5.0) is still up and running and hasn’t been sat down some time ago. This game showed both reasons pretty well. The first is that despite all the poor throws and the bad decisions and the sub-standard play, you will see glimpses of the guy Rex Ryan sees. 8:34 in the second quarter is a great example of this. On 1st-and-10 Sanchez drops back, pumps at his first read, comes off his second, slides to his left to avoid pressure and fires a perfect pass to Dustin Keller 40-yards down field for the first down. Keller was at best his third read on the play and this is the kind of play you expect Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers to make. Sanchez is capable of it, he just needs to do it more than once or twice a game. The second reason came when Mark Brunell came in the game late in garbage time. Brunell threw two of the worst passes you’ll see, no less than ten yards away from any potential receiver. If the Jets do want to sit Sanchez they need to find a more viable option than Brunell to go out there.
Searching for a bright spot
It is pretty tough sledding to find a bright spot for the Jets in this game. Brodney Pool (+1.5) didn’t have a bad game but he was strangely AWOL on the 73-yard catch and run by Brent Celek despite being 20-yards in the secondary. He might be well capable of replacing the play of Jim Leonard but the question is can the Jets stay organized at the back without their leader. Mike DeVito (+1.3) didn’t have a bad game either, though in truth the Jets’ defensive front was handled pretty conclusively by the Eagles all game long. In truth almost everything from the Jets was poor in this game, so we’ll have to settle for a few players not playing terribly.
Philadelphia – Three Things of Note
Saddle up boys
The Eagles’ defensive front was able to tear through the Jets with frightening regularity, led by the pass-rush of Jason Babin (+7.4). On just 23 rushes Babin notched three sacks, a knockdown and three more pressures on the day, and is chasing the trifecta of the league-lead in sacks, the Eagles’ franchise record in single-season sacks (held by some guy called Reggie White), and the All-Time NFL record in sacks for a single season. Any one of these may end up eluding him, but the fact that he has a realistic shot at any of them with two games left shows the kind of season the free agent acquisition has had. The Eagles now have a pair of fearsome edge rushers and can certainly bring the heat if they get a lead in a game.
What O-line problems?
It wasn’t long ago that people were blaming the Eagles’ offensive line for conspiring to get Michael Vick killed, but now they’re playing as well as any unit in the league, and have the best left side in football in the shape of a pair of All-Pro caliber players: Jason Peters (+4.1) at left tackle and Evan Mathis (+3.3) at left guard. Vick may be prone to running away from his protection at times, but the huge improvement in the O-line over the season is one of the reasons the Eagles have started to look like the side they were supposed to be. Both Peters and Mathis had perfect days in pass protection and were impressive at sealing the edge of the Jets run defense, allowing LeSean McCoy (+1.6) to get to the edge.
Celek leads the Eagles
If you had to think of tight ends that lead their team in receiving, you probably wouldn’t leap straight to Brent Celek (+3.7), but games like this show you why he does. His 73-yard catch and run came from a nice double move where he was able to sell David Harris on an out-breaking quick pattern before cutting back in behind him and having nothing but open field to run into, and his earlier one-handed touchdown catch was spectacular. Celek may not have the physical abilities of some of the new breed of super-athlete tight end, but he is an impressively talented player and capable of performances like this where he carries the Eagles offense.
– Jason Babin’s two seasons with Jim Washburn as his coach – 30.5 sacks. His seven previous seasons without Washburn – 17.5 sacks.
– Ronnie Brown is slowly climbing his way out of the Eagles’ doghouse. After his disaster fumble early in the season he saw 12 snaps in this game, including sharing the field with McCoy.
– Brodney Pool was the only Jets defender to play every defensive snap in this game.
PFF Game Ball
Jason Babin tore the Jets’ offensive line to ribbons and never allowed Sanchez to settle and get things going.