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Eagles Evaluation: Means, Jones Shoot Down Jets

By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Staff

The Eagles entered their final preseason game with anyone who will be on the roster for sure not playing. The focus was on players who are battling for the last few spots on the roster. Some of the more high profile players to play were Jordan Mailata, Josh Adams, DeAndre Carter, Christian Hackenberg, Markus Wheaton, and Billy Brown.

Below are my drive by drive analyses:

First Quarter

Drive One (Defense)

  • After a really nice tackle by Joe Walker, the Jets rushed for a short gain and then dropped a deep pass down the field for a three and out.

Drive Two (Offense)

  • Joe Callahan hit Billy Brown for a five yard gain on first down.
  • Josh Adams was nearly tackled behind the line of scrimmage on a power rush, but was able to spin forward for a short gain. The Eagles went right back to him, but this time he could not escape the four defenders who had broken through the offensive line and the Eagles were forced to punt.

Drive Three (Defense)

  • After swarming two runs, the Jets passed right up the middle for a 10 yard gain.
  • Kyle Wilson made a good stop on the next run and that was followed by a near first down completion that was blatantly dropped. De'Vante Bausby was beat easily on the play.
  • LaRoy Reynolds dropped coverage and laid out on the next play to try and make an interception, but missed. Luckily for him, the receiver dropped the ball again. The Jets went for a huge field goal and made it.

Drive Four (Offense)

  • Josh Adams made a short run up the middle then Callahan rolled out of the pocket and hit Billy Brown. Brown leaped backward onto the ground for a ball that hit him in the chest and might have cost a first down. Part of that is also on Callahan for not hitting him in stride and making him slow up a bit.
  • Callahan made a risky throw, but it paid off as it hit DeAndre Carter in stride for a big catch and run.
  • A bad snap by Jon Toth seemed to stop all the momentum that the previous plays had built, losing 13 yards.
  • Markus Wheaton saw his first action on the next play. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t catch the ball. That could have been a touchdown catch. We heard all about him at the start of OTAs, but his injury allowed Shelton Gibson and DeAndre Carter to pass him on the depth chart. This was not a good first impression to make if he wanted to be on this team.
  • Callahan threw the next pass away and the Eagles punted.

Drive Five (Defense)

  • Means brought the pressure, but Nate Gerry was beat and allowed a first down pass.
  • After the line stuffed another run play, Kyle Wilson made a grab to stop the runner just before getting a first down. That proved to be a big play as LaRoy Reynolds broke through the line and stopped the next run to force a punt.

Drive Six (Offense)

  • Josh Adams took the handoff and broke a tackle just to get back to the line of scrimmage. Then Callahan hit Denham for a nice gain of nine yards.
  • Big V made a solid block up the middle to allow Josh Adams to get a first down before he was touched. That’s the kind of play we hope to see starting next week.
  • Adams took another handoff for a very short gain and ran out the clock for the quarter.

Second Quarter

Drive Six (Continued - Offense)

  • Carter got wide open on the next play and Callahan was able to connect with him for a first down. Carter seemed to have a minor injury on the play and ran off.
  • Callahan threw the next pass over the head of Denham. Adams nearly broke out, but could not break loose of a defender holding his shirt for a short gain.
  • Callahan felt pressure and threw away the next ball and resulted in a punt.

Drive Seven (Defense)

  • Another run stuff by the line was nearly negated as Chandon Sullivan was beat, but the pass ended up being far too low to be caught.
  • Joe Walker made a nice tackle in pass coverage to knock the ball out and the Jets were forced to punt.

Drive Eight (Offense)

  • Hackenberg came in to make his first Eagles appearance. He started off by being sacked. He felt pressure and rolled out to the area where Jordan Mailata had just pushed his defender and it did not end well.
  • After Mailata was called for an illegal formation and a delay of game, Hackenberg made an excellent pass through double coverage to Denham.
  • Unfortunately the next play was a poor throw for an interception. It was a bad throw from Hackenberg, but it was also a poor route by Rashad Davis who was touched by the defender and essentially stopped playing which allowed the interception and near pick-six.

Drive Nine (Defense)

  • Steven Means made a great stop on the run, but was beat in pass protection for a large gain.
  • Jeremy Reaves whiffed on a tackle to allow a first down, but that was followed by a run stop by the line, a dropped pass and a well played ball by Chandon Sullivan. He played that like a wide receiver and made the play to prevent the Jets from getting any points off yet another turnover. He has no chance at making the 53-man roster, but he could earn himself a ticket to the practice squad if he isn’t claimed off waivers.

Drive 10 (Offense)

  • Josh Adams made two solid runs to get to a third and short situation, but a pass from Hackenberg was way behind Carter. That was a wide open pass that both players could have done better.

Drive 11 (Defense)

  • LaRoy Reynolds got in the way of a pass enough to make sure that it was not caught.
  • Kyle Wilson missed a tackle, but Reeves was able to bring him down after a four-yard game. This was followed by a poor pass that no player had a chance at catching which resulted in a punt.

Drive 12 (Offense)

  • After a five-yard rush up the middle by Adams, Hackenberg had a perfect throw to a covered Billy Brown who dropped the ball. He is hurting his chances at making this team.
  • Hackenberg then sailed a pass that was an easy interception for the Jets.

Drive 13 (Defense)

  • With a first and goal, the Eagles allowed a three-yard run.
  • The Eagles stuffed the next run and nearly gave up a touchdown on a quarterback scramble where Joe Walker sold out and missed the tackle for loss. Luckily, Walker’s presence forced the quarterback in where Joe Ostman was able to catch the runner and pull him down just before he crossed the plain.
  • The Jets went for it, but Aziz Shittu was in the hole and there was nowhere to go. Another goal line stand. The depth that the Eagles have on defense this preseason is even better than it was last season.

Drive 14 (Offense)

  • Pumphrey got a screen that went for a huge gain, but that was because he wasn’t touched. That could have very easily been a touchdown. There were only two defenders down the field. Greg Ward Jr. was blocking one and Jon Toth was down the field to block the safety. Instead of following the lineman, Pumphrey turned into the only defender near him and cut in the way that made Greg Ward’s block useless. Pumphrey was supposed to be a guy who is great in space and can make those plays much like Sproles, however on this play, he made the worst decision possible. He is unlikely to make the team unless another running back is traded and is also fairly likely to be claimed on waivers.
  • A nine-yard scramble and a nice pass to Pumphrey up the middle resulted in another first down.
  • A pass attempt went errant as the line collapsed and allowed a near sack.
  • A dump to Pumphrey before getting out of bounds and a nice pass and catch to Ward for yet another first down with 20 seconds remining in the half.
  • Hackenberg got a huge scramble up the field thanks to a block from Mailata and another from DeAndre Carter down the field. They were not able to stop the clock before time expired, however. That’s partially Hackenberg’s fault, but the defender who tackled him also sat on top of him for three seconds which would have given the time needed to stop the clock.

Third Quarter

Drive 15 (Offense)

  • Hackenberg started under pressure and had to throw the ball away quickly on the first play. He followed that up with a nice read to keep the ball and run for a big gain.
  • A delayed handoff to Josh Adams went nowhere.
  • Another pass way over the receiver’s head was followed by the quarterback rushing for another first down.
  • A handoff to Pumphrey gained three yards and then a dump pass caught by the back went nowhere.
  • Another pass was too high and resulted in a 55-yard field goal attempt. Elliot made another long kick. He has been an amazing pickup from midseason. It makes you wonder why the Bengals cut him at the beginning of the season.

Drive 16 (Defense)

  • Joe Walker was in great coverage on a pass attempt, but Reaves was called for a late hit and the Jets got a first down.
  • Brice Hector made a solid stop to make a rush attempt lose yardage.
  • The line brought pressure, but the Jets completed a short pass. That was followed by another pass that beat Chandon Sullivan and converted for a first down.
  • With the Jets driving, Means blew past a lineman and a running back to sack the quarterback and strip the football. Kyle Wilson came up with it for a turnover.

Drive 17 (Offense)

  • Hackenberg had all day and just stared down Josh Adams before finally throwing the ball. Adams dropped the pass, which was bad, but he also got hit hard because Hackenberg just stared at him.
  • A short pass to Adams was followed by Hackenberg being sacked. They rushed right up the middle and I don’t think Hackenberg saw it right away.

Drive 18 (Defense)

  • Reaves made a nice stop, but that was followed by Winston Craig missing a sack and Joe Walker hitting the quarterback late to gift the Jets a first down.
  • A screen that should’ve gone nowhere nearly went for a first down as Bausby missed a tackle. This was followed by a rush up the middle that got an easy first down.
  • A pressure forced a throwaway, but the Jets got another first down despite Reaves wailing the receiver as he made the catch.
  • Josh Sweat absolutely demolished a run play that was pushed back farther by offensive holding. One high pass and one short run later left the Eagles defense with a third and long.
  • Tre Sullivan made the stop and the Jets kicked another field goal.

Drive 19 (Offense)

  • Adams got a good gain up the middle, but lost a few yards on the next play.
  • Hackenberg ran for what looked to be an easy first down, but he fumbled the ball on the play and the Jets came up with it.

Drive 20 (Defense)

  • LaRoy Reynolds made a nice stop for a loss, but was called for lowering his head on the next play.
  • Pressure forced a throwaway on the next play, but a rush up the middle and a missed tackle by Reaves nearly let a touchdown score. Bausby forced the runner down at the one yard line to save that.

Fourth Quarter

Drive 20 (Continued - Defense)

  • Good coverage by Chandon Sullivan and Rasul Douglas with pressure from Joe Walker forced three incompletions and a field goal.
  • Drive 21 (Offense)

    • After a huge loss on a sack, Callahan came back and hit Tim Wilson for a good catch and run netting six yards. A neutral zone infraction, too many defensive players on the field, and five yard pass to Davis netted an unlikely first down.
    • Callahan rolled out and Wilson made a great dive to come up with another first down.
    • Callahan threw a pass away, but Jones made an eight yard gain up the middle. He lost yardage on the following attempt as he couldn’t get a block.
    • On fourth down, Callahan hit Billy Brown in stride, but he dropped yet another pass.

    Drive 22 (Defense)

    • A nice run stop was almost negated by Bausby missing another tackle. The third down pass was nearly intercepted by Reaves and that forced a three and out.

    Drive 23 (Offense)

    • Jones rushed twice up the middle for a first down. He nearly got a second on a dump from Callahan, but had to wait until two rushes later to convert.
    • A near perfect throw to Denham gained 22 yards and another good throw to Brown up the middle sent the Eagles rolling.
    • Callahan had a ton of time to throw, but threw an interception to a well-covered Rashad Davis.

    Drive 24 (Defense)

    • The Jets got some good push and gained five yards on a rush, but an unnecessary roughness on the offense negated all the ground the defense had given up.
    • A couple short runs got the Eagles another third and out.

    Drive 25 (Offense)

    • Callahan looked to Tim Wilson, but he threw it too far out of bounds for the catch to be made.
    • A pass to Jones netted a first down and the Eagles went right back to him with a 20 yard run and a 10 yard run to convert two more times.
    • Mailata was called for a false start and, after a dump to Jones went nowhere, he turned to Brown who came up with a seven yard grab.
    • He then turned to Tim Wilson who converted for a first down.
    • A good rush by Jones and a catch made by Davis put the Eagles at first and goal.
    • Callahan threw a short gain to Brown, but it was the pass to Jones and his reach that scored the first touchdown of the game with only 18 seconds remaining.

    Drive 26 (Defense)

    • An unnecessary roughness on Steven Means left the game alive.
    • The Jets looked to get closer to the endzone and threw a short pass, but Ironhead Gallon was there to lay a big hit and prevent the catch.
    • The Jets looked to try the same thing, but the Eagles defensive line brought the pressure and Steven Means earned his third sack to seal the only Eagles victory of the preseason.

    Offensive MVP

    He may not have a chance at making the Eagles 53-man, but Matt Jones was the Offensive MVP tonight. 13 touches with 78 all-purpose yards, a touchdown and no turnovers or dropped passes. He caught the pass that won the game and made the reach to ensure the touchdown. The running back looked good. If he had looked half that good in any of the other preseason games, he’d likely make the roster.

    Defensive MVP

    It has to be Steven Means. The defensive lineman was playing for his job tonight and he showed it. Six tackles (one for loss), three sacks and three more QB hits. One of his sacks came to end the game and ensure the victory. Means will be on this team thanks to his performance tonight.

    Preseason Game Four Notes

  • DeAndre Carter had two catches for 37 yards, but what will make him stick on this roster is the fact that he was in on nearly every play made on special teams. Unless the Eagles decide they really need a fourth tight end while Richard Rodgers is injured, he is in.
  • The fact that Smallwood didn’t play means that he made this roster. The Eagles will probably look to keep five backs, however. While Matt Jones did a lot in the fourth quarter of this game, he had no chance to make this team after all the turnovers he had earlier in this season and Donnell Pumphrey did not have enough opportunity with his injury. Pumphrey or Josh Adams will make this team, but the other is likely to be picked up by another team on waivers before the Eagles can put them on the practice squad.
  • Jordan Mailata was impressive all night long. Sure he made a few mistakes, but he played nearly all game, has had only two penalties called against him all preseason and had very few miscues. He will make this roster because there is no way he clears waivers for the practice squad. The Eagles will look to turn him into the left tackle that can take over when Jason Peters chooses to hang it up.
  • On defense there was a great showing by the line. Steven Means, Elijah Qualls and Bruce Hector were looking to claim the last line positions. The Eagles have both Brandon Graham and Michael Bennett who can play tackle or end, so they have the ability to keep more of one position than the other if they’d like. Means was dominant and secured his spot. Qualls and Hector were about even and it may come down to how much the coaches like the players as to which remains on the roster.
  • The other defensive players looking for jobs tonight were LaRoy Reynolds, Joe Walker and Tre Sullivan. If the Eagles are confident in their top three safeties, they may keep Walker and Reynolds so they have an extra linebacker during Nigel Bradham’s one game suspension and drop Tre Sullivan. After Bradham returns, it is likely that one of these guys is the one to go to open up a spot for Bradham.
  • The Eagles and Doug Pederson like some of the things they saw from Christian Hackenberg. Obviously turnovers were an issue, but some of that can be blamed on lack of familiarity with the receivers. Expect Hackenberg to be on the practice squad this season since he is eligible. The Eagles will try to clean up some of his mechanics and reads to develop him into a solid backup. Remember, Foles will most likely not be in Philadelphia next season.
  • These preseason games have looked awful, but it is important to remember that most of the points the Eagles have allowed have been field goals that were allowed after what would have been three and outs had the offense not turned the ball over deep in their own territory.
  • Tim Wilson, a Philly native receiver who the Eagles choose to sign from East Stroudsburg University, had three catches for 28 yards. He has pretty much no shot at making the team this year, but his showing tonight might have earned him one of the 10 spots on the practice squad and the chance to make the team next season.
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