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Week 3 Game Recap: Philadelphia Eagles 24, New York Jets 17
What you need to know
For the first time all season, Sam Bradford
finally had the pocket to himself. The offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage and kept defenders away from the passer, creating running lanes in the process. The net result of which was a powerful, downhill attack something we've been waiting to see from Chip Kelly's group. But it didn't translate into quarterback efficiency, nor the wealth of fantasy points the Eagles fast-paced offense promised. They lost the time of possession battle, and their first victory was more a result of the Jets beating themselves than Bradford and Co. stripping a good defense off of their game plan. The Eagles came into this week ranked 29th in yards per game and won't move far from that ranking after barely crossing 240 offensive yards at Met Life Stadium. At the very least, the box score shows signs of improvement, but the fielded product looked small and unpolished. The biggest positive of Sunday's game is how the offensive line held up against a tough defensive front. The biggest negative is how the quarterback still couldn't put together consistent drives or find open receivers.
• New York’s offense was essentially a ‘one man show’ as Brandon Marshall
attempted to carry a team that was devoid of two of its playmakers (Eric Decker
and Chris Ivory
). Marshall made some big catches, but two major miscues, an errant lateral in the second quarter that led to a Philadelphia touchdown and a tipped pass that resulted in a game-ending interception, stick out. During a halftime interview, Marshall said that his lateral attempt was the ‘worst play in NFL history’. Marshall’s stat line may please fantasy owners, but his miscues led to New York’s first loss of the 2015 season.
New York’s rushing attack was a complete non-factor, only managing to produce 47 yards. Chris Ivory
(strained quadriceps) warmed up before the game and was listed as ‘Active’, but he did not play. No reason was provided, but it was likely a coach’s decision. Without Ivory in fold, New York’s offense lacked balance and put Fitzpatrick in many precarious situations. Philadelphia’s defensive line easily won the battle in the trenches. Guard Willie Colon left with a knee injury during the third quarter and his replacement, Brian Winters, was regularly bull rushed into the backfield. Key an eye on the injury report since Colon is one of the main cogs of this offensive line.
New York’s vaunted defense was humbled by Philadelphia’s two-headed rushing attack of Ryan Mathews
and Darren Sproles
. New York’s linebackers could not cover Mathews and Sproles out of the backfield and were burnt on wheel routes. Sproles also made a game-altering play by returning a punt for an 89-yard touchdown.
|QB Sam Bradford, 73 offensive snaps, Pass: 14 - 28 - 118 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - -2 - 0|
Bradford's pass attempts have been on a steady decline since he opened the season with 52. Last week he finished with 37 and attempted even fewer this week with 28. But fantasy production isn't entirely tied to volume. Efficiency proves to be more fertile and Bradford has been anything but. After completing just 14 passes on Sunday, his season completion rate is now below 45 percent with a bottom-ranked 5.8 yards per attempt. Not all of it is on him. His wide receivers and running backs dropped a healthy share of catchable passes that could have gone for big plays. But there's clearly some communication issues that are being amplified by his inaccuracy, which may explain why he is being reined in. The offensive line gave him a comfortable pocket for most of the game. When things broke apart, Bradford did a good job of shedding the rush by rolling out and finding a safe location to place the ball. Hence, no interceptions. But he still suffers from a combination of indecisions and his teammates not breaking coverage. This offense will continue to stutter if those two issues aren't corrected.
|RB Ryan Mathews, 41 offensive snaps, Rush: 25 - 108 - 0, Rec: 2 - 20 - 1 (4 targets)|
was the star of the show. Spelling an injured DeMarco Murray
, who was labeled inactive before kickoff, Mathews made a case for a bigger workload going forward. He displayed an impressive combination of decisiveness and power, battling for positive gains and creating yards when his blockers failed. He averaged 6.7 yards per carry in the first half and was the focal point of a short-field offense. After bobbling a few passes that could have gone for big plays, he redeemed himself with a beautiful wheel route for a score that put the Eagles up 24-0 going into halftime. One the dust settled, Mathews was asked to close out the game as the Eagles went into clock control mode. He finished with the most carries he has had since Week 14 of the 2013 season, and averaged 4.3 yards per tote in the process. Should Murray miss more time, or even if he doesn't, Mathews wont' be forgotten in this offense and has all kinds of flex appeal.
|RB Darren Sproles, 33 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 17 - 1, Rec: 4 - 19 - 0 (6 targets)|
The highlight of the game, and what ultimately set the Eagles offense up for success, was Darren Sproles
' 89-yard punt return for a touchdown. These are the kinds of things age is supposed to prevent, but Sproles' light frame keeps him spry, and he displayed his cut-and-juke scat back skills on that touchdown. He then played small on a carry from the one-yard line, following the center into the end zone. Without those pair of touchdowns, his fantasy box score is forgettable. He dropped a screen pass in the second half that might have gone for a chunk of yards and a touchdown. He returned six targets for four receptions and just 19 yards. For a running back that requires yards via the pass, Sunday was disappointing, but he still proved to be viable play regardless of game script. Make no mistake about it, the Eagles are a ground team.
It was clear through two weeks that Jordan Matthews
is the only receiver Bradford has eyes for. That was confirmed and engraved in Week 3. He was the only wide receiver to actually catch a pass and log a stat line. Nelson Agholor
and Miles Austin
were each target four times, coming down with zero receptions for zero yards. But regardless of his market share, Matthews was only able to convert six of eight targets into 46 yards. At the end of the first half he was stopped just short of the end zone in a goal-to-goal situation (Sproles immediately punched in the score). His services weren't needed much in the second half as the Eagles went into clock management mode and rode their running backs. All in all, it was a good game from Matthews from a football standpoint, but as long as his quarterback isn't asked to throw the ball much past the line of scrimmage, his box score will consistently be compressed by a high target count and low yardage totals.
The day is coming when Miles Austin
sees his snap count reduced to special teams type numbers. He has been awful this season. He rarely gets a clean release from the defender, and even when he does, he seems to have a hard time reeling in catches. The fact that he saw 60% of snaps on Sunday is testament to the Eagles lack of wide receiver depth.
The day is coming when Nelson Agholor
takes hold as the No. 1 receiver. But Sunday was not that day as he inherited Darrelle Revis, who successfully blanked Agholor's box score. Eventually, he and Bradford will align and Agholor will be the main target. But until there's evidence of that, his fantasy floor needs to be avoided.
|TE Zach Ertz, 38 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 30 - 0 (2 targets)|
This was a bit of a rebound game for Zach Ertz
, who had a tough time against Dallas in Week 2. He made a couple of great catches that demonstrated his athletic abilities. The down side, however, is that Brent Celek
actually played more snaps than him (wasn't targeted). That probably had more to do with Celek's skills as a blocker and less do with Ertz losing playing time. In any case, the box score isn't lying-he wasn't a big part of the game plan and won't be until he shows some consistency.
New York Jets
|QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, 79 offensive snaps, Pass: 35 - 58 - 283 - 2 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 4 - 13 - 0|
Without two of his top playmakers, Fitzpatrick attempted to lead an offense that was clearly limited. After falling into an early double digit hole, New York’s game plan revolved around force feeding Brandon Marshall
, who was regularly double teamed. New York’s offensive line was also dominated at the line of scrimmage and regularly lost their one-on-one assignments. These issues snowballed and ultimately resulted in turnovers. Fitzpatrick attempted a season-high 58 pass attempts and threw three interceptions. Fitzpatrick’s third interception went through Marshall’s hands and ultimately sealed the victory for Philadelphia. Fitzpatrick did throw two touchdown passes, one to Marshall and one late touchdown strike to Jeremy Kerley
. Right before halftime, Fitzpatrick found Marshall on a deep post route for a relatively easy score. Late in the fourth quarter, Fitzpatrick threw a dart to Kerley on a post route that was reminiscent of the strike that Fitzpatrick threw to Eric Decker
in Week 2. Fitzpatrick was signed to manage games, but New York’s porous effort on special teams, lackluster defensive play and overmatched offensive line put him in situations where he couldn’t succeed.
|RB Bilal Powell, 66 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 31 - 0, Rec: 7 - 44 - 0 (8 targets)|
started in place of the injured Chris Ivory
and was utilized as a true ‘bell cow’ running back. New York, however, fell into an early double digit hole, relegating Powell to a one-dimension, passing game role. Powell primarily served as a check down option for Fitzpatrick, catching short dump off passes for minimal gains. Powell was able to get what was blocked, but does not possess open field moves to rip off big gains. New York’s offensive line had some trouble against Philadelphia’s front seven which didn’t make matters easier for him.
|RB Zac Stacy, 13 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 3 - 0, Rec: 2 - -2 - 0 (2 targets)|
With Chris Ivory
sidelined, Stacy served as New York’s #2 running back behind Bilal Powell
. Due to game flow, Stacy only received four touching, ceding all of the passing game work to Powell. Stacy was virtually a non-factor against Philadelphia’s suddenly resurgent defensive line.
Without Eric Decker
and Chris Ivory
in the fold, Marshall was blanketed by multiple defenders on every play. Philadelphia kept Marshall in check for nearly two quarters before he scored on a 16-yard touchdown grab with seconds remaining before halftime. Marshall ran a post route and made a nice adjustment to catch a relatively underthrown pass. His touchdown catch somewhat made amends for arguably the dumbest play of the 2015 season. Midway through the second quarter, Marshall attempted to lateral a short gain to Jeff Cumberland
, but ultimately fumbled the ball away. Marshall was attempting to jumpstart the offense, but this miscue killed the offense’s momentum and Philadelphia’s offense turned his miscue into seven points. Due to game flow, Marshall made his bones in the second half by working the seam and running underneath routes to get easy catch and run opportunities. These plays bolstered Marshall’s stat line, but did not help New York get back into the game. Late in the fourth quarter, New York was mounting a late comeback, but he misjudged a pass that was tipped and intercepted by Walter Thurmond. While fantasy owners are happy with Marshall’s performance, two dumb mistakes paved the way for New York’s first loss of the 2015 season.
|WR Jeremy Kerley, 71 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 33 - 1 (11 targets)|
Due to injuries, Jeremy Kerley
’s role significantly increased against Philadelphia. Due to game flow, Kerley was peppered with targets throughout the game, but had issues with drops. Late in the fourth quarter, Kerley hauled in a short touchdown pass on a seam route.
|WR Quincy Enunwa, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 50 - 0 (10 targets)|
started in place of the injured Eric Decker
, but did not play well enough to warrant more playing time. Enunwa dropped his first two targets and had trouble beating press coverage at the line of scrimmage. Enunwa did benefit from Philadelphia’s softer zone coverage during the second half, hauling in a 27-yard gain on a seam route. Enunwa showed some brief flashes of good play, but his miscues proved that he is a very raw player.
|WR Devin Smith, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 39 - 0 (9 targets)|
Making his NFL debut, Smith was peppered with targets throughout the game, but had some trouble creating separation on the perimeter. Smith’s patented double moves, which were on full display at Ohio State, did not translate against Philadelphia. Some of the blame can be placed at the feet of Ryan Fitzpatrick
, who struggles throwing the deep ball. Alike the other receivers, Smith did benefit from Philadelphia’s softer zone coverage during the second half and was able to make some plays across the middle of the field. Smith received one red zone target, but Fitzpatrick badly misfired on a deep post route.
was virtually a non-factor outside of two catches for short gains. Cumberland was the intended recipient of Marshall’s lateral pass, but the miscue was recovered by Philadelphia. Cumberland exited the game during the third quarter with a head injury.