Eagles Key Plays: How They Happened
The Eagles gave up three touchdowns, scored twice, committed two turnovers and forced one turnover in their 24-18 loss against the Jets Thursday. Here’s how it all happened.
The play: Matt Barkley’s pass intended for Josh Huff was intercepted on the second snap of the game.
How it happened: Barkley didn’t just under-throw Huff on the deep route, but he also appeared to throw the ball to Huff’s inside. On that pass, you ideally want the ball in front of Huff and on his outside so the cornerback can’t make a play on the ball. Although other receivers were open, Barkley made a good decision on who to throw to. He just didn’t put the ball anywhere close to where he wanted to.
Bird’s-eye view: “It’s kind of hard to put a whole game together with three drives,” Barkley said. “I feel like there were ups and downs to this game for everyone. Definitely don’t want to start like that.”
The play: Matt Flynn threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Chris Owusu, who was covered by Jaylen Watkins.
How it happened: Owusu ran a good post route and Flynn made a better throw. Chris Maragos was the lone deep safety and was responsible for the middle of the field, but he was drawn to the opposite side of the play because of another receiver in the end zone so he couldn’t help Watkins. Although the cornerback could’ve done a couple of things differently, as he explained below, you also have to credit the Jets for a well-executed throw-and-catch.
Bird’s-eye view: “I can have better technique,” Watkins said. “I slid inside of him hoping the quarterback would line drive it but he put it up a little bit. I slid a little too early.”
The play: Flynn threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Zac Stacy in the beginning of the second quarter.
How it happened: After having trouble defending screens in the Packers game, the Jets used a well-designed screen play to score an easy touchdown. The offensive line purposefully left the edge rusher on the offense’s right side unblocked, before Stacy came across the formation as if he was going to pass block the defender. Then, the right tackle, who was freed up because he let the pass rusher go untouched, blocked the linebacker who was responsible for Stacy in man-to-man coverage. Stacy cut back inside after reading his blocks and got into the end zone fairly easily.
The play: Flynn’s pass intended for Walter Powell was intercepted by Watkins and returned for zero yards.
How it happened: Watkins showed great anticipation on the play and got out of his break quickly. He made a good jumping catch and took an excellent angle to get in front of the receiver without hitting him and getting called for a penalty. The interception is as much due to film study, as Watkins explained below, than any physical feat.
Bird’s-eye view: “That was just film study,” Watkins said. “I knew they’d keep it simple and didn’t want to turn it over being backed up. In my mind, the safest throw was a hitch so I was prepared for it and got a good jump.”
The play: Tim Tebow threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Rasheed Bailey in the final minute of the first half.
How it happened: This is one of those throws that looks a lot easier to make than it actually is. Tebow put good touch on the ball and lofted it over the defensive back while putting it right into Bailey’s chest. It wasn’t a perfect throw—Tebow could have led Bailey a little more to make it even tougher on the defender to make a play on the ball—but it was one of the best passes Tebow threw this preseason.
Bird’s-eye view: “I think I’m getting more and more comfortable,” Tebow said. “More and more comfortable with the offense. Getting into more of a rhythm, especially on first down, kind of getting things going, getting the first first down, which is big in this offense, and trying to get it rolling a little bit.”
The play: Daryl Richardson rushed five yards for the night’s only touchdown on the ground.
How it happened: It’s unclear what his responsibility was on the play, but Bryan Braman was blocked down by the tight end toward the middle, which opened up a crease outside. The defensive line did a solid job at the point-of-attack, but Najee Goode, Ed Reynolds and Denzel Rice appeared to play a little too passively and didn’t attack quickly enough.
The play: Tebow’s pass intended for Quron Pratt was intercepted by Darrin Walls and returned for zero yards.
How it happened: Ironically, Tebow’s only interception in four games wasn’t the worst throw of his preseason. Yes, he turned the ball over. However, he was facing fourth-and-15 and the Jets had seven defenders covering four receivers. Therefore, three of the receivers had two defenders nearby and the only one that didn’t ran a shallow route that wasn’t anywhere near the first down mark. Tebow likely saw Walls’ back to him and thought he could squeeze the ball in, but the cornerback turned his head around and Tebow threw the ball a bit late. He may have also been able to hit Freddie Martino for the first down on the bottom of the play.
The play: Tebow threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Martino for the final score of the game.
How it happened: As Tebow escaped the pocket and rolled to his left near the goal line, I flashed back to this play (photo via Jimmy Kempski) when he tucked the ball and ran it instead of throwing it to a wide open Mike Johnson. This time, Tebow made the right play and showed he learn from his mistake earlier in the preseason. He could’ve made a better throw to Martino, but the wide receiver made a fantastic catch. When you have someone like Tebow in the red zone who is more of a threat to run, it forces defenders into the tough decision more often of covering their man or pursuing the quarterback.
Bird’s-eye view: “Tebow escaped the pocket and drew my defender toward him so I was wide open,” Martino said. “We practice that kind of catch all the time. We practice going to the ground without trying to brace yourself because a lot of times when the ball comes out, it’s because you try to brace yourself when you fall.”
Adam Hermann contributed to this post.