After a disappointing fourth-quarter collapse last Sunday to the Carolina Panthers, the Philadelphia Eagles were able to outlast the Jacksonville Jaguars in a tough, hard-nosed battle at Wembley Stadium on Sunday for a 24-18 victory.
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz and the offense did not get off to a great start as they had two early turnovers. However, Philly’s defense held firm, only allowing a Jacksonville field goal to give them an early 3-0 lead.
Eventually, both sides of the ball got their act together and started to make plays led by the young guys.
Rookie tight end Dallas Goedert scored the Eagles’ first touchdown of the game, while safety Avonte Maddox made a couple of great plays and running back Josh Adams ran well in-between the tackles.
With the win, the Eagles are now 4-4 heading into a much-needed bye week as they lost both right tackle Lane Johnson and cornerback Jalen Mills to injuries. Johnson reportedly suffered an MCL tear in his left knee and could be out for an extended period of time.
Philly also increased their chances to make the playoffs (32%) and ultimately winning the NFC East (11%) with this victory.
Here are three takeaways from their Week 8 contest across the pond:
1. Defense stands tall for all four quarters
The Eagles’ defense has been under intense scrutiny this season for their lackadaisical and low IQ plays on the field. If the defensive line is not getting pressure on the opposing teams’ quarterback, then it leaves their secondary to get picked apart.
However, on Sunday, the defense stepped up big time and kept the Jags’ offense in check for a majority of the game.
Despite not forcing Bortles into a mistake, the Eagles’ defense sacked the quarterback four times and made him the only practical rushing threat. Veteran defensive end Chris Long had two of those sacks, which were huge as the Eagles lost Derek Barnett to a season-ending injury last week.
As a team, they held Jacksonville to 70 yards on the ground with Bortles contributing 43 yards.
In regards to the Jaguars’ passing game, Philly’s defense did not give up many big plays but got hurt in the third quarter when Bortles found wide receiver Dede Westbrook for an 11-yard touchdown reception.
On this particular play, safety Malcolm Jenkins fell for a double-move by Westbrook, which has been the secondary’s kryptonite this season and allowed for an easy score.
But that was the only real noticeable blemish as in the second quarter, rookie Avonte Maddox laid a nice hit on wide receiver Keelan Cole, causing him to fumble.
This performance was a nice confidence booster for the Eagles’ defense as they certainly needed it, after last week’s debacle.
2. Josh Adams leads the way at RB
With the NFL trade deadline looming, there is a slight chance that the Eagles might make a move to acquire another running back. However, undrafted free agent Josh Adams did a fine job on the ground on Sunday to quell those rumors.
From the start, it was clear that Adams was running the ball with toughness and physicality. Heading into this week’s contest, the Jaguars had the 25th-ranked run defense, giving up 121.9 yards per game.
Adams did not reach that mark by himself but played a huge role in helping the Eagles gain 133 rushing yards. The former Notre Dame standout racked up 61 rushing yards on nine carries for a ridiculous yards per carry average of 6.8.
The last time an Eagles running back had an average that high with close to 10 carries, you have to go back to the Super Bowl when LeGarrette Blount had 90 yards on 14 carries for 6.4 ypc and Ajayi had 57 yards on nine carries for 6.3 ypc.
Along with Adams, Wendell Smallwood also made his impact felt in the game, scoring a 36-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter.
If the Eagles cannot acquire a running back for a reasonable price at the deadline, then they should feel confident in the young trio of Adams, Smallwood and Corey Clement. While neither of them will rip off 100-yard rushing performances, they each know their role and play it well.
3. Jordan Matthews steps up
Just like Josh Adams, Jordan Matthews did an excellent job on Sunday to shut down the rumors of the Eagles needing to acquire another wide receiver by the trade deadline.
Matthews led the team in receiving with four receptions for 93 yards. In a game where people were looking at the matchup between Alshon Jeffery and Jalen Ramsey, the Jags did not have an answer for Matthews.
To begin the game, Matthews made his presence felt immediately as Wentz somehow hit him in stride while falling down for a first down.
Then, in the waning moments of the fourth quarter where the Eagles needed to put the game away, Wentz found his reliable target who was sitting wide open in the Jaguars’ zone for a first down.
Even though he does not have the vertical speed that Philly is lacking, Matthews still plays a key role in the offense. He knows where he needs to be at when he sees Wentz scrambling out of the pocket and is a solid run blocker.
Matthews is showing that he warrants more opportunities in the passing game and if he replicates this performance more often, then the Eagles’ offense will be scary down the stretch.