The real story here is who will be cut from the Eagles roster after this 3rd team-on-3rd team smarshing of the New York Jets…
Chris Polk scores here on a nice power run in Thursday night’s action…granted he wasn’t exactly facing the ’85 Chicago Bears front seven..but Polk had a very nice night of production, and it will be tough to cut the undrafted rookie…
With quarterback Michael Vick, defensive end Trent Cole and the rest of the starters watching from the sideline, quarterback Trent Edwards and running back Bryce Brown led the Eagles to a 28-10 victory over the New York Jets in the preseason finale at Lincoln Financial Field.
Edwards, who is vying with Mike Kafka for the third quarterback spot behind Vick and rookie Nick Foles, threw two touchdown passes while playing the final three quarters. He’ll find out his fate today, when NFL teams are required to trim their rosters from 75 players to the regular-season limit of 53.
“My main goal coming into this was to be on this team Week 1 versus the Cleveland Browns,” Edwards said. “I want to be here, and hopefully I will be here.”
Other on-the-bubble players who helped themselves with solid performances Thursday included Brown and running back Chris Polk, wide receivers Mardy Gilyard and Chad Hall, tight ends Brett Brackett and Chase Ford, defensive end Brandon Graham and linebacker Brian Rolle.
1. Vick sat out along with the other starters.
2. Foles started and played the first quarter. He completed 4-of-6 passes for 46 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions in two series.
3. Edwards, who may be traded or released today, completed 22-of-32 passes for 197 yards and ran for 36 yards on four carries.
4. Kafka did not play. He returned to practice this week after suffering a broken left hand in the preseason opener, coach Andy Reid opted to sit him out.
The new guys:
1. Brown scored the team’s first touchdown on a 2-yard run.
2. Rookie defensive end Vinny Curry had two sacks.
3. Gilyard led the team with five receptions for 71 yards.
4. Foles and Edwards played mistake-free football at QB…
The bad things:
1. The Jets scored their first touchdown of the entire preseason at the expense of the Eagles in the second quarter.
2. Second-year safety Jaiquawn Jarrett continued to struggle.
3. Place-kicker Alex Henery missed a 38-yard field goal in the third quarter.
4. Safety O.J. Atogwe suffered a strained hamstring in the second quarter and did not return.
The Eagles are off today through Sunday and then will hold a brief practice Monday at the NovaCare Complex. They must reduce their roster from 75 players to 53 by 9 p.m. today (Friday, August 31, 2012). They open the regular season at Cleveland on Sept. 9.
Polk had 14 carries for 61 yards and 1 TD with a long gain of 16 yards. He also caught a pass for a 10-yard gain. Nice night…Polk, on his future with the team: “Making this team would mean the world to me. I feel like I’m a great fit here. But if they don’t want me, no hard feelings. I learned a lot here.”
Edwards gave the Eagles a 14-7 lead with a 31-yard TD pass to Gilyard with 1 minute, 13 seconds left in the first half. Gilyard was penalized for an excessive celebration after he spun the ball in the end zone, danced and jumped on guard Julian Vandervelde. I don’t know about you, but I found his jubilation appropriate. He may have just made the team.
At first glance, linebackers Ryan Rau and Brian Rolle, defensive end Brandon Graham, wide receiver Mardy Gilyard, running back Chris Polk and quarterback Trent Edwards appeared to be the biggest winners, although Rolle and Graham probably weren’t in danger of being cut in the first place.
Rolle was exceptional on the outside against the Jets in a game that featured almost all reserves all the time. His six tackles led the defense, and Rau was equally impressive in the middle, especially in the open field. In a crowd, he made a crucial third-down stop for no gain to force a punt after the Eagles’ Alex Henery missed a 38-yard field goal attempt. He finished with five tackles.
Working the final three quarters, Edwards completed 22 of 32 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. Early in the fourth quarter, he took off on a 26-yard scramble to convert a third-and-24, then rolled to his right and hit tight end and Penn State graduate Brett Brackett with a 7-yard touchdown pass two plays later.
Polk really hit his stride in the fourth quarter. “It just feels good to have a chance to come in and be able to contribute,” Polk said. “I don’t know where I stand yet, but I was going to go out there and do whatever it takes, whether they want me to run, block — just act like it was my last play. I’m just really blessed that everything went my way today.”
Also making their presence felt for the Eagles were rookie defensive end Vinny Curry, who tallied a pair of sacks and three total tackles, and Graham, whose high motor in such a meaningless game earned extra credit. Graham finished with one of the Eagles’ six sacks.
On the other side of the spectrum, fullback hopeful Emil Igwenagu was flagged for holding to erase a 25-yard run by Polk. Igwenagu likely was playing for a practice-squad position anyway, since coach Andy Reid named Stanley Havili his top fullback and didn’t play him in this game.
And offensive line depth remains an issue. On the fourth-quarter touchdown drive, tackles D.J. Jones (holding) and Dennis Kelly (false start) were flagged on successive plays, setting up the almost impossible third down that Edwards converted with his scramble after the protection broke down.
The Jets scored first with their first touchdown of the preseason in the second quarter as Greg McElroy directed a 14-play, 77-yard drive that ended with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Terrance Ganaway. McElroy’s scramble for a 1-yard gain to convert a fourth down kept the series going.
But the Eagles responded with a touchdown on their ensuing series. Bryce Brown finished it off with a 2-yard run and the game was tied at 7-all when Henery followed with an extra point.
Graham made up for jumping offside on the next defensive series by stuffing Bilal Powell to force a punt, and the offense didn’t take long in a two-minute drill to capitalize. In fact, it scored too quickly, giving the Jets a chance to respond before intermission.
Gilyard, who tied Damaris Johnson with a team-high five receptions, scored the touchdown on a 31-yard pass with 1:20 remaining. Like Polk, he was satisfied that he did enough to make another squad if there’s no room on this team. But he’s praying that won’t be the case.
“There’s something special about this squad here,” Gilyard said. “I’ve never been around a team like this, that’s so tight, so team-oriented. Some teams, you have the O-line hang out, then the D-line would hang out with each other, the DBs and so on and so forth. But here, you have wide receivers over there with the offensive linemen, you have the offensive linemen hanging out with the linebackers. We’re all just kicking it, guys go out together. And that’s big, that you don’t have any segregation throughout the locker room. Not speaking of a race thing, just position-wise. That’s the beautiful thing that I’ve seen here [more] than any other teams.”
Gilyard’s TD gave the Jets time enough to salvage a 25-yard drive for a field goal to close out the half. But the Eagles dominated the rest of the way, finishing with their first undefeated preseason since 1995. They applied an exclamation point to the game and the preseason by following up their early fourth-quarter touchdown with a late-game score to seal it, Polk delivering a punishing blow to a would-be tackler before taking it into the end zone on a 3-yard run.
Chas Henry won the punting job before the game began, with the agent for Mat McBriar revealing on Twitter that his client would be cut. The Eagles will wait until today, however, to do that, since they needed to keep McBriar around in case Henry was injured.
The Eagles finished with 360 yards and turned in another dominating defensive performance, holding the Jets to 3.2 yards per play despite not getting a turnover.
|Passing 1st downs||7||17|
|Rushing 1st downs||5||7|
|1st downs from Penalties||0||2|
|3rd down efficiency||5-14||5-11|
|4th down efficiency||1-1||1-1|
|Yards per play||3.2||5.4|
|Comp – Att||15-23||26-38|
|Yards per pass||3.2||6.4|
|Sacks – Yards Lost||6-26||2-0|
|Yards per rush||4.0||4.3|
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||1-1||3-3|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||0|
|Philadelphia Kick Returns|
|Philadelphia Punt Returns|