1. Raheem Mostert.
He looked like 2013 LeSean McCoy tonight, quick, shifty and excellent on passes out of the backfield (where he got most of his yards). It would be great if the Eagles could find room for both Mostert and Barner, but Raheem made it less likely tonight that he would clear waivers if Philly tries to put him on the practice squad.
Perhaps the team could trade one of the two for a good depth offensive lineman or outside linebacker. The Eagles were pumping him up a bit and I wonder if this was an effort to turn him into trade bait. The team barely played Barner after three great games, indicating that they've already placed him on the 53-man roster.
Either way, relish that first quarter Mostert, because that was the type of offense that Chip Kelly's Ducks ran at Oregon. Not a lot of long bombs, just run after run, 5 yards, 12 yards, maybe only two, then 38 or 62 for a touchdown because the plays are ripped off at lightning speed and very few defenses can take big run after big run. It's very fun when it's your team pulling that off.
2. Tim Tebow.
Yep, just when everyone had written him off and was wondering why Chip Kelly seemed so stubbornly determined to keep Tebow, the streaky lefty put together an impressive game, starting with a 24-yard completion to Mostert and several nicely executed screen passes (which Barkley was unable to match.)
More subtly, he led the Eagles' only first half touchdown drive (78 yards) by mixing great throws, screens and a bit of evasiveness. At one point, he narrowly evaded near-sacks on two consecutive plays, and scrambled for 17 yards on one of them (though he should have switched the ball to his sideline arm as he ran down field).
As before, Tebow came through when the pressure was the most intense. That's a great trait for a #3 QB, because any time he comes into a game will be high pressure by definition.
By all accounts, passing is Tebow's weakest skill, but when he came in for the fourth quarter he immediately threw a 45-yard bomb to Freddie Martino. FREDDIE MARTINO!!
Tebow throws deep, hits Freddie Martino for 45 yards, or as many yards as Barkley had thrown for all game. #Eagles.— Martin Frank (@Mfranknfl) September 4, 2015
And thus concludes Matt Barkley's career with the Eagles.— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) September 4, 2015
He did throw an interception later on that drive, but 4th and 15 (due to penalties) throwing into traffic is a much tougher situation than the 2nd and 5, with a wide-open Huff, that Barkley gave away the ball on. Even on his one mistake the interception down to the 9 was a pretty effective punt inside the 10.
3. The return of Big Balls Kelly
Chip has been conservative since entering the NFL, in part because he couldn't be confident that if a fourth down attempt failed, his defense would stop the opponent from scoring. Tonight though he went for it on fourth down
twice three times, even after the first second one failed. And the second resulted in a beautiful touchdown pass, with Tebow evading a blitz and hitting Martino again for a toe-dragging score on the very edge of the end zone.
The Eagles secondary was a horrible weakness last year, but if they improve half as much as they should (with six new DBs and highly-touted Cory Undlin as the new DBs coach), expect to see a lot more of Chip's ballsy play calls.
4. Special teams stay strong.
Mostert had a good return, the Eagles limited the Jets' returns, and even after Barkley got intercepted, the intended receiver (Josh Huff) stripped the ball out of the cornerback's arms. The ball was ruled down by contact but it was a great play by Huff. On top of that, Donnie Jones kicked a punt that was downed (caught actually by Seyi Ajirotutu) at the three.
5. The Legend of Kiko Alonso Begins
He only played the first series, and didn't have any highlight reel plays, but Eagles fans got to see the essence of Kiko. He's an incredibly intuitive player who is always around the ball. He will be the glue that pulls the different elements of this defense together.
1. Matt Barkley
Inaccurate and just plain bad. In a game that will decide (and probably just ended) his NFL career, he showed no leadership, field vision, creativity or elusiveness. He threw an interception on the second play from scrimmage, which unfortunately matched his pattern in the two NFL regular season games that he actually played in. And unlike Tebow, he was simply unable to execute (or possibly even see) a screen pass.
Tebow seems to improve under pressure, or some might say, he stinks except when the pressure's highest and he inexplicably gets good. In contrast, Barkley tends to fade under pressure. He did not do well in his two regular season appearances in 2013. By now, it's apparent that he has no untapped potential, and it's very hard to see what Barkley would add to this roster at all.
I would still prefer that the team cut both and use the roster slot for smoeone like Mostert, Rasheed Bailey or Seyi Ajirotutu, but if they decide to keep a 3rd QB it won't be Barkley.
2. The defensive line
As great as the starting line is, the second string DL was bad tonight. Zach Stacy ripped through the line, while the Birds got no pass rushing pressure on Matt Flynn whatsoever. Beau Allen did improve in the second half, though, as Tommy Lawlor noted.
3. Kip Smith
He missed two extra points and was dangerously low on the field goals he made. I understand the value of resting Cody Parkey as he heals, but having Smith kick a field goal in the first quarter when they arguably should have gone for it on fourth implies that the team wants him to get FG practice. If there is any chance whatsoever that Parkey may miss time (or be inaccurate) due to his long-running groin injury, the team needs to grab one of the decent kickers who loses his kicker competition -- just as they nabbed Parkey last year.
4. Eric Rowe.
People have been talking about Nolan Carroll taking over the nickel CB job so that second round draft pick Rowe could move outside as the starting cornerback opposite Byron Maxwell. After tonight, all of that talk stopped. Instead, discussion shifted to whether the Eagles should move Rowe back to safety, the position he played for most of his college career. I'm not quite ready to give up on him at CB quite yet, but his piss poor showing against the Jets' scrubs was a very bad sign.
5. Bad snaps
Centers David Molk and especially Julian Vandervelde made a number of bad snaps, complicating the competition between the two 3rd string QBs. (In this, too, Tebow adjusted better.) Even long snapper Jon Dorenbos, who is normally a machine, lost a bit of his magic with a low snap on the extra point that Kip Smith missed.
That's it for the dress rehearsal. The real show begins in 11 days. Don't miss it!
EDIT: H/T to PhilsForever for reminding me that Barkley completed a third 4th down attempt in the first half, before the two that Tebow ran.