PHILADELPHIA – As Eagles' fans were just settling in their seats, the Jaguars went to work utilizing some of their off-season acquisitions to some success early in the games.
Toby Gerhart carried the ball very effectively, moving the pile and getting positive yardage (although he was stopped on 3rd and 1 on the first drive) and the Jaguars defense was pretty stout against the vaunted Eagles offense.
I think people were a little surprised that the Jaguars just didn't roll over the way they seemed to last year early in games. In fact, after giving up a 3rd and long conversion, the Jaguars' Chris Clemons sacked Nick Foles and stripped the ball.
The Jaguars recovered and took advantage of the turnover with a 34-yard TD from Chad Henne to Alan Hurns to take a 7-0 lead.
Again the Jaguars defense was swarming to the ball like we haven't seen in, well forever, and forced Foles into another fumble. Henne to Hurns again from 21 yards out (and a great catch by Hurns BTW) to make it 14-0 Just over 8 minutes into the game, the boo birds were out in Philadelphia.
They were really booing when Clemons batted Foles' arm again on third down causing an incomplete pass to give the Jaguars the ball back. This is what the team spent their money on in the off-season and at least early, it's paying dividends. Nothing compares to pressure on the quarterback. It makes the whole defense work.
A horse collar call on the Eagles gave the Jaguars good field position for a Josh Scobee field goal to make it 17-0 but Toby Gerhardt suffered a sprained ankle on the play. That's why the horse collar is illegal. Gerhart limped off and had his ankle re-taped. He returned to the game later.
Again, pressure on Foles, this time by Ryan Davis gave the Jaguars a sack and good field position after the punt. Mike Brown is returning punts for the Jaguars and you figure if over the 4 games before Ace Sanders comes back if they can have no turnovers and some positive yardage, it's a win on special teams.
An interception in the end zone ended an Eagles drive. The third turnover for the Jaguars and they pushed the ball downfield. Still without a conversion on third down, the usually automatic Josh Scobee missed a 50-yard attempt and had one blocked to hold the Jaguars at 17-0. Jacques McClendon is getting his first start at center and so far he's struggled with a couple of high snaps and one he couldn't get off the ground. I'm sure they're hoping he'll grow into that spot because they can't afford those kinds of mistakes. If not, Luke Bowanko will get a chance there.
"It's a precision game I told our team all week," Head Coach Gus Bradley said afterwards. "We were precise in the first half and not in the second."
Grinding away in the second half, the Eagles offense wasn't gaining a lot of yards but on 4th and short, the Jaguars defense got caught a little slow getting set and Darren Sproles broke a 49 yarder for a TD to make it 17-7.
"We made some mistakes, some miscommunication," Andre Branch said in the post-game locker room. "We can bounce back. We're already ready to get to work on next week."
The rest of the third quarter was all Eagles. The defense fell back into the bad-tackling mode and the offense couldn't convert on third down. That gave Philadelphia a lot of chances and they converted, tying the game at 17 with 10 minutes to play. And When Foles found Jeremy Maclin running wide open down field; the Eagles had an easy TD and a 24-17 lead.
Missed opportunities in the first half came back to haunt the Jaguars but it also seemed the Eagles made some adjustments at halftime that worked and the Jaguars couldn't compensate. It wasn't until midway through the 4th quarter that the Jaguars started running the ball at the line of scrimmage instead of that stretch play. It worked for a while but on 4th down they outsmarted themselves trying to hit Marcedes Lewis in the flat and turned the ball over on downs at their own 30. Muscle up and run the ball there.
A field goal made it 27-17, and a fumble by Henne was run back for a TD giving the Eagles a 34-17 lead.
"We have the guys in this locker room to get the job done," Marcedes Lewis noted in front of his locker. "We just have to learn how to finish. It's a hard lesson, but we'll learn it. We're moving on."A
Lots of flashes of a new team, too often reminders of the old one.
On to Washington next week.