The preseason is over! The Eagles can now begin preparing for the Jacksonville Jaguars in earnest following Thursday night's 37-7 win over the New York Jets to close out the exhibition slate with a 2-2 record. Here are the 5 Things To Know Today for this victory Friday ...
1. Before The Game, Tough Decisions Must Be Made
The Eagles' roster currently stands at 75 and the team must get it to the 53-player limit before Saturday's 4 PM deadline. Don't be surprised if the Eagles begin to make some moves on Friday. Tackle Lane Johnson will begin his four-game suspension so he won't count against the active roster. For many players around the NFL, the final preseason game is the last time they will ever suit up on the football field. Last night's dominating performance vs. the Jets only makes the Eagles' job tougher.
"The one thing I think with all those guys and we were talking about it on the head set at the end of the game, there were a lot of guys that really made plays today," head coach Chip Kelly said. "I think they made some decisions that we're going to have to make are going to be difficult. But ultimately we have to get to 53 on Saturday by 4 PM."
2. Matt Barkley Shines In Starting Opportunity
Quarterback Matt Barkley started a game for the first time since November 17, 2012 when he was at USC and completed 21 of 33 pass attempts for 253 yards with two touchdowns (one rushing, one passing) and an interception.
"He's not a rookie anymore," Kelly said. "He's been here for a year. He had a really good offseason program for us. You know, you saw a lot of maturation with a lot of those guys that are in year two that all of a sudden the game has slowed down for him a little bit. He makes some really good decisions in terms of putting the football on people, so he's way ahead of where he was last year at this time. But I think hopefully that's expected.
"If someone was where they were a year ago and he had only been here since just preseason camp you'd be disappointed. But I'm happy with the direction Matt's headed in."
Barkley led the Eagles on nine possessions and seven of them ended on the Jets' side of the field.
The Eagles close out the preseason with a fourth and final game against the New York Jets ...
3. Did Henry Josey Do Enough To Win A Job?
Running back Henry Josey was the league's second-leading rusher this preseason after his 121-yard performance vs. the Jets. With LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles getting the night off and Matthew Tucker and Kenjon Barner exiting with injuries, Josey was the last man standing at his position by the end of the night. Wide receiver Damaris Johnson had to come in at running back and scored on a 46-yard touchdown run.
Josey finished the preseason with 225 yards on 34 carries (an average of 6.6 yards per carry). Kelly cited Josey's extensive opportunity to highlight why Philadelphia is a place where rookie free agents should sign in the future.
"That's why it's a good team to come to if you're an undrafted free agent, you're going to get a lot of looks," Kelly said. "I thought Henry made a good statement in the games he had a chance to get in there. He made plays. He came from a similar type scheme from Missouri in terms of running the zone play and things like that. I thought he had a good feel for the game. So I was happy with the production we got out of him today."
4. Who Will Be The Eagles' Kicker?
Cody Parkey, acquired last week in a trade with Indianapolis, boomed a 54-yard field goal attempt late in the first half. In the third quarter, the Eagles wanted to see if that first kick was a fluke, so they sent him out for a 53-yard attempt. Once again, Parkey was successful.
At Auburn, Parkey's career long for a field goal was 52 yards and he surpassed that twice on Thursday. It may have not been a regular season game, but a job was on the line as Parkey and Alex Henery are vying for the kicker job.
"You can put a lot of pressure on yourself, but the way I looked at it was it's just another game," Parkey said. "Another game for me to show what I have and every game from here, that's how I look at it."
Kelly was not going to make a decision on the spot after the game Thursday night, but has no qualms making a call even though the team has only had Parkey for a short amount of time.
"The length of the evaluation is what it is," Kelly said. "I was asked the same question last week. We have to do it just based upon what it is. We can't call and ask for another game, we have to do it based on the information that we have."
5. Top Two Rookies Ready For Season
Linebacker Marcus Smith II finished his first preseason with eight tackles, one for a loss and one pass deflection. He played a total of 57 snaps on Thursday night (45 on defense, 12 on special teams).
Wide receiver Jordan Matthews watched the game from the sideline as a healthy scratch. The team's second-round pick led the team and was tied for second in the league with 15 receptions this preseason. Matthews had 134 yards receiving on those catches.