Five Big-Picture Takeaways from Eagles Week 3 Win Over Jets

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4.) Defensive Depth Delivers

Sep 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks (58) picks up a dropped backwards pass by New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (not pictured) for a turnover during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With all the talk about the Jets not having a few of their offensive playmakers, the Eagles defense entered Sunday looking awfully different from what many had projected at the start of the season. With injuries sidelining: Kiko Alonso, Mychal Kendricks, Cedric Thornton, and Taylor Hart (Chris Maragos would leave the game while in-progress), Billy Davis’s unit would have to deliver a standout performance missing some of its best playmakers. One could argue that those filling in for their injured teammates were as big a part of the Eagles win as anyone else on the field.

Brandon Bair not only filled in exceptionally along the defensive front as a two-gapping defensive end, but added a new element to the position. Bair deflected a handful of passes, including one that led to an interception, and helped keep the Jets passing game from getting in sync. Rookie linebacker Jordan Hicks, whose drafting by the Eagles in the 3rd round left many scratching their heads, delivered his second straight standout performance. Hicks finished with 10 tackles (9 solo), a forced fumble, and an interception. Many figured these to be the type of statlines that accompanied Kiko Alonso in 2015.

Eric Rowe also stood out in his most extensive action during his rookie season. Much was expected out of the 2nd round pick from Utah. Many experts pegged Rowe as a day one starter in the Eagles defensive backfield. With injuries having forced him into an unfamiliar role, Rowe’s action was mostly reserved to special teams over the team’s first two weeks. After Maragos left the game, Rowe was forced into a primary role and performed quite admirably. In addition to an interception in the end zone, Rowe had another pass break up on a ball thrown towards the end zone. By no means was it a performance that should solidify his status as a weekly starter, but to see a 2nd round pick make plays like that is promising for sure.

No one knows how long Alonso will be out this season. He very well may have already played his last snap of 2015. Kendricks could be back for week four, but he’s also dealt with lingering injuries in the past. The injuries along the defensive line appear to be more moderate and without the sort of long-term implications of the others. Regardless of who comes back when, it’s important to see young players (or young-at-heart like 30-year-old 2nd-year man Brandon Bair) step up when their number is called. Those types of performances can go a long way when it comes to overall team morale.