LONDON — Five reasons the Eagles defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars, 24-18, Sunday at Wembley Stadium:
Bringin’ the heat
Jim Schwartz did something Sunday that he doesn't particularly like to do. He blitzed. A lot.
After watching the Panthers' Cam Newton complete 16 of 22 passes in the fourth quarter against his defense a week earlier, Schwartz decided he needed to be more aggressive Sunday against Blake Bortles and the Jaguars.
In the Eagles' first seven games, they blitzed on just 16.8 percent of their opponents' pass plays, one of the lowest blitz rates in the league. In their previous two games, they blitzed on just five of 88 pass plays.
Against the Jags, they blitzed five times just on Jacksonville's first two possessions. The end result: The Eagles sacked Bortles four times – three on blitzes – and put heavy pressure on him much of the afternoon. Bortles completed just 24 of 41 attempts and had only one touchdown pass.
Three rookies – tight end Dallas Goedert, safety Avonte Maddox, and running back Josh Adams – had prominent roles in Sunday's win.
Goedert caught just one pass, but it was a big one – a 32-yard touchdown from Carson Wentz right before the end of the first half that put the Eagles up, 10-6.
Goedert also continued to impress as a blocker. He had several nice blocks in the run game, including a big one early in the second quarter that opened a run lane for Adams, who picked up 14 yards around the left side and gave the Eagles a first down at the Jacksonville 6.
The drive stalled when Wentz was sacked two plays after Adams' run, and the Eagles had to settle for a 31-yard Jake Elliott field goal.
Maddox, the 5-foot-9, 190-pound fourth-round draft choice, was moved from corner to safety after Rodney McLeod suffered a season-ending knee injury late last month.
He didn't play particularly well in last week's loss to the Panthers, but Sunday was a different story. He made a big play on the Jags' first possession when he stopped running back Carlos Hyde, who had nearly 50 pounds on him, for a 1-yard loss on a third-and-1 play.
"He started out the game with a big play,'' the Eagles' other safety, Malcolm Jenkins, said. "He's an undersized guy to be playing safety. But on that third-and-1 play, he got a big back on the ground.
"For us, losing Rodney, that other safety position, that's a high premium on what we do on defense. Avonte's been filling in as a young player quite well. It's been impressive."
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Maddox made an even bigger play in the second quarter when he forced a fumble by wide receiver Keelan Cole.
Maddox dived and knocked the ball out of Cole's right arm with his helmet after he caught a pass from Bortles. Jenkins recovered, and four plays later, Wentz hit Goedert for a touchdown with 29 seconds left in the half.
Adams, an undrafted rookie out of Notre Dame by way of Central Bucks South, opened the season on the Eagles' practice squad and had just 11 carries before Sunday.
Against the Jags, he rushed for a team-high 61 yards on nine carries. He had runs of 17 and 21 yards and three of the team's seven rushing first downs.
Wentz had a rough start Sunday, but recovered well and put together yet another superb performance. His 119.6 passer rating was his fourth straight 115-plus rating.
He fumbled for the seventh time this season and lost one for the fifth time on the Eagles' first possession when he was hit from behind by Jags nose tackle Marcell Dareus.
On the Eagles' next possession, he drove his team from its own 14 to the Jacksonville 23 before making a poor throw into the end zone for tight end Josh Perkins that was picked off by cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
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After that, though, he was virtually unstoppable, both throwing the ball and running with it. He completed 70 percent of his passes, averaged 9.5 yards per attempt, and threw three touchdown passes. He also had more two rushing first downs, including a big 13-yard run up the middle on a third-and-11 late in the first half that set up his 32-yard touchdown pass to Goedert.
He was effective on third down, completing six of eight third-down attempts, five for first downs.
He converted an early third-and-14 with a 31-yard throw to Jordan Matthews. And he converted a third-and-9 slant to Alshon Jeffery on a nine-play, 95-yard touchdown drive to open the second half that gave the Eagles a 17-6 lead.
Wentz even caught a pass from himself for a first down on the Eagles' first possession, when a third-and-3 pass was batted back to him by Jags defensive end Calais Campbell. He grabbed it and gained 4 yards.
J-Matt to the rescue
On a day when the Jaguars defense did a pretty good job of keeping Wentz's two favorite weapons – Jeffery and tight end Zach Ertz – in relative check, Matthews had his best game since being signed by the Eagles on Sept. 19.
Matthews, who had just six catches in his first five games back with the Eagles, had four Sunday for 93 yards. He had an early 31-yard catch. Then in the second half, Wentz hit him for 13 yards on a third-and-2 play right before Wendell Smallwood's 36-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown.
Early in the fourth quarter, Matthews opened the Eagles' final touchdown drive with a 36-yard reception against Jags corner Tre Herndon. His last catch from Wentz, a 13-yarder on a second-and-10 with 3 ½ minutes left in the game, helped the Eagles run out the clock.
Marrone’s curious play-calling
Jags coach Doug Marrone likes to run the ball. Last year, his team led the league in rushing attempts (32.9 per game) and run-play percentage (48.9 percent).
He has a quarterback, Bortles, who really needs a good running game to be successful.
Yet, in a game that was close much of the day, Marrone didn't run the ball. Take out Bortles' eight runs (for 43 yards), and the Jags ran the ball just nine times.
Granted, those nine runs gained just 27 yards. Granted, he doesn't have Leonard Fournette, who has been out since Week 1 with a hamstring injury. But by giving up so easily on the run game, Marrone made it even easier for the Eagles defense to focus on Bortles.
"They went away from the run game really fast,'' defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said.
The Jags traded for Carlos Hyde two weeks ago, then gave him the ball just six times Sunday. Hyde received the ball three times in a row on the Jacksonville's first possession, then lugged it just three more times the rest of the game.