Semi-Coherent Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Jets Preview

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Maybe things aren’t as bad as they seem. We could write off the loss to Atlanta as Sam Bradford and the Eagles’ offense just needing to knock off some rust. And I suppose the loss to the Cowboys was also understandable considering the Eagles were missing one of their best pass rushers, their top cornerback, their star wide receiver, and then had their quarterback knocked out of the game early in the first half.

Oh wait, that was the Cowboys. The Eagles had no excuse for their dismal performance.

Chip Kelly and the players insist that the team’s problems are fixable. They’d better hope so, because they’ll have to deal with one of the best defenses in the league this week.

New York Jets

Record: 2-0

Head Coach: Todd Bowles

Last Week: Defeated Indianapolis Colts 20-7

The Last Time They Met

The 2011 Eagles were making a late season push to give the fans JUST enough hope for the following season. When they faced the Jets in week 14, it was a dominating performance that made fans wonder why the team hadn’t played that well all year.

Never trust

Mark Sanchez

with your season on the line. Image Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

It helped that the Jets’ quarterback that day was Mark Sanchez. Sanchez’s play that day – along with a stinker of a game against the Giants the following week – made me think that if your playoff life is on the line, you don’t want to depend on him at quarterback. (Last year’s stretch run didn’t make me re-think that position.)

Big games from LeSean McCoy and Brent Celek helped give the Eagles more than enough offense to earn an easy 45-14 win that kept their playoff hopes alive for another week.

Note: Those playoff hopes died the following week when Sanchez and the Jets failed miserably against the Giants.

What’s New with the Jets

Despite losing their presumed starting quarterback before the season, the Jets have gotten off to a 2-0 start. Backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets offense have played surprisingly well, averaging 25.5 points per game.

Sep 21, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New York Jets running back Chris Ivory (33) during first half action against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

The offense might not be at full strength this week as both starting running back Chris Ivory and starting receiver Eric Decker are dealing with injuries. The way the Jets’ defense is playing, it might not even matter.

When they dominated the Browns in week one, it wasn’t seen as a big deal. After all, it hasn’t proven to be all that tough to dominate the Browns. When they did the same to Andrew Luck and the Colts’ offense, people started to take notice.

Head coach Todd Bowles is establishing himself as one of the best defensive coaches in the league. It makes you wonder how things would have turned out had the Eagles made him their defensive coordinator in 2011 instead of Juan Castillo.

Featured Jets Player: Muhammad Wilkerson

It’s not often you see Temple alumni become stars in the NFL, but Muhammad Wilkerson is proving the rare exception. In his fifth season, the former Owl has been a big reason the Jets defense has been one of the best in

Aug 29, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) smiles during the first half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

the league.

In the Jets’ Monday night win over Indianapolis, Wilkerson led the Jets’ defensive line in their domination of the Colts’ offensive line. Thanks to Wilkerson and company’s constant pressure, the Colts couldn’t get anything going.

The Eagles’ offensive line has had well-publicized issues thus far this season. If they can’t figure out a way to get Wilkerson neutralized, Sunday’s game could be another long one.

Key Eagles Storyline: The Eagles Running Troubles – Scheme, Execution, or Both?

After signing DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews in the offseason, the Eagles were expected to have one of the best running games in the NFL. Two games in, they haven’t quite lived up to that billing. When things go as disastrously as the Eagles running game has, a lot of excuses and explanations start getting thrown about.

Sep 20, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back DeMarco Murray looks at the line judge as Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Jack Crawford tackles him in the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Some analysts believe that opposing defenses have “figured out” Chip Kelly’s offense. They claim that the Eagles have only four basic running plays, and opposing defenses can easily determine what the Eagles are attempting to do. Others are blaming the personnel on the offensive line, saying that replacing Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans with Allen Barbre and Andrew Gardner has been a huge downgrade.

The Eagles coaches and players insist that nothing has been figured out. They maintain that the scheme is fine, and that the players on hand are talented enough. For whatever reason, they are simply not playing well enough.

That sounds fine, but what else do you expect them to say? It’s not like Kelly can re-design his offensive system on the fly, and like it or not, the Eagles aren’t going to find any upgrades in talent. (Perhaps if they had taken the revolutionary step of drafting an offensive lineman over the past two seasons, this might not be the case.) The only real hope is that the players on hand begin to execute the current scheme better.

Unfortunately, the Eagles may be without Murray this week. He suffered a hamstring injury in practice, and is deemed questionable for Sunday. Missing the top running back doesn’t seem like a great way to get the running game untracked, but at least the Eagles have excellent alternate options in Mathews and Darren Sproles.

Mocking the East

Part of the fun of being a football fan is taking pleasure in the misfortune of your favorite team’s rivals. Each week, I’ll find a reason to make fun of one of the other teams in the NFC East. (Note: Although I’m sure I could feature the Redskins every week, I’ll try to spread around the mockery a bit.)

Honestly, it’s tough to say that any team in the division deserves mockery more than the Eagles do right now. But in these trying times, it’s always nice to be able to laugh at the misfortune of others.

It’s never good to see players get hurt, so I’ll wish Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo a speedy recovery from his broken collarbone. I’ll also make fun of the Cowboys for heading into a season thinking that Brandon Weeden was a suitable backup option.

So far in his career, Weeden might be best known for getting trapped under a giant American flag in his first game as a pro:

That was the Browns’ 2012 opener against the Eagles; a game where the Eagles did just about everything they could to lose, only Weeden simply wouldn’t allow his team to win.

Don’t worry, Cowboys fans! The team just traded for Matt Cassel! Everything’s going to be just fine!

The Week in Andy

After he spent 13 years as the Eagles’ head coach, it’s natural that some fans find themselves missing Andy Reid.  I’ve decided to help them out by providing an occasional look at what Big Red is up to in Kansas City.

The scene: In the aftermath of the Chiefs’ loss to the Broncos last Thursday, general manager John Dorsey enters Andy Reid‘s office.

Dorsey: (Looking despondent) Hey coach.

Reid: (Smirking) What’s going on?

Dorsey: I can’t believe we lost that way.

Sep 13, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid during a game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Reid: Eh, these things happen. But I see you’re upset, so I’m not going to say I told you so.

Dorsey: …You told me so?

Reid: Yeah, you know about the whole running the ball thing.

Dorsey: What are you talking about?

Reid: Everyone is always saying, “Andy, you have to work in some running plays. Andy, you can’t throw the ball on every play. Andy, Jamaal Charles is our best player, we have to give him the ball.” So I gave him the ball, and you saw what happened.

Dorsey: I stand by my belief that we need to run the ball more. But maybe not in that particular situation…

Reid: Just answer a few questions for me.

Dorsey: (Sighs) Sure.

Reid: What kind of play was that last play?

Dorsey: A running play.

Reid: And what happened?

Dorsey: Jamaal fumbled.

Reid: And did we lose the game because of it?

Dorsey: Yes, but there were many –

Reid: Ah ah ah! No buts! I think you just agreed that running the ball caused us to lose.

Dorsey: Coach, you know that’s not-

Reid: Ahem. I told you so.

Nick vs. Sam

Since they were traded for each other, it’s only natural that fans would want to compare how Nick Foles and Sam Bradford are faring on their new teams. I’ll take a periodic look at the two quarterbacks and decide who holds the edge.

Neither Nick Foles nor Sam Bradford played well last week. Foles fumbled twice and the Rams’ offense looked bad in losing to the (gulp) Redskins.

Somehow, that was still better than what the Eagles got from Sam Bradford. He got little (zero) help from the running game, and his receivers certainly didn’t do him any favors by dropping a few catchable balls. But there’s no denying that Bradford played poorly as well.

He doesn’t appear comfortable in the pocket, he’s holding the ball too long, and he’s missing open receivers. His interception into the end zone was about as bad a decision as you’ll see a quarterback make.

For the second straight week, the edge goes to Foles.

Sep 20, 2015; Landover, MD, USA; St. Louis Rams quarterback Nick Foles (5) throws the ball against the Washington Redskins in the first quarter at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Super Bowl Year Song of the Week

The Eagles have not made many appearances in the Super Bowl (Two, to be exact). I’m hopeful that this season will mark their third appearance in the “big game,” so each week I’m going to take a song from one of the franchise’s Super Bowl seasons (1980 and 2004) that somehow relates to this week’s game.

Breakdown Dead Ahead – Boz Scaggs, 1980

This could describe the situation DeMarco Murray faced every time he was handed the ball last week. It seemed that thanks to breakdowns on the offensive line, he was met by defenders as soon as he touched the ball.

Prediction

Based on the way the teams have looked this season, this should be an easy win for the Jets. But it feels like this may be a “course correction” game for both teams.

When you looked at the rosters before the season, did you think the Eagles would be an 0-3 team. (Yes, I know most of us didn’t think they’d be 0-2, and it seems that a lot of people were wrong about a lot of things about the Eagles.) And although the Jets defense looked tough, did anyone predict a team led by Ryan Fitzpatrick would start 3-0?

The Jets are coming off a big win on Monday night, so they may be due for a letdown. Combined with the desperation that the Eagles should be feeling, I have a feeling that the Eagles break into the win column this week.

Eagles 23 – Jets 13

Next: Eagles Podcast: Jets Preview

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