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Jets At Eagles Preview

Michael Nania's comprehensive preview for Jets @ Eagles
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Last Game

Jets – lost 14-30 @ Patriots

Gang Green went into Foxboro with almost zero chance of victory given the current health of the roster. Of the 22 projected offensive and defensive starters going into the season, eight were missing for the team’s first battle with the Patriots. Offensively, the Jets were without Sam Darnold, Chris Herndon, and Quincy Enunwa. Defensively, the Jets missed Avery Williamson, C.J. Mosley, Jordan Jenkins, Brandon Copeland, and Quinnen Williams.

Vegas laughed at the Jets, listing them as record-setting 24.5 point underdogs.

The game went exactly as expected. New England jumped out to a 20-0 lead under 17 minutes into the game, extending their advantage to 30-0 early in the third quarter. New York’s defense got off to an atrocious start, although they would hold up a bit better in the second half. Offensively, the Luke Falk-led Jets offense simply could not do anything. They mustered up only 105 yards of offense, the third-worst total in franchise history.

However, the Jets found a way to cover the spread, stumbling into two miraculous touchdowns in the second half. Arthur Maulet recovered a muffed punt by the Patriots, while Jamal Adams recorded a pick-six off of backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham.

Speaking of backup quarterbacks, the Jets are hopeful that Week 3 was the last time they would have to use theirs. The team has been optimistic that Sam Darnold would be healthy enough to return in Week 5 against the Eagles – hence their decision to cut recently-added backup quarterback David Fales.

With only a few days to go until the game, things are not looking quite as promising as the team had hoped, as Darnold has not yet been officially cleared to play. The chance that Darnold returns this week still exists, however.  He has returned to the practice field and participated in non-contact drills. Hope remains that Darnold can be cleared in time to suit up on Sunday.

This is looking like a day-by-day process. The decision on whether or not Darnold returns this week may not be made until the day of the game.

Eagles – won 34-27 @ Packers

The Super Bowl-hopeful Eagles went into Green Bay limping, having lost two straight games and desperately needing an upset over the undefeated Packers.

Once again, Philadelphia got off to a rocky start. They trailed Green Bay 10-0 early in the second quarter, marking the fourth consecutive game in which the Eagles found themselves trailing by double digits in the first half.

However, the Eagles would again find a way to overcome the deficit and get back into the game. Philly took advantage of the field position provided by a few Packers miscues, scoring three touchdowns in the second quarter. They carried a 21-20 lead into the half.

The teams traded touchdowns in the second half until Aaron Rodgers got the ball down by seven points at the end of the fourth quarter. Rodgers drove the Packers within range to score the tying (or winning) touchdown, but the Eagles held up in the red zone to take the victory. And that was the story of the game – the red zone. Philadelphia scored a touchdown on all five of its red zone drives. Green Bay scored a touchdown on only three of its seven red zone drives.

Great situational football carried the Eagles to a much-needed win. Going forward, Philadelphia is certainly hoping they can avoid these nail-biters by picking up more dominant victories – they absolutely have the potential to do so. For now, however, Eagles fans are undoubtedly happy with the way their team grinded out a crucial victory in Wisconsin.

State of the Division

Jets – 0-3, 3rd AFC East, 13th AFC

The Jets’ chances at winning the AFC East seem to be spent. They have already lost to each of the top two teams in the division – who clashed with one another in Week 4.

In a battle for early control of the division, the 3-0 Patriots paid a visit to the 3-0 Bills in Western New York. Buffalo gave New England by far its toughest game of the season, but the Patriots prevailed by a score of 16-10 on the strength of their dominant defense. Owning a 4-0 record and already securing two wins in the division, the Patriots have full control of the AFC East going into October.

Miami continued its tanking efforts in Week 4, losing to the Chargers by a score of 30-10. It was their fourth straight loss by three or scores or more. On the bright side, it was also the third consecutive game in which the Dolphins lost by fewer points than they did the previous week. Perhaps Miami can look at this as a positive during their Week 5 bye. Progress!

Eagles – 2-2, T-2nd NFC East, T-9th NFC

Philadelphia gained valuable ground in the NFC East last week, as their win was coupled with a Cowboys loss to the Saints. The Eagles now sit just one game behind Dallas for the division lead. The two rivals will clash for the first time at AT&T Stadium in Week 7, and their second meeting will be at Lincoln Financial Field in Week 16. That game will be one of four consecutive divisional battles for the Eagles to finish the season.

The Eagles are sharing second place in the NFC East with the Giants, who dominated the Redskins in a divisional battle last Sunday. After an 0-2 start under Eli Manning, Big Blue has won back-to-back games under Daniel Jones in his first two NFL starts. Philly won’t see the Giants until December, as the two teams will meet twice in a four week span to end of the season (at Philadelphia in Week 14, at New York in Week 17).

Washington has all but fallen out of the race, now sitting at 0-4 with a matchup against the Patriots coming up. All the while, a quarterback controversy surrounds the team, as they decide between struggling veteran Case Keenum and 2019 first round pick Dwayne Haskins.

Statistical strengths

Jets – Run defense

Once again, good run defense is among the few things that the Jets can hang their hats on. The Gang Green defense ranks sixth in fewest yards per rush attempt allowed (3.6), eighth in fewest rush yards per game allowed (88.7), and 11th in rush defense DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average).

The Jets have stuffed 24 percent of opponent runs for no gain or a loss, the sixth-highest rate in football.

Eagles – Third down offense

The Eagles have had some issues on offense this year. Despite their talent level, they rank in the bottom half of the league in both yards per pass play and yards per run play.

Regardless of the obstacles they’ve faced, the Eagles have found a way to be successful offensively. They are ranked fourth in both points per drive and offensive DVOA.

How have they done it? Clutch situational football. The Eagles have converted on 56.1 percent of their third downs this season, best in the league. Finding their way into third and short situations has been essential, as the Eagles have faced the second-fewest average yards to go on third down (6.4).

Statistical weaknesses

Jets – 8 yards before contact for Le’Veon Bell

The Jets offensive line has run blocked at an incompetent level this season. Of Le’Veon Bell’s 163 rushing yards, 155 have come after contact. A measly eight of his rushing yards have come before contact, a minuscule 4.9 percent of his rushing yardage. It is nearly impossible to win games this way.

Eagles – Drops

Drops have been one of the biggest issues for Philadelphia. They lead the NFL with a total of 12 dropped passes this season.

The drop problem has been a team-wide issue for the Eagles. Nine players have been credited with at least one drop, while no player has recorded more than two.

Given that the Eagles have played in four close games this season, their ability to avoid drops has correlated with winning. In their two victories, the Eagles had a combined three drops, with one against Washington and two against Green Bay. In their two losses, Philadelphia had a combined nine drops, with four against Atlanta and five against Detroit.

An improving Alshon Jeffery should help this issue. The star receiver returned after a one-game absence in Week 4 and scored a touchdown, but he did not look to be at full health just yet. Perhaps the extra three days of rest (thanks to Thursday Night Football) was enough to get Jeffery back to 100-percent for his battle with the Jets.

Matchup of the Game: Fletcher Cox vs. Jets interior offensive line

Fletcher Cox is one of the most dominant defensive players in the league. The Eagles have needed him to step up more than ever this year, and he has delivered yet again.

Defensive tackles Tim Jernigan and Malik Jackson were knocked out of the lineup due to injury, and Cox has carried the Philadelphia defensive line to dominance nonetheless. The Eagles have allowed only 3.2 yards per rush attempt this season, third-best.

Cox is beastly rushing the passer as well. His total of 20 pressures ranks second among interior defenders, behind only Calais Campbell.

Whether it’s a run play or a pass play, Cox is going to be a major mismatch for the brutally awful Jets offensive line. The group has created zero push in the run game, while they’ve had constant communication issues in pass protection. Cox is a monster, and he has proven time and time again that he will abuse a bad offensive line.

The interior trio of Kelechi Osemele, Ryan Kalil, and Brian Winters will see the most of Cox. That’s if those players actually start the game – head coach Adam Gase has hinted that changes could be made to the starting offensive line out of the bye week.

No matter who is out there, the Jets offensive line has to contain Cox if they are going to give their quarterback a chance – regardless of whether that man is Luke Falk or Sam Darnold.

By Michael Nania


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