Eagles-Jets Preview: Praying for Another "Miracle"
As if things weren't already bad enough for the 0-2 Philadelphia Eagles, they have to leave town early for their game against the New York Jets in the Meadowlands because the pope is visiting Philadelphia this weekend. Yes, apparently God hates the Eagles.
Of course, maybe practicing for a couple of days at Monmouth University will actually help the Eagles. I mean, whatever head coach Chip Kelly has been doing the last two weeks certainly hasn't worked. And now the pathetic Eagles offense has to face a Jets defense that has allowed the fewest points (17) and forced the most turnovers in the NFL. It would take a miracle for the Eagles to win this one, right? Let's take a look at the matchups.
How Many Interceptions Will Sam Bradford Throw Against the Jets
Eagles Offense Versus Jets Defense
Everybody was so sure Sam Bradford was a Hall of Fame quarterback in Chip Kelly's system because he completed a few passes in the preseason. Then the regular season started and Bradford looked lost, unable to complete anything besides a check-down pass. Bradford's four INTs lead the NFC and his 72.3 QB rating is 4th lowest in the NFL. In short, Bradford looks like the same underachieving QB he was in St. Louis. Even more amazing than how bad the Eagles offense has been this season is that fact that there are actually 6 teams behind them in the offensive rankings. Of course, after facing the Jets defense this week, they could very well drop to dead last.
The Eagles had that good second half against the Falcons in Week 1, but the Jets defensive backs are among the best in the NFL. CBs Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie are both shutdown corners and the Eagles don't exactly have explosive WRs. Even slot corner Buster Skrine won't have any trouble handling the Eagles receivers. Even if Jordan Matthews lines up in the slot, Revis could move inside and shut him out. Or the Jets could leave Revis and Cromartie all alone on the outside and feel confident that they can shut down any of the Eagles receivers without any safety help. The best bet the Eagles have in the passing game is likely to be with TE Zach Ertz and RB Darren Sproles. Safety Calvin Pryor is very good, but Ertz could give him trouble. Sproles is too quick for any LB, so the Jets may use the extra safety on him, since they don't have to worry about the Eagles receivers with Captain Check-down, Bradford throwing the ball deep.
To say the Eagles running game is a disappointment is an understatement. They are dead last in the NFL in rushing after rushing for only 7 yards against the Cowboys last week. Big-time free agent, DeMarco Murray has 11 yards rushing on the season and now he's questionable for the game with an ankle injury. Hey, Ryan Matthews couldn't do any worse, right? The saddest part about the Eagles inability to run the ball is that teams aren't even stacking the box to stop the run.
That's because the Eagles offensive line has been atrocious. Kelly's decision to jettison guards Todd Herremans and Evan Mathis looks like the dumbest move in the entire NFL last offseason. There is simply nowhere for the RBs to run because the Eagles line isn't opening up any holes. All of their rushing yardage is to the outside or on delayed draws on 3rd and long. Yes, journeyman guards Allen Barbre and Andrew Gardner are terrible, but Pro Bowl center Jason Kelce has been making horrible mistakes and Pro Bowl LT Jason Peters just looks old. They are going to get eaten alive by the front seven of the Jets. One thing to watch: Jets inside LBs David Harris and Demario Davis are the best pair of ILBs that the average NFL fan has never heard of. Meanwhile, the one thing the Eagles O-line has actually been able to do is protect Bradford, which is amazing since Kelly seemingly calls a pass play on every single down.
Jets Offense Versus Eagles Defense
The Jets aren't exactly a juggernaut on offense, but I think they are actually fortunately that QB Geno Smith's own teammate (IK Enemkpali) punched him in the face and broke his jaw. That allowed the team to start Ryan Fitzpatrick. Yes, I know Fitzpatrick is on his 4th team in the last four years, but it's important to note that he previous played for NY offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, so he already knows the system. Fitzpatrick can't win a game on his own, but he's doing well so far this season, completing 63.8% of his passes for 423 yards, 4 TDs and 2 INTs through two weeks. The only hope the Eagles have is that Fitzpatrick can also be erratic at times.
Fitzpatrick may also be without WR Eric Decker on Sunday. That would leave Brandon Marshall as his lone threat on the outside. Of course, that's a pretty good threat, since he has 13 catches for 163 yards and 2 TDs this season. Normally you would put your No.1 CB on that guy, but although the Eagles paid Byron Maxwell a ton of money to be that guy, he is stealing money. Maxwell has been targeted an amazing 18 times in 2 games and has given up 224 yards and 2 TDs. He's actually the worst defensive back on the Eagles right now. So sad.
The other big issue for the Eagles pass defense this week is the absence of ILBs Mychal Kendricks and Kiko Alonso. Those two are great cover LBs that allowed the Eagles to stay in their base defense most of the time. Now, the Eagles will be forced to go to their dime defense and leave only rookie LB Jordan Hicks on the field with the extra defensive backs. The Jets love to run three and four-receiver sets and even use an empty backfield quite a bit, so the Eagles defense is going to be out of their comfort zone.
That will have an effect on the Eagles ability to stop the run, along with the loss of DE Cedric Thornton to a broken hand. Thornton isn't flashy, but he does the dirty work necessary in a 3-4 defense. The Jets are 10th in the NFL in rushing (127.5 yards per game), so they will definitely test the Eagles banged up front seven. Chris Ivory isn't a great runner, but he's effective enough, averaging 4.4 yards per carry.
The Jets offensive line has some big names like LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold and they function well as a whole. Fitzpatrick has only been sacked once this season and, as I said before, they're making an average RB like Ivory look good. The Eagles best hope is to blitz Fitzpatrick to try to force him into mistakes. That's where OLBs Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham are going to have to step up.
The Eagles special teams literally won them a few games last season. This season, the only difference they are making is a negative one, as they gave up TD on a blocked punt last week. Darren Sproles is always a threat to score on a return, but he hasn't looked close to breaking one this season. Kicker Cody Parkey hit his only FG attempt last week, but he has looked shaky since the preseason. Nick Folk is a decent enough kicker for New York. But returners Chris Owusu and Jeremy Kerley aren't going to scare anyone. Expect the special teams play to be uneventful this Sunday.
Chip Kelly the GM absolutely screwed Chip Kelly the coach. All of the offseason moves he made have looked like mistakes so far this season. Even worse, it seems as if the NFL has figured out Kelly's gimmicky hurry-up offense. Even WR Josh Huff said the Cowboys were calling out the Eagles plays last week before the snap. It seems that Kelly's offense is either too simplistic or too predictable. Either way, he isn't fooling defenses in Year 3. Todd Bowles is a former Eagles coach in his first year in New York. A defensive coach at heart, he took over Rex Ryans defense and has made it much better. Bowles has his team 2-0 and believing in his way of doing things. Two things that Kelly certainly doesn't have.
The Eagles are the desperate team here at 0-2. Since 1990, when the NFL expanded the playoffs to 12 teams, only 2 percent of the teams that have started the season 0-3 have made the playoffs. Of course, it takes more than desperation to win a football game.
The Eagles are playing terribly and have key injuries on defense. The Jets defense has been dominating and the Eagles offense looks deflated. Every matchup seems to favor the Jets and they are due to beat the Eagles. You see, the Jets have never beaten the Eagles in the regular season. They are 0-9 against the Eagles. Of course, those were different teams that have no bearing on this game. Only another Miracle at the Meadowlands can save this Eagles team from going 0-3. Unfortunately, those types of Miracles only happen for the Eagles against the other team from New York that plays in the Meadowlands.
Plus, it's not like the Eagles can ask for the miracle from the pope since he's kicking them out of their own town this weekend.
Jets 24 - Eagles 16