After a disgraceful loss at home against the rival Cowboys Sunday, the Eagles arguably have their season on the line next week in New York. With the Cowboys hosting a beatable Falcons team, the Eagles can ill-afford to fall to 0-3.
To make matters worse. the New York Jets team they will face looks nothing like the sloppy, sputtering team it was under Rex Ryan. Under former Eagles defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, the Jets look like a crisp, disciplined, and hungry team. Upon watching their Monday night victory over the feared Colts offense, it was clear the Eagles have their work cut out for them.
If the Eagles offense is looking for a “remedy game,” where they beat up on an inferior defense, they won’t find it at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defense is ruthless, and applies pressure through blitz packages almost at will. New York will send linebackers and sometimes corners on the rush, and almost always blitzes on third down. The Jets’ pressure forced Andrew Luck into plenty of mistakes Monday night, and the Jets capitalized with points off five turnovers.
On first and second down, the Jets defense boasts good tackling against the run and short passing games. The Eagles, who rely almost solely on plays around the line of scrimmage, may need to change things up to create holes in the Jets front seven. Whenever the Colts were able to beat the Jets with play action and long passes, there were holes for Frank Gore to run through on the next few plays. The Colts run some zone read with Gore the same way the Eagles run, and with the Jets’ upfield, attacking styler of line play, Philadelphia should be able to find some space for the running backs to exploit.
Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, and the other receivers may be sent deep more to give the offense space; however, this strategy won’t work if the Eagles’ offensive line fails to protect Sam Bradford, and is unable to give time for the receivers to run the longer routes. Darrell Revis is back to his old self, having caused four takeaways in the first two games. In spite of Revis’ production, the Jets secondary as a whole is vulnerable to the big play, as they rely heavily on zone blitzes. The Eagle offense characteristically isn’t built to beat this defense, but Chip Kelly must be wiling to adapt in a critical game.
The Eagles defense has played well in its first two outings, though more so against the Cowboys. The Jets target veteran Eric Decker a lot in the passing game, and will switch the play at the line of scrimmage if he’s given one-on-one coverage. Decker and Marshall could prove ominous for Byron Maxwell and the secondary, who struggled against a slightly better group in the opener against the Falcons.
New York also pounds the ball well with running back Chris Ivory, and can take time off the clock with their balance of run and pass. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has been baited into mistakes in the past, but he has proven to be much more conservative this year.
If Chip Kelly could hand pick his opponent fit Sunday, chances are he wouldn’t take the new-look Jets. With a divisional hole to climb through, however, the Eagles will need to adapt rapidly, and figure out how to jumpstart a short-circuited offense.