At the onset of this season the Eagles offense vs the Jags defense would have been a fascinating matchup. The Eagles have had the #1 offense in football all year and the Jags defense is one that has shut two teams out this year. That's something even the Bears' vaunted defense has not been able to do. Unfortunately(or fortunately for the Eagles), as I wrote yesterday, this Jags' defense has been devastated by injury. Last week, on the road in Houston the Jaguars defense was lit up for 27 points and 349 yards of offense to one of the leagues 5 worst offensive units. 131 of those yards came on the ground. The Eagles come in to this game with the 8th ranked rushing attack in the NFL averaging over 125 yds/g. Couple that with the multiple injuries along the Jags defensive line and linebacking corps and the Eagles should be able to exploit a serious advantage on the ground.
Through the air, it's hard to say that any team can match up with the Eagles so far this year. They come in to this game once again with the #1 passing attack in the NFL. The Jags are also beat up with some players out at corner that we discussed yesterday and pro bowl safety Donovan Darius missing practice all week with a knee injury. Despite the knee, Darius is listed as probable. The Jags do have one very good corner in Rashean Mathis who leads the NFL in INTs so far this year with four. It should be interesting to see whether he gets matched up more often with Reggie Brown or the returning Donte Stallworth. Brian Williams, a very average player who was inexplicably given a giant free agent contract this past offseason, is their other corner. As a team they are tied for 2nd best in the league with 9 INTs.
So far this year the Jags D has been solid on third downs, an area the Eagles' offense has struggled this year. However, like everything it's hard to say just how stout the Jags will be without their top run stopper(three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcus Stroud), tackler, & pass rusher, along with a beat up secondary... Even with the great start the defense had to the season, they've still only racked up 13 sacks as a team. Ranking them tied with several other teams with the 4th fewest in the NFL.
The fact is that this Jags' defense is a great unit when healthy, and they aren't healthy. It's hard to see how a team as beat up as Jacksonville is and coming off the performance they did against one of the worst teams in football can bounce back in their second road game in a row against the top offense in football. McNabb should have plenty of time to throw, Westbrook should be able to run the ball especially up the middle(where he is averaging 6.7 yards a carry so far), and the receiving corps should be able to find success against the depleted Jacksonville secondary in nickel and dime situations.
Fox Sports agrees today with what I wrote yesterday that this year?s Jaguars are last year?s Eagles?
Leftwich missed practice again yesterday. It?s getting more and more likely that David Garrard will get the start Sunday.