The Philadelphia Eagles (5-7) are playing the New York Jets (3-8) at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. In order to preview this Week 13 game, I reached out to our enemies over at Gang Green Nation. The magnanimous MacGregor Wells kindly took the time to answer my questions about this upcoming tilt. Let’s take a look at the answers. (Check out GGN for my side of the exchange!)
1 - To what extent are Zach Wilson’s struggles concerning?
I think Zach Wilson’s struggles are very concerning. Other than the occasional off schedule deep ball, there is literally no aspect of quarterbacking that Zach Wilson does at an NFL level. He struggles to read defenses, he does not trust what he is seeing, he fails to get the ball out on time and in rhythm, he just doesn’t see open receivers, he takes far to many avoidable sacks, he refuses to take what the defense is giving him in favor of trying for the big play when it isn’t there, he is at times wildly inaccurate. There just hasn’t been any aspect of quarterbacking that Zach Wilson has shown he can be good at thus far. Yes, it is still very early, and he certainly can still turn things around, but right now he is literally the worst starting quarterback in the NFL. If that isn’t concerning I don’t know what is.
2 - How would you grade former Eagles vice president of player personnel and current Jets GM Joe Douglas? What’s the confidence level in him moving forward?
Joe Douglas has ben kind of a mixed bag so far. He has in general been very effective in trades, usually getting the better end of the bargain. In so doing he has done a nice job accumulating draft capital. The Jets have two 1st round picks, two 2nd round picks, a 3rd round pick, two 4th round picks and two 5th round picks in the 2022 draft. That’s a very nice set of draft assets with which to continue to build this team. However, it’s not enough just to accumulate picks. Douglas has to hit on a good number of picks to be successful, and thus far he has one bad draft (2020) and one good draft (2021). In 2021 the Jets got starting left guard Alijah Vera-Tucker in the 1st round, starting wide receiver Elijah Moore in the 2nd round, starting running back Michael Carter in the 4th round, starting slot cornerback Michael Carter II in the 5th round, and starting outside cornerback Brandin Echols in the 6th round. So far that looks like a great haul. If Zach Wilson turns thing around and becomes a good starting quarterback, it will be an epic draft for the Jets, and if Douglas nails the 2022 draft as well, then things will really be looking up. However, those are two big ifs. If Wilson never develops and the 2022 draft is not very good, then the Jets will be stuck in the lower tier of NFL teams for a while longer, and Douglas may not survive to direct the long term rebuild.
3 - Many have been pointing out how the Eagles are 11-0 all-time against the Jets. Does that record mean anything to Jets fans? An annoyance? Or do they not really care that much about the Eagles-Jets series?
For the most part I think the 0-11 Jets record against the Eagles is just an annoying bit of trivia to Jets fans. If this was against a division opponent this would be a much more important thing to Jets fans. As it stands, there is no feeling of rivalry with the Eagles. So yeah, Jets fans would certainly like to end this streak, but other than every four years when the two teams meet and it gets brought up, I don’t think the streak is anything Jets fans think much about. In fact, when the streak does get mentioned every four years, many younger fans are surprised it’s even a thing. They are often unaware the streak exists.
4 - What is the Jets’ biggest strength? How should they be attacking the Eagles?
The Jets’ biggest strength is the defensive line. In particular, defensive tackle Quinnen Wiliams and defensive end John Franklin-Myers are very good at getting after the quarterback. Unfortunately for the Jets, the pass rush will not be as important in this game as it is in many other games. The Eagles run the ball so much and so well and pass so little that the really important thing is to stop the run and force Jalen Hurts to beat you through the air. Unfortunately the Jets run defense is quite poor. I think the Jets need to sell out against the run and try to force the Eagles to win through the air, but I am not confident the Jets have the ability to accomplish that.
On offense the Jets need to establish the run and take the pressure of off Zach Wilson, but again, I don’t think the Jets have the ability to be successful at that. Other than last week’s game against the Texans, the Jets have been terrible at running the ball all year. Frankly this game looks like a really bad matchup for the Jets. I am not confident they will have much success. Any given Sunday and all that, but man, this looks like a big Eagles win from my vantage point.
5 - What is the Jets’ biggest weakness? What should the Eagles be looking to exploit?
I mean, what isn’t a weakness for the Jets? The quarterback is the worst starting quarterback in the NFL. The running backs are mediocre at best. The tight ends are the worst in the NFL. The offensive line is mediocre. Elijah Moore is an exciting talent at wide receiver, but the rest of the receivers are average at best. The secondary, particularly the safeties, are not NFL quality. The linebackers are bad in coverage and terrible against the run. About the only thing the Jets do well is the defensive front four at times does a nice job putting pressure on the passer. If you can neutralize the Jets pass rush there is very little else to worry about as an opponent. Elijah Moore, the rookie wide receiver, is a potent threat in the passing game, so keep an eye on him. But there is so much here for Jets opponents to exploit it’s difficult to pick just one. I expect the Eagles to control this game early and run the ball at will against the Jets. I doubt this game will be close.
6 - Who wins this game and why? Score prediction? And what are your expectations for the rest of this Jets season?
Eagles win because they are great at running the ball and the Jets are awful at stopping the run. On offense the Jets offensive line will probably struggle to contain the Eagles pass rush, especially the Eagles interior defensive line. Zach Wilson will make mistakes, the Eagles will capitalize and I doubt this game is particularly close. I’m always way off on score predictions, but I’ll say Eagles 31, Jets 13.
The rest of the season for the Jets is all about developing Zach Wilson. If he can close the season strong and start to look like a legitimate NFL quarterback the season will be a success regardless of the wins and losses. If Wilson continues to look lost the season will be a failure and Jets fans will be very concerned that once again we have chosen the wrong quarterback. In a quarterback driven league, it is almost impossible to win with a quarterback who is arguably the worst in the NFL. The Jets somehow have had one of those at the position for most of the last decade.