Each week Patrick and Dave discuss the week that was and will be. It's Two Guys Internetting Football!
Dave: Hey we've got a must win game this week. Those are always big.
*looks at calendar*
Crap. It's only Week 3. We talked about this a little bit earlier in the week, but if the Eagles are going to turn it around on Sunday, they have to do it against a pretty tough match up. The Jets DL is nasty, they've got a good pair of WRs (assuming Decker plays) their corners are a top notch pairing though they're both banged up, and this is the third time Todd Bowles has faced Chip Kelly, and we've seen twice this season coaches that have previously faced the Eagles and done well defensively, so that's another cause for concern.
How confident are you for Sunday?
Patrick: I'm more confident than I should be, frankly.
We're going to learn a ton about Chip Kelly this week. Will he come up with the right game plan? Will he make adjustments if the offense struggles? Will he go for it on fourth and short? Football is ultimately played by the players, sure, but Chip needs to get his troops ready and coach them well in the game.
But like you said, this week he has the added issue of tough match ups. The Jets are ranked second in defensive DVOA, which is not what the Eagles offense needs to see right now. Plus Byron Maxwell will have his hands full with the Jets receivers, especially Brandon Marshall.
But with all that said, I think this is the week the offense gets rolling earlier. I'm expecting a scrappy, low-scoring game for both teams, and in those situations I will take the Eagles' struggling offense over Ryan Fitzpatrick any day.
But I will say, this feels like a weird role reversal game. The word out of New York is that the Jets need to avoid a trap game, which is what everyone in Philadelphia thought they'd be saying about the Jets only a couple weeks ago. Are we in for more of that all season?
Dave: If the offensive line is still struggling, I can't see Chip going for it, because if the running backs are getting destroyed in the backfield, might as well punt.
Yeah, it's weird to be on the other end of a possible "trap game." We're so used to the Eagles being a good team pretty much year in and year out that we don't have much experience with being the trapper. One thing in the Eagles favor is the Jets have created 10 turnovers in just two games and the offense has turned the ball over just twice, and that ratio is not going to last. And as tough as this match up is, the Jets are banged up, and coming off a short week. Eric Decker may not play. Antonio Cromartie was a game day decision on Monday after an extra day of rest, a short week can't help. Darelle Revis and Chris Ivory have missed practice and might not play. So the Eagles might not get a full strength Jets team.
Injuries, a home game, an opponent that can't get out of it's own way... yeah this sounds like a trap game for the Jets. Are we in for more of that this season? No, because the Eagles only play two good teams the rest of the season. The rest of the schedule are flawed teams. Doesn't mean the Eagles will turn it around, but teams like the Redskins, Giants, Panthers, Bucs and Dolphins aren't good enough to be "trapped."
Patrick: That last paragraph is so frustrating. Not because you're wrong, but because the Eagles had a chance to really run away with the division, and are now playing catch-up. It's nice that the schedule is pretty manageable, but a sub par finish this season will feel like even more of a wasted opportunity. A banged up Jets secondary could be what the Eagles need. That said, I wonder if this is the week Sam Bradford decides to air it out. As you mentioned, the Jets defense is opportunistic, and I worry that an early turnover would get the Eagles players thinking, "oh great, here we go again."
And that's to say nothing of the injuries - looks like DeMeco Ryans will start next to Jordan Hicks, which should be interesting. Dave, do you give the Eagles any chance in this one?
Dave: I (and Rams fans) will believe Sam Bradford wants to air it out when I see it.
We should see a healthy dose of Darren Sproles, the Jets have had some difficulty covering RBs in the passing game this season, though they were excellent at it last year. Make them prove they can handle Sproles, which most teams can't anyway.
I give the Eagles a chance on this. The run blocking is fixable, it's mostly mental errors. It's possible that greatly improves on Sunday, and if so that has a domino effect: the passing game can only benefit from it, the defense isn't on the field as much. The Jets are not at 100%, even if everyone starts. This has a lot of components that make up a "trap game" for New York: coming off a big prime time win, underachieving opponent that might be taken lightly, health issues, short week, turnover prone QB, extremely good fortune with generating turnovers that at some point will suddenly stop... It wouldn't surprise me to see the Eagles win.
It's clear from the quotes coming out of NovaCare that everyone is keenly aware of the situation the Eagles are in. When Chip talks about building a culture, it's to do what he can to insulate against things such an internal collapse when things go wrong. If the Eagles lose there will be many comparisons to The Dream Team, and some of them won't be off base: Byron Maxwell has done a pretty good Nnamdi Asomugha impression and at 0-3 comparisons of big money spending by the head coaches wouldn't be out of line. But I don't see the core of this team imploding like that. There's no Jason Babin or DeSean Jackson who only care about their stats, or Asomugha pointing at teammates when things go wrong. It was a bad locker room, and it showed. Instead there's Malcolm Jenkins and Connor Barwin, Jason Kelce has developed into a strong and mature voice. I'll take this team's chances with it's back against the wall.
That said, I picked the Jets to win in our weekly predictions because the Eagles haven't given me anything empirical to be confident about.