Eagles-Jets scouting report and prediction | Paul Domowitch
A breakdown of Sunday's Eagles-Jets game, including key matchups, keys to the game and a prediction.
The 2-2 Eagles will host the 0-3 Jets at 1 p.m. Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Here’s an in-depth look at the game.
When the Eagles run
Running backs Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard finally got in sync with the offensive line last Thursday against the Packers. They combined for 159 yards and averaged a hefty 6.5 yards per carry on first down. With tight end Dallas Goedert healthy, the Eagles used “12” and “13” personnel on 29 of 60 snaps. Sanders and Howard averaged 6.6 yards per carry out of “12” and “13” personnel.
Howard and Sanders complement each other well. Howard is a downhill runner, while Sanders is a slasher with good vision and above-average breakaway ability who can run inside or outside. Howard has a team-high 13 rushing first downs. He had six rushing first downs and four double-digit-yard runs last week.
Carson Wentz has yet to be stopped on third- and fourth-down quarterback sneaks. He already has eight rushing first downs, just one fewer than he had all last year.
The Jets have been good against the run. They’ve held opponents to 3.6 yards per carry and 2.9 on first down. And that’s been without linebacker C.J. Mosley, who missed the last two games because of a groin injury. Safety Jamal Adams is a strong run defender.
When the Eagles throw
Carson Wentz had his second straight interception-less game against the Packers. He has thrown just two picks this season and none in his last 98 attempts. He’s also avoiding sacks. Through four games, he’s been sacked just seven times, or once every 21.7 pass plays, the best sack percentage of his career.
Wentz leads the league in third-down passing (125.5 rating). He has a 66.7 completion percentage and has thrown an NFL-high five touchdown passes on third down.
The Eagles’ deep passing game has suffered without DeSean Jackson. In Week 1 with Jackson, Wentz was 2-for-5 for 104 yards and two TDs on throws of 20-plus yards. In the last three games without him, he was 3-for-13 for 113 yards, no TDs and two interceptions on deep balls. Tight end Zach Ertz has a team-high 24 receptions but still is looking for his first TD.
The Jets have allowed only four TD passes in three games but have struggled on third down. Opponents have a 102.7 third-down passer rating against the Jets.
When the Jets run
The Jets gave Le’Veon Bell a four-year, $52.5 million contract in March, but the three-time Pro Bowler has been unremarkable. He’s averaging just 2.9 yards on 56 carries. Just nine of Bell’s carries have gained 7 or more yards. The Patriots held Bell to 35 yards on 18 carries two weeks ago. He’s averaging just 3.2 yards per carry on first down.
It’s not all Bell’s fault. The Jets’ offensive line hasn’t blocked very well for him. They signed left guard Kelechi Osemele in free agency and persuaded former Panther Ryan Khalil to postpone retirement for a year. But they’re 30th in the league in rush average (3.0). Coach Adam Gase reportedly was contemplating changes up front during the bye week.
The Eagles are third in opponent rush average (3.2) and fourth in run defense (62.0 yards per game). But Bell will be the most formidable running back they have faced this season. The Eagles, like the Jets, have held opponents to 2.9 yards per carry on first down. They’ve given up a league-low seven runs of 8 yards or more.
When the Jets throw
The Eagles are hurting at cornerback, as five of their top six corners are out with injuries. Orlando Scandrick, who was signed off the street last Friday, probably will start Sunday, which tells you how dire the situation is. The Eagles likely will play a lot of two-deep, and try to keep the ball in front of them.
They’ll get no sympathy from the Jets, whose starting quarterback, Sam Darnold, has missed the last two games with mononucleosis. Darnold returned to practice this past week but probably will sit out his third straight game. If he can’t go, Luke Falk, who opened the season as the team’s No. 3 quarterback, will make his second career start.
Falk is yet another product of the Mike Leach air-raid offense. He’s a rhythm passer with good accuracy, but he has little mobility. The Jets’ offensive line already has given up 13 sacks, which puts them on a 70-sack pace.
» READ MORE: Andrew Sendejo’s frenetic style is a hit with Eagles coaches
Falk doesn’t have a lot of pass-catching options. Bell and former Redskins slot receiver Jamison Crowder have 40 of the Jets’ 63 receptions.. The Eagles gave up 422 passing yards to the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers last week but held him to five completions in 16 attempts in the red zone.
Punter Cam Johnston is off to an impressive start in his second NFL season. He’s fourth in the league in net average (44.8) and has put eight of his 14 attempts inside the 20. He’s had just two of seven punts returned in the last two games. PK Jake Elliott has made all four of his FG attempts this season.
Rookie Miles Sanders had a 67-yard kickoff return last week against the Packers. The Eagles gave up a 100-yard kick return for a TD to the Lions’ Jamal Agnew in Week 3. Aside from that significant lapse, Dave Fipp’s coverage units have played pretty well.
Kaare Vedvik opened the season as the Jets’ kicker, but he was released after missing a 45-yard field goal and a PAT in their one-point loss to the Bills in Week 1. He was replaced by Penn State product Sam Ficken, who has made his lone field-goal attempt. Punter Lachlan Edwards is 15th in net average (41.5). Punt returner Braxton Berrios has fair-caught eight of the nine punts he’s handled. His lone return was 5 yards.
The Jets have lost 21 of their last 27 road games. They’re coming off a bye week, but the Eagles will have had 10 days off after their win over the Packers.
Eagles 27, Jets 14
Eagles TE Zach Ertz vs. Jets S Jamal Adams: Ertz has a team-high 24 catches but still is looking for his first TD. Adams is a big, physical safety with 4.38 speed who can cover and play up in the box against the run. ADVANTAGE: Jets
Eagles DEs Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett vs. Jets LT Kelvin Beachum and RT Brandon Shell: Beachum and Shell have given up four sacks, two hits, and 11 hurries in the Jets’ first three games. Graham and Barnett have one sack between them so far. ADVANTAGE: Eagles
Eagles LBs Nigel Bradham and Zach Brown vs. Jets RB Le’Veon Bell: Bell is averaging just 2.9 yards per carry, but that’s more of an indictment of the Jets offensive line than it is of him. Bradham and Brown spearhead an outstanding run defense. ADVANTAGE: Eagles
Keys to game
Neutralize Le’Veon. Bell, averaging just 2.9 yards per carry, will be the best running back the Eagles have faced this season. The Eagles need to keep him under control, particularly on first down.
Get the pass rush going. The Eagles have just three sacks in four games but did a pretty good job of getting pressure on Aaron Rodgers last week. Given their problems at cornerback, the Eagles can’t give Falk a lot of time to throw.
Third-down mastery. Carson Wentz has been owning third down the way he owned it two years ago before he got hurt. His 10 passing first downs on third-and-6 or more are tied for the most in the league with Tom Brady.