Good morning Eagles fans. It’s been a week since the Eagles’ win against the Green Bay Packers, but game day is still a few sleeps away. How are you holding up? Sunday will be here before you know it, and the Eagles will be taking on the New York Jets. They’ve gotten off to a pretty terrible start to the year, but they might have their young starting quarterback on the field for the first time since Week 1. More on that later. The Eagles will practice this afternoon, and players will be available afterward to chat.
— EJ Smith (email@example.com)
Adam Gase has an up-close-and-personal knowledge of Alshon Jeffery. The Jets coach was the offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears in 2015 while Jeffery was there. He remembers giving Jay Cutler, the Bears starting quarterback at the time, a pretty simple instruction regarding the approach with the big receiver.
“I’d tell Cutler, ‘Throw it up and give him a chance,’ because he plays power forward,” Gase said in his Wednesday telephone conference.
Gase’s familiarity with Jeffery is a drop in the bucket compared to Jets general manager Joe Douglas’ knowledge of just about the entire Eagles roster. Douglas was the Eagles’ player personnel vice president from 2016 until last June. In tandem with general manager Howie Roseman, Douglas played a major role in the draft selections and free-agent signings that helped win Super Bowl LII for the Eagles.
Because of his recent time with the Eagles, Douglas knows their roster better than anybody outside of the team’s building could. But how valuable is that to Gase in his game-planning?
“He can tell us about the guys, he can tell us strengths, weaknesses, all those type of things. Obviously he has a very intimate knowledge of the entire roster, the hardest thing is, at the end of the day, they have a lot of really good players. It’s going to come down to whether or not we execute what we’re doing and whether or not they execute what they’re doing.”
It will be interesting to see what the Jets try to exploit against the Eagles. They’re 0-3 this season, coming off a bye week, and they’ve been without starting quarterback Sam Darnold, who has been sidelined with mononucleosis since Week 1. Darnold could play this week, but he has yet to be cleared for contact, and the virus has kept him from even being able to condition. Until his swollen spleen — yes, his spleen — fully recovers, it would be too risky for him to play.
Despite this, Gase said there’s a chance.
“It’s really going to come down to later in the week,” Gase said. “When he gets tested again, we’ll see where his spleen is at, see what his blood work’s like. We just have to really get both of these guys ready.”
If Darnold can’t go, the Jets will continue on with quarterback Luke Falk. Falk, who was drafted in the sixth round in 2018 by the Tennessee Titans, has struggled mightily in his two games after New York’s original backup, Trevor Siemian, injured his ankle. Falk has yet to throw a touchdown pass and has a QB rating of 29.5.
The Jets’ medical team, Gase, and Douglas will all have a say on whether Darnold will go on Sunday.
“Everybody is just watching and seeing how he looks,” Gase said. “He’s going to be involved in it. It’s really going to be a pretty big circle as far as if he plays or not.”
Good question, Mark. If DeSean Jackson’s abdomen injury is truly 100 percent healed, I’d say you play him. The Jets haven’t shown much this season and the Eagles are heavy favorites even with Jackson’s status in doubt, but it’s the NFL. The Jets are coming off a bye week, and they have a Pro Bowl safety in Jamal Adams. Adams combines the strength of an elite box safety with the speed of a defensive back who can hang in coverage. He had nine tackles for losses and 3 1/2 sacks last season. The Eagles would love to have Jackson there to keep Adams out of the box.