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What Jets coach Adam Gase is saying about the Eagles and his QB, Sam Darnold | Early Birds

Also, Jets GM Joe Douglas knows the Eagles’ roster better than anybody outside of the organization could.

New York Jets head coach Adam Gase.
New York Jets head coach Adam Gase.Read moreBill Kostroun / AP

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.

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Familiar faces

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.”

What you need to know about the Eagles

  1. As Les Bowen details, the Eagles coaching staff and secondary are still big Andrew Sendejo fans despite the friendly fire on Avonte Maddox last week.

  2. Running the ball was key for the Eagles against the Packers, but it should be tougher sledding against the Jets’ defensive front, Paul Domowitz writes.

  3. Before joining the team this week, linebacker Duke Riley was dancing his heart away about beating the Eagles as a member of the Falcons. Bowen caught up with the Eagles’ newest linebacker.

  4. The Eagles are getting more respect nationally, especially Carson Wentz, who was ranked the best quarterback in the league by Pro Football Focus. Rob Tornoe details the power rankings.

  5. Sidney Jones is “kind of day-to-day” with a hamstring injury, and he was a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice. Yours truly writes about his status along with where Avonte Maddox and DeSean Jackson stand.

  6. Jeff McLane looks at the sometimes-unique play-calling of Doug Pederson in his game-film breakdown.

From the mailbag

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.

That being said, if Jackson is even so much as 90 percent healthy, I’d sit him. Jackson is going to be vital for the remainder of the season and the Eagles truly should win this game with or without him. So, if he’s only figuratively “ready to go," as you’ve stated it, I’d go with the wide receiver group the Eagles had against the Packers. Alshon Jeffery will be 10 days healthier from his calf injury, same with Dallas Goedert. I think that’s enough firepower to take care of business and let Jackson rest up for what the Eagles hope is a lengthy stretch of meaningful games. But make no mistake, he’s vital to the team’s offense. You saw it against Washington, he can take the lid off a defense and dictate how the game is played in a way no other Eagles receiver can. He’ll open things up in the passing game by forcing safety help, and he’ll keep the secondary from cheating up to help with the run game. The Eagles will need him once the going gets tough.