I know the New York Jets are 0-3. They've had several injuries that have impacted their season so far, but don't sleep on this team, particularly on defense. This is a group coached by longtime defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Coming off of a week of rest, I expect them to play a bit faster in their new scheme (remember, Williams was hired this offseason).
As we've seen from the last couple of opponents, this is a team that is very versatile with the way it aligns up front. The Eagles will see some 4-3 looks, some 3-4 fronts, and Bear fronts with five defenders across the line of scrimmage. They have a former first-round pick in Leonard Williams, who is both versatile and stout on contact while also flashing good hand use in the run game. Henry Anderson lines up inside and outside and tuned up opposing quarterbacks to the note of seven sacks a year ago. Bronson Kaufusi is a similar body type and has been disruptive for the Jets this fall as a versatile contributor. They've missed top-five selection Quinnen Williams. The rookie made his presence known early in the team's Week 1 loss to Buffalo, but has since missed action due to injury. Veteran nose tackle Steve McLendon (a try-hard player who holds up pretty well in the run game) started the past two games in his stead. Jordan Jenkins, another stout run defender, starts at one of the outside linebacker spots, and he's a powerful edge rusher as well. But Jenkins has been sidelined as well due to injury. Tarrell Basham provides rush relief off the bench as a former mid-round pick.
Going back to that Bills game to start the season, the Jets were actually leading Buffalo 16-3 when star middle linebacker C.J. Mosley left the game with a groin injury. A rangy, athletic, instinctive player, Mosley had a pick-six in that game, a big pass breakup down the seam, recovered a fumble, and was also a huge part of the Jets' blitz package. His loss, particularly after losing veteran Avery Williamson in the summer, was crushing. The Jets expect him back soon. Rookie Blake Cashman has filled in admirably.
Despite the injuries to Mosley, Williamson, and Williams (along with suspensions to Brandon Copeland and Nathan Shepherd), the Jets rank in the top 10 in several run defense categories (yards per game (88.7), yards per carry (3.64), and runs of 10-plus yards (6)).
On the back end, Jamal Adams is the tone-setter. An explosive athlete and tough son-of-a-gun at every level of the field, Adams typically lines up at the prototypical "strong safety" spot, closer to the line of scrimmage. However, he makes his presence felt in every phase of the game.
ALL OF THE VIDEO CLIPS FEATURE AUDIO ANALYSIS FROM FRAN DUFFY
Starting next to Adams is another young player on the back end in free safety Marcus Maye, who was a rock-solid player in college at the University of Florida. A hard-hitting striker with impressive play-recognition skills against the pass, Maye isn't nearly as explosive at Adams. Maye has more than enough range because of his ability to mentally process his surroundings, read routes, and anticipate throws from the quarterback. He's made some great plays on the back end this year, and is a player who Carson Wentz and the Eagles' offense must be aware of on deep shots downfield.
The Jets start a young veteran at right corner in Darryl Roberts and traded for their left corner, Nate Hairston, just before the start of the season. The most impressive cornerback on that team, however, plays in the slot, and it's a player the Eagles are familiar with. It's Brian Poole, previously the nickel corner for the Falcons. A smart, instinctive, scrappy player inside, Poole is a bit on the smaller side, but plays much bigger with his level of toughness and competitiveness. He's a good player for Williams' scheme.
Gregg Williams has had an extra week to fine-tune things that they're doing schematically, while also spend a little extra time to prepare for Wentz and the Eagles' offense. This is big for them, because one thing the Jets (and Williams) are very good at is disguise.
Disguising shows up in multiple ways. Sometimes it means hiding the defense's intent to blitz. Sometimes it means showing blitz and then dropping back into coverage. Regardless, the idea is to fool the offense and, namely, the quarterback.
The Eagles know that this is a big hammer in Williams' toolbox, but this will be a really interesting chess match to watch on Sunday. The Jets are eighth in the NFL in opponent quarterback rating (83.2) for a reason. That's because they're able to mess with opposing passers and confuse them. It will be a mental test for Wentz and the offense in this game.
Fran Duffy is the producer of the Emmy-nominatedEagles Game Planshow which can be seen every gameday during the season on NBC10 in Philadelphia. He is also the host of two Eagles-related podcasts,Eagle Eye in the Sky, which examines the team from an X's and O's angle each and every week as well as theJourney to the Draft podcast, which covers college football and the NFL Draft all year round. Fran also authors the Eagle Eye in the Sky column, which runs four times a week during the football season to serve as a recap for the previous game and to preview the upcoming matchup. Prior to joining the Eagles in 2011, Duffy was the head video coordinator for the Temple University football team under former head coach Al Golden. In that role, he spent thousands of hours shooting, logging, and assisting with the breakdown of the All-22 film from the team's games, practices, and opponents.