The Eagles host the New York Jets at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday for the first time since 2011. After starting the season winless, the Jets come to Philadelphia looking for their first victory since Week 14 of the 2018 season. New head coach Adam Gase is still looking for his first win at the helm, with hopes of coming off the bye week in a positive way.
With the inconsistency at quarterback, the Jets have not been able to form a strong foundation behind center. Starter Sam Darnold played Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills where he threw for 175 yards and one touchdown. Before the Week 2 matchup against the Cleveland Browns, Darnold was diagnosed with mononucleosis. Trevor Siemian started, but suffered a season-ending ankle injury. Luke Falk opened at quarterback in Week 3 and completed 12 of 22 passes for 98 yards and an interception in the loss to the Patriots. The Jets ruled out Darnold on Friday and Falk will start his second NFL game.
"Let's be real. We're only 2-2," defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said of the possibility of looking past the Jets. "Our schedule says what we are, but we have to come out on Sunday and attack it like we do every week."
The Jets' offense has relied on free agent running back Le'Veon Bell, who has led the team in rushing and receiving yardage in almost every game. The sixth-year Michigan State product has recorded 163 yards on the ground and 121 yards receiving with one touchdown. A leader on and off the field, Bell is confident this team can bounce back after the 0-3 start.
"I'm not frustrated at all. I know this team has a lot of talent, we just have to put it together," Bell told reporters after the Jets' 30-14 loss to the Patriots. "It's a new system, guys' first time playing together, a new coaching staff. We've just got to mesh everything together and we've got to get on board."
The Jets' inability to win games stems from an offense that ranks second to last in the NFL in points per game (11). Without Darnold, the Jets have only scored three points on offense with the rest coming on defense in the last two games. While the quarterback situation adds to the offense's struggles, playmakers like wide receivers Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder have combined for 279 yards over three games and no touchdowns.
On defense, former first-round pick Jamal Adams patrols the secondary at safety. The 23-year-old out of LSU has 14 tackles on the season along with a 61-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Patriots. Cornerback Darryl Roberts leads the team with 21 combined tackles. Roberts also posted an interception in the matchup against the Browns.
When looking at the defensive line, the first three games of the season do not reflect the team's game plan with this position group. After drafting Quinnen Williams in the first round of the 2019 draft, third overall, the Jets hoped he would pair up with veteran Pro Bowl end Leonard Williams to create a powerhouse line. With injuries foiling that plan in the beginning of the regular season, Quinnen Williams is expected to return from an ankle injury for today's matchup against the Eagles.
The Jets are bringing a well-rested team, with multiple players coming off injury, into Philadelphia eager for their first win. This will make for an interesting showdown at Lincoln Financial Field as the Eagles look to keep the momentum from their victory over the Green Bay Packers on Thursday Night Football.
1. Which team will strike first?
The Eagles have scored just 10 first-quarter points in 2019. That's still more than the Jets, who have six points in the first quarter of games this season. Philadelphia has allowed a score on all four of its opponents' opening drives (three touchdowns, one field goal). In all, the Eagles have surrendered 27 first-quarter points.
2. Will Gregg Williams force the offense into mistakes?
The Jets are next to last in the league averaging 11.0 points per game this season. But New York has actually only scored one touchdown on offense this season, a receiving score by Bell. The defense has returned two interceptions for touchdowns, recovered a fumble in the end zone, and also notched a safety. New defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' unit has forced seven turnovers on the year, tied for ninth most in the league. There will be a lot of pressure and disguise, so Carson Wentz will have to be on top of his game with his pre-snap reads. And there is plenty of talent on defense, especially with the Williamses up front and Adams on the back end.
3. Can the Eagles stop the run game?
The Eagles' run defense is fourth in the league in terms of yards per game (62.0) and third in yards per carry (3.18). That'll be more important than ever as the Jets boast Bell, who numerous Eagles this week called the best back in the league, and a quarterback in Falk making his second career start.
"I think the biggest thing is you know they're not going to put the game in his hands," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "We have to take that run game away to make the quarterback take over the game. Like anything you want to be able to get hits on him. You want to take away the easy throws, the open windows that make it easy for quarterbacks, and then put bodies on him."
4. How will the cornerbacks hold up?
The Eagles now have five cornerbacks who could be available for Sunday in Rasul Douglas, Sidney Jones, Craig James, Orlando Scandrick, and Ryan Lewis. The Jets have a deep threat in Anderson and Crowder works out of the slot, so his matchup with Scandrick will be one to watch. But Scandrick hasn't played yet this season, Jones is questionable with a hamstring injury, James has just three defensive snaps under his belt, and Lewis was promoted from the practice squad on Friday. The pass rush forced Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers off his spot numerous times last Thursday night. If the defensive line can rattle Falk early, it'll take some of the pressure off of the defensive backs.
By the Numbers
10-0 – The Eagles are a perfect 10-0 all time against the New York Jets. It's the most wins without a loss by any current team against a single opponent, per Elias Sports.
125.5 – Carson Wentz's third-down passer rating is the best in the NFC and second in the NFL. He leads the league in third-down passing touchdowns (5) and passing yards per game (96.3).
21-7 – The Eagles are 21-7 at home, including playoffs, in Doug Pederson's three-plus-year tenure as head coach, a .750 win percentage. Only New England has a better home record in that same timeframe.
68.8 – Philadelphia ranks eighth in the NFL in red zone offense (68.8 percent) in 2019. The Eagles' 11 red zone TDs are their most through four games since 2005 (11).
62.0 – Philadelphia owns the fourth-best rushing defense (62.0 yards per game) in the NFL. The Eagles have not allowed 100+ rushing yards in seven consecutive regular-season games.
56.1 – Philadelphia leads the NFL with a 56.1 percent third-down conversation rate, which is the team's best mark through four games since at least 1991.
31.1 – The Eagles have scored TDs on 31.1 percent of their drives this season (fourth in NFL). Philadelphia's 14 touchdown drives are their most through four games since 2006 (14).
6.83 – Since 2016, the Eagles' defense is averaging 6.83 quarterback hits per game, which is the most in the NFL (second with 11.8 total pressures per game).
2.44 – Philadelphia ranks fourth in the NFL in points per drive (2.44). Since Week 12 in 2018, the Eagles rank second in that category (2.47), behind Kansas City (3.00).
The Joe Douglas Connection
Jets general manager Joe Douglas was hired away from the Eagles in June. The former vice president of player personnel in Philadelphia, Douglas knows the ins and outs of the Eagles roster having been with the team since 2016.
"He's done a great job creating depth, adding competition to our roster," Jets head coach Adam Gase said of Douglas. "He's the ultimate communicator. He's made my job real easy."
Gase has sought Douglas for input on the Eagles' players preparing for this Sunday's game.
"The hardest thing is, at the end of the day, they have a lot of really good players and 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," Gase said.