Philadelphia Eagles News

Jets Corners A Top Challenge For WRs

Big, strong, physical and confident. Technically sound. A group that is deep and talented. The Jets have one of the top groups of cornerbacks in the league, and on Sunday the Eagles' wide receivers face a massive test.

"There are two very heralded players there and others who may not have the 'name' familiarity but who are also outstanding," wide receiver Nelson Agholor said of Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Buster Skrine and, really, the entire New York secondary. "They're solid, they're sound. They're 2-0 right now."

Revis is the star player, of course, and he's coming off a game against Indianapolis on Monday night when he led a standout defensive charge with two fumble recoveries and an interception. Revis was named the AFC's Defensive Player of the Week for his performance on Wednesday.

"He's been a great player in the league for a long time," Agholor said. "He's picked up on a lot of wide receivers' tendencies in terms of how they move and things like that. He's watched a lot of film and he has a lot of game experience. It also helps that he's physically gifted. He's a great player.

"Cromartie is a very special player, too. We talk about Revis because he headlines that group, but Cromartie is a No. 1 corner. Anywhere else, he's the headliner, also. They have some special guys for sure."

The Jets made over their secondary in free agency, signing Revis, Cromartie and Skrine, a tough 5-9 slot nickel corner. The corners are known to get up and press, but also have the ability and the communication skills to play off the line of scrimmage, in zone coverages and to confuse quarterbacks and offenses.

Head coach Todd Bowles has implemented his blitz-heavy scheme to great effectiveness as the Jets have allowed a league-low 8.5 points per game and have forced an NFL-high 10 turnovers in two victories.

"You have confidence we can play man coverage. You have confidence on the deep ball," Bowles said. "And those guys aren't just good players. They're very smart players. They understand what's happening to them and when the slant is coming, when the screens are coming. So it takes a lot to understand with how we blitz, what's coming and what to do."

How do the Eagles attack? They have to be ready if the Jets press and they have to find seams in zone coverages if that's what they see. It's not going to be easy. Agholor faces his toughest test, no matter whom he faces. Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff have some experience, having played against Cromartie and the Bowles defense in Arizona last season. Veterans Riley Cooper and Miles Austin must be physical and create separation.

Revis, of course, has his own island named after him, so the challenge is real.

"He's instinctive. Great player. Stronger than you think, faster than you would think, very natural in all of his movements, extremely consistent play in and play out," Matthews said. "There's never a play where you think you've got him. I've seen guys make a play on him and then, with most corners, you think, 'Stick a fork in him, you can gain momentum.' He's right in there the next play causing a fumble or getting an interception.  He's not shaken. He's definitely a leader and he's definitely a guy you have to be ready to battle against play in and play out."

The whole group impresses Matthews. There is a lot of talent here.

"They've got some 'dogs' there. I like Skrine a lot from watching him inside. He's very physical. He's scrappy. I like to watch guys like that. He's got that 'dog' in him that you need to have to be able to play inside," Matthews said. "Cromartie, he goes without saying. He's got the size of a big wide receiver. He's like 6-2, 210 and the fact that he can move out there the way that he does is pretty impressive."

Matthews also pointed out the play of safeties Marcus Gilchrist and Calvin Pryor, who round out a secondary that is leading the way in the NFL through two games.

The Eagles aren't going to revamp the way they conduct the passing game, but they know they have to be technically sound and extremely aware of ballhawks and lurking coverage on Sunday.

"They're great corners," Huff said. "They are great competitors and fierce players. They come after you on every play, no matter what the coverage is. We have to be on our games. We have to be at our best."

The passing game is looking for consistency on Sunday after some up-and-down production through two weeks. Matthews has 16 catches and a long reception of 32 yards. Agholor and Huff have four receptions each, Cooper has three and Austin has two. Success down the field has been muted.

"We just have to play our games and be on point and that's our goal," Matthews said. "We know we have a great challenge. We have to be ready to ball against the Jets."

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