Skip to main content
Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles News

Spadaro: 6 storylines to follow Sunday vs. Jaguars

Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro
Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro

Each week, prior to kickoff, let's take a look at some of the numbers that matter and keep them in mind when the game begins.

1. Philadelphia has one of the best running offenses in the league, averaging 150.3 yards per game on the ground, while Jacksonville has the very best run defense in the NFL, permitting just 55 yards per game.

That's a paltry, minuscule number.

Jacksonville's defense is the real deal with an aggressive, athletic, and physical front seven that the Eagles understand will be a challenge to handle. Establishing the run is always something the Eagles strive to do, and obviously Jacksonville's first priority is containing the running game and forcing the Eagles' offense into a one-dimensional approach. That worked perfectly for Jacksonville last Sunday in its win over the Chargers. Making this matchup even more interesting is the potential for windy and rainy conditions at Lincoln Financial Field throughout the game. Trey Sermon makes his Eagles debut with Boston Scott sidelined after suffering a rib injury in the win over Washington, so we will see how he is incorporated into the scheme and how he has absorbed the nuances of the offense. How well can Jacksonville handle the diversity of the Eagles' running game, quarterback Jalen Hurts included? This is a chess match to follow, for sure.

2. We get our first look at Jacksonville quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. He's tall – at 6-6, he's mobile, he's got a powerful arm, and he's very smart. Head Coach Doug Pederson has Lawrence setting up and throwing quickly and not taking sacks – his sack percentage of 1.77 is best in the NFL. In the last two weeks, Lawrence has been ridiculous, completing 77 percent of his passes for 497 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions.

What does that tell us? It means he gets the ball out quickly, is processing what he sees very fast, and is extremely accurate. So, how do the Eagles play Lawrence and his arsenal of receivers that includes Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, Marvin Jones, Jr., and pass-catching tight end Evan Engram? The Eagles have matched very well with great receiver groups from Minnesota and Washington the last two weeks, so this is going to be fun to watch. Jonathan Gannon hopes he can throw a lot of different looks at Lawrence and give him something to think about, and the Eagles have the talent and experience to challenge any receiving corps.

3. This is a battle of two of the brightest and best young quarterbacks in the league: Jalen Hurts, the NFC Offensive Player of the Month, is 9-2 in his last 11 starts. He has turned the ball over just one time this season and has an NFC-best 106.5 passer rating, averaging 305.3 yards passing per game, and 55.7 yards rushing per game. Lawrence, named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week, won the first road game of his career on Sunday over the Chargers after losing his first nine games away from Jacksonville. In fact, this is the first matchup in the Super Bowl era between two quarterbacks who are 25 years old or younger with a passer rating of 100 or better.

4. Defenses should expect to play for four downs against both offenses, and both the Eagles and the Jaguars are aggressive with their fourth-down decisions. Philadelphia has converted 4 of 6 fourth downs, including a touchdown pass from Hurts to DeVonta Smith at the end of the first half at Washington on Sunday, and Jacksonville has converted 4 of 7 fourth downs. Pederson was one of the first head coaches to take aggressiveness to a new level on fourth down while he was with the Eagles, and he has continued to do that in Jacksonville. Nick Sirianni, of course, has been aggressive from Day 1 and is very willing to show trust in his offense anywhere on the field on fourth downs.

5. How will Jacksonville match up with the Eagles' wide receivers? It's a question every team asks when it plays Philadelphia and this week is no different. A.J. Brown is off to a start that has rarely happened in Philadelphia – he has 309 receiving yards (one of only four NFL players with 300-plus yards) and he is the first Eagle since Terrell Owens in 2005 to have 20-plus receptions (Brown has 20) and 300-plus yards in the opening three games of a season.

6. Neither will catch the Eagles' all-time leader in quarterback sacks (Reggie White, 124), but both Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox are off to terrific starts with three quarterback sacks apiece to lead the Eagles this season (the team has 12 quarterback sacks, second to Dallas' 13 in the NFL). Graham has 62 career sacks and Cox has 61, ranking fourth and fifth, respectively, in franchise history. For the record, Trent Cole – who will be inducted into the team's Hall of Fame later this season – is second on the sack list with 85.5 and Clyde Simmons, with 76, is third.

Related Content