The Matchup: Eagles Vs. Titans
Here’s a look at how the Eagles match up with the Titans.
WHEN THE EAGLES RUN…
LeSean McCoy has carried 35 times for 107 yards (3.1 YPC) in the past two games. He’s second in the NFL with 196 attempts, but is averaging just 3.7 YPC. Against the Packers, the Eagles got some run-friendly looks, but McCoy managed just 88 yards on 23 carries. He and several of his teammates said they felt like the run game was close to getting on track.
“It’s always lately just been something small here, something small there, almost, almost,” McCoy said. “I feel like it’s coming together. I feel like the only time we really get stopped is when we make mistakes – penalties, turnovers, missed assignments, small missed assignments. And that stuff, [you] get that snowball effect and it keeps coming and coming. So I feel like we’re almost there. We’ve gotta learn from this last game, move on and look forward to Tennessee.”
The Eagles rank 20th in rushing efficiency, according to Football Outsiders. The Titans’ run defense, meanwhile, ranks 32nd. They are allowing 4.4 yards per carry on the ground (24th). Last week, Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell racked up 204 yards on the ground against Tennessee.
The Birds’ offensive line did not play well against Green Bay. Jason Kelce and Evan Mathis are still getting back into the swing of things after having suffered injuries earlier in the season. Kelce is also dealing with a thumb issue that has affected his snaps. Matt Tobin has not played well, but he could be sidelined after suffering a concussion vs. the Packers. Andrew Gardner seems likely to replace him.
Tennessee plays a 3-4. Its best defensive player is lineman Jurrell Casey. Derrick Morgan, a first-round pick in 2010, lines up at one outside linebacker spot, but he’s nursing a knee injury. Veteran Kamerion Wimbley mans the other OLB spot. And Wesley Woodyard brings versatility at inside linebacker.
WHEN THE EAGLES PASS…
Mark Sanchez is completing 59.2 percent of his passes (28th), but averaging 8.5 yards per attempt (second). His 3.9 percent interception rate is fifth-worst among quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts. Sanchez was the least of the Eagles’ problems in the first half against the Packers, but he was a mess in the second half. Sanchez failed to see Julius Peppers dropping and tossed a pick-six. He was also off-target on many throws to open receivers.
Jeremy Maclin is averaging 92.1 yards per game (seventh) and needs 79 yards to hit the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career. His 16 receptions of 20+ yards are tied for fourth.
Jordan Matthews has been on fire with 12 catches for 245 yards in two games with Sanchez as the starter. He’s fourth among rookie receivers with 558 yards. Matthews has six touchdowns and nine grabs of 20+ yards. Even though the game was out of hand last week, he did an excellent job of using his size and making plays downfield.
Riley Cooper has been quiet. He had a chance for a big play last week, but Sanchez missed him on a deep post. Sanchez and Darren Sproles have had opportunities for big plays, but have been unable to connect.
The Titans rank 19th in DVOA against the pass. Veteran Jason McCourty sets up at one cornerback spot. Second-year player Blidi Wreh-Wilson normally occupies the other spot, but he’s been dealing with a back injury and has been limited in practice this week. If he can’t go, Tennessee’s nickel, Coty Sensabaugh, will likely swing outside.
Tennessee has a pair of veteran safeties in George Wilson and Michael Griffin.
The Titans have a formidable pass-rush. They are third in adjusted sack rate and sixth overall with 29 sacks. Casey (four sacks) will present problems for an offensive line that allowed three sacks in the first half of last week’s game against Green Bay. Defensive coordinator Ray Horton likes to blitz. He brought extra pressure on 19 of 38 dropbacks against Ben Roethlisberger, per Pro Football Focus.
Kelly talked this week about how Horton will bring zero-blitzes, leaving defenders in man coverage without safety help. Sanchez will have to recognize that pressure, and the receivers will have to get open. Sanchez has completed just 47.8 percent of his passes against the blitz so far this season.
WHEN THE TITANS RUN…
The Titans are 16th in rushing efficiency, according to Football Outsiders. Rookie Bishop Sankey will carry the load. He’s averaging 3.9 YPC and has just one run of 20+ yards in 102 attempts. Sankey (5-9, 209) ran a 4.49 coming out of Washington.
The Eagles’ run defense has been solid for most of the season and ranks ninth overall, per Football Outsiders. But Eddie Lacy ran 10 times for 69 yards last week.
The Titans have a talented offensive line. Left guard Andy Levitre has started 90 straight games and signed with Tennessee before the 2013 season. Left tackle Taylor Lewan was the 11th overall pick in 2014 and has started five games. Right guard Chance Warmack was the 10th overall pick in 2013. And Michael Oher signed with the Titans as a free agent in the offseason. He will play right tackle.
Bennie Logan’s 37 tackles rank ninth among defensive linemen and tied for first among nose tackles. Fletcher Cox has had an outstanding season. And Cedric Thornton consistently makes plays against the run.
Casey Matthews and Emmanuel Acho will continue to split time at inside linebacker alongside Mychal Kendricks.
WHEN THE TITANS PASS…
The Eagles will face a rookie dropback passer in Zach Mettenberger. He has a big arm and is completing 61.9 percent of his passes while averaging 7.81 yards per attempt. Mettenberger has thrown five touchdowns against four interceptions.
Kendall Wright has been Tennessee’s most-target receiver. He has 43 grabs for 473 yards. Per Pro Football Focus, 34 of Wright’s 43 catches have come from the slot. He’ll get matched up with Brandon Boykin, who is dealing with a hamstring injury.
Tight end Delanie Walker leads the Titans with 512 receiving yards. He’s on the injury report with a concussion but has been listed as a full participant at practice. The Eagles rank 16th at covering opposing tight ends, according to Football Outsiders.
On the outside, Tennessee goes with Justin Hunter and Nate Washington. Hunter is a big (6-4, 196), athletic target. He was the 34th overall pick in the 2013 draft, but has yet to put it all together. Hunter is averaging 18.1 yards per catch, but is battling a knee injury. Washington is a veteran who is capable of getting downfield (17.4 yards per catch).
Teams have targeted Bradley Fletcher downfield every week, and that will continue on Sunday. Cary Williams will start at the other cornerback spot, and Nolan Carroll II will play in dime. Malcolm Jenkins has played well, but the Eagles are thin at safety. If Jenkins or Nate Allen goes down, Chris Prosinski or Chris Maragos will be forced into action.
The Eagles rank 13th against the pass, per Football Outsiders. The Titans’ passing offense ranks 22nd.
The pass-rush didn’t get home against Aaron Rodgers, but has been good overall, ranking 10th in adjusted sack rate. Connor Barwin has 10.5 sacks. He should be able to do some damage against Oher. Vinny Curry has six sacks. Trent Cole and Brandon Graham have combined for nine.
The Titans’ offensive line ranks 26th in adjusted sack rate.
The Eagles have the second-best special teams unit in the league, per Football Outsiders. Their punt return group is the best in the NFL.
The Titans rank 19th.