Three-And-Out: Eagles-Jets Predictions
After a disappointing start to the season, the Eagles try to turn it around against the New York Jets on Sunday. Tim and Josh discuss who to keep an eye on, who will win and more.
PLAYER I’LL BE WATCHING
McManus: Nelson Agholor
In an ideal world, Agholor would be able to ease his way into a featured role while he acclimates to the NFL. Unfortunately, the current circumstances don’t allow for such luxuries.
The Eagles offense needs a boost, and bad. As we’ve detailed over the past two weeks, the reasons for the failures to date are numerous. We know that the inability to get anything going on the ground has had a damaging effect on Sam Bradford and the receivers, who are getting very few opportunities downfield. The conditions are poor (and aren’t likely to improve against Darrelle Revis and this Jets defense), but the receiving corps can ill-afford to sit around and wait for them to get better. They’re going to need to create some plays on their own.
Jordan Matthews (16 receptions, 182 yards) is the only receiver producing at a quality level through two games. In fact, the other four wideouts that see time — Josh Huff (4 catches, 39 yards), Agholor (4 catches, 36 yards), Riley Cooper (3 catches, 25 yards) and Miles Austin (2 catches, 22 yards) — don’t reach those numbers combined.
Bradford isn’t playing all that well and the run game has hurt them, but the receivers need to step up as well. And with Huff not grabbing the lead alongside Matthews like some had hoped, the burden falls to the rookie.
“Number one, you never blame the quarterback because it takes two to tango. If you create better separation, he has a better opportunity to get you the football,” said Agholor. “As an individual I need to do a better job of creating separation, make more plays and make [Bradford] comfortable. That’s the relationship you have to have with your quarterback.”
Paunil: Jordan Hicks
First of all, I love how humble and mature Agholor is. He always diminishes his positive plays and highlights the negative ones, and you’ll never catch him criticizing anyone besides himself. Anyway, on to the rookie linebacker.
As I mentioned in this week’s defensive All-22, Hicks played well in his first significant NFL snaps. Although he had a couple of hiccups in coverage, he showed the potential to be a three-down linebacker and play from sideline to sideline. However, he obviously hasn’t reached that point yet.
With both Kiko Alonso and Mychal Kendricks out against the Jets, Hicks will once again play more snaps Sunday. DeMeco Ryans has been less than impressive in coverage, and I’m curious to see if Hicks outplays him in that area.
After the Eagles started the season with seemingly good depth at inside linebacker, that will be tested in the upcoming weeks. One person who appears to have a lot of confidence in Hicks is Ryans.
“He stepped in and did a really good job for his first time getting that much playing time,” Ryans said. “He understands really what we’re doing and he stepped in and made some good plays for us. Like I told him, this was the perfect game for him to build off of. He had a good start and now it’s just a matter of him continuing to progress and get better.”
OVER/UNDER: 1 1/2 turnovers for Sam Bradford — Whaddya got?
McManus: I’ll go with the under. Dangerous, I know. Todd Bowles‘ defense has already forced 10 turnovers (three more than the Broncos, who are No. 2 in that category). Bradford, meanwhile, has already thrown four picks and has been charged with a lost fumble (which wasn’t his fault).
I’m betting that the offense tightens things up this week, though, even against a daunting opponent. We’ll say the run game gets going a bit, which should open up some opportunities in the pass game. I think we see a version of Bradford that more closely resembles the QB that was slinging it with precision this summer.
Paunil: I’ll take the over. The Jets have plenty of talent across their secondary, even outside of Revis. Although I expect Bradford to only be at fault once for a turnover, I see a second one happening whether it’s a strip-sack from his blindside or an interception after a tipped ball.
We’ve seen Bradford get burned by his teammates in both games so far this season, and I don’t anticipate that stopping. As you mentioned, the Jets defense has an incredible nose for the ball and the Eagles have been generous about giving it away in the first two weeks.
McManus: Eagles 24, Jets 17
I believe football to be not just an x-and-0 but also a psychology sport. Bottom line is that the Eagles are desperate and the Jets are not, and I think that will translate onto the field Sunday.
While I’m betting that the offense will improve, the defense is going to have to carry the day. They’re a bit banged up but so are some of the Jets’ key offensive weapons, including Chris Ivory (quad) and Eric Decker (knee). The guess here is that Ryan Fitzpatrick will start looking more like Ryan Fitzpatrick, the ‘D’ will come up with a couple turnovers and the Eagles will prevent the season from going off a cliff.
Paunil: Jets 17, Eagles 13
The Eagles offense is a ticking time bomb, and I won’t be surprised when they finally break through and score five touchdowns. However, I don’t see that happening this week.
I completely agree about how important the mental element of football is, but I don’t think the execution will be even enough Sunday for that to be a deciding factor. One thing I’m looking forward to seeing is how creative Bowles gets in penetrating the middle and how the Eagles’ offensive line handles it. Their chemistry issues have been at the forefront of Philadelphia’s first two losses, and I’m not sold they’ve been corrected.