Eagles vs. Jets: Five storylines to watch


The Philadelphia Eagles will make the short trip to New Jersey this weekend to face Todd Bowles‘ New York Jets. With some key Jets players (namely corner Darelle Revis and wideout Eric Decker) in limbo as game-time decisions, the Bird Gang will either emphatically bounce back from a clumsy 0-2 start or give fans a collective premonition of the team’s impending doom. Despite nursing a bum hammy, running back DeMarco Murray is supposed to suit up for Sunday’s game. As much as we’d like to see him reclaim his 2013-2014 form, he’ll most likely split carries with Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. Here are some other potential disasters to look forward to:

Will Bradford’s blunders continue?

After briefly living up to his first-round pedigree in the preseason, quarterback Sam Bradford has reverted  back to the mediocrity that defined his tenure in St. Louis. Despite playing in a scheme that is theoretically QB-proof, Bradford’s game is still overly conservative on film. Even if Revis sits this one out, Antonio Cromartie and co.’s bump-and-run tendencies could bring out the Checkdown Charlie in Bradford. Sure, he gets rid of the ball quickly, but eventually, his reluctance to test defenses downfield will allow corners to sit on routes, and he won’t have the luxury of a scapegoat in the vanilla Brian Schottenheimer as he once did.

Birds’ O-Line vs. Jets’ front 3 

The Birds have the fewest rushing yards in the NFL through two games behind a yet-to-gel line featuring two new guards. Even with a shelved Sheldon Richardson, the Eagles’ offensive line will face their toughest challenge yet in New York’s Muhammad Wilkerson, Damon “Snacks” Harrison and rookie Leonard Williams. They may not regain their glory of 2-3 years prior, but this outfit stands a fighting chance if they can get out of their own way and avoid interrupting any budding momentum. Chip Kelly’s offense is as good as its tempo. It’s up to the offensive line to set it with a clean game against one of the league’s best front threes.

Who will step up behind Jordan Matthews?

The second-year wideout may be at the top of the depth chart, but even Mike Mayock would be hard pressed to name a second fiddle. Josh Huff has been an afterthought, Riley Cooper has regressed since making bank two offseasons ago and rookie Nelson Agholor is being broken in slowly. A team with such a supposedly diverse arsenal should not boast a running back (Darren Sproles) as their second-most productive pass-catcher. Let’s hope Darrelle Revis sits this one out. It’ll be a dreadful afternoon otherwise.

Byron Maxwell vs. Marshall & (maybe) Decker

In his two-plus weeks in green and white, cornerback Byron Maxwell has been schooled by Julio Jones, Roddy White and Terrence Williams. His next attempt at shaking dysfunction will come against the 6’4″ Brandon Marshall and possibly Eric Decker. Since the Jets have no legitimate threat at tight end, Maxwell will likely get consistent help over the top from safeties Walter Thurmond and Malcolm Jenkins. If he continues to make Cary Williams look like Eric Allen, I’m all for giving rookie Eric Rowe a shot at playing outside in Week 4.

Holding the fort at Inside Linebacker

With Kiko Alonso and Mychal Kendricks in civilian’s clothes, inside ‘backer will be manned by DeMeco Ryans and most probably rookie Jordan Hicks. Hicks saw decent playing time against the Cowboys and is the man responsible for Tony Romo‘s broken clavicle. But even after bringing back Najee Goode as a precaution, Kendricks and Alonso can’t heal fast enough. Ryans is coming off a torn ACL and nobody on the depth chart can replicate their coverage skills in the meantime. Look for Jets’ OC Chan Gailey to exploit the Eagles’ vulnerability between the hash marks.

The game begins at 1pm ET on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

Next: Eagles vs. Jets: Week 3 Game Preview

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