It’s amazing what happens when you replace a college football head coach, even one that’s as accomplished as Urban Meyer, with a true NFL leader that has proven he can do the job. Sure, the Jacksonville Jaguars added some pieces, Travon Walker and Devin Lloyd for instance, but the team the Philadelphia Eagles will face in Week 4 is fielding a lot of the guys that were on their roster last season. Suddenly, Jacksonville looks a lot better
This is why adding Doug Pederson was key. The Birds have their hands full in Week 4. Philadelphia’s first game versus AFC competition is very intriguing. They’ll see the Arizona Cardinals in Week 5, but they most certainly can’t look past the Jags. This may be their toughest test at this point of the season, and the game is loaded with intriguing individual battles in what may turn out to be a war of attrition.
Here are five matchups to watch during the Eagles/Jaguars game in Week 4.
Doug Pederson’s return to Philadelphia is one of the obvious subplots of Week 4’s game. Here are a handful of storylines that may take a back seat but are certain to make more of an impact on who wins this game and who walks out as the loser.
Doug Pederson’s offensive playcalling versus Jonathan Gannon’s defensive scheme.
Doug’s offensive playcalling was often a topic of conversation during his time in Philadelphia and often for bad reasons. Jonathan Gannon hasn’t always gotten the stamp of approval for the way he’s crafted his game plan, both ahead of games and during. Both have been better as of late.
It takes a total team effort to win in the NFL, but we’re very interested in seeing what happens when the Jaguars’ offense and Philly’s defense are on the field.
The Jaguars’ offensive line versus the Eagles’ pass rush
As excited as we all are after witnessing a dominating performance by the Eagles’ pass rush, it would be erroneous to believe we’ll see a similar showing by the defense on a week-in-and-week-out basis. Philadelphia’s secondary may have to cover those Jaguars receivers longer. Then again, they may not.
Whether due to decent protection, Trevor Lawrence‘s ability to move, or plain old ‘getting the ball out in a hurry’, Jacksonville’s signal-caller on offense has only been sacked twice during the first three games of the season.
The Eagles’ secondary versus the Jags receivers
Speaking of the Eagles’ secondary, it’s going to be hard not to pay close attention to everything they’re doing weekly. Week 3 figures to provide must-see material as Darius Slay, James Bradberry, and Avonte Maddox will have their hands full versus Christian Kirk, Marvin Jones Jr., and Zay Jones.
DeVonta Smith versus Shaquill Griffin… maybe
As of the Wednesday leading up to the game, Jacksonville cornerback Shaquill Griffin is listed as ‘questionable on their injury report. He missed Week 3’s game versus the Los Angeles Chargers. We expect Chris Claybrooks to start in his place if he can’t go.
Mike Caldwell versus Shane Steichen
These are two guys that have been around the game for a while but are new to their roles. Jacksonville’s defensive coordinator, Mike Caldwell, spent 11 seasons in the NFL as a player and 14 as a coach before accepting the title of defensive coordinator to begin his first season with the Jags.
Shane Steichen has been coaching at football’s highest level in some capacity since 2011. This is his second season with the Eagles, both as the team’s offensive coordinator. Both he and Caldwell have done a fine job this season. Buckle up. This will be a fistfight.
One other note
Not only will the Jags NOT be picking first overall in the 2023 NFL Draft, but they may also have a shot at winning the AFC South. They already have their first win versus divisional competition, a 24-0 shutout of the rival Indianapolis Colts.
Make no mistake about it. This is a game the Eagles should win. As a matter of fact, we expect them to win, but this isn’t the same old Jaguars. They’re a worthy opponent. Philly had better come ready.