Eagles @ Jacksonville Week 3 Preview
By Lance Epstein
Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) At Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1)
When: Sunday 4:05 p.m. est
Eagles: Probable: MLB Stewart Bradley (concussion), TE Brent Celek (Chest), OG Nick Cole (Knee), DE Brandon Graham (Shoulder), OT Austin Howard (back), QB Kevin Kolb (concussion) and DT Trevor Laws (oblique)
Jaguars: Out: DT Landon Cohen (knee), LB Justin Durant (ankle) Questionable: S Anthony Smith (foot), RB Deji Karim (thumb) Probable: OG Uche Nwaneri (foot), OG Justin Smiley (ankle), LB Darryl Smith (thigh) and RB Maurice Jones-Drew (ankle)
Michael Vick vs. David Garrard
Advantage: Eagles. Through the first two games of the 2010 season, Michael Vick has been more of a pocket passer than a running back playing quarterback. He has completed just under 64 (63.8) percent of his passes, has not turned the ball over once and has a 105.5 QB rating. Additionally, he puts fear into opposing defenses with his ability to avoid sacks and make big plays with his feet. As for the Jaguars, David Garrard is coming off one of the worst games of his career. He threw four interceptions against the Chargers in week two. While he had one touchdown pass, it came in garbage time to Mike Sims-Walker. Nevertheless, Garrard is a much better quarterback at home than on the road.
LeSean McCoy, Owen Schmitt, Eldra Buckley, Joique Bell and Mike Bell vs. Maurice Jones-Drew, Rashard Jennings and Greg Jones
Advantage: Jaguars. While McCoy has been one of the best backs in the league through the first two weeks of the season, Maurice Jones-Drew is a wrecking ball and a top-5 running back in the NFL. He might only stand at 5-foot-7, but he is compact and all muscle. In fact, he could be the toughest player in the league to bring down. Moreover, one of his strengths is the biggest weakness on the Eagles defense, which is covering running backs out of the backfield. Jones-Drew is an excellent receiver out of the backfield and is patient enough to let his blockers get down field, so he can pick up huge amounts of yardage. It doesn't hurt that he has one of the most underrated fullbacks in all of football in Jones. For the Eagles, McCoy is on pace to have a huge season. He should have another great game against a mediocre defense. However, Mike Bell has shown very little and Joique Bell is still learning the offense after being picked up earlier this week. McCoy cannot carry the load all season, so someone has to step up.
Wide Receiver/Tight End:
DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant and Brent Celek vs. Mike Sims-Walker, Mike Thomas, Kassim Osgood and Marcedes Lewis
Advantage: Eagles. This is a huge advantage for the Eagles and they must exploit it. Both Jackson and Maclin have the potential to both go off on this game and turn it into a blowout. Moreover, Vick seems to have a lot of confidence in the second-year pro Maclin. In six quarters, Vick has found Maclin in the red zone twice, so he is slowly becoming Vick’s go-to guy. The one player that the Eagles would like to get more involved this week is tight end Brent Celek. Celek has only five receptions for 59 yards in two games. More importantly, he has zero touchdowns. People are blaming Vick, but in Atlanta Vick's favorite target was tight end Alge Crumpler. The Jaguars do not have the talent the Eagles possess. Sims-Walker has the potential to become a decent No. 1 receiver, but his quarterback play makes him very inconsistent. Week one he had zero balls caught and then in week two he pulled in 10. Mike Thomas is better suited to play the slot, but the Jaguars are forced to play him on the outside. One matchup that could be a cause of concern for the Eagles is tight end Marcedes Lewis. Lewis is a former first round pick that has the speed to beat linebackers. Luckily, the Eagles have Bradley back for this game.
Advantage: Jason Peters, Todd Herremans, Mike McGlynn, Reggie Wells, Nick Cole and Winston Justice vs. Eugene Monroe, Justin Smiley, Brad Meester, Uche Nwaneri and Eben Britton
Advantage: Eagles. Last year, the Jaguars decided to get their bookends of the future along their offensive line in Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton. So far, neither has lived up to their hype, but both have a chance to develop into studs. Monroe will be going up against Eagles DE Trent Cole most of the day, which should be an intriguing matchup. However, expect the Eagles to attack the interior of the Jaguars. Left guard Justin Smiley enters the game with a sore ankle and right guard in Uche Nwaneri has a bruised foot. Since neither guard will be at 100 percent look for defensive coordinator Sean McDermott to send a lot of blitzes up the gut and test their lateral movement. On the other hand, the Eagles offensive line has been the worst position on the club. In two games, they have given up 12 sacks. Since Vick has taken over at quarterback, he has been hit 24 times. The Eagles announced that they are going to start Reggie Wells in place of Nick Cole, but that is not much of an upgrade, if any.
Brandon Graham, Mike Patterson, Brodrick Bunkley, Trent Cole, Juqua Parker and Trevor Laws vs. Derrick Harvey, Tyson Alualu, Terrance Knighton, Aaron Kampman, Jeremy Mincey and Landon Cohen
Advantage: Eagles. At the beginning of free agency, there was a lot of speculation that the Eagles were going to go after the former Packer and current Jaguar Aaron Kampman. Now, the Eagles must contain him and first round pick Tyson Alualu. In week one, LT Jason Peters was dinged up and exploited by the Green Bay Packers. Kampman appears to have some of the speed back that made him a fierce pass rusher for the Packers. Unfortunately for Kampman, lining up at LDE is former first round pick and bust Derrick Harvey. Since coming out of the University of Florida, he has done absolutely nothing. Winston Justice should be able to keep him off Vick. The key matchup for the Eagles offensive line will be shutting down Alualu. He is an undersized defensive tackle that just knows how to get into the backfield and cause chaos. Todd Herremans will be asked to help center McCglynn in containing him. For the Eagles, Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley could have huge days. Garrard tends to hold onto the ball too long, which leads to sacks and fumbles. Furthermore, the interior line of the Jaguars has been a mess for much of the past two seasons. No one should be surprised if Bunkley and Patterson have their best games of the short season.
Stewart Bradley, Omar Gaither, Akeem Jordan, Ernie Sims and Moise Fokou vs. Daryl Smith, Kirk Morrison, Justin Durant (out), Alvin Bowen and Russell Allen
Advantage: Eagles. One of the most under the radar moves of the entire offseason was the Jaguars sending a draft pick to the Oakland Raiders for LB Kirk Morrison. Morrison never got the publicity he deserved in Oakland due to playing on perpetually bad Raiders team. Once again he will never get his rightful recognition as one of the best in the business playing in Jacksonville. Still, he is a dangerous playmaker for the Jags. He can cover from sideline-to-sideline and is stout against the run. In addition, the Jaguars will send him on blitzes. However, he might be asked to spy on quarterback Michael Vick and thus making him a nonfactor. Still, his athleticism and speed could make it tough for Vick to run outside the pocket and extend plays. Besides Morrison, the Jaguars are going to be without starting outside linebacker Justin Durant. His replacement Alvin Bowen is not capable or skilled enough to keep up with Celek and McCoy. Look for the Eagles to set up a lot of swing passes and screens to McCoy to attack this major flaw. As for the Eagles, everyone in the media has been hyping the Vick/Kolb saga, but Bradley's return is bigger than that QB controversy. When Bradley has started (and played the whole game), the Eagles have only given up 21 points or more in one game out of 12. Also, he is the best linebacker in coverage for the Eagles and can shutdown opposing tight ends and running backs.
Asante Samuel, Nate Allen,
Quintin Mikell, Ellis Hobbs and Joselio Hanson vs. Derek Cox, Anthony Smith, Sean Considine, Rashean Mathis, William Middleton and David Allen
Advantage: Eagles. Of course, Rashean Mathis is a very good corner, but the rest of the Jaguar's secondary is a mess. Mathis should be able to keep DeSean Jackson in-check, but Jeremy Maclin's size and speed should be able to exploit former Eagle safety Sean Considine. Considine is slow-footed and not a very good athlete. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and head coach Andy Reid know his strengths and weakness, so they are going to throw some deep passes and run the ball in his direction. These are the things that Considine struggled with in Philadelphia. Moreover, CB Derek Cox’s poor performance during the preseason and in week one has lead to his benching. His replacement and newly acquired David Allen has not been much better. Quarterbacks are completing nearly 70 percent of their passes and have a 103 QB rating against the Jags secondary. The Eagles enter the game coming off a horrendous performance by their secondary. Ellis Hobbs was about the only Eagles secondary player to have a good game against Detroit. Asante Samuel's whiffed on a tackle that would have prevented a touchdown and then didn't even attempt to make a tackle on Jahvid Best's long touchdown scamper. Additionally, fans blame Quintin Mikell for the touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson that cut the score to 35-30, but corner Dimitri Patterson left Mikell guarding two men in the end zone. Meanwhile, Patterson had no one on the play. The Eagles secondary as one of their easiest assignments of the 2010 season against the Jaguars and need to take advantage of it.
Sav Rocca, David Akers, DeSean Jackson and Ellis Hobbs vs. Adam Podlesh, Josh Scobee, Mike Thomas and Deji Karim
Advantage: Eagles. Once again, anytime the Eagles send out Jackson to return punts then they will have the advantage in this area. The Eagles probably will not have to punt a lot in this game, because they should be able to score at will. However, Sav Rocca usually punts better at the beginning of the season and then tails off as it gets colder and the conditions become poorer. On the other sideline, Thomas is a very dangerous return man. He might not be in Jackson's league, but he has the speed and shiftiness to take a punt the distance. In addition, the Eagles have not fixed their struggling kickoff and punt return coverages yet.
Andy Reid vs. Jack Del Rio
Advantage: Eagles. This really isn't that close. Reid knows what it takes to win and win consistently. Jack Del Rio has struggled over the past two seasons and is squarely on the hot seat. If things start going sour fast, Del Rio might be fired mid-season.
Advantage: Eagles. The biggest surprise of the week was head coach Andy Reid changing his mind from starting Kevin Kolb to starting the electrifying Michael Vick. A reason that Reid might have originally decided to go with Kolb was to get the Jaguars gameplanning for his skillsets. Then on Tuesday night, when the Jaguars implemented and completed their gameplan, Reid forced them to redo everything. This is all apart of gamesmanship in the NFL. This means the Jaguars lost two days of gameplanning since Vick is now starting. That gives the Eagles the upper hand. Also, there should be a ton of Eagles fans at the game in Jacksonville. Could be 70/30 Jaguars fans.
Eagles defense vs. Maurice Jones-Drew: A good comparison for what MJD means to the Jaguars offense is comparing him to former Eagle Brian Westbrook. The offense runs through MJD and he is a mismatch on the field for linebackers. Stewart Bradley, Ernie Sims and Akeem Jordan will have their handful with Jones-Drew. He is going to get some yards that is a given, but they need to prevent the big play and forced the Jags to sustain long drives. Also, the linebackers must eliminate open space like teams attempted to do with Westbrook. The defensive ends must chip him on their way to the quarterback. Expect the Eagles to employee an attack very similar to the way teams used to take out Westbrook.
Vick vs. spygate: Obviously, the Jaguars are going to use a spy with Vick at quarterback. The important part for the Eagles and Vick is recognizing where the spy is, so they can attack the vulnerable spots in Jags defense. If the Jaguars do prevent Vick from running and picking up huge chunks of yards, then the Jags corners must remember to stay with the Eagles wideouts. Even though Vick can be contained in the pocket, his legs allow him to extend plays, which tend to lead to breakdowns in the secondary. This is not good for defenses when you have speedsters in Maclin and Jackson to cover.
David Garrard vs. Eagles Blitz: Last week in San Diego, Jaguars QB David Garrard was confused, a turnover machine and eventually was benched due to an awful performance. Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott likes to use exotic blitzes and bring it from anywhere. If Garrard and the Jaguars want to win, then they need to make the Eagles pay for blitzing. Garrard must get the ball out fast to MJD or Lewis like the way Lions QB Shaun Hill attacked the aggressive Eagles defense. That is a lot easier said then done especially with the Jaguars interior line not being particularly healthy. As for the Eagles, they also have to remember that they are playing against a mobile quarterback. Like Vick can extend plays with his legs.
Jaguars safeties Anthony Smith and Sean Considine vs. Eagles deep ball: The Jaguars might have the worst tandem of safeties in the entire NFL. Smith has more athleticism than Considine, but is fighting through a nagging foot injury. Considine is better utilized as a backup and special teams player than a starter. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin's speed will be a big time factor and the Eagles will take chances deep early and often.
Eagles interior offensive line vs. DT Tyson Alualu: Most of the pressure that Michael Vick faced last week came up the middle. A reason for all the pressure coming from up the gut is due to teams singling out center Mike McGlynn. In six quarters, McGlynn has struggled mightily and has missed numerous blitz pickups. The Eagles believe inserting veteran guard Reggie Wells should help, but if McGlynn continues to struggle then Vick could be knocked out before week four. McGlynn is on a short-leash and Nick Cole could be given a shot at center.
WR Mike Sims-Walker vs. CB Asante Samuel: A player that is often overlooked in the Jaguars offense is wide receiver Sims-Walker. He has the speed to beat you down the field, but the same time he can break tackles and take it to the house. It is known that Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel does not like to tackle, so the Jaguars could run some wide receiver screens and 5-yard slants with Sims-Walker to take advantage of Samuel’s lackluster tackling skills. Sims-Walker could take a simple five-to-ten yard route the distance if Samuel's whiffs or does not even attempt to make a tackle.
Who To Play In Fantasy Football From The Matchup:
RB Maurice Jones-Drew-- 66 yards rushing, 7 receptions for 88 yards and touchdown
TE Marcedes Lewis-- 8 receptions for 76 and a touchdown
WR DeSean Jackson-- 96 receiving yards and one touchdown
QB Michael Vick-- 293 passing yards, 65 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns
RB LeSean McCoy-- 92 yards rushing, 5 receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown
Eagles Defense-- 5 sacks, 2 interceptions and 1 forced fumble
Who Not To Play in Fantasy Football In The Matchup:
Jaguars Defense-- The Jaguars are going to give up close to 30 points against the Eagles. McCoy and Jackson should have huge games. The Jaguars had only 14 sacks last year and it is not much better this year.
QB David Garrard-- If last week was any indication then Garrard is in for a long day. He has regressed over the last few years.
Eagles 30-14. The Eagles have not held an opponent under 20 points since week 15 of last season against the San Francisco 49ers. This is an excellent opportunity for the defense to flex their muscle. The return of Bradley should inspire the defense and elevate their play. On offense, the Eagles possess too many playmakers and too much speed for the Jaguars. This game should not be close, but the Jaguars seem to play better at home. If the Eagles let the Jaguars stick around like they allowed the Lions to do in week two, then the outcome might be different this time around. However, Vick gives the Eagles the best chance to win and his ability to read defenses should improve in his second start in three years.