On Sunday the New York Jets (8-5) take on the Philadelphia Eagles (5-8) at Lincoln Financial Field (4:15 EST). The Jets enter the game winners of three in a row, while the Eagles are coming off of a strong performance against the Miami Dolphins. Lets take a look at some of the keys to the game from the Jets perspective.
Ground and pound- In order for the New York Jets offense to have success on Sunday the unit must be able to effectively run the ball. Running back Shonn Greene must continue his physical style of running which will wear down the defense in addition to slowing down a very aggressive pass rush. Once the running game gets going quarterback Mark Sanchez can then take advantage by using the play action pass.
Protect Sanchez- The Jets offensive line is going to have their hands full with an Eagles pass rush that is ranked 2nd in the NFL with 42 sacks. Jason Babin (15 sacks, 3 forced fumbles), Trent Cole (9 sacks), and Cullen Jenkins (5.5 sacks) can easily take over a game if the Jets have protection issues. Gang Green’s line must remain consistent in protection and the tight ends and running backs must do an excellent job in blitz pickup. I would not be surprised to see the Jets go to some “jumbo” formations to help slow down the pass rush. Note: Keep an eye on right tackle Wayne Hunter who has struggled at times in pass protection.
Quick passing game- The New York Jets should utilize the quick passing game to help slow down the Eagles pass rush. Whether it is slants to Holmes and Kerley, or screen passes to LaDainian Tomlinson, Mark Sanchez needs to get the ball out of his hand quickly. Three step drops should be in order to keep the defense off balance.
Dustin Keller- The Philadelphia Eagles are fielding a relatively inexperienced linebacking group which features 3 rookies. The Jets should look to take advantage of this situation by getting tight end Dustin Keller involved in the passing game. Getting Keller going early on will not only open up the running game, but will help spread the field in the passing game as well.
Limit McCoy- The New York Jets defense must find ways to slow down running back LeSean McCoy (1,172 rushing yards, 45 catches, 17 tds). Gang Green’s defense must play physical and attack the line of scrimmage as McCoy is very dangerous in open space. In addition the Jets linebackers must play fast from sideline to sideline as the Eagles offense is going to try and spread the defense out in order to run the ball.
Hit Vick- Eagles quarterback Mike Vick is an explosive player that can beat you with his arm and legs. The Jets defense must find creative ways to not only keep Vick in the pocket, but to get hits on the quarterback as well. Vick has been banged up all season long and an aggressive pass rush that generates hits on the quarterback could disrupt the passing game. Linebackers Aaron Maybin, Jamaal Westerman, and Calvin Pace must have big games.
Cover Celek- Once again the Jets defense has to find a way to cover a tight end that can make big plays in the passing game. Brent Celek leads the Eagles in receptions (49) and must be accounted for at all times. This is where the loss of safety Jim Leonhard is going to hurt the Jets as Gang Green is lacking depth in the secondary. Look for Brodney Pool or Donald Strickland to cover Celek early on.
I think this is going to be a tough game for the Jets as the Eagles can take advantage of some match-ups on both sides of the ball. Philadelphia’s team speed is going to be a problem for Gang Green and must be offset by a very physical, aggressive style of football. If the Jets cannot consistently move the chains by running the ball they will be in trouble.
One major key to this game will be the performance of the Jets in the first quarter. If Gang Green starts out fast and puts points on the board there is a chance that the Eagles will fold and the crowd will turn on them. If the Jets start out slow with a lackluster offense and sloppy tackling, the Eagles could smell blood and take it to Gang Green.
For some reason I have a bad feeling about this one. Eagles 21-17 (Trust me I hope I am wrong)