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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Jets: Game Preview (Preseason Week Four)

by: Ryan Waldis
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Game Time: 7:00 PM EDT
Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP: 94.1 FM and 610 AM

Incumbent QB Mark Sanchez attempting a pass against the Lions.
Photo Courtesy:
The 2-1 Eagles, who are coming off of a 31-24 win over the 0-3 Jacksonville Jaguars, have had only four days to regroup for their upcoming match-up against the New York Jets. Similar to the Jaguars, the Jets are a complete mess. The offense doesn't have a clear-cut QB, the defense has lost many pieces from last season, and the coach is receiving a lot of heat from both the media and the front office. They are, however, 2-1 in the preseason as well, winning 37-13 and 24-21 over the Jaguars and New York Giants respectively while suffering a 26-17 loss to the Detroit Lions. Despite their preseason success, this team will have trouble competing against most of the teams they play this season due to the lack of talent on the field. Regardless, both teams will be looking to end the preseason on a three game winning streak.

The Last Time They Met:

August 30th, 2012- Eagles 28, Jets 10

The Eagles won their final game of the preseason against the Jets en route to a perfect 4-0 record in the preseason behind a strong effort by third-string QB Trent Edwards. Edwards completed 22 of his 32 attempts for 197 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Mardy Gilyard was another one of the key performers on offense with five receptions for 71 yards and a touchdown. The defense managed six sacks and seven tackles-for-a-loss. Overall, the team's performance was strong heading into the regular season. The Jets only had two highlights over the course of the game. One came courtesy of Greg McElroy, who completed a six yard pass to Terrance Ganaway for a TD, the team's first of the preseason. The other came courtesy of Nick Folk, who converted on a 58 yard field goal as time expired in the first half. The Jets record fell to 0-4 in what would foreshadow a disappointing season for the team.

Three Key Storylines for the Eagles:

He won't see the field this season, but Barkley still
has a shot to impress on Thursday.
Photo Courtesy:
There a quarterback in the spotlight Thursday night, but it won't be Michael Vick or Nick Foles. With Vick going to sit out the entire game and Foles going to be on the field for a maximum of one quarter, all eyes will be on Matt Barkley. Barkley would have easily been a first-round draft pick in the 2012 draft had he left USC after his junior year, but he opted to return for his senior year to attempt to win the BCS National Championship. Things didn't go as planned as Barkley dealt with injuries and adversity, and he fell to the fourth round in this year's draft. Despite having to wait until Saturday afternoon to be drafted, Barkley still has a ton of potential. Unless both Michael Vick and Nick Foles get injured this season, Thursday night will be Barkley's last opportunity to show why he can be an NFL QB. He's looked solid through the two preseason games he's appeared in with a stat line of 19 completions on 36 attempts, 175 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions. The coaches have praised his intangibles, and while he still has a lot to learn and prove, it's starting to become clear that Barkley might have a decent future in this league someday.

The situation in the secondary has improved, but there are still spots that are up for grabs. Patrick Chung and Cary Williams seemingly have spots locked down, leaving the final safety and outside cornerback positions open. Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen seem to be the two players competing for the final safety position, as fifth-round draft pick Earl Wolff hasn't gotten much playing time, Kenny Phillips was cut earlier in the week, David Sims hasn't done anything to prove he's worthy, and Colt Anderson is better for suited for a special teams role at this point. Both Coleman and Allen have their pros (Coleman plays with a lot of heart and hustle and can get around the field quickly, Allen was a second-round pick several years ago and still has a lot of potential to be a starter in this league), but they have their cons as well (Coleman tends to have breakdowns in coverage while Allen hasn't looked the same since his injury a couple of years ago). Whoever wins the final safety spot will probably kick the other off of the roster, as it's unlikely Chip Kelly keeps more than five safeties on the roster. Allen probably has the upper-hand simply because of where he was drafted, but he'll probably have a short leash if he wins the job. The CB job has seemingly come down to Bradley Fletcher and Brandon Boykin. Boykin has stated many times over the past few months that he wants to start on the outside, and believes he has the ability too. He's impressed both the coaches and the fans during the preseason, but the coaches still seem to think he's better suited for a role as the nickel CB. With this logic, Fletcher seemingly has the upper-hand on Boykin, but he hasn't done much during the preseason. He's been beat several times, and he's had a couple breakdowns in coverage. It wouldn't surprise me to see Fletcher win the job, but if Boykin has a strong performance, it's probably safe to say he'll be starting opposite Williams in DC on September 9th.

Although it's only the preseason, it would be nice to see the Eagles force more turnovers than they have. The team has a turnover differential of -6, and the interception by Connor Barwin against the Jaguars was the team's first INT in the preseason in several years. Due to the fact that the Eagles will be facing an inexperienced QB in Geno Smith and a career backup in Matt Simms (Mark Sanchez injured his shoulder in the fourth quarter of the Jets last preseason game), it should be fairly easy to force a turnover at some point during the first couple of quarters. The Eagles turned the ball over a lot last season but didn't force many turnovers, one of they key reasons they finished 4-12. The good teams in the NFL have a tendency to force turnovers, which can do one of two things: kill the momentum of the other team and/or give the offense good starting field position. If the defense doesn't get the turnover problem sorted out, they could be in for a rough season.

Three Key Storylines for the Jets:

Smith hasn't had the best preseason (here, he accidently
runs out of the endzone for a safety).
Photo Courtesy: CBS Sports
The quarterback situation is a mess, plain and simple. Mark Sanchez injured his shoulder in the fourth quarter of a preseason game (yes, Rex Ryan had Sanchez in during the fourth quarter of a preseason game), Geno Smith has done absolutely nothing to earn the job outright, Greg McElroy hasn't really gotten a chance, and Matt Simms, who hasn't done much of anything the past few years, has been named the starter for Thursday's game. Considering Sanchez can't play, all eyes will be on Smith, McElroy, and for some reason Simms. Rex Ryan still hasn't named a starting QB either, meaning one of the aforementioned three quarterbacks would really have to impress him on Thursday in order to take the job away from Sanchez, who the job will most likely go to solely based on his experience. Smith would be the logical choice to impress based solely on his abilities. He's basically the same type of quarterback as Michael Vick, a guy that can make plays with his feet when he needs to while also having the ability to throw the ball deep. Despite those abilities, Smith has an unappealing stat line through the first three preseason games: 22-37, 246 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. He'll probably get the majority of the snaps Thursday, seemingly having one final shot to prove he can be the starter for the Jets.

The Jets WR corps is pretty weak as well. The best WR they have would easily be Santonio Holmes, who's production has dropped yearly as seen in the table below:

Year Age Tm G GS Rec Yds Y/R TD Lng R/G Y/G Fmb
2006 22 PIT 16 4 49 824 16.8 2 67 3.1 51.5 5
2007 23 PIT 13 13 52 942 18.1 8 83 4.0 72.5 2
2008 24 PIT 15 15 55 821 14.9 5 48 3.7 54.7 4
2009 25 PIT 16 16 79 1248 15.8 5 57 4.9 78.0 0
2010 26 NYJ 12 10 52 746 14.3 6 52 4.3 62.2 2
2011 27 NYJ 16 16 51 654 12.8 8 38 3.2 40.9 2
2012 28 NYJ 4 4 20 272 13.6 1 38 5.0 68.0 1
Career 92 78 358 5507 15.4 35 83 3.9 59.9 16
4 yrs PIT 60 48 235 3835 16.3 20 83 3.9 63.9 11
3 yrs NYJ 32 30 123 1672 13.6 15 52 3.8 52.3 5
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 8/28/2013.

The Jets need him to be a solid number one receiver, as they don't have much behind him. Jeremy Kerley and Clyde Gates have gotten most of the snaps this preseason, but they're not exactly household names. Holmes is currently battling a foot injury, and may not even be ready for the start of the regular season. It's going to be a tough season all around for the Jets, but if they can't find some consistency from their WR's, it's going to be even worse.

As with the Eagles, the Jets turnover differential isn't too good either. They're -4 so far, but they've also forced four turnovers (three fumbles, one INT) through their first three preseason games. Despite their success in the preseason, this defense has lost a lot of contributors and added a lot of new parts. Darrelle Revis, one of the best CB's in the league, is no longer with the team. That leaves Antonio Cromartie as the best CB on the team, but he's not exactly an INT machine like Revis was. The team was second to last in the AFC with a -14 TO differential, and has finished towards the bottom of their conference in three of the past four seasons (in 2010, they finished third with a TO differential of nine). The Jets defense has the ability to be decent, but to keep the team in games they'll need to force some turnovers. Bryce Brown (who tends to fumble a bit more than he should) and Matt Barkley (an inexperienced QB) will be on the field a lot Thursday; it'll be interesting to see if the Jets can take advantage.

Five Players to Watch for the Eagles:
Is he on his way out?
Photo Courtesy: NBC Philadelphia

Danny Watkins, OL: Could this be Watkins' last game in an Eagles uniform? It's safe to say that Watkins hasn't impressed, and while he plays with a lot of heart and determination, those traits don't always cut it in the NFL, especially not from a former first round pick. The only reason Watkins is even on the team at this point is because Andy Reid drafted him several years ago. Reid is no longer here, and if Kelly doesn't like what he sees from Watkins on Thursday, he might need to start looking for another team.

Greg Salas, WR: Salas has surprisingly stuck around over the past several weeks, and will be looking to earn a spot on the roster. It's no secret that the Eagles aren't exactly strong at the WR position, and the only four locks at this point appear to be DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper, Jason Avant and Damaris Johnson. Russell Sheppard has looked decent, and it wouldn't surprise me if he made the team, but there's a reason Salas is still here.

He still has a shot.
Photo Courtesy: Philadelphia Eagles
Earl Wolff, S: It was previously mentioned that Coleman and Allen would most likely be fighting for the final
safety spot, but you really can't count Wolff out. He was a fifth round pick but that doesn't mean anything. Wolff is typically solid in coverage (I'll give him a mulligan on that TD pass he allowed in the last game), and he's known to be a big hitter, something this defense desperately needs. He'll get the most playing time of his career Thursday; look for him to take full advantage of it.

Clay Harbor, TE/WR: Harbor was in this section in the last preview, and he'll be in it again solely due to the fact that his roster spot isn't locked up yet. I mentioned that there are only four WR's on this team that have a spot seemingly locked down. That gives Harbor a shot to make the the team as a WR (as I've mentioned before, he's definitely not making the team as a TE). If Salas and Sheppard impress while Harbor drops a pass or two, he's on his way out. If he has an impressive game, however, things could go a bit differently.

Matt Barkley, QB: Simply put, it will be fun to watch Barkley play. He had an exceptional college career in which he passed for 12,327 yards, 116 touchdowns and only 48 interceptions over four seasons. He's impressed the coaches, and he has a ton of potential. He'll be in the game for a long amount of time, so he'll have his shot to impress us even more. We probably won't see him on the field again until next season, so enjoy watching the kid play while you can.

Five Players to Watch on the Jets:
He has a shot to be a starter.
Photo Courtesy:

Jaiquawn Jarrett, S: Ah yes, Jaiquawn Jarrett, the man whom the Eagles drafted in the second round out of Temple. Jarrett was supposed to help solve the Eagles' problems at the safety position. Instead, he got labeled a bust and was cut last season. Despite all of that, Jarrett is currently in a battle with Dawan Landay for a starting spot. It just wouldn't seem right if Jarrett didn't have a great game against his former team.

Mohamed Massaquoi, WR: Massaquoi has bounced around over the past couple of years and hasn't really found a team to latch on to (he was actually released by the Jaguars of all teams a week or so ago). The Jets WR corps is crowded, but it's weak as well. Massaquoi has great hands and is a decent route-runner. If he has a good game, he makes the roster. If not, he gets cut. It's as simple as that.

Oday Aboushi, OL: This guy reminds me a lot of King Dunlap. He has great size (6'5, 308), and has potential to be a decent player in this league, but he's not very consistent. If he gets beat, he doesn't recover fast enough, which either leads to sacks or holding penalties. Regardless, there's not many lineman in the league that have the height he does, so if he has a solid game he should make the roster.

Bohanon has a good upside.
Photo Courtesy:
Tommy Bohanon, FB: It's not very often that a starter plays in the final preseason game, and it's not very often that a fullback is a player to watch. However, Bohanon will be in action on Thursday as he is the only fullback on the roster. He's a seventh round pick who's impressed the coaches, both with his blocking abilities and with his hands, so don't be surprised to hear his name come up over the course of the night.

Geno Smith, QB: Smith needs a big night in order to persuade Rex Ryan to name him the starting quarterback. He hasn't had the best preseason, throwing three interceptions as well as stepping out of his own endzone during the same game. The Jets QB situation is a mess, but Mark Sanchez seemingly still holds the keys to the starting job. If Smith impresses in a big way Thursday night, however, that could easily change.

Miscellaneous Information:

Last Season- EAGLES: 4-12, last in the NFC East, missed the postseason
                     JETS: 6-10, tied for third in the AFC East, missed the postseason

Eagles Roster-
Age Pos Wt Ht College/Univ Yrs
Emmanuel Acho 23 OLB 238 6-1 Texas 1
Nate Allen 26 DB 205 6-1 South Florida 3
Colt Anderson 28 DB 194 5-10 Montana 3
Jason Avant 30 WR 210 6-0 Michigan 7
Allen Barbre 29 T 303 6-4 Missouri Southern 6
Matt Barkley 23 QB 227 6-3 USC Rook
Connor Barwin 27 DE 253 6-3 Cincinnati 4
Arrelious Benn 25 WR 225 6-2 Illinois 3
Brandon Boykin 23 CB 182 5-9 Georgia 1
Everette Brown 26 DE 250 6-4 Florida St. 4
Bryce Brown 22 RB 223 6-0 Kansas St. 1
James Casey 29 TE 235 6-3 Rice 4
Brent Celek 28 TE 261 6-4 Cincinnati 6
Jamar Chaney 27 LB 242 6-1 Mississippi St. 3
Patrick Chung 26 DB 207 5-11 Oregon 4
Trent Cole 31 DE 270 6-3 Cincinnati 8
Kurt Coleman 25 LB 195 5-11 Ohio St. 3
Riley Cooper 26 WR 214 6-3 Florida 3
Fletcher Cox 23 DT 298 6-4 Mississippi St. 1
Vinny Curry 25 DE 266 6-3 Marshall 1
Dennis Dixon 28 QB 195 6-3 Oregon 5
Antonio Dixon 28 DT 325 6-2 Miami (FL) 4
Jon Dorenbos 33 C 250 6-0 Texas-El Paso 10
Zach Ertz 23 TE 249 6-5 Stanford Rook
Bradley Fletcher 27 DB 196 6-0 Iowa 4
Nick Foles 24 QB 243 6-5 Arizona 1
Clifton Geathers 26 DE 300 6-7 2
Brandon Graham 25 DE 263 6-1 Michigan 3
Clay Harbor 26 TE 252 6-3 SW Missouri St. 3
Alex Henery 26 K 177 6-2 Nebraska 2
Todd Herremans 31 T 321 6-6 Saginaw Valley St. 8
Brandon Hughes 27 DB 178 5-11 Oregon St. 4
Phillip Hunt 27 LB 244 6-2 Houston 2
Emil Igwenagu 24 FB 245 6-2 Massachusetts 1
DeSean Jackson 27 WR 178 6-0 California 5
Damaris Johnson 24 WR 175 5-8 Tulsa 1
Lane Johnson 23 OT 303 6-6 Oklahoma Rook
Donnie Jones 33 P 222 6-2 LSU 9
Jason Kelce 26 OL 280 6-3 Cincinnati 2
Dennis Kelly 23 OT Purdue 1
Mychal Kendricks 23 ILB 239 5-11 California 1
David King DE Oklahoma Rook
Matt Kopa 26 T 303 6-6 2
Joe Kruger 21 DE 269 6-6 Utah Rook
Trevard Lindley 27 DB 178 5-11 Kentucky 3
Bennie Logan 24 DT 309 6-2 LSU Rook
Jeremy Maclin 25 WR 200 6-0 Missouri 4
Jeff Maehl 24 WR 190 6-0 Oregon 2
Curtis Marsh 25 DB 197 6-1 Utah St. 2
Evan Mathis 32 G 304 6-5 Alabama 8
Casey Matthews 24 LB 231 6-1 Oregon 2
Chris McCoy 27 LB 261 6-3 Rook
LeSean McCoy 25 RB 215 5-10 Pittsburgh 4
Jason Peters 31 T 328 6-4 Arkansas 9
Jason Phillips 27 LB 236 6-1 TCU 4
Chris Polk 24 RB 222 5-11 Washington 1
Jordan Poyer 22 CB 191 6-0 Oregon St. Rook
Dallas Reynolds 29 G 320 6-4 BYU 2
Adrian Robinson 24 LB 250 6-1 Temple 1
DeMeco Ryans 29 LB 235 6-1 Alabama 7
Greg Salas 25 WR 210 6-1 Hawaii 2
David Sims 27 S 204 5-9 2
Isaac Sopoaga 32 DT 321 6-2 Hawaii 8
Matt Tennant 26 C 274 6-4 Boston Col. 3
Cedric Thornton 25 DT 309 6-4 Southern Arkansas 2
Julian Vandervelde 26 OL 301 6-2 Iowa 2
Michael Vick 33 QB 215 6-0 Virginia Tech 12
Danny Watkins 29 OL 310 6-3 Baylor 2
Cary Williams 29 DB 185 6-1 Washburn 5
Earl Wolff SS 209 5-11 North Carolina St. Rook
Michael Bamiro 23 T 335 6-8 Stony Brook Rook
G.J. Kinne 25 QB 234 6-2 Tulsa Rook
Jake Knott 23 LB 239 6-3 Iowa State Rook
Travis Long 22 LB 252 6-4 Washington State Rook
Ifeanyi Momah 24 WR 239 6-7 Boston College Rook
Will Murphy 23 WR 193 6-2 Oregon Rook
Russell Shepard 23 WR 195 6-1 LSU Rook
Damion Square 24 DE 286 6-3 Alabama Rook
Matt Tobin 23 T 303 6-6 Iowa Rook
Matthew Tucker RB 227 6-1 TCU Rook
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 8/29/2013.

Jets Roster-

Age Pos Wt Ht College/Univ Yrs
Oday Aboushi OT 308 6-5 Virginia Rook
Royce Adams 25 WR 190 6-0 Rook
Antonio Allen 25 SS 210 6-1 South Carolina 1
Antwan Barnes 29 LB 240 6-1 Florida International 6
Kahlil Bell 27 RB 219 6-0 UCLA 4
Nick Bellore 24 LB 250 6-1 Central Michigan 2
Aaron Berry 25 DB 180 5-11 Pittsburgh 3
Tommy Bohanon 23 FB 246 6-1 Wake Forest Rook
Josh Bush 24 S 208 5-11 Wake Forest 1
William Campbell 22 DT 311 6-5 Michigan Rook
Michael Campbell 24 WR 205 6-2 2
Dan Carpenter 28 K 216 6-2 Montana 5
Willie Colon 30 G 320 6-3 Hofstra 7
Erik Cook 26 C,G 320 6-6 2
Quinton Coples 23 DE 284 6-6 North Carolina 1
Antonio Cromartie 29 DB 210 6-2 Florida St. 7
Jeff Cumberland 26 TE 249 6-4 East. Illinois 3
Demario Davis 24 OLB 235 6-2 Arkansas St. 1
JoJo Dickson 24 LB 245 6-1 Idaho 1
Leger Douzable 27 DT 305 6-4 Central Florida 4
Vlad Ducasse 26 G 326 6-5 Massachusetts 3
Kenrick Ellis 26 DL 346 6-5 Hampton 2
D'Brickashaw Ferguson 30 T 295 6-5 Virginia 7
Tevita Finau 27 DT 288 6-5 Utah 1
Nick Folk 29 K 211 6-2 Arizona 6
Dalton Freeman 23 C 291 6-5 Clemson Rook
Antonio Garay 34 DE 300 6-4 Boston Col. 10
Clyde Gates 27 WR 197 5-11 Tyler J.C. (TX); Abilene Chrisitan 2
Mike Goodson 26 RB 195 5-11 Texas A&M 4
John Griffin 25 RB 208 5-10 1
David Harris 29 LB 243 6-2 Michigan 6
Damon Harrison 25 DT 339 6-4 William Penn 1
Vidal Hazelton 25 WR 220 6-2 2
Stephen Hill 22 WR 215 6-4 Georgia Tech 1
Lex Hilliard 29 RB 231 5-11 Montana 5
Santonio Holmes 29 WR 185 5-10 Ohio St. 7
Austin Howard 26 T 333 6-7 Northern Iowa 3
Chris Ivory 25 RB 222 6-0 Washington St.,Tiffin 3
Jaiquawn Jarrett 24 DB 198 6-0 Temple 2
Jeremy Kerley 25 WR 189 5-10 TCU 2
Dawan Landry 31 DB 215 6-1 Georgia Tech 7
Ellis Lankster 26 DB 191 5-9 West Virginia 4
Danny Lansanah 28 LB 248 6-1 Connecticut 5
Mossis Madu 26 RB 197 6-0 Oklahoma 2
Robert Malone 25 P 215 6-2 Fresno St. 3
Nick Mangold 29 C 295 6-3 Ohio St. 7
Mohamed Massaquoi 27 WR 210 6-1 Georgia 4
Josh Mauga 26 LB 250 6-1 Nevada-Reno 3
Greg McElroy 25 QB 220 6-2 Alabama 2
Garrett McIntyre 27 LB 270 6-3 Fresno St. 2
Rontez Miles FS 203 6-0 California (PA) Rook
Dee Milliner 22 CB 201 6-0 Alabama Rook
Ben Obomanu 30 WR 203 6-0 Auburn 6
Calvin Pace 33 DE 262 6-4 Wake Forest 10
Bilal Powell 25 RB 207 5-11 Louisville 2
Tanner Purdum 27 C 217 6-3 Baker 3
Konrad Reuland 26 TE 260 6-4 Stanford 2
Sheldon Richardson 23 DT 294 6-3 Missouri Rook
Zach Rogers 23 WR 179 6-0 Tennessee Rook
Titus Ryan 29 WR 188 6-0 1
Mark Sanchez 27 QB 225 6-2 USC 4
Ricky Sapp 27 LB 252 6-4 Clemson 2
Caleb Schlauderaff 26 OL 305 6-4 Southern Utah 2
Matt Simms 25 QB 210 6-3 Tennessee Rook
Jacquies Smith 23 DE 260 6-2 Missouri 1
Jason Smith 27 T 305 6-4 Baylor 4
Geno Smith 23 QB 218 6-3 West Virginia Rook
Isaiah Trufant 31 DB 170 5-8 East. Washington 3
Darrin Walls 25 CB 190 6-0 Notre Dame 2
Muhammad Wilkerson 24 DT 315 6-4 Temple 2
Kyle Wilson 26 DB 190 5-10 Boise St. 3
Kellen Winslow Jr. 30 TE 254 6-4 Miami (FL) 9
Brian Winters 22 OG 320 6-4 Kent St. Rook
Junior Aumavae 27 DT 310 6-2 Minnesota State Rook
Lanier Coleman 27 DT 322 6-4 Louisiana-Lafayette Rook
Troy Davis LB 251 6-2 UCF Rook
Mike Edwards 22 CB 186 5-10 Hawaii Rook
Chris Pantale 23 TE 254 6-5 Boston College Rook
J.B. Shugarts 24 T 305 6-6 Ohio State Rook
Ryan Spadola WR 200 6-3 Lehigh Rook
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 8/28/2013.