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October 11, 2023

Eagles at Jets: Five matchups to watch

Previewing five key matchups ahead of the Eagles' Week 6 game against the Jets in the Meadowlands.

Eagles NFL
101123BreeceHall Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports

In 2023, the Eagles have not yet faced a running back as explosive as the Jets' Breece Hall.

If you're a football fan with an HBO subscription, you probably got to know the New York Jets a little bit this summer when they appeared on "Hard Knocks." The show centered around Aaron "Debate Me Bro" Rodgers, of course, who got his attention fix, for a while anyway. Four snaps into the regular season, Rodgers tore his Achilles, likely ending his season, and leaving him to try to insert himself into Travis Kelce's newfound fame

With Rodgers out, the Jets have turned to 2021 No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson, who has been up and down since taking over as the starting quarterback. Here are our five matchups to watch.

1) The Eagles' interior offensive line vs. Quinnen Williams

In 2022, Quinnen Williams had 55 tackles (12 TFLs), 12 sacks, 28 QB hits, 2 forced fumbles, and 4 batted passes on his way to first-team All-Pro honors and a new four-year contract worth $96 million. He is a beast.

Williams' season isn't off to a fast start in the sack column (he has 0.5 sacks so far), but he has been disruptive.

As you're aware, the Eagles faced Aaron Donald a week ago. In fact, they are in the middle of a long string of elite interior defensive linemen on their schedule, as we pointed out in our five matchups last week.

• Week 3: At Buccaneers, Vita Vea ✔️
• Week 4: Commanders, Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne ✔️
• Week 5: At Rams, Aaron Donald ✔️
Week 6: At Jets, Quinnen Williams
• Week 7: Dolphins, Christian Wilkins
• Week 8: At Commanders, Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne

The Eagles doubled Donald all day, and the Rams' other defensive linemen were otherwise unable to win their one-on-ones against the Eagles' elite offensive line. The Jets present a different kind of challenge, as they have a more dangerous defensive line aside from their star DT. John Franklin-Myers, Jermaine Johnson, Quinton Jefferson, and Bryce Huff are all capable of making plays. 

With starting RG Cam Jurgens on IR with a foot injury, Sua Opeta has stepped into the starting lineup, and received rave reviews from the Eagles' staff. However, he is unlikely to get as much help against Williams as he did a week ago against Donald.

2) The Eagles' wide receivers vs. the Jets' corners

In most games, the Eagles have obvious matchup advantages against the opposing team's corners. The Jets, however, have one of the best corner duos in the NFL in second-year stud Sauce Gardner and lesser-known D.J. Reed. Reed did not play Week 5 in Denver, as he could not clear the concussion protocol in time. His status will be worth monitoring this week, but he feels likely to play.

Reed is a physical player and a good tackler, but he is also only 5'9, 188. He has one of the highlights of the season, when he ran by Patrick Mahomes at Mach 1.

That clip contradicts my claim that he's a good tackler, but whatever. Anyway, he could be at a disadvantage in 50-50 ball opportunities to A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, but the Eagles' receivers vs. the Jets' corners is probably the most fun matchup in this game.

3) The Eagles' rushing attack vs. the Jets' run defense

You would think that a team with a good defensive line and two very good linebackers in C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams would have a very good run defense, but the numbers say otherwise:

Jets run D Stat Rank 
 Rushing yards allowed per game146.2 29 
Rushing yards allowed per attempt 4.5 25 
Rushing first downs allowed per game 8.0 26 
% of rushes resulting in 1st down 38.5% 27 

Their rushing totals allowed, by game:

  1. Week 1, Bills: 22 rushes, 97 yards, 4.4 YPC, 0 TD
  2. Week 2, Cowboys: 44 rushes, 134 yards, 3.0 YPC, 0 TD
  3. Week 3, Patriots: 40 rushes, 157 yards, 3.9 YPC, 0 TD
  4. Week 4, Chiefs: 35 rushes, 204 yards, 5.8 YPC, 1 TD
  5. Week 5, Broncos: 22 rushes, 139 yards, 6.3 YPC, 0 TD

The dual-threat quarterbacks the Jets have faced have done some damage on the ground against them.

• Josh Allen, Bills: 6-36-0
• Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs: 7-51-0
• Russell Wilson, Broncos: 7-49-0

Sometimes the Eagles have a run-heavy gameplan. Sometimes it's pass-heavy. I would expect them to have a balanced plan against the Jets, much like they did Week 5 against the Rams.

4) The Eagles' run defense vs. Breece Hall and the Jets' rushing attack

When healthy, Hall has been an explosive back for the Jets. As a rookie in 2022, he carried 80 times for 463 yards (5.8 YPC) and 4 TDs before a torn ACL ended his season. In 2023, he appears to be fully recovered from that injury, as he has 54 carries for 387 yards (7.2 YPC) and 1 TD, shown below:

The Eagles' run defense has been very good so far this season. 

Eagles run D Stat Rank 
 Rushing yards allowed per game61.2 
Rushing yards allowed per attempt 3.4 
Rushing first downs allowed per game 3.4 
% of rushes resulting in 1st down 17.4% 

It should be noted that the Eagles haven't exactly faced any elite backs yet. 

  1. Week 1: Rhamondre Stevenson and washed Zeke Elliott, Patriots
  2. Week 2: Alexander Mattison, Vikings
  3. Week 3: Rachaad White, Buccaneers
  4. Week 4: Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson, Commanders
  5. Week 5: Kyren Williams, Rams

The best back above is Stevenson, who was running behind an injury-riddled offensive line. Hall will be the best challenge for the Eagles' run defense so far this season. The Eagles will have to stop the run first and foremost so they can pin their ears back and get after Zach Wilson.

5) Where might the Eagles go feastin'? 🍗

The Jets' starting offensive line to begin the season looked like this:

Duane Brown Laken Tomlinson Connor McGovern Alijah Vera-Tucker Mekhi Becton 

Three of those spots are now different. 

• LT Duane Brown suffered a hip injury and went on injured reserve. The Jets then moved Mekhi Becton to LT, Alijah Vera-Tucker to RT, and second-round rookie Joe Tippman filled in at RG.

• In the Jets' Week 5 win in Denver, Vera-Tucker tore his Achilles, and his season is over. Max Mitchell filled in at RT for Vera-Tucker.

The Jets' offensive line now likely looks like this:

Mekhi Becton Laken Tomlinson Connor McGovern Joe Tippmann Max Mitchell 


• Becton is a 6'7, 363-pound behemoth whose career has been disrupted my injuries. He missed 16 games in 2021, and did not play at all in 2022. As noted above, he was the Jets' Week 1 starter at RT, but moved to LT, where he would prefer to be. Jets beats largely believe that Becton has been better so far than Brown was the first two games before he got hurt. However, Becton reportedly has knee pain that forced him to the sideline Week 5 for a half dozen snaps. He'll have to deal with the uber-athletic Josh Sweat.

• Tomlinson has played in 134 games, and started 126. Solid starter.

• McGovern is experienced as well. 100 career games played, 89 starts with the Broncos and Jets. Just a guy.

• Tippmann was a center in college who is filling in at RG.

• Mitchell started five games last season, and PFF (who are typically very forgiving with sack allocation) had him down for 3 sacks. The Eagles have an obvious matchup advantage against Mitchell with Haason Reddick, should Mitchell start. The Jets will have no choice but to chip Reddick often with tight ends and running backs.

#FeastinMeter: 6/10 turkey legs 🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗

Bonus: We should mention the Jets' wide receivers

It would be weird if we didn't mention Garrett Wilson, who is by far the Jets' best receiver. Here are the Jets' receivers' stats this season:

 Jets WRsRec Yards YPC TD 
 Garrett Wilson24 279 11.6 
 Allen Lazard13 202 15.5 
 Randall Cobb20 6.7 
 Mecole Hardman6.0 
 Xavier Gipson4.0 

The Jets' third-leading wide receiver is averaging 4 receiving yards per game, as the Jets' passing offense is not what they likely envisioned when they traded for Rodgers. The Eagles' ongoing exploratory options in the slot won't be quite as concerning as they were Week 5 against Cooper Kupp.

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