The New York Jets have never beaten the Philadelphia Eagles. 9 games, 9 losses. The Eagles are the only franchise the Jets have never won against. Safe to say, the Jets' throwbacks came up empty this week. Though there was the reminder of Santonio Holmes flapping his arms like an eagle after scoring a meaningless touchdown in the 2011 45-19 Eagles rout. Good riddance.
Instead of dwelling on this winless past, I thought I'd focus this week on 3 players not named Revis or Marshall who can help the Jets beat the Eagles for the first time and reach 3-0 for the first time since 2009.
Stating the obvious: NFL wins are largely contingent on quarterback play. Fitzpatrick has played pretty well in the first two games: 64% completion rate, 4 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 70.0 QBR. He's moved the ball down the field when necessary and more importantly, has been able to engineer touchdowns. Through the first 2 games, the Jets rank 10th in the league (ironically tied with Philly) with a 66.7% touchdown rate in the red zone. Last year, the Jets ranked dead last with a 36.7% touchdown rate. Hey Brandon Marshall, nice to meet you. The Jets will need to continue to win the turnover battle and it starts under center with Fitzy.
The rookie criticized his own conditioning after the home opener and subsequently spent the next week working with David Harris after practice on fitness. Big Cat said he got a little smaller, dropping 2 pounds before the MNF matchup and reportedly felt better throughout the game. Aside from the NFL's drastically faster pace, it's very possible adrenaline and nerves factored into his fatigue in the first game. Speaking of drastically faster pace, the Eagles offense runs a play every 30.6 seconds in real time, the fastest offense in the league according to ESPN stats. The Jets continue to rely heavily on Williams with Sheldon Richardson out another 2 games, and will need him on the field as much as possible. Let's hope he spends some more time on the bike after practice this week with #52.
This of course assumes Smith will play, which at this point seems likely. The offense desperately lacks a speed/deep ball threat to complement the possession-style receivers in the 6'3 Decker and 6'5 Marshall. As John B details in his Open By Design article, the Jets found favorable matchups with Eric Decker when moving other guys around. However, they have not found favorable matchups down the field. Owusu and Enunwa did have deep receptions in the 1st and 2nd games respectively, but the consistency is lacking. Fitzpatrick was intercepted on Monday night trying to force the ball down the field to Marshall in double coverage. Enter Devin Smith. His role will most likely be limited exclusively to go routes down the field, which judging by his resume is absolutely fine. In 2014 with Ohio State, Smith averaged 28.2 yards per catch with 54.5% of his catches going for over 25 yards. Bottom line: he doesn't need a lot of targets to make a difference. He could make that difference on Sunday.
Who are your 3 guys who can make a difference in Week 3?