Eagles vs Jets: Top 5 players to watch


Sep 3, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Quron Pratt (10) runs the ball against New York Jets safety Durell Eskridge (35) during the second quarter of a preseason game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

In this Week 3 NFL battle, the Eagles vs Jets game promises to be a good one. We have the Philadelphia Eagles (0-2) traveling to play the undefeated New York Jets (2-0) who are fresh off their Monday night upset of the Indianapolis Colts.

There are a lot of hot story lines to pay attention to in this one and with that, some key players to watch out for that’ll decide the game on Sunday. These 5 players could shape how the seasons play out for the Jets and Eagles respectively the rest of the way.

Without any further ado let’s break down the top 5 players to watch for in this Week 3 matchup.

Next: 5. Sam Bradford

Sep 20, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford (7) is hit after throwing a pass by Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Jack Crawford (58) during the first half at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

5. Sam Bradford

You could almost make an argument that Sam Bradford should be the No. 1 player to watch out for in this matchup. After dazzling with a preseason performance for the ages, Bradford and the Eagles have quickly fallen out of the limelight right into a 0-2 hole to start the season.

In the Eagles first game of the season vs. the Atlanta Falcons they fell in a hole early against the Falcons potent passing game and despite a late-rally, the Eagles lost. Then the following week in the Cowboys game, they just looked out of it never really giving the Cowboys a fight.

Again, despite the fact the Cowboys were without Dez Bryant who is a professional Eagle killer and Tony Romo for much of the second half, they failed to get the job done.

Sam Bradford is completing 86% of his passes less than 9 yards (including behind line). More than 9 yards? 31% #Eagles (per PFF)

Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) September 24, 2015

These are troubling statistics for what was supposed to be a high-octane, high-volume passing attack that would captivate defenses across the league, so far that hasn’t been the case. For the Eagles to win this game Sunday they need Bradford to do better than 31% down the field, they need big plays from their quarterback.

Next: 4. Ryan Fitzpatrick

Sep 21, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) throws a pass against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

4. Ryan Fitzpatrick

Might as well get both quarterbacks on the list right off the bat, for Fitzpatrick it’s simple, just play smart football. Perhaps easier said then done, but Ryan Fitzpatrick has played the part through two games this season for the Jets. Despite 2 interceptions, he’s been very effective for the Jets.

After 2 wks Ryan Fitzpatrick has the 8th highest QBR. His wk 2 at IND was a higher QBR than Brady at BUF. #FitzMagic pic.twitter.com/5KlKF5OZ6D uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) September 22, 2015

Fitzpatrick’s statistics for the season thus far are decent: 423 yards passing, 4 touchdowns to 2 interceptions with a 63% completion percentage and a 90+ QBR. You can’t ask for much more from Fitzpatrick, he’s seemed to find chemistry with all the Jets top targets from Eric Decker to Brandon Marshall.

On Sunday, they’re playing a bad Eagles team that has been nothing but mistakes after mistakes. Even with the Eagles on the road I expect them to play better than they’ve shown and they will try to confuse Fitzpatrick with a variety of blitz’s and zone coverage. Similar to what the Colts did on defense to try and mask their weakened secondary and highlight their pass-rush.

Next: 3. Brandon Marshall

Sep 21, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) can not come up with a catch against Indianapolis Colts safety Dwight Lowery (33) at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

3. Brandon Marshall

New York Jets: The best trade they ever made; and clearly the best 5th round pick they ever used. No one in the Chicago Bears thought that Brandon Marshall would explode on the scene the way he has for the Jets this year.

He’s been everything that he has been hyped up to be: from a dynamic red-zone threat (already has 2 touchdowns), a physical receiver opponents have to game-plan for (did you see the ripped away interception in Week 1 and Marshall dragging multiple Colts defenders in the end-zone on Monday night?) and much more.

And in this game I’m not even saying Marshall is going to be a x-factor because of all the statistics he could assemble in this contest, similar to what Julio Jones did Week 1. No, the reason I think Marshall is one of the top-5 players to watch out for is because of his leadership, his hustle and his energy that has inspired this Jets team through the first 2 weeks.

Brandon Marshall ðŸ’🏽ðŸ’🏽ðŸ’🏽ðŸ’🏽ðŸ’🏽ðŸ’🏽ðŸ’🏽ðŸ’🏽ðŸ’🏽ðŸ’🏽ðŸ’🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽 https://t.co/RtyOJb1kdh

Complex Sports (@Complex_Sports) September 22, 2015

I mean this guy is an absolute animal and to go back to what I said in the last stanza, I think Marshall is going to have another great game. But also his impact on the rest of the Jets’ offense, the more people game-plan for Marshall the less they game-plan for the rest of the receiving options.

It will open rushing lanes for Chris Ivory and company to pound the rock against the Eagles and drain the clock and control the game. Also, since Eric Decker is getting medically checked out for his knee and Chris Owusu could be out for up to 2 weeks, it means Marshall has to step up to the plate as well as other guys on the roster.

Jeremy Kerley could see more playing time and Devin Smith could finally make his debut for the Jets this week. Can’t have better timing than that with the injuries the Jets are dealing with at the receiver position.

Next: 2. Muhammad Wilkerson

Sep 21, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback (15) Andrew Luck fumbles the ball against New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

2. Muhammad Wilkerson

This slide could be dedicated to the Jets entire front-7 or even their entire defense for that matter. Through 2 weeks of NFL action, the Jets’ defense has simply dominated the line of scrimmage and that has led them to a 2-0 record.

Another thing that has led this team is the propensity for causing turnovers. New York Jets: Turnovers, turnovers, and more turnovers was my article from a couple days ago about the absolute turnaround for the Jets in the turnover department.   

Marcus Gilchrist INT makes it 10 TAs. Jets set franchise mark for most TAs in 1st 2 games of season, breaking record 9 set in 1969 season. Randy Lange (@rlangejets) September 22, 2015

How a year makes a monumental difference as the Jets had 13 takeaways during the entirety of last season, and now they have 10 already through 2 games this season. Can the Jets make it 3 straight games with 5 takeaways?

Extremely unlikely, but the Jets will need to force Bradford into mistakes by generating a natural pass-rush with their front-four. With Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples and rookie Leonard Williams they should be able to with ease. Which will put less pressure on the Jets’ defensive secondary to continue to wreak havoc on the back-end.

This will be the most pivotal if not one of the most pivotal matchups to pay attention to on Sunday. The Eagles’ offensive line has been leaky since the start of the season and the Falcons and Cowboys had no issues getting after the Eagles.

If the Jets want to go 3-0 they’ll have to continue that trend and with perhaps the best defense in football I wouldn’t doubt this front-7 at all.

Next: 1. Demarco Murray

Sep 20, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back DeMarco Murray carries the ball against the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

1. DeMarco Murray

Believe it or not the most vital piece on either side of this matchup will be DeMarco Murray and let me tell you why. Has the former Offensive Player of the Year struggled for the Eagles? Yes, that is safe to say…

DeMarco Murray left practice today with a hamstring injury. We examine what’s behind his early season struggles http://t.co/qX5dmnTIuw

ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 23, 2015

Yes you read that tweet correctly, the 2014 rushing leader in the NFL has a whopping 11 yards in 2 games, so why should he be considered a vital player in this one? Well, besides the fact that he tweaked his hamstring in practice and he’s questionable for the Eagles vs Jets game, that makes it even more noteworthy.

This guy has all the tools in the box: he’s big, fast, strong, a bell-cow and that can’t be taken lightly in today’s NFL. But in a muddled backfield that I think is the best backfield in the entire NFL, they’ve failed to properly use Murray.

And the Colts showed me something that I didn’t think possible, the almighty Jets defense isn’t invincible; Frank Gore found several rushing lanes on Monday night. Sure, most of them were called back due to holding penalties and that could’ve been the reason, but it still put me on notice.

Murray is 10-times the running back that Gore is at this point in their respective careers. If Gore could do that imagine what a healthy and fully-motivated Murray can do? For the Eagles to win this game they’ve got to commit to running the football.

The #Jets are averaging 127.5 rushing yards. The #Eagles are averaging 35. Kimberley A. Martin (@KMart_LI) September 23, 2015

This statistic tells me that the Eagles are not committing to running the football through the first 2 weeks. 35 yards? Through an entire game of football that is all you’re averaging? In a Chip Kelly offense that built this team around the running game? No wonder they’re 0-2, they can’t win solely on Bradford’s arm and they won’t win playing with that mentality.

If the Eagles want to win they’ll pound the rock, find open rushing lanes (easier said then done) and force the Jets to put more guys in the box which should open up opportunities in the passing game. It all starts with the impact Murray has in this Week 3 matchup.

Next: Coffee with the New York Jets: Drew Brees on the horizon?

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