What was the nightmare scenario when Chip Kelly pieced together his new-look Eagles this offseason?
That his collection of once-wounded Birds would prove to be unalterably injury prone, and that his once-revolutionary offense would be confounded by the rest of the NFL’s defenses.
Well, looks like it’s thenightmare scenario. The Eagles will be without KikoAlonso and Cedric Thornton Sunday (1 p.m. on FOX) against the undefeated Jets, and could very reasonably be without DeMarco Murray andMychal Kendricks(each is likely to be a game-time decision).
Philly is0-2and will be kicking off against a confident and potent Jets squad, playing at a high level on both offense and defense during the first month of the NFL season.
As always, football is a game of matchups, and here are three big ones that will determine whether the Eagles can enter the win column Sunday:
Eagles receivers vs. Jets secondary
Here’s a surprising stat: the Eagles are in the top 5 in the NFLwith 59 receptions offensively, and are in the top 10 in receiving yards with 560.
Another surprising stat: for a team not so long ago known for making big plays, their longest passing play this season is just 32 yards, ranking 29th of 32 teams.
The Birds face perhaps the best group of cornerbacks in the league Sunday and will certainly need to not only be smart (the Jets created 5 turnovers against Andrew Luck and the Colts in Week 2) but they also could have issues finding open receivers.
“One of the things they do is put the receivers on islands because of what they have back there,” Kelly said. “When you have [Darrelle] Revis and [Antonio] Cromartie and [Buster] Skrine, you have three pretty talented guys right there. That’s a huge matchup, I think, for any team
“You’ve got a real talented secondary back there, so I think they have the ability to kind of bring an extra guy (on the blitz)because of what they feel like they have behind it. But you’ve got to be able to capitalize on that, because you know what you’re getting for coverage.”
RELATED LINK: Will Brandon Marshall torch the Birds?
Eagles offensive line vs. Jets defensive front
Philly parted ways with Todd Herremans and Evan Mathis this offseason, and as a result the offensive line has done a terrible job of opening things up for the Eagles trio of running backs (Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles.
Through two games, the Eagles rank dead last in rushing with just 70 yards. Things won’t get any easier in the third game, with Murray cautiously working his way through a hamstring injury he obtained in practice this week — or against the Jets intimidating defensive front.
“They are really good at the defensive line in [Leonard] Williams and [Muhammad] Wilkerson,” Kelly said, “and the two outside linebackers are really good, the two insider linebackers are good, and obviously we have already talked about the secondary.”
Eagles secondary vs. Jets receivers
Brandon Marshall has broken out during the first two games of the season for New York, and against a secondary that is really soft against big-name receivers the potential for another big day for Marshall certainly exists Sunday.
“You have to mix it so you have the proper match up, or your zones have to give a little bit more attention to his side,” Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis said earlier this week. “Your mans have to give a little bit more body help with two guys on him instead of one. They do a great job of moving him around a little bit. He’s a big run‑after‑catch guy, more than you think.”
Marshall has 163 yards and two touchdowns so far this season.