The Eagles are back on the road Sunday to take on the Marcus Mariota-led Tennessee Titans at 1 p.m. ET, FOX. Philadelphia is coming off a tight 20-16 victory at home last weekend against another AFC South opponent, the Indianapolis Colts.
Heading into this weekend’s contest, the Eagles are favored by four points over a Tennessee team that barely beat the Jacksonville Jaguars last Sunday. The Titans have playmakers on both sides of the ball and should pose a nice challenge to Philadelphia.
Here are three things to watch out for in this Week 4 matchup:
1. Wentz’s second start
Last Sunday, Carson Wentz made his long-awaited 2018 regular season debut and did not look bad. Despite not playing a meaningful snap of football in nine months, Wentz led the Eagles to a touchdown on their first offensive drive.
He also showed no fear to run when necessary and escaped the pocket to either extend the play or pick up a first down. Against the Colts, Wentz completed 67.6 percent of his passes for 255 yards, a touchdown, and an interception.
With that being said, what can we expect from Wentz against the Titans? Unlike the Colts, Tennessee’s defense is loaded with playmakers at all three levels. When it comes to the defensive line, the Eagles’ offensive line must do a better job of protecting Wentz, who was sacked five times.
Wentz will also have opportunities to take chances in the passing game as the Titans have given up 218.7 passing yards per game, good for 10th in the NFL. The young signal caller should target Titans starting cornerback Malcolm Butler often, who is struggling through three games of the season.
Along those same lines, Tennessee has allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 67 percent of their passes. Expect Wentz to better than he was last week with hopefully a supportive running game to back him up just like they did last Sunday.
2. The health of Marcus Mariota
Sticking with the theme of starting quarterbacks, Marcus Mariota will be back under center for the Titans. Through the early part of this season, the former second overall pick has dealt with an elbow injury.
Mariota first suffered the injury on Sept. 9 against the Dolphins, where he was experiencing lingering numbness and tingling in his fingers on his throwing hand.
Therefore, he did not start against the Jaguars last Sunday as veteran Blaine Gabbert stood in for him. However, Mariota eventually got into the game because Gabbert suffered a concussion.
The former Oregon product has not played well this season. In two games, Mariota has completed 61.8 percent of his passes for 203 yards, zero touchdowns, two interceptions with a passer rating of 53.9.
These types of numbers will not get it done against an Eagles’ defense that is holding opposing quarterbacks to a completion percentage of 61.4 and racked up eight sacks.
3. Attacking Malcolm Bulter
The last time the Eagles saw Bulter was in Super Bowl 52 with the New England Patriots. However, they actually never got the chance to play against Butler as he was benched for some unknown reason.
Instead, the Eagles wide receivers went up against former Eagle Eric Rowe and pretty much had their way with him. Fast forward several months later and the Eagles will finally get their chance to go against Butler on Sunday.
Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh spoke about Butler earlier this week with reporters at the NovaCare Complex.
“Yeah, he’s a tough competitive corner out there. We know that he’s going to get right up on your nose and be very physical at the line of scrimmage and really try to jam you all the way down the field,” said Groh.
“I’m sure that he’s anxious for this matchup and is looking forward to seeing the Eagles out there since he wasn’t able to play in the last game. We’ve got a lot of respect for him and his ability and the plays he’s made over the course of his career.”
Butler is a very aggressive corner but can be taken advantage of if you have speed on the outside. In the Titans’ first two games of the season, Butler gave up two long touchdown receptions to Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills and Texans wide receiver Will Fuller.
Therefore, if you are the Eagles, you might want to try to get either Nelson Agholor or Shelton Gibson matched up against him. Both guys have the speed, especially Gibson to create a big passing play, which Philly has lacked thus far.