The preseason will wrap up tonight for the Jets in Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Field when they face the Eagles (6:35 ET kickoff).
On paper, the matchup appears intriguing. Despite a majority of the starters for both teams expected not to see action, the Eagles and Jets rank first and second in the NFL in total defense. The Eagles are only allowing 227.7 yards per game, while the Jets have yielded 229.0.
Philadelphia enters the game with a 3-0 preseason record, scoring 78 points in their impressive wins over Pittsburgh, New England and Cleveland.
On the flip side, the Jets are still in search of a win. They are 0-3 with losses to Cincinnati, the Giants and Carolina. The Green & White also continue to be the only team in the NFL to not have scored a touchdown this preseason. They have one final opportunity to end that drought tonight.
"I really think we're going to get this thing turned," head coach Rex Ryan said following Sunday's 17-12 loss against the Panthers. "We have to."
In Philly's preseason opener against Pittsburgh, QB Michael Vick went down with a left thumb injury but the Eagles still prevailed on a 51-yard field goal from Alex Henery with 12 seconds remaining.
The following week against New England, Vick suffered a rib injury just six plays into the contest and was held out the remainder of the game as a precaution. Backup Nick Foles replaced him and threw two TDs for the second straight game as the Eagles defeated the Patriots, 27-17.
Vick, the former No. 1 pick in the 2001 draft, has taken just 12 snaps this preseason and is not expected to play tonight. Foles, a rookie out of Arizona, has been stellar in his absence. So far, he's 36-of-57 for 507 yards with six TDS and two interceptions in three games.
Philadelphia dominated the last meeting between the teams back on Dec. 18, winning, 45-19. Heading into the matchup, three regular-season games remained and the Jets sat at 8-5, fighting for a playoff spot. The Eagles, who had high promise prior to the start of 2011, were 5-8 and looking to create momentum leading into the offseason.
Tight end Brent Celek led Philly to the victory with five receptions for 156 yards and one touchdown. Vick also was sharp as he finished the day 15-of-22 passing for 274 yards and one TD. In the loss, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez thew a pair of picks and lost a fumble.
"Obviously, Philly is an excellent team," Ryan said, "and last year they pressured the heck out of us and we kind of struggled, obviously."
Greg McElroy will start at quarterback for the Green & White, and fourth QB Matt Simms will also see significant time.
"I think his arm is stronger," Ryan said, comparing McElroy now to the then-rookie out of Alabama a year ago. "Clearly, we always knew he's a smart guy. I think he has a good grasp of our system.
And Ryan added, "I'm encouraged by Simms. We haven't seen him do anything except have that great scrimmage, and he has a big-time arm."
Several Jet backups and roster hopefuls will approach this game with a mentality to showcase their talents and skills. Ryan noted Wednesday that a few roster spots remain open and tonight's performances could sway the coaches' decisions.
"I want to see these young guys compete and there are some roster spots still up for grabs," he said. "Let's see that happen."
Newly acquired tackle Jason Smith joined the Jets on Tuesday and Ryan said he would like to see Smith get in about 10 reps as the backup tackle and blocking tight end.
If the Green & White defense can hold Philadelphia's passing attack in check and offensively move the ball for positive yardage against a powerful Eagles D they should provide themselves a chance in the end.
"They're a tough team to play against," Sanchez said. "It's not an easy stadium to play in. It's a really good defense and we'll have our hands full. We've got to play well and take care of the football, same old story. But that's an active group and a team that I'm sure is going to be tough to play against this year."