Throughout the season, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg and Randy Lange will each give their predictions to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.
Today's question: What must the Jets do to secure their first win vs. Eagles?
EA: The Eagles (5-7) ultimately might not make the playoffs, but these Birds are playoff-caliber on both sides of the line of scrimmage. The Jets need to be outstanding at the point of attack and they were good last week, running for a season-high 157 yards in the win over the Texans and holding Houston to 202 yards while registering 5 sacks of Tyrod Taylor. But these Eagles soar on the ground and are aiming to become the first Philly team since 1949 with four straight games of 200+ rush yards since 1949. They are a unique challenge because their QB — Jalen Hurts — is the team's leading rusher and they have a bunch of studs up front along the offensive line. The Jets have to win the battle on early downs and force the Eagles into a drop-back passing attack because they have gotten better in the play-action game throughout the season. Then on the other side of the ball, I'm excited to watch the Jets interior of LG Alijah Vera-Tucker, C Connor McGovern and RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif match up against one of the league's top interior DT tandems in Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave. In addition to protecting the ball against the Birds, Zach Wilson and the Jets have to improve on third down after converting 2 of 13 in Houston. Also they got away with playing from behind last week, but a fast start will be imperative against a desperate Eagles team that gave one away against the Giants at MetLife Stadium last week.
EG: It all starts up front. The Eagles have the NFL's No. 1 rushing attack led by QB Jalen Hurts & Co. Hurts leads the team with 695 rushing yards and Philadelphia has three talented running backs in Miles Sanders, Boston Scott and rookie Kenneth Gainwell. The Green & White did a good job against the run last week against the Texans, holding Houston to 96 yards on 24 carries. RBs David Johnson and Rex Burkhead combined for 66 yards on 22 carries (3-yard avg) and QB Tyrod Taylor had 2 rushes for 30 yards. If the Jets can contain the run game and force Hurts to throw, that'll give them a chance to win defensively. Last week, in a 13-7 loss to the Giants, Hurts completed 45.2% of his passes (14 of 31) and threw 3 interceptions. Offensively, the Green & White should look to control the ground game like they did last week. This will allow the unit to chew clock and limit the Eagles' possessions, which could make them look to throw more frequently depending on the score. It will also allow Zach Wilson to play more off play action, which is a strength of his dating back to BYU.
RL: Two things come to mind for the Jets to end their longest winless streak against any NFL opponent at 11 games. One is to make sure they're sound on QB Jalen Hurts and Philly's Run Pass Option game. The Eagles have risen to No. 1 in the NFL with 158 rush yards/game and to No. 2 with 5.1 yards/carry. A big reason for that is Hurts the rusher, not the passer. He's 10th among all rushers with 695 yards, fourth among qualifiers at 5.7 yards/carry and tied for fifth with 8 rushing TDs. And his RPO success has surely helped RB Miles Sanders average 5.2 a pop. Second, if there's a way for the Jets to jump-start their O and D early, do it. The Eagles clearly didn't like the MetLife ambiance last week when they turned the ball over 4 times to the Giants and scored only one fourth-quarter TD in their 13-7 loss. Get the Meadowlands crowd into this one early and the Jets will help themselves in their quest for a W over the Birds and the first 2-game win streak of the Robert Saleh regime.