It's the green and white, with their locker room dysfunction, fans who like to spell out the team name and their controversial coach who was initially thought as a genius but is now seen by many, perhaps unfairly, as stubborn and out-of-touch. Wait...are the Jets facing the 2015 Eagles or the 2014 Jets? While they have been struggling so far this season, the Eagles have historically had the Jets' number. The teams met most recently in December 2011, as the Jets were aiming to go to 9-5 on the season and lock down a playoff berth. The Eagles' 45-19 win sent the 2011 season into a spiral as the Jets lost their last three to miss the postseason at 8-8. In fact, it pretty much sent the Rex Ryan era into a tailspin, as the Jets were 32-19 under Rex prior to that game, but 18-33 thereafter. Can the Jets finally beat them for the first time ever in a regular season game?
After the jump, I break down the positional groupings (BGA-style!) to try and highlight what the Jets need to look out for.
Chip Kelly gave up a future second-round pick to land Sam Bradford in a trade for incumbent starter Nick Foles in the offseason. Bradford had been regarded as a disappointment with the Rams, after being drafted first overall and failing to lead the team to the postseason in five injury plagued seasons that saw him miss a total of 32 games, including the entire 2014 season. It was thought that much of the negativity surrounding Bradford was due to the fact he was one of the last players to receive a rookie deal under the old CBA, so he was dramatically underperforming his $76 million contract. He couldn't actually be that bad could he?
It's still early, but few are convinced the bust assessment has been unfair from his two starts so far with the Eagles. Bradford, who has already dealt with a lot of injuries since entering the league, including two ACL tears, was already hurt once in preseason and some fans are wondering how much longer he'll last. However, it was his poor play in the first two games which had some media members asking if he might be benched already. While he passed for 336 yards in a competitive loss in Atlanta, he only had 224 yards against Dallas - and 84 of those came on a meaningless drive in the last five minutes. He also threw two interceptions in each game.
If Bradford is benched or injured, both of which are potentially in play, it will be a familiar face that takes over. Former Jets starter Mark Sanchez is the current number two after last season starting a handful of games in place of an injured Foles. Generally speaking he played well against poor defenses and struggled against good defenses last year. The Eagles' number three, Thad Lewis, will presumably be inactive.
Everyone is talking about how awful the Eagles' offensive line was against the Cowboys, but they actually only gave up one hit and one sack officially. They were pretty bad in the running game though.
The line was a major strength for the Eagles last year though, led by left guard Evan Mathis and left tackle Jason Peters. The Eagles eventually released Mathis to save money and it's hurting the line as a whole because his replacement, Allen Barbre, is a major downgrade. This has also had a knock-on effect on Peters, who has been a lot less dominant so far. Peters is still a great pass protector, but the left side of the line isn't as effective in the running game with Barbre in there. Barbre is a pretty good athlete, but he's also 31 and had started just eight games entering this season, all of which were at tackle and seven of which were with the Packers all the way back in 2009.
The other guard, Andrew Gardner, is another player who's been in the league a while, but not played much until recently. He started the last six games of 2014 at right guard, prior to which he only had two career starts, earlier in the 2014 season, at tackle. The Eagles were happy enough with his performance in those six games to make him the starter, despite the fact he gave up four sacks.
The other two starters are Jason Kelce - a solid veteran center who is also adjusting to the fact he no longer has Mathis alongside him - and Lane Johnson - a former first round pick who is developing into an excellent right tackle. All five starters have at least one penalty through two games though, with eight between them.
On the bench, the reserves include Matt Tobin and Dennis Kelly, who started 10 games between them for the Eagles last year.
After letting Lesean McCoy leave in the trade for Kiko Alonso, the Eagles gave DeMarco Murray a $40 million mega-deal to be their lead back. Murray had a sensational 2014 season, rushing for 100 yards in each of the first eight games to break an NFL record. Despite breaking his hand in December, Murray broke the Cowboys' franchise record with 1,845 yards. This season, however, he's already frustrated with his role running behind a struggling line and amassing a shockingly low 11 yards on 21 carries in the first two games. Still, he showed how dangerous he is if you can get him into space when he hurdled a defender on his way to a 22-yard gain on a short pass last week.
Murray is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury some suspect might not be legitimate. If he is limited or misses out altogether, his reserves have plenty of ability as former Charger Ryan Mathews has two thousand-yard seasons to his name and the diminutive Darren Sproles is as dangerous as ever at 32. Mathews hasn't played much so far, carrying just four times for four yards.
The Eagles do not use a full back and the only other running back on their roster is Kenjon Barner who is primarily a special teamer.
The receiver position is another where the Eagles decided to take a chance by letting a trusted veteran (Jeremy Maclin) go. So far this hasn't gone too well, as rookie Nelson Agholor and veteran Riley Cooper have accounted for just 61 receiving yards between them. Second-year man Jordan Matthews has produced well, but also has three drops. Matthews has been playing primarily in the slot this year.
In reserve, the Eagles have Josh Huff and Seyi Ajirotutu, each of whom have been dealing with injuries, and veteran Miles Austin. Austin caught 47 passes last year with the Browns.
At tight end, the Eagles have two dangerous weapons in Zach Ertz and Brent Celek. Celek has been struggling along with the rest of the line in blocking situations though.
The Eagles have a solid defensive line, although they are dealing with the loss of starter Cedric Thornton to injury. The other two starters, nose tackle Bennie Logan and defensive end Fletcher Cox are both playing well, especially Cox, who is the best interior lineman the Jets have faced so far this season and the biggest test so far for a Jets' line that struggled at times on Monday night. The Eagles tend to play a pure 3-4 two-gapping defense more than any other NFL team.
With Thornton out, Vinny Curry will likely get most of the reps. He's an interesting case who is a little undersized to play as a 3-4 end, so they were planning on converting him to outside linebacker after he racked up nine sacks last year. He played mostly as a pass rushing linebacker in the first couple of games, but they'll probably need him at defensive end this week.
The Eagles actually plan to start Brandon Bair, who played over 200 snaps in a rotational role last season, rather than Curry. He didn't play in the first two games. Another back-up end, Taylor Hart, is another player who has been ruled out. Also in reserve is nose tackle Beau Allen, who Jets fans will remember gave Wesley Johnson such a tough time in the Bollinger Bowl.
The Eagles have more issues at inside linebacker with Alonso and fellow starter Mychal Kendricks both ruled out through injury. However, earlier in the offseason, there was some talk that the Eagles might trade an inside linebacker because they had surplus depth at the position. Demeco Ryans is an experienced starter but he's seen better days and has been removed from the game on passing downs at times in recent years, so his coverage might be a weakness they could exploit if he's forced to play every down.
Rookie third rounder Jordan Hicks will likely be thrown into the fire alongside Ryans. He played over 50 snaps against Dallas. The recently re-signed Najee Goode may also get reps and former Packer Brad Jones is also on the roster, but they haven't been using him on defense so far.
On the outside, both Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham continue to provide experience and a pass rushing threat with Curry rotating in with them over the first two weeks. If either starter needs a break and Curry is needed on the line, then someone they haven't been using so far will have to step in, possibly Jones or last year's disappointing first round pick, Marcus Smith.
The Eagles shored up their secondary by signing former Seahawk Byron Maxwell to a huge $11 million per year contract during the offseason and, so far, that's not paying off. Primarily a number two corner last year in Seattle after being a slot specialist prior to that, Maxwell has never really operated as a number one corner, although the Seahawks corners do stick to one side of the field, so he will have seen tough mismatches. He's really struggled so far this season, giving up 15 catches for a league-leading 240 yards, two scores and two penalties.
Former Dolphin Nolan Carroll is the other starter and he's holding up pretty well so far this season. The Eagles haven't really used any of their back-up corners, but their roster includes journeyman EJ Biggers and rookie Eric Rowe. As you'll recall from the Bollinger Bowl, Rowe looks extremely raw, so it's not surprising that he's not been getting any reps.
Another former Seahawk, Walter Thurmond, is following in the footsteps of veteran Malcolm Jenkins by making the conversion to safety this year and the pair start there together in the base package. Jenkins actually plays as a slot corner in the nickel package while back-up safety Chris Maragos - a special teamer - enters as the fifth defensive back.
The Eagles kicking game remains in the hands of punter Donnie Jones and placekicker Cody Parkey. Parkey, an undrafted rookie last year, missed four field goals in 2014, including two from less than 40. He's already missed one of three this year. The 35-year old Jones is not one of the league's best and had one blocked for a touchdown last week. In kick coverage, Maragos and Carroll had double digit tackles on special teams last season.
In the return game, the Eagles have the dangerous Sproles back to return punts, although Barner is another option because he ran two back for touchdowns in preseason. Agholor did it in college too. With Huff, the starting kick returner, listed as questionable, the Eagles might opt to use Barner who was inactive in week one but active and unused in week two. Alternatively, they might get Sproles to do it if Huff cannot.
I'll be back tomorrow to recap the game.
Stats from PFF were used in the completion of this article.