Le'Veon Bell

5 matchups to watch as Eagles host lowly Jets

5 matchups to watch as Eagles host lowly Jets

The Eagles (2-2) opened up as 14-point favorites over the Jets (0-3) as the two teams face off at the Linc this Sunday. 

The Eagles need to take care of business this week. The Jets haven’t won more than five games in a season since 2015. 

To the matchups: 

Jets QB vs. Jim Schwartz 

There’s apparently some optimism out of North Jersey that Sam Darnold might be able to play the week. 

But if Darnold doesn’t get cleared by Sunday, Luke Falk would start. If it is Falk, this will be his third career game and his second career start. He didn’t have much of a chance against the Patriots a couple of weeks ago. His stat line was ugly: 12 for 22, 98 yards and an interception. He was also sacked five times. The Jets scored 14 points against the Patriots in Week 3 but one touchdown came from special teams and one on defense. 

That’s 10 punts. There was just one 10-punt game in the NFL in the entire 2018 season and this game is the only 10-punt game so far in 2019. 

Schwartz is a veteran defensive coach and should be able to feast on the young QB, even with a decimated secondary and a pass rush that has left plenty to be desired. 

If Darnold plays, that would give the Jets a boost, but I’d wonder how much strength he’ll have and how good he’ll be. 

Le’Veon Bell vs. Eagles’ stout run defense

Through three games, Bell has 56 carries for 163 yards. His average of 2.9 yards per attempt ranks him 31st out of 32 among running backs with at least 40 attempts this season. But it really isn’t all Bell’s fault. He's actually averaging 2.1 yards per attempt after contact and he’s broken 10 tackles this season, second-most in the NFL. He’s breaking a tackle every 5.6 attempts. 

Meanwhile, the Eagles’ defense is giving up just 62.0 yards per game this season. Since Schwartz took over as defensive coordinator in 2016, the Eagles have had the league’s best rushing defense, giving up just 90.7 yards per game in 52 games. 

Jamison Crowder vs. Orlando Scandrick

The Jets experimented with putting Crowder outside, but he should be back where he belongs in the slot this week. Crowder isn’t a great player, but he’s the best the Jets have to offer. And this matchup is worth watching because he’ll likely go against a 32-year-old guy who was on the couch this time last week. The Eagles’ secondary is decimated, but the Jets don’t have much of a passing attack. Their biggest playmaker is Crowder. 

Since he was in Washington for four years, Crowder has faced the Eagles eight times before and has really been held in check. In those eight games, he’s averaged just 31.5 yards per game with one touchdown. Against the Cowboys and Giants (the other two NFC East opponents), he averaged 75.8 yards per game and 57.5 yards per game, respectively. 

Overall, the battle between the Jets’ pass game and the Eagles’ secondary should be interesting. The Eagles’ are the NFL’s worst pass defense, giving up 323.8 yards per game. But the Jets have the worst passing offense in the league, putting up 131.0 yards per game. 

Carson Wentz vs. Jamal Adams

Through four games, Wentz has played very well. Take it with a grain of salt, but he’s ProFootballFocus’s top-rated QB in the first quarter of the season. That might be going too far, but he has played well. And Adams is the Jets’ best player. No question. Adams is still just 23 and is coming off a Pro Bowl season that surely won’t be his last. He’s everywhere on the field and can do so many different things. 

Eagles’ OL vs. Jets’ interior DL

This is a battle of strengths between these two teams. The Eagles’ offensive line is coming off its best game of the season in Green Bay and will face a Jets’ line that is pretty good. While the Jets have many injuries, they are at least expecting to have their first-round pick, Quinnen Williams, back in the lineup this week. Him next to Leonard Williams inside is a solid duo. Keep an eye on Isaac Seumalo, who has really rebounded after an awful game in Week 2. 

And part of what makes Gregg Williams’ defense hard to face is its multiplicity. He disguises everything and moves his pieces around. That can make things tough on Carson Wentz. But if the OL can control the pace of the game like they did last week, it’ll make a big difference.

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Now it's official: Eagles aren't getting Le'Veon Bell, who is heading to Jets

usa_leveon_bell_steelers.jpg
USA Today Images

Now it's official: Eagles aren't getting Le'Veon Bell, who is heading to Jets

Go ahead and cross Le’Veon Bell off your wish list, Eagles fans. 

He’s heading to the Jets. 

Bell has reached an agreement with the Jets worth $52.5 million over four years, including $35 million guaranteed, according to ESPN. 

Over the past few months, I’ve been asked more questions by Eagles fans about Bell than any other potential free agent target. And I understand why. The last time we saw Bell, he was an All-Pro player in 2017 and arguably the best running back and football. And he would have been a perfect fit with the Eagles and Doug Pederson’s offense. 

Bell, 27, rushed for over 1,200 yards in 2016 and 2017 and was a dynamic receiver out of the backfield. Everything about him was a fit for the Eagles. 

But it was never likely that Bell was going to join the Eagles. His new $13.125 million average yearly salary was likely too rich for the Eagles, even if it is considerably lower than what Bell wanted. 

Bell sat out the entire 2018 season, but based on his new contract, that decision might have backfired. He would have made $14.5 million on a franchise tag last season. 

The type of market he seemed to expect this offseason never developed. But it also obviously didn’t dip to the point where the Eagles felt comfortable hopping in at the last second. I’m sure the Eagles did their due diligence, but it wouldn’t be their style to break the bank like this for a free agent running back. 

Even though Bell is going to the Jets, the Eagles still have plenty of options. There are several free agent running back candidates and possible trade targets. And even if they don’t get a running back in free agency, there’s the draft in April. 

As I re-ranked the Eagles’ needs today (see story), I put running back at the top of the list. I think they need a feature back to take their offense to the next level. Bell would have been that type of player, but now that he’s heading to the Jets, the Eagles and the rest of us can focus on the other options. 

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What other Philly athletes would make the best tamperers?

What other Philly athletes would make the best tamperers?

My life has been consumed with the idea of Bryce Harper recruiting Eagles superfan (and two-time AL MVP) Mike Trout to come join the Phillies in 2021. With tampering ever-present in my mind, I look at why the Phils should continue their pursuit of Trout and a handful of other athletes that Philadelphia teams should begin tampering with right now. I’ve also taken it upon myself to anoint a current Philly player as the one to lead the tampering charge. Here we go:

Mike Trout

The Holy Grail of Philly Tampering. The Prince Who Was Promised. I wrote yesterday that Harper’s courting of Trout and the Angels’ subsequent hissy fit is not only hilarious, but a completely fruitless endeavor. As a man who was once convinced that Nick Foles would be disastrous in the playoffs last winter and that Markelle Fultz would a perennial All-NBA guard, I’ve never been more sure of anything than the fact that Trout will be in red pinstripes at Citizens Bank Park on Opening Day 2021.

Keep putting the squeeze on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of California of the West Coast, Bryce. The Angels’ complaints about tampering are only delaying the inevitable.

Top Tamperer: Harper obviously.

 

Le’Veon Bell

“Legal” tampering begins on Monday for NFL free agency, but that shouldn’t stop the Eagles from getting in on Le’Veon Bell’s good side before then. I have no real sense of what Bell’s market will be this month. Will his refusal to suit up last season hamper how much he can cash in? 

Maybe the market sours on Bell and he is only able to take a one-year deal, much like Alshon Jeffery did two years ago. During the 2016 season, the Eagles kicked the tires on trying to acquire Jeffery from the Bears mid-year only to sign him once free agency came. The Eagles were rumored to be interested in trading for Bell last fall. With Howie Roseman’s wizardry at the Birds’ disposal, I wouldn’t count out history repeating itself.

Top Tamperer: Cre’Von LeBlanc. I would trust Cre’Von to do my taxes, dogsit my pit-terrier mix Bruce and with my life overall. If he wants to head the committee to have Bell make the move towards Eastern Pennsylvania, as he’s already made known on Twitter, there may be no man more more capable of the job.


 

Earl Thomas

Yet another installment in a guy who seemed destined to play in Philadelphia. Earl Thomas is Former Next Dawkins. Roseman and the Eagles may have overplayed their hand by extending Rodney McLeod’s contract ahead of what will be a crowded safety market this offseason, but what if the franchise pursues another vet at the position in free agency?

I’m obviously diving into wild hypotheticals, but what if the Birds let Jordan Hicks walk as a free agent and essentially play Big Dime with three safeties as their base formation? Jim Schwartz loved utilizing that package during the franchise’s Super Bowl-winning campaign two years ago with a healthy McLeod and a not-yet-washed-up Corey Graham opposite Malcolm Jenkins. It also serves as a proactive depth move with McLeod coming off a season-ending knee injury in case he doesn’t quite return to his 2017 form.

Top Tamperer: Brandon Graham. A sizeable portion of the Eagles fan base still held ill will towards Graham before 2017 on account of him being Not Earl Thomas, as the safety was a presumed and popular choice for the Eagles in the 2010 NFL Draft. Graham was selected one pick ahead of Thomas. Time is a flat circle. BG should help bring Thomas along for the Eagles’ next ride to the postseason with both players looking for their second Super Bowl ring.

 

D’Angelo Russell

Imagine a world where the Lakers selected Jahlil Okafor instead of D’Angelo Russell with the second pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, allowing Russell to fall to the Sixers with third-overall selection. His silky smooth offensive game would’ve been a perfect match to develop alongside both Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Elton Brand and the Sixers have a chance to right the wrongs of the Okafor era and pursue D’Angelo Russell in restricted free agency this summer.

If the Nets were to decide in favor of keeping cap flexibility for superstar-level talent this summer, the Sixers should absolutely make a move on Russell. I’m sort of over the Jimmy Butler Experience and the negative energy that’s persisted around the team in 2019. Let’s say the Sixers let him walk, clear some cap space and hit “Voodoo” Russell with an offer sheet. They’d have Russell, Embiid, Simmons, JJ Redick and Tobias Harris as they fight for a Finals berth in 2020. Sign me up for that.

Top Tamperer: Duh, Embiid. The social media king may have learned from his mistake of recruiting LeBron James over the years and he should turn his attention to a more attainable target. Russell was briefly high school teammates with Embiid (and later Simmons) at Montverde Academy in Florida. The school’s mascot is an Eagle, so the stars have clearly aligned and there’s 100 percent chance of this happening. Go Birds.

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