The Eagles head into their showdown with the Jets undefeated against the New York Outfit…but 0-2 on the season. The Jets will no doubt be the toughest challenge the team have come across so far and for the Eagles to win, they will need some big performances from players who have struggled up until this point. Here are the three players the Eagles desperately need to see some big numbers from.
3: Andrew Gardner
We weren’t going to include a lineman in our list, but when a struggling Offensive Lineman comes up against Muhammad Wilkerson..on paper it’s only going to end badly. With so many other threats coming the line’s way…Gardner isn’t going to receive a lot of help in stopping one of the leagues best and will need a much better showing than what he displayed against Dallas. Gardner doesn’t just need a big game..he needs a monumental one when you consider who he’s having to keep away from Bradford for four quarters. A bad game here could bode terribly for the Eagles right guard.
2: Sam Bradford
On the surface, Sam Bradford’s numbers aren’t terribly worrying. If you were to tell someone Sam’s stats and claim they were Winston’s for instance, not many people would flutter an eyelid. But there has been an extraordinary amount of pressure on Bradford since his trade from the Rams, escalating every minor issue into something worrying. However, what is worrying is that he looks nervous in the pocket, has been unable to rally his Offense to create a touchdown drive until the very end of the Dallas game and is yet to complete a pass of over 20 yards. To make things worse he is coming up against the Jets Defense..a Defense that has caused more turnovers in two weeks than Bradford had first downs against Dallas.
The Jets weakness is undoubtedly their ability to concede long passes, recording 8 in the past two weeks. So this is very much a coming of age game for Sam Bradford. If he can begin to hit receivers down seam routes then it will restore the lost faith from the Eagles die hards after the embarrassing loss to the Cowboys. Bradford needs a big game not only to shut people up but to keep the Offense on his side. He needs to know that the men around him have his back both on and off the field, the moment you lose that respect..you lose the team. It’s so important Bradford can show leadership and character in this weekends game..perhaps more important than the numbers he puts up.
1: Jordan Matthews
The second year wide receiver was tipped for a huge season just a few weeks ago and two weeks in he is second in the league when it comes to dropped passes. The Eagles had 1.6 drops a game last year and already average 3.0 this year. For an Offense with no running game and an inability to move the ball down the field in big plays, the drops that Matthews has recorded so far simply cannot happen in week three.
The one that springs to mind of every Eagles fan will be that fateful play that arguably cost the Eagles a touchdown against Atlanta..and the inconsistencies continued into week two. Sam Bradford can only do so much if his receivers are dropping easy passes. You turn to your number one guy in good faith he will haul in the goods and so far Matthews hasn’t done that, often leading the Eagles to three and out situations. A big game for someone as versatile as Matthews could be the difference between finally clicking an efficient Offense and a humiliating loss against such a tough Defense. Not only that but his confidence will soar. It’s evident that the week one drop was playing on his mind as he came into the Linc for week two. Some early mistakes were present before he finally settled down. If Matthews can play like we know he can, then the Eagles might..just might have a shot at overcoming all the odds once again.