Location: MetLife Stadium – East Rutherford, NJ
When: Thursday, August 31st, 2017
Time: 7:00 PM ET
The Eagles continue to adjust their roster as the regular season quickly approaches. In the past week alone, the club has traded S Terrence Brooks and fan-favorite LS Jon Dorenbos, along with recently cutting CB Ron Brooks.
The Eagles’ preseason finale will take place Thursday against the Jets. With plenty of jobs on the line, this game will very likely be the final audition for many players near the bottom of the roster.
The grading scale grades teams based on their overall league rank in the four (4) following categories:
1) Points Per Game
2) Yards Per Game
3) Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA): This is a method of evaluating a team’s efficiency. It takes every single play during the NFL season and compares each one to a league-average baseline based on situation. You can read more about it here:
4) Weighted Offense/Defense: Weighted Offense/Defense is adjusted so that earlier games in the season become gradually less important. It better reflects how the team was playing at the end of the season.
2016 REPORT CARD: JETS’ OFFENSE
Points Per Game: F
Yards Per Game: D-
Defense-adjusted Value Over Average: F
Weighted Offense: F
Overall Offense: F
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the Jets had a very poor offense in 2016, ranking among the bottom of the league in most of the above categories, and earning an ‘F’ overall grade.
It will at least be interesting to see the Jets’ offense this year. Quite honestly, by the looks of it, they really can’t do much worse than they did last year. With journeyman-QB Josh McCown at the helm, the offense should be able to produce a little more consistency.
With that said, I wouldn’t go and put money on the Jets to make the playoffs this year. I still anticipate them to rank near the bottom of the league offensively. While they do have a decent defense, they are young, and they are going to make their fair share of mistakes as well. Unfortunately for the Jets, in 2017, I think they produce a very similar campaign to that of the 2016 season.
Since there will be very few starters, if any, playing Thursday night, it’s hard to say what the outcome will be. Had this have been a regular season game, it’s pretty clear that the Eagles’ defense, especially after seemingly improving across the board, would have absolutely dominated.
The Jets have to identify some players on offense who can help raise their abysmal rankings from a year ago. Losing Enunwa definitely hurt an already struggling offense. I look for this team to rely on sound decision making from their veteran QB, and a heavy, heavy dose of Bilal Powell – both in the run and pass game.
At this point, I just can’t see the Jets having a productive offense in 2017. Maybe they prove me wrong.
2016 REPORT CARD: JETS’ DEFENSE
Points Per Game (Allowed): F
Yards Per Game (Allowed): B-
Defense-adjusted Value Over Average: D+
Weighted Defense: C-
Overall Defense: D+
The bright spot (?) of the Jets team – their defense.
Although the unit earned a ‘D+’ grade in 2016, they were, at times, dragged down and put into bad situations because of the poor play of the offense. I think this unit, especially with the additions they’ve added, is better than their grades show.
With a 68.8 grade in YPG Allowed, the Jets managed to rank in the top half of the league in this category, but ranked near the very bottom in PPG Allowed. While it’s likely that many factors contributed to this, the Jets tied for dead last in the NFL with a -20 turnover differential. To put that into perspective, the Eagles finished tied for 7th with a +6 differential.
With the Jets’ offense consistently turning the ball over and the defense being put into bad situations/poor field position, this is the likely cause of the unit’s poor grades. However/whatever the reasons behind the dysfunction, both units for the Jets have to be better.
Should this have been a regular season game, I think the matchup between the Eagles’ offense and Jets’ defense would have been very interesting to watch, and, probably a little closer than we Eagles’ fans might want to believe.
SPOTLIGHT: JOSH MCCOWN
With the news of Josh McCown being named the Jets’ week one starter, I figured it would be appropriate to spotlight him.
McCown has very much had an up and down career to this point, but some way or another, the guy has found himself in another starting gig. Part of me doesn’t get it – and the other part of me does.
McCown is a veteran presence on the field, and at the game’s most important position. Although he has never started a full 16 games in his career, when he does find himself starting, he is relatively consistent, and, sometimes, he is actually pretty darn good.
However, looking above, the last four years have been a bit of a rollercoaster for McCown, earning overall grades of B-, C-, C+, and D+, in 2013, 14, 15, and 16, respectively.
With the shape the Jets’ offense is in, I just can’t realistically see how McCown could have a great year. In addition, seeing as how he’s never started a full 16 game season in his career, what leads us to believe that this year will be any different?
SPOTLIGHT: PATRICK ROBINSON
With the Eagles cutting Ron Brooks, it seems as though that Patrick Robinson has won the nickel job. The Birds did bring in youngster Dexter McDougle to compete, but it’s hard to know where he stands on the depth chart at the moment.
As far as Robinson goes, he has been decent throughout his career. A first-round draft pick, Robinson had a few strong seasons back in New Orleans, and played a little above average while he was in San Diego.
Robinson only played in 7 games last year for the Colts, so that is definitely a contributing factor to his poor grade in 2016. Even then, he did have some spotty play. It will be interesting to see how the Eagles use him in the slot. Will he be an every down slot defender? Will Malcom Jenkins slide down to cover the bigger wide receivers and tight ends and Robinson stick with the quicker, shiftier wide outs?
Patrick has looked pretty decent playing inside during training camp. I will be more interested to see how his role progresses throughout the year – specifically once Sidney Jones returns from his Achilles injury – if/when he does.
PRO FOOTBALL FOCUS MENTIONS:
— PFF (@PFF) August 28, 2017
Looking back at week three of the preseason, PFF awarded Carson the game ball against the Dolphins. I especially like this for him because, as we all know, week three of the preseason is the closest thing we get to a regular season game. And it did feel like a regular season game when the first teams were out on the field. Carson played extremely well, however, I would like to see him be a little more protective of the football in the pocket. There were times when it felt like Carson didn’t feel the defenders right around him and the ball.
With all of that said, I probably shouldn’t nitpick too much with him putting up a 143.1 passer rating against the blitz…
The three highest graded Eagles players from their game with the Miami Dolphins pic.twitter.com/dfknN1mhxL
— PFF (@PFF) August 27, 2017
Very encouraging that Elijah Qualls was the highest graded Eagle in week three. Granted, it was against second and third-teamers, but still. It looks as if he has solidified his spot on the 53 man roster.
It goes without saying that Zach Ertz will be huge for the Eagles’ offense this year. Especially with the absence of Jordan Matthews, Ertz looks to have an expanded role in the passing game.
Chris Long continues to be, well, Chris Long. A veteran, hard-nosed DE with a passion for high-quality football. It’s going to be so exciting watching this defensive line in 2017.
The Eagles could have one of the top O-lines in the NFL this year pic.twitter.com/ZF3Tmfx4Zp
— PFF (@PFF) August 30, 2017
Lane Johnson has proved that he is one of the most athletic tackles in the league. What he still has to prove, however, is that he is going to stay clear of PED violations in 2017. We’ve all heard the “5-1 with Lane, and 2-8 without Lane” talk. The guy is a special, special player. He HAS to stay on the field in 2017.
The most productive running backs out of the backfield so far this preseason pic.twitter.com/481bLFad2T
— PFF (@PFF) August 30, 2017
Donnel Pumphrey, in some peoples’ minds, has under-performed up to this point in the preseason. While that very well may be true, talk of Pumphrey not making the roster is a little farfetched. The rookie RB is learning an entirely new role than that of which he spent his career playing.
Even with all of the doubters, the little RB who could managed the third highest ‘Yards Per Route Run’ for all RBs in the NFL during the preseason.
— PFF (@PFF) August 30, 2017
We mentioned Qualls above as earning the best grade of all Eagles’ players in week three against Miami. Comparing him to the entire rookie DT class, it’s easy to see just how productive he’s been. It seems he’s a roster lock at this point.
Eagles rookie Derek Barnett has been one of the NFL's most productive pass rushers this preseason pic.twitter.com/p13uxg1odd
— PFF (@PFF) August 29, 2017
I could talk about the Eagles’ D-line forever. Derrick Barnett will be a huge part of that rotation this season. While Chris Wilson, Eagles’ D-line Coach, says Barnett won’t be handed a starting job, he still figures to see a lot of time on the field during his rookie year.
With an 18.8 Pass Rush Productivity, Barnett ranked 4th in the NFL – not just among rookies – but the entire league in this category. The kid is impressive.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports