We’re just two days away from the Eagles week 3 showdown with the Indianapolis Colts. There’s plenty to talk about in this game. From the return of Carson Wentz, to the injury bug that has ripped its teeth through both rosters, there’s a lot of noise surrounding the Linc this weekend. Amidst it all, there are five matchups the Eagles will absolutely have to win if they are to send the Colts packing.
Sidney Jones vs T.Y Hilton
The Colts are without Jack Doyle this weekend, a 6’6, tight end who has already notched 80 yards worth of receiving yards. Luck’s receiving corps needs no introduction as its reputation for being so desolate precedes it, but it does mean that there will be a red ring circled around T.Y Hilton. The 28-year old has 2 touchdowns in as many games this year along with 129 yards and let’s not forget that he averaged over 16 yards per reception out of the slot last season. With extra attention comes extra danger and the man standing in his way is default ‘rookie’, Sidney Jones.
The former Washington standout has looked brilliant during his first two games as an Eagle, providing sticky coverage from the moment the green flag dropped in week one. Through two games, Jones has been targeted 7 times, giving up 4 catches and a total of 18 yards. Need I say more?
A wideout who has rarely been given the respect he deserves vs a cornerback looking to make a name for himself, proving he can come back from a heartbreaking injury.
Brandon Graham vs Joe Haeg
Graham set this one up all by himself. “From what I’ve seen, it’s going to be a good day,” were the exact words that left the stud defensive end’s mouth and it’s not going to sit well with a former teammate of Carson Wentz. You can see why Graham has that opinion however, with Haeg allowing 6 pressures in the season opener. Graham is yet to record a sack this season, despite registering an explosive 9.5 last season. He’ll be licking his lips at a shot at Joe Haeg, but his pass-rushing expertise go far beyond cheap shots. The Eagles need Graham to step up if they are to slow a dink and dunk offense down that’s allowing Luck to fire at a 71% clip. Fitzpatrick showed what can happen when you get the ball out quick, so Graham simply has to be quicker.
Darius Leonard vs Zach Ertz
One of the big standouts of the season so far, rookie linebacker, Darius Leonard, can do it all. A true ‘off-the-ball’ linebacker, Leonard excels in coverage and leads his team in tackles (28) coming into this matchup. Add in a forced fumble, a pass defense, a sack and a tackle for a loss and it’s not like there’s much Leonard can’t do. He played a key role in holding Jordan Reed to just 55-yards and if the Eagles are going to find an offensive spark, it’s going to come from the ultimate security blanket for Carson Wentz. Ertz is going to be keyed in on early and often and if he gets stuck against strong coverage linebackers like he did against Atlanta, he could have a much smaller impact than fans are hoping for.
Carson Wentz vs Andrew Luck
The first game back for Carson Wentz is going to be an emotional one. Running out onto a sold out Lincoln Financial Field in front of a roaring crowd who have spent months monitoring every minuscule update regarding his progress will not only send floods of adrenaline, but remind him just how much energy flows around this stadium. Wentz has spent months watching Nick Foles run the show and seal the most beautiful deal of all time, but now it’s his time.
On the other side of the field is a quarterback also coming back from injury who has already shaken off the rust. Luck has completed 71% of his passes so far and most recently, methodically led this Frank Reich offense to a big win against another NFC East opponent. The other key similarities the two share? They’re facing defenses that are leaking passing yards at an alarming rate…and they both roll into this week with a depleted offense.
There’s a lot that goes into this matchup, but this has the potential to become a shootout between Wentz and Luck very, very quickly. Whoever wins the duel, may likely win the game.