Eagles Game Preview: Will Philly ruin Doug Pederson’s return?

Bills vs jaguars
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson gestures toward players during the second half of his team’s NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers in Inglewood, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

The Philadelphia Eagles haven’t started 4-0 at the beginning of a season since the 2004 season with Donovan McNabb, Terrell Owens, and Andy Reid. At that time, Doug Pederson was a backup quarterback to Brett Farve and the Green Bay Packers.

18 years later Pederson’s career in Philadelphia has become far more entrenched. As the coach of the only Super Bowl-winning team in Eagles history, Pederson makes his return to the city of brotherly love as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

While there is little doubt that the Eagles fanbase will give a rousing ovation for Pederson, the outcome of Sunday’s contest will be one of the tightly contested showdowns of the week.

Here’s everything you need to know about Sunday’s contest.

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

When: Sunday, October 2nd, 1:00 pm ET

Where: Lincoln Financial Field

How to Watch: CBS

Injury Report

Jacksonville Jaguars

Questionable: Shaq Griffin, Cole Van Lanen, Zay Jones

Philadelphia Eagles

Out: Boston Scott, Avonte Maddox

Covering the Slot

Maddox reportedly tweaked his ankle a couple of days ago in practice and is not ready to play on Sunday. It’s a significant blow to the Eagles’ defense and Maddox who had been playing extremely well the last few weeks. Josiah Scott and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson are expected to be the potential replacements in the slot against Christian Kirk and others.

Keys to the Game

Own the Line of Scrimmage

The Eagles’ offense is one of the best in football in scoring on long drives and having big play ability. But a group that has played well, not as well as people would hope, has been the offensive line. The Eagles came into the 2022-23 season with the league’s best offensive line, and an underrated defensive line. While the defensive line should be expected to dominate against a talented Jaguars front, the offensive line must protect Hurts and open up running holes against a Jags defense that is first against the run. This will be the toughest test for this group in the young season.

Attack Chris Claybrooks

While Shaq Griffin is still questionable for Sunday’s contest, if he doesn’t play, the Jaguars secondary has a major hole that the Eagles need to exploit. Chris Claybrooks is a seventh-round pick from 2021 and hasn’t seen much of the field. Going up against AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith is an almost impossible task for any top corner, let alone an unproven player. The Eagles will need to exploit this matchup early and often.

Contain James Robinson

James Robinson is ninth in the league in rushing and has been the main catalyst to keeping Trevor Lawrence calm and on schedule. In the 38-10 blowout win over Los Angeles last week, Robinson ran for 100 yards and a touchdown. While Jacksonville wants to use a running back-by-committee approach, the Eagles need to stop the run as early as possible and force Trevor Lawrence to beat them with his arm. Lawrence is a very good, young quarterback, but the Eagles are better off putting mounds of pressure on him early, than letting him get comfortable with the run game. To stop the Jags, the Eagles will need to contain their top back.

X-Factor: Jordan Mailata

Jordan Mailata has not been bad this season. However, he hasn’t been the same dominant player he was last year. His PFF grade has dropped to an above-average 60 although he has only given up one sack this year. Going up against the number one overall pick in Travon Walker will be a tall task for the future All-Pro. If Mailata keeps the edge rush quiet, Jalen Hurts should be pretty successful on Sunday. But the OL will need to win their battles.

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez