Eagles’ Game Preview: 5 players to watch in the battle for Pennsylvania

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) runs the ball against the Detroit Lions in the first half of an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

The still undefeated Eagles are finally back after 2 weeks off. To be honest, I don’t know if many people missed the Eagles all that much, with a certain team across the street stealing the spotlight. However, there’s still a whole lot to be excited about with this football team, so before they play the Steelers on Sunday afternoon, here are some players to watch out for.

Robert Quinn

This is the obvious one. To those who aren’t familiar with his name, it’s ok, he only got here a few days ago. The Eagles traded a fourth round pick to the Chicago Bears in exchange for Quinn. Robert Quinn is a former All-Pro defensive end and while he only has 1 sack this year, he did have 18.5 last year.

I don’t know how much playing time he’s going to get this week, but he is expected to play and make his Eagles debut against the Steelers. Anytime a new player comes in there’s always excitement, and if Quinn can show he still has a little left in the tank, this low risk move could move to high reward fast.

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson

CJGJ has had an up and down first half with his new team. In a secondary that has played past what any fan could have expected, he is the only relative weak link. On the off chance there is a coverage breakdown, it seems like he has been the one to be exposed. However, he still has matched his career high in interceptions with 3 in only 6 games this season.

He started slow but each week he’s gotten to learn more of Gannon’s system and he has really come on strong in the last few weeks. He had two picks against Dallas and just has the type of energy that meshes well with Philadelphia. After a week off to get healthy and get a better grasp of the defensive scheme, I expect Gardner-Johnson to elevate the secondary to an elite status.

Jalen Hurts

I like putting players on lists for unusual reasons and I think that Hurts is a player to watch out for because he no longer is a worry for the team. In order for fans to stop worrying about Hurts’ ability to be a franchise QB, he had to play well. After 6 weeks, he has played to such a high level that he is almost an afterthought.

We just know what to expect from him, and that is a dynamic dual threat quarterback who calmly and efficiently operates one of the best offenses in the NFL. As long as Hurts plays well, the Eagles will play well.

Quez Watkins

Quez Watkins remains the lone Eagles receiver that has yet to really break out this season. Through 6 games he only has 9 catches for 88 yards, and 1 of those catches, his lone touchdown on the season, went for 53 yards. Quez hasn’t been useless though. His presence alone is enough of a threat to open the field against opponents and he has drawn close to 100 additional yards in pass interference penalties.

Watkins is the 5th option on most offensive plays so there isn’t a lot of opportunity for him, but I believe the talent is there for him to make an impact. The Eagles can really hurt the Steelers secondary with Quez if he’s able to sneak by the defender for a deep pass or two.

Kenny Pickett

Things have not gone so well for the rookie quarterback. The first round selection has appeared in 4 games, starting 3, and has a record of 1-2. The Steelers offense as a whole is not very good and Pickett has had some nice throws but on the whole has played as well as you would expect a rookie on a bad team. Through the air, he has tossed 2 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, with 771 yards.

The road doesn’t get any easier this weekend either against the birds highly vaunted defense. If the Steelers are able to pull out a win, it will be on the arm of Pickett and if the Eagles win, it will be because the defense shut him down.

AP Photo/Duane Burleson