Philadelphia, your Eagles are back!! For the first time since the magical Super Bowl season of 2017, your birds sit in the top 5 of the power rankings. Right now Eagles are sitting at no 3 in the power rankings and atop the NFC EAST at 3-0. Just like in 17, the franchise has a young QB in his second full season as a starter who is taking the league by storm. Jalen Hurts was just named NFC offensive player of the month and is playing at an MVP-type level so far. The Jaguars bring Philly their biggest test this season.
Hurts so far has a QBR of 74.7, a completion percentage of 67.3, 916 yards passing, and 4 TDs. He’s also a dominant force on the ground as he’s rushed for 3 TDs as well. Hurts, Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson, and Buffalo’s Josh Allen appear to be the top 3 in the MVP race so far. Just as in 17, the team has a 2nd year coach who seems to have the pulse of the team. The 2022 Eagles are extremely strong on both lines of scrimmage, same as the SB year. It’s early in the season, but the sky is the limit for this team if they can limit the number of injuries.
Doug Pederson On the Other Sideline
Ironically, the next test comes in the form of the man who brought the city its only Superbowl, Doug Pederson. Doug’s tenure ended pretty abruptly after a disastrous season in 2020, but his time here was extremely successful. He compiled a 42-37-1 overall record. Doug took the team to the playoffs in 3 of the 5 seasons with 2 division titles. Of course the greatest accomplishment of them outcoaching arguably the greatest coach of all time in the Super Bowl, Bill Bellichek.
The Philly special call will go down as one of the greatest calls in SB history. The man has a statue of him and Foles outside of the Linc. Everyone talks about the Philly special play call, but Doug pushed the petal to the metal all game long. Doug going for it on 4th down in the 4th quarter in his own territory on the final TD drive is a testament to that. I firmly believe that if the Eagles punt the ball, they lose the football game. Doug P’s aggressive nature is one of the main reasons the Eagles were world champions. I’m sure he’ll get a warm greeting on Sunday as he brings his Jaguars to town.
The Jacksonville Turnaround
The Jaguars come to town as a mostly long-time hapless franchise. To put it in perspective, when Pederson won his 2nd game last week, he became the 5th all-time winningest coach in franchise history. The longest run of success the Jags had was in the late 90s under Tom Coughlin. The last time they had any relevance was in 2017 when they made the AFC Championship game. They lost a halftime lead in New England in which the coach went very conservative with the gameplan in the second half. Doug Pederson mentioned that game in his book after he won the Super Bowl as an example of how not to beat the greatest coach and QB of all time.
The Jaguars sit atop the AFC South with a 2-1 record. That’s a far cry from the last 2 seasons of 4 wins combined. The Jags come in as the only team in the NFL with a top 5 offense and top 5 defense so far. The Jags beat the Chargers last week in LA 38-10 and shut out the Colts 24-0 in week 2. It appears Doug Pederson has made his mark on the franchise already. With all the losses, the Jags have added a lot of high draft picks. The Jags are led by second-year QB Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence had a very rocky rookie season, but in all fairness, he was coming off of shoulder surgery, and the Urben Meyer coaching experiment failed miserably.
The Jaguars Weapons Bring Philly a Big Challenge
This season Lawrence has looked much more like the highly touted prospect from Clemson. He comes to Philly ranked 6th in QBR at 71.1, 7th in completion percentage at 69.4, 772 yards, and 6 TDs. Those are the numbers but ask a Jags fan, and they’ll tell you that the eye test tells you this is a much more confident guy than last season. It helps that the front office went out and signed WR Christan Kirk from the Cardinals, TE Even Engram from the Giants, and WR Zay Jones.
The Jags also have a very good running game. James Robinson and Travis Etienne JR, who was injured last year and played with Lawrence at Clemson, have been very effective. The Jaguars also signed OG Brandon Scherff from Washington, which really solidified the offensive line. The Eagles will have their hands full with the 5th ranked offense in football on Sunday.
Defensively the Jaguars come in 7th in total defense. They have a roster full of young talent from the last couple of drafts, and new defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell has made a huge difference. They have added such talent in edge rusher Josh Allen and LB Devin Lloyd. The Eagles will need to protect the ball as the Jags come in with the no 1 turnover differential at +7, and they are 5th in points allowed at 12.7. The Jags are no 1 vs. the run, but you can throw on them. They are 21st against the pass. Expect a lot of AJ Brown and Smith on Sunday.
Jags vs. Eagles Match Up
The Eagles come into this game a little banged up. Darius Slay and Davante Smith each missed practice on Wednesday. For the Jags, CB Shaquill Griffin was limited. As of now, it appears these guys will play, but we’ll see if the injuries hamper any of them. Look for the Eagles to definitely go after a wounded Griffin. Defensively the Eagles will have to contain the Jaguars’ two-headed running game and find a way to limit Lawrence escaping the pocket.
The key matchup will be the Eagles DTs vs. Scherff and the Eagles corners vs. Kirk and Zay Jones. The Jags are tough to run against, so they’ll be strength against strength. Look for Hurts to make some plays with some read-option runs. AJ Brown should be able to get his vs. the Jags as he knows them extremely well from his days in Tennessee. Doug Pederson and the Jaguars bring Philly their biggest test this season. Or possibly the jaguars could bring Philly even more confidence with a victory.
My passion for sports began at 8 years old when I won Sixers tickets at a father and son night. Since then, Saturdays meant Notre Dame football, and Sundays were for the Eagles. My passion continues to this day, and I have the great privilege of hosting the Sully Squad on Monday nights and the Old School Show on Friday Nights.