Stop Maurice Jones-Drew: Philadelphia Eagles’ First Big Test
The Jacksonville Jaguars lost to the New York Jets, but surprised them with 231 yards in the first half against the Jets’ starting defense on 41 plays – good for 5.6 yards per play. The Jets defense was caught unaware, thinking that the Jaguars would be the same feeble team from the past, but there are some differences.
A new coaching staff, a desire to go fast like Ricky Bobby and some key players back from injury are all the ingredients to shake things up this year in central Florida.
The current trend in the NFL is sliding like an avalanche towards the fast-reaction, college-style game, and Chip Kelly and his Philadelphia Eagles will certainly comply. This Saturday, in Jacksonville, the referees will scurry around when the Eagles take on the Jags.
The Jaguars, as always, will lean heavily tonight on Maurice Jones- Drew. This will be an excellent test for the defense, and my main concern.
He always ran with a bundle of energy and power, moving east and west with a chip on his shoulder. When healthy, he can make defenders miss badly. Will this new adapting 3-4 defense be able to get to him?
It will depend a lot on Isaac Sopoaga to stuff the run, and Patrick Chung to continue where he began with the Carolina Panthers last week. Chung has to make those quick decisions because Jones-Drew can change directions in a flash.
We will see how quick the linebackers are against this eight-year veteran, and if they can get to him before he finds open territory. Last game, guys like Michaul Kendricks and Connor Barwin were neutralizers; tonight needs to be no different.
It is the running game that worries me and stopping it will be crucial. I already expect Nate Allen to miss tackles (as always), Cary Williams to blow some coverages and Bradley Fletcher to play uninspiringly average. With any hope, Chad Henne will fail to get the ball to his top receivers on his own.
The battle will be in the trenches tonight and cutting off the edges for Jones-Drew. If that part isn’t stuffed, then suddenly the receiver corps will have an easy day against an already shaky secondary.
It starts up front with stopping the run. The test for Billy Davis’s squad, and the determining factor of who stays on the team, is just that. However, Jones-Drew is preparing to crush some of their hopes.
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