Philadelphia Eagles-New York Jets: Four Things to Watch For in Thursday Night Preseason Finale

By noahweintraub
The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets are been having a preseason that has given the team’s fan-base nightmares. Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan is hoping that Geno Smith looks much better against the Philadelphia Eagles than he did Saturday night.

The Eagles new Head Coach Chip Kelly has Michael Vick looking like he is primed for a bounce-back season. They are hoping that their defense can shut down the terrible Jets offense.

This will be an interesting game to see how much both teams have improved since last season. The starters will be playing for two quarters at most, but that does not mean there are no storylines to watch for.

1.Will Smith be able to rebound from his disastrous Saturday night start against the New York Giants?

On Saturday night, Smith completed 16-of-30 passes for 199 yards. He also threw one touchdown, three interceptions and stepped out of bounds at the back of the end zone for a safety. Three of the interceptions were within 12 passes, which is inexcusable for any NFL quarterback. Smith is battling incumbent quarterback Mark Sanchez for the starting position, and he will need a much better performance against the Eagles to win the job. During numerous press conferences, Ryan has praised Smith’s performance in training camp. If Smith wants to win the quarterback job outright, then he will need to have a performance similar to what Tom Brady did on August 9. Brady completed 7-of-8 passes for 65 yards, threw a touchdown and no interceptions.

2.  Can the Jets defensive line improve their pressure against opposing quarterbacks?

On Saturday night, the Jets defensive line recorded three sacks. The sacks were by projected starter Sheldon Richardson and two projected backups Tevita Finau and Leger Douzable. This is impressive considering that projected starter Kenrick Ellis did not play due to a back injury. Last season, the Jets tied for 25th in sacks with 30.0. The defensive line needs to increase their pressure on the opposing quarterback to force errant throws. They are facing Vick who is prone to making mistakes when he faces a lot of pressure. If the Jets defensive line can produce a lot of pressure against him they will be heading in the right direction.

3. Can Vick continue to make strides toward a season that is similar to 2010?

In 2010, Vick had a great season despite only starting 12 games. He threw 21 touchdowns and only six interceptions as he led the Eagles to a playoff berth. Since then, he has struggled tremendously due to a terrible offensive line and injuries. The team’s new head coach is allowing Vick to play the kind of football that he is notorious for. When Vick is given time in the pocket, he makes the defense pay for it through the air or on the ground. He will face a tough challenge against the Jets secondary that ranked second in opposing passing yards allowed per game. If he can do well against the opposing secondary, then he is well on his way to a bounce-back season.

4.  Can the atrocious Eagles secondary look great against a rookie quarterback, Smith?

Last season, the Eagles defense gave up 33 touchdowns compared to eight interceptions. The offense faced a lot of pressure to score because the defense was giving up so many points. The team’s new Defensive Coordinator, Billy Davis, is switching the defense from a 4-3 to a 3-4. Davis has coached a 3-4 defense for different head coaches, such as Wade Phillips, Dom Capers and Mike Nolan. The team’s secondary is weak after they lost two starters from last season and have had three back ups sustain injuries this preseason. The Eagles secondary will get an ‘easy’ match-up as they face a team with weak quarterbacks, including Smith. If the Eagles secondary can do a great job covering the Jets receivers, then they have a chance to be an average secondary.

Noah Weintraub is a New York Jets contributing writer for Follow him on Twitter @NoahWeintraublike him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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