Week 6 of the 2023 NFL season is here and this week the New York Jets are back home at MetLife Stadium to host the Philadelphia Eagles. Philadelphia enters this matchup as one of the two remaining undefeated teams while the Jets look to build off their road win last week in Denver.
Today let’s take a look at the Jets’ keys to victory, x-factors, and biggest matchups to watch.
6 Notes Heading into Jets vs Eagles
Jets Offensive Key: Capitalize in the Red Zone
The New York Jets offense led by Zach Wilson has been a main storyline throughout the entire season. Last week especially after the Jets let Zach Wilson rip it on Sunday Night Football against the Chiefs. Despite the loss, Wilson showed lots of positives however, last week in Denver it was a mixed bag. He was good enough for the Jets to come away with a 31-21 victory but, one area specifically needs to be better and that is the red zone.
After going 2-3 in the red zone against Kansas City, the Jets and Wilson went 0-5 in the red zone on Sunday against Denver. These red zone struggles came against one of the worst defenses in football. That needs to change this week. The Jets’ only offensive touchdown came from Breece Hall who had a 72-yard rushing touchdown.
Coming into this game, the Eagles rank second in total offense. This means the Jets won’t be able to outscore Philadelphia’s high-powered offense with field goals. Often this season, the Jets have thrown short of the end zone forcing them to settle for field goals. This week, Wilson, when inside the red zone, needs to take shots to the end zone. They have to prioritize getting the ball to playmakers like Garrett Wilson and Tyler Conklin who have been open inside the 20.
The Eagles enter this matchup with red zone defense being a weakness, allowing opponents to score at a 75% rate when in the red zone this season. If the Jets can take advantage of this weakness, it will go a long way in upsetting the Eagles at home.
Jets Defensive Key: Start Fast
When you look at this Jets defense this season, it has been the tale of two halves in most games. In the first half of games, this defense has struggled early on while in the second half of games, they’ve turned it around and played at a much higher level. They do deserve credit for making in-game adjustments and finishing games strong like last week but these slow starts can’t continue.
Coming out of last week, the Jets have now been outscored 37-5 in the first quarter of games this season. Additionally, they have been outscored 74-36 in the first half of games this season. It is huge, especially in games like this Sunday where the Jets enter as large underdogs at home against Jalen Hurts and the Eagles, for them to come out of the gate strong is pivotal.
Robert Saleh and his staff must have this defense and the team as a whole ready to play right away. While last week was nice outscoring the Broncos 23-8 in the second half, you can’t rely on comebacks every week. Starting strong also benefits the offense by allowing them to get into a rhythm playing tied or ahead rather than from behind early on in games.
Jets Offensive X-Factor: Breece Hall
For the second week in a row, all eyes will be on Breece Hall as he looks to build on a dominant performance from a week ago. In his return to Denver for the first time since his ACL injury, Hall had 22 carries for 177 yards and one touchdown. He averaged eight yards per carry which, through five games, puts him at 7.2 yards per carry for the season.
Last week, the Jets unleashed Hall and he was on full display. This week, look for the same as an encore. Despite being limited in the first four games of the season averaging only eight carries per game during that period, Breece Hall still ranks sixth in the NFL in rushing yards with 387 on the young season.
Breece Hall versus the Eagles’ run defense is one of the biggest matchups to watch in this game. Philadelphia enters this matchup first in run defense allowing only 61.2 rush yards per game. If the Jets feed Hall early on and he finds a groove, you like your chances in this one if you’re the New York Jets.
Jets Defensive X-Factor: Linebackers
The New York Jets will have their hands full on defense going up against Jalen Hurts and his ability to make plays with his arm and his legs. One of the struggles for the Jets has been their ability to stop mobile quarterbacks. This week, they will have a huge test against Hurts and the linebackers could be a key in stopping him.
Hurts currently ranks 10th in the NFL in passing yards and is tied for first among quarterbacks in rushing touchdowns with four. He is tied with rookie Anthony Richardson and Lamar Jackson. The Jets’ passing defense has been very good in containing top quarterbacks this season. They have held Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Russell Wilson to their worst pass-graded games of the season.
However, the struggles have come when quarterbacks are on the move against New York. This week, expect the Jets to place a quarterback spy on Hurts to try and contain his rushing ability. One player specifically comes to mind and that is Quincy Williams who has had a monster season so far. The Jets linebackers, if tasked with spying Hurts, need to step up in a big way.
Jets Offensive Matchup To Watch: Jets Offensive Line vs Eagles Defensive Line
Just as the Jets offensive line was finding a groove, it suffered a brutal injury on Sunday in Denver. Alijah Vera-Tucker suffered a torn Achilles and is now done for the year; this is his second season-ending injury in a row. Both injuries came against the Broncos on the road in Denver. Even with this devastating injury to the offensive line, the Jets can’t stand around upset, the next-man-up mentality needs to come through in a big way, especially against the Eagles.
For the time being, it will most likely be second-year tackle Max Mitchell taking over for the injured Vera-Tucker. However, that doesn’t rule out the possibility of the Jets signing a free agent to come in and play. The Jets have already worked out La’el Collins and now only time will tell if a move is made. This week, this unit for the Jets needs to step up in a big way against one of the best fronts in football.
The Eagles are coming off a historic 70-sack campaign last year which broke their previous team record and fell only two short of the 1984 Chicago Bears who hold the NFL record with 72 sacks. Although rookie Jalen Carter will miss this week’s matchup, Philadelphia will still roll out a huge pass-rushing piece in Haason Reddick. To put it simply, the Jets will have their work cut out for them up front.
Jets Defensive Matchup To Watch: Jets Defensive Line vs The ‘Tush Push’
One of the most talked about plays in the NFL this season has been the Eagles’ ‘tush push’ play also known by many as the ‘brotherly shove’. Whether or not you feel this play should or should not be allowed, that’s a different conversation for another time. Either way, Nick Sirianni and the Eagles have found something that has worked at an incredibly high rate.
Last week against the Los Angeles Rams, the Eagles converted four of six push plays. When you look at the entire season, they have converted 13 of 16 for either a first down or touchdown which is a 81.3% success rate. So how exactly do you stop it? No one knows. However, every week, the opponent has tried to figure out the solution. Do the Jets have what it takes this week?
Robert Saleh feels one of the reasons the play is so tough to defend is because the Eagles run it while up-tempo. The Jets would like to have six defensive linemen in the game but it is tough to substitute those players in during no-huddle situations. Saleh stated his plan “If the quarterback carries the ball, we’ve got to give him 11 kisses.” Only time will tell if the Jets can find an answer the rest of the league hasn’t found yet, and that is stopping the ‘tush push’.
Eagles win 24-20.
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