PHILADELPHIA, PA –
The Eagles (2-1) travel to Tennessee for a match-up against the Titans (2-1). Here’s what to watch for in this week’s matchup:
1. Wentz’ Return Part II – Carson Wentz was far from perfect in his return from injury last week. With the rust knocked off last week, Carson needs to be sharp this week. Wentz was sacked 5 times last week. At first glance, it looked as if the line needs to protect him better, however after re-watching the game it became clear that Wentz was not getting through his projections quickly or missing the open receiver. Hopefully, the return of Jay Ajayi (see below) and the possible return of Eagles #1 WR Alshon Jeffery allow Wentz to get his groove back.
2. Jay Ajayi Back – Jay Train is not quite 100% but he will return this week. Ajayi missed last week’s game with a back injury and it came out this week that he has a small fracture in his back that he plans to play through. The Eagles will likely take it easy with Ajayi and not give him a full workload of carries. The Eagles’ depth at running back will make this an easy decision. Ajayi will continue to split carries with Corey Clement and last week’s standout Wendell Smallwood.
3. Safety Depth – The Eagles will be without one of their leaders on the back end. Rodney McLeod left last week’s game with a knee injury and we found out mid-week that he will most likely miss the season with a torn MCL. This will force backup Corey Graham into a full-time role at safety and limit the Eagles from playing their three-safety defense that Jim Schwartz has grown fond of the past two seasons. It will be interesting to see what units the defense rolls out this week. Will we see some Rasual Douglas at safety? Does the McLeod injury force Malcolm Jenkins back to being a deep safety more often? We shall see.
4. Containing Mariota – Just a few years ago our fanbase was torn on if we should “Do the Deal.” The deal was from then Chip Kelly’s Eagles to trade up to the 2nd overall pick in order to draft Marcus Mariota. One thing is for sure, thankfully we did not do the deal. Mariota has been hampered with injuries and has had an up and down start to his career. He enters this week a little banged up with an elbow injury that has made it difficult for him to grip the ball. Look for the Eagles defense to try and keep Mariota in the pocket and not allow him to escape and make a play with his legs. Mariota has had issues with fumbles throughout his career and that may continue this week with the pressure that he’ll be under from the Eagles D-line.
5. Dion Lewis – The Titans will feature a familiar foe this week, as the Eagles will once again see RB Dion Lewis, just as they did in Super Bowl 52. Lewis was limited to 39 yards rushing and held without a catch in the Super Bowl. The Eagles used versatile safety Malcolm Jenkins often in coverage against Lewis in the Super Bowl. The Eagles will likely go with a similar gameplan. If Lewis gets matched up with one of the Eagles linebackers, look for the Titans to exploit that match-up.
The Eagles’ fans have invaded Nashville this week. For those of you watching at home, tune in to FOX at 1:00 pm to catch the game. You can also follow the action and join the conversation as we live tweet on Twitter: @BirdsInformer during the game.