When the Jets face the Eagles on Sunday, all eyes will be on one crucial game:
The Jets ‘defensive front seven tries to curb the Eagles’ league’s best rushing attack.
Last week, Robert Saleh challenged the Jets’ offensive line to dominate the line of scrimmage against the Texans – and they responded by rushing to 157 yards.
This week’s obstacle is much greater.
The Eagles produce 158 yards rushing per game. They’ve been burning hot over the last three games, averaging 222.
“This is a team that is conscious in the way they want to play football,” Saleh said.
Unfortunately for the Jets, they are one of the worst running backs in the NFL. They allow 128.7 yards on the ground, which is the 27th most. In nine of their 11 games, the unit allowed over 100 yards rushing.
Last time the Jets met a heavy running team, the Colts allowed the 260 rushing yards.
The problem starts with Eagles QB Jalen Hurts, which is a dynamic double threat. Hurts suffered a foot injury in the Eagles’ 13-7 loss to the Giants. But Hurts told reporters Wednesday that he should be ready to go.
“You see an incredible offensive line. A lot of creativity from the coordinator. A quarterback who is dynamic with the ball in his hands and he is always a threat to run,” Saleh said. “When the quarterback is involved in the running game, you create a extra hole. It will be 11-on-11 football. ”
The Hurts are fixtures in their offensive offense, leading the team in rushing with 695 yards, which is second-most for a quarterback, and has a team-high eight touchdowns. Hurts have also thrown 13 touchdowns through the air.
At least 341 of Hurts’ yardage was created through designed runs, which is the most for a quarterback according to Next Gen Stats. The Eagles have Hurts with reading opportunities and power runs.
The Eagles’ rushing attack opens up for Run-Pass-Option play, and the Hurts have 632 passing yards from the RPO, which is second most.
They also run counters, traps, somersaults and bug fixes with QB readings. When they pull the guard and tackle on powerplay, it can cause problems for the Jets defensive line, who attack up the field at every snap. The counters could catch the Jets unit out of position and cause the offensive lineman to lock onto Jet linebackers.
But Saleh will not change the approach to the defensive attack.
“It does not change our style in terms of trying to attack and create new lines of scrimmage,” Saleh said. “With just the understanding that you have to keep your head on a swivel and understand that their running game and their blocking can come from all directions.”
It does not only hurt. Running backs Miles Sanders, Boston Scott and Jordan Howard also contribute to the dominant rushing attack – in four games, they got 458, 258 and 274 on four playing yards respectively.
The Eagles’ offensive line is excellent with their double team to create running lanes on inside zone runs for their running backs. That’s why they lead the league in rushing yards.
So the Jets’ interior linemen Quinnen Williams, Sheldon Rankins and Folorunso Fatukasi will have a gigantic responsibility on Sunday.
“You see the way they run the ball, a lot of doubles inside, and they hang on to the doubles,” Sheldon said. “So guys have to be strong inside. Guys have to be focused and make an effort for those blocks, because if you lose focus for a second, you’ll be driven by the ball three, four, five yards. And those are scenes that we do not. “And when they find those scenes, they’re home runs, so it’s definitely going to be a big burden for the guys inside.”
The reason the inner lineman needs to raise their playing level is because of how dominant the Eagles are out of 11 men. They have rushed for 1,895 yards on the season, but 1,183 yards and 10 touchdowns have come out of this grouping, most in the NFL.
The grouping prevents the defense from filling up with an 8-man box to stop the run. And along with the Eagles simply a good offensive line, it creates a favorable situation for them.
“It’s their ability to operate in an RPO system, they can get the QB zone reading system, they are o-line is really good,” Saleh said. “They got so much speed on the outside that they can make room and they can get the safety pulled back … Jalen, I just think he’s a kind of piece that puts it all together with his ability to go out again over the schedule and he can carry the ball. ”
The Eagles want to spread defense and attack lighter boxes. That’s why the Eagles have 298 carries, most in the NFL, against light and neutral boxes. It’s hard to fill up with eight men’s boxes when the Eagles are in 11th.
In Week 13, the Jets face the toughest ground attack they have seen since Thursday Night Football. Their running defense may rather show up for their own sake.