Your in-depth Eagles vs. Jaguars Week 8 from London preview

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles are heading to London for the first time and are in dire need of a win before heading into a much-needed bye.

Standing in the way are the Jacksonville Jaguars and like the Birds, they’re 3-4 after being in the final four last year.


PHI- 99.6 PASSER RATING (11/32), 260 YPG (15/32)

Carson Wentz, who completed 15 straight passes at one point against Carolina on Sunday, finished 30-of-37 for 310 yards and two touchdowns. For three quarters, he was phenomenal, but what everyone was talking about Monday was the 3rd-and-2 he missed to Wendell Smallwood in the left flat.

Sometimes you just have to take what’s there and get the new fresh set of downs.

Alshon Jeffery will be going against All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey, which will be the best individual match-up we’ll see Sunday. Ramsey has surrendered just 18 catches for 226 yards and a touchdown on 35 targets. The big-bodied Jeffery showcased the entire repertoire against Carolina. He toe-tapped beautifully on a 4th-and-5, defenders miss after the catch, snatched the ball effortlessly on his vintage back-shoulder targets and found the end zone. Jeffery hauled in seven receptions for 88 yards and a score.

Ertz recorded his third consecutive 100-yard receiving game. He caught nine balls for 138 yards.

Jeffery and Ertz have been phenomenal in recent weeks, but they’ve received over 50 percent of Wentz’s targets. Groh discussed if the ball should be spread around more.

“You raise two really good points. We’ve got two guys that have playing at a very high level and they have been productive and have been getting the ball. Carson [Wentz] has got a lot of trust in those guys and they have been getting themselves open. I think we did a good job of spreading the ball around. [TE] Dallas [Goedert] had some good catches down the field the other day, but we need to continue to do that and keep everybody involved. I do think that that helps every offense stay balanced and keeps the defense honest.”

I thought the pass protection was better from the offensive line, even though they finished with four sacks allowed. I still think Jason Peters is struggling and it’s bad enough that I’d seriously consider replacing him with Big V. Unlike previous weeks where Wentz was constantly harassed, he had time to scan the field and was finding Jeffery and Ertz consistently.

PHI- 4.0 YPC (23/32), 102.9 YPG (21/32)
JAX- 4.2 YPC ALLOWED (12/32), 121.9 YPG ALLOWED (25/32)

Not only did the Eagles’ defense collapse in the fourth quarter against Carolina, Doug Pederson ditched his running game. The running backs totaled just 55 yards on 21 carries. The fourth was when 13 passes were called compared to only one run. There were many instances last season when the Eagles would go on a long time-consuming drive with LeGarratte Blount punishing worn-down defenses in the final frame, but they just don’t have that luxury at the moment.

When asked if Pederson trusts his running game he said he did. When asked why running the ball wasn’t the approach in the fourth quarter, here was his answer.

Let me ask you to block 700-pound men sometimes. It’s not because of lack of effort. It’s not because of scheme. Listen, they get paid over there, they being the defense, get paid a lot, Carolina, to make plays on us. When it breaks down, it breaks down. You run the ball on a first-and-10, and you lose two, you’re second-and-12. Next thing you know, you go a little RPO pass or a play-action pass, you get sacked, you’re third-and-18. Those are all breakdowns that we need to correct and we need to fix.

It’s not that I lose confidence in the run game. It’s not that at all. I got a lot of confidence in the run game. We all have confidence in that O-line room. Those guys are good, really good, and they’re talented and the [running] backs are talented.

It’s still an aggressive mentality when I run, and it’s still an aggressive mentality when I throw. It’s always going to maintain that. We’re always going to maintain that aggressiveness. I have no lack of confidence whatsoever in our run game.

Wendell Smallwood carried the ball nine times for just 32 yards and Corey Clement an even worse eight times for a measly six yards. Josh Adams looked like the best of the three, totaling 17 yards on four totes. Maybe he gets some more work this Sunday in London.

PHI- 92.5 PASSER RATING ALLOWED (17/32), 270 YPG ALLOWED (24/32)
JAX- 80.2 PASSER RATING (27/32), 256 YPG (18/32)

Is Philadelphia going to see the Good Blake or Bad Blake?

Malcolm Jenkins took a shot at Blake Bortles earlier this week, saying that Colin Kaepernick deserves a job in Jacksonville.

“I can turn on the tape this week of our opponent [the Jacksonville Jaguars] and see that Colin Kaepernick deserves a job.”

Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone likes Bortles’ toughness.

“The No. 1 thing about him is his toughness. You see what he does running the football, which is overlooked, and he can get you out of things with his feet. The amount of hits he’s taken, the amount of criticism he gets on a weekly basis, he just takes it and keeps going. He knows the deal: If he wins, people say nice things. If not, they kick the s— out of him.”

Bortles has been horrendous recently. He was benched in Jacksonville’s 20-7 loss against Houston and has been responsible for eight turnovers in the Jags’ past three games. With that being said, Bortles has had a lot of success in London.

While Bortles has taken a lot of the heat, injuries have decimated Jacksonville’s offense. Second-year running back Leonard Fournette has been dealing with a hamstring injury all season long and thus, there’s been no identity offensively. Marqise Lee was lost for the season in Week 1 with a knee injury and left tackle Cam Robinson suffered the same fate in a victory against New England. To make matters worse, his replacement Josh Wells is on injured reserve with a groin injury. Tight ends Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Niles Paul are also on IR.


PHI- 4.5 YPC ALLOWED (21/32), 85.7 YPG ALLOWED (2/32)
JAX- 4.3 YPC (17/32), 98.6 YPG (23/32)

Fournette’s prolonged absence from that hamstring injury spurred Jags general manager Dave Caldwell to send a fifth-round pick over to Cleveland for running back Carlos Hyde. He’ll make his Jacksonville debut on Sunday. It is believed that Fournette will make his return against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 10.

Like Fournette, Hyde is a downhill, physical back. Hyde’s physicality will allow Jacksonville to get back to the smash-mouth football it likes to implement. Here’s what Hyde had to say about his running style.

“I run angry, downhill, smash-mouth football. That’s been my game ever since I started playing this game, so I think I’ll fit in perfect here.”

He definitely fits what the Jags like to do.

Both teams are desperate for a win and the Jaguars do seem to play better in London, but I don’t see enough offensive firepower on Jacksonville’s side for it to move the ball consistently. Eagles will win even if it doesn’t look pretty. Just get back to Philly at 4-4 heading into the bye.

Eagles 20-9


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