New York Jets players who have a chance to thrive against Philadelphia
Based on the preseason performances of various second and third-team players across the Philadelphia Eagles’ roster (as the Eagles’ starters are not expected to play), here are a few New York Jets players who could have a juicy matchup in front of them on Friday night.
Jets DT Tanzel Smart vs. Eagles IOL Ross Pierschbacher
Ross Pierschbacher (#66) is a third-string interior offensive lineman for the Eagles who was drafted in the third round of the 2019 NFL draft by Washington.
Pierschbacher has played 35 snaps for the Eagles this preseason, appearing at center (23 snaps), right guard (7 snaps), and left guard (5 snaps). He has been a liability. Pierschbacher’s overall Pro Football Focus grade of 46.1 ranks at the 14th percentile among qualified offensive linemen so far.
Tanzel Smart will have the opportunity to continue his red-hot preseason. Smart’s combined total of seven stops and pressures is tied with Jeremiah Valoaga for the team lead. He also has zero missed tackles and has blown up a number of plays without getting statistical credit.
Jets CBs Javelin Guidry and Michael Carter II vs. Eagles WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (#19) has played a number of different roles at wide receiver for the Eagles this preseason, playing both inside and outside while rotating between the left and right sides of the field.
Nearly half of Arcega-Whiteside’s snaps have come in the slot (43.3%). That would give him a lot of time against one or both of Javelin Guidry and Michael Carter II, the Jets’ two competitors for the starting slot cornerback role.
A 2019 second-round pick who has struggled to the tune of 10.6 receiving yards per game over 24 appearances, Arcega-Whiteside’s silence has carried over into this preseason. He has yet to catch a ball over two games, with both passes thrown his way falling incomplete.
Neither Guidry nor Carter II has allowed a completion for a first down in the preseason so far. Look for them to take advantage of their reps against Arcega-Whiteside and continue their lockdown coverage in those instances.
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Jets CBs Brandin Echols and Isaiah Dunn vs. Eagles WR Travis Fulgham
The Eagles have not seen much promise out of their young wide receivers this preseason. Travis Fulgham (#13) joins Arcega-Whiteside as another 25-and-under receiver who has yet to snag a pass. Fulgham has been unable to separate this preseason, drawing zero targets over 23 routes run.
Standing at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, Fulgham is primarily an outside receiver. He has lined up on the outside for 88% of his snaps this preseason.
That should give Fulgham plenty of battles against Brandin Echols and Isaiah Dunn, the Jets’ two biggest standouts at the outside cornerback position among their non-starters throughout the offseason.
Lamar Jackson and Jason Pinnock could also see some battles against Fulgham, but it looks like Echols and Dunn are in the lead to secure the top backup roles on the outside. Fulgham is a favorable matchup for the two rookies to impress and nail down their spots as second-team corners.
Jets SS J.T. Hassell vs. Eagles QB Nick Mullens
Former 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens (#10) has been a turnover machine in the preseason. He has tossed three picks over just 15 pass attempts in two games.
Jets safety J.T. Hassell has had a strong training camp and preseason in which he has shown a nose for the football. Hassell had a forced fumble against Green Bay and has made quite a few big plays on the practice field throughout the offseason.
Hassell is a strong candidate for the Jets’ practice squad, but if he can victimize Mullens for a takeaway, perhaps he can convince the Jets to find a spot for him on the 53-man roster.
Jets WR Vyncint Smith vs. Eagles CB Zech McPhearson
Fourth-round rookie Zech McPhearson (#27) has been shredded in coverage this preseason. He has allowed 7-of-9 passes in his direction to be completed for 73 yards. Nearly all of his work has come on the outside (95% of snaps).
Vyncint Smith is a man who could take advantage. Smith has been one of the Jets’ most effective and most used receivers on the outside, playing 39 total snaps at outside receiver (making up 83% of his offensive snaps).
This is a big game for Smith. He needs a strong performance to make a convincing case for a roster spot in a Jets wide receiver room that is filled to the brim with the talent.
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Jets TEs Chris Herndon and Tyler Kroft vs. Eagles LB Rashad Smith
A second-year linebacker who went undrafted out of Florida Atlantic in 2020, Rashad Smith (#53) has been sputtering in coverage for Philadelphia. Smith has allowed 5-of-6 passes in his direction to be completed for 56 yards. He also has two missed tackles and a penalty.
Kroft is looking to build on his standout performance in Green Bay, where he turned two targets into two 18-yard touchdowns.
Herndon is still looking for his first standout play as a receiver. He has caught both passes thrown his way for a combined 14 yards and is blocking well, but has yet to show off flashes of the talent that excited Jets fans in his 2018 rookie season.
Jets RB Michael Carter vs. Eagles LB Shaun Bradley
Second-year linebacker Shaun Bradley (#54) was a sixth-round pick of the Eagles in 2020.
The Temple product has been a missed tackle extraordinaire. He leads all defensive players in the NFL with seven missed tackles this preseason.
Jets running back Michael Carter could use this matchup to show off his special elusiveness. He ranked sixth in college football with 47 missed tackles forced in 2020 and is already translating that ability to the NFL. Carter is tied for 11th among running backs this preseason with five missed tackles forced.