Jacksonville Jaguars @ Philadelphia Eagles: Trevor Lawrence v Jalen Hurts, Travon Walker on display, AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith shining | NFL News



Here are the best plays from two of the dark horses from the NFL this season, the Jaguars and the Eagles, who face each other this Sunday at 6pm on Sky Sports NFL.

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Here are the best plays from two of the dark horses from the NFL this season, the Jaguars and the Eagles, who face each other this Sunday at 6pm on Sky Sports NFL.

Here are the best plays from two of the dark horses from the NFL this season, the Jaguars and the Eagles, who face each other this Sunday at 6pm on Sky Sports NFL.

The Jacksonville Jaguars and Philadelphia Eagles face off on Sunday as two of the NFL’s surprise packages across the opening three weeks of the season, spearheaded by blossoming quarterbacks and high-powered defenses. 

Nick Sirianni’s Eagles play host as the league’s remaining unbeaten team at 3-0 after their blistering start, while the Jaguars are 2-1 and the only team ranked top five in both offense and defense DVOA (opponent-adjusted efficiency) after dismantling the Los Angeles Chargers 38-10 in a Week Three statement victory.

The game will mark the return of Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson to Lincoln Financial Field, where not so long ago he led the Eagles to their sole Super Bowl crown to cap the 2017 season.

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October 2, 2022, 6:00pm

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Trevor Lawrence has arrived

NFL Network's Brian Baldinger breaks down the growth of Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence into his second season in the NFL.

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NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger breaks down the growth of Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence into his second season in the NFL.

NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger breaks down the growth of Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence into his second season in the NFL.

The rookie season of a quarterback warranting Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck-calibre commotion came burdened by a protruding Urban Meyer-shaped asterisk. Rather than parading, perceived generational talent Trevor Lawrence was answering questions from the media surrounding his head coach’s mistakes, while being shoved in the firing line of an incompetent offense he somehow managed to look salvageable at times.

Enter a proven professor to young quarterbacks in Doug Pederson, who in three games has done more for Lawrence and his development than last year’s staff did in the 13 games Meyer was in charge. Lawrence enters Sunday 70 of 111 passing (69.4 per cent) for 772 yards and six touchdowns to one interception, ranking fifth in EPA/play with an upper tier release time, precision velocity and clinical field diagnosis in an offense sitting fifth in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric.

A handsomely-paid receiver tandem of Christian Kirk and Zay Jones, the latter of whom missed practice on Friday, has re-introduced Duval and Lawrence to long-lost separation, while the Jags quarterback himself has thrown just one interception on the year and sacked just twice (tied-fewest with Patrick Mahomes) behind an improved offensive line. It is a new ball game and outlook for a play-caller that can go on to tick every box.

Jalen Hurts defying doubts

Watch some of the best plays by Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts in his three-touchdown game against the Minnesota Vikings.

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Watch some of the best plays by Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts in his three-touchdown game against the Minnesota Vikings.

Watch some of the best plays by Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts in his three-touchdown game against the Minnesota Vikings.

Did somebody say MVP? Surely not… or could he? Don’t be silly… but maybe? There is no deceit to Jalen Hurts’ early season return, which has seen him cash in on one of the NFL’s most complete offenses and rosters by starting the year 66 of 98 passing (67.3 per cent) for 916 yards, four touchdowns and one interception alongside 167 rushing yards for three scores.

For all the questions over whether he could be the driver of Nick Sirianni’s offense, the 2020 second-round pick has gone out and bought his own personalised key ring and number plate. The athleticism and mobility in an RPO world that has become a necessity for young quarterbacks entering the league has been undisputed, and perhaps so too the arm strength. Above all, Hurts has taken a breakthrough leap as a pocket presence and coverage decipherer, helping him on his way to collecting NFC Offensive Player of the Month for September.

“Just the way he’s kind of seeing the field right now,” Sirianni said. “He’s identifying what’s coming, he’s knowing where to go with the football. His accuracy has been really outstanding. I think his numbers speak for itself, where we are at this point in the season. He’s been on it.”

The undrafted gem returns

Check out James Robinson's run for a 50-yard touchdown on 4th and 1 against the Los Angeles Chargers.

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Check out James Robinson’s run for a 50-yard touchdown on 4th and 1 against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Check out James Robinson’s run for a 50-yard touchdown on 4th and 1 against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Between a seemingly-unenamoured Meyer and a late-season Achilles injury, James Robinson’s production declined in 2021 after a record-breaking rookie year that saw him amass the more scrimmage yards than any rookie undrafted free agent in league history.

He teased signs of rediscovering that Draft-value-gazumping form on Sunday with 17 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown in the 38-10 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, marking his first 100-yard game since last season’s Week Five defeat to the Tennessee Titans. Behind the production has been a return of the one-step cut conviction, self-trust and vision, along with the breakaway speed and agility that appeared to be hampered in year two.

Pederson has taken a stale, lifeless offense and spruced it up with motion men, two or three tight end sets and spread-condense variation in view of generating run respect and production, while opening up the field for Lawrence and a more well-oiled menu of route concepts.

Robinson and second-year back Travis Etienne, who missed his entire rookie year through injury, are trending towards an even share of the workload as keys to Pederson’s impetus towards possession-controlling drives.

The Brown-Smith tandem

Jalen Hurts finds DeVonta Smith with a 45-yard pass that Smith hauls in over his shoulder.

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Jalen Hurts finds DeVonta Smith with a 45-yard pass that Smith hauls in over his shoulder.

Jalen Hurts finds DeVonta Smith with a 45-yard pass that Smith hauls in over his shoulder.

The Tennessee Titans opted to trade away AJ Brown during this year’s Draft in anticipation of the high-end contract he was hurtling towards and with the belief a golden age for college wide receivers could help compensate for his departure – I.E. Treylon Burks. It may be too soon to lodge a fair judgement on the logic or success of said approach, but so far this season the Titans’ passing offense has stuttered while the Brown-rich Eagles are ranked fourth in pass DVOA and passing yards per game.

Brown has 20 catches for 309 yards and a touchdown to his name after three outings, and suggested on ‘The Crew’ show this week he is already enjoying his football more in Philly.

“I got a lot of respect for Vrabel (Titans head coach Mike Vrabel), but he’s the (Bill) Belichick way,” said Brown. “Over here, he (Sirianni) lets us have fun and do what we do. Let us express our personality.”

Receiving neighbour DeVonta Smith is meanwhile laughing in the face of queries over his slim frame by way of the playmaking instincts and unerring execution that fuelled his path to the Heisman Trophy in college. He has 15 receptions for 249 yards and a touchdown after logging a career-best eight catches for 169 yards and a score last time out against the Washington Commanders. The route running is poetic, the aerial command and control size-defiant.

Mr No 1 pick

There had been an over-exhausted joke doing the rounds this offseason that Travon Walker was the least talked-about No 1 overall Draft pick of social media-juiced years gone by. He heard, and translated the stunting agility, alignment flexibility and selfless trap-laying of Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs defense into disruption as an alpha to Mike Caldwell’s athletic defense.

He has jolted inside as a run-wrecker and bailed into coverage, pushed pockets with power and invaded backfields with first-step burst and slide. Fellow first-round arrival and Defensive Rookie of the Month Devin Lloyd has been just as impressive, if not even more impactful, with 24 tackles, six pass defenses and two interceptions as the Jags’ next off-ball linebacker stalwart, the Utah product serving as an advocate for the three-cone drill with his instant change in direction and accompanying football IQ, with which he shuts down runners and sees through the cobwebs of crossing route disguises.

The Jaguars defense sits third in EPA/play (-0.176) while coming out of Week Three fourth in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA, a department in which they ranked bottom-five in each of the last three seasons. Their speed and fluidity against that of the Eagles offense ranked third in EPA/play is quite the matchup.

The Jacksonville Jaguars made defensive lineman Travon Walker the first pick of the NFL Draft.

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The Jacksonville Jaguars made defensive lineman Travon Walker the first pick of the NFL Draft.

The Jacksonville Jaguars made defensive lineman Travon Walker the first pick of the NFL Draft.

TE1 on display?

During the Thursday Night Football broadcast, Tony Gonzalez, the greatest tight end in NFL history for some, referred to the Eagles’ Dallas Goedert as the best tight end currently in the league. For some time that discussion has been governed by Travis Kelce and George Kittle, with Darren Waller and Mark Andrews throwing their hat into the ring and Kyle Pitts well on his way towards doing so, all of whom point to one another as the leader of the pack, such is the brotherhood that is the tight end community.

Gonzalez dared to buck the trend, and you are intrigued to see how it plays out within a rampant Eagles offense led by a blossoming Hurts. Goedert has 11 catches from 14 targets for 168 yards and a touchdown so far in 2022, as well as being third in yards per route and first in tight end yards after catch in what could evolve into a breakout season, having had to wait three-and-a-half years for the lead job behind Zach Ertz.

“It was cool to be here behind Zach for a while but now it’s my time,” Goedert said recently. “I want to take full advantage of it.”

Watch the Jacksonville Jaguars @ Philadelphia Eagles live on Sky Sports NFL this Sunday, with kickoff at 6pm following the New Orleans Saints against the Minnesota Vikings at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.





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