The Jacksonville Jaguars head to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles to begin the 2014 NFL season. It's a game in which most think the Jaguars don't have a chance, but there are some key match ups that will likely determine how the game goes for Jacksonville.
Let's take a look at a key match up on both sides of the ball.
When the Jaguars are on offense
The key to the Jaguars having success against the Eagles defense lies on the right arm of Chad Henne. The Eagles don't have the best secondary in the league by any stretch, though they did add safety Malcolm Jenkins in the offseason, they still struggle with their corners in coverage. Cary Williams and Brandon Fletcher should be the Eagles starting corners and neither had the greatest of seasons last year.
Last season the Eagles ranked 32nd against the pass, giving up 290 yards per game in the air and 7.3 yards per attempt. In the preseason this year, the team didn't seam to far much better. According to Pro Football Focus, the Eagles were the worst team in pass coverage by a good margin.
This should be an area the Jaguars can exploit, but there are some factors that will likely limit their ability to do so. First of all, Chad Henne has been fairly mediocre in the preseason and for the most part is only checking the ball down or throwing quick passes. He rarely threw beyond 10 yards down field in the air. Coupled with Henne at quarterback, the Jaguars will be trotting out mostly rookies in their receiving corps. After Cecil Shorts III, the next three on the depth chart are second-round picks Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson, followed by undrafted rookie Allen Hurns.
When the Jaguars are on defense
On the defensive side of the ball, the linebackers are going to be the key for the success or failure of the Jaguars. The Eagles have arguably the best running back in the NFL in LeSean McCoy and behind him, likely sometimes on the field at the same time as him, is veteran Darren Sproles. The Eagles run a lot of what people call "read option" in their offense with Chip Kelly, which puts stress on the linebackers.
Paul Posluszny and whoever is at the weakside linebacker position in a given down will need to play their assignment and be aware of what's going on around them. While Nick Foles isn't necessarily a threat to run with the football, a linebacker even taking one misstep on the option while Foles has the ball in the running back's gut can open things up over the middle of the field.
The key for the Jaguars here would be to just never treat Foles as if he's going to run, let him beat you with that before you play it. There's no real reason to respect Foles running with the football early in the game. Foles ran with the ball 57 times last year, but only picked up 3.9 yards per carry and only 221 yards total.