Full Week 4 Stat Predictions for Every Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Player
Not only was it a heartbreaking defeat, as it came at the hands of former coach Andy Reid, but it dropped the Eagles to 1-2.
Chip Kelly's offense stalled, scoring just 16 points. The Eagles turned the ball over five times, looking very much like the 2012 squad that finished near the middle of the pack in yards but 29th in points scored. The key was the Chiefs ability to take DeSean Jackson out of the game, and this forced Michael Vick to throw seven times in the direction of Riley Cooper, who, as a No. 2 receiver goes, is subpar.
Beating the Denver Broncos would put Philadelphia right back on track, but the Broncos are playing the best football of any team in the league right now. The Denver offense is nearly unstoppable, which doesn't bode well for the Eagles' shaky defense.
Having to match the Broncos' potent aerial attack means that Vick & Co. will have to be on their games. Fortunately, they get a Broncos team without Von Miller (suspension) and likely not have Champ Bailey either.
Here is a stat projection for the Eagles' offense. I expect the Eagles to put up a good fight, even taking a 17-14 lead before falling to the Broncos by a 42-30 score.
Two games into the season, Michael Vick looked like a phenomenal fit for the Philadelphia Eagles offense. He was averaging 315 yards passing and threw for four touchdowns. He also added 44 yards and another touchdown on the ground. He hadn't thrown an interception and had led Chip Kelly's offense like a pro.
He really struggled against the Chiefs, though. Vick was sacked six times and threw two interceptions. He lost a late fumble and completed a miserable 43.3 percent of his pass attempts. Vick's poor numbers were largely because the Eagles had no other option in the passing game but DeSean Jackson, and the Kansas City Chiefs took Jackson out of the game.
Against the Broncos, Vick faces a defense that rates just 17th in scoring and 19th in total yards. The Broncos secondary has gotten torched, and Champ Bailey's has been definitely felt. Denver ranks 30th in yards allowed and 21st in net yards allowed per passing attempt, but the run defense has been fierce, limiting opponents to a league-best 2.3 yards per rush.
That means Vick will have to win the game with his passing. Look for a high number of passes from the 33-year-old quarterback. Vick will likely always be turnover prone, but he is putting up more passing yards in 2013 than ever before. His 9.1 yards per attempt is far and away his personal best, and much of that is due to long passes to Jackson.
Projected Week 4 Stats: 24-42, 378 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT; 6 rushes, 56 yards, 1 TD
LeSean McCoy is a phenomenal running back, but this game probably won't come down to what he does running the football. That's because the Philadelphia Eagles will likely be losing early, which should lead to more passes and, subsequently, fewer rushes.
McCoy is just under 21 rushes per game this season, which puts him on pace for close to 340. That figure would likely lead the league, and McCoy's ridiculous 6.4 yards per carry average has him on pace to break the single-season record for rushing yards (2,105) if he maintains this blistering clip.
Denver will be a real test, though. The Broncos rank first in the NFL in yards allowed per carry at just 2.3. They've given up just 130 rushing yards in three games. The next-lowest totals in the NFL is the Dallas Cowboys at 199 rushing yards allowed and the Arizona Cardinals at 220. Denver has allowed three touchdowns, though, and McCoy has a knack for finding the end zone (he had 20 TDs in 2011).
McCoy won't push for his career high in rushing attempts this week. The Eagles have a tremendous run-blocking offensive line, but Denver's defense has been top-notch.
Projected Week 4 Stats: 17 rushes, 101 yards, 1 TD; 3 receptions, 43 yards
Other than the quarterback position, DeSean Jackson is the key to the game. He's the most important player on the Philadelphia Eagles offense, especially with Jeremy Maclin out for the season.
Jackson still has unparalleled speed, and he can take the top off the best of defenses. Jackson in space is a dangerous weapon against any team, and while the Kansas City Chiefs did hold the Eagles wideout to 62 receiving yards, he still is on pace for an 1,800-yard receiving year.
Jackson's Week 2 performance against the San Diego Chargers included a career-high nine catches and almost 200 yards through the air—a total that could have been higher had Michael Vick hit Jackson on a few deep passes that were overthrown or thrown out of bounds.
Jackson will be matched up against former Philadelphia teammate Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, one of the finest cover corners in the business. In a one-year deal with the Denver Broncos, DRC is playing lights out football, save for a 73-yard reception by Oakland's Denarius Moore in Week 3. DRC has top speed, and he's one of the few defensive players in the league who can keep up with Jackson.
Back in the 2008 NFC Championship Game, the pair faced off when Jackson's Eagles played Rodgers-Cromartie's team at the time, the Arizona Cardinals. Jackson hauled in five receptions for 92 yards (on eight targets), including a go-ahead 62-yard score late in the game. In a regular season game between the two teams earlier that season, DRC alternated between covering Jackson and Kevin Curtis. Jackson caught all three targets with DRC on him, totaling 33 yards.
The difference in the game could come down to whether or not Jackson is able to beat Rodgers-Cromartie deep for a score. Then again, it could take a career output from Jackson for the Eagles to come away with a win.
Projected Week 4 Stats: 6 receptions, 144 yards, 1 TD
Last week's loss against the Kansas City Chiefs showed how much the Philadelphia Eagles miss Jeremy Maclin.
Riley Cooper simply isn't talented enough to be a starting wide receiver in the National Football League.
Six catches for 68 yards through three games is proof of that. Cooper is a fine blocker, and he's opened up holes for running back LeSean McCoy. But four-year pro simply can't get any separation from opposing defensive backs. If Champ Bailey can't go again, Cooper will be matched up with nickel cornerback Chris Harris, a fine talent himself.
It's doubtful the Eagles get much of a performance from Cooper in the passing game.
Projected Week 4 Stats: 3 receptions, 24 yards
Jason Avant is one of the better slot receivers in the NFL. He has remarkable hands and catches everything that comes near him.
Avant has caught 11 passes on 17 targets, and he hasn't dropped one pass. Last year, he led the NFL in targets without a drop, per Pro Football Focus. He's a reliable option when protection breaks down and Michael Vick has to scramble or buy time; Vick will assuredly look his way a handful of times against Denver.
Projected Week 4 Stats: 4 receptions, 34 yards
For someone advertised to love tight ends so much, Chip Kelly hasn't taken advantage of his trio of playmakers. Brent Celek is entering his sixth year as a starter, but he hasn't come close to matching the impressive receiving totals he put up in 2009, when he caught 76 passes for 971 yards and eight touchdowns.
Last year, Celek's receiving numbers included 57 receptions for 684 yards. Those are solid numbers, but they're vastly down in 2013. Celek has just four catches for 74 yards in three games. Those are the exact same numbers as Zach Ertz. And James Casey has only one target for no catches.
A modest output from Celek can be expected in Week 4, especially if the Broncos do succeed in containing DeSean Jackson. But his play won't likely make a difference in who wins this game.
Projected Week 4 Stats: 4 receptions, 72 yards, 1 TD
The Denver Broncos haven't fared too well against opposing tight ends this season. They've surrendered 19 receptions for 226 yards in three games.
The Philadelphia Eagles do have a pretty good set of tight ends, whether they use them or not. It's doubtful Chip Kelly uses Week 4 to showcase James Casey, considering Casey has barely played at all.
But Zach Ertz has the athleticism to match up well with Denver's linebackers. He could put up a good performance, especially since he has good size and speed.
Projected Week 4 Stats: 3 receptions, 54 yards
Projected Week 4 Stats: 2 rushes, 6 yards
Projected Week 4 Stats: 1 reception, 7 yards
Projected Week 4 Stats: 0 receptions
Chip Kelly won't likely use Bryce Brown much at all. The Philadelphia Eagles will be trailing for most of the game, and that isn't the time to get a backup running back involved. That Kelly and the coaching staff have ignored James Casey has been somewhat surprising, and I'm not predicting change on that front. And Damaris Johnson has really fallen out of favor since the preseason.