PHILADELPHIA – There’ll be some chirping and it could get chippy when the Eagles visit MetLife Stadium for the second consecutive Sunday, this time to play the New York Jets.
These two aren’t NFC East rivals like the Eagles and Giants were in Philly’s trip north on the New Jersey Turnpike last Sunday, but they spent a few days during August’s sweltering heat practicing against each other.
There was plenty of chirping and some chippiness then and, even though there are some new faces, plenty of key players in those joint practices leading up to the exhibition finale remain.
“It’s going to be fun,” said Eagles linebacker Alex Singleton. “It’s almost like high school, you grow up and play against crosstown kids all the time, you always play them, so it’s kind of that same little thing. We got to see who they were, they got to see who we were, some guys got chippy, so it’s kind of fun.
“It’s not going to be a first-quarter break out into a full-out, all-out brawl or anything, but it’s exciting. We all tagged off (in the practices), so you get to see who would really win that rep when we go out there on Sunday and both sides can prove it.”
The Eagles (5-7) have to prove that last week’s disappointing 13-7 loss to the Giants was a fluke, and that they are really the team fans saw over the previous month, when they won three of four.
The Jets (3-8) are out to prove that they can beat the Eagles, something the franchise has never done before, losing all 11 regular-season meetings dating back to when the series began in 1973.
"The quarterback's live now,” said Eagles DT Fletcher Cox when asked about Jets quarterback Zach Wilson and how he did a lot of talking during the joint practices. “The chirping was competing. Everybody is gonna chirp when competing and having fun and being smart at the same time. It was training camp. Everybody was protecting their quarterback.
“I think it will be a competitive game. There might be some chirping from both sides knowing that we practiced against them. At the end of the day, you got to respect them. I mean they're coming off a big win (against the Texans). We're going off a tough loss. It's gonna be who wants it the most."
The Eagles need it the most considering the race to be one of the two playoff wild cards is still jumbled without much separation from teams chasing their postseason aspirations.
The Jets, though, would like to get on an end-of-season roll under their first-year head coach, Robert Saleh and go into the offseason with some optimism, especially for Wilson, who was the second overall pick in last spring’s draft.
“He’s been getting better every week,” said Saleh during a conference call earlier in the week. “The game, obviously, for these rookies is a lot different. You see it happening with Trevor (Lawrence) in Jacksonville.
"The style of football, the pockets are tighter, being in a phone booth, being able to operate in that phone booth…and get rid of the ball in two-and-a-half seconds, where, in college, he had a lot more time to throw the football behind a really good offensive line.
“He’s been progressing. He’s definitely got the arm talent and the mental horsepower. He’s got all the tools we’re looking for.”
Perhaps one of the greatest threats to an Eagles win isn’t familiarity, personnel, or game plans, but the team’s looming bye week.
It’s been a 13-game slog without a rest physically or mentally. The Eagles had 10 days between games in the middle of October, but the challenge will be focusing on this game, not looking ahead to a week off to recharge.
“For me, this will be kind of my last week playing (at Alabama),” said Smith, who the Eagles took eight picks after the Jets selected Wilson. “I get to this point, I start feeling some things. But I’ve been here before. It’s all about adapting.
“You take care of yourself throughout the season to get to this point. So when you get here, you won’t feel as bad. It doesn’t just start here. It starts all the way from Week 1 and taking care of your body.”
Added Cox: “It is the biggest thing we’ve been talking about is not looking forward to the bye, it's looking forward to Sunday's game and getting a win. That way you go into the bye feeling good.”
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.