Approach to the Game – New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles, December 11, 2005: The win against the Cowboys was huge, but the Giants could flush down the toilet all of the advantages that game gave them if they lose this week to the Eagles. Anyone predicting that this game will be easy is dead wrong. Yes, the Eagles’ offense looked dreadful on Monday night and yes that offense is missing its most important components. But the Eagles still play very good defense, as indicated by the fact that they held Seattle to less than 200 yards of offense. The points in the Seattle game came mostly off of turnovers and you can’t expect the Eagles to do that again.
There are a number of reasons why this game will be close: (1) it’s a division game, (2) the Eagles got embarrassed and will look to redeem themselves, (3) they have a good defense and special teams, and (4) the Giants have not been a model of consistency themselves.
“I’m sure they were embarrassed and I’m sure they’re looking forward to getting back on the field to save face after that game,” says LB Carlos Emmons. “It’s the same feeling we had after the San Diego game. You can’t wait to play again.”
“It puts them in a situation where they can just sell out,” says Tiki Barber. “We’ve been there before. You don’t hold anything back. You don’t have any inhibitions as a play-caller or as a player. You put it all on the line and try to disrupt someone’s season. We have to be wary of that as we head down there.”
Prepare for a dogfight. Nothing ever comes easy for the Giants.
Giants on Offense: The Giants struggled offensively against the Eagles on November 20th because the Eagles’ defense were more physical on the line of scrimmage, largely keeping the running game in check except for one 55-yard run by Barber. On the other 20 runs by Barber, he was held to under three yards per carry. Worse, Manning was sacked five times and under duress much of the game.
THE EAGLES CAN STILL PLAY GREAT DEFENSE.
The Giants need to do a much better job up front in blocking the Eagles. In particular, RT Kareem McKenzie really needs to step up his game. He struggled with DE Jevon Kearse in November, as did LT Luke Petitgout against rookie DE Trent Cole and veteran N.D. Kalu. The interior trio also must do a better job of playing more physical and intelligently, especially picking up stunts and blitzes. Unless the offensive line plays better, the offense is going to struggle moving the football.
Eli Manning did not play well last week and it is anyone’s guess as to which Manning will show up in Philadelphia. Keep in mind that Manning has only won one road game in two seasons. And the Giants have not won in Philly since 2000. It is not an easy place to play. Manning needs to remain poised, quickly set up, make sure and sound reads, and get rid of the ball quickly and accurately. Take what the defense gives you and God-forbid, do not make any killer mistakes with turnovers that give the Eagles cheap points. That’s the big worry – turnover touchdowns or giving the Eagles a short field to work with.
Manning needs the help of his teammates too. Not only does the offensive line need to block better, but the Giants’ skill position players need to play well. Tiki needs to break some big runs. The wide receivers need to make some tough catches and gain yards after the catch. And Jeremy Shockey needs to maintain his focus and passion even if the ball isn’t coming his way early in the game.
One thing that would help the Giants out is if they can get the fans in Philadelphia to turn on their own team. In order for that to happen, the Giants need to score early. For four games now, the Giants have been shutout in the first quarter. Let’s score early.
Giants on Defense: On paper, this looks like a complete mismatch. The Giants’ defense is playing well and the Eagles are hurting with the loss of McNabb, Owens, Westbrook, and injuries on their offensive line. But all it takes is for a couple of bad plays for a team to put up 14 points. The Giants’ defense needs to continue to play at a very high level and not give the Eagles any hope on offense. Despite his terrible performance against the Seahawks, QB Mike McMahon threw for almost 300 yards the last time he faced the Giants – and that was at Giants Stadium. He also demonstrated he could hurt the Giants with his feet. TE L.J. Smith caught seven passes for 84 yards in that game and Eagle wide receivers had over 150 yards receiving. The Eagles are still capable of scoring points, and if Manning and the Giants’ offense struggle, the Eagles may not need that many points.
Up front, the Giants’ defensive line needs to dominate. The last time the Giants played the Eagles, the Giants did not sack McMahon and got little pressure. They need to stop the run first and foremost, then get after the quarterback.
In pass coverage, handling L.J. Smith is key. But the Eagles really went after Curtis Deloatch in the last game with great success and Corey Webster also bit badly on a double move for a 44-yard gain.
Don’t give the Eagles any life on offense. Dominate the line of scrimmage and force some turnovers.
Giants on Special Teams: As long as PK Jay Feely is struggling, there is cause for concern. Divisional games often come down to field goals.
I’d like the Giants to come after the Eagle punter again and try to block another punt. The Giants’ return game has not been good in recent weeks. The Giants need to get Chad Morton going.
Coverage on kickoffs and punts will be huge – that’s how the Giants lost the game against the Vikings.