Sep 222017
 
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Robert Thomas, New York Giants (November 6, 2016)

Robert Thomas – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Game Preview: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles, September 24, 2017

THE STORYLINE:
Unbelievably, there is a good chance the New York Giants season will all but officially end on Sunday. In September. Facing an 0-3 start, the Giants probably could not have picked a worse opponent to face given their painful recent history against the Philadelphia Eagles. Stating the obvious, the Eagles have the Giants number, winning five out of the last six, and 14 out of the last 18 games. Those are embarrassing numbers.

Lose on Sunday, and the New York Giants franchise will subject themselves of months of questions and debate about the competency of Jerry Reese, Ben McAdoo, and Eli Manning. Fans will begin talking about the draft and free agency IN SEPTEMBER. That’s as bad as it gets.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Odell Beckham, Jr. (ankle – probable)
  • TE Evan Engram (concussion – questionable)
  • OT Bobby Hart (ankle – out)
  • LB B.J. Goodson (shin – out)
  • LB Keenan Robinson (concussion – probable)
  • LB J.T. Thomas (groin – out)
  • CB Janoris Jenkins (ankle – questionable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
The Giants have scored 13 points in two games. Again, I repeat, the Giants have scored 13 points in two games. If you don’t score, you can’t win. The Giants are struggling to even move the football. In their last eight games, where the team has not been able to reach the 20-point mark, 46 percent of the Giants drives have resulted in three-and-outs. During that same time frame, in 97 drives, the Giants have scored nine touchdowns.

  • The Giants gambled and lost on bringing back the same offensive line.
  • The Giants don’t/can’t run (only 30 rushing attempts for 97 yards TOTAL in the first two games).
  • The quarterback is getting hit too early and too often even when the other team is only rushing four.
  • Odell Beckham missed the first game, wasn’t himself the second game, and Brandon Marshall has been a bust so far.
  • The offensive brain trust appears inflexible and stubborn.

Enter the 11th-ranked, aggressive Philadelphia Eagles defense, coached by super-prick but equally effective Jim Schwartz. He and his charges smell blood. The strength of the Eagles defense is a deep and talented defensive line salivating over the prospects of facing a shitty New York Giants offensive line that somehow plays even worse when facing the Eagles. Why have the Giants struggled to beat the Eagles in recent years? Look no further than the Giants getting their asses kicked up front by the Eagles.

The Eagles already have eight sacks in two games. With Bobby Hart out, we’ll probably see the line that played for most of the game against the Lions: LT Ereck Flowers, LG Brett Jones, OC Weston Richburg, RG John Jerry, and RT Justin Pugh. Having Pugh play right tackle over Hart for this game is probably an upgrade, but Pugh has had some of his worst games against the Eagles, including at RT. The prospect of Jones and Jerry facing DTs Fletcher Cox and Tim Jernigan is more than a bit nerve-wracking as is Flowers dealing with the outside speed rushers the Eagles will line up over him. The Eagles won’t have to blitz. They’ll play the run on their way to the quarterback and just rush four. It’s as predictable as the sun rising in the east.

Barring some unforeseen turnaround, the Giants won’t be able to block the Eagles up front. They won’t be able to run the football. Eli Manning will get hit early and often and begin to hear footsteps. Beckham will be double- and triple-covered. And the Giants won’t be able to take advantage of injury-riddled Eagles secondary. If Engram can’t play, it will be even worse.

The only chance the Giants have is the offense doesn’t turn the ball over, Manning plays with 2011 NFC Championship Game-type toughness, Beckham makes a couple of huge plays, and the defense and special teams carry the team the rest of the way.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
Three things have sabotaged the Giants defense early: injuries, particularly to Janoris Jenkins, B.J. Goodson, and Keenan Robinson; disappointing third-down defense; and not enough forced turnovers. The bad news is Goodson is out again and Jenkins is questionable; good news is Robinson is back. If Jenkins can’t go, the defense will be significantly weakened against the Eagles 3rd-ranked passing offense. The Eagles finished 2016 11th in rushing and 24th in passing. The major leap they have so far taken forward in the passing game is primarily due to the rapid emergence of Carson Wentz at quarterback. Unfortunately, Wentz is the real deal and he has those characteristics that have hurt the Giants in recent years: mobility combined with an ability to improvise. One again, the Giants face a quarterback who can hurt them with his feet if they don’t maintain disciplined pass-rush lanes and/or fail to wrap him up and bring him down.

Wentz’s favorite targets so far have been TE Zach Ertz (13 catches), WR Alshon Jeffery (10 catches, 1 TD), WR Nelson Agholor (7 catches, 2 TDs), RB Darren Sproles (7 catches), and WR Torrey Smith (5 catches). The Eagles are likely test rookie middle linebacker Calvin Munson in coverage with Ertz and Sproles. If Jenkins is out, look for a heavy dose of shots in Jeffery’s direction as well.

Ex-Patriot LeGarrette Blount has been sharing rushing duties with Sproles. The Lions smartly eschewed running at Damon Harrison and chose to to run outside more. So I would look for Sproles on outside runs.

Stating the obvious, the Giants defense needs to have a monster game for the team to win. They have to shut down the run and get after Wentz, forcing some turnovers along the way. At worst, they need to simply get off of the field on third down. To me, the Giants defensive line has to play lights out. It’s up to Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Jason Pierre-Paul to take over the game.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
The Eagles have been one of the tougher special teams units in the NFL for years. Tom Quinn’s special teams bit the team in the ass once again last week with a game-breaking punt return for a touchdown. Enter Darren Sproles, who broke a long return against the Giants in the first game last year. So far, Quinn also hasn’t been able to get his return game going either.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Ben McAdoo on Carson Wentz: “He seems like he has eyes in the back of his head now. He’s very aggressive trying to keep the play alive, slide in the pocket, come out of the pocket, and he’s not afraid to take a chance down the field and make a throw that’s a long opportunity ball for his guys. Throw it up to those big playmakers, whether it’s the receivers or the tight end, to give him a chance to make a play down the field.”

Ben McAdoo on Zach Ertz: “Don’t forget about Ertz. He’s a very talented player. He’s a smart player. You can see it with the way he knows how to find the holes in the zones and run away. Friendly for the quarterback versus his man.”

THE FINAL WORD:
The Eagles are playing better on offense, defense, and special teams. This is the season for the Giants. To stay alive, they have to beat the team that has has their number since 2008 at a venue that has been a horror-show for them. The recent history of this rivalry for the Giants has been shoddy blocking, turnovers, and special teams blunders. It might be a good day to mow the lawn.

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Eric Kennedy

Eric Kennedy is Editor-in-Chief of BigBlueInteractive.com, a publication of Big Blue Interactive, LLC. Follow @BigBlueInteract on Twitter.

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