Game Preview: Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants, December 29, 2019
Here we are again. Seven of the last eight years with no playoff appearance. Yet another season over before the bye week. Soon the third head coach fired during a five-year span. Just eight years ago, this team was considered one of the model franchises in the NFL with it’s eighth NFL Championship firmly in tow. Now, almost unbelievably, the butt of a bad joke.
I almost always find myself agree with Sy’56. But I have to at least partially disagree about winning always being better than losing. I get it. There is no such thing as a “can’t miss” prospect. There is no guarantee that the #2 pick will be better than the #5 pick. And if a team doesn’t start creating a culture of winning, it will never turn the corner because it will always expect to lose. But the potential marriage of the pass-rush desperate Giants with potentially defense-altering Chase Young seemed too perfect. Young is not the next Lawrence Taylor, but the Giants changed the entire course of their franchise by selecting LT with the #2 pick in the 1981 draft. Overnight, he turned the defense into one of the best in the league. The Giants needed that then, and they need that now.
Young is all but officially out of the picture unless some weird shit happens. If he is, I do find myself now in Sy’s camp in thinking that winning this game against the Eagles on Sunday is more important than the difference in picking #3 versus #4 or #5. There are a number of defensive players and offensive tackles who can help the Giants. And unless players such as Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Dexter Lawrence, and Deandre Baker start believing they can beat the Eagles, nothing the Giants will do in the draft will matter. The Giants must get over this big, ugly, green mental hurdle that humiliates them twice a year now. You can’t get to the playoffs if you lose more division games than you win. And if the Cowboys defeat the Redskins, the Giants will be in position to ruin Philadelphia’s season. That would represent some sweet payback for all of those ultimately meaningless losses to the Eagles in the past eight years.
The 2019 Philadelphia Eagles are not a good team. They just aren’t. Just four weeks ago, the sad sack New York Giants had a 17-3 halftime advantage over them in Philadelphia. Then New York saw their own shadow, got frightened, and let the Eagles score the next 20 points en route to a 23-17 overtime loss. That pathetic shit has to stop. And this game is as good a place to start as any.
Moving away from the little picture to the big, Pat Shurmur most likely will be fired by Monday or Tuesday. The big question is does Dave Gettleman follow him out the door? It’s tough to see John Mara and Steve Tisch firing another general manager for the second time in three years. Some will point to the improved drafting, especially the election of Jones and Barkley. But Gettleman’s free agent decision-making has been dreadful and that’s a red flag for a team heading into an offseason with tens of millions of dollars to spend. He also picked Shurmur just two years ago. Finally, as I’ve mentioned repeatedly, shouldn’t the GM who will head this team for the next 10 years (obviously not Gettleman given his age) pick the next head coach now? Potentially influencing all of this is the pie-in-the-sky, but not totally unrealistic possibilities that the Giants may finally be able to lure away Bill Belichick or Nick Saban. The timing matches up right for all parties. But those big fish will want more control. Don’t rule out options that seem like a pipe dream!!!
GIANTS ON OFFENSE…
Four short weeks ago, for one half, Eli Manning and Darius Slayton were tearing apart the Eagles. Slayton caught five passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. Then nothing in the second half as the offensive line started to break down. It was also this game where Saquon Barkley showed signs of coming out of his funk, but Pat Shurmur forgot he was on the roster in the 4th quarter. Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard had a down game. Kaden Smith dropped two passes. And perhaps the goat of the game was Nate Solder, who simply was dreadful, allowing pressure on half of New York’s 11 second-half passing plays. How bad was New York in the second half? The Giants punted all six times they had the ball, gaining only two first downs and 30 yards.
Jones, Barkley, Slayton, Tate, Shepard, and Smith are quite capable of ruining Philadelphia’s season if (1) the offensive line can just play an average game, and (2) Pat Shurmur doesn’t turn stupid again. But the New York OL has a long history of getting weak in the knees when playing against the Eagles, and Shurmur’s play-not-to-lose style usually rears its ugly head late in games.
GIANTS ON DEFENSE…
You’ve heard me bitch about it for months. The Giants lose because they can’t field a reliable offensive line. They lose because of bad coaching. But perhaps more than anything, outside of one year (2016), they can’t play good defense. We saw it again last Sunday. The offensively-challenged Redskins marched up and down the field against New York, scoring five touchdowns, including a 99-yard drive with the game on the line at the end of regulation. It’s nauseating. While I have confidence that the offense can pull off the upset, I have none that the defense can do the job. This despite the fact that the Eagles only scored three points in the first half just a month ago against this same pathetic defense.
At this point, the Giants’ defense has to prove it to the fans that they can do the job. Stop the other team on 3rd down. Make that crucial sack or clutch short-yardage play. Pick off a pass. Force a fumble. Create field position for your offense, or even better, score on defense.
For the love of God, cover the tight ends. Don’t let a no-name back-up like running back Boston Scott beat you both running and catching the football. The defense did its job for one half the first time, wore down in the second half, and collapsed in humiliation in overtime. Enough. Play a full 60 minutes or more if needed. Get the job done. For once.
GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS…
C’mon Aldrick, let’s finish a disappointing season for you and the team on a high note. This would also be a great time for a special teams touchdown.
THE INJURY REPORT
- WR Darius Slayton (knee)
- TE Rhett Ellison (concussion – out)
- TE Scott Simonson (concussion – out)
- RT Mike Remmers (concussion – out)
- OG/OT Nick Gates (shoulder)
- LB Lorenzo Carter (knee)
- LB Alec Ogletree (back – questionable)
- CB Deandre Baker (knee)
- CB Sam Beal (shoulder – questionable)
- CB Corey Ballentine (back – questionable)
THE FINAL WORD
Both teams are beat up. I’ll probably regret making this prediction, but the Giants are going to kick the Eagles’ ass on Sunday. And the win will knock the Eagles out of the playoffs, ruining their season, in a venue that will feel more like an Eagles’ home game. All three elements of the team will come to play. Who could potentially screw this up? Shurmur. His game-day instincts are just awful.
Just a word of warning to Mr. Mara and Mr. Tisch. If the Giants do pull off the upset, don’t read anything into it. The needle is not pointed up on this franchise yet simply because you beat two dreadful and one mediocre team down the stretch. Your coaching staff stinks. So does your defense and offensive line. You need to bring in people capable of fixing these issues.