Oct 212015
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Philadelphia Eagles 27 – New York Giants 7


Hey, you! Get your damn hands off her! Or him, in this case our erstwhile NFC Offensive Player of the Week, Eli Manning. Finger points and weak threats, that’s pretty much all the Giants OL could use to stop a 3-hour long wedgie at the hands of the Eagles’ pass rush. It all started so well too, with the Giants marching down field to an early 7-0 lead thanks to Eli picking his spots underneath the Eagles Cover-2 and hitting Will Tye twice, Rueben Randle once and Larry Donnell once for first downs before dropping in a slant to Odell Beckham Jr. and an air of excitement against a team that has simply dominated the Giants lately. A quick 3-and-out forced by the injury-riddled Giants defense led to Eli and crew marching down to the Eagle 23-yard line and a quick two score lead..until TE Larry Donnell had a pass ripped from his arms. No matter, Steve Spaguolo’s troops were ready yet again, with back-to-back pass breakups by DE Kerry Wynn and S Brandon Meriweather and another 3-and-out…until DE Damontre Moore inexplicably pulled a belly-to-belly to suplex on QB Sam Bradford giving the Eagles 15 yards and a new set of downs. Just plays later the same Meriweather who looked so steady early on was beaten deep by WR Riley Cooper and the game was knotted at 7. At this point I’d like to jump into my DeLorean and hit 88MPH and never look down on this affair again but I’m a giver so let’s see where this all went from 1.21 jigowatts to a 3-3 record and the familiar feeling of, maybe we’re just not that good yet.

From that 7-7 tie, the Giants turned the ball over on downs, threw an interception returned for a TD (Exasperated Author’s Note: I just won’t use that term, I’m sick of it, along with “beast”, “hater” and any form of clever word play like Belicheat, Cowgirls, She-Gals, Foreskins…you get the point), fumbled the ball away, then proceeded to use punter Brad Wing as their own personal hand puppet as the offense just stunk the rest of the night. The Eagles on the other hand, weren’t great, they avoided a 14-0 hole when Donnell couldn’t hang on to the ball, were handed a TD drive on a platter by Damontre Moore, and a FG on a drive extended by a late hit by DT Cullen Jenkins. The teams combined for 5 Interceptions and 5 fumbles on a night both QBs wish they could have back. The difference for the Eagles though, is that a bad QB night is not a death knell as it is for the Giants. With the ability to rush the passer and move the ball on the ground, two former Coughlin staples, the Eagles can win ugly games with Sam Bradford stinking it up. With no running game to speak of (not once has this ground game reached 100 yards in 2015), if Eli isn’t Superman this team is dead in the water.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (October 19, 2015)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images


It works! It works! I finally invent something that works! Well for one and a half drives anyway, OC Ben McAdoo had invented something that worked for his QB and offense, an efficient quick strike offense that ate up the hook zones and medium middle en route to an 8-play, 80-yard drive that staked the Giants to a promising 7-0 lead. Manning was 5-of-5 for 59 yards and a TD on the game’s opening salvo, working the middle of the field with ease and at one point was 10-of-10 before Larry Donnell had the ball wrestled from his mitts. Somehow that game plan was tossed out after TE Larry Donnell’s catch-turned-interception and Eli was under siege Steven Segal-style all night. Manning made one crucial mistake on an interception-turned-TD deep inside the Giants’ own territory, but testing a fast defense on the edges instead of sticking with what was working is squarely on the play caller there. Had WR Rueben Randle not slipped on his pick attempt, the ball probably finds WR Dwayne Harris. But a play reliant on so much to go right deep in your own territory is, simply put, an awful idea. Manning did what he did could with an inconsistent running game and constant pressure from the 2nd quarter on, but he like everyone else was great for stretches and terrible in spurts.

Running Backs

Rashad Jennings started off strong (notice a trend here yet), picking up 16 yards on his first 3 carries and looking decisive and powerful doing so. Jennings gave way early to fellow backs Andre Williams and Shane Vereen and it looks like a big mistake in hindsight. Jennings finished with 63 yards on 13 carries and consistently imposed his will on smaller Eagle DBs. However, Jennings took a false step in following FB Nikita Whitlock on a 4th-and-1 inside Eagles territory and was stuffed for a loss. Had Jennings been more patient, he had plenty of room on the backside to cut inside and get the first down – poor run by #23 on that one. Jennings rebounded with a strong 8-yard run on another promising drive until he coughed up a screen pass that thwarted another potential scoring drive. Inconsistency in this group is really hampering this offense and Jennings’ night was a perfect example of how good and how bad this group has been at times. Andre Williams was dreadful, with 6 yards on 5 carries, consistently stuffed and looking tentative in the hole yet again. Former Patriot Shane Vereen was even worse, with 0 yards on 4 carries and 1 catch for 6 yards. Not good enough again from this group, and I’ll say it again, it may be time to shake things up and see if Orleans Darkwa can give this team a spark on the ground. With the double-coverage thrown at Beckham and teams guarding against the deep pass so fervently, this group simply has to step up for this offense to start to thrive against decent competition.

Odell Beckham, New York Giants (October 19, 2015)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Wide Receivers

Rueben Randle took the first Manning pass on a quick slant for 8 yards and a first down and took a quick slant 15 yards for another in the 1st quarter, but only saw the ball 3 more times and finished with a ho hum 44 yards on 5 grabs. Mr. Hamstring, Odell Beckham, Jr., was like everyone else, perfect early on with a 13-yard dig route for a TD on the game’s opening drive. Beckham finished the first half with 61 yards on 7 grabs and a TD but did exactly nothing after halftime. A player that good simply cannot be erased in the second half, no matter what the Eagles threw at him. Myles White dropped his only opportunity and slot wideout Dwayne Harris failed to do much with 18 yards on two catches.

Tight Ends

Will Tye started off like everyone else, hauling in an early first down pass on a waggle play across the Eagles defense for a 17-yard gain and pulled down a 5-yard pass on 2nd-and-4 two plays later for his second first down and then…poof, he was gone. Tye has been forced into action from the Practice Squad following Daniel Fells’ unfortunate MRSA incident and showed up pretty well so far. He just needs more opportunities as evidenced by his early impact in this one. Another wobbly game from Larry Donnell, who one week ago was the hero against the 49ers in a thrilling last-minute victory. Again, great start for the former Grambling QB as he snatched a short middle pass from Manning on a 2nd-and-4 on the game’s opening drive and rumbled 16 yards for the conversion. The game turned on Donnell’s catch-turned-interception at the Eagle 22. After that miscue, Donnell only caught one more ball and simply disappeared. Donnell had a chance to redeem himself on 2nd-and-1 late in the 1st quarter, but he dropped a perfectly-placed ball by Manning inside the ten. This ended up killing any momentum the drive had.

Offensive Line

As with everyone else, good start with an 80-yard scoring drive, paving the way for 16 yards on 3 carries and a clean pocket for Eli to operate in. “I like this offensive line,” stammered Jon Gruden as the game began and he seemed right early on but the effusive praise would prove wrong, because this OL stumbled after the first two series and simply got man-handled up front by a quick, physical Eagle DL. Quick hitters were the balm early, but as the game wore on, the 5 up front just weren’t up to the task. RT Marshall Newhouse was out-fought all night by Connor Barwin and LG Justin Pugh had tons of trouble inside with DT Bennie Logan, killing most runs before they got started. RG Geoff Schwartz got bull-rushed by DL Vinny Curry that resulted in a sack on 3rd down on another failed drive. If there’s a positive here, and this season will test all of us to find those from time to time, it was the exceptional leadership shown by LT Ereck Flowers, the 21-year old rookie who took it upon himself to rally the troops on the sideline. This picture may not be worth 1,000 words, but superstars Odell Beckham Jr. and two-time Super Bowl MVP and team leader Eli Manning are intently listening to the rookie as he pulled his offensive teammates together. If the final tally depresses you, just look to the future of this line and offense in the towering new LT and you’ll find a little hope.

Ereck Flowers, New York Giants (October 19, 2015)

Defensive Line

Broken record alert, the Giants DL started off strong and faded as the evening wore on. DE Kerry Wynn got an early batted ball on the Eagles’ second drive and the front four looked off to the races until Moore’s incredibly stupid late hit on Sam Bradford. That play, which extended the Eagles’ first TD drive after it had been snuffed out in 3 plays, was another game-changer when it appeared the defense had bailed out Larry Donnell. Moore later chipped in with a sack and fumble recovery, another perfect example of the Giants’ night, brilliant one moment, bone-headed the next. DT Cullen Jenkins got involved early, batting down a 3rd down pass from Bradford and forcing a punt, but it was Jenkins’ touch late hit that extended another Eagles’ drive. Another Giant mistake, another Eagle opportunity. The DL had an issue holding the edge, something this front 7 was excelling at before this game. Using an extra TE to down block negated DEs Owa Odighizuwa and Kerry Wynn on several runs. Wynn and Odighizuwa simply need to get wider and hold the point-of-attack better on those plays.


I could almost hear the Bubble Boy taunting our LBs. “How you feeling now Constanza?…Not too good!” Not too good indeed Double B. This group was eaten up by a quick, aggressive running game that slowly but surely imposed its will on the Giants’ middle defenders. Uani ‘Unga led the group with 7 stops, but his MLB counterpart Jon Beason was consistently cut down and erased from the running game. Again, credit the Eagles’ offense here. They recognized that Beason hasn’t been attacking the hole as we pointed out in previous weeks and strung their plays out wide to give their OL time to get the second level and eliminate #52 from making a difference. Discussing who isn’t available seems silly but this group is much much better when Devon Kennard is healthy and able to impose his will in the running game. Jonathan Casillas gave up a gap on the game-sealing TD and looks to be better suited to coverage than run stuffing.

Jayron Hosley, New York Giants (October 19, 2015)

Jayron Hosley – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Defensive Backs

S Brandon Meriweather was confident early, knocking down WR Jordan Matthews to force an incompletion, but he missed a wide-open tackle on WR Josh Huff and followed that up immediately with a late cover on WR Riley Cooper who evened up the game at 7. Meriweather had not been exposed deep yet but credit Sam Bradford and Cooper with exploiting Meriweather’s trouble in deep coverage to tie the game. S Craig Dahl was somewhat impactful with 8 stops, one of which shut down an Eagle drive until Moore’s huge penalty. CB Jayron Hosley notched an early interception with the Giants only down 7 to give Eli and company some life before halftime. On the play, Hosley was playing bail technique, meaning he dropped deep at the snap, essentially acting as a two deep safety as S Landon Collins came down to cover a TE crossing the formation. Bradford’s overthrow fell right into #28’s mitts as Collins was in trail coverage. Credit CB Coach Tim Walton on that one – Hosley has jumped those routes in the past, giving up the deep seam, but he kept his depth, stayed patient and it paid off with a timely turnover. Hosley provided blanket coverage on Riley Cooper a few plays later on a 2nd-and-28, forcing an incompletion and a ridiculously long 3rd down. But he was victimized on a long pass to Cooper as the 2nd half opened. DRC launched himself into a stop on a WR screen but was otherwise not tested much by the Eagles’ offense. S Landon Collins notched his first interception of the year and was strong on the edge in run support, another glimmer of hope in an otherwise dismal night.

Special Teams

Never mind Jon Gruden claiming K Josh Brown hadn’t missed a kick in his recent memory (Brown indeed missed an XP in Buffalo so I assume by memory Gruden means the last 15 minutes or so), Brown was perfect on his lone extra point so he’s got that goin’ for him, which is nice. S Craig Dahl helped on specials with a strong take down of the terrifying Darren Sproles on a punt return late in the first half. P Brad Wing was forced to launch 8 times with a long of 51 and 2 punts dropped inside the 20 but did hit a horrific 27-yarder in the waning moments of the first half that led to an Eagle FG. Good coverage again this week, which is notable given that it’s the Eagles and the irritating (he’s tiny and fast, it’s unnatural) Darren Sproles. The Eagles weree held to 58 yards on 6 punt and kickoff returns.


Head-scratching game from Ben McAdoo. The G-Men started off attacking the middle, hitting all 5 passes on the game’s opening drive underneath the Eagles’ safeties and just beyond the LBs. Rashad Jennings was in an early groove as well but gave way to Andre Williams and Shane Vereen on the second possession and never got the chance to keep it going despite running well most of the night. After shredding the Eagles over the middle, McAdoo then tested the edges of the speedy Eagles defense and he paid for it dearly. Eli’s first pick was an out route to Donnell that a drive earlier had been an in route, utilizing the 6’7” TE’s frame as a natural shield. Why you suddenly decide to try the other side of that with a speedy LB able to get to the point before your big TE is beyond me. Testing the edge again, Eli tossed a late out into the flat which CB Nolan Carroll returned for a TD and the rout from there was on. Inexcusable play call that deep in your own zone with reliance on a pick play working. Stupid, stupid football there.

DC Steve Spagnuolo’s group held up well early but eventually got no rest from a totally ineffective Giants’ offense and just got run over as the game wore on. Still without DE Robert Ayers, LB Devon Kennard and the recent loss of CB Prince Amukamara, Spags is working with a depleted group who hung in for over a half but eventually gave up 155 yards on the ground. Simply not good enough when they had to be.

Anatomy of a Run

We’ve heaped praise on DC Steve Spagnuolo and in particular, Jon Beason, Devon Kennard and Kerry Wynn for their stellar play vs. the run. This week, one play stood out as an example of why the Eagles right now are just a better team. With 6:19 left and the game still within reach, DeMarco Murray raced around right end for a 12-yard touchdown, doing something to this defense that no team had yet – dominate the edge. The Eagles ran a double TE BOSS (back-on-strong-safety) play to Murray in which his job was to beat the SS, in this case Brandon Meriweather. At first glance, this looked like a big mistake by #58, but his job in this formation is to one-gap outside the LT and cut down the angle on Murray and he does just that. LB Jonathan Casillas, however, does NOT maintain his depth and gets sucked up inside. Now his gap is empty and S Brandon Meriweather is forced to commit early instead of maintaining outside leverage. The defensive design is to turn Murray back inside, forcing him to deal with Casillas and Meriweather, with Collins holding the edge. Casillas abandons his post, forces Meriweather to commit and Murray strikes the final blow.

DM1The Eagles come out in a double-TE set against a 4-3 over/under combination. [In the under, the S lines up on the line of scrimmage as the SAM as shown above and the DE lines up head up on the tackle. In this formation though, Owa (#58) is shaded outside the TE as you would see in a 4-3 over]. This is an ideal way to shut down the edge run.

dm2At the snap, Owa does his job, attacking the gap outside of the tackle so his LB can slide in to fill the vacated gap (Jonathan Casillas #54). Casillas is in position, as indicated by an excellent red ellipse, but quickly loses depth and fails to maintain gap integrity.

DM3Casillas loses his depth – a big no-no against a back with Murray’s ability to get outside – and takes himself out of position, forcing S Brandon Meriweather to commit early to cover Casillas’ vacated gap. Meriweather also took a false step inside and gave up outside leverage for a split second, isolating S Landon Collins to hold the edge versus TE Zach Ertz.

dm4The BOSS play design works, isolating Murray on Merriweather, who already gave up his outside leverage and Murray races around Collins for the game-deciding score.

Cram it in your Cramhole Award

A good coach takes the blame and provides cover when his team stinks and this week. I’ll take the award in symbolic unifying fashion. I’m sure I deserve it for my lame thematic reviews and unprofessional writing style but I feel compelled to make a plea with all my loyal readers and more loyal detractors: Calm Down about the debacle this week. Yes we lost 27-7 to our hated I-95 rivals. Yes the offense hocked up loogie after loogy after opening the game so well. Yes we had untimely stupid penalties, turnovers to spare and didn’t capitalize on a dreadful game by Sam Bradford. This is a team coming off of two straight miserable campaigns with new starters across the entire OL, and without the services of Jason Pierre-Paul, Will Beatty, Victor Cruz, Robert Ayers, Prince Amukamara, Devon Kennard, and Daniel Fells. Castoffs like Craig Dahl, Brandon Meriweather, Marshall Newhouse and youngsters like Will Tye, Geremy Davis, Ereck Flowers, Owa Odighizuwa, Landon Collins, and Uani ‘Unga have all been pressed into action sooner than anyone anticipated.

We stand at 3-3 and likely won’t challenge for anything. But treat each game as just that, one game, especially in today’s NFL. My old ball coach once told us before a game that would see us finish the season undefeated, “I’ll never ask you to be the best team anywhere except between those four white lines when the lights go on every week.” It worked every week for 13 weeks and we believed we could win every week. Pardon the Al Bundy flashback, but consider the pace of this game. A mistake or fewer here or there and we could be sitting at 4-2, but it wasn’t to be. Right now the Eagles are simply better, but despite the score, the margin is not as wide as it was one year ago. We’re making progress and more to come. Don’t give up the ship and don’t hop into your DeLorean just yet and fast forward to the draft or anything but our next opponent…the hated Dallas Cowboys. New week, new chance to win. Let’s go boys (and girls if you are not asleep or have not thrown your laptop out the window after all these words).

(New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles, October 19, 2015)
Oct 202015
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (October 19, 2015)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The New York Giants’ woes against the Philadelphia Eagles continued on Monday night at Lincoln Financial Field as the Giants were dominated by the Eagles 27-7. With the loss, the Giants fell to 3-3 overall and 1-2 in the NFC East.

Odell Beckham, New York Giants (October 19, 2015)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The game started out well for the Giants and then went downhill after that. New York received the ball to start the game and drove 80 yards in eight plays to take a 7-0 lead less than five minutes into the contest. Quarterback Eli Manning finished the possession with a 13-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Odell Beckham.

The Eagles went three-and-out and the Giants had a chance to put Philadelphia in a bigger hole by driving from their own 37-yard line to the Eagles’ 23-yard line. But on 1st-and-10, Manning’s pass to tight end Larry Donnell was ripped away from Donnell for an interception at the Eagles’ 22-yard line. Then the Giants had a chance to force another three-and-out, but defensive end Damontre Moore was flagged with roughing-the-passer after a 3-yard completion on 3rd-and-10 should have resulted in a punt. Given a reprieve, the Eagles would go on to tie the game on this possession by driving 78 yards in seven plays, culminating with a 32-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Sam Bradford to wide receiver Riley Cooper.

New York moved the ball once again on their third drive, reaching the Eagles’ 41-yard line, but the Giants could not pick up a first down on three successive tries after facing a 2nd-and-1. On 4th-and-1, running back Rashad Jennings lost two yards and the Eagles took over on downs.

The Giants’ defense held and the Eagles punted. However, Philadelphia went up 14-7 when Manning’s pass intended for wide receiver Dwayne Harris was intercepted by cornerback Nolan Carroll and returned 17 yards for a touchdown.

The Giants’ fifth possession ended at the Eagles’ 38-yard line when Jennings fumbled the ball away after catching a pass. Thus, after the fast start to begin the game, the Giants next four drives ended with three turnovers and a turnover on downs. The Giants had come into the game with only three turnovers on the season. Manning, who started the game 10-of-10 for 87 yards was just 14-of-28 for 102 yards the rest of the game. Manning was not helped by very shaky pass protection that gave up three sacks and multiple hits and pass pressure.

The Giants’ defense kept the team in the game for a while. The Giants got the ball right back after Jennings’ fumble when cornerback Jayron Hosley picked off Bradford at the Giants’ 25-yard line and returned the ball 17 yards. But the Giants went three-and-out after Manning was sacked on 3rd-and-7. The Eagles and Giants then each exchanged punts twice. With 1:12 left before intermission, Philadelphia drove 47 yards in eight plays to set up a successful 37-yard field goal. At the half, the Eagles led 17-7.

The Eagles received the ball to start the third quarter and drove to the New York 31-yard line. But on 3rd-and-8, linebacker Uani ‘Unga forced wide receiver Jordan Matthews to fumble which Moore recovered. The Giants picked up one first down, but Manning was sacked again on 3rd-and-10 and the Giants punted.

The Eagles then took a commanding lead by driving 85 yards in 11 plays with running back DeMarco Murray scoring from 12 yards out. This possession was kept alive when defensive tackle/fullback Nikita Whitlock ran into the punter on 4th-and-2 from the Eagles’ 23-yard line.

Landon Collins, New York Giants (October 19, 2015)

Landon Collins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The Giants went three-and-out on their next three possessions. New York only had one first down in the second half until late in the game. Bradford threw two more interceptions on Philadelphia’s next two possessions, one by safety Brandon Meriweather and the other by safety Landon Collins. The Eagles did manage one last scoring drive in the fourth quarter, kicking a 39-yard field goal after a 10-play, 40-yard possession. But the game was all but over at that point.

Offensively, the Giants were held to 18 first downs and just 247 total net yards (81 yards rushing, 166 yards passing). The team turned the football over three times (two interceptions, one fumble), was 4-of-13 (31 percent) on third down and 0-for-1 on fourth down. Manning was 24-of-38 for 189 yards. Beckham caught seven passes for 63 yards and a touchdown but was shut out in the second half. Jennings carried the ball 13 times for 63 yards while Andre Williams and Shane Vereen rushed nine times for a total of six yards. Manning was sacked times times and officially hit seven other times.

Defensively, the Giants allowed 24 first downs and 425 total net yards (155 yards rushing, 270 yards passing). The Eagles were 6-of-16 (38 percent) on third down. The Giants did force four turnovers (three interceptions, one fumble). The Giants only managed one sack (by Moore) and three quarterback hits.

Video lowlights are available at Giants.com.

Linebacker Jonathan Casillas left the game in the 4th quarter with a neck injury and did not return. Safety Brandon Meriweather also sprained his knee in the 2nd quarter but he returned.

Video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Tom Coughlin and the following players are available at Giants.com:

  • Head Coach Tom Coughlin (Video)
  • Quarterback Eli Manning (Video)
  • Running Back Rashad Jennings (Video)
  • Wide Receiver Odell Beckham (Video)
  • Tight End Larry Donnell (Video)
  • Defensive Tackle Cullen Jenkins (Video)

Inactive for the Giants were WR Victor Cruz (calf), DE Robert Ayers (hamstring), LB Devon Kennard (hamstring), CB Prince Amukamara (pectoral), CB Trumaine McBride (groin/illness), DT Louis Nix, and OT Bobby Hart.

According to NFL.com, tight end Daniel Fells, who has been hospitalized for almost three weeks with a life-threatening MRSA infection (staph), has improved and he could be released from the hospital this week. Fells has now undergone seven surgeries with at least two more scheduled. Fells did have an infected bone removed from his foot, but it is believed that his foot will not have to be amputated. NFL.com is reporting that at one point the infection spread to his lungs, and NJ.com is reporting that the infection spread to his thigh. ESPN says that the additional surgeries are to further clean out the infected area and include plastic surgery on the areas of the foot damaged by the infection. It is believed Fells career is over due to permanent damage to the foot. “Long road ahead for him,” a source told The New York Post. “If you saw a picture of his foot, you wouldn’t believe it.”


Oct 172015
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Odell Beckham, New York Giants (December 28, 2014)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles, October 19, 2015

I’ve talked about it before. If you want to look at the reasons why the Giants missed the playoffs each of the last three seasons, look no farther than the division losses. From 2012-2014, the Giants were 1-5 against the Cowboys and 2-4 against the Eagles. You want to win the NFC East? You have to be able to beat these two teams in addition to the Washington Redskins.

Now within the span of a six days, a once-again banged-up, injury-depleted New York squad will play arguably their two most-important back-to-back games of the season. The Giants were in the same position in 2014. With an overall record of 3-2 with back-to-back games against the Eagles and Cowboys, the Giants fell 27-0 and 31-21 in those two games and didn’t win another contest until December.

Want to continue to remain relevant? Beat the Eagles. Be the more physical football team on offense, defense, and special teams. Win the turnover battle. Make plays against a very beatable opponent.


  • WR Odell Beckham (hamstring – questionable)
  • WR Rueben Randle (hamstring – probable)
  • WR Victor Cruz (calf – out)
  • LG Justin Pugh (ankle – probable)
  • OT Will Beatty (pectoral – out)
  • DE Robert Ayers (hamstring – questionable)
  • DE George Selvie (calf – probable)
  • LB Jon Beason (concussion – questionable)
  • LB Devon Kennard (hamstring – out)
  • LB Jonathan Casillas (calf – questionable)
  • CB Prince Amukamara (pectoral – out)
  • CB Trumaine McBride (groin/illness – questionable)

The Eagles are 23rd in the NFL on defense (26th against the pass, 10th against the run). Statistically, the Eagles are tied with the Giants in run defense in terms of yards-per-carry average (3.5). On the flip side, the Giants are 9th in the NFL on offense (7th passing, 26th running). And the Giants are 28th in yards-per-carry (3.8). Provided Odell Beckham and Rueben Randle play and can play effectively, the way the Giants should attack the Eagles is pretty obvious.

And there is another reason why the Giants should pass, pass, pass. New York will probably have to score a lot of points given the injury situation on defense combined with Giants’ inability to rush the passer. The Eagles’ passing offense may be struggling, but there could be some serious match-up problems for the Giants on that side of the ball. The Giants probably are going to have to score somewhere around 30 points to win. That means touchdowns rather than settling for field goals.

The Eagles can rush the passer. Though technically a 3-4 defense, the Eagles will mix up their fronts and use a variety of pass-rush packages. The best of the bunch is left defensive end Fletcher Cox, who is coming off of a 3-sack, defensive-player-of-the-week performance. Combine him with Pro Bowl outside linebacker Connor Barwin, who gave the Giants fits in Philadelphia last year, those two are going to be an issue for Marshall Newhouse and Geoff Schwartz. Nose tackle Bennie Logan and right defensive end Cedric Thorton can be tough against the run. The other outside linebacker, Brandon Graham (a guy who the Giants made a play for in free agency), can also get after the quarterback as can reserve defensive end Vinny Curry. The Eagles will be missing inside linebackers Kiko Alonso (knee) and Mychal Kendricks (hamstring). But veteran DeMeco Ryans still mans the middle. Given that the outside linebackers are basically ex-defensive ends, it’s a big, physical group up front.

The Eagles have had issues in the secondary. High-priced free agent acquisition cornerback Byron Maxwell has disappointed. The other corner, Nolan Carroll, is an ex-Dolphin who played mainly in a situational role in 2014 for the Eagles. Ex-Giant corner Walter Thurmond was moved to safety by the Eagles and now teams with Malcom Jenkins, who is solid. In a nutshell, the corners are bigger but not great in coverage, and the safeties are somewhat smaller ‘tweeners. Thurmond leads the team with three interceptions in just five games.

You have to figure the Eagles defensive coordinator expects a pass-first game plan, keeps the safeties back, and trusts his front seven to stop any remote threat of a running game. Still, given the fact that the Giants will need to score quite a few points, the Giants will have to accept this challenge and play into this game plan by passing the football. The Eagles will be very wary of Shane Vereen in the passing game, but I’m not sure they have the ability to adequately match-up with him. Those outside linebackers really are ex-ends who can struggle in coverage. The Giants might want to throw the Eagles for a loop too by playing both Vereen and Rashad Jennings – who can also catch the ball – in the backfield at the same time. This could confuse the linebackers and safeties. I wouldn’t use a lot of Andre Williams in this game.

The right-side of the offensive line will have issues with Cox and Barwin, and Flowers could have issues with the likes of Graham and Curry. The Giants should employ the same style of offense – quick, short passing attack. The Eagles have already pretty much said they will play aggressive bump-and-run coverage to disrupt the timing between Eli Manning and his receivers. This is where passes to the backs and tight ends can help. I would also put Beckham in motion quite a bit and play him out of the slot to help prevent the Eagles from getting a hand on him.

Manning needs to take what the defense gives him and not force the issue. Be aggressive, but don’t be stupid with the football.

Chip Kelly loves to run the football, but the Eagles are not doing it as well this year. They’ve fallen from 9th in the NFL in rushing in 2014 to 22nd. They run it better than the Giants, but not by much. Obviously, with the Giants 2nd in the NFL in run defense, one would expect most of the Eagles success to be in the passing game. That said, the Giants cannot afford to fall asleep in defending the run. They must be the more physical team up front against an offensive line that has had issues at the guard position. Like the Giants, the Eagles employ a three-headed rotation at running back with ex-Cowboy DeMarco Murray, ex-Charger Ryan Matthews, and ex-Saint Darren Sproles. Murray has struggled in Philadelphia, but the Giants are well aware of the damage he can do. Matthews has almost as many carries, is playing better, and is averaging 5 yards per carry. However, he has a groin issue and is questionable for the game. The Eagles will run the ball with Sproles too and he’s a threat to score every time he touches the football. The Giants need their defensive tackles to dominate inside and for the outside defenders – ends and backers – to continue to stalemate offensive tackles and tight ends.

Linebacker Devon Kennard will be missed for his ability to stop the run as well as rush the passer. The worry here is the match-up problems when Mark Herzlich is on the field. Look for Kelly to exploit that with passes to the backs (42 pass receptions by Eagles backs already this year) and tight ends (only 20 receptions but capable of much more). Sproles is basically Philly’s Vereen and I’m not sure the Giants have anyone who can cover him. I would be tempted to keep Jonathan Casillas in the game more over Herzlich, but also keep in mind that Casillas has been hampered by a troubling calf injury. Steve Spagnuolo may decide to go with a three-safety package of Landon Collins, Brandon Meriweather, and Craig Dahl. The Giants also need solid coverage from J.T. Thomas, Jon Beason, and Uani ‘Unga. Eagles tight ends have killed the Giants over the years and both Brent Celek and Zach Ertz can do a lot of damage.

To date, Spagnuolo’s strategy has been basically to load up against the run and not get beat deep in the passing game. He’s been willing to give up the short completions and force the other team to drive the field without making mistakes. At times, it has worked very well. At other times, it has failed miserably. A big problem is the Giants still can’t rush the passer. Hopefully, youngsters Kerry Wynn and Owamagbe Odighizuwa will improve in that department while the return of some veterans such as Robert Ayers (hamstring) and George Selvie (calf) will help – or at the very least keep guys fresher. This might be a good opponent to give Damontre Moore more snaps. If he does, let’s hope he keeps the mental mistakes to a minimum. The good news is that quarterback Sam Bradford is fairly immobile so the Giants can take greater chances with blitzes. Left tackle Jason Peters is still a very good player for the Eagles however.

I expect Chip Kelly and Bradford to attempt to dink-and-dunk their way down the field, in a very fast, no-huddle fashion, with passes to the backs and tight ends. The Eagles have probably noticed the problems the Giants have had covering WR screens. They will likely take an occasional deep shot in the direction of Jayron Hosley and Trevin Wade with Prince Amukamara and possibly Trumaine McBride out. The Eagles’ receivers are a bigger group. Jordan Matthews is probably the most reliable. Rookie Nelson Agholor is the most explosive but he is out with an ankle injury. Riley Cooper, Josh Huff, Miles Austin, and Seyi Ajirotutu round out the receiving corps.

So does Spagnuolo keep with the same strategy and hope that quarterback Sam Bradford makes a mistake somewhere on each drive? My guess is yes. Short at cornerback, the Giants don’t want to give up cheap touchdowns like the Redskins did against the Eagles. Spagnuolo also doesn’t want that Eagles’ ground game to get untracked. So I would expect a frustrating evening with short passing game unless the Giants pass rush miraculously appears, the linebackers and safeties have a monster game in coverage, or Bradford really struggles.

Can the Giants hold the Eagles to under 20 points? 24 points? Turnovers could be decisive. And keep in mind that no lead is safe given the Giants’ fourth-quarter defensive woes plus Bradford has been completing over 70 percent of his passes in the second half of football games this year.

The Eagles special teams practically carried the team in 2014. And in last year’s regular-season finale, a blocked punt by the Eagles against the Giants was critical in their victory. They are very good at blocking kicks. Darren Sproles is an exceptionally dangerous punt returner who already has returned one punt for a touchdown this year. Josh Huff has averaged 30 yards per kick return the past two seasons.

Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo on the Eagles’ Defense: “They’re very good upfront, they have a lot of different guys who can cover in man-to-man, and they’re creative schematically. Good defense. Underrated defense.”

The advantage the Giants have is Eli Manning. The advantage the Eagles have is their ability to rush the passer. Much depends on how many of the injured Giants play and how effectively they can play. But I really think this game will come down to which team plays the most physically and turnovers. This game may be the Eagles season. They lose and they will be 0-3 in the NFC East. But it’s almost as big for the Giants, who are currently 1-1 in the division and facing an almost must-win game the following weekend against the Cowboys. Regardless, the Giants need to prepare for the best the Eagles have to offer.

“It’s a one-week season,” said Eagles’ nose tackle Bernie Logan. “We just have to go out here and dominate this game.”

“We’re going to show up and see who can punch harder,” said Eagles’ safety Malcom Jenkins.

Dec 292014
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Odell Beckham, New York Giants (December 28, 2014)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Philadelphia Eagles 34 – New York Giants 26

Game Overview

This game was not only a microcosm of the season but the past few seasons. The Giants can throw the football, but they can’t run it. The defense and special teams stink. The Giants can’t beat a team with a winning record. And they can’t beat the Eagles.

Offensive Overview

The Giants gained over 500 yards of offense and passed for 429 yards, the latter being the fourth highest in franchise history. They had 78 offensive snaps and controlled the time of possession by almost 10 minutes (34:37 to 25:23).

The Giants scored on 4-of-7 first-half drives and and 2-of-7 second-half drives, but only managed two touchdowns as New York was 1-of-3 in the red zone.

The Giants were 7-of-18 on third down (39 percent). The running backs only gained 76 yards on 25 carries (3 yards per carry).


Eli Manning completed 28-of-53 passes for 429 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception for a 78.3 QB rating. The yardage total is obviously impressive (4th highest in team history), but he only completed 52 percent of his passes, threw into double coverage some, and was lucky a few of his passes were not picked off.

That said, the lower completion percentage was not only a question of inconsistent accuracy, but some dropped passes, some non-calls by the referees, and a strategy to take more shots down the field.

“Now was the percentage the way you’d like it? Probably not,” said Tom Coughlin after the game. “But there were some deep shots that we wanted to take. We wanted the one-on-ones and we wanted to take some shots and we did. Unfortunately, most of them were not completions and they go in the book as incomplete. But it was part of what we wanted to do.”

Examples of some of the negative plays? On the second Giants’ possession that ended with a punt, the Eagles blitzed Eli up the middle and he somehow missed spotting Rueben Randle and Larry Donnell in the middle of the field as he threw the ball away deep (Eli was lucky intentional grounding was not called). On the following 3rd-and-9 play, Manning badly overthrew Odell Beckham.

Eli missed some opportunities like on this incomplete play.

Eli missed some opportunities like on this incomplete play.

Trailing by eight with over three minutes to play, the Giants had one final chance to tie the game, but Eli’s deep pass to Rueben Randle was picked off.

“It was just underthrown,” said Manning. “Rueben read the coverage right. They were jumping the outside route. He converted it to a go. I just couldn’t get enough on the throw. I saw it clean. They were in a quarters coverage. There should have been a window out there to hit the throw to Rueben. I couldn’t step into the throw. The ball floated up a little bit. I left it a little inside and let the safety make a play on it. It wasn’t a bad read. It was just kind of a poor throw based on the circumstances.”

Running Backs

Same old story…lots of run attempts…very little productivity. And this against the 17th-ranked defense against the run. Andre Williams carried the ball 15 times for 43 yards (2.9 yards per carry) and one touchdown. Rashad Jennings carried the ball 10 times for 33 yards (3.3 yards per carry). Williams caught all three passes thrown in his direction for 19 yards, while Jennings caught 3-of-5 passes for 21 yards.

Williams did have a nice 9-yard run on 3rd-and-1 on the opening touchdown drive and an 8-yard run on the first FG drive. And Jennings had a nice 16-yard reception on 3rd-and-13 in the first quarter and an 18-yard run in the third quarter. But too often it was only 1-3 yards per attempt, or worse, a negative-yardage play.

Part of the problem may be the use of differing blocking schemes.

“We were dabbling a lot between schemes, whether we were outside zone, whether we were a zone team or a power team, what fit our personnel the best,” Williams said. “As we continue to learn the offense and learn what we’re good at, we’re bound to get better…I think we’re capable of both. I just don’t know if we knew when and where we were supposed to do what. It all comes with newness, new faces, and new players. Everything was new this year, especially for me. I think that played a big role.”

Wide Receivers

It was the Odell Beckham (12 catches for 185 yards and one touchdown) and Rueben Randle (6 catches for 158 yards) show. And both could have had an even bigger day as Beckham was actually targeted 21 times and Randle 13 times. As productive as these two were, the Eagles also had an unbelievable 11 pass defenses in the game.

The Eagles got away with obvious pass interference on Beckham on a few plays, including deep shots in the first and second quarters. Beckham had a nice 22-yard sideline reception on the Giants’ first FG drive on 3rd-and-5. Three plays later he had a 17-yard reception. Beckham had two catches on the Giants’ second-half field goal drive, including a spectacular, leaping 16-yard reception on 3rd-and-and-20 that set up the successful 53-yard field goal. Later in the quarter, Beckham had a shot at a perfectly-thrown deep ball down the middle of the field by Manning but the safety knocked the ball out of Beckham’s arms. Three plays later, Beckham could not come down with another deep pass, this time along the right sideline. Of course, the big highlight was Beckham’s 63-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown.

However, that was basically it for Beckham. “He was sick on he sideline,” said Coughlin. “He was ill and was vomiting and so on and so forth. They held him. He didn’t come back with a lot of strength right there.”

Randle made a great 43-yard catch despite double-coverage on the opening touchdown drive and followed that up on the next play with an 18-yard reception down to the 1-yard line. In the second quarter, Randle made another big play with another athletic 36-yard grab on 3rd-and-7. Three plays later, he caught a 25-yard pass. These plays helped the Giants get into FG range. However, the drive stalled when Randle was flagged with an offensive pass interference (pick) penalty.

Also on the downside, Randle really should have have come down with three more catches, including a 3rd-and-9 pass in the second quarter and a 3rd-and-11 pass on the play before the blocked punt. On the Giants’ third-quarter drive that ended with a 53-yard field goal, Randle had a key 24-yard catch-and-run on 3rd-and-2. After a 15-yard catch by Beckham, Randle appeared to have caught a 34-yard touchdown pass but a holding penalty wiped out the play. Then the inconsistency returned as Randle dropped the very next pass.

The only other receiver targeted in the game was Preston Parker, who caught 2-of-4 passes thrown in direction for 20 yards. He had a key 13-yard reception on 3rd-and-10 two plays before Beckham’s 63 yard catch-and-run.

Tight Ends

Larry Donnell caught 2-of-6 passes thrown in his direction for 26 yards. On the Giants’ first FG drive, Donnell didn’t do a very good job of picking up a pass rusher on an incomplete 2nd-and-5 pass. One play later, Manning tried to hit him deep on the end zone, but he couldn’t make the play and the Giants settled for three points. On the following drive, Donnell got wide open on a 3rd-and-5 play but dropped a pass thrown behind him and the Giants had to punt. Donnell did have a 10-yard catch on 3rd-and-5 in the third quarter. Eli went deep to Donnell again in the fourth quarter but couldn’t connect.

Adrien Robinson could not make a play on a deep pass opportunity.

Offensive Line

Pass protection was pretty good as Eli Manning was not sacked and only officially hit three times. That was quite an improvement over the first Giants-Eagles game when Manning was sacked eight times, especially when you keep in mind that the Giants took a lot of deep shots down the field in this game.

Run blocking remains a sore spot as the Giants only averaged three yards per carry on 25 attempts against the NFL’s 17th-ranked run defense.

For example, on the first play of the second NYG drive, OC J.D. Walton and LG Weston Richburg allowed the Eagles’ nose tackle to run right past them to nail Jennings for a 3-yard loss.

Jennings has no chance as NT runs by Walton and Richburg.

Jennings has no chance as NT runs by Walton and Richburg.

Here you see Fletcher Cox shove Walton back into the backfield, disengage, and nail Williams for no gain.

Fletcher Cox abusing J.D. Walton.

Fletcher Cox abusing J.D. Walton.

After Jenning’s 18-yard run in the third quarter, Walton got shoved back again on a 3-yard loss. Then he made matters worse by getting flagged with a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty. Two plays later, Walton was flagged with a false start and the Giants found themselves in a 3rd-and-29 situation, largely due to Walton.

Of course, the huge offensive line mistake was the holding penalty on LT Will Beatty that wiped out Rueben Randle’s 34-yard touchdown. The Giants had to settle for a field goal instead.

Even late in the game when the Giants were down by 8 points in the fourth quarter, and the Eagles probably looking pass first, the Giants couldn’t run it. Look how neither Walton nor Beatty can get any movement at the point-of-attack.

Both Walton and Beatty stonewalled and Jennings is bottled up.

Both Walton and Beatty stonewalled and Jennings is bottled up.

Defensive Overview

Just another dreadful performance. The Giants’ defense gave up 27 points, 23 first downs, 426 total net yards, 262 passing yards, and 164 rushing yards. The Eagles converted 7-of-16 third-down attempts (44 percent). And Philadelphia gained 20 yards or more on EIGHT plays.

The defense allowed the Eagles to score two touchdowns on their first two possessions, allowed the Eagles to drive the field at the end of the first half to set up an easy field goal, and couldn’t stop the Eagles in the second half once the Giants had twice cut their lead.

Yet after the game, Coughlin – at least publicly – seemed borderline delusional about the play of his defense against an Eagles’ offense led by Mark Sanchez of all people.

“I thought our defense battled,” said Coughlin. “Their first score was right down the field and score, but once we settled down, we did a decent job of holding them. I’m not sure what the number of punts were or anything like that. We did have some three and outs, which was very good and put ourselves in position…Defensively, again, I say we had a good plan, the plan was well taught. I thought we did a pretty good job, although you always say you’re going to try to stop the run. They had a lot of run yardage as it turns out.”

Defensive Line/Linebackers

Really shitty run defense once again against the Eagles as Philadelphia gouged New York for 164 yards, averaging over 5 yards per carry. The pass rush was not as consistent as the team’s four sacks suggest.

The best of a mediocre bunch was Jason Pierre-Paul (5 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 tackles for losses, 2 QB hits). The Giants didn’t get much out of Kerry Wynn (3 tackles) and Damontre Moore (1 tackle) at defensive end. Cullen Jenkins (1 tackle) also played some end but was largely invisible.

The tackles played very poorly, especially Johnathan Hankins (2 tackles, 1 QB hit) and Mike Patterson (4 tackles). Their defense on the goal line early in the fourth quarter was embarrassing as the running back jogged into the end zone untouched. Markus Kuhn (3 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 QB hit) was a little better, but not much.

The linebackers just didn’t make enough plays although Mark Herzlich flashed statistically with 7 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 tackle for a loss. He did sack Sanchez and made a nice tackle short of the first-down marker on a 3rd-and-2 run. Jameel McClain had eight tackles and one pass defense in the end zone at the end of the first half. Spencer Paysinger played but didn’t show up on the stat sheet.

On the first running play by the Eagles – a play that picked up 23 yards – JPP, Patterson, and Hankins were all blocked and McClain overran the play.

JPP, Patterson, and Hankins blocked; McClain overruns the play.

JPP, Patterson, and Hankins blocked; McClain overruns the play.

On the very next snap, both McClain and Herzlich bite badly on the play fake to the left as WR Jordan Matthews crosses wide open behind them to the right en route to his 44-yard catch-and-run TD.

Linebackers leave big hole in coverage by biting on play-action fake.

Linebackers leave big hole in coverage by biting on play-action fake.

On 2nd-and-15 on Eagles’ next possession, note how Hankins and Moore are easily blocked up front and no other linebacker or defensive back is anywhere near the line of scrimmage to help out against LeSean McCoy on an 8-yard run.

Moore and Hankins blocked and no one else there to stop McCoy.

Moore and Hankins blocked and no one else there to stop McCoy.

After Eagles pick up first down on 3rd-and-7, Wynn fails to account for Sanchez on a read option (and McClain is completely driven away from play) on 15-yard run by a nimble-footed quarterback (sarcasm off).

Kerry Wynn bites on play fake and Sanchez runs around him for 15 yards.

Kerry Wynn bites on play fake and Sanchez runs around him for 15 yards.

And then there is this little gem where the Giants’ defense appears unbalanced towards the side with fewer players. Everyone bites on McCoy’s first step to the left before he cuts back to the right and there is NO ONE on the perimeter of the defense to stop the run and McCoy gains 21 easy yards. This was a big play on the Eagles’ touchdown drive that put Philadelphia up 31-19.

No one outside to stop McCoy on 21-yard gain.

No one outside to stop McCoy on 21-yard gain.

How bad was the defense? With the Eagles up by 8 points with 4 minutes left to play, and Philadelphia facing a 3rd-and-18 from their own 8-yard line, the Giants should have been prepared for a draw play. Instead they gave up 17 yards on the draw and almost a first down.

Defensive Backs

Mark Sanchez completed nearly 64 percent of his passes for 292 yards and two touchdowns. WR Jordan Matthews caught eight passes for 105 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown pass. The other wideouts to catch passes were Jeremy Maclin (3 catches for 49 yards) and Riley Cooper (2 catches for 37 yards). The tight ends caught 5 passes for 57 yards and a touchdown.

Mike Harris (10 tackles, 1 interception, 1 pass defense) was beat by TE Zach Ertz for 18 yards on Philly’s first offensive snap. Two plays later, Stevie Brown (3 tackles) looked pathetic and slow trying to make a tackle on WR Jordan Mathews, who is not known for his speed, on his 44-yard touchdown catch-and-run. On the next possession, Harris was beat by Ertz again for 10 yards on 3rd-and-7.

Chykie Brown (6 tackles, 1 pass defense) had good deep coverage on Cooper on the Eagles’ second drive, but he was later flagged on this same drive with a questionable and game-altering 41-yard pass interference penalty on a play where Stevie Brown picked off Sanchez at the NYG 9-yard line. Three plays later, on third-and-goal, TE Brent Celek scored on a 1-yard TD reception by beating Harris who got caught up in the goal line congestion. Harris missed a tackle on McCoy after a short pass early in the 4th quarter on a play that picked up 15 yards and then got beat by Matthews on an 8-yard slant down to the 1-yard line. Chykie Brown got flagged with an offside penalty on 3rd-and-13 that helped the Eagles move a bit closer for their last field goal.

Antrel Rolle (8 tackles) just doesn’t seem to be making plays anymore against the run and the pass. On 1st-and-goal from the NYG 6-yard line, Mark Herzlich gambles on Mark Sanchez keeping the ball on a read-option play. Instead, RB LeSean McCoy has the ball. In my opinion, Rolle has to cover the gap on the potential cutback run more aggressively than he did. Instead, Rolle only makes the tackle after McCoy gains five yards down to the 1-yard line.

Antrel Rolle needs to make the play sooner in the hole on the goal line.

Antrel Rolle needs to make the play sooner in the hole on the goal line.

Late in the third quarter, Rolle had McCoy all alone but let him get away for an 11-yard gain.

Rolle has McCoy 1-on-1 but lets him get away on 11-yard run.

Rolle has McCoy 1-on-1 but lets him get away on 11-yard run.

Rolle also committed a 15-yard face mask penalty on the Eagles’ last scoring drive.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (2 tackles) gave up a big 20-yard completion to Maclin on 3rd-and-16 on the Eagles’ FG drive right before halftime. He also didn’t make much of an effort to get off a block on Matthew’s 44-yard touchdown. Quintin Demps (3 tackles) didn’t make any plays.

But what really drives me nuts are plays where receivers are simply left wide open, either from flaws in the defensive schemes and/or mental mistakes by the players.

Note how no one is anywhere near two Eagles receivers on this 3rd-and-7 play where Matthews picked up an easy 24 yards.

It's 3rd-and-7, not 3rd-and-27.

It’s 3rd-and-7, not 3rd-and-27.

And no one covers Jeremy Maclin on a short crossing route that picked up 25 yards.

Easy pitch-and-catch again for Sanchez and his receiver.

Easy pitch-and-catch again for Sanchez and his receiver.

And at the end of the first half, the corner and safety (Rolle) were nowhere to be found on a 22-yard completion to Cooper.



There were a few positives, but not many. Chykie Brown knocked away one pass. Harris did pick off Sanchez and returned the ball to the Eagles’ 49-yard line and tipped away a pass intended for Ertz in the end zone at the end of the first half.

Special Teams Overview

The punt blocked for a touchdown early in the third quarter was a difference maker. Punter Steve Weatherford’s other six punts averaged 41.8 yards, but only a 33.7 net. The Eagles returned two punts for 15 yards with a long of 13 yards. Zack Bowman made a nice play on one return by tackling Sproles right away.

Josh Brown was 4-of-4 on field goals, including kicks of 38, 20, 36, and 53 yards. Five of his seven kickoffs went for touchbacks. The Eagles returned one kickoff 29 yards and the other only went for 11 yards.

I have no idea why the Giants were trying to draw the Eagles offsides with a hard count on a fake FG attempt since the penalty would not have helped them there. Instead, Weatherford was flagged with a false start.

The Giants did not return a punt as all seven were fair caught by either Rueben Randle (5) or Odell Beckham (2) – bad job by the Giants in holding up the Eagles’ gunners.

Preston Parker’s three kickoffs were returned to the 24, 19, and 20 yard lines. He fumbled his first kickoff return but was fortunate the loose ball was recovered by Mark Herzlich.

(Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants, December 28, 2014)
Dec 282014
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Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (December 28, 2014)

Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The New York Giants lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 34-26 on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. With the defeat, the Giants finished the 2014 NFL season with a 6-10 overall record and 2-4 in the NFC East.

Despite the score, the Giants had advantages total net yards (505 to 426), net yards passing (429 to 262), and time of possession (34:37 to 25:23). But the Eagles scored on special teams (blocked punt) and dramatically out-rushed the Giants (164 to 76). The Giants also were flagged eight times for 106 yards, including a holding penalty that wiped out a a touchdown pass. Each team’s quarterback threw one interception.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (December 28, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Statistically, quarterback Eli Manning and wide receivers Odell Beckham and Rueben Randle had big games. Manning completed 28-of-53 passes for 429 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Beckham caught 12 passes for 185 yards and one touchdown, while Randle caught six passes for 158 yards.

The Giants drove 80 yards in six plays on their first possession of the game to take a 7-0 lead. Randle caught back-to-back passes of 43 and 18 yards, setting up running back Andre Williams’ 1-yard touchdown run.

But the Eagles scored touchdowns on their first two drives of the game and went up 14-7. First the Giants’ defense surrendered a 3-play, 80-yard drive ending with a 44-yard touchdown pass. Then the defense allowed a 7-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown pass.

The Giants had three more scoring possessions in the first half, but each ended with field goals instead of touchdowns. The Giants cut the Eagles lead to 14-10 on a 38-yard field goal by place kicker Josh Brown after the Giants stalled at the Eagles’ 20-yard line. After two three-and-outs by New York, the Giants drove 47 yards in 10 plays, but stalled at the Eagles’ 2-yard line and settled for a 20-yard field goal. Then the Giants drove 71 yards in 10 plays but were forced to settle for a 36-yard field goal after reaching the Eagles’ 3-yard line. At this point, the Giants were up 16-14 with just over two minutes to play in the half.

However, the Giants’ defense allowed the Eagles to drive 66 yards in 11 plays to regain the lead 17-16 by kicking a 32-yard field goal as time expired.

The Giants’ defense forced a three-and-out on the Eagles’ first possession of the second half. The Giants could not gain a first down and sent out the punt team. Disaster struck when punter Steve Weatherford’s punt was blocked and returned 27 yards for a touchdown and Philadelphia went up 24-19 early in the third quarter.

After both teams exchanged punts, the Giants cut the lead to 24-19 after an 8-play, 46-yard drive set up a successful 53-yard field goal by Brown. However, a 34-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Randle was wiped out on this possession due to a holding penalty on left tackle Will Beatty.

Both teams exchanged punts again. The Eagles then drove 65 yards in eight plays, scoring a rushing touchdown from one yard out to extend their advantage to 31-19.

Odell Beckham, New York Giants (December 28, 2014)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The Giants responded with a Manning-to-Beckham special. On the fifth play of the possession, Manning hit Beckham for a 63-yard touchdown pass and the Giants pulled to within five points at 31-26.

But the New York defense could not hold. A 10-play, 53-yard march by the Eagles set up a 39-yard field goal as the Eagles went up by eight points at 34-26 with just under eight minutes to play.

Both teams exchanged punts and the Giants got one more chance with 3:45 to play. But Manning’s deep pass to Randle was intercepted at the Eagles’ 42-yard line and returned 40 yards to the Giants’ 18-yard. The Eagles then ran out the clock to end the game.

Video highlights/lowlights of the game are available at NFL.com.

Injury Report: Safeties Nat Berhe (knee) and Stevie Brown (foot sprain) both left in the first quarter and did not return. Tight end Larry Donnell left later in the second half with an ankle injury and did not return.

Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Post-Game Press Conference: The transcript and video of Tom Coughlin’s post-game transcript are available at BigBlueInteractive.com and Giants.com.

Post-Game Player Media Q&A’s: Video clips of media Q&As with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Post-Game Notes: Inactive for the Giants were WR Corey Washington, TE Jerome Cunningham, OG Eric Herman, OG Adam Gettis, DT Dominique Hamilton, LB Devon Kennard (toe), and CB Jayron Hosley.

The Giants finished 3-5 both at home and on the road.

The Giants allowed 400 this season. It was just the fifth time in franchise history they gave up at least 400 points.

The Giants are 1-20 in regular-season games in which they throw at least 50 passes.

QB Eli Manning finished the season with a Giants-record 601 pass attempts and 379 pass completions. Manning finished the season with 4,410 yards, which is the second-highest total in franchise history. He passed for 4,933 yards in 2011. This was his fourth career 4,000-yard season. Manning threw 30 touchdowns, one shy of his career-high in 2011. Manning finished with 14 interceptions, or 13 fewer than he threw in 2013. Manning’s completion percentage (63.1) was a career-high. His passer rating of 92.1 was the second-highest of highest of his career (93.1 in 2009).

WR Odell Beckham is the first rookie in NFL history and the first Giants player with two 12-catch games in a season. Beckham is also the first NFL rookie with four consecutive games with at least 130 receiving yards and a touchdown. Beckham’s 185 yards is a Giants rookie record. Beckham joins Hall of Famer Michael Irvin as the only players in NFL history with at least 90 receiving yards in nine consecutive games. Beckham’s season totals were 91 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns, all franchise rookie records. Beckham set NFL records for most catches and yards in the first 12 games to start a career. Beckham’s 91 catches were the second-highest total in franchise history, topped only by Steve Smith’s 107 receptions in 2009. Beckham averaged 108.8 yards a game, well ahead of Victor Cruz’s previous Giants record of 96.0, set in 2011.

PK Josh Brown finished the season with 24 successes in 26 attempts (one of the misses was a block), a 92.3 percentage that is a Giants single-season record.

The Giants finished the season with 47 sacks, their highest total since they had 48 in 2011 (they had 34 sacks last season).

DE Jason Pierre-Paul finished the season with 12.5, the highest total by a Giant since JPP had 16.5 in 2011.

NY Post Q&A with QB Eli Manning: A Q&A with Eli Manning by Steve Serby of The New York Post

NJ.com Q&A with DE Jason Pierre-Paul: Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul breaks down his 2014 season | Four Downs by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Article on General Manager Jerry Reese and Head Coach Tom Coughlin: Despite two straight losing seasons, NY Giants would be right to keep duo of Tom Coughlin and Jerry Reese by Ralph Vacchiano of The New York Daily News

Article on Head Coach Tom Coughlin and QB Eli Manning: Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning still a good combination to lead the Giants by Bob Glauber of Newsday

Article on WR Odell Beckham: Why Giants phenom Beckham Jr. says best is yet to come by Steve Serby of The New York Post

Article on OG John Jerry: Giants offensive lineman John Jerry rebuilds reputation after bullying scandal with Dolphins by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Article on the Upcoming New York Giants Offseason: Giants Will Revamp, but in a Considered Fashion by Bill Pennington of The New York Times

Dec 262014
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New York Giants Helmets (October 27, 2013)

New York Giants Helmets – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants, December 28, 2014

The 90th season in the history of the New York Football Giants is about to end. After making the playoffs in five of seven seasons (2005-2011), including winning two NFL titles, the Giants have now missed the playoffs three straight seasons and five of the last six seasons. The Giants have have had two losing seasons in a row for the first time since 2003-2004 (Jim Fassel’s last season and Tom Coughlin’s first season).

With the benefit of time, it is easier to see that the overall problem has been the steady decline of overall starting talent and depth. Injuries have been a factor but so has questionable drafting and free agent moves. The proof is in the pudding. How many players on the current roster would you rank among the best in the NFL? How many are Pro Bowlers?

2014 clearly was not a success. There were some positives, the most important being the reconstruction of QB Eli Manning (who statistically has had one of his best seasons after playing his worst) and the emergence of WR Odell Beckham (perhaps the best player to come out of the 2014 NFL Draft). The tight ends played better than feared. And as could be expected, the offense did improve as players became more comfortable with Ben McAdoo’s system.

But minus Geoff Schwartz and no viable depth, the offensive line continued to remain a terrible liability. The team lost David Wilson for good, Rashad Jennings could not stay healthy, and Andre Williams struggled. The Giants averaged less than four yards per rushing attempt. Victor Cruz suffered a season-ending and potential career-altering knee injury. Rueben Randle did not develop as hoped.

Defensively, for all intents and purposes, the Giants lost Jon Beason during the OTAs. It was anticipated that the Giants’ secondary would be one of the best in team history and carry the defense, but the Giants lost Prince Amukamara, Walter Thurmond, Trumaine McBride, and Cooper Taylor to injury, and Will Hill to drugs. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was never healthy. Antrel Rolle regressed and the other safeties weren’t very good. Linebacker play was at best mediocre. While Jason Pierre-Paul did play better than the previous two years, he didn’t really make a big impact until it was too late. Mathias Kiwanuka didn’t get the job done. Cullen Jenkins was hurt. Johnathan Hankins played above expectations, but Damontre Moore played below them.

By all indications, Tom Coughlin and the bulk of his coaching staff will return in 2015. The larger question is the talent arrow now pointing up or down with this team? The Giants are getting a lot of positive contributions from young players such as Beckham, Richburg, Williams, Donnell, Pugh, Hankins, Wynn, and Kennard. Hopefully guys like Cruz, Amukamara, Ayers, and Schwartz come off season-ending injuries and return to form. But will JPP and Thurmond be back? What about Rolle? Can the Giants adequately address talent-deficiency issues on the offensive line, tight end, linebacker, and safety? There are still some significant questions about the overall state of the defensive line and wide receiving corps too. In a nutshell, the Giants need more impact players…more difference makers.


First Down
Is this Perry Fewell’s last stand?
There has been much speculation that Perry Fewell’s job is in jeopardy. His defense is 28th in the NFL. Injuries undoubtedly have been a factor, but Fewell’s defenses have been cellar-dwellers for much of his tenure in New York. While the defense has improved its play in the last month, that success has come against some of the NFL’s worst offenses. On Sunday, even with Mark Sanchez at quarterback, the Giants will face one of the better offenses and an offense that Perry Fewell has struggled to counter. Perhaps the decision on whether to retain or fire Fewell has already been made. If not, this game may ultimately decide his fate.

Second Down
Can the Giants get out of this game injury free?
Given the fact that this game will be played on December 28, serious injuries suffered in this game could impact a player’s availability in 2015. The last thing the Giants need is another injury to a player important for their future.

Third Down
Can the Giants get over their mental block with the Eagles?
For some reason, in recent years, the Giants have more problems with the Eagles than they do with any other team. The Eagles are a decent team but they should not be giving the Giants as much problems as they have in recent years, including earlier this year when the Eagles absolutely dominated them. To be blunt, there is not a huge talent differential between these two teams. It’s time for New York to man up and take care of business.

Fourth Down
Can Eli Manning and Odell Beckham end the season on high statistical notes?
This game is basically meaningless other than draft position and whether or not the narrative heading into the offseason will be more positive or negative. And football is supposed to be a team sport and not about individual accomplishments. That said, it would be nice for Eli Manning and Odell Beckham to continue to add to their positive overall individual statistical accomplishments. Manning is having one of his best overall seasons ever and it would be nice to further accentuate a very solid TD-to-INT ratio (29-to-13). He is two TDs short of his career high. And his 13 interceptions are his second-lowest ever since he became a full time starter. He’s less than 20 yards from his fourth 4,000-yard season. Odell Beckham? He’s breaking records left and right every time he plays.


The Eagles are 5th in offense in terms of yards gained and 3rd in terms of points scored (over 29 per game). Their fast-break offense enables them to run on average 70 offensive snaps per game which is very high. The Eagles also tend to do very well early in games,  having scored 85 points on their first and second drives.

Partly due to injuries, the offensive line has had its up and downs this year. But the offensive line still has a number of talented players, especially on the left side with LT Jason Peters and LG Evan Mathis. The Eagles have a lot of talent at the skill positions including RB LeSean McCoy (149 rushing yards against the Giants in October), RB Darren Sproles, WR Jeremy Maclin (1,269 yards and 10 touchdowns), WR Riley Cooper, WR Jordan Matthews (7 touchdowns), TE Brent Celek, and TE Zach Ertz (coming off a 15-catch game). McCoy and Sproles can hurt you both running the ball and catching it, and present match-up problems for linebackers in coverage.

The Eagles turn the football over a lot, including both interceptions (20) and lost fumbles (15). Mark Sanchez has been inconsistent at quarterback, and is more at ease with the short- to intermediate-throw than the long ball.

The Eagles are ranked 25th in defense (three spots higher than the Giants). Earlier in the season, turnovers largely covered up bad play. That said, back in October, this 3-4 Eagles defense dominated the Giants at the line of scrimmage and shut out New York. Philadelphia can rush the passer as they are second in the NFL with 49 sacks. RDE Fletcher Cox is very good. Reserve pass rushing specialist DE Vinny Curry has nine sacks. LOLB Connor Barwin has 14.5 sacks and gave RT Justin Pugh fits in the last game. ROLB Trent Cole (6.5 sacks) has a history of playing well against New York. Reserve Brandon Graham can play a number of positions and also rush the passer.

The Eagles secondary isn’t very good. They give up a lot of yards and a lot of big plays. They have given up 64 plays of 20 yards or more, the highest in the NFL. The Eagles are also 23rd in scoring defense, allowing almost 25 points per game (which makes the shutout against the Giants even more disconcerting).

The Eagles have scored six touchdowns on special teams: two on punt returns, two on kickoff returns, and two on blocked punts. Darren Sproles is very dangerous on punt returns as is Josh Huff on kickoff returns.


Odell Beckham
Not to sound like a broken record, but he’s THE reason to watch this game. Can he break 100 yards again?

The Offensive Line
If they can pass protect, the Giants can score a lot of points against this defense.


Tom Coughlin – “Probably the best thing we have done is take care of the football. Offensively, the ball has not been turned over in two weeks, so I am hoping we can do that again.”

Chip Kelly – “(On Odell Beckham) They are moving him around more. Obviously, you have to know where he is at all times. They seem like they are putting him in more positions…In my opinion, I thought he was the best in the draft, I think he is showing people that.”


The Eagles really are a middle-of-the-pack team that was thriving off of turnovers and big plays on special teams earlier in the season. But for some reason, they seem to have the Giants’ number. Offensively, if the Giants can protect Eli Manning, New York can score a lot of points on this defense. Can the offensive line play two strong games in a row against an opponent who rushes the passer so well?

Defensively, the Eagles are a match-up problem for the Giants. Devon Kennard (toe) will not play and the Giants will be forced to play a three defensive back package most of the game with the slow Jameel McClain and Mark Herzlich at linebacker. The Eagles should be able to run and pass against that defense unless Mark Sanchez plays like crap and/or the defensive line dominates. The Giants simply are not athletic (or good enough) at linebacker an safety to cover these backs and tight ends.

The Giants defense was pretty bad against a mediocre Rams offense last week, and it could have been much worse had not the quarterback missed wide open targets. I don’t see the defense playing very hard to save Perry Fewell’s job, and I wonder if this game will mark the last of Tom Quinn too – especially if the special teams gives up a score.

Eagles 38 – Giants 24.

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Markus Kuhn and Mathias Kiwanuka, New York Giants (October 12, 2014)

Markus Kuhn and Mathias Kiwanuka – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Philadelphia Eagles 27 – New York Giants 0

Long-time BBI readers know that in each season, the Giants play a game where we decide not to write the usual position-by-position breakdown because (1) it is too painful to re-watch the game, (2) no one really wants to read how much their favorite team sucked across the board, and (3) there is a need to take a step back and look at the big picture.

This is one of those reviews.

This game was not as close as the 27-0 score. The Eagles out-gained the Giants in total net yards (448 to 253), net yards rushing (203 to 85), net yards passing (245 to 168), and first downs (24 to 12). The Giants punted 10 times, turned the ball over on downs once, and fumble the ball away on another drive. Meanwhile, the Eagles scored on four of their first five offensive possessions and cruised the rest of the way.

But I think this game tells us more about the Giants than the Eagles.

What we do know is the Giants are only the third-best team in the NFC East. They are not as bad as the Washington Redskins, but they are not as good as the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. They are likely to finish the 2014 standings in third place.

It’s difficult to not be emotional following the embarrassing performance against a hated division rival and potential career-altering injury to Victor Cruz. And it’s always imprudent to make definitive statements or dramatic conclusions after a great win or bad loss.

The problem with the loss to the Eagles is that we don’t know if the team was so uncompetitive because their talent is so much worse than the Eagles, they were badly out-coached, or they didn’t match the Eagles’ sense of urgency and passion. The next month will provide us with more definitive answers.

But there are some troubling trends that we should take note of:

  • In the last three seasons, uncompetitive, blowout losses are becoming an all-too-common occurrence with this team. One of the greatest coaches in team history has been left standing at the post-game podium, literally scratching his head without answers (at least publicly) after too many games.
  • This team has an inflated opinion of itself. Two NFL titles will do that. But it’s literally a .500 team over the last two and a half seasons (19-19), with a quite a few embarrassing losses and no playoff appearances. The players talk too much. John Mara admitted that he felt last year’s 7-9 team had as much talent as the Super Bowl teams. And he often comes across as cocky. So does Jerry Reese, who continues to undervalue certain positions, a tendency that has repeatedly come back to bite the team in the ass. There is an arrogance about this team that is no longer deserved.
  • While Roger Goodell and the NFL front office seems to determined to turn the pro game into the version of football we see in Starship Troopers, games are still determined not only by great quarterback play, but in the trenches. When the Giants play well up front, they win; when they don’t, they lose. The Giants are not good enough on the defensive and offensive lines. They are better than they were in 2013, but these areas are still too weak.
  • Special teams hemorrhaging has not abated. It’s been a problem almost every season under Tom Quinn.

All of this becomes moot if the Giants upset the 5-1 Dallas Cowboys next week and go on to win the bulk of their division games and win the NFC East. But I don’t think that is going to happen. Victor Cruz is gone. The once unbelievably deep secondary is rapidly becoming weaker with the departure of Will Hill, the regression of Stevie Brown, and injuries to Walter Thurmond (on IR), Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (who can’t seem to finish a game now), and Trumaine McBride. The schedule is getting tougher and the Giants are already two games back with 10 to play.

The focus by fans, the media, and the team at this point should be more strategic. The Giants need to building for the future rather than taking a short-term approach. To be brutally frank, this is not a Super Bowl caliber team. All attention and effort should be focused on the long-term objective of getting the New York Football Giants back to Super Bowl contention.

With that in mind, let’s consider the following:

  • Eli Manning has proved that he has a lot of good football left in him. He has also proven he not only can adapt to the West Coast system, but he may actually be better suited for it as this state of his career. If the Giants believe that Eli has another good 5-6 years left in him (and I think they do), they have time to construct a better team around him. In the meantime, keep the emphasis on the short-passing attack in order to preserve Eli’s body and state of mind. They may lose many more battles this season, but don’t lose the war (i.e., Eli).
  • The Giants have some weapons in Odell Beckham and Larry Donnell to build around, but not enough. Victor Cruz’s career may be over, or he may never be the same player again. Jerrel Jernigan was drafted to be a slot receiver, but of course, he’s nowhere to be found. Don’t be shocked to see the Giants be in position to find the best prospect at their pick in the first round of the 2015 NFL draft to be another wide receiver. The need is there.
  • Offensively, the rest of the season should be spent on getting Manning and the entire offense more accustomed to the new system. The loss of Cruz will hurt. Teams that were focusing special attention on Cruz will now focus more attention on Larry Donnell and Odell Beckham. The three-headed monster is gone. Those visions of Cruz, Beckham and Donnell tormenting secondaries evaporated before they could be fully implemented. Does Rueben Randle have an NFL future? What about Corey Washington?
  • The Giants need to continue to allocate serious resources to the offensive line. Much of the rest of the season should be spent on seriously evaluating Will Beatty (who was improving until Sunday) and Justin Pugh (who largely shut down JJ Watt but allowed the Eagles pass rushers to blow by him all night). Weston Richburg is likely the center of the future. But Geoff Schwartz wasn’t looking too good before he got hurt. The Giants really could use a stud road grader at guard. And they need better overall depth to shove guys like James Brewer, Charles Brown, and Dallas Reynolds off of the team. The Giants also need to seriously evaluate long-time offensive line coach Pat Flaherty.
  • Do the Giants consider Ben McAdoo a strong future head coaching candidate? If so, it may be time to part ways with Tom Coughlin. This is nothing against Coughlin, easily one of the three greatest head coaches in team history, and still one of the best in the business. But as John Mara, Jerry Reese, and Tom Coughlin have repeatedly pointed out this year after Kevin Gilbride, sometimes change and a shake-up is needed. Coughlin is 68 years old. How well does he relate to 25 year olds now? Has his message grown stale with a team that too often does not appear ready to play? Coughlin does not appear to be able to get his team to shut its mouth. Is a 68-year old the best candidate to oversee a rebuilding team? Perhaps most importantly, by keeping Coughlin, does the team lose out on the next up-and-coming hot coaching candidate? (But also keep in mind these “hot” coaching candidates are more often busts than not).
  • On the subject of coaches, it’s time for Tom Quinn to go. At best, his special teams have been average in good years. But usually, they are a team weakness. He’s been here eight seasons. Enough is enough.
  • I’m not a fan of Perry Fewell. I think he’s OK. The best his defense has ever performed was 2010 (notwithstanding the meltdowns against the Eagles and Packers) and for a 6-game stretch at the end of the 2011 season. But one never really comes away with the impression that, “Wow, we really out-coached the other team’s offensive coordinator.” Fewell seems to play it far too conservatively at times. This team has never been a good blitzing team under him. In years past, the defense has had trouble holding leads. This year, the defense seems to have trouble starting games. Is it more personnel than coaching? Personnel definitely has a significant role, but Fewell just doesn’t do it for me. I think the Giants can do better.
  • On the subject of defensive personnel, the Giants have some tough decisions to make. Antrel Rolle turns 32 in December is will demand a big contract. He may not be the right fit for a rebuilding club. But how will his departure impact DRC, who is signed through the 2018 season? A more difficult question is what do do with JPP? He will demand a mega-contract. He has played much better this year and is probably set for some breakout games. But he has had some injury issues and talks better than he plays. That said, replacing him would be very difficult and the Giants are already lacking in the pass rush department.
  • Also speaking defensive personnel, the team is going to continue to have issues until they get younger, faster, healthier, and more physical at linebacker. The game has changed. You need guys who can run and hit and stay on the field on all three downs. Jerry Reese continues to ignore that fact or attempt to patch up the linebacking corps with short-term free agent solutions and low-round draft picks.
  • In the secondary, hopefully the Giants can re-sign Prince Amukamara and Walter Thurmond to reasonable contracts. But the Giants need help at safety unless Cooper Taylor and Nat Berhe really surprise. The importance of safeties in this league continues to rise.

My final comment is this. I like to think of myself as a logical man, someone not influenced by notions of “luck” and “karma” and “destiny.” But when it comes to football, those concepts sometimes enter my mind. The Giants had two of the most unbelievable and unexpected playoff runs in sports history in 2007 and 2011. It all came together at the right moment for the Giants. In 2007, the “football gods” decided that Eli Manning would turn from a bumbling, stumbling quarterback into a stone-faced assassin. Corey Webster would go from a draft bust to a cornerstone on the post-season defense. Playing hurt, Plaxico Burress would play perhaps his best game on the frozen tundra in Green Bay. Kevin Boss more than adequately filled in for Jeremy Shockey. The Giants defense would hold the highest-scoring offense in NFL history to 14 points. Eli and David Tyree combined for the greatest play in NFL history. In 2011, the Giants made a Super Bowl run with a near-dead last running game and defense. JPP became a one-man wrecking crew. Victor Cruz came out of nowhere to put up monster numbers. Hakeem Nicks had one of the greatest post-season performances by a wide receiver in NFL history. Jake Ballard made clutch plays in close victories.

Then the “football gods” decided that was enough. One by one, those playoff heroes were picked off, often under strange circumstances – Burress, Boss, JPP, Nicks, Cruz, Ballard, among others. It was as if each had their moment in the sun to play during those critical Super Bowl runs, but then, once that moment had passed, those players (or their exceptional ability) were taken away long before they should have been.

I wouldn’t trade 2007 and 2011 for anything. But we appear to be paying the price now. The football gods have decided to give someone else a chance.

(New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles, October 12, 2014)
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Victor Cruz, New York Giants (October 12, 2014)

Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

In a critically important game for both teams, the New York Giants were embarrassed 27-0 by the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field. The Giants fell to 3-3 (1-1 in the NFC East) behind the now 5-1 Eagles and 5-1 Dallas Cowboys. The Giants face the Cowboys next Sunday in a game that may determine the fate of their season.

Worse than losing the game, the Giants lost WR Victor Cruz for the season with a torn patella tendon in his right knee. The injury was so severe that Cruz was forced to stay in a hospital in Philadelphia overnight.

“Oh, it’s (an) incredible (loss),” Head Coach Tom Coughlin said of Cruz. “Huge loss.”

“It was tough to say anything,” QB Eli Manning said. “I just went over and patted him on his shoulder. Even if I did say anything, I don’t think he would’ve heard me, he was in so much pain.”

“That’s extremely tough,” S Antrel Rolle said. “He’s just down there screaming. That’s your brother down there on the floor.”

In addition, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie left the game in the second quarter with a back injury and did not return. CB Trumaine McBride also left the game with injured thumb that required a cast.

As for the game, it was a failure across the board for New York on offense, defense, and special teams.

“In this league, you can’t take days off. You can’t take them off,” Rolle said. “We took (Sunday) off. Everyone took the day off.”

“It starts right here at the top,” Coughlin said. “Very, very poor performance. I take full responsibility for it. And there’s not a lot to say about it. Not a lot to say.”

Offensively, the Giants were shutout, held to 12 first downs, and 253 total net yards (168 yards passing and 85 yards rushing)

The Giants offensive line gave up eight sacks and could not open up holes for the running game. Heading into the game, the Eagles secondary was ranked 29th against the pass, but Eagles’ defensive backs were able to successfully press the Giants’ wide receivers at the line, and forced Manning to hold onto the ball longer than usual.

“It was great coverage,” Eagles’ Defensive Coordinator Billy Davis Jr. said. “We pressed up on guys and we were disguising some coverages, you know with a guy like Eli you have to show him one thing and give him another and just moved it around on him a little bit.”

“That’s the thing,” Eagles’ LB Trent Cole said . “Him holding onto the ball, that surprised me. Eli, he’s a guy that just gets it out quick, gets it to his receivers and he’s very accurate. I’ve always given it to him, I think he’s a great quarterback and I still think he’s a great quarterback. But, hats off to our secondary, man. I’m just very happy about how the were playing and making him hold onto the ball.”

Other Eagles said the Giants’ offense was easy to predict and defend.

“We knew if we gave (Eli Manning) a certain look, he would check to certain things,” said LB Brandon Graham. “We knew (what) was checking at the line…Everything (we thought) was going to happen, happened in the game.”

“I wasn’t surprised,” LB DeMeco Ryans said. “They did the things they showed on film.”

Defensively, the Giants allowed the Eagles to score 10 points on their first two drives as New York quickly found themselves in a 10-0 hole. The Eagles added another 10 points in the second quarter as the game was practically over by halftime.  Philadelphia gained 448 yards of offense, including 203 yards rushing.

Special teams were not better with the Giants giving up a 43-yard punt return and having a punt partially blocked.

The Giants were also penalized 10 times for 74 yards.

The Giants had talked a lot of trash leading up to this game, but in the end, the Eagles had the final word.

“I said when (the Giants) were talking all week that we would see what happened on Sunday,” LB Trent Cole said. “Well, we saw what happened Sunday.”

Notes:  Inactive for the Giants were RB Rashad Jennings (knee), LB Spencer Paysinger (hamstring), OG Adam Snyder, OGBrandon Mosley, OT James Brewer, DT Jay Bromley, and DE Kerry Wynn.