Eagles Wake-Up Call: A Giant Statement

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA Today

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA Today

The Giants waited until the home team was off the field before gathering at the 50-yard line at the conclusion of warm-ups, their cleats digging into the Eagles’ logo. Led by Jason Pierre-Paul, a handful of players began stomping up and down on the emblem in a clear sign of defiance.

When Chip Kelly‘s crew returned and the game began, not a sliver more of disrespect was permitted. And it was the Eagles that did the stompin’ on their way to a 27-0 win and a 5-1 record.

“They can do all that,” said Lane Johnson, “but it’s basically whatever happens between the whistles that counts. We did that tonight; they didn’t.”

The defense got into the spirit of Black Sunday at the Linc by throwing a 100-by-53 1/3 yard cloak over the playing surface. The Giants had yielded seven sacks through their first five games. They surrendered eight to the Eagles on Sunday night. Connor Barwin led the charge with three sacks, Vinny Curry had a pair and Brandon Graham, Brandon Bair and Trent Cole each had one. Cole’s nine career sacks versus New York is a personal best against a single team.

“I think Billy Davis called a great game because [Eli Manning] was obviously confused,” said Barwin. “And our secondary did a tremendous job jamming the receivers, giving them different looks. Because the last three weeks what we’ve seen is Eli catching the ball and throwing it. Today he was catching the ball and going to his second, third read, and that’s how we were able to get pressure on them.”

A couple weeks back, the Eagles were victimized by a San Francisco defense that often knew what was coming. Against New York, they flipped the script. Based off study of the Giants’ formations and audibles, Davis’ group had a good feel for what the Giants were going to run before the ball was snapped, and how to get Manning to play right into their hands.

“We knew if we gave him a certain look he would check to certain things. Coach Davis had a great game plan and everything he said would happen, happened in the game,” said Graham. “It helped us a whole lot to play a lot faster. It obviously showed out there.”

The result was the Eagles’ first shutout since December 1, 1996 against these Giants by a score of 24-0.

“A shutout? 27-0? That’s rare,” said Davis. “I’ve only been a part of a couple shutouts in my career, and that’s twenty-something years in the NFL. They’re hard.”

In total, this was the most well-rounded and impressive performance by the Eagles to date. The defense was dominant. LeSean McCoy came to life, rushing for 149 yards on 22 carries. Special teams continued its impressive play. Chris Maragos came up with a partial block on a punt and, thanks in large part to Darren Sproles, the Eagles owned the field position battle.

Sproles’ knee injury is of concern. He will have an MRI Monday morning. And there will be some talk surrounding Nick Foles, who threw two interceptions and now leads the league in turnovers.

But above all else, this was a statement win for the Eagles. Because of the way the previous five games unfolded, it was widely questioned — including by a couple members of the Giants — whether the substance of this squad matched the quality of their record. On Sunday night, they showed that they deserve to be recognized as one of the top teams in the league.

“Who said we were a soft 4-1? We’re 5-1 now,” said Cary Williams. “Is that soft, too?”

WHAT YOU MISSED

Following the Eagles 27-0 shutout of the Giants, we have instant observations.

Darren Sproles left the game with a knee injury which led to Trey Burton taking some carries in the fourth quarter.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Rich Hofmann of the Daily News writes about LeSean McCoy‘s strong performance:

There was no talk of lingering injuries or a stitched-together offensive line, not this night. Instead, against the New York Giants, all of the concern was replaced by the pretty unanimous observation that McCoy and the Eagles’ running game looked like themselves again.

“The guys up front just blew ‘em off the line, all game,” McCoy said. “…As a running back, you start getting in your groove. You start picking them apart.”

From the first drive to the end of the game, McCoy had room to maneuver and did just that. The Eagles beat the Giants, 27-0, and McCoy finished with 149 yards rushing on 22 carries. It was his first 100-yard game of the season and, along the way, he passed the great Steve Van Buren and moved into third place on the Eagles’ all-time rushing list.

Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com gives his observations of the game:

The return of LeSean McCoy, the return of the pass rush, the return of pass protection, the return of competent cornerback play, and the first complete performance this year by the Eagles.

It was a historic night in South Philadelphia Sunday, with the Eagles recording their first shutout in 18 years. And a national TV audience saw just how dominating this football team can be when it plays at a high level on both offense and defense.

Yeah, the Cowboys are hot, yeah, they went into Seattle and beat the Seahawks. Good for them. But the Eagles are 5-1 going into the bye week, and they haven’t played their best ball yet. This division is a long way from being decided. I still like the Eagles’ chances.

COMING UP

Sheil’s Zone Read is coming your way. We’ll speak to Chip Kelly this afternoon.