Eagles Wake-Up Call: Getting To Know the Giants
Here are five things to know about the Eagles’ Week 6 opponent, the New York Giants:
1. We start with Eli Manning. The offense has been turned over to Ben McAdoo after the team parted ways with Kevin Gilbride in the offseason. It took Manning a couple games to get going, but he’s gone 68-for-97 (70.1 percent) for 734 yards (7.6 YPA), eight touchdowns and one interception in his last three – all Giants victories.
Part of the plan with the new offense has been to get the ball out of Manning’s hands quicker. According to Pro Football Focus, he’s getting rid of the ball in 2.5 seconds or less 65.7 percent of the time. That’s the fourth-highest percentage in the NFL. And Manning’s completion percentage is up from 57.5 last year to 66.3 through five games.
2. Victor Cruz is the Giants’ leading receiver with 321 yards on 21 catches. He’s had some issues with drops, but is getting open downfield. Cruz has seven catches of 20+ yards, tied for fourth-most in the league. Rueben Randle (23 catches, 189 yards) is more of a possession guy. And first-round pick Odell Beckham Jr. made his debut last week, catching four balls for 44 yards and a touchdown. He also drew a 26-yard pass interference penalty.
There were strong indications that Beckham was one of the six players the Eagles were hoping would drop to them in the first round of last year’s draft. But he went off the board at No. 12. Beckham can play inside or outside and is a smooth route-runner. He set up mostly outside last week. Cruz will line up in the slot and match up against Brandon Boykin.
3. The Eagles could be getting a break when the Giants try to run the ball. Rashad Jennings was averaging 4.4 YPC and had 396 yards, but he suffered an MCL sprain Sunday and seems likely to miss Sunday’s game. If Jennings is out, it’ll likely be rookie fourth-round pick Andre Williams carrying the load.
Williams (5-11, 230) is a big back who was a workhorse at Boston College. He’s averaged just 3.1 YPC on 54 attempts this season.
4. Defensively, the Giants’ 10 sacks have been divided among seven different players. Jason Pierre-Paul will line up against Jason Peters. And New York will rotate in a couple former Eagles in Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson. Second-year player Johnathan Hankins (6-3, 320) will provide a challenge for the Birds’ backup interior linemen.
Remember, last year when the Eagles were running the ball all over their opponents, the Giants bottled them up. LeSean McCoy had 35 carries for 94 yards in two games against New York (2.7 YPC). This season, opponents are averaging 4.1 YPC against the Giants (13th).
5. In the secondary, ex-Eagle Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is battling through a left leg injury.
“I would rather that [Rodgers-Cromartie] play and stay out there,” Tom Coughlin said, per the New York Daily News. “Unfortunately, he has felt a need to come off in the last couple of ball games . . . Hopefully, we can overcome it. He thinks he can play through it as he rehabs and feels better about it.”
Prince Amukamara has been playing well at the other cornerback spot. Veteran Antrel Rolle and another former Eagle, Quintin Demps, start at safety.
The Giants lead the NFL with eight interceptions (four came in one game against Kirk Cousins). They’re allowing 8.0 YPA (27th), but opponents are completing just 60.3 percent of their passes against New York (seventh).
WHAT YOU MISSED
Billy Davis and the defense have an uneasy feeling about how they finished Sunday’s game against the Rams.
Trent Cole and the other outside linebackers played a key role in generating a pass-rush against St. Louis.
A comprehensive recap of Eagles-Rams, with the big picture on offense, game balls, five thoughts, snap counts and more.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Tommy Lawlor of Iggles Blitz writes about how opponents have shut down McCoy and Darren Sproles on short passes and screens:
Unfortunately, no one could really get loose and deliver much in the way of RAC yards. Jeremy Maclin had one good WR screen.
It is amazing how teams have shut down the Eagles ability to throw to Sproles and McCoy. They are not effective at all on screen passes and are struggling on other short throws. I’m sure the patchwork O-line is part of that. You need timing to make those throws work. But defenses have also done a good job of diagnosing the plays and not giving them any chance of success at all.
I would guess that Kelly and the staff will spend some time during the bye week trying to see how/why teams are reading the screens so well right now.
Paul Domowitch of the Daily News on the Eagles’ use of more two tight-end sets vs. St. Louis:
Zach Ertz played just 31 snaps Sunday compared to 59 for Brent Celek and a season-high 25 for James Casey. The reason? The Eagles used two-tight end sets on a season-high 37 of their 70 offensive plays against the Rams
The last few games, Chip Kelly has been pairing Celek and Casey together in “12” personnel (one running back, two tight ends, two wide receivers) and using Ertz primarily in three-wide receiver sets. Celek and Casey both are better run-blockers than Ertz, and Kelly is trying to do everything he can to get the stagnant run game going.
The strategy more or less worked. The Eagles ran the ball 22 times with “12’’ personnel and averaged 4.6 yards per carry. LeSean McCoy rushed for 61 yards on 16 carries and Darren Sproles had 41 yards on six carries out of two-tight end sets. McCoy had just 20 yards on eight carries out of three-wide receiver sets Sunday.
We’ll talk to the coordinators and have notes from practice.