Three And Out: Eagles-Giants Predictions
Player I’ll Be Watching
Kapadia: Trent Cole
The long-time Eagle had some fun with reporters this week, saying he was unlikely to play vs. the Giants. But practice reports showed he was a full participant, and it looks like Cole will give it a go after undergoing hand surgery and missing last week’s game.
The 32-year-old has been one of the most productive Eagles draft picks in recent memory. The team selected him in the fifth round in 2005, and he’s started 144 games. Cole has never missed more than two games in a season and has totaled 85.5 sacks.
But he carries a $10M base salary with an $11.6M cap hit in 2015. The Eagles have two options going forward: restructure Cole’s deal and bring him back or part ways with him completely.
“I don’t know. I want to be here. I do. I certainly want to be here,” Cole said. “I want to retire here. It’s a chance for me to be one of the first in Eagles history to retire with just one team.
“They might keep me, and they might not keep me. They might have to go get somebody else to go out there to fill some spots, fill some voids. …But I’d love to be here. I love Philly. This is my home. No matter if I have to leave the Eagles and go play for somebody else, Philly and Jersey will still be my home for when I’m done with football. I want to be here. I want to finish my career out here. I like what we’ve got going on here, and that’s all really I can say.”
Would you be willing to take a pay cut to stay?
“It’s something I can’t comment about,” Cole said. “When that happens, then you’ll know. So I can’t really comment on that. That’s one of those things we can talk about after this game against the Giants.”
Keep an eye on No. 58 Sunday. It could be his last appearance in an Eagles uniform.
McManus: Josh Huff
What to make of the rookie receiver? He has shown flashes — like his record-setting 107-yard kick return against Tennessee and his 44-yard catch-and run versus Dallas — that suggest the Eagles might have a nice playmaker on their hands, but overall it’s been an uneven and unspectacular first year for the Oregon product. He has seven catches on 16 targets for 92 yards on the season and has committed a couple key errors.
“I think he’s made great progress,” said Pat Shurmur. “You know, I think he came in — He probably got a little slower start, and it’s easy to make comparisons to Jordan [Matthews] because they’re both rookie receivers, but he probably had a little slower start than Jordan. But he came back off his injuries, has done an outstanding job in the return game, and I think he’s a very explosive player [and] it’s starting to click for him. So I think he’s got a very, very bright future.”
It’s key that Huff develops into a productive player for this team. Wide receiver draft classes like last year’s do not come along often, and the Eagles chose Huff and Matthews out of a loaded crop. Matthews (59 catches, 767 yards, 7 TDS) looks like a winner. If Huff blossoms, Chip Kelly could have a very nice trio (assuming Jeremy Maclin re-signs) moving forward. If he falters, it’s a bit of a different story.
A big game out of Huff in the finale could offer this team and its fan base some needed encouragement heading into the long winter.
Over/under: 125 receiving yards for Odell Beckham, Jr. – Whaddya got?
Kapadia: I can already hear the post-game quotes now…
“Well, we thought Bradley [Fletcher] could handle him in that spot,” [Billy] Davis said. “We had Nate helping on Larry Donnell. Beckham’s a good player, but certainly 294 yards is too much to give up to any one player.”
I’m sorry. That wasn’t nice and certainly not in the holiday spirit. But yeah, I’ll take the over.
McManus: The coaches wouldn’t publicly commit to Fletcher being the starter this week, but players suggested that it was pretty much status quo at practice. No matter who starts at left corner, I don’t expect many one-on-one deep ball opportunities for Beckham. Davis must recognize by now that his corners cannot be left on an island against elite talent. Right? It was a lesson hard-learned and learned too late, but I do think you will see adjustments in this game.
Kapadia: Giants 31, Eagles 17
These guys are professionals and will give full effort. But it’s tough to reach the same emotional level when you were just eliminated from the playoffs the week before. For the Giants, that’s not an issue because they’ve been “playing for nothing” for weeks now.
The last time we covered a finale at MetLife Stadium was the first year of Birds 24/7. McManus and I made the drive back from North Jersey discussing what the future might hold for this franchise. When would Andy Reid be fired? Who would the Eagles target as the next head coach? What about the quarterback situation?
The questions are obviously different this time around, but there are several questions. Teams could go after Tom Gamble as a GM candidate as soon as next week. Chip Kelly and the front office have all kinds of decisions to make on scheme and personnel. The Eagles can’t afford to make mistakes during free agency and the draft.
We’ll see how the team performs at 1 p.m., but more interesting will be what is said in the locker room afterwards and during clean-out day on Monday.
McManus: Giants 28, Eagles 24
Agreed, Sheil: Despite the coaches’ and players’ best efforts, it’s hard to guard against a letdown given what has transpired over the last couple weeks.
I think that conversation on the way back down 95 might be more interesting than the game itself. Onto the most critical offseason of Kelly’s young professional career.