Eagles vs. Giants Instant Observations
East Rutherford, N.J. — The Eagles (4-4) fell to the Giants, 28-23, and are now 0-3 in NFC East games. Here’s what we saw:
*After entering the game throwing just three interceptions in his first 228 pass attempts, Carson Wentz was picked off twice in his first three pass attempts against the Giants. Both were bad throws, and both featured Wentz moving around the pocket because of some pressure. The rookie rolled to the right and put the ball too far ahead of Nelson Agholor on the first one, and he stepped up in the pocket to deliver a ball too high over the middle to Dorial Green-Beckham on the second one.
*However, Wentz settled down after his early mistakes. He finished the game completing 27 of his 47 passes for a career-high 364 yards. Doug Pederson did a nice job of getting his quarterback some open targets with good play-calls featuring play-action, while Wentz did his part and delivered a few good balls. Both Trey Burton and Zach Ertz recorded receptions of at least 30 yards in the first half, while Bryce Treggs used his speed to easily beat the Giants deep on a 58-yard catch in the second quarter. Wentz’s throw was short of Treggs, which prevented the Eagles from scoring a touchdown, but there was a notable amount of wind on the field that likely affected the deep ball.
*Zach Ertz had his best game of the season by a mile as he tallied season-highs in receiving yards (97) and catches (eight). In his last two games against the Giants, the tight end has 17 catches for 249 yards.
*Treggs provided the Eagles with a field-stretcher they haven’t had at all this season, with his long reception setting up Ryan Mathews’ 8-yard touchdown run two plays later. According to CSN’s Reuben Frank, Treggs’ 58-yarder is the longest catch by an Eagle in his first career game. Jason Dunn, who hauled in a 54-yarder in 1996, was the previous record holder.
*After criticizing himself for being too conservative last week, Pederson decided to go for it on fourth-and-2 from the Giants’ 23-yard-line on the first play of the second quarter. I think the decision to go for it was fine, but the play call was highly questionable. Wentz lost four yards on a designed quarterback run to the outside. While it’s completely reasonable to let Wentz use his size on inside runs in short-yardage situations, he’s not going to beat many defenders to the edge.
*Later in the second quarter, Pederson went for it on fourth-and-1 from the Giants’ 6-yard-line, but Darren Sproles picked up zero yards. The Eagles, who entered the game 5-for-5 on fourth-down attempts, left six easy points on the board because they failed to convert either one in the second quarter.
*However, in the fourth quarter, Pederson again went for it on fourth-and-9 from the Giants’ 46-yard-line, and Wentz completed a 25-yard pass to Jordan Matthews. Pederson’s aggressiveness paid off a few plays later when Sturgis made a 38-yard field goal.
*The Eagles’ defense gave up two quick touchdowns early on, but the Giants only needed a combined 61 yards because of their fantastic field position after Wentz’s interceptions. Still, the Birds allowed 21 first-half points for the third time in eight games this season. Eli Manning finished the game with a passer rating of 96.6 after completing 22 of his 36 passes for 257 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.
*Jim Schwartz’s unit, which only allowed eight passing touchdowns in the first seven games, gave up half that amount in three quarters against Manning. The pass rush was virtually non-existent as the defense tallied just two quarterback hits and one sack.
*The third touchdown was given up largely because of Leodis McKelvin. The cornerback was beaten several times in the first half, including twice on New York’s 86-yard scoring drive. He allowed a 46-yard catch to Victor Cruz, which gave the Giants the ball just nine yards from the end zone. Two plays later, McKelvin gave up a touchdown catch to Odell Beckham, Jr.
*Nolan Carroll had an impressive fourth-quarter interception by stealing the ball from Beckham as the Giants receiver was going to the ground in Philadelphia territory. Later, Jordan Hicks picked off Manning by diving to grab the ball. Hicks’ pick gave the Eagles the ball at New York’s 34-yard-line.
*We’ll have to look at a replay to be sure, but it appeared Jaylen Watkins was the Eagle who collided with McKelvin on the Giants’ second touchdown, leaving McKelvin’s man open for the score. Watkins played a lot of snaps in the first half as Malcolm Jenkins slid down to slot corner in nickel, a position Jenkins performed very well in the first two quarters. However, Jenkins allowed Sterling Shepard’s 32-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter.
*Darren Sproles returned a punt 66 yards in the second quarter, and although he’s an electrifying player who’s tough to bring down in the open field, give Eagles special teams coach Dave Fipp some credit. Philadelphia’s return calls/blocking schemes often give their returners good running lanes, which Sproles benefited from on this big return.
*Caleb Sturgis’ 40-yard field goal toward the end of the second quarter was blocked, with the Giants returning the ball to Philadelphia’s 47-yard-line. However, the Eagles’ defense forced a turnover on downs, so New York didn’t pick up any points off it.