Philadelphia Eagles: How the Eagles Match Up Against the New York Giants

Alexander OnushcoContributor IIIJuly 10, 2012

Philadelphia Eagles: How the Eagles Match Up Against the New York Giants

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    The Philadelphia Eagles have a good team on paper, but how does it stack up against the Super Bowl champs?

    Last year’s champions have a deep and talented roster with studs on both sides of the ball.  With an offseason of changes made to each team, it is fair to wonder which of these NFC East teams is more talented.

    Obviously, much more than talent alone factors into the outcome of a football game, but let us find out who has the better team on paper.

Quarterbacks

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    Philadelphia Eagles: Michael Vick, Mike Kafka, Nick Foles

    New York Giants: Eli Manning, David Carr, Ryan Perrilloux

    The success of an NFL team begins and ends with its starting quarterback and both the Eagles and Giants have very good ones.

    On one side, you have Michael Vick, who is perhaps the most electrifying quarterback in the game.  Not only does he have the arm strength to make most throws, but his legs give him a distinct advantage over Eli Manning when the pocket begins to collapse.

    On the other, you have Eli Manning, who is one of the most clutch quarterbacks currently playing.  A true pocket passer, Manning makes great reads and is able to dish the rock around rather than focus in on his top receiver.

    Of the two, fans would likely prefer the one with the two Super Bowl rings.  While Vick has big-play potential, the consistency and ball security is not always there. 

    As for the second- and third-stringers, Carr may have the most experience, but both Kafka and Foles offer more potential.  Eagles head coach Andy Reid knows how to groom a quarterback to be successful in his system. There is a good chance that either Kafka or Foles turns into a big trading chip after teams see them start a few games and put up solid numbers. 

    Winner: New York Giants

Running Backs

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    Philadelphia Eagles: LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis, Bryce Brown, Chris Polk

    New York Giants: Ahmad Bradshaw, David Wilson, D.J. Ware

    LeSean McCoy is the superstar of this group, and rightfully so.  He is a home-run threat, goal line back and pass-catcher all put together in an elusive package.  He has a knack for making impossible cuts, leaving defenders with broken ankles.  Given his age and talent, there may not be a more desirable back in the league to own over the next five years.

    The Eagles have a bunch of unproven but potential-laden backs behind McCoy.  Lewis is a smaller version of McCoy who isn’t afraid to run between the tackles, and both Brown and Polk offer intriguing skill sets that could equate to becoming a three-down back if need be.

    Bradshaw is a quality running back, but has significant injury concerns.  He has proven to be a versatile back when paired with a bigger back, but cannot carry the entire load over the course of a full season. 

    Fortunately, the Giants recognized this and drafted David Wilson with their first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.  Wilson offers much more explosion than Bradshaw and has a fresher pair of legs, which may translate to him eventually supplanting Bradshaw as the Giant’s No. 1 back.  Behind him, the Giants have D.J. Ware, who is capable but offers no exceptional skills. 

    Winner: Philadelphia Eagles

Wide Receivers

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    Philadelphia Eagles: DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, Marvin McNutt

    New York Giants: Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Domenik Hixon, Rueben Randle, Jerrel Jernigan

    When happy, DeSean Jackson is the league’s preeminent deep threat.  Last year, he wasn’t happy.  This year, he has a brand new contract and should be motivated to prove that last season was an exception rather than the norm. 

    He will take the top off of defenses, allowing Jeremy Maclin to take advantage of favorable coverage.  Maclin looks poised to finally eclipse the 1,000 yard mark in 2012.  Jason Avant is as steady as they come, and is one of the most efficient slot receivers in the league.

    Behind them, there are questions about who else can step up and be a contributor.  The Eagles have a need for a big receiver, but it remains to be seen whether Riley Cooper or Marvin McNutt can be the solution.

    The Giants had one of the better receiving duos last season, with Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz both notching at least 1,000 yards receiving. 

    Nicks looks like the No. 1 receiver and has the size and speed to pose problems for most cornerbacks, whereas Cruz uses his salsa-smooth moves to break big gains after the catch.

    One of the battles to watch in training camp is who emerges as the team’s replacement to Mario Manningham.  Rueben Randle was drafted in the second round and has the talent to move up the depth chart, but Domenik Hixon won’t make it easy for him.

    Overall, both teams have an envious group of receivers, but the Giants win this one based on last year’s production.

    Winner: New York Giants

Tight Ends

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    Philadelphia Eagles: Brent Celek, Clay Harbor, Brett Brackett

    New York Giants: Martellus Bennett, Travis Beckum, Adrien Robinson

    Brent Celek provides the Philadelphia Eagles with a nice blend of pass-catching ability and blocking prowess.  His receiving numbers may not rank among the elite at his position, but is one of the league's better blocking tight ends.  That is rare in this day and age of tight ends primarily being big receivers.

    Clay Harbor and Brett Brackett are fighting for the No. 2 tight end position, and the winner should see a fair amount of snaps and targets over the course of the season.  Harbor is the incumbent and flashed promising receiving skills last season.

    The Giants suffered critical blows to the tight end position when both their tight ends from last year suffered severe injuries. 

    To lessen the blow, they signed free-agent Martellus Bennett during the offseason to be their No. 1.  Bennett was an excellent blocker while with the Cowboys, but never really emerged as a receiving threat.  He has the physical tools to exceed, but it remains to be seen how effective he can be as a team’s primary receiving tight end.

    Adrien Robinson was drafted this past April with hopes of him eventually becoming a receiving threat.  He has an intriguing blend of physical tools and should be monitored closely in training camp to see how he progresses.

    Winner: Philadelphia Eagles

Offensive Line

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    Philadelphia Eagles: Demetress Bell, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Danny Watkins, Todd Herremans

    New York Giants: Will Beaty, Kevin Boothe, David Baas, Chris Snee, David Diehl

    The loss of left tackle Jason Peters puts a damper on the expectations of the Eagles’ offensive line in 2012, but they still have quality pieces in place to protect Vick.  Todd Herremans and Evan Mathis are the veterans of the bunch, and both played exceptionally well as the season progressed in 2011.

    Jason Kelce and Danny Watkins started as rookies last season, and initially had trouble but eventually became solid linemen.  Both should be better with an offseason to build chemistry with the other starters. It remains to be seen how well Demetress Bell will perform in place of Peters at left tackle.

    The Giants offensive line gives Eli Manning ample time, but is average at best.  They are also getting up in age, with the average age of the starters nearly 30.  It is fair to wonder how many more years the unit can play together and still remain effective, but for now, they will get the job done.

    Winner: Philadelphia Eagles

Defensive Ends

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    Philadelphia Eagles: Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Vinny Curry, Brandon Graham, Darryl Tapp, Philip Hunt

    New York Giants: Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Justin Trattou, Adrien Tracy

    Perhaps the biggest strength of both teams, the defensive ends of the Eagles and Giants are some of the best in the league.

    The Eagles have two stud pass-rushers in Trent Cole and Jason Babin.  Babin thrives in the Wide-9 scheme, where he is able to do what he does best and get after the quarterback.  Cole is rather underrated by the national media, even though he is as consistent as they come.  His tackling prowess is impeccable for a defensive end.

    What makes the Eagles’ unit deadly, however, is their ability to keep players fresh by using a rotation without seeing a significant drop off in production.  Brandon Graham, Darryl Tapp and Philip Hunt all offer quality pass-rushing skills. 

    The team also added another end through the end with rookie Vinny Curry.  Many consider him a bargain in the second round, and he should push for more snaps as the season wears on.

    The Giants arguably have the best defensive end in all of football in Jason Pierre-Paul.  A dominant sack-specialist with the ability to generate lots of pressure and make big plays, Pierre-Paul is still young and has many more strong years ahead of him. 

    Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora comprise the rest of the big three, and both offer considerable pass-rushing skills.

    Behind them, however, there is not much.  Based on individual talent, the Giants have the better starters.  But the Eagles win this one because they have a potent combination of talent and depth, and their entire defensive unit as a whole is better than the Giants.

    Winner: Philadelphia Eagles

Defensive Tackles

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    Philadelphia Eagles: Cullen Jenkins, Fletcher Cox, Mike Patterson, Derek Landri, Antonio Dixon

    New York Giants: Chris Canty, Linval Joseph, Marvin Austin, Rocky Bernard, Shaun Rogers

    The Eagles will likely start the year with Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson as their starting defensive tackles, and both are solid players. 

    Jenkins has a knack for collapsing the pocket and generating pressure on the inside.  As the season progresses, it wouldn’t be shocking to see first-round pick Fletcher Cox eat into Patterson’s snaps and eventually take his place as a starter. 

    Much like with the defensive ends, the Eagles are ridiculously deep at defensive tackle.  Derek Landri played well with limited snaps and was resigned during the offseason.  He should continue to be part of a rotation along with Antonio Dixon, who has flashed potential.

    The Giants’ best defensive tackle is Chris Canty, who has proven to be a quality starter in the league.  Linval Joseph and Marvin Austin should battle for snaps next to him, and both offer some upside.  As a unit, however, there isn’t much to write home about.

    Winner: Philadelphia Eagles

Linebackers

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    Philadelphia Eagles: DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Brian Rolle, Jamar Chaney, Casey Matthews

    New York Giants: Chase Blackburn, Michael Boley, Mathias Kiwanuka, Greg Jones, Jacquian Williams

    DeMeco Ryans was the biggest offseason acquisition the Eagles made in 2012 and is expected to come in and be the three-down middle linebacker the team has been missing for the past few seasons.  The team then drafted rookie linebacker Mychal Kendricks and have already placed him into the starting lineup at strong-side linebacker.  Both players look like upgrades over last year’s starters, and should rack up plenty of tackles. 

    On the weak side, Brian Rolle and Jamar Chaney are battling to start.  Both are average starters, with Rolle perhaps having a little more upside.

    The Giants seem ready to head into training camp with Chase Blackburn as their middle linebacker.  Blackburn is reliable, but is unspectacular.  Michael Boley and Mathias Kiwanuka will man the other linebacker spots and have proven to be quality starters.

    Behind them, Greg Jones and Jacquian Williams will continue to develop in hopes of being starters somewhere down the line.

    Winner: Philadelphia Eagles

Cornerbacks

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    Philadelphia Eagles: Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Joselio Hanson, Brandon Boykin, Curtis Marsh

    New York Giants: Corey Webster, Terrell Thomas, Prince Amukamura, Justin Tryon, Jayron Hosley

    Nnamdi Asomugha was often the scapegoat for the Eagles' defensive woes last season.  This season, he will be playing in a scheme that better suites his strengths, so it is reasonable to suggest a bounce-back year.  However, don’t be surprised if he never regains the dominance he had with the Oakland Raiders.

    With Asante Samuel gone, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie enters the lineup opposite Asomugha. He has much to prove after failing to make an impact in his first year as an Eagle.  One player to keep an eye on is Curtis Marsh, who may see more snaps if he has a solid training camp.

    The Giants will roll with Corey Webster, Terrell Thomas and Prince Amukamura as their top cornerbacks.  Webster was surprisingly effective last year as the team’s best cornerback, and Thomas should see a bounce-back season after suffering a severe injury last year.

    Amukamura still needs to live up to his billing as a first-round pick, but has the talent to do so.  Expect to see more of him in 2012.

    Winner: New York Giants

Safety

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    Philadelphia Eagles: Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman, O.J Atogwe, Jaiquawn Jarrett

    New York Giants: Kenny Phillips, Antrel Rolle, Tyler Sash, Stevie Brown

    Arguably the biggest weakness for the Eagles, safety is a position of concern heading into training camp.  Nate Allen looks poised for a bounce-back season after coming on strong late in 2011.  He is guaranteed one of the starting positions. 

    Next to him, it remains to be seen who out of Kurt Coleman, O.J. Atogwe and Jaicquawn Jarrett will win the starting gig. 

    Coleman is the incumbent and has the most experience in the system, but his play left much to be desired.  Jarrett has yet to make an impact for this team, and will start being labeled a bust if he does not win the starting job.  Atogwe is viewed as more of a backup who can come in and start if one of the others go down with an injury.

    Kenny Phillips and Antrel Rolle are both capable starters for the Giants and should have the same roles as last year.  Rolle had a bit of a down year in 2011, but there are no signs that indicate he cannot improve.  Behind the starters, the Giants hope they have a future starter in Tyler Sash.

    Winner: New York Giants

Overall

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    Philadelphia Eagles (6): Running Back, Tight End, Offensive Line, Defensive End, Defensive Tackle, Linebacker

    New York Giants (4): Quarterback, Wide Receiver, Cornerback, Safety

    The New York Giants have the better aerial attack and secondary, but the Philadelphia Eagles outgun them in every other category. 

    Granted, a few of these positions are so close that arguments could be made for choosing one over the other.  Both teams look headed toward at least nine wins in 2012, and it would not be surprising if both made it to the playoffs.

    On paper, however, the Eagles have the better team by a small margin.