How the New York Giants Can Slow Down Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles
Coming off a spectacular Super Bowl win, the Giants defense—who played so good during their six game championship run—was suppose to carry over their dominance in 2012-13.
Instead, the Giants took a major step backwards. By allowing a miserable 6,134 total yards and 383.4 yards per game, Big Blue ended their 2012-13 season by producing one of the worst defenses in franchise history.
Now with Chip Kelly riding into town on his fast tempo high horse, the New York football Giants have a chilling task ahead of them.
Figuring out a way to slow down Kelly and his new look Philadelphia Eagles offense coming off a horrendous 2012-13.
Learn How to Stop the Run
The Giants defensive struggles last season touched every part of their defense. But one of the biggest reasons teams were able to move the ball up and down the field on the G-Men was due to their lack of run defense.
Sure for the most part of 2011-12 the Giants' rush defense wasn't very good (ranked 24th league wide), but in 2012-13 Big Blue somehow managed to actually get worse at stopping the run.
Allowing a whopping 4.6 yards per carry, the Giants finished the season as the 27th ranked rush defense in the NFL.
So what's the cause of these huge lapses when it comes to controlling the ground game?
Even though Justin Tuck has become a mediocre pass rusher, his run stopping skills have remained intact. On the other side of the line, Jason Pierre-Paul is still an elite run stopper, while defensive tackles Linval Joseph and Chris Canty have always done a nice job clogging up the middle.
The Giants' horrible rush defense comes courtesy of their linebacking core.
The inability to close gaps, disrupt the line of scrimmage and force runningbacks to adjust has created huge problems for this defense.
If the 2013-14 Giants have any hope in stopping Chip Kelly and his spread/run attack, they need to improve at linebacker. Whether it's building through the draft or dipping into free agency, any success Big Blue might have against the Eagles starts with stopping the run.
Stop Giving Up the Big Play
Whether it's a player out of position or making the wrong read, one mistake on the defensive side of the ball can lead to catastrophic results in this offensive-friendly environment.
When you line up against a Chip Kelly offense, you are lining up against an offense that is fueled by defenses making mistakes.
Blow your coverage or miss a read, and before you can recover chances are the Eagles will be enjoying the sweet nectar of pay dirt.
That's why one of the main priorities for Big Blue this offseason should be learning to limit mistakes, and stop giving up the big play.
In 2012-13, the Giants allowed 60 pass plays of 20 yards or more (fourth-worst in the league), 29 passes of at least 30 yards (last in the NFL) and 13 pass plays of 40 yards or more (second-worst in the NFL).
Those numbers are down right terrible. If you're Kelly, you can't help but have dreams about attacking that Giants defense.
So how do they fix it?
Well first, it's going to be up the coaching staff and defensive veterans to make sure that everyone has their head on straight come game day. Limiting mistakes from the top, down.
Secondly, Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell needs to simplify his coverage schemes and let guys play to their strengths.
By playing smart and staying true to their assignments, the Giants should be able to bother Kelly's offense enough to slow them down.
Remember, this isn't college football. The NFL is made up of the best players in the world. If the Giants can play mistake-free football, the Eagles offense may never fully be able to get off the ground.
Develop a Consistent Pass Rush
Thanks to the decline of Justin Tuck, and Jason Pierre-Paul facing bone crushing double teams all season long, the once glorified Big Blue pass rush became a thing of the past.
It's Giants Football 101. Rushing the quarterback is just what Big Blue does.
For the G-Men to stand any chance against Chip Kelly and his fast paced spread offense, they will need to get their big bodies in the Eagles' backfield on a consistent basis.
If the Giants can't rely on the likes of Tuck and JPP to create problems for the Philly line, then it's up to Fewell to realize he has to bring more pressure.
Rushing five or six players effectively could disrupt the offensive rhythm of the Eagles, therefore slowing the game down.
It is well-known that pressure bursts pipes. That's why a big part of the Giants' defensive scheme against Kelly will come down to them forcing the Eagles to make mistakes with their relentless pass rush.
While we don't know how much of Chip Kelly's Oregon playbook will be transitioned over to Philadelphia, we do know what Chip Kelly likes to do.
He likes quarterbacks who can throw as well as run. He likes a physical offensive line with great blocking schemes to compliment it. And he loves a fast tempo. A tempo that leaves defenses gasping for air.
But the most important thing the Giants need to remember in 2013 is that Chip Kelly likes to run the ball. Don't let the design of the spread offense fool you, Kelly is a disciple of the ground game.
Knowing all of that, one major component the Giants' need to implement if they are to have any success against the Eagles next season is their ability to play physical.
During his tenure in Oregon, Chip Kelly's teams struggled against smart, physical defenses.
Whether it was Auburn or Stanford, the defenses' that found the most success against the Ducks were the ones who were able to shed their blocks and create havoc in the backfield.
If the Giants can stop the Eagles at the point of attack, it will lead to many three and outs.
Like I said earlier, this is not college. And while I believe Chip Kelly will find success during his time in NFL, I also believe a ton of well coached teams will able to slow him down with a physical, grinding defensive approach.
The Giants need to embrace that approach in order to have any success against the Eagles moving forward.
Creative Game Planning
It's time to for the G-Men to take a page out of Stanford's defensive playbook.
Outside of their elite physical abilities, the Stanford Cardinal defense made it extremely difficult for Kelly's offense to find a rhythm.
By masking blitzes, staying true to their assignments and crashing down on the offensive line, the Stanford Cardinals were able to disrupt Oregon's attack and slow down the crucial read-option component of Kelly's spread.
If the Giants want to find a similar path to success when they battle the Eagles, then they will need to get creative on the defensive side of the ball.
Sure basic formations may work at times, but we all know Kelly is an innovator. He will diagnose and adjust to the Giants looks as he sees fit.
That's why it may come down to a chess match of sorts between Fewell and Kelly.
Can Fewell disrupt the Eagles' offense enough to slow down their attack? Can the Giants become the Stanford Cardinals of the NFC East?