Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants: Takeaways from Philly's 36-21 Win in NY
By no means was this an Eagles-Giants classic. New York’s record dropped to 0-5 on the season, so simply stating the Eagles are back on track seems like a fallacy. After all, Philadelphia is just 2-3 itself.
That said, the Birds desperately needed to win this game or risk their fanbase losing faith in this season, the new coaching staff and a rebuilding project in its infancy. Thankfully, they managed to pull it out—and with their backup quarterback no less.
Give Nick Foles credit. He came into a hostile environment, even fell behind at one point, but managed to keep his poise and help guide Philly to an important victory. We’ll get to their position in the standings in due time, but for now, it’s just a monumental W in a crowded NFC East.
With that being said, there were numerous far-reaching implications stemming from this game, only just beginning with the quarterback position. Here we delve into some of those in our weekly takeaways.
Nick Foles Strong in Relief of Michael Vick
Nick Foles showed his detractors why there needed to be a quarterback competition in Philadelphia over the summer. The backup quarterback promptly led the offense on a two-minute drive for a field goal upon entering the game, then proceeded to bring the Eagles back from a deficit with three more scores.
His touchdown passes to Brent Celek and DeSean Jackson were picture-perfect strikes.
Per ESPN.com's Phil Sheridan, Chip Kelly stated unequivocally in his postgame press conference that Michael Vick will remain the starter as long as he’s healthy. That said, there is no doubt Foles can run the head coach's offense if need be—or if Vick falls out of favor.
Foles completed 16 of 25 attempts for 197 yards and two scores. Vick was 6-of-14 for 105 and no touchdowns. Vick did add another 79 yards on the ground, but he hasn’t completed 64 percent of his passes in a game the way Foles did all season. They may play different styles, but either player appears capable of leading the Eagles.
LeSean McCoy Less Effective Without Vick
As well as Nick Foles acquitted himself in relief of Michael Vick under center, the one aspect of the offense he can’t replace is in the running game. It’s not just the yards Vick posts by himself, either—79 in one half of football against the Giants.
With Foles, the New York defense showed far less respect for LeSean McCoy coming out of the backfield as well. After carrying 12 times for 47 yards with Vick in the game, "Shady" actually lost yards on his final eight carries with Foles in.
McCoy had eight carries for minus-two yards over the final 32 minutes.
That’s probably a huge factor in Chip Kelly being quick to dismiss any notion that Foles could be named starter for next week’s game in Tampa Bay. The second-year QB may have been a bit sharper throwing the football, but the running game is far more explosive with the threat of Vick taking off with a keeper.
Riley Cooper Still Invisible
Good news for the Eagles is DeSean Jackson got back on track, catching seven passes for 132 yards and a score. For that matter, a number of Birds receivers and tight ends were more involved in the passing game, from LeSean McCoy to Zach Ertz.
Noticeably absent on the stat sheet however was Riley Cooper, supposed starting wide receiver.
Cooper was targeted exactly once during the course of 60 minutes but did not come down with a reception. He remains stuck on eight receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown this season. At one point, special teamer Jeff Maehl even got some looks over Cooper at No. 2 receiver.
The Eagles found a way to make it work this week, but the lack of any real presence opposite Jackson will continue to be an issue for the duration of the season it seems.
The Curse of the Slot Is Broken
For three consecutive weeks, the Eagles got killed by the slot receiver. Eddie Royal, Donnie Avery, and Wes Welker combined for 21 receptions, 307 yards and five touchdowns. It stood to reason they would have their hands full with Victor Cruz.
Turns out Cruz was an afterthought in Week 5. The Giants receiver wound up with five receptions for 48 yards and no touchdowns.
Sure, Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle combined to post 15 catches, 238 yards and two touchdowns. The Eagles contained Cruz, though, and not surprisingly the end result was victory.
Give some credit to nickel corner Brandon Boykin for his work in the slot, but defensive coordinator Bill Davis deserves a tip of the hat as well. Anytime Cruz tried to go deep, he was bracketed by at least two defenders—a huge reason why the Eagles were able to keep the Pro Bowler off the board on Sunday.
Brandon Boykin Makes Up for His Mistakes
At one point, Brandon Boykin was on track to be one of the goats of the game. On one series, he was called for fair-catch interference on an Eagles punt to give the Giants good field position at midfield. On the same scoring drive, Boykin yanked Victor Cruz to the ground for a pass interference.
But that’s all forgotten now, seeing as Boykin came up with two of the biggest plays on defense all game.
Bill Davis had Boykin blitzing with some frequency, and it finally paid off in the fourth quarter when the corner got around Eli Manning’s feet to force a batted pass that wound up intercepted. On the very next series, the second-year pro picked one off himself in coverage of Cruz.
Boykin came up big in huge spots and helped the Eagles immensely on the road to victory.
Alex Henery Back on Track
After missing field goals in three consecutive games, Alex Henery finally showed up in a big way. The Eagles kicker nailed all five of his attempts, and at least until midway into the fourth quarter, it looked like the team would need all of them.
Henery’s long for the day was only 41 yards, but nobody will remember the distances a day or two from now. He got the job done, which should thwart calls for his job for at least another week.
It would be nice to see Henery work on consistently kicking off for touchbacks next. The Giants had three opportunities to return the football, which has been another issue for the Eagles special teams this season. They’ll certainly take their kicker converting for three points every time for now, though.
First Place in the NFC East
As Chip Kelly pointed out earlier this week, being in first place in October is meaningless. Where the Birds are in December is the only thing that matters.
That said, the overriding point is despite their three straight losses heading into Week 5, the Eagles suddenly are not in bad shape. It’s October, and as far as the standings are concerned, they are right in the mix for a playoff spot.
Will they get there? Safe money is on probably not, but at least with their win on Sunday, they are in position to make things interesting this season.