NY Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Breaking Down New York's Game Plan

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NY Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Breaking Down New York's Game Plan
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

The New York Giants haven’t won a road game since Oct. 28, 2012, a 29-24 win over the Dallas Cowboys. That’s eight straight road losses for the one-time road warriors.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles haven’t won at home since Sept. 30, 2012, a 19-17 decision against the Giants.

Which of these two teams will see their unlucky streak end this weekend?

Read on to find out.

 

The Series

The Giants lead the all-time series 84-77-2; however, the Eagles are 42-37-1 at home in games against the Giants, which includes a 6-5 mark in favor of the Eagles in games played at Lincoln Financial Field.

Philadelphia has won nine of the last 11 games against the Giants, including the first meeting this season between these two clubs, a 36-21 victory in which Philadelphia blew open their 22-21 lead over the Giants, who turned the ball over three times (all interceptions).

Philadelphia scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns because of the turnovers and sent the Giants to their fifth consecutive loss in 2013.  

Giants - Eagles: The Competitive Edge
Giants Eagles
Quarterback X
Running Backs X
Receivers X
Tight Ends X
Offensive Line X
Defensive Line X
Linebackers X
Defensive Backs X
Special Teams X
Coaching/Intangibles X

Advantage: Giants

 

Unit Analyses

Quarterback

Eli Manning might not be having his best season, but he can still make plays down the field.

However, he has to be careful that those plays aren't made to the Eagles, who have picked off opposing quarterbacks eight times this season. 

It remains to be seen if projected Eagles starter Michael Vick, who makes just as many plays on the run as he does with his arm, has the same mobility he had before he strained his hamstring against the Giants on Oct. 6. 

 

Running Backs

It looks like Peyton Hillis and Michael Cox will get an encore performance this weekend with Brandon Jacobs and David Wilson not expected to play.

Hillis, who took the bulk of the carries last week noted that his legs felt like jello after his first extensive game action in a while.

Over on the Eagles side, LeSean McCoy leads the league with 685 rushing yards. For as good as the Giants run defense has been, it has allowed 23 big-play runs of 10 or more yards this season. 

 

Wide Receivers

Even though Hakeem Nicks has been in a bit of a slump, he, along with Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle, still offer Eli Manning many options in the passing game.

The Eagles’ lone deep threat is DeSean Jackson, who stands the best chance out of a group that includes Riley Cooper and Jason Avant, to burn a defense deep.

 

Tight Ends

Brent Celek has 197 yards on 12 receptions, an average of 16.4 yards per catch, and two touchdowns.

Although he was held to just 47 yards the last time he faced the Giants, he was the only one of the receiving targets to catch all of the passes sent his way.

He was also the recipient of one of Nick Foles’ touchdown passes in that game.                 

As a receiver, Giants tight end Brandon Myers has been “feast or famine.”

Because Myers’ blocks don’t usually pack a wallop, Celek has the edge at this position.

  

Offensive Line

/Getty Images

The Giants offensive interior of center Jim Cordle and guards David Diehl and Kevin Boothe were consistently beaten by double A-gap blitzes run by the Vikings.

Their performance doesn't exactly inspire confidence in knowing that they’ll face another aggressive defensive front this weekend that might be looking to copy the success the Vikings had last week with that strategy.

It also doesn't inspire a great deal of confidence that Giants left tackle Will Beatty still needs help blocking against some of the better NFL speed-rushers, such as Trent Cole, whom he’ll see again this weekend.

 

Defensive Line

The Giants defensive front finally seemed to come alive last week, albeit against a poor Vikings team.

A key last week and again this week is defensive end Justin Tuck, who on Monday night looked like his old self according to defensive coordinator Perry Fewell.

"I think he’s played the run more effectively than he did a year ago and I think he’s concentrated on playing the run more effectively," Fewell said.

"He did do a good job in Monday night’s game of getting pressure on the quarterback even though he only had the one sack," Fewell added.

 

Linebackers 

How nice has it been for the Giants to have a legitimate middle linebacker that can move from sideline to sideline and get everyone lined up?

That’s exactly what they've gotten out of Jon Beason since he was inserted into the starting linebacker position. 

Beason’s presence is a big reason why the Giants were able to hold the reigning NFL MVP Adrian Peterson to just 28 rushing yards on Monday night.

When a team has a linebacker that can cover sideline to sideline with the best of them, that helps a lot, especially against the run, where this week they’ll face the league’s leading rusher, LeSean McCoy.

 

Secondary

The Giants defensive secondary hasn't really been tested deep much in the last two weeks.

That will change this weekend, as the Eagles have a league-leading 44 pass plays of 20 or more yards.

New York has given up 27 deep pass plays through seven games this season.  

 

Special Teams

The Giants have given up three 80-plus-yard punt returns for a touchdowns. That’s one more than the four given up by the other 31 NFL teams. 

Even worse for the Giants is that they’re ranked 31st in the league in punt coverage and 19th in kickoff coverage.

That’s not good news for a unit that’s about to face the likes of DeSean Jackson.

Jackson’s career average on punt returns is a robust 10.5 yards per return.

Second-year pro Damaris Johnson, who is averaging 7.9 yards per punt return and 25.7 per kick return, is eighth in the NFL amongst returners with at least 10 attempts.

 

Coaching/Intangibles

With there being some concern on the coach’s part about overworking Hillis, it wouldn't be a surprise if offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride simplified things again this week so that rookie Michael Cox can take on a larger role. 

As a fun side note, the Giants are undefeated in games played the weekend after head coach Tom Coughlin holds his annual Jay Fund “Champions for Children” gala in New York City.

This year’s event is to be held on Oct. 25, two days before the team faces the Eagles.

 

Giants Offense vs. Eagles Defense

If the NFL is a copycat league, then don’t be surprised if Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis dials up a bunch of double A-gap blitzes to attack the Giants interior offensive line consisting of center Jim Cordle and guards Kevin Boothe and David Diehl.

This trio had all kinds of issues on Monday night against this pressure package, this due to a combination of communication issues as well as skill.

Therefore, there would be no reason for the Eagles to not try a few of these blitzes and combine them with some aggressive press coverage against the Giants receivers to disrupt any timing patterns the Giants try to run.

Two keys for the Giants offense could very well be tight end Brandon Myers and running back Peyton Hillis.

Last week, Hillis gave the Giants something they haven’t had in a long, long time: A running back that can come out of the backfield and be a safety valve for quarterback Eli Manning.

Myers, meanwhile, had a quiet game last week, but if the Eagles do decide to clamp down on the receivers and take the deep ball away, this could be a week where he has a strong showing as a receiver.

 

Giants Defense vs. Eagles Offense

It will be interesting to see how much running Michael Vick is able to do if he does indeed get the start at quarterback for the Eagles.

Hamstring injuries can be deceiving in that just when one thinks the injury has healed and the player tries to run, the ailment sometimes flares up again.

If that’s not a big enough concern for the Eagles, they must also consider that backup quarterback Nick Foles will likely miss this weekend’s game as he continues to recover from a concussion.

What does this mean for the Giants defense? On paper, it should mean that Vick probably won’t take many chances trying to run the ball.

Regardless, the Giants can’t be lulled into the false belief that Vick will turn into a statue in the pocket.

So what New York might consider doing is having safety Will Hill serve as the spy on Vick, an assignment that last time was given to linebacker Spencer Paysinger, who this week has a sore ankle.

Hill provides a stronger physical presence and a set of legs that is also quicker to the ball.

By having him up closer to the action, he can also double up with middle linebacker Jon Beason to help form a barrier at that second level that would prevent Eagles running back LeSean McCoy from getting too far down the field.

Speaking of Beason, his presence should help close up some of the huge gaps of space that opposing tight ends have regularly exploited.

Since Beason was inserted into the lineup, the last two tight ends to face the Giants have combined for nine receptions for 95 yards, a significant reduction from earlier in the season.

Lastly, the Giants defense will have to figure out a way to deal with receiver DeSean Jackson, who had 132 yards and a touchdown on seven catches in the first game against them.

In that game, Jackson was allowed far too many free releases off the line of scrimmage, so look for the Giants corners to get their hands on Jackson in order to disrupt his timing with Vick.

 

What They’re Saying

“I don’t feel like my game is too much different from what it’s been in the past. People are just putting more significance on it due to what kind of year it is for me, they just put a little more emphasis on that. I think I’m still playing the game the way I've been playing it.”

—Giants Receiver Hakeem Nicks on his play this season.

 

“I don’t look at it as a challenge because they have the same exact situation. They have to look at us the same time. It’s just kind of how the league is run. Obviously, you spend more time because you played each other, but then you look through that game and they did this last time, they won’t do it again, and you play that guessing game.”

—Eagles head coach Chip Kelly on if there is a challenge to facing a team twice within the same month

 

““Philly’s offense is simple at times. They kind of dare you to make a mistake and when you do, they capitalize. They kind of run the same plays over and over again, with a little changeup here and there because they have great athletes who they want to get the ball in their hands.” 

—Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas

 

Giants Injury Analysis

The biggest concern on this week’s Giants injury report is cornerback Corey Webster’s ongoing groin issue.

Head coach Tom Coughlin told the media that Webster’s practice schedule will be managed, which on the surface seems like the safe way of handling him.

Where the concern lies is that a cornerback needs to be able to run down the field and open up his hips against these speedy receivers.

If Webster is still ailing to the point where he still needs to be managed, then how effective in coverage can he really be?

 

This Week’s Game Stats and Facts
(courtesy of the NFL's Communications Office, unless otherwise noted)

• Giants quarterback Eli Manning has 18 TD passes in his last six games against the Eagles.

• Eagles quarterback Michael Vick is looking for his third consecutive win against NFC East opponents.

• Giants receiver Victor Cruz has five touchdowns in five games versus the Eagles. He also has three 100-yard games.

• Eagles running back LeSean McCoy has 811 scrimmage yards (115.9 per game) in his last seven games against the Giants. He also has 10 TDs (six rushing, four receiving) in his past 10 games played during the month of October. 

• Giants receiver Rueben Randle will try for his third game against the Eagles with multiple touchdown receptions, and for his fourth game in a row with a touchdown reception.

• Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson is looking for his third game in a row against the Giants with a touchdown. Jackson has 13 catches for 231 yards (115.5 per game) and two TDs in his last two games against the Giants.

• Giants defensive end Justin Tuck has 5.5 sacks in his last seven games against the Eagles. 

 

Prediction: Giants 27-Eagles 17

At the start of the season, there was a lot of bold talk from the Giants about going on a run, making the playoffs, getting to the Super Bowl, etc.

That bold talk has since been replaced with a more realistic approach, and that is to take one week at a time.

That’s exactly the approach the Giants are taking this week.

They’re not really paying much attention to that Super Bowl countdown clock that still hangs prominently in their locker room.

Instead, they are focused on how they can string together a second win to close out the first half of their season on an up note.

So far, the “one step at a time” approach appears to be working. 

“Practice has been well. It’s been upbeat, it’s been positive, everybody’s flying around,” said receiver Victor Cruz.

“We had a great practice (Thursday), so we’re excited. We’re excited for what we have coming up on Sunday against the Eagles, and we want to be able to go out there, all of our ammunition ready to go.”

Perhaps most important for the Giants is that a loss to the Eagles would drop them to 0-3 against division opponents, a mark they can ill-afford to have into the second half of the season.

It won’t be an easy game—the Eagles are never pushovers—but if the Giants don’t turn the ball over and can shut down McCoy and Jackson, they should come out on top. 

 

Patricia Traina is the Senior Editor at InsideFootball.com. All quotes obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted.

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