New York Giants: Keys To Beating The Philadelphia Eagles
1. Sack McNabb
Remember that guy who taunted the Giants by picking up the phone on the Giants sideline to call his mom for some celebratory Campbell's Soup during the NFC playoff game last season? That guy was Donovan McNabb, and Giants fans would like nothing more than to see him crushed by Giants defensive linemen all night.
Incidentally, this is also the best way to stop the Eagles' offense.
When constant pressure is put on McNabb, he has been known to perform erratically, often under-throwing his receivers. But when given oodles of time, McNabb can pick apart defenses—hitting his speedy receivers for long gainers.
In recent matchups, the Giants have failed to create significant pressure and McNabb has remained upright. Unfortunately for the Giants, this defense is based on a strong pass rush, something that has been lacking all year.
If the Giants can get back to rushing the passer, the Eagles' offense can be contained. But if they continue to struggle, McNabb and the big-play Eagles offense will devastate the Giants' banged-up secondary.
2. Cover Jackson
The speediest of the aforementioned speedy Eagles receivers is DeSean Jackson. You may know him as starting receiver for the All-Bonehead Team (but more likely, you know him as the Eagles' No. 1 wide receiver).
Jackson missed last week's rout of the Falcons with a concussion, but says he will be ready to play Sunday night. Jackson has 769 receiving yards on only 44 receptions, good for a whopping 17.5 yards per catch. He also has six touchdowns, the shortest being from 35 yards out. In short, Jackson is a big play waiting to happen.
The Eagles have many dangerous weapons on offense, including young stud wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, excellent young tight end Brent Celek (especially in the wake of Jason Witten's 14-catch performance), and young running back LeSean McCoy. Even guys like Jason Avant, Leonard Weaver, and Michael Vick should be game-planned for.
But it's DeSean Jackson that the defense can least afford to let off their radar.
3. Run The Ball
The Eagles bring a balanced defense, stout both against the run and pass. The best way to keep a good defense honest is to start with an effective running game. If the Giants cannot commit to running the ball, the Eagles will put extra effort on stopping the pass, and everything will go downhill from there.
Jacobs and Bradshaw looked better last week. Jacobs ran harder than I've ever seen him on his 74-yard touchdown catch and run, and he had some other good tough runs. He broke a couple of tackles on his short touchdown run.
Bradshaw showed some good shiftiness on a couple of runs, including one that set up a big field goal.
The offensive line looked okay, but they still need to do a better job of opening up holes for the running backs. If the line can get a good push, the Giants must stick with the run so that Eli will have a better shot against this ball-hawking defense.
4. Limit Poor Decisions
Remember a couple of seconds ago when I called the Eagles' defense "ball-hawking?" Turned out I was right. The Eagles have recorded 20 interceptions so far this season—third best in the NFC.
Two cornerbacks in particular, Asante Samuel and Sheldon Brown, have combined for twelve interceptions.
Last week, Eli made some poor decisions, most notably that ugly underthrown heave to Mario Manningham that was picked off by Mike Jenkins. Some of his other mistakes went as relatively harmless incompletions. But against the Eagles, Eli will have to be more careful. Don't make me repeat what I said earlier (about them being ball-hawking. Because they are).
I'm setting the maximum for interceptions at one (1).
And let's try to hold on to the ball as well. No fumbles. I'm looking at you, running backs.
5. Block For Hixon
Domenik Hixon got some nice down-field blocks from Terrell Thomas and Derek Hagan on that electric punt return that broke the Cowboys' backs. It was such a great play, it's easy to forget that Hixon had to avoid five Cowboys and break four tackles before running up the sidelines. He showed great speed and quickness, as well as awareness and strength to break through the tackles. Just imagine what he can do with the team blocking for him the whole time.
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