Sunday, December 19th, Week 15: When the Philadelphia Eagles opened the 2010 season they had the reasonable expectation of a better than average year behind a new, strong-armed QB.
In the background, though, you heard whispers. There was another strong armed QB on the roster, maybe one of a handful of the strongest-armed quarterbacks ever to step on a football. Exceedingly fleet of foot, essentially with running back skills over center—his name, of course, was and is Michael Vick.
Before Vick or Kolb the Eagles had another fleet-footed, big-armed QB named Donovan McNabb. He had a lot of success under the great quarterback guru Andy Reid, even when the Eagles trotted out receivers that made you think of your high school days back in Anywhereville, USA.
There were a couple of years with T.O., a Philly-New England Super Bowl with a very bizarre ending that may have included some last minute vomiting.
Eventually, despite oodles of yardage, touchdowns, thrilling come-from-behind victories and five NFC Championship engagements, Reid and the City of Brotherly Love decided to part ways with McNabb (it hasn't gone too well for Donovan with another offensive guru, Mike Shanahan, in Washington), leaving endless pigskin-loving masses to wonder how exactly things would come to bear in Philly with such a dramatic change in field leadership in 2010.
They had youth on their side, but was the roster a bit too youthful to stand up to the rigors of the brutal NFC East division? You figured maybe they'd start off slow behind Kolb, but pick it up as the season went on, finish 9-7, and, if it was that kind of year,back their way into another playoff spot for Coach Reid.
But all that middling thinking went straight out the door, as Kolb went down early in the season and the one time deified, one time defiled, multipurpose QB—Michael Vick—trotted on the field to take the reins of the Eagle offense.
Vick, with a 104.3 QB rating, 17 touchdowns and only four interceptions, has certainly blossomed under Andy Reid. I guess with all his talent and all Reid's know-how, that shouldn't have come as any great surprise. LeSean McCoy has revved it up as Philly's primary back, and he has had a huge, impacting year. They have the game-changing, smurf combo of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin outside, steady pass catcher Brent Celek at TE, and when you add it all up the Philadelphia Eagles are a quick-as-lightning group that has to strike fear in even the sturdiest of defensive groups.
Which leaves millions of New York Giant faithful to wonder exactly what's to be done about it with all the 2010 marbles seemingly on the line.
A few seasons ago the Giant defense was coached by ex-Eagle assistant Steve Spagnuolo, and there was a degree of faith—whatever an opposition offense would dial up, Spags would come up with a way to effectively combat it.
This year the Giants defense is coached by Perry Fewell, and right here, right now, he gets to proves his mettle against Vick and the dangerous Eagles.
The two teams played in Week 11, and while the Giants kept it close, it was really only by the good graces of a couple of first-half end-zone drops by Eagle receivers, Maclin in particular letting go of an easy one for a sure TD, in the almost immediate aftermath of one of a myriad of first-half Giant turnovers.
That won't cut it today.
When the Giants dialed up heat on Vick, they contained him fairly well. But they were only able to accomplish that via various blitz packages, and the front four, left unto themselves, gave Vick endless time to throw. And with that time, Vick shredded New York's generally capable secondary like swiss cheese.
So what will it come down to? What it always comes down to for the New York Football Giants if they expect to win a critical game in frigid winter conditions (well, a little less than frigid today) in their own ball park.
They will need to hit these high-flying Eagles and then hit them again. They will need to rush four and get to Vick. They will need to put the fleet-footed quarterback on his back before he crosses the line of scrimmage. They will need to keep McCoy (972 yards rushing, 5.3 per carry) under wraps, and most importantly they will need to wipe that ever-cocky grin off game-breaking wideout (and punt returner) DeSean Jackson's youthful face.
No Manning interceptions or fumbles (he's got 24 combined thus far), well that goes without saying. Ahmad Bradshaw and particularly Brandon Jacobs must run hard and put the hurt on an Eagle D that has been frequently reconfigured throughout the 2010 season but still comes in ranked 11th in the league with 30 turnovers created.
One might suggest they stay away from or at least keep a very watchful eye on Philly game-breaking corner Asante Samuel. No critical drops out of Nicks, Manningham or Boss...in essence, New York will need to play a close-to-perfect game to beat the Eagles in Giants Stadium today. But before anything else, they need to establish a physical tone.
They will need to hit the opposition hard, and they will need to hit the opposition with a high degree of frequency. Slow them down, and therefore qualify the edict—at least on this particular Sunday—the Philadelphia Eagles can run, but they can't hide.
Final Score: New York Giants 24, Philadelphia Eagles 17