PUMP the brakes. This isn’t a must win game. The media sells it that way, because it generates ratings, clicks, and comments, but step back and look at the standings with your own eyes. Really look at the NFC East for what it actually is right now.
Win or lose, it’s still too early in the season for there to be a make or break week yet. The regular season is ALL about making the playoffs. It’s not about getting a first round Bye. It’s not about repeating. (Because you can’t do that during the regular season.) Right now is just about making the playoffs. There is a LOT of track to still lay down, before we can say that we’ve made it or that we didn’t. So relax. Breathe. This game is important. As a division game, it’s huge. But it’s FAR from “must win” status.
QB Carson Wentz is still playing at the MVP level he was at this time last year. (Look it up.) The difference is in how teams play us, because we aren’t running the ball as much as a competent offense should. Losing RB Jay Ajayi for the year with a torn/damaged ACL, doesn’t inspire confidence that Head Coach Doug Pederson will try to lean on the run more. However, in order to get the next man up (hopefully RB Corey Clement) situated, leaning on the run is exactly what we need to be about.
The Secondary continues to not cover, to rack up penalties, and to miss tackles. If Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz feels that any of this is a problem, he certainly needs to demonstrate it by benching a guy (CB Jalen Mills) or two (CB Sidney Jones). Scheme-wise, last week the cushions were smaller, but we still played no man-press.
If we’re going to beat the giants, we have to slow down their receiving corps and generate turnovers. Depending on how we approach this game, it will either be impossible to lose, or impossible to win.
So let’s talk about the Four Things we need to focus on this week, versus the giants :
1) Dammit, run the fucking ball: Play-action is set up by running the ball effectively. Dear Doug, faking a handoff is not the same as running the ball. Teams are ignoring our play-action, because we fake it more than we actually run it. Also every time Wentz hands the ball off, it’s a play where he won’t get hit. He could use a couple of low-abuse games. Regardless of who the RB is, run the damned ball, Doug!
2) Box that boy: Don’t let WR Odell Beckham have the sideline.
Don’t double him outright, but keep him bracketed where the FS can reach him with a hit. Beckham will see a fair amount of targets, even if he’s well covered. Forcing QB Eli Manning to throw the ball into a tighter window, could result in one (or more) of those delicious turnovers he likes to feed defenses.
3) Play some press: (This likely won’t get done, but I’d be remiss not to mention it.) Man-press would throw a receivers timing off and let the rush reach the QB. It also would also create a traffic jam and set the edge, when the giants ran a Screen play.
4) Air Jordan: WR Jordan Matthews needs to see more passes thrown his way. Last week we did a great job of getting the ball down and across the middle to TE’s, but if we want to open up the run game, we need to spread the defense out horizontally.
If we do all these things, we’re just about guaranteed to win. Now that we’ve covered what should happen, let’s get into what likely will happen:
We need to establish our ground game, and the giants are 27th in the NFL at defending the run! We are 0 – 2 when we run for under 100 yards this year. We are 2 – 1 when going for 113 or better. (The one loss was in overtime. We had 117 yards.) All of this points toward a concerted effort to run the ball on Thursday.
In five games, the giants defense has just 6 sacks to their credit. Their pass rush is anemic at best. This should be a game where our Offensive Line can start to figure some stuff out, and have it carry forth through the season.
Manning is going to complete a lot of passes if we play loose coverage yet again. He’ll carve us up the way he did the last time we faced him. (We won that game though.) He’ll do his best to get the ball out quickly, but our Defensive Line is going to pay him 3 or more visits on Thursday night.
Yet again, I’m picking the Eagles this week. It’s because I’m a homer, right? Wrong. Just look at the teams we’ve faced so far. Of course I was picking the Eagles. Now we get a 1 – 4 team with no pass rush, and who can’t stop the run. Really, who am I supposed to pick here?
PREDICTION: EAGLES 21 – giants 13