OH. MY. GOD. That ending! It looked like we were heading into overtime, and suddenly, the giants hopes for their first win of the season were literally kicked to death, on national TV. The giants fell to the toe of a castoff, rookie Kicker, who (by the way) set the record for the longest field goal in our franchise’s history. I (wrongly) predicted a blowout, but this was so much sweeter. The only way it could have been more poetic, is if it had happened in the Meadowlands.
Eagles 27 – giants 24
A 61 yard field goal off the foot of rookie K Jake Elliott (3/3x – 2/3f – 61), will be the headline you see the most today, but that shouldn’t overshadow the Eagles play selection of 39 runs to 31 passes. Especially early on, when we were feeding RB LeGarrette Blount (12 – 67 – 5.5 – 1 – 0) and RB Wendell Smallwood (12 – 71 – 5.9 – 0 – 0). All game long, we stuck with, and relied on the run. Even in the 4th quarter when we were down. In fact, our only second half touchdown was produced by area native and rookie RB Corey Clement (6 – 22 – 3.6 – 1 – 0) on a 15 yard run inside of the games final six minutes.
During the game we lost DT Fletcher Cox (1 – 0 – 0 – 0) and MLB Jordan Hicks (0.5 – 0 – 0 – 0) from an already paper -thin defensive line-up, that had already forced S Chris Maragos (4 – 0 – 0 – 0) into just the 3rd start of his 8 year career. Amazingly, for the first time this season, the Eagles didn’t record a single sack.
I hear you asking, “What about all the stuff that stats don’t reveal?” Well, that’s the reason for these “Four Things” articles. We introduce an idea of what needs addressing BEFORE the game, so that fans have to honestly answer questions about those things, AFTER the game. This helps to get us, and keep us, all on the same page.
So, of the Four Things we were looking for in this last game, what exactly did we see?
1) Keep Wentz from wincing: The NFL’s official stat line says that QB Carson Wentz (21/31 – 67.7% – 176 – 1 – 0) was hit 4 times and sacked 3 times since last week. While the sack number is still too high, both numbers ARE lower than the 9.5/4 figures that he came into the game averaging. We still need improvement, but this one… (DONE)
2) Run up the middle: We did the hell out of this. G Chance Warmack got the start, and we went right to work battering the middle of the giants line, instead of a bunch of cutesy runs outside and/or delayed handoffs. It was a pleasure to see. Warmack ended up sitting during the middle of the game, and was replaced by G/C Stephen Wisnewski (not LG Isaac Seumalo) for a spell, but Warmack would later come back to the game. (DONE)
3) Avoid blitzing: We really didn’t do much blitzing, likely because with so many injuries, we had to borrow LB’s to supplement underneath coverage, in order to simplify the Secondary’s area of focus, which robbed us of pass rush. We gotta get some guys back, soon! (DONE)
4) Break their spirits early: The giants came into the game looking like they were expecting a knockout blow. But we kept not delivering one. When fatigue hit our Defense in the 4th, the giants got a gimme touchdown that cut the score in half. Then when Zach Ertz’s (8 – 55 – 6.8 – 1 – 0) fumble set them up for an easy score, suddenly the giants were in the game, and had more spirit than I’ve seen from them in 2017. (I watched all three of their games.) Had we taken care of business early, it wouldn’t have become a fight later. (NOT DONE)
This week’s score is a solid 3 out of 4, bringing the year up to 7 of 12. Next week we head west again, to take on Chargers team that is not quite the pushover that their 0-3 record might suggest. Look up who they lost to and how, you’ll see what I mean.
On The Whole:
I keep saying that this team needs to be in a fight, and for a second week in a row we got one. This one against a division rival, who had to leave Lincoln Financial Field, feeling as if they were cursed. A miraculous 61 yard field goal off the foot of a rookie who was released due to insufficient leg strength, has to leave a team feeling gutted.
However, before we start planning parades, maybe we should take a stark look at yesterday for what it was, and what it wasn’t.
Troy Aikman (who did mention Reggie White), repeatedly mentioned our soft coverage and how receivers weren’t being challenged at the line of scrimmage at all. The result was QB Eli Manning (35/47 – 74.4% – 336 – 3 – 2) completing 74.4% of his passes. Last week QB Alex Smith completed 75%. You can’t get a defense off the field vs that sort of completion percentage. What’s more, the ball gets out quickly, so there’s no chance for even a statue like Manning to get sacked. We have GOT TO play more man.
The run game was amazing (39 – 193 – 4.9 – 2). It was on par with the game we played against Atlanta last year (38 – 208 – 5.5 – 2). Both of these games were largely behind the same O-line personnel, so we have the players to run this approach, we simply need to set them to that task more often. These best part however, was that we showed we could win even when our QB isn’t at his best.
Right now, there are some highly correctable coaching tweaks needed, and a few guys out with injuries. That said, we have no issues with talent or heart on this team. Everything that ails us, is correctable with what we already have, in-house. Keep it going, keep it going!