Enemy Exchange, Eagles Part Deux

Ryan Messick, Lead Writer of Inside The Iggles was once again good enough to provide some answers this week in an exchange about the Eagles @ Giants game fast approaching.

Here is what Mr. Messick had to tell us:

This is the biggest game of the year for both teams — the Eagles and Giants both need this win.  Is there a sense of excitement in Philly or a nervousness?

I would say more excitement than anything else.  Fans may be a little bit nervous, but that’s definitely not the feel from the locker room.  The team is calm and confident, just like any other week.  They’ve also got that added sense of excitement going into a big rivalry game, which for a large percentage of the room will be the biggest regular season game of their careers.

Read the rest of the story after the jump…

Shootout, ground game, or defensive battle?

It will be a blend of the three, but that’s a lousy answer, so I’ll say more shootout than anything else.  Asante Samuel’s status is still uncertain.  If he goes, that will go a long way to slowing down the Giants offense, but it’s all about stopping the run first for the Birds’ defense.  Can Jamar Chaney get it done at middle linebacker? That’s a big key.  I think the Eagles will put up their points, a minimum of 28, so the Giants will have to score to keep up.  With time to prepare for blitz schemes like they saw last time from Fewell, I think the execution will improve.

The Eagles have had the Giants number the past few years — what do you attribute that edge to?

I don’t know what to attribute it to, personally, but the players attribute it to the coaches and the coaches attribute it to the players’ execution.  I do think the game plan has a lot to do with it, and the Eagles just match up really well.  The Giants are turnover prone and the Eagles have a ball hawking defense.  If New York has a weakness on defense, it’s in the secondary, and the Eagles have incredible wide receivers.  Those matchups play a huge role, and so does the coaching.

Michael Vick is leading the Pro Bowl voting, he’s a hot topic right now.  But Vick has finally broken the seal on the turnovers though and now seems to give up a couple balls every game… is that something the Giants are going to seeing again on Sunday?  Is he getting worn down?  Too aggressive?  Hit too much?

Good question – I plan to ask him that myself tomorrow, and it’s been asked lately and he doesn’t have a real answer.  I think the hits are taking SOME toll, but not as much of one as some people might think.  Like any quarterbacks’ interceptions, they haven’t all been bad throws and there haven’t been a ton of them.  I think a major focus (and a huge key) in this game will be Vick’s ball security.

Will Vick stay in Philly after this year and what kind of contract situation are we looking at right now?

I’d say there’s about a 90 to 95 percent chance he’s back next year.  If worst comes to worst, they’ll franchise him to keep him around.  Otherwise, you’re probably looking at something in the neighborhood of a five-year deal.

The Eagles are battling injuries like everyone, who are the key innactives going to be and do you foresee any issues there the Giants can exploit?

I already mentioned Asante Samuel, and that’s the biggest.  Stewart Bradley is out with a dislocated elbow, so Jamar Chaney is starting at middle linebacker.  I expect the Giants to come after him early to find out what he’s got.  Brandon Graham tore his ACL last week, so Derrick Burgess was signed off the street.  If he plays, it’ll probably be limited, so that’s something to keep an eye on as they might be a bit thin at defensive end, depth wise.  On offense, Winston Justice has been limited with his knee sprain and has played great at right tackle this year.  King Dunlap was less-than-stellar last week filling in, although he had some good stretches at left tackle when Jason Peters was hurt.

McCoy ran away with the game last week as well, what are peoples thoughts about

LeSean McCoy is garnering comparisons to Brian Westbrook, and the numbers are there for sure.  So is the speed, so are the moves and so is the pass-blocking.  The only difference is that he isn’t able to be moved around the formation as much as Westbrook was – or they don’t want to use him that way, perhaps, given the depth at wide receiver.  Either way, that’s the only difference in my eyes.

Desean Jackson ran a 90+yard TD at 60% with a foot injury — how in the world do you stop this guy from breaking the game wide open?

You play the safeties really, really deep, you pray, and you make sure to exhibit some good, clean living leading up to the game – because you’re going to need every bit of luck and karma you can get.  Really, though, he typically struggles when he can’t get behind the safeties. Against the Texans and the Cowboys he made some adjustments and made plays anyway.  If that continues, he may become unstoppable.

Is there a chance that his ego/antics, request for a new contract, etc are going to be a distraction for the Eagles?

This is a hot topic in Philadelphia, but I don’t think they’re a distraction to the rest of the team and he seems to be playing fine anyway.  The bigger concern should be with his antics during the game, although they haven’t been present as much lately.  I’m not talking about the celebrations either, I’m talking about throwing his arms up if he’s open and a ball comes his way.  It seems like Vick has settled him down, which is very important to the team’s chemistry in my mind.

The Giants defense really are the QB killers.  I think they’re up to 7 QBs they’ve knocked out now — is Vick going to be in trouble this weekend?

No more than he was the last time the Eagles and Giants met up, but it’s always a risk for him.  Expect the Eagles to try to limit the pressure through the screen game, toss plays, and quick passing plays to take advantage of the blitz.

Who is the #1 threat to the Eagle defense in your opinion?

The two-headed monster, given that Bradley is out at middle linebacker and that could impact the run defense.  If they shut Bradshaw and Jacobs down, the next concern would be Boss.  I know you’d expect Nicks, but if Samuel plays, that’s not a bad matchup for Philadelphia.  The Eagles always have trouble with tight ends.

What is the X-Factor for the Eagles?

The element of surprise.  Pay close attention to Sean McDermott’s defense, and I guarantee that you’ll see some schemes that make you scratch your head and wonder what the heck is going on.  How will the Giants react?

For the Giants?

I don’t know if it counts as an X-factor, but turnovers.  The Giants can’t turn it over like they did in the first meeting.

Final Prediction?

38-21 Eagles, assuming Asante Samuel plays. If he’s in there, the whole defense is improved in a few ways, mainly in turnovers, and I think they’ll get a couple. I also think Philadelphia will be prepared for the blitz and hit a couple of big plays against it. I see it looking a bit like last game, minus the end zone drops.

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