The Giants play the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday in Philadelphia at 1:00 Eastern time on Fox. The Giants (1-1) are an injured team as they enter this contest, losing WR Domenik Hixon, and probably WR Mario Manningham. The New Yorkers have re-signed Michael Clayton to fill these voids, and also will get Travis Beckum back into the line-up.
On Offense: The Giants, for the second week in a row, face a team that plays poorly against the run. In what is admittedly a small sample, the Eagles give up an average of 5.3 yards per rush. Unlike the Rams, the Eagles are extremely weak at the Linebacker position. To back-up this claim, the Eagles have re-aligned their much maligned Linebacking corps. The Eagles drafted Casey Matthews purely on name recognition alone. He is not an NFL Middle Linebacker. He has now been moved to the outside and is replaced by second year man Jamar Chaney. Andy Reid is saying the change is being made for the matchup against the Giants, in other words he’s searching for an answer to a huge defensive problem. The Eagles play a scheme with their front four, as we all heard Sunday night ,called The Wide-Nine. Their Rush ends are split wide, about 4 and a half yards away from their interior tackles. Their sole job is to rush upfield and turn everything back to the inside. The linebackers are supposed to fill the holes, and make the plays in the gaps….they haven’t. The Giants will need to find some blocking schemes to exploit this alignment that the Eagles employ on almost every down. Getting a back one on one against a linebacker on the Eagles is a good thing, Bradshaw and Jacobs will need to carry the load this week. The Giants will run, run, run, setting up the over the top passes as they did last week when the secondary drops down to help.
On Defense: The Giants cannot cover all the speed the Eagles can employ in their offense. The pressure on Michael Vick must be relentless. Keeping Vick in the pocket, or forcing him to his right will be a key element in this game. The Eagles of course have also learned that Vick cannot throw when running right, so look for their line to move the pocket left from the snap. The Eagles also employ lots of screens, swing passes, and mis-direction runs. When trying to put maximum pressure on a Qb, it is very difficult to fill all the lanes on the back side. The Giants must remain disciplined in their attack, send pressure from the secondary, and do their best to keep the receivers in front of them. A few long drives by the Giants offense would go a long way in making the defense a success.
The key to this game should come down to turnovers and penalties. As an official, I can tell you that penalties stop more drives than anything else. Penalties on Special Teams are especially tough. The Giants need to play smart and avoid unnecessary penalties. The other key is winning the turnover battle. Michael Vick is prone to fumbling. He fumbles when sacked, and can be stripped when he runs. The Giants defense must win the turnover battle this Sunday for any chance of success in this division match-up.
This is an early tough test for the G-Men on the road within the division….One thing I look for is for the Giants to play a full 4 quarter battle. The Falcons kept fighting last week, stuck to their plan, and came back for 14 points to win. FINISHING is the KEY.