NY Giants Must Stop Trick Plays and Creativity
Sometimes Carson Wentz is just standing out at the wide receiver position taking up space, or blocking if Hurts heads that way. But the Eagles aren’t letting the fact that they have two passers on the field go to waste.
Last week they tried a double pass but the Ravens sniffed it out. It starts about a minute into the video, and Duffy points out the tremendous defensive play by the Ravens’ Pernell McPhee. If not for his recognition, the Eagles were set up for a huge gain.
Defending that kind of trickery just comes down to playing good assignment-based football. The NY Giants have to make sure not to over-pursue and take themselves out of position.
When Hurts is on the field, they need to know who’s going to cover him if he exits the backfield as an eligible receiver. A lot of that responsibility will fall on New York middle linebacker Blake Martinez, who may be calling out pre-snap reads as the quarterback of the Giants defense.
The Giants can also look for pre-snap cues that might give away the Eagles’ intent. Notice the unbalanced offensive line on the trick play, which Duffy zooms in on about 80 seconds into the video. Jason Kelce was lined up to the right side with Carson Wentz, providing the eventual passer some protection.
That’s a huge giveaway of what’s to come. Of course, it can also become a cat-and-mouse game, as the Eagles coaching staff will know what they’ve put on tape and may throw something else at the Giants defense.
Judge knows his players have to be prepared for new wrinkles, “One thing they’ve always been really been good at in Philly is scheming up certain plays per game plan and finding a way to really expose something you’ve shown from a previous game,” he said. “Work off almost a copycat play, if you will, but then put a curve ball at the end of it that you’re not expecting.”
If I were Judge, the look I’d be most worried about (other than airborne Duracells), would be the one the Eagles only showed once: with Wentz and Hurts in the backfield together, both lined up as if they were prepared to take a direct snap. This isn’t something you see very often.
“I think the way they’re using him is obviously very inventive,” said Judge. “It’s very productive for them right now.”
In that unique look, the Eagles also brought a receiver in motion across the backfield and the snap went to Wentz for an RPO. He kept it and passed to Travis Fulgham, the receiver who had come in motion.
This is tricky to defend, as there are at least 11 iterations of what could transpire in the backfield. Let’s break it down as a decision tree. First, the snap can either go to Wentz or Hurts. Let’s assume it goes to Wentz. The possibilities are:
- Wentz keeps it and throws.
- Wentz keeps it and runs.
- Wentz hands it off to Hurts, who throws.
- Wentz hands it off to Hurts, who runs.
- Wentz hands it off to the wide receiver on the end around.
Given that the snap can go to either player, that gives you 10 iterations – just switch Wentz and Hurts above for the second five. The 11th would be a direct snap to the wide receiver in motion, which is unlikely but not impossible.
I think the important thing here is that the Giants defense must treat both players like quarterbacks. The instinct on an RPO is to pursue the running back full-speed once the handoff takes place, but with this look it could still be a pass a high percentage of the time. So the Giants have to maintain discipline and not let their assignments break down.
Judge knows that the Giants defense has to be aware of the possibility of a Hurts pass any time he’s on the field. “I wouldn’t fall asleep at all on this guy throwing the ball,” Judge said. “This guy has thrown for a lot of yards to a lot of really good players, against a lot of good players as well, and he’s been very productive.”