Reasons For Optimism Heading Into the Giants Game

Posted: September 28th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 57 Comments »

Eagles Nation is a bit nervous.  Totally understandable.

The team just got whipped last week in Arizona.  That didn’t do much to strengthen our confidence in this team.  The 2-0 start was nice, but still shaky.  Now there is a beatdown in the mix.  Is it time to panic?  Heck no.

We won’t really know what to make of the Cards game for probably another month.  It might turn out to be an aberration.  Teams that travel coast-to-coast have been know to lay an egg.  Maybe that’s all it was.

It is possible that the game will serve as a wake-up call and get the Eagles going in the right direction.  The loss to Baltimore in 2008 and the loss to Seattle last year both ended up doing good things for those teams.  They were rock bottom moments and the coaches and players responded in a good way.

It is also possible that the loss was like the first tears in the Titanic by the iceberg back in 1912.  I truly doubt this one, but will admit that anything is possible in today’s NFL.  We have seen talented teams fall apart.

I’m not panicking because I do think there are reasons to be optimistic.

Let’s start with the OL.  Crazy, I know.  Dallas Reynolds really struggled last Sunday.  He should be improved this week.  That was his first ever start.  We knew he’d have some problems.  I don’t think he’s magically going to be a great player this week, but he’s now got a game under his belt.  That should help him to improve.  He can study the tape and see his mistakes.  Players like him that lack ideal talent must do the little things to be successful.  The only way you learn how to do the little things is by playing, studying, and practicing.

I do not think Demetress Bell is going to have the same bump because he’s got plenty of experience.  The only hope here is that he will benefit from playing his first complete game in the Mudd system.  I fully acknowledge that Bell is likely to be a major issue on Sunday night.

Getting Jeremy Maclin back will be huge for the Michael Vick and the offense.  The Eagles now go back to having 2 deep threats.  The Giants can’t just focus on DeSean Jackson.  Also, this helps when we do get in the Red Zone. Mac is our top target down in there.  Mac is the best possession receiver and will help if/when the Eagles to try to go with a ball control attack.

Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg fear the Giants pass rush.  They tend to be more conservative when facing the Giants.  They’ll run the ball more.  Last year there were 60 run plays called vs the Giants (non-QB runs).  30 runs a game is just fine with me.  LeSean McCoy totaled 47 carries in those games.  Again, that’s a good thing.  This is the time to use him.

The more balanced approach makes life easier on the OL (which is critical for Bell, Reynolds).  Vick will still take some big shots.  There’s just no way around that when he’s facing the Giants and they are going to blitz him.

The Eagles defense did a good job on the Giants last year.  They allowed 612 yards in the 2 games combined.  To put that in perspective, the Giants just gained 604 yards vs Tampa a couple of weeks back.

Eli Manning and company had real problems sustaining drives.  They basically lived or died with the big play.  That worked in the first game as they got 2 long TDs to Cruz, a long TD to Jacobs, and a couple of big runs by Ahmad Bradshaw.  The big plays went away in the rematch and the Giants scored just 10 points.

If you remember the mistakes of the first game, they were dumb mistakes.  Casey Matthews blew coverage on Jacobs on a wheel route.  Kurt Coleman missed an easy tackle and Victor Cruz went 74 yards for a TD.  It wasn’t a case of them being flat out better.  Our guys blew simple plays.  We got better during the season and are playing better D this year as well.

Andy Reid has a good track record vs the Giants.  He’s 16-13 overall, but that includes an 0-5 stretch early on when Reid was building the Eagles and the Giants were a Super Bowl team.  Against Tom Coughlin, Andy is 11-7.

By my count, we’re 4-1 in Sunday Night Football games over the last 2 years.  The loss was at Atlanta and we were leading that when Vick left with an injury.  We’ve won the last 3 straight SNF games vs the Giants.  We’d previously lost to them in 2007 and 2008.

I’ll write up more of a strategical post later.  Just wanted to put something up quickly that offered some hope since more than a few fans seem really down on this game.  I can’t make up my mind on it.  JPP scares the heck out of me, but the Giants back seven doesn’t.  Dallas was able to block well enough to win and their OL isn’t anything special.  As we all know, strange things can happen when the Eagles and Giants play.  Just ask DeSean and Herm Edwards.

_


  • http://twitter.com/daniel_suraci Daniel

    I’m terrified of having real refs back. Nnamdi and Bell have both been getting away with murder.

    I’m worried they both got used to the physicality replacement refs let slide.

    • TommyLawlor

      Good point on the CBs. Bell’s holding is also a worry.

    • Ark87

      Nnamdi is a wiley vet if nothing else. He is very good at pushing the limitations of the officiating crew. He tailors his play to his officiating crew. Bell, however, is different. Linemen blatantly hold to save their QB’s life, not because they think they can get away with it (hold is part of the O-line game and can be extremely subtle about it when they are in control of their man). In this sense, without a LOT of help, he is going to hold the bejeesus out of his man, and it will get called (unless he had a miraculous epiphany over the week and is suddenly a stud LT).

  • Ark87

    For me with this team, September isn’t about making a statement, or being impressive. The Eagles have one more bad loss in them around midseason, likely in a travel game out west which triggers the typical rounding into form in november. It’s maddening, but September is about staying healthy and staying in the playoff picture for the Eagles. I won’t apologize for sloppy W’s, as long as we get them, somehow.

    For this game, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Eagles lost, I’d be mad and depressed, but not in panic mode.

    Another thought, is it just me or do the Eagles play their best ball when they are mean, nasty, and physical (like all of our division games). Baltimore just plays that style of game, so we reciprocated. Wonder what the coaches could do to foster that nasty, physical personality for all games.

    • fran35

      The Cardinals were downright nasty as well…..and we went into the fetal position.

      • Ark87

        That’s sort of my point. I guess I don’t know why the Eagles had spine against Baltimore (post game many Eagles said they felt like the Ravens were a bunch of bullies trying to push them around, so things got chippy). But that fetal position has been all too common outside of division games these past 13 months. 5-1 in the division, I want to see THAT team for all 16 games. Mean and physical wins a lot of games when that perfectly executed finesse stuff isn’t happening.

        • ACViking

          I’d argue the 2012 Ravens defense is not close to the Ravens defenses of the prior 11 years.

          But the Cardinals’ defense, at least right now and a good part of the latter portion of last season, are playing EAST COAST DEFENSE.

  • iskar36

    I agree it’s still to early to be in full blown panic mode. This team has a ton of talent and the defense is clearly improved in 3 games (although against the Cards, they looked very sloppy).

    Having said that, considering we are only a year removed from a terrible 8-8 season made worse by the fact that it took 4 meaningless wins at the end of the year to reach that mark, and this year our offense looks worse (I’ll sacrifice yards for less turnovers and more points any day), I think this being another terrible season is a lot more distinctly possible than you are making it out to be. Personally, I need to see a game where the offense doesn’t play sloppy, turn the ball over multiple times, and puts up points while the defense does what it did in the first two games before I give them the benefit of the doubt. They don’t need to dominate, to impress me, they just need to play a clean game, and we certainly have seen that this year.

  • goeagles55

    97.5 the Fanatic in Philly is having “Brian Dawkin’s Day” and they’re talking Dawkins all day. There’s been some cool anecdotes from former players (Crumpler, Troy Vincent, Trotter, Westbrook) and fans so far.

    • TommyLawlor

      Yeah I was going to write up something on Dawk. Figured I might post that on Saturday. Wanted to get some Giants talk going.

  • T_S_O_P

    I hope that this is our Baltimore ’08 moment and not out Cincinnati ’08 moment which was after all just one game before.

    • TommyLawlor

      How dare you ruin my positive vibes thread!!! As your punishment, I order you to send us Kate Middleton and we’ll send you Snooki.

      • T_S_O_P

        I can send you the new commenorative tea service consisting of two small jugs. I hope that translates.

        • Mac

          And in return Tommy will send two broken shot glasses?

          • laeagle

            If we’re still talking about Snooki, that’s a grotesque metaphor.

        • TommyLawlor

          Small jugs, huh?

          • http://twitter.com/theguyotc the guy

            I’m saving this for posterity, along with your Super Bowl prediction.

  • ziman nije

    Well this post was very helpful about our chances

  • drichwine

    I could write about 1,000 words about why I’m optimistic, but you know, the Eagles are in fact favorites for the game. Why be pessimistic?

    • TommyLawlor

      I’m sure Vegas is going off the stuff above about how Reid wins vs them and we’ve done well in recent years. Those guys know trends and they know stats.

      • goeagles55

        They know that people who bet large amounts of money on games know trends and know stats.*

        Vegas just wants bets to be even on each side. They don’t care who is actually going to win.

        • TommyLawlor

          That’s what I always believed, but recently heard was not true.

          • drichwine

            Vegas’ line is a compilation of all the bettors’ opinions as to who will win. Saying “Vegas says” is a shorthand way of saying “The majority of those who are risking their money on the outcome of this game says” and that kind of wisdom of the crowns if usually better than any one person’s opinion. Read the book “Random Walk down Wall Street” for more on this.

  • http://twitter.com/ProtoTyler Tyler Phillips

    PFT reporting that Nicks isn’t likely to play Sunday.

    • TommyLawlor

      Yes. Another reason.

      • http://twitter.com/ProtoTyler Tyler Phillips

        Still, our biggest problem is our own propensity for turnovers. No amount of injuries on the Giants side is going to effect that.

        • Mac

          If all their defensive guys end up wearing hand casts like Webster before the start of the game then I like our chances at not having turnovers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jamie.parker.1044 Jamie Parker

    Strange things do seem to happen in Eagles-Giants games. Everyone speaks of the Miracles, and I was in attendance for Desean’s, but the strangest one for me was in he Buddy era when we were going to for a game winning FG in OT and the Giants blocked it, and then Clyde Simmons picked it up and ran it in for a TD. Everyone was stunned. And I mean everyone – The Giants, the Eagles, Madden and Summerall, my entire household.

    • ACViking

      Historical note: Simmons’ OT TD came exactly 10 years (counting by Sundays) after the 1st MATML.

      Herm scored on 11/19/78.
      Clyde scored on 11/20/88.

      And after both games, the Eagles improved to 7-5.

      • TommyLawlor

        Now that is crazy.

    • TommyLawlor

      There are plenty of crazy stories between the 2 teams. There was the 1992 game where the Giants led 20-6 and we won 47-34. That’s when Vai Sikahema was punching the goalpost.

      There was the play at the end of the game in Dec 2001 when they almost pulled off a shocker as time expired. I think Damon Moore tackled the WR inside the 10.

      Mike McMahon took the Giants to OT in 2005. That’s a shocker.

      There was our 2006 meltdown. We led 24-7 and dominated, but they came back to win in OT. Jevon tore up his knee. Trent got a penalty for kicking an OL and that helped us lose.

      There was the 45-38 shootout on SNF a couple years back. That was a wild, wild game.

      • ACViking

        Nice work, T-Law

      • laeagle

        All those games bring back memories. Hell, I was at the 2001 game. That was the game where we finally seemed to have gotten the Giants off our back. Beating them then finally tipped the scale back our way, where it’s pretty much been ever since.

        As for the final play, I remember not knowing what the hell was going on. I was still celebrating the touchdown before. That would have sucked hard if we ended up losing, because it would have come out of nowhere.

        It was probably the best live game I’ve ever been to. Living out of state, it’s hard to get back and see games, but it was worth it for that one.

      • ultramattman

        Earlier in 2001 the Eagles faced the Giants on MNF. The Giants had famously beaten the Eagles three times in 2000, including a playoff loss (highlighted by a kick return TD and Jason Sehorn’s bounce-off-his-own-back INT touchdown.) The Giants dominated the first three quarters but only led 13-7 (did Brian Mitchell have a return TD?) McNabb hit Thrash for a touchdown with two minutes left to steal the win and break the losing streak.

        And if I remember correctly, Dennis Franz appeared in an NYPD Blue-themed MNF open.

        • http://www.facebook.com/jamie.parker.1044 Jamie Parker

          The Giants were up 9-3 when McNabb hit Thrash for the game winning TD. I live in NY so all my friends at work were pissed.

  • ACViking

    T-Law:

    Your comment that AR & MM fear the Giants’ pass-rush (since the Justice debacle), and therefore they game-plan to involve the running game more.

    I think the Birds are 9-2 against the G-men since that misserable September 2007 night. (I welcome corrections on that figure, but I thought I’d seen Rube the Frank write it.)

    Anyway, it seems to me that if your 9-2 against a team that’s won 2 SBs in that span, you’re probably doing something really smart.

    I’m going out on a limb here . . . but I think it’s running the ball more.

    SIDE NOTE: Vick’s last *great game* occurred almost entirely in the final 15 minutes of the 2010 MLM. Since that game, he’s never been the same guy. It’s like all the magic dust that Vick was living on was used up that day.

    (Dutch Van Brocklin saved same some of his dust after beating the G-men on back to back Sundays in 1960. So when the Eagles played Lombardi’s Packers, the Dutchman had enough to lead the Eagles to their FIFTH 4th Quarter comeback win out of 11 victories in 13 games: The best 4th Q winning percentage for one season by a Championship QB since 1960.)

    So . . . back to the present.

    I’m wondering, why exactly is it — besides Reid being born in California — that AR doesn’t use the Eagles’ offensive game plan for the Giants as his base scheme . . . rather than an outlier. Especially this year.

    • drichwine

      Football has become very much a game of matchups. Sometimes the kinds of matchups you have against a certain team plays very much to your strengths, and sometimes they don’t. The kind of game the Eagles runs matches up very well against the kind of game the Giants run, and the fact both coaching staffs have been in place for a while means that hasn’t changed for a while. If both teams successfully do what they want to do, the Eagles will win more than they lose against the Giants, while against other teams this might not be so.

      • ACViking

        True enough.

        On the other hand, every week we usually see AR & MM airing it out no matter who the opponent is. (That now includes Vick’s lungs.)

        I’d like to believe the game plans for the reasons you say.

        But T-Law’s breakdown of AR’s “California Dreamin’” approach to offensive football may suggest otherwise.

        • drichwine

          Ummm, the thing is you can only change the game plan so much week to week. That’s what I kind of think Tommy missed in his trip inside Andy’s phyche. He thinks Andy has convinced himself of something that’s not true.
          I think Andy has convinved himself that his offense, when executed properly, is the hardest offense to stop in football. I’ve seen enough games of his in my life to think he’s probably right. Of course, the whole question is “properly excecuted” isn’t it? You have to have the right personnel with the right training and experience and skills, etc, or your offense is nothing but a pipe dream. Maybe the problem is Andy’s unrealistic expectations.
          Back to the question, though, Andy believes that to succeed in the long run, he will HAVE to have a team which can effectively throw the ball at will (I agree). So if the team is not throwing the ball effectively, I don’t think he considers running a good strategy – if they can’t throw it really doesn’t matter if they can run or not, so he’d rather have his QB throw his way out of a slump than depart from his belief and run the ball, even if that sacrifices short term success. So his game plans will almost always be throw heavy, it’s how he thinks in the long run the team will ultimately be successful.

          • TommyLawlor

            I agree with you that Andy does think his offense is the hardest to stop. That’s why when it doesn’t work he keeps doing the same things. He’s convinced it will start working and will deliver big results. I referred to this as “doubling down”.

          • A_T_G

            Wow, these are two very interesting ideas, about the man if not the sport. I am not sure if they are conflicting, complementary, or a matter of degrees.

            Tommy, you say Reid chooses to keep throwing because he is doubling down- risking more in hopes that with a little extra time his gamble will pay off big within the game.

            I think what drichwine is suggesting is that Andy is already all in. He is Super Bowl or bust every year and even if he recognizes that running might win him this hand, he is willing to sacrifice it for the hope that continuing to develop the passing game will win him the whole pot at the end.

          • P_P_K

            I hate to speak for the good dr, but I am under the impression that he was proposing the doubling down is more Andy’s psychological problem than a lucid game strategy. Even if the doc is not saying this, I am.

    • Ark87

      True enough, if you’ve got as much talent as you think you have on this team, and your guys are well coached,you don’t need to scheme the perfect game. I learned to cook working under an excellent chef who had a simple philosophy: when you have top rate ingredients, top grade cuts of beef, freshly picked produce, etc… don’t try to go nuts on your dish just let your ingredients do the talking. There are only so many ways to improve it, but oh so many ways to ruin it. Just get out of your own way.

    • TommyLawlor

      Andy is hard-headed. He got humiliated by the Giants and that lesson is there forever. Other teams he feels he can beat his way. That’s attacking with the vertical passing attack.

      If other teams regularly got the best of him, Andy might change. I do wonder if he’ll go different vs the Cards next time out. That is 2 years in a row that they’ve shut us down and beaten up Vick.

      Wish I could give you a better answer, but I really do think he’s just stubborn.

  • ACViking

    T-Law:

    The other day, when you did your really intriguing take down on why AR’s a “passin’ fool,” you mentioned the true master of the WCO — Don Coryell.

    Just wanted to say, since the Cards are 3-0 for the first time since 1974, that 1974 was Coryell’s second season in the NFL. (The Cards opened at home that year w/ a 7-3 win over the Birds.)

    Anyway, watching the Cards offense was a true wonder.

    He turned a sub-.500 career QB named Jim Hart into an All-Pro.

    He made HB Terry Metcalf a huge receiving and running threat. (Metcalf was Westbrook before Westbrook.) Metcalf was not just a safety-valve guy. He was a weapon on passing plays.

    Ohio State All American FB Jim Otis was pulled from the Chiefs’ scrap heap and turned into a punishing 1,000 yard rusher.

    The Cards had the fleet WR Mel Gray — a college sprinting champion. Big Earl Thomas on the other side. A Tight End named JV Cain . . . who could run like the wind blows. Those guys wore out the Eagles. (HATED Mel Gray. He was the best at punching the ball out of an opposing player’s arm after an INT. At least, it looked that way when the Cards played the Birds. I H-A-T-E-D Mel – F’ing – Gray!@!)

    Coryell really did bring the college game to the pros, and with it, he diversified the NFL offensive concepts. After Coryell’s arrival, and success, running attempts across the league began the slow decline to what we see today.

    Among his disciples were Rams OC Ernie Zampese and Cowboys OC Norv Turner. The skinny post off a 5- or 7-step drop was a trademark of that offense. Those were like daggers . . . because it was a quick 17-25 yards. All timing. And the deep out off the skinny post.

    Great stuff on AR, T-Law. Really top shelf.

    • TommyLawlor

      I wish I had gotten to see the Cards more in the 70′s. I did get to see Jim Hart in the early 80s when he was fighting to keep his job from Neil Lomax. Always loved Jim. Old school QB.

      Wasn’t Jackie Smith on a couple of Coryell’s teams? I was amazed to look up his numbers and see that a TE averaged 17 or 18 yards per catch. How times have changed (aside from Celek this yr.)

      I did love Coryell in SD. Awesome teams.

      Read somewhere that Coryell was greatly influenced as a coach by his time as a paratrooper. That taught him the importance of a good aerial attack.

      • ACViking

        Re: Jackie Smith

        YOU ARE CORRECT, SIR!

        He was the starting TE the first couple of years w/ Coryell. He was a great downfield threat in his prime.

        But by ’75, JV Cain (who died tragically in training camp 1979 from a heart defect) was the future. And Smith slowly was phased out.

        He was, by all accounts, one of the all-time “nice guys” of football, who spent his career on some horrid Cardinal teams.

        Then he goes to the Cowboys in 1978 and slips on the 3rd-and-goal play-action pass from Staubach in the Superbowl against the Steelers (won 35-31 because Smith slipped and dropped a sure TD). And that’s how we remember one of the greatest TEs in NFL history. Real shame.

        Thinking a bit more about it, the Cardinals were the first “fast break” football team — the way analysts talk about the Eagles now.

        A hell of a fun team to watch.

        By the way . . . great tidbit on Coryell’s airborne views. Talk about visionary . . . wow. Plus, the guy looked Marine tough into his 70s.

  • BlindChow

    I’d be more optimistic if the biggest problems against the Cardinals weren’t coaching issues. Soft zone coverage on defense and deep passes without running on offense. Individual player performance can be improved, but these are the pet projects of the respective coordinators.
    I find myself cringing during every game, because even if they change things up once (the Baltimore game, for example, with the running and the man coverage), I know it’s only a matter of time before they go right back to the things that have been losing them games lately…

    • TommyLawlor

      Some valid points. We’ll see how Sunday night goes.

  • austinfan

    This could be the “walking wounded” game.
    Diehl isn’t playing, so we’re talking Beatty at LT, Locklear at RT, Boothe at LG, Bass at C, gentlemen, start your engines.

    Prince is starting b/c Hosley is out with a hammie, Coe has a bad hammie, Webster has a broken hand in a cast and Rolle has a severe knee contusion. Given that Stevie Brown (who? that’s my point) is the 3rd S, hard to field a credible 3 safety look or even a nickel you trust. Rivers at LB is also out, though we’ll probably see a lot of J Williams in the nickel since neither Kiwanka or Blackburn are guys you want matched up in man coverage.

    Problem is this, MM is an idiot, he’ll look at the beat up Giant secondary and see “opportunities for big plays,” and get Vick killed by another game plan with plays that take 4+ seconds for receivers to run their routes. And six months later his body will be discovered at the bottom of the Delaware river.

    Because the Giant DL is also thin, Osi and Tuck have 1 sack between them, 33 year old Bernard has to start at DT, the backups are Kuhn (7th round) and Austin (still waiting to make his first NFL play of note). So you can play into their hands by starting with a bunch of 3 and outs, or you can wear them down, run at JPP, then as they tire open up your game plan and attack them in the second half when they’re a step slower on their pass rush.

    • Anders

      Why would you run at JPP? JPP lines up at RDE against Bell. JPP is the best run defender for the Giants and Bell is most likely the worst run blocking OL for the Eagles. Just run away from JPP and limit how he is able to affect the game. This is also the game where it sucks because we cant roll Vick out to the left because of Bell vs JPP,

      • austinfan

        JPP is their best pass rusher by a wide margin. And their most athletic defender. So you want to run at him some in the first half to make him work, and he’s quick enough to pursue down the LOS on runs away from him. You’re not going to stop him, you just want to make him deal with double teams and work hard physically so he’s a half step slower in the second half.

        • Anders

          He still has to work through several blocks if he wants to pursue when the play is away from him.

        • BobSmith77

          Nah I would rather see them run screens on his side of the field and run stretch/delays plays away from him to make him pursue.

          Problem is the Eagles’ screen game is probably as bad as it has been during Reid’s tenure here (with the exception of when Autry was at RB) and the long delays/stretches the Eagles love to use with McCoy have been ineffective since Week 1.

    • BobSmith77

      I was thinking the exact same thing about Marty. He’ll see a Giants’ secondary that is beat-up and a Giants’ pass rush that is struggling so it will be bombs away early in the game.

      Almost seems inevitable that Marty has a crappy game plan, sticks with it through the 1st half largely regardless of how ineffective, and the that Vick takes yet another beating this game. Maybe just give him chain mail or a kelvar vest instead of the flak jacket he has been wearing the past 2 weeks.

  • The_Reddgie

    My 2 cents: If the Giants pass rush is truly the strongest part of their defense, then why not reduce our exposure to it by running more, ideally with 2 TE sets and/or have Avant in motion cracking down on DEs and LBs and/or DeSean or Mac coming in motion and flexing behind Shady on fake end arounds (to make the DE stay at home and not pursue the play from behind). It would, in theory, ease the burden on Reynolds and Bell (who should have some sort of help on every down) and allow our O to establish a physical presence while also wearing down the Giants’ banged up D. Attacking the Giants’ weakened back 7 will be easier if the pass rush that protects it has been worn down by having to defend a consistent running attack, especially if their D has to chase down Shady and Brown during the 1st half.

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