The Eagles have a chance to go 2-0 against divisional opponents with a win against the New York Giants on their home turf. A spluttering G-Men Offense rolls into town with its back to the wall and it will fall onto the shoulders of the home team’s pass-rush to keep it that way. It should prove to be a task easier than the two previous encounters, which may only add to their already dominant start.
The ruthless Jim Schwartz Defense has recorded 8.0 sacks so far this season, the Eagles highest total through the first two games since 2011 (9.0). In both the season opening win over Washington and last week’s close loss to Kansas City, the front four were simply explosive…and against a Giants Offense that has allowed 8 Eli Manning sacks so far, they can almost certainly smell blood in the water.
“Our defensive line prides themselves getting off the ball, as you know, and getting pressure with four guys.” Head Coach Doug Pederson told the media. “I would think that that would be the same type of mentality going into this game.”
Towards the end of last season, the Eagles pass rush seemed to slow down however. After a scintillating start, the unit began to fall victim to quick passes and outside runs as the year took its toll. Offenses began to plan at a higher tempo to ensure that the likes of Fletcher Cox and company aren’t constantly wreaking havoc in the backfield…so how will the Eagles account for that this season?
Enter Tim Jernigan. The former Ravens pass rusher has had a lightning start to his Eagles campaign, amassing 1.5 sacks and 6 tackles through the opening two games. Although he’s regarded as a perennial run-stopper, Jernigan has simply been a force to be reckoned with so far.
“He’s done good in the run game, he’s been a factor in the pass game, and he plays tough” Jim Schwartz told reporters. “He’s a physical player. I like the temperament he plays with on the field, also.”
Jernigan’s able to take the pressure of of Fletcher Cox, forcing teams to account for his dog-like mentality and aggressive style of play. Add in a rotation of defensive ends that involves rookie Derek Barnett, Brandon Graham and Chris Long, and what you have is a never-ending barrage that even the toughest offensive fronts will find difficult to stop.
The Giants have faced two pass rushes that aren’t regarded as elite by any stretch of the imagination, and have struggled to amass any kind of offensive damage. RB Shane Vereen is becoming more effective as a receiver than a running back, sitting second in receiving yards on the team, and Eli Manning’s decline is only being highlighted by a turnstile-like situation on the left side of the offensive line.
For the first time this season, the Eagles are at home. The Linc will be electric as the Philadelphia faithful fill the stadium with the noise and intimidation that has only come to be expected.
“I think it would be huge for us to jump out and try to get this win and obviously go 2-0 is big, the confidence of the football team this early in the season. Doug Pederson said. “And in really a great division, I think, with a tough stretch of games coming up. It’s important to come out and play fast. Home game, obviously we’re excited about that finally getting back off the road and getting in front of our crowd and our stadium and fans. We’ve been in two loud stadiums the last two weeks, and now we get to finally unleash our fans on the opponent. It’ll be exciting to do that and to get that win.”
The fans resonate with this Defense. Although the Giants are in a spot of desperation, that’s a sign that will only fuel a pass-rush fire that has simply burst into flame over the opening two weeks, and we can expect to see just that on Sunday.
Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
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