Bye-bye. The Eagles may have secured a week off in the first round of the playoffs, but it wasn’t easy. Against a New York Giants team in disarray who have accounted for just two wins all season long, the Eagles battled and battled to sweep their bitter rival. The fact of the matter is however, the Eagles were battling themselves more than they were battling a weak Giants offense.
The G-Men have a severely lacking offense. No protection, no production, no stars. All eyes lie on Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard, reminiscing the days of the Eagles offense just one year ago, only amplifying the traffic over the middle. It should come as a complete shock then, that Eli Manning would throw for 434 yards, his most since a 2014 clash with the Birds where he threw for 429.
The problem doesn’t stem from creating pressure, the Eagles can do that with their eyes closed. But in terms of coverage and tackling, that’s where the cracks are beginning to show. Ronald Darby gave up a key eight-yard reception to Engram in the early stages of the game to move the chains and that set the tone for Eli Manning. The veteran quarterback would throw everything he could to Darby, including a huge 22-yard reception by Roger Lewis and that blistering touchdown reception from Tavares King. Include a pair of flags and what you have is not the performance that the Eagles need from their number one cornerback. The problem comes in the way that this isn’t just a new problem…it’s been emerging for weeks.
Jalen Mills wasn’t much better. The LSU product was the man responsible for wiping Vinny Curry’s third down stop inside the ten-yard line off the board and later surrendered a touchdown himself. As for Patrick Robinson, his game went a lot less smoothly than we’ve come to expect as he bit on a route inside the red zone that pushed the Giants into dangerous position.
Coverage problems aside, tackling hasn’t been much better. Perhaps it’s the loss of Jordan Hicks that has magnified the issue, but the secondary especially are missing tackles on a regular basis. There is something fundamentally wrong. In fact, it was only a few weeks ago that tackling was an incredible strength from the Eagles. Somewhere along the line, it changed. The focus was on hits and laying smack down as opposed to wrapping around ball carriers. It’s as if the unit has simply gone un-challenged for so long, that now offenses are beginning to gameplan those sneaky intermediate routes to work their instincts to the maximum, they’re at a loss.
But again, even if we ignore the tackling, there’s the penalty situation. 7 flags for 44 yards. There is no excuse. Coming into Sunday, the Eagles were the most penalized team in the NFL during the last three weeks and exited in the same fashion after picking up a handful of flags on defense. The most harming of which negated a magnificent third down stop inside the five and handed the Giants a first and goal situation with the distance halved.
The Giants are not a lethal offense. This is the NFL, no game is an easy win, but this was an embarrassing showing that if not for a supreme special teams effort and a redemption pick by Ronald Darby, could have landed the Eagles in hot water against a two-win team with little offensive firepower. A season-high 29 points for the Giants? 434 passing yards for Eli Manning?
Minnesota will be merciless.
The Rams will run rampant.
The Saints will force submission.
The Eagles cannot afford to engage in shootouts with some of the most explosive offenses in the league. Nick Foles may have thrown for 4 touchdowns, but to expect him to do so against some tenacious defenses and offense who will boast the ‘anything you can do, I can do better’ mentality that the Rams very nearly got away with could end disastrously for the Eagles. There are some fundamental issues on defense that need addressing. Fast.
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Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports