With the New York Giants in survival mode heading into a Thursday night division rivalry game against the Philadelphia Eagles, optimism for a winning season is quickly fading.
The Eagles enter the game 2-3 and represent only a shadow of their 2017 Super Bowl team, but they always pose a significant threat against a damaged Giants team.
Expect the Giants to come into the game guns blazing and looking to get ahead quickly to put pressure on Philadelphia. Forcing Carson Wentz to throw the ball down-field should be the goal, but Big Blue must put pressure on the second-year passer, otherwise they will have a long day in the secondary.
The Giants have recorded a measly two sacks in the last two weeks, ranking last in the league in total sacks (7).
The key to stopping the Eagles for the Giants:
The ultimate key, just like with any other game, is to establish a pass rush early on the disrupt Wentz and the offense. Forcing him to throw on the move and under pressure will cause turnovers. Wentz has been a shell of his rookie self, throwing for 914 yards, five touchdowns, and one interception in three total games.
While those stats aren’t entirely bad, he’s struggled to get his team into the end zone as frequently as some expected. The return of Giants’ Olivier Vernon should provide a major boost to the pass-rush. Rookie B.J. Hill has been the best rusher for the Giants so far, with the linebackers playing a surprisingly small role in getting to the quarterback. It was expected that the 3-4 defense under defensive coordinator James Bettcher would utilize the linebackers heavily in the trenches, but so far it has been uneffective.
My main concern is the mental direction of the team at this point. With a massive division game against the Eagles on Thursday after a heart-wrenching loss to the Panthers on Sunday, I’m not sure they have fully processed the significance of this bout. I think that it’s important for HC Pat Shurmur to ensure the stability of the team and lean on the leaders to revitalize the players.
While Odell Beckham Jr.’s comments left some uneasy, they certainly brought the emotion out of the players on the field and earned them a game with over 30 points scored. The Giants must continue to push forward with this mindset and use the rivalry to spur a winning streak.
The primary issue is that the Eagles know how to play the Giants; put pressure on Eli Manning and let him make the necessary mistakes. I would like to see Shurmur take some chances and utilize his best players in unique ways to get the ball in the end zone.