When your defense is missing a majority of its starters in the secondary, it requires the defensive line to work that much harder. That’s the predicament the Philadelphia Eagles will face against the New York Giants on Sunday afternoon.
The top three keys for the Giants heading into a do-or-die game against the Eagles:
With three of four starting corners projected to miss the game, the Giants will have a significant advantage. The starting secondary will look something like this – Malcolm Jenkins, Tre Sullivan, Corey Graham, De’Vante Bausby, and Chandon Sullivan. To put some perspective on this, the Eagles worked out former receiver, Braxton Miller, to play cornerback.
This will be a “green-light” scenario for Eli Manning and head coach Pat Shurmur. Let the ball fly and expose the Eagles’ decimated defense early. It’s essential that they work in tight end Evan Engram and confuse the young corners. Of course, utilizing running back Saquon Barkley will be a priority, but I would expect the Giants to focus on the screen-game and play-action. The Eagles will follow their usual recipe for success against New York – put pressure on Manning. They know if Manning is pressured, he will begin to make mistakes. Getting the ball out of his hands and to the play-makers is a priority.
Allocate resources toward Zach Ertz. The Eagles’ top receiver has undoubtedly been their star tight end. This season, he’s racked up 804 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Against the Giants in week 6, he recorded 43 yards and a touchdown. While those stats aren’t eye-popping, he is always the focus on the offense for Philly. Linebacker Alec Ogletree will be in for tough matchup, while safety Landon Collins will also play a big role in covering the active tight end.
Keep an eye on how defensive coordinator James Bettcher uses Ogletree and Collins in coverage.
Use Eli Manning properly. Having Manning sit back in the pocket and allow a talented Eagles pass-rush get to him is exactly what the Giants ‘shouldn’t’ do. Utilize the play action with Barkley, and put emphasize the use of Engram down the seam. The Eagles will be forced to leave more defenders in coverage to hold the Giants back, which will allow Engram to match up against linebackers. His speed and athleticism will out match any linebacker, and Shurmur must look his way.
Additionally, the offensive line will have to give Manning time to get the ball out of his hands. Ever since the acquisition of right guard Jamon Brown, the Giants’ front five have been stellar. Given, it was against a lowly 49ers and Buccaneers team. The Eagles present an entirely different challenge, but one that will unveil a line that has genuinely improved, or has been lucky enough to face off against two bad units.
In the week 6, Philly sent a lot of stunts towards the Giants’ offensive line. They failed to manage them on Thursday Night Football, but Brown has changed the identity of the line. He’s far superior at picking up stunts and has helped right tackle Chad Wheeler become a serviceable option. Now, that’s not to say Wheeler is a good player, but he has down enough – better than Ereck Flowers. The line could ultimately be the difference in a win or loss for the Giants.