New York Jets: Attainable goals for Friday’s game vs. Philadelphia

zach wilson, jets

ESM’s New York Jets experts believe Gang Green should spend the preseason finale accounting for their defensive absences.

Never mind Labor Day. For New York Jets fans, the unofficial end of summer arrives when the Philadelphia Eagles show up on the preseason ledger.

The Jets’ late-summer showcase with the Eagles resumes on Friday night at MetLife Stadium (7:30 p.m. ET, WCBS). New York (2-0) has faced Philadelphia (0-2) in every preseason finale since 2001. The streak was interrupted only by the cancellation of last year’s preseason proceedings but resumes on Friday night in what goes down as the Jets’ only official home game of their 2021 exhibition showings (they were the designated road team in the opener against the Giants).

ESM’s Jets experts conjure up an attainable goal for Gang Green to fulfill as the preseason comes to a close…

new york jets, zach wilson

Geoff Magliocchetti: Keep the Offensive Momentum Rolling

Losing Carl Lawson for the year (and Jarrad Davis for at least the first five weeks) shouldn’t awaken the Jets from their dreams of development this season, but the first showing sans the former Bengal wasn’t pretty. Missing Lawson wasn’t the biggest issue against Green Bay last weekend…missing tackles and lost coverage battles were far more troubling…but the top unit still looked out of sorts against a Packers offense resting most of its starters (including top throwers Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Love).

The ultimate insult came when the Packer reserves ate up ten minutes of second quarter game time and embarked on a 19-play, 81-yard drive. Six of those plays were conversions on third or fourth down, including the touchdown that capped things off. Since that drive came with a good portion of the Jets starters on the field, the team faces some major questions.

The best defense could be…a good offense.

Even if their conquests have come against defensive reserves, it’s hard not to be enthused about the progress of the Jets offense, especially with Zach Wilson leading the charge. The team has drifted so far behind the times in this NFL dominated by offense: this is a unit that failed to reach a mere 300 yards in all but five of their games last season. Wilson has embarked on six drives this season: the Jets have scored on four of them and all but one has ended in opposing territory. The outlier produced a conservative punt on a one-yard fourth down at the Jets’ 49-yard-line.

Wilson has made the most of his summer opportunities. He has built chemistry with his receivers, namely Corey Davis (6 receptions, 88 yards) and Tyler Kroft (49 yards on a trio of receptions, including two touchdowns in Green Bay). He has responded well to adversity, erasing two deficits at Lambeau through responsive scoring drives.

Time will tell how the Jets, and their 31 NFL compatriots, approach the third preseason game under the adjusted, shortened summer format. Under the previous quartet, the third game was often treated like a dress rehearsal, with starters playing most, if not all, of the first half. Head coach Robert Saleh was vague on his starters’ playing time during joint practices with the Eagles this week but stressed his desire to see a lot of Wilson. It won’t be “more than a half”, per team reporter Ethan Greenberg, but Saleh believes that there’s a prime opportunity for the newcomers on offense to make of the most of the final tune-up of what’s been a successful preseason.

“I want to play (Wilson),” Saleh said in Greenberg’s report. “I do, so we’re talking about it. But right now, I’m leaning towards playing at least the starting offensive line, quarterback, and a majority of the defensive payers…We got a ridiculously young team and they are growing and learning and all of these experiences are so important to them. I feel like they’ve gotten so much better from the first day of camp until now and to pull off now, I think we’d be doing them an injustice.”

If the Jets emerge from this preseason feeling good about themselves, the offense is providing a majority of those good vibes. Keeping up the offensive is more important than ever with so many question marks filling up slots on the defensive depth chart.

Friday also presents a big opportunity for some players to secure premier roles on the team. Who will be the top rusher? Veteran and two-time Super Bowl participant Tevin Coleman is currently slotted in the top rushing role on the official depth chart but Michael Carter, Ty Johnson, and La’Mical Perine have each looked strong at different points of the summer. The backup quarterback debate has yet to be resolved as well. Mike White has been quiet if not consistent but sustained a rib injury in Green Bay last weekend. James Morgan has struggled and veteran Josh Johnson has yet to see the field.

Brendan Carpenter: Fill the Hole Jarrad Davis Leaves Behind

Well, it’s here. The final 2021 preseason game and, believe it or not, there is still one important question that needs answering: what’s going to happen at linebacker behind C.J. Mosley?

The linebacking situation seemed set. It was going to be Mosley and Jarrad Davis manning the main two inside spots. However, with Davis going down for about two months, there’s a hole. The news wasn’t wanted by anyone, but with the injury comes new opportunities for other players. These opportunities could be exciting too, as rookies Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen will have prime chances to impress.

Sherwood, Nasirildeen, and the veteran depth at linebacker (i.e. Blake Cashman, Noah Dawkins) need to help create some post-Davis clarity on Friday night. If the Jets linebackers can show some ability to make impactful plays and stand tall with the added adversity, it’ll end the preseason on a relatively high note. Well, as high as it could be now.

Expect the linebackers to rotate in and out frequently and to get a glimpse of everything they have to offer. Hopefully, they will be able to achieve the goal of clarity somewhat quickly.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets to host joint practices vs. Philadelphia

New York Jets

The New York Jets will now face the Eagles three times this year, as they’ll host a pair of joint practices prior to their summer clash.

Another chapter has added to the northeastern battle of green football.

The New York Jets announced on Tuesday that One Jets Drive will host joint practices with the Philadelphia Eagles at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park. These practices land on August 24 and 25, days before the teams face off in their respective preseason finales on August 27 at MetLife Stadium.

New York and Philadelphia have mostly kept their gridiron interactions limited to the final weeks of the summer due to their differing conferences, but are now set to meet three times throughout the course of the 2021 season. A regular season matchup looms on December 5 at East Rutherford, serving as the extra game in the newly-minted 17-contest schedule. The Jets have met the Eagles in an annual preseason contest since the turn of the century, their two-decade standing date broken only by the cancellation of the 2020 preseason amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. New York is winless against Philadelphia in 11 regular season meetings, the last showdown coming two seasons ago at Lincoln Financial Field.

In addition to the joint summer sessions with the Eagles, the Jets are also slated to visit Green Bay’s camp prior to their exhibition at Lambeau Field on August 21.

The announcement of Philadelphia’s invasion of Florham Park accompanied the reveal of Jets training camp practices that will be open to the public. Both of the Eagles’ visits are on the list, as is the Green and White scrimmage at MetLife Stadium, which will be the stadium’s first football hosted in nearly 18 months, dating back to an XFL contest between the New York Guardians and Los Angeles Wildcats.

Fans will also be welcome at the training camp practices in Florham Park on July 31st and August 2nd, 4th, 9th, and 11th. Autographs from players and staff will not be permitted, face coverings and proof of vaccination will not be required.

To download tickets to Jets training camp, click here.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets’ debut 17th game comes against Philadelphia

The first-ever 17-game regular season will feature a matchup between the New York Jets and their cross-conference green rivals.

The NFL confirmed plans to move forward with its first-ever 17-game regular season on Tuesday afternoon. League owners voted in the new change, which also trims the preseason slate from four games to three.

Under this new format, which will take effect immediately, the Jets will host a ninth home game, this debut edition coming against the Philadelphia Eagles.

A 16-game schedule had been an NFL staple since 1978, with exceptions in the strike-shortened 1982 and 1987 seasons. These newly minted extra games will apparently be interconference matchups, corresponding to the matching divisional finish with another quartet. For example, under the first year, the squads of the AFC East will battle those in their NFC equivalent.

By virtue of their fourth-place finishes, the Jets (2-14) will battle the Eagles (4-11-1) at MetLife Stadium. Division champions Washington and Buffalo will square off in Orchard Park while the Miami Dolphins will make a second visit to East Rutherford to battle their fellow runner-ups, the New York Giants. The matchups are rounded out by a battle between the Dallas Cowboys and the New England Patriots in Arlington.

The Jets and Eagles have met quadrennially since the league switched to the current eight divisions in 2002. Alas for the Jets, the matchup has proven torturous as they have lost all 11 regular season meetings, the last being a 31-6 shellacking at Lincoln Financial Field in 2019. The teams have met annually in the preseason since 2001, a get-together that has proven far more lucrative for New York, who owns a 13-6 advantage.

In further NFL news, the 2021-22 season will open on Thursday, September 9 in a game that will likely involve the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With the extra game on the schedule, the playoffs will begin on January 9 with Super Bowl LVI scheduled for February 13 at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. The Pro Bowl is set to return after being forced to virtual settings last season, with the 2022 edition set to be held at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants: Divisional rival Eagles to have QB competition after Wentz trade

Carson Wentz has been a divisional foe of the New York Giants since joining the Eagles in 2016, but that will be no more after the Eagles moved him to the Colts for a pair of draft picks. The move ushers in questions about the quarterback position in Philly while the Giants, on the other hand, more or less know they’re sticking with Daniel Jones this season for better or worse.

The trade was reported on by ESPN, who also claims that Jalen Hurts isn’t the automatic starter now that Wentz is moving on from Philadelphia.

Wentz will be reunited with Colts head coach Frank Reich, his former offensive coordinator in Philadelphia, and help fill the void left by Philip Rivers’ retirement, while the Eagles are likely to turn to Jalen Hurts, though they also intend to bring in competition for him. The Eagles’ starting job is not expected to automatically go to Hurts.

Hurts shared time with Wentz last season but didn’t throw any passes against the Giants. Famously, he was pulled from the final game of the season for Philadelphia which the Eagles would lose to keep the Giants out of the playoffs and give themselves better draft position.

It remains to be seen whether the Eagles plan on bringing in competition through the draft or free agency. Either way, however, the Giants might come into the season with an advantage given how they aren’t figuring out their own quarterback situation right now.

Daniel Jones is obviously set to be the starter, even though it’s unknown how long he’ll hold onto the title. It’s hard to say the same about Hurts, and no matter who is starting, the Eagles will have to adjust to someone different taking the reins.

Philadelphia’s folly vindicates New York Jets’ late season victories

After the Eagles’ embarrassing display on Sunday night, no one should fault the New York Jets for their pair of December victories.

The NFL playoffs are set to get underway this coming weekend and there is no shortage of storylines amongst the 14 participants. But the national conversation is focused on the four-win Philadelphia Eagles and their Sunday night excursion against the Washington Football Team.

Over the first 30 minutes of the 256th and final game of the NFL regular season, Philadelphia made it difficult for Washington to clinch their first division title since 2015. They even held a 14-10 lead until the final 20 seconds. The Eagles’ scoring was handled through the legs of Jalen Hurts, a rookie quarterback taking full advantage of relatively consequence-free football. His passing stats were nothing to write home about (7-for-20, 72 yards, and an interception), With two rushing touchdowns, Hurts was potentially on his way to an early signature moment: ending a division rival’s Super Bowl dreams, fantasies that would transfer over to the New York Giants upon a Washington loss. With the Eagles reportedly clashing with franchise face Carson Wentz, Hurts was in a position to get gameday experience and the joy of an NFL victory along the way.

But, to the bewilderment of the football-loving public and his own on-field constituents, Pederson pulled some of his starters…those who weren’t on the pregame injury list…headlined by switching subbing Hurts for Nate Sudfeld. A career journeyman more likely to appear in the third version of the XFL instead of the NFL in 2022, Sudfeld lost the ball on each of his first two drives. A stagnant Washington offense mustered only three points over the latter half-hour, but they still clinched the NFC East with a 20-14 victory thanks to an Eagle offense that only moved backward with Sudfeld in tow. It will be Washington, not the Giants, that will host Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in the last game of Saturday’s playoff festivities (8:15 p.m. ET, NBC).

Pederson’s gambit of defeatism has drawn the ire of not only the Giants (who only have themselves to blame for missing out on a playoff berth offered to them solely through divisional technicalities), but his own team. Lipreaders claimed that a visibly upset Hurts declared “it’s not right” as he watched Sudfeld (whose last NFL pass came in December 2018) take over. Running back Miles Sanders, one of the aforementioned injury departees, claimed that “nobody liked the decision” to pull Hurts. Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that two defensive players had to be held back when confronting Pederson about the decision.

The Eagles’ ultimate prize for the essential forfeit? The right to choose sixth in April’s NFL Draft in Cleveland, avoiding the three-slot drop a win would’ve obtained. Even with such valuable draft capital, a turbulent offseason awaits in The City of Brotherly Love. Wentz and his massive contract have to be moved, and he’ll likely be one of several staples from the team that made the victorious trek to Super Bowl LII.

Say what you will about the 2020 New York Jets…they didn’t do that.

Hurts’ benching swiped center stage in Week 17 compilation of football follies from the Jets, who finally bid farewell to Adam Gase after a listless 28-14 defeat at the hands of the New England Patriots earlier in the day. The meaningless visit to Foxboro was hardly the most football sin of Gase’s tenure but served as an appropriate end to a two-year term that produced only nine wins.

The Jets’ fortunes were among the most trivial of New York concerns in 2020, but it was still tough to bear from a football fan standpoint. Much like a doomed blockbuster, things went haywire right from the start. Some calamities were completely understandable in the wake of the ongoing health crisis, with linebacker C.J. Mosley opting out before the first snap of training camp. The cancellation of the preseason hurt the Jets more than most teams, denying a team with completely revamped blocking and receiving corps. Elsewhere, the climax of the Jamal Adams saga yielded two first-round from Seattle at the price of an All-Pro-sized hole in the secondary. Second-round deep threat Denzel Mims, among others, were lost to training camp injuries. Even before Le’Veon Bell’s unceremonious release in October, the most casual football observer could tell it was going to be a tough season for the Jets.

Sure enough, the Jets’ were more or less eliminated from the playoff conversation before the Yankees…maybe even the Mets as well. Once the season got underway, the promises of brutality became nightmarish realities. Bell’s departure only opened the floodgates for a veteran exodus, with the New York careers of Steve McLendon, Avery Williamson, Pierre Desir, and Gregg Williams all ending throughout the course of the season. The brutal start saw the Jets fall in each of their first 13 games…a number so garish even Rich Kotite’s doomed bunch manage to avoid it.

Yet…pulling a “Pederson” never seemed to be under consideration.

Indeed, there were plenty of times where the Jets fulfilled Adams’ most damning departing declaration…that the Jets “didn’t want to win”. Any 2-14 season is one for the football hall of shame and the Jets lost half of their games by at least three possessions. But any gameday decision was made with a win in mind. Granted, some decisions were questionable at best…the 37-year-old Frank Gore’s run tally perhaps at the forefront…but the modern Jets were never interested in a reward that some of them might never get to see.

“There’s been a lot of adversity,” Gase admitted to Andy Vazquez of NorthJersey.com after the first of two wins, a 23-20 triumph over the Los Angeles Rams. “The fact that it’s this late in the season, the way that they kept fighting, the way that they stuck together and found a way to play a good game in all three phases was something that our guys should have been excited about.”

That was obvious as the season went on and the Jets inched closer to 16-game imperfection. Observers tried to tell the team that losing, however, was good for them. Inclusion amongst the likes of the 2008 Lions and 2017 Browns was a small price to pay to be at the top of the draft board. All the Jets had to do was take a few losses toward the end of the year…something that, on paper, shouldn’t have been hard to do. Following their Week 10 bye, the Jets battled teams either in the thick of the playoff picture or finding their footing in tough times. The epitome of brutality came in when Adams and the Seahawks dominated the Jets to the tune of a 40-3 shellacking in the Pacific Northwest.

All the while, professional and amateur pundits alike, perhaps partly fueled by the theory that the concept of “LOL Jets” gets clicks, encouraged the team to complete the 16-game goose egg in the win column. Such an “accomplishment” would’ve allowed them to outright clinch a spot at the top of the 2021 draft board. Their lone competition, the Jacksonville Jaguars, appeared to embrace the Pederson method when they benched Gardner Minshew’s potential for the journeyman efforts Mike Glennon. The Jaguars perhaps only avoided such calls for tanking through a 15-game losing streak after kickoff weekend and the theory that prime Joe Montana himself could take over under center in Duval County and still struggle to win ball games.

The Jets’ participants still refused to justify the mere notion. Following the embarrassment at Seattle, they knocked off a pair of playoff-bound teams, the Los Angeles Rams and Cleveland Browns. These Christmas gifts were met with only disdain from the fanbase and observers, who torched the Jets for the sin of winning a game when a date with destiny in the form of Trevor Lawrence awaited. The woebegone Jaguars “took care” of business, headlined by their Glennon gambit, losing their final games in anticipated one-sided fashion. 

It didn’t matter to the Jets.

Already a ludicrous notion from the outset…asking professionals to intentionally toss contests in pursuit of an award they’ll never sow…players went for the jugular when it came to those who called for tanking.

“If you wanted us to lose, you’re not a real fan, honestly,” first-round rookie Mekhi Becton told SNY’s Jeane Coakley after the 23-20 win in Los Angeles. “We wanted the win and we got it. That’s our goal right now. We want to go get another win.”

That mission was accomplished the following weekend, as the Jets prevented their equally star-crossed brothers from the midwest from clinching a playoff spot, topping the Cleveland Browns 23-16. Cleveland was

Simply put, one (rightfully) thrashing the Eagles is a hypocritical move if they also criticized the Jets for going all-out in their final hours.

The era of Gase is one that many Jets would like to eradicate from their memories, Men in Black-style. But it was never one where the Jets outright sacrificed a shot at victory. It’s shameful that it’s something to be proud of these days, but Week 17’s action produced a green aura of defeatism on Sunday…this time, the Jets weren’t involved.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants officially eliminated from the playoffs, clinch 11th pick in 2021 NFL Draft

The New York Giants have been officially eliminated from the playoffs. After an exciting win over the division-rival Dallas Cowboys today, the Giants had to wait until tonight to see if their season would continue. All the Giants needed was a Philadelphia win over the Washington Football team.

Unfortunately, the Giants did not get what they needed out of their rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles. The Washington Football Team beat the Eagles on primetime and won the NFC East for the first time since 2015. The Football Team won by a final score of 20-14.

The New York Giants, now eliminated from playoff contention, can focus their attention on the offseason. Had they won, they would have played the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next Saturday. Instead, Washington will host Tampa Bay and the Giants will look ahead to free agency and the draft.

The Giants clinched the 11th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft today. Their win over Dallas improved their record to 6-10. This is an improvement over last year’s 4-12 record. However, this win did push the Giants down the draft order and they are now selecting behind the Dallas Cowboys.

Regardless, it was a sloppy, interesting, but hopeful season for the New York Giants and rookie head coach Joe Judge. In their first year without Eli Manning, the Giants played meaningful football through December. If not for some heart-breaking losses down the stretch, the Giants could have won their division. Unfortunately, the Giants did not put together enough wins to control their own destiny.

Looking ahead to 2021, fans can anticipate a bloodbath between the Giants and the Eagles. After Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson’s decision to pull quarterback Jalen Hurts from their Week 17 game in the fourth quarter, suspicion arose amongst the football world. It seemed to many that the Eagles tanked this game and disregarded all competitive integrity in order to gain a higher draft pick. Needless to say, Giants fans and players alike are not happy about this decision by Pederson and the game’s outcome because of this decision. New York will not forget this night and will eagerly anticipate the opportunity to seek revenge in the 2021 NFL season.

Thanksgiving Day game has major implications for New York Giants’ season

New York Giants, Cam Fleming

The New York Giants are not playing on Thanksgiving this year. However, two of their division rivals are playing. And the game that they are playing is crucial for the Giants and their playoff aspirations.

After a wild Week 11 in the NFL, the Giants found themselves in a three-way tie for second place in the NFC East, despite not playing during their bye week. The Giants, Football Team, and Cowboys are all tied with a 3-7 record. Washington and Dallas both picked up clutch victories last week to narrow the gap between themselves and the division-leading Philadelphia Eagles. Philadelphia is a half-game ahead of everyone else with a 3-6-1 record.

With the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Football Team facing off in this Thanksgiving matchup, Giants fans should watch closely as this game could have major implications on New York’s season. The Giants have a tough schedule to close out the year, playing playoff-caliber teams like the Ravens, Seahawks, Cardinals, and Browns before season’s end. The Giants might struggle to string together more wins this year, but some of their divisional rivals’ schedules are not as difficult.

The Cowboys, in particular, have a much easier schedule. The Cowboys will face one legitimate playoff contender, the Baltimore Ravens. The rest of their matchups are quite manageable. Dallas will play the 49ers, starting Nick Mullens, their backup quarterback. Outside of that, they will play the Bengals who just lost Joe Burrow for the season, as well as the struggling Eagles and one final matchup with the Giants. If Dallas continues to play the way they did last week, that season-ending matchup with the Giants could be an additional playoff game.

Root for Washington or Dallas?

For Giants fans, Washington needs to beat Dallas today. The Giants have the tie-breaker over Washington, beating them twice this season. New York has already lost one of its two matchups against the Cowboys and will play their next game against Dallas in Week 17. Dallas has a favorable schedule leading up to that game and could string together some wins to take the lead in the divisional race.

The Washington Football Team, however, plays a much harder schedule to close out the season. They will face the undefeated Steelers and the Super Bowl-contending Seahawks, making their schedule instantly harder than Dallas’s. For Washington to stay alive in the playoff race, they need to win today’s matchup. Additionally, in order to keep Dallas from picking up steam and taking a lead in the division, Washington needs to win today’s matchup. The Giants should hope to see Dallas crumble like the crust of an apple pie during today’s afternoon Turkey Day matchup.

New York Giants: Root AFC North in Week 11, beat AFC North in Week 12

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants have fought hard and entered their name bac in the playoff race. With a statement victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 10, the Giants are just inches behind their rivals for the top spot in the NFC East. The Giants sit at 3-7, having beaten the Washington Football Team twice and the Philadelphia Eagles once. The Eagles are 3-5-1, playing one less game than the Giants and obtaining one win outside of the NFC East.

New York is trending upward; the Giants are 3-2 in their last five games. Philadelphia is trending downward; the Eagles are 2-3 in their last five games. This is setting up to be a close race to the finish line as both teams fight to win their lowly division.

Go Browns!

The New York Giants are on a bye this week. Philadelphia, however, has already had their bye week, and is stepping into a tough Week 11 contest on Sunday afternoon. Speaking of hot and cold teams, Philadelphia is travelling to Cleveland, Ohio to take on the Browns. The Browns have been surprising this year, improving to a 6-3 record (winning 3 of their last 5) after a shaky start to the season. Cleveland is hot, fortunately for the Giants, and unfortunately for the Eagles.

Boo Bengals(?)!

The Giants will rest up this week and prepare to take on their own AFC North opponent in Week 12. Giants fans will be rooting for Cleveland to whoop up on Philadelphia this week, cheering for an AFC North team that they will face later on this season. But, at the same time, the Giants will be preparing to take on an AFC North, the Cincinnati Bengals, next week.

This week, though, Giants fans have reason to root for Cincinnati. The Bengals are playing the Washington Football Team who sit at 2-7. With a win over the Bengals, Washington would improve their record to tie the Giants at 3-7. So fans might want to root for the Bengals this week. But their love and admiration for Cincinnnati is sure to run out quickly as the Giants will face the same team next week that they are rooting for this week.

In Week 12, the Giants will have a big opportunity ahead of themselves. From here on out, New York needs to win their winnable games and also needs to pull out an upset against in one of their games that is not considered as winnable. The Giants have a tough schedule ahead of them. The two weakest teams they will face are the Bengals (2-6-1, currently) next week and the Cowboys to close out the season. Both of those are must-win games as the Giants race the Eagles (and potentially the Washington Football Team) for first place in their division. The AFC North could actually decide the fate of the NFC East in 2020.

New York Giants’ dominant third-down defense was the key to victory in Week 10

The New York Giants finally beat the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday for the first time since 2016. At 3-7, the Giants have entered the race to win the NFC, which has collectively struggled all season long. But the Giants are improving at a key moment in the season, playing behind and excellent defense that has kept New York in games.

All season long, Patrick Graham and the Giants’ defense has performed above its weight class. Entering the season, the defensive personnel looked like it could be a problem in 2020. But so far, there have been some serious bright spots and standout performers on the defensive side of the ball.

James Bradberry has been excellent all season long and continued his phenomenal season against Philadelphia on Sunday. Over the last two weeks, Bradberry has allowed just three receptions for 21 total yards. Bradberry has been dominant in his first season with Big Blue.

But the biggest surprise for the Giants defense, and the most rewarding treasure that New York found this offseason, is defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. Graham has been clever all season with disguised blitzes and coverages. He has also managed to get the absolute most out of each and every single one of his playres and positions, despite having an obvious lacking of talent in certain areas. Patrick Graham’s excellence was shown in full effect on Sunday, as the New York Giants shut Philadelphia down on third downs.

The Giants’ Third Down Defense in Week 10

The New York Giants’ defense was dominant on third down in Week 10. Philadelphia was 0-9 on their third down attempts this Sunday. The Giants’ defense made clutch stop after clutch stop to clip the wings of the dirty birds.

This has been a consistent theme in recent weeks for the Giants. In the last four games the Giants’ opponents are converting 26 percent of their third downs. This is serious improvement from 54 percent rate in the first 6 games (via Dan Duggan).

The Giants have shown improvement week to week this season on both sides of the football. Last week, New York forced five total turnovers. This week they allowed zero third down conversions. It is hard to lose football games when the defense is playing at that high of a level. The Giants will need to continue to perform at this level over the final stretch of the season if they want to seriously push for a playoff spot.

Giants vs. Eagles: The three major keys for the Giants to come up with the win

New York Giants, Evan Engram

This is the biggest game for both teams up to this point. The Philadelphia Eagles are in first place with a 3-4-1 record, and the New York Giants are in third place with a 2-7 record. The Giants can split the series against the Eagles if they can do a few things correctly. The three major keys for the Giants this weekend will include Daniel Jones, Evan Engram, and Isaac Yiadom.

Daniel Jones needs to protect the ball

The New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones has to be on target this weekend. Jones can not afford to force a turnover against the Eagles. DJ was not perfect last week, but he did not force a turnover. DJ fumbled twice in the game. The first fumble ended up going out of bounds, and the second fumble DJ jumped on to retain possession.

If Daniel Jones can protect the ball and throw the ball away when he has to, then the Giants can control the game on offense and with field position.

Last week’s game against Washington was the first time this season that DJ did not turn the ball over, the Giants came out on top. DJ and the entire offense needs to do the same thing as they did last week to have the best chance to win this game.

Evan Engram needs to catch the ball

The New York Giants tight end Evan Engram has been consistently dropping passes week in and week out. The last time the Giants and the Eagles played each other this season, Engram dropped a ball on third down that would have sealed the game for the Giants. The Giants were forced to punt and gave the ball back to Carson Wentz and the Eagles. The Eagles ended up winning this game against the Giants. What is in the past is in the past. All Giants fans hope for is that Engram can hold on to the ball, especially on third down.

Engram is a miss-match for most linebackers in the NFL, and DJ knows that. DJ just needs to find ways to get the ball into Engram’s hands in open space.

Isaac Yiadom needs to step up

In last week’s game against Washington, Isaac Yiadom allowed a perfect passer rating to Alex Smith when passes were thrown to Yiadom’s side of the field. If the New York Giants want to beat the Eagles this weekend, this simply can not happen this weekend. Wentz will attack Yiadom every time he gets.

The way that James Bradberry has been playing this season, Yiadom is going to see a lot of attention week in and week out, which isn’t going to change this weekend.

Outcome if all goes well

This is a lot to ask for, but if the Giants are able to pull this off against the Eagles, they could find themselves in a rhythm. On offense, DJ has to play a clean game, and Engram needs to catch the catchable balls. On defense, Yiadom will see the ball thrown his way a bunch this weekend. He needs to play just good for the Giants to come out with a big win and compete in the NFC East once again!