Thursday, July 31, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Day-After Dissection: Giants

Some incoherent thoughts and some off-the-mark observations following the Eagles’ 27-17 win over the Giants: QUICK THOUGHTS

Day-After Dissection: Giants

Michael Vick celebrates after running for a touchdown in the first quarter of Sunday´s win over the Giants. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
Michael Vick celebrates after running for a touchdown in the first quarter of Sunday's win over the Giants. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

Some incoherent thoughts and some off-the-mark observations following the Eagles’ 27-17 win over the Giants:

QUICK THOUGHTS

* Michael Vick’s success this season has lifted offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s name back into league conversations as far as potential head-coaching candidates. Mornhinweg coached the Detroit Lions in 2001-2002. He went 5-27, which is a major reason he hasn’t gotten another chance. But Vick could change that. If Marty should land another head-coaching gig, look for ex-Eagle offensive coordinator Brad Childress, who was fired Monday by the Vikings, to return here for a second tour of duty. Don’t feel too sorry for Childress. He signed a contract extension last November that pays him through 2013.

* You undoubtedly are going to see more defenses follow the Giants’ Sunday night Vick blueprint as far as keeping the Eagles quarterback in the pocket or forcing him to his right and not allowing him to roll to his left.

* I was very critical of Asante Samuel last season and rightfully so. He had 9 interceptions, but was a major liability as a tackler, and his freelancing made life difficult for a secondary that never got over the departure of Brian Dawkins. To his credit, he added some muscle in the offseason and has made an effort to improve as a tackler. And he has raised his ballhawking skills to a new level. The way he jumped that route on Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks Sunday for his first interception was impressive. He reads routes and quarterbacks better than any corner I’ve ever seen. I ‘m a voter for the Associated Press All-Pro team, and for what it’s worth, if he continues to play as well the rest of the season as he has in the first 10 games, he will get my vote.

* With the exception of 2 costly 15-yard penalties on left guard Todd Herremans (tripping, chop block) and a pair of false starts on left tackle Jason Peters and center Mike McGlynn, the Eagles’ offensive line played fairly well against the Giants. Left tackle Jason Peters has turned in 3 straight Pro Bowl-worthy performances since returning from arthroscopic knee surgery. He effectively neutralized Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora Sunday and had a key block, along with Herremans, on LeSean McCoy’s 50-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that put the Eagles ahead for keeps.

THE RUN DEFENSE

The Eagles held the Giants to 61 rushing yards on 19 carries Sunday night and 22 of those yards came on late-game scrambles by Eli Manning. Running backs Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs combined for just 39 yards on 17 carries (2.3 yards per carry). Bradshaw and Jacobs had a total of 4 carries that gained more than 2 yards.

In their last 6 games, the Eagles have held opponents to 73.7 rushing yards per game and 3.6 yards per carry.

They’ve allowed just 9 runs of 10 yards or more in those six games after giving up 22 runs of 10 or more yards in the first 4 games.

The Eagles made it clear to the Giants from the very first play of the game that rushing yards were going to be hard to come by. Defensive tackle Antonio Dixon shed the block of center Rich Seubert, slipped into the Giants’ backfield – OK, so maybe a 320-pound guy doesn’t ``slip’’ -- and tackled Bradshaw for a 2-yard loss. On the next play, Mike Patterson broke through a double-team and stopped Bradshaw for a two-yard gain.

The Giants’ only success on the ground came on their first scoring drive early in the second quarter. Bradshaw hit a crease between the Eagles’ left end and left tackle for a 12-yard gain. Jacobs followed with a six-yard gain through the same gap on the very next play. Three plays later, Jacobs hit that hoe again for a 5-yard gain to the Philadelphia 5-yard line.

But on the next play, linebackers Moise Fokou and Stewart Bradley stuffed Jacobs for a one-yard loss. They ended up holding the Giants to a field goal. It was only the third time this season that the Eagles had stopped a team in a goal-to-go situation.

THE TAKEAWAYS

The Eagles forced 5 turnovers against the Giants, intercepting Eli Manning 3 times and forcing 2 fumbles, although one of those fumbles – by Manning late in the game – actually was self-induced.

It was the second time this season that the Eagles have had 5 takeaways in a game. They also had 5 in their Week 5 win over the 49ers. The Eagles lead the league takeaways with 26 and lead the league in turnover differential at plus-15.

They finished second in the league in turnover differential last season at plus-15. In the Andy Reid era, the Eagles have only had a negative turnover differential twice – in ’05 (minus-7) and ’07 (minus-8). Not coincidentally, those are the only two seasons the Eagles have missed the playoffs in the last 10 years.

The Eagles’ 19 interceptions are 4 more than any other team (5 teams have 15). They’ve had 3 in each of the last 2 games. It’s the first time the Eagles have had 3 or more interceptions in back-to-back games since 1991.

If anything is going to keep the Giants out of the playoffs, it will be turnovers. It’s their Achilles heel and is driving coach Tom Coughlin crazy. They have a league-high 30 giveaways and are 27th in turnover differential at minus-8.

Running back Ahmad Bradshaw fumbled for the league-high sixth time Sunday against the Eagles. Last year, just one team – the Arizona Cardinals – made the playoffs with a negative turnover differential (minus-7). And they had the benefit of playing in the league’s worst division.

DID YOU NOTICE?

* The Eagles didn’t use nearly as many 3-wide receiver, 1-running back, 1-tight end sets against the Giants as they usually do. When they went with 3 wides, it usually was with 2 running backs or 2 tight ends to maximize their blocking against the Giants’ pass rush. Several times, they lined up their second tight end, Clay Harbor, in the backfield.

* Even when the Eagles went with a 4-wide receiver set, they often were thinking protection first. On a third and 9 on their second possession, they had 2 wide receivers lined up tight on each side. Both Jason Avant and Jeremy Maclin stayed in to block for a few seconds before releasing. Vick completed a 14-yard pass to DeSean Jackson on the play.

* The futility of Giants safety Kenny Phillips as he tried to catch Michael Vick on his 4-yard first-quarter touchdown run.

* Joselio Hanson played a big role in Asante Samuel’s second interception. He was covering Derek Hagan on the play and caused the ricochet to Samuel.

* The near-sack by linebacker Stewart Bradley on a third-down blitz late in the fourth quarter.

* The excellent cutback by LeSean McCoy and the blocks by right tackle Winston Justice and right guard Nick Cole on McCoy’s 40-yard run with 2:48 left in the game that set up David Akers’ final game-clinching field goal with 22 seconds left. Justice had a nice cut block on the Giants’ Barry Cofield.

* The careless way Vick was holding the ball on his early-fourth quarter fumble, which set up the Giants’ go-ahead touchdown. Vick had 2 fumbles Sunday night, but only lost one.

BY THE NUMBERS

* For just the fourth time this season, the Eagles held an opponent to 17 points or less. The most games in a season the Eagles have held opponents to 17 points or less during the Andy Reid era is 12 in 2001.

* After converting 4 of 4 red zone opportunities against the Redskins last week, the Eagles were 1-5 in the red zone Sunday. For the season, they are 18-34 in the red zone.

* For the first time since the ’08 season, the Eagles failed to register a quarterback sack Sunday. They’ve had more than 3 sacks in a game just once this season (7 vs. Jacksonville).

* The Eagles managed to beat the Giants despite converting just 3 of 14 third down opportunities. Their 21.4 third-down percentage was their lowest of the season.

* In the Eagles’ last 7 games, opponents have started beyond their own 35-yard line after a punt just 2 times in 27 punts.

* The Eagles have allowed just 5 kickoff returns of longer than 23 yards in the last 5 games (35 total returns).

* Opposing tight end update: Through 10 games, opposing tight ends have caught 45 passes for 569 yards and 6 touchdowns.

* The Eagles gave up 2 touchdown passes to Eli Manning Sunday, bringing their season total of TD passes allowed to 18 in 10 games. Last year, they gave up 27 TD passes, which was the most by the Eagles in 23 years.
 

**

To read our earlier posts, click here.

 


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Paul Domowitch Daily News NFL Columnist
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