There are games in which Trent Cole doesn't fill up the stat sheet but still dominates.
For example, last week against the Redskins, Cole failed to pick up a sack and was credited with one quarterback hit. Yet, he was probably the Eagles' best defensive player and caused chaos all game.
Sunday's game at the Linc, however, was not one of those games.
Cole had perhaps his quietest outing of the season. And the Eagles' defense failed to register a sack for the first time all year.
In fact, it was the first time in 27 games the Eagles didn't have a sack. The last time it happened was coincidentally when the Birds beat the Giants in the playoffs after the 2008 season.
So the question is: Did Shawn Andrews single-handedly shut down Cole? And the answer is not really, although Andrews did play very well, minus the two holding penalties.
By my count, Eli Manning dropped back to pass 35 times. On nine of those occasions, Andrews was asked to block Cole one-on-one, and he more than held his own.
A variety of things happened on the other drop-backs. On some, a running back, tight end or extra lineman helped Andrews. On others, Cole twisted inside, and whoever was at defensive tackle twisted outside. Cole dropped back into coverage once. He wasn't on the field for six plays. And the Giants had Will Beatty on him at least once.
New York was also smart with its gameplan against Cole. If Manning needed time to find a receiver downfield, they were more likely to give Andrews help. If he was going to get rid of the ball quickly, the Giants were more likely to let Andrews block Cole one-on-one.
As for the defense as a whole, Sean McDermott blitzed Manning 11 times by my count. On those plays, he completed 6 of 10 passes for 66 yards and an interception.
When the Eagles held off on the blitz, Manning was 13-for-23 for 81 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
I only counted four times when McDermott zone-blitzed, a much lower number than usual. Darryl Tapp dropped back three times, Trevor Laws twice and Cole once. I was surprised to discover that Graham, who entered the game having dropped back into coverage more than any lineman other than Cole, didn't drop back a single time against the Giants.
Here is how much each defender blitzed:
|Player||No. of blitzes|
And the defensive line rotation:
|Player||Pct. of snaps|
Remember how complex McDermott's gameplan was against Peyton Manning and the Colts a couple weeks ago? It sure seemed like he simplified things for Eli and the Giants.
And the Eagles reached their goal of limiting the opponent to 17 points for the first time in three weeks and the fourth time this season.
In case you missed it, I posted Man Up on the defense earlier Monday.