To hear some Eagles players tell it, the defense just needs to eliminate a few mistakes here and there, but will get its act together soon enough.
To hear other Eagles players tell it, soon enough probably isn't good enough, considering we are headed towards Week 4.
The truth is, the Eagles have a lot of talent on the defensive line and at cornerback. But they have gaping holes at linebacker and safety. Defenses see the disparity, and they attack the weaknesses of Juan Castillo's unit.
Want proof? Six of the eight passing touchdowns the Eagles have allowed the last two weeks have gone to tight ends and running backs.
Against the Giants, the Eagles allowed five big plays, defined here as plays that gained 25 yards or more. As I re-watched those five plays, I noticed mismatches, missed tackles, poor angles and reason for concern going forward.
Here is a breakdown of what happened on each of them:
Manning to Jacobs for 40 yards
The Giants faced a 2nd-and-5 at the Eagles’ 40 yard line. The Eagles were in their base personnel. The Giants, meanwhile, had seven men at the line of scrimmage, including Stacy Andrews, who was an extra lineman on the right side. They went with two wide receivers to the left of the formation and Brandon Jacobs in the backfield.
Seeing this, the Eagles brought safety Jarrad Page up, basically as a fourth linebacker to play the run. Manning faked the handoff to Jacobs, and Casey Matthews bit badly, along with Jamar Chaney and Moise Fokou. With Matthews on the weak side of the formation, Jacobs became his responsibility. The Eagles got no pass rush on the play, and Manning had all the time he needed to find Jacobs, who had released down the far sideline.
It was about a 20-yard pass, and Jacobs easily outran Matthews the rest of the way for the touchdown.
Kurt Coleman was covering the slot receive,r and Nnamdi Asomugha was covering the outside receiver. Both receivers ran routes to the middle of the field. Asante Samuel, who did not have a wide receiver to his side of the formation, acted as a safety to help them. That meant there was no safety to the far side of the field, where Jacobs found himself all alone for the score.
Manning to Cruz for 74 yards
The Giants faced a 3rd-and-2 from their own 26. They had two receivers split to each side and Ahmad Bradshaw in the backfield. The Eagles were in nickel. They decided to blitz, sending seven players at Manning and leaving single coverage on all four Giants receivers. Dominique Rodgrs-Cromartie blitzed from the slot on Manning’s front side. Chaney and Brian Rolle both blitzed off the edge on Manning’s blind side. Rodgers-Cromartie was originally lined up against Victor Cruz, who then became Coleman's responsibility. Coleman came up to meet Cruz on what should have been only a 9-yard gain, but he missed the tackle, and Cruz took off. Asomugha’s tackling attempt wasn’t much better. He whiffed and ran into Coleman. Both men watched from the ground as Cruz galloped 74 yards for the score.
Bradshaw 37-yard run
The Giants faced a 3rd-and-5 from their own 25. They lined up with three receivers, a tight end and Bradshaw in the backfield. The Eagles were in their nickel package with Rolle and Chaney as the linebackers and Rodgers-Cromartie in as the third cornerback. The initial hole opened up between Cole, who was rushing upfield, and Mike Patterson. Chaney was blocked by the tight end. Rolle dove at Bradshaw’s feet around the 29 yard line, but didn’t have much of a shot.
The same cannot be said for Page, who simply missed the tackle on what should have been no more than a 10-yard gain. Allen was on the receiving end of a stiff arm at midfield. And Rodgers-Cromartie finally brought Bradshaw down after the 37-yard pickup.
Manning to Bradshaw for 26 yards
The Giants had a 1st-and-10 at their own 37. They lined up with two tight ends, two wide receivers and Bradshaw in the backfield. The Eagles were in their base defense. Bradshaw released, and Manning dumped it off to him at the line of scrimmage. This time, it was Chaney's turn to miss a tackle as he dove at Bradshaw’s feet, failing to bring him down for what should have been a 3-yard gain.
Matthews then got blocked by the tight end, and Allen took a poor angle. Finally, 26 yards downfield, Moise Fokou and Asomugha combined to bring Bradshaw down.
Manning to Cruz for 28 yards
The Giants had a 2nd-and-8 at the Eagles 28 yard line. They had a receiver to each side, a tight end at the line of scrimmage and two running backs behind Manning. The Eagles were once again in their base defense. Manning ran play-action, and he had time in the pocket, although Trevor Laws got some pressure up the middle. It looked like Asomugha was originally lined up one-on-one on Cruz, but Manning signaled him to motion inside, and Asomugha backed off. Manning threw a jumpball to Cruz at the goal line. Asomugha and Page were right on Cruz, but the Giants wide receiver simply made a better play on the ball and scored the touchdown.