I took a closer look at last week's Giants-Rams game and researched some items from 2010 to come up with 15 nuggets for Sunday's game:
1. Regardless of who's at quarterback for the Eagles, we know the Giants are not going to sit back and just rush three or four defensive linemen. They are going to show the Eagles a variety of looks and blitz often. In 2010, the Giants sent six or more rushers 11.7 percent of the time, seventh-most in the NFL, according to Football Outsiders.
2. In two games against the Eagles last year, the Giants blitzed Michael Vick on 41 of 92 dropbacks (44.6 percent). Vick was 13-for-31 for 161 yards against the blitz. I've mentioned this several times, but it's worth bringing up again this week. The second meeting with the Giants showed the benefits and risks of blitzing Vick. Through three quarters, Vick had been blitzed 14 times. He was 4-for-10 for 17 yards and an interception against the blitz. Vick was also sacked three times. The first 14 times the Giants blitzed, the Eagles failed to pick up more than 8 yards on any single play. In the fourth quarter, though, Vick was blitzed nine times. He completed 3 of 6 passes for 88 yards and three touchdowns. Vick also ran three times for 90 yards in the fourth quarter against the blitz.
3. When re-watching the Rams-Giants game from Monday night, I noticed specific situations where defensive coordinator Perry Fewell liked to dial up blitzes. Sam Bradford had 16 pass attempts on third down. Fewell sent extra pressure on 12 of them. On eight of those plays, the Giants sent six or more rushers.
4. The Giants bring pressure in the red zone also. The Rams got in the end zone just once in four trips to the red zone. Bradford had nine pass attempts in the red zone, and the Giants blitzed on eight of them. Fewell sent six or more defenders on six of those blitzes.
5. The Giants' secondary has been decimated by injuries. They've allowed 11 pass plays of 20+ yards (fifth-most in the NFL) in two games. Cornerback Aaron Ross was benched last week after allowing a 68-yard completion to Danario Alexander, a 23-yard completion to Mike Sims-Walker, a 17-yard completion to Brandon Gibson and a 35-yard completion to Alexander. He was replaced by cornerback Michael Coe, who didn't fare much better.
6. One thing that stood out is the Giants still have a lot of talent in their front seven on defense, and they can still get after the quarterback. In 2010, they led the NFL with 74 QB hits and 23 balls batted at the line, per Football Outsiders. They have six sacks and 16 QB hits through two games. Justin Tuck had 1.5 sacks and three QB hits last week, and he'll rush from both the outside and the inside, likely against Todd Herremans and Kyle DeVan. Jason Pierre-Paul has 2.5 sacks and three QB hits. He'll go up against Jason Peters. When the Giants blitz, look out for safety Antrel Rolle. He led all defensive backs with 12.5 hurries last year, per Football Outsiders.
7. Jeremy Maclin was Vick's most-frequent target against the Giants in 2010. He got 23 balls thrown his way and caught 16 for 179 yards. Maclin was Vick's go-to guy against the blitz also. In the second meeting, five of seven of Vick's completions against the blitz went to Maclin.
8. The Eagles shouldn't have too much of an issue with the tight ends this week. Eli Manning has targeted tight ends Jake Ballard and Bear Pascoe five times through two games. They've combined for three catches and 72 yards.
9. Manning led the NFL with 25 interceptions last season. He was picked off once every 21.6 attempts. So far this year, Manning has been intercepted twice. Last week, the Rams sent six defenders at Manning with a zone blitz. It looked like he had Mario Manningham open, but former Eagle Quintin Mikell swooped in and created the turnover.
10. The Giants have not really gotten the ground game going yet. Ahmad Bradshaw had 1,235 yards last year and averaged 4.5 yards per carry. He also was second in the league with 13 runs of 20+ yards. This year, he's averaging just 3.7 YPC and has zero runs of 20+ yards. Brandon Jacobs had 823 yards and set a career high, averaging 5.6 yards per carry in 2010. So far, through two games, he's averaging 3.6 yards per carry and has not had a run of more than 14 yards. Against the Rams, Bradshaw picked up 27 yards on his first three carries (9.0 YPC), but had just 32 yards on his next 12 (2.7 YPC).
11. Manning was sacked just 16 times last season. He's already been sacked seven times in two games. Manning was hit four times against the Rams, and the offensive line had some issues in protection. Left tackle Will Beatty got beat by James Hall on one play and by Justin Bannan on another. Left guard David Diehl was beat by Hall for a sack. And on the other side, Chris Long beat right tackle Kareem McKenzie for a sack.
12. Third down has not been pretty for the Giants' offense. They are 6-for-25 on third down through two games. Manning is 8-for-18 for 135 yards, an interception and two sacks on third down (QB rating of 47.2). He was sacked three times on third down all of last season. Vick, meanwhile, is 9-for-13 for 108 yards and a touchdown on third down (QB rating of 120.0).
13. Manning had a 100.1 QB rating against the blitz last year. Through two games, he's 18-for-31 for 247 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions against the blitz, per Pro Football Focus. That's a rating of 78.3.
14. The Giants used 6-OL sets a lot last year, second-most in the league, according to Football Outsiders. Stacy Andrews played 11 snaps last week, per Pro Football Focus, presumably as an extra lineman. While nine of those were run plays, Manning did go play-action, attempting a shot deep to Manningham on at least one of the plays where Andrews was in.
15. Hakeem Nicks is probably the Giants' biggest offensive weapon, with 12 touchdowns in his last 15 games. He had seven catches for 122 yards against the Redskins and four receptions for 38 yards and a score last week. In 2010, Nicks had 12 catches for 128 yards and a score in two games against the Eagles. Behind Nicks is Manningham, but he suffered a concussion Monday night, and his status is "very much in doubt" according to Mike Garafolo of The Newark Star-Ledger. The Giants also lost wide receiver Domenik Hixon for the year.
Earlier Thursday, I posted What they're saying about the Eagles.
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