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Eagles at Giants 1st Half Observations




The Philadelphia Eagles (11-2) enter their second divisional game with the New York Giants (2-11) with more questions than answers, a scary thing for a team with the playoffs looming just around the corner. With franchise QB Carson Wentz tearing his ACL in their win against the Los Angeles Rams, they faced their fourth season-ending injury from a major contributor.

Entering the game it was announced that Stephen Wisniewski, the starter at left guard, would be inactive with an ankle injury, further adding to the trials and tribulations the Eagles would face this week. QB Nick Foles is not the most mobile of men and the left side of the line has been under fire lately for leaking high doses of pressure.

The following are my live observations of the 1st half of the game.

1st Quarter

Giants 1st Possession

WR Sterling Shephard featured early, two straight catches for a 1st down. Giants go up-tempo, hard count forces DL Timmy Jernigan offsides on first down.

CB Ronald Darby’s scouting report highlighted his propensity for getting baited on double moves. WR Roger Lewis gets Darby to take the cheese on a sluggo (slant-go) for 25 yards.

3rd & Goal from the 7: DE Brandon Graham forces QB Eli Manning to step-up into a Vinny Curry sack. Wiped out by CB Jalen Mills holding on WR Roger Lewis. Sets up 3rd & Goal 1 yard TD run up the middle by RB Orleans Darkwa. Good job by Giants front on combo block to neutralize DL Fletcher Cox.

Extra point blocked by DE Derek Barnett.

Sloppy start for the Eagles. Three penalties (Barnett, Jernigan, Mills) and undisciplined play.

6-0 Giants lead.

Eagles 1st Possession (1st, 9:04)

Eagles working quick concepts with QB Nick Foles. RB Jay Ajayi taking lead back snaps.

Crazy bobbled catch by WR Nelson Agholor working across the field on a Foles boot to the right. Excellent concentration, but shaken up on the play with what looks like a hand/wrist injury.

Foles evades a sack from DE Jean Pierre-Paul and fires one to WR Torrey Smith at the NYG 5 yard-line, who had SAF Darian Thompson beat, draws a pass interference.

2nd & Goal from the NYG 5. Early spacing concepts to Foles’ left covered up, WR Alshon Jeffery working backside slant makes himself available to Foles by working back to the right in the back of the end-zone for a 3 yard touchdown. NYG challenges Jeffery stepping out of bounds and re-establishing, play stands. XP good.

Foles 4 for 4 on the drive. Impressed by his ability to extend plays in the face of pressure and when his immediate reads are not there. Game doesn’t look to fast for him after an extended time on the bench.

7-6 Eagles lead.

Giants 2nd Possession (1st, 5:28)

Eagles playing off against compressed sets, press when both outside receivers are in plus splits (lined up outside of the numbers).

Bring 5-man blitz on 3rd & 5, Engram slant on Robinson converts with 7 yards. Would like to see some underneath robber zones that bait Manning into poor choices.

3rd & 9 converted to Engram for 28 gain, two high safeties, SAF Malcolm Jenkins passes off to nobody, blown coverage/communication. Up-tempo working for Giants.

2nd & 4 from PHI 13. WR Tavarres King beats CB Jalen Mills on a sluggo. Second time an Eagles corner has bit on the slant. May need to provide some inside support, as mentioned above to help the outside corners feel more comfortable sticking with their outside leverage. XP good.

13-7 Giants lead.

Eagles 2nd Possession (1st, 1:26)

Start with a quick screen to WR Agholor, followed by an 18 yard gain on an outside run by RB Kenjon Barner. Into Giants territory, going up-tempo.

DE Olivier Vernon clubs past LT Halapoulivaati Vaitai for the strip sack, recovered by Barner.

2nd Quarter

3RD & 11, Foles throws a comeback to WR Jeffery, broken up by CB Ross Cockrell who read it early, good click & close. Leads a to punt.

Giants 3rd Possession (2nd, 14:47)

Mills starts the drive with another holding call, opened his gate in press and had to grab on.

3rd & 2 at the NYG 33. Mesh concept for the Giants, CB Robinson gets caught in the wash, freeing WR Sterling Shepard. Poor tackling downfield by SAF Rodney McLeod leads to 67 yard touchdown. XP good. Could argue for offensive PI for a pick but Robinson stumbled and lost the play at the outset.

The secondary has been a big letdown against basic concepts. Slants, sluggos, mesh, nothing special, getting absolutely gashed. Most points allowed in the 1st half all season.

20-7 Giants lead.

Eagles 3rd Possession (2nd, 13:38)

3rd & 6 at PHI 31. Agholor identifies a slot blitz with late rolling safeites. Eagles had the right play on with Ertz to the flats, Agholor had his block, throw behind and Ertz drop. Had an easy first and much more. Poor execution spilling over to the offensive side.

Giants 4th Possession (2nd, 12:04)

Nice job by CB Mills to stack Tavarres King on the go route, sets up 3rd & 8 from NYG 39. Manning dumps off to RB Wayne Gallman, McLeod comes up fast with a big hit. Much better overall from the defense from a coverage and tackling standpoint.

Eagles 4th Possession (2nd, 10:39)

Eagles using empty sets frequently. Agholor gets separation on a deep crossing route from the slot, Foles just misses out in front, could’ve been a big catch and run.

Foles rolls right and finds WR Torrey Smith on a deep comeback, difference in arm strength noted by the booth (no duh). PHI challenges the ruling of a catch. Nice effort by Smith but elbow/wrist appeared out of bounds before possession was established. INC ruling stands.

Still using a heavy dose of run-pass-options, allows Ertz to work over top of linebackers for a first down and __ yard gain. Good run:pass balance this drive, no panic despite being down two scores. Getting Clement and Ajayi involved.

3rd & 2 from NYG 45. Dump off to Clement, CB Eli Apple delivers a shot. Eagles now 0/3 on 3rd down, further highlighting the differences in this offense after the change in quarterbacks. Leads to 4th & 1, Head Coach Doug Pederson elects to go for it.  Eagles 12 for 12 on 4th & 1 this year, but RB Blount is stuffed on an inside run where the offensive line got zero push.

Giants take over at their own 45 yard-line.

Giants 5th Possession (2nd, 7:03)

Cox getting pressure, Bradham laying the boom, followed by a huge interception by CB Darby who returns it to the Giants 20 yard-line. Great job by Darby staying patient in his pedal and running the curl route for the wide receiver. Huge spark.

Eagles 6th Possession (2nd, 6:13)

3rd & 8 from the NYG 18. Ajayi works to the flats for a catch and fights off contact to move the chains. Lots of attention on Ertz that play, good job by Foles to move the coverage and not force anything.

2nd & Goal from NYG 10. 3 tight end set, Ertz widens SAF Andrew Adams and brings it back inside on a “Copper” route (corner, post). Another excellent route by Ertz and nice design to get him isolated via alingment/formation on a plus match-up.

20-14 Giants Lead.

Giants 7th Possession (2nd, 4:44)

Defense starting to show up, Graham sack. 3 and out after the Eagles push the pocket. Looks like Bradham was sliding under the slant Eli wanted.

LB Kamu Grugier-Hill blocks the punt and the Eagles are right back in it, taking over at the NYG 18.

Eagles 7th Possession (2nd, 3:16)

Coverage bust on 3rd down by the Giants leaks Burton out wide open in the end-zone and Foles hits it for a 13 yard TD. Looks like a communication issue with CB Dominique-Rodgers Cromartie who seemed all out of sorts with the coverage call against the Eagles usual trips set in the red-zone.

21-20 Eagles Lead.

Giants 8th Possession (2nd, 2:15)

Manning beginning to feel the rush that is collapsing the pocket more frequently and the coverage has been much tighter since the Giants last score. Eagles showing wrinkles in the secondary that will be interesting to break down with the coaches film.

3rd & 2 from NYG 33. Run by RB Shane Vereen converts, looks like Manning audibled to the run, OG John Jerry did well to combo Cox and get to the second level to seal LB Bradham.

Personal foul on LB Bradham for holding Vereen down and responding to a Vereen shove. Could argue that should be offsetting.

McLeod misses an opportunity to make a huge pick in the end-zone, nice effort.

3rd & 5 from PHI 24. Eagles running soft zone and WR Shepard finds the void and sits for a 1st.

3rd & 7 from PHI 10. Solid coverage by CB Robinson on TE Engram’s corner route. Doesn’t allow Engram to escape outside by maintaining outside leverage and gets his head turned back to the quarterback before playing Engram’s hands on the high throw. Sets up a FG.

23-21 Giants Lead.

Eagles 8th Possession (2nd, :20)

Foles takes a knee and we go into half down two points.

It’s been a real see-saw event for the Eagles, who have shown both Jekyll and Hyde from the 1st to 2nd quarter. On the plus side, the Eagles defense was much more efficient in the 2nd quarter, limiting the mistakes that littered the early portion of the game and getting home with the pass rush.

The offense has been very respectable and have benefited from big plays from the defense and special teams. The Eagles red-zone offensive scheme appears the same and that’s a good thing. Foles has been solid and outside of being left out in the cold by Vaitai on a blindside sack, has protected the ball and converted opportunities into points.

Michael is an NFL Draft enthusiast, aspiring scout, and grandson of longtime East Stroudsburg (Pa.) HS football coach John P. Kist. He hosts Locked On Eagles and writes for Inside the Pylon & Breaking Football.

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