With one win under their belt and an underwhelming schedule on the horizon – the Giants face their two toughest opponents, Green Bay and Seattle at home – the tease of faint hope is flickering in the minds of the diehard after that unwatchable win against Minnesota.
Three weeks ago, the Eagles pulled away in what was for the entire team a dismal fourth quarter showing. After taking a third quarter lead, the offense turned the ball over twice, and the defense simply rolled over. It was a team-wide collapse.
Michael Vick hasn’t played since that game. Last week, the Eagles were terrible in a 17-3 loss to Dallas at home. Can they play badly in front of their boo birds on successive weeks?
Giants on Offense
Against a solid Minnesota front last week, the Giants offensive line really struggled. With David Baas injured in the first quarter—he’s now out for the season– his replacement, Jim Cordle, couldn’t handle many of the Vikings pressure packages. It wasn’t pretty, and it could get even uglier.
We think it’s time to consider sliding Kevin Boothe into the center position and returning James Brewer to guard. We think that Cordle is a major liability that cannot be hidden any longer.
Running back Peyton Hillis gave the offense a shot in the arm with his size and toughness, and most importantly, with his third down contributions. Hillis can pick up a blitz and he can catch the ball out of the backfield and do something with it. He’s an upgrade.
The passing game came out throwing short well last week. This style must persist, but only if the running game has success. Eli Manning will take his shots up top, but only if the Eagles’ defense has to respect the run.
Hakeem Nicks is once again the key. He has to start making some plays. Nicks had his best game of the year against the Eagles (142 receiving yards), but he tired in the fourth quarter, which hurt the team.
Giants on Defense
After scoring just three points last week (without Vick, who was inactive), the Eagles should respond with their veteran quarterback back behind center.
Vick’s legs hurt the Giants last time. The defense has to contain him better.
Controlling DeSean Jackson needs to be an even bigger priority. Jackson was held to just three receptions for 21 yards by the Cowboys. That’s not going to sit well with him. Jackson always seems to get up for the Giants, and, in fact, had a big game last time.
With Jon Beason playing so well in the middle, LeSean McCoy becomes less of a headache, especially with the run defense being such a season-long plus.
It’s the Eagles passing game that concerns us most, especially against a pass rush that the Giants still can’t seem to find.
Rookie Damontre Moore got some late games snaps last week, but we wouldn’t expect too much out of him.
Cullen Jenkins, Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul are the keys to getting to Vick. Block them, and the Eagles will keep the defense on the field.
We’re interested to see how the coaches utilize Will Hill vs. Vick. Hill is the team’s best athlete and matches up well in space.
We wonder if they will have Hill attack the line of scrimmage often, to not only help with Vick but also McCoy. Hill is a weapon, and needs to be utilized.
Turnovers remain something that the Giants’ defense can’t seem to create. They got one last week, but they remain last in the league. Maybe it’s time that a deflection or two goes the Giants way. They could sure use a little luck.
Giants on Specials
Three punt return touchdowns through seven games places a big target on this unit’s back. The coverage teams need to play like a unit, not like a bunch of chickens running around without heads. Their focus last week was pitiful.
It’s also time to remove Rueben Randle from the punt return job and insert rookie Charles James. Randle is back there for his ball security, but last week’s fumble should be the impetus to make this change.
The Eagles are an inconsistent team with a 3-4 record that didn’t show up last week, which means their focus should be much better, especially against a team that they seem to enjoy playing against. There are speed matchups on both sides of the ball that favor the Eagles.
The Giants playmakers – Nicks, Manning, Beason, Tuck – have to come up big just to keep their team in the game. However, we think the Giants offensive line is just too weak of a link, and there is no covering up their ineptness for four quarters.