Folger’s Forecast: Giants vs. Eagles
By Bob Folger, Senior Analyst
Mark Twain once said, “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.”
A few diehards may still have faith in this team but we’re not one of them. We don’t anticipate the kind of late-season surge that both recent Super Bowl champions made, and yet, the Giants can still sneak into the playoffs as a wildcard. If they do, can they make any noise? We don’t see it, but then we’ve been wrong plenty of times before and would hope to be wrong this time.
The Eagles would probably like nothing more than to finish off the Giants’ season. Michael Vick will be at quarterback with Nick Foles now on injured reserve, and LeSean McCoy is back from an extended injury absence looking refreshed. Regardless, the Eagles are a mess right now, and it’s hard to see them competing for four quarters–unless the Giants come out sleep-walking once again.
Giants on Offense
The most obvious cause for this team’s offensive woes is the broken foot that receiver Hakeem Nicks suffered in the off-season. The subsequent knee injury that he incurred while likely compensating for the sore foot has turned him into an ordinary receiver.
Last year, the Giants’ three wideouts overcame the problems caused by a very spotty offensive line. This year the wideouts are being covered, and the offensive line is springing leaks all over the place.
So if you’re wondering why Eli Manning hasn’t been able to carry this offense on his shoulders, as he’s done so many times before, look no further than the domino effect that Nicks’ multiple leg injuries has produced. Manning has had neither a running game, nor time in the pocket to look downfield, and so he’s looking very ordinary.
It’s been two years-plus that the running game has struggled. It’s really time for the coaches to give David Wilson more touches, especially with Ahmad Bradshaw’s knee injury making him not only a plodding runner, but a sub-par pass blocker.
Wilson only touched the ball once after his 14-yard touchdown run last week. Let’s hope that this wasn’t a case of the coaches punishing him for his end zone back-flip celebration.
Last week, Manning tried forcing the ball to Rueben Randle, which is an imperative that we fully support. The Giants are going to need this rookie to contribute next year. This is a great time to get him some much-needed playing time so he can see what he needs to do to become a reliable target. Of course, Wilson also needs to get that field time, but the coaches are sure being stubborn when it comes to him.
The Eagles’ defense has been a shambles most of the season. They are fast, but they are not physical and they lack discipline. The best way to defeat them is to hurt them on the ground. Can this Giants’ offense do that? The only chance is with young Wilson carrying the ball. We hate to keep beating a dead horse, but this rookie has to play.
Giants on Defense
The lack of intensity has been this defense’s main problem all year. However, we’re also greatly concerned with defensive coordinator Perry Fewell’s schemes. Opposing offenses haven’t had a care in the world huddling up and calling a play on third down, knowing that there will always be a receiver wide open. Sometimes it’s like taking candy from a baby out there against this defense’s terrible coverage schemes.
Besides that lack of intensity–and a resultant lack of physicality especially in the pit– we just don’t think that the players believe in the coach’s schemes. Busting your butt out there, only to be submarined by a scheme that allows too-easy third down conversions time and time again, is extremely frustrating, and while the players have said the right things, actions tend to speak louder than words.
It boggles our mind that offenses continue to max-protect and find wide-open receivers. The Giants haven’t had a coverage sack in ages. And a blitzing linebacker hasn’t gotten home in forever. And when was the last time a Giants’ slot corner surprised a quarterback coming off the edge? Finally, can this defense ever stop the run? All of these things haven’t happened in months.
The Giants will be without Chris Canty and possibly without Justin Tuck, which means that Marvin Austin should see a lot of snaps. This second-year player hasn’t made a single big play in his two years on this roster, albeit last year he was on injured reserve for the season while this year he was set back due to a back problem.
Still, it sure would be nice to see him show some life. We’ll also be watching for youngsters Adrian Tracy and Adewale Ojomo to get a few snaps—Ojomo appears to be on the radar for next year, but really can he be any worse than what we’ve seen so far?
Prince Amukamara is once again on the injury report. His hamstring ailment forced the coaches to leave Corey Webster all alone in coverage last week, and boy did the Ravens salivate over that match-up. It didn’t matter who the Ravens lined up outside–Webster wasn’t up to the challenge. The other bad matchup was Antrel Rolle trying and failing to cover Anquan Boldin.
What are this week’s bad matchups? Stopping McCoy seems like the obvious priority, but a refreshed Vick could give the Giants fits with his legs. Vick is on his way out in Philadelphia and has nothing to lose. Nobody would be surprised to see him have his best game, despite playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league.
Giants on Specials
The best unit on this team right now is the special teams coverage units. Both kickoff and punt coverage has been excellent. The return of Jacquian Williams has worked wonders, while the evolution of Will Hill into a force has been big.
David Wilson should get some chances for returns this week. The Eagles have been very sloppy on specials and could give up some plays. Their return game has not been special. If the Giants can make some hay on specials, they could help the team win a very winnable game.
Picking the Giants to win this game is not easy because based on the last two weeks, they already look defeated. No one’s making any plays out there to give them a spark.
Perhaps it’s time to look to the rookies. We don’t think the Giants win this game without contributions from Wilson, Randle, and perhaps even rookie corner Jayron Hosley.
The Eagles might catch some magic in a bottle with the return of Vick but their defense, specials teams and offensive line are very shaky. Problem is, the Giants have many of the same problems, but we think that the Giants will be able to squeak this one out if they come to play.