The Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl winning season might have been a tough pill for the New York Giants fans to swallow, it also provided not just the Giants but the entire NFL some key takeaways on how to win it all.
Here are three lessons that the Giants may look to incorporate as they rebuild a franchise that suffered through a 3-13 season last year.
The Offensive Line Helps
Enough has been written about the Giants’ shortcomings on the offensive line and their failure to address them, but those imperfections were put into the spotlight on Sunday.
Quarterback Nick Foles was given plenty of time to put on an MVP performance, as the Eagles let up no sacks, and allowed a multi-faceted rushing attack to pick up 164 yards (more on them in a minute).
Perhaps the most impressive part about Philadelphia’s offensive line prowess was the fact they were able to put on strong showings with lauded tackle Jason Peters sidelined with injuries for a majority of the season.
The Eagles’ depth rose in the form of Halapoulivaati Vaitai, the second-year pro who subbed in for Peters, while they also received help from elsewhere when they signed versatile blocker and former Oakland Raider Stefan Wisniewski to a three-year extension last offseason. They also weren’t afraid to build through the draft, using 2013’s fourth overall selection to take tackle Lane Johnson.
The Eagles’ willingness to build the line made the Giants’ choice to stand pat with their unit all the more head-scratching.
Have a Premiere Back(s)
It seemed like running back was a dying position in the evolving NFL, as quarterbacks and receivers took center stage. But in 2017, runners like Kareem Hunt, Todd Gurley, and LeSean McCoy brought about a rushing renaissance, making significant contributions to the offenses of their respective teams.
Somewhat lost in the individual accomplishments was Philadelphia’s triumvirate of LeGarrette Blount, Corey Clement, and midseason addition Jay Ajayi.
Like the offensive line, they too dealt with a key injury, losing electrifying back Darren Sproles for the year in the first meeting against the Giants. But undrafted free agent Clement rose to the occasion, and the ex-Dolphin Ajayi returned to his 2016 form. The Eagles ended the 2017 regular season third in the league in rushing.
The moral of the story is that you don’t need a single feature back doing all the work. The Giants have a solid, young foundation to work with at running back, with Wayne Gallman and, should opt to resign him, Orleans Darkwa.
The pair headed perhaps the Giants’ most consistent run game in recent memory, with the pair tallying a combined 243 yards in the season-ending victory over Washington. If Paul Perkins can regain his 2016 form, it would form a solid triumvirate.
Better To Take Than Give
The Giants built a sold season in 2016, posting their highest win total in eight years, thanks to the power of the turnover. Masking subpar offensive performances were clutch takeaways, including 17 interceptions, which were good for second in the league. This season was a different story, as their 19 steals were only good for 23rd. The team also had only five multiple turnover games, compared to eight last season.
The Eagles finished fourth in the league in total turnovers with 31. Defensive end Brandon Graham’s clutch strip of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was a key play in helping the Eagles gain the momentum to finish off the Pats.
It was also a clutch turnover, this time an interception, that changed the course of the Eagles’ NFC Championship win over P the Vikings, as defensive back Patrick Robinson took a Case Keenum interception back for a score, destroying Minnesota’s 7-0 lead and providing the Eagles a spark they’d never relinquish.