Thursday, September 27, 2012

Looking ahead to the Iggles

On the surface, after watching week 3 games, as a Giants fan you might be very confident that the Giants could go into the Linc and do some damage. While both teams are 2-1, the Eagles had a miserable time getting their two wins, looking awful against a bad Browns team in week1 and barely squeaking out a 1 point win with a late TD to overcome a 6 point deficit. Similar story in their week 2 win where they got a late score to win by a point, though it was against a strong Ravens team. Then last week they got waxed by the Cardinals on the road 24-6. On the other hand, the Giants looked shaky on defense in their opening loss to the Cowboys and looked like their OL was going to be a problem all year. Hosever, they seemed to have righted the ship in the second half against the Bucs and in the Thursday night game against the Panthers they looked dominant.

The common themes for the Eagles in their first three games has been turnovers. In their first two games,  1 point wins, they moved the ball extremely well especially in the air, amassing more than 900 yards of offense in those two games. Turnovers killed them, especially in the red zone and limited their offense. Turnovers could mean that their QB is sloppy with the ball, and the fact that they moved the ball so well on offense means that they have offensive talent. Turnovers are not really repeatable from one game to the next, and if Vick is a little more careful with the ball, the Eagles could be very tough against the Giants defense.

However, the above idea, has the implicit assumption that all turnovers are purely random events caused by sloppy offensive play. This is not accurate - turnovers often come as a result of good pressure by the defense. And the truth is, a lot of the Vick turnovers came because the Eagles OL was flawed coming in to the season and was further weakened by injury, exposing him to pressure. On the other side of the ball, the Giants seemed to have found their pass rush and their DBs played better against the Panthers. Consequently, the matchup of a strong Giants pass rush against a weakened Eagles OL could be a big advantage for the Giants and may bring out some turnovers from Vick. I am still optimistic about a good Giants showing against the Eagles, but you need to look beneath the final score at the big yardage piled up by the Eagles and see that they are still a dangerous offensive team.

On defense, it is that side of the ball that has kept the Eagles in their games when the offense turned the ball over so much. They have a really strong front 7 that plays the run well and can put pressure on the QB. The weakness on the Eagles defense is their DB-field. I think their safeties are vulnerable and their LBs are good against the run but not in coverage against the pass. I don't know what has happened to Asomugha. He was supposed to be the prize FA acquisition a year ago that would transform the Eagles defense into a killer unit, but he looks very beatable on this team, giving up big plays and tackling poorly. Getting rid of Assante Samuel made their DB-field weaker; he used to give Eli fits. If their pass defense is weak down the middle, with LBs and Ss that don't cover well, look for the Giants to try to use Bennett on seam routes and maybe even sneak Barden down the middle with their DBs paying attention to Cruz and Nicks.

Giants coming off a dominant win and Eagles coming off a game where they were dominated by the Cardinals, you would think these are teams moving in the opposite directions. But this will be a tough game and will be difficult for the Giants to win.

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