There are few things in life I appreciate more than a win over the Giants. That said, Week 5's 36-21 victory over New York will always have a place in my heart. The win showed several reasons to be optimistic about the long-term growth of the Eagles as well as the negative impact that the NFL referees are having on games. The refereeing in this game was worst than a Hall and Oates cover band not playing "You Make My Dreams Come True" or a Harrison Ford movie without someone getting punched in the face. The officials made horrific calls on both sides, from a phantom Brandon Boykin interference with a punt return to not seeing a hand to helmet that forced Eli Manning to throw an interception.
This was a game in which both teams were clearly impacted by the officials. Giants fans will complain about the referees ruining their attempt to win, but really the Eagles were called for several erroneous penalties and were duped out of a safety. On top of that, you really have to admire Victor Cruz's transition from a cool story about a kid who came out of nowhere to a massive diva that complains literally every time he avoids catching a ball. But I digress...
The Eagles were up-and-down on all phases and frankly should have won this game by more points. Billy Davis either does not know what a two-route (slant) is or he just does not care about it. That said, his game plan against Cruz was fantastic and Boykin, on first glance, owned him (with help) for most of the game. A five-catch, 48-yard performance was not what any of us expected from the salsa dancer. Clearly, the Eagles were fine with Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle beating them as the Giants could not run or get the ball to Cruz.
Michael Vick's injury was upsetting, especially after not completing a pass in the first quarter. A lot of people are going to be calling for a switch after the last three games of Vick playing seemingly average, but I think this hamstring injury will keep him out against Tampa Bay. I do not think Chip Kelly wants Vick's hamstring dealing with the heat, but that is just my opinion.
Nick Foles was terrific today and there is no argument there. He was not afraid to throw deep, he was accurate and was smart with his choices. I was impressed. While the Giants were not that great on defense, Foles still was able to handle his own and went 16-of-25 for 197 yards and two touchdowns in just over two quarters.
While we are enjoying this win, we need to keep in perspective. The Giants are really banged up and not very good. The Eagles will not be able to get away with defensive breakdowns and continuous stalled drives against better teams. That said, it was refreshing to see the Eagles soundly win the turnover battle for once. Philadelphia was plus-four in that category because they did not turn the ball over at all.
I am rambling so we should just get into the HOT and NOT of Week 5's win over the Giants.
- Let's talk about DeSean Jackson. One of the most impressive transitions on offense with Chip Kelly has been the ability to get Jackson involved in the short-yardage game. I think a lot of people were under the impression that Nick Foles would discourage Jackson's ability to make plays, but that was simply not the case. He had 132 yards and a touchdown on seven catches on Sunday. Foles hit Jackson for a beautiful over-the-top pass for a touchdown (pictured above).
- Nick Foles is a very, very good backup quarterback and can clearly play in this league. While everything needs to be taken into context, I have no problem with him or Michael Vick being my starter this season. Foles has shown improvement on his accuracy, his vision and his decision-making this seaosn. His touch has also seemingly improved along with his willingness to send the ball downfield. Foles finished 16-of-25 for 197 yards and two touchdowns in a little more than two quarters of play. He led four scoring drives. I think he should start against the Buccaneers due to Vick's hamstring. No need to rush him, especially with the heat of Florida.
- LeSean McCoy has games where he is excellent on the run and then games where he is solid as a pass-catcher. He rarely is great at both in one game. The Giants clearly aimed at stoping McCoy and they held him to just 46 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. He did, however, add another 46 receiving yards. It was an okay performance for a guy that is allowed to have an okay performance every now and then.
- I saw a ton of talk from fans about trading Brent Celek this week. Celek is a curious case for a lot of people because of the drops and the lack of acknowledgment of his terrific blocking. He was solid against the Giants with three catches for 47 yards and a touchdown. He had a spectacular grab in the end zone on Sunday and that is the type of catch that few tight ends can make.
- Speaking of tight ends, Zach Ertz has a fantastic catch in the first quarter. He is starting to show off his ability a bit more. I do get the feeling that his lack of time over Celek has to do with blocking and rightfully so. I was impressed by him as a receiver on Sunday.
- Bradley Fletcher is a guy that I think a lot of people are mixed on. He clearly grabs at receivers a lot and is very physical but he does get beat at times even with these methods. I believe his coverage ability has been the best among the cornerbacks. He did a solid job on Hakeem Nicks outside of a long catch on the first drive. He is also a very good tackler.
- Cary Williams is odd. The guy gives up a ton of yards but he is a solid tackler. He also has an uncanny ability to make plays when he is just about to be consider useless. That is an intriguing and frustrating trait to have as a defensive back.
- Brandon Boykin is really coming into his own. He did very well against Victor Cruz and I have no issue saying that he is a more trustworthy nickelback than Joselio Hansen ever was. The interception he had in the game where he took the ball from Cruz was not only impressive but honestly badass. He is likely to be on the outside soon enough.
- The Mychal Kendricks interception technically came on a bad no-call but I appreciated Kendricks' ability to pay attention. He is a smart player. His hustle to collect the Brandon Jacobs fumble was a lot harder than it looked. It would have been easy to not notice the fumble in that pile up.
- Finally, Alex Henery. I have been very tough on Henery and I am not apologizing, but he was solid on Sunday, going 5-of-5 field goals. The kicks were not anything harder than average NFL kicks, but you hope that this game will help him get his confidence back. That is very important for a young kicker, who clearly takes his misses to heart.
- Michael Vick was fantastic as a runner. He was able to lead four scoring drives, mostly with his legs, and really found holes within the Giants defense. His ability to scramble made a difference in the running game as defenders had to acknowledge both his passing and rushing ability while also staring McCoy in the face. Just ask Justin Tuck.
- Michael Vick clearly struggled as a passer on Sunday, there is no denying that. I understand if people want a change at quarterback, but it is not going to happen. Unfortunately, the "Bad Vick" comes with the "Good Vick." His legs likely saved him from a healthy benching. Update: I was merely discussing Vick's passing in this category. This had nothing to do with his overall performance. I thought he was terrific as a runner. This is the dichotomy of a player like Vick.
- As I said before in the introduction, either Billy Davis choose to ignore the slant route/inside lanes in order to focus on taking care of the big play or he simply does not understand how to defend it. I will go with the first option but still it is a bit disheartening when Eddie Royal, Donnie Avery and Rueben Randle pulling off the same crap over and over again. One of my biggest issues with Cary Williams is his inability to cover inside. Also, there is that whole "the safeties suck" thing.
- For some reason, Bryce Brown has failed to impress me as a runner this season. He is only averaging 2.7 yards per carry. I am not sure if its his constant need to bounce outside or if its his inability to find lanes. I have enjoyed his ability to catch though.
- Riley Cooper, where are you?
- The safeties continue to have issues but I am not sure its only their talent. Earl Wolff has had his moments and believe it or not, Allen has played well too at times. I just think there is a confidence issue and a talent issue. Patrick Chung really was not missed on Sunday.
- The lack of pass rush for the Eagles is starting to get scary. Bennie Logan got a sack late but outside of that, the Eagles were not able to finish. That is pretty sad and ridiculous when you consider that the Giants were starting three inexperienced backup on their offensive line. Trent Cole, Brandon Graham and Connor Barwin need to finish and that is a fact.
- Noticed a lot more of Jeff Maehl on offense this week. Clearly, Chip Kelly has confidence in Meahl and believe he can contribute. I was a fan of his college (as I am sure a lot of your Oregon fans were too) and I think he has more to offer than special teams.
- Damaris Johnson's lack of usage is somewhat alarming. It is not like Riley Cooper has done a ton other than block these last few weeks. I would like to see more looks from Johnson and Maehl.
- We were treated a few subtle gems from the goofy commentary pair of Brian Billick and Thom Brennaman. Instant classics like "Everyone is loosing their head for Sleepy Hollow" or expert dialogue like "That's probably why (Trumaine McBride) isn't a wide receiver... he can't catch." Also, we learned that Billick is afraid of cornfields. If only cornfields surrounded all of the Eagles games.
- Chris Polk got two carries on Sunday. That is clearly not enough.
- Cedric Thornton continues to impress me despite not standing out on the stats sheet. Isaac Sopoaga also made some good run stops as well.
- The offensive line did well on Sunday. Lane Johnson left the game for a bit apparently but returned. Allen Barbre is a good utility backup for the Eagles.
- Was anyone else expecting a two-point conversion at some point in this game?