The Eagles have had some rough losses this year, and Sunday was certainly another one. I hate to say this because I said it last week as well, but I think the Eagles were the better team once again. They moved the ball well throughout the game and for the most part the defense was fine.
The Eagles just couldn't recover after a disastrous start and they made too many mistakes throughout the game. I'm not saying the Eagles are a good team, you can't be a good team if you make these mistakes and don't win these games. I'm just saying the game plan has been good two weeks running despite two tough defeats. Anyway, film time!
So yeah, Wentz was up and down. Actually, he was down, up and then down again. He started awfully, then recovered and was playing well until the final drive, where he didn't get the ball out quick enough on 1st and 2nd down, which caused a 3rd and 4th and long. Let's touch on the last drive later though.
Wentz seems to start the games too fast at the moment, and his mechanics are all over the place. I'm not worried though, he's a rookie and he had this issue coming into the NFL. It's not something he's suddenly developed that the coaching staff didn't know about. I'm impressed by his backbone. He doesn't let those picks bother him at all. To be honest, I don't want to show the picks because there is nothing to break down. They just weren't good throws. Let's look at a certain receiver called Bryce Treggs instead.
It's pretty obvious the kid can fly. This is a clearly designed shot play. The Eagles have 6 offensive lineman and only one wide receiver which forces the Giants to play single high on the play. Treggs runs a good route and flies downfield. I like the way Treggs runs directly at the outside cornerback to close the gap and then accelerates up the field. Wentz slightly underthrows him but they probably haven't practiced much and Wentz isn't used to throwing to someone so quick. I'm not overly worried by Wentz slightly underthrowing him here, it was still a good throw.
Here Treggs is the outside receiver on the left side of the field. Treggs will never have to run a perfect comeback route to get open because cornerbacks will have to respect his deep speed. Treggs does an excellent job selling the deep route here. Agholor actually gets open, but if you watch him at the top of the right hand side, do you ever really believe he is running a go route? I don't. I think if you watch Treggs, it does look like he is going to run downfield. This is a great play by Wentz too.
Treggs could have had 2 other deep completions. On the first one, he runs an okay route but his speed gets him a bit of separation. I was surprised the Giants didn't try to press him at all. This looked like a good throw by Wentz too and it was clearly pass interference. On the second play, it's not a special route it's just pure speed and he definitely has a step. Wentz big time under throws him here but like earlier I'm hoping this is just a timing issue. I'm not going to go overboard on Treggs but it's clear he can fly.
For those wondering where Treggs has been all year. Just keep in mind, he played in an air raid offense in college and then spent summer with Chip Kelly in San Francisco so he hasn't played in a pro style offense before. He only arrived here in early September and he then had to learn the offense and how to run certain routes. If he was active over someone like Josh Huff, could he have contributed on special teams like Huff? If Agholor got hurt during the game, would he know the offense well enough to be able to fill in? Just things to keep in mind.
As I said earlier, Wentz got it together in the middle of the game and I really liked these two throws.
On the first throw, Zach Ertz does a great job using his big frame and boxing out the safety. Wentz makes a really nice touch throw too. On the second play, Wentz puts the ball in a great position where Matthews can go up and get it. For once, an Eagles receiver actually made a really nice play.
On the other hand, I didn't like any throw to Dorial Green-Beckham who was terrible.
Here are 3 of DGB's 5 targets from this week. I mean, the guy can't get off press coverage. This is bad. I hope he's trying 100% because if he's not that would suck. But you can't be an outside receiver if you're this bad at beating press coverage. Here's a stat for you: When targeting Ertz and Burton, Wentz was 11/11 for 152 yards. When targeting Matthews, Agholor and DGB, he was 10/22 for 129 yards. Safe to say the receivers are a problem.
Wentz did miss a touchdown earlier on in the game though that was on him.
He's off balance here and I think he trusts his arm talent too much and thinks he can make this throw off balance. If he had taken half a second to set his feet properly, he would have been able to throw a better ball. Credit Doug here for this wonderful zone beater too. To be fair though, this is an incredible play by the Giants safety too.
Onto the final drive. I could write a post about it here but I'll be brief. On the first couple of downs, Wentz wanted to go for it all and should have just checked down to Ertz over the middle. On 3rd down, Doug called the perfect screen but Jason Pierre-Paul made a fantastic play to break it up. Then the final play...
Lots of smart people I follow disagree on this play. Some think it's a bad throw and Matthews does everything he can. Others think it's a good throw and Matthews doesn't do enough. I sort of think it's both. I think Doug designed the play to go to the inside more and I think that's how Matthews runs it.
However, when Wentz sees the cornerback so far to the inside, I think he throws it further to the outside than it's normally thrown. I think Matthews should realize that against cover 1 with the corner having inside leverage, the ball is likely to go further to the outside and he should turn his head around the other way. He might then be able to make the catch.
If Matthews was a more athletic receiver too, he may have been able to recover and catch the ball. I find it hard to blame either one of them too much without knowing exactly what the coaches tell them to do. Of course, Wentz blamed himself and Matthews blamed himself. Go figure.
How much did the Giants spend on Olivier Vernon again? Big V had a pretty good game against him.
Overall, the offense line was excellent in pass protection. Big V is certainly getting better weekly and the Eagles had no problems handling the Giants 4 man rush. Problems did occur when the Giants blitzed but that's not exactly unique.
The Eagles running game was average at best on Sunday. They had some nice runs but they couldn't consistently get it going and they had to rely on Wentz to move the ball. There seemed to be a lot of 3rd and longs caused by poor runs on 2nd down. They did show this look that I can't remember seeing much this year before.
Here they use an unbalanced line with Big V lining up next to Jason Peters and it worked perfectly, with Darren Sproles having a big gain. Wiz does a nice job and left guard pulling and sealing the edge too. The interior offensive line, especially Jason Kelce, struggled though in the running game against a good Giants front. This next play by Smallwood was the best blocked running play of the game.
Here Smallwood just has a huge hole to run through. Credit Kelce here, although he wasn't great again he does a fantastic job here coming of his double team to create a huge running lane for Smallwood. Peters makes a really difficult block here too. I said this on twitter yesterday, I think the Eagles might need to bring back Peters next year. He's been playing well. He would have to take a pay cut I imagine though.
Right, onto the controversial calls - the 4th down runs. I actually can't show you the 4th and 2 run because the camera got confused and focused on the fake to Sproles so it wasn't very clear what happened but anyway here are my thoughts.
I am happy Doug went for it. You win in this league by being aggressive and I am glad that he has shown he will be an aggressive coach. I didn't love the call to run Wentz, but it was blown up before it had a chance to work because Jordan Matthews completely whiffed on a simple crack block on JPP. This meant Peters had to block his guy and not the cornerback who had the edge. The play never had a chance to work from then on.
Oh, and for those wondering why he would ever run Wentz to the side on a 4th and 2... it worked against the Vikings didn't it?
On the second play, it was a simple zone lead play. The interior offensive line didn't get a great push and Sproles needed to simply fight his way for the extra yard. With a power back, you make the 1st down about 8 times out of 10 I reckon. It's fair to question why Sproles was in the game and not Mathews. But I don't believe the decision to go for it was a terrible decision or the play call was bad.
I spent ages on the offense this week so I'll try be brief. Once again the Eagles couldn't really get pressure with their front 4. Vinny Curry and Connor Barwin are struggling. Fletcher Cox is collapsing the pocket at times but Beau Allen simply cannot collapse the pocket from the other side so it's easy for quarterbacks to avoid the pressure. I was disappointed Schwartz didn't blitz more but I guess he trusted his front 4 to get pressure. The first touchdown the Eagles gave up was frustrating too.
The Eagles have 2 deep safetys on the play which means this route should never come open. McKelvin has pretty bad coverage to begin with and somehow lets the receiver come underneath him. If this was a corner route, McKelvin would have been toast. Because the receiver is the wrong side of McKelvin, I don't think Watkins really sees the receiver and he's focusing too much on the out route. Anyway, McKelvin and Watkins collide and then McKelvin seems to just give up on the play and leaves the receiver wide open.
The final deep touchdown to Shepherd wasn't actually a miscommunication like this one. It was the perfect offensive play call to get open against the zone coverage the Eagles were running at the time. This happens if you can't get the pressure at times. There's no excuse for the first touchdown though, it's just bad.
McKelvin had a bad game, he got roasted multiple times. Jalen Mills was okay but he got burned once by Odell Beckham on one deep throw that Manning missed. Something I noticed throughout the game, when the Giants wide receivers get seperation, they can create like yards of separation. They are so obviously open you can't miss them. When the Eagles wide receivers get half a yard of separation, I'm almost surprised. The difference in quality is staggering.
Jaylen Watkins played a really good game although he needs to learn how to hit without using his helmet. I thought the Eagles best defender was Rodney McLeod on the day. Yes, he missed the tackle on the first touchdown but tackling Beckham in the open field is nearly impossible. I loved these two plays though.
On the first play, the Eagles fake like they are playing cover 1 with McLeod being the single high and move to a cover 2 zone look. This means that McLeod has to sprint over to his side of the field. Manning recognises this and hits the receiver in the gap between Carroll and McLeod which is one of the weaknesses of cover 2 zone. However, you can run cover 2 zone when you have a safety like McLeod who can hit the receiver like this.
On the second play, it's the exact opposite. The Eagles fake cover 2 and then transition into cover 1 with McLeod as the single high. He has to run towards the middle of the field and the receiver comes open towards the side he was just on. That means he has to completely change direction and he shows incredible burst to hit the receiver just after the ball has arrived and strip the ball out. This play just shows off his pure athleticism and speed.
The Giants are an awful running team, they simply can't do it. So although the Eagles deserve credit for shutting down the Giants rushing attack for the most part, it's not something that's particularly difficult to do. Fletcher Cox was a monster against the run and made a number of great plays in the backfield like the two below.
It is no surprise that the Giants can't run the ball when they try plays like this. On the first play, they try to get the center to get out and block Cox one on one. That is never going to happen. On the second play Cox and Curry just explode past the offensive lineman. Look at how Cox moves on this play. It's freakish for a guy that size.
I don't have much else to show in regards to run defense because the Giants didn't run much. Brandon Graham, Beau Allen, Cox, Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham all played well in run defense. In addition, both Watkins and McLeod came down into the box and made some nice plays on running plays. Jenkins can't do it as much when he's a slot cornerback which is a shame.
As always, hit me up with any questions in the comments below or on twitter.