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Eagles vs. Giants: Winners, losers, and I dunnos

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NEVER A DOUBT

New York Giants v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Winners

The Philadelphia Eagles

...in a totally normal way, as we all expected them to, so everyone is happy, right?

Doug Pederson

Bit of a weird game for the Doug that we’ve come to expect. Elected to go for an extra point when down eight after a Zach Ertz touchdown late in the third — usually Pederson would go for two under those circumstances. Walked the offense out for a fourth and 3 at the Eagles’ 48 late in the second, but seemed only interested in grabbing a cheap timeout from the Giants before punting the ball away. There wasn’t as much #fearlessness as you’d expect.

BUT!

Tough to argue with the results (even though, as always, we evaluate process over results). Pederson’s undermanned team took considerable injury hits in the first half, carried a multi-score deficit into the half after dropping three games in a row (one in a really, really bad way), and came out with enough fight to push the game to overtime and come away with a win. The team rallied when they were closer to the cliff’s edge than ever before, and some of that credit has to go to the head coach.

The offense wasn’t amazing — 21 points on 7 second-half + overtime drives isn’t great at all — but it was enough. It focused on getting the ball to playmakers like Boston Scott (see below) and used tempo as a logical, if unexpected benefit to having too few skill position players to really substitute that often. Wentz settled into a mistake-free rhythm and made some clutch throws.

Pederson’s team and scheme came out flat, but he got the job done, and his team is alive another week.

Jim Schwartz

Much like with Pederson, we have to conveniently ignore some eyebrow-raising first half decisions to sneak Schwartz into the winners column — but this is the Eagles’ first win since November 3rd, so I’ll take what I can get. Schwartz’s defense gave up an astounding 29 second half yards to the atrocious Eli Manning-led Giants offense, which gave the Eagles the requisite time of possession and opportunity in the second half to close the gap:

Schwartz didn’t reinvent the wheel on defense: he loaded the box against Barkley, dropped into zones with four-man rushes, and dared Eli to throw downfield against Cover 2 and 3. Eli, who is thoroughly washed, was unable to do so.

Life will not be so easy against the remaining stretch of QBs — Eli is debilitatingly bad at this stage in his career. But you’ll take the freebies where you can get them.

Zach Ertz

It has not been Ertz’s most productive season — he saw double-teams against the Giants yet again, as more and more defenses turn to Ertz as the primary target for the Eagles. But in the red zone, a game-tying and a game-winning touchdown must feel pretty good for a frustrated player. Kudos to one of the steadiest Eagles.

Boston Scott

I wrote this about Boston Scott in June:

The early comparisons between Darren Sproles and Boston Scott are easy. Both are aberrations in size, inconvenient for defenders, and heart-jumping every time they get a touch in space. But to say Scott is ready to take on Sproles’ role means he has to become one of the ultimate Swiss Army knives of modern football, and that’s something that will take years of work.

What we currently have with Scott is a player in Sproles’ physical mold — that’s rare enough to begin with — and with his same elusive, tackle-breaking traits. The growth Scott demonstrates in his sophomore season will determine not only if he makes the roster, but which of Sproles’ many hats he’s ready to wear. Scott can take on Sproles’ roles, but it will take time and deliberate planning — and given the changes in the running back room since Sproles’ departure, it’s likely that replacing the unique player will take a village, not just a man.

But Scott should get Eagles fans excited, as he battles for the RB3 or even RB4 spot. What he brought from Louisiana Tech has clearly translated into the league, and he landed in a perfect spot to develop into something more.

Now, in that article, I questioned Scott’s ability to step into Sproles’ shoes as a receiver — that’s where he was least experienced coming out of Louisiana Tech. Scott showed receiving chops tonight. He didn’t run crazy routes down the field or separate against man coverage, but with the ball in his hands, Scott is a better tackle-breaker than anyone on the Eagles’ offense not named Sanders. That’s bad news for the longevity of the Eagles’ offense, but in the immediate timeframe of a needful Giants win, Scott was key.

If he can continue to make 10+ yard plays out of swing passes, he’ll continue to garner usage and grow in the Sproles player the Eagles loved the last few seasons.

Vinny Curry

A two-sack game against Nate Solder with Eli Manning in the pocket really isn’t all that impressive, when you take things in context. But other dudes were rushing Solder and not seeing similar success. Curry is not a sexy player, but he’s been a good add for Philadelphia as an interior subpackage rusher who can win his one-on-ones. The Eagles’ depth was tested with Derek Barnett out with injury, and Curry stepped up to the plate.

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

I don’t know what he needs to do to be targeted more, but Arcega-Whiteside was the best receiver on the field for the Eagles last night.

Now, they only had two receivers on the field (Lord help us), but he finally delivered on his narrow usage. If that tells a story of things to come, that’s huge news for Philadelphia, who desperately needs him to step up into some sort of actionable play as they make their late-season push.

The New York Giants

Trust me, securing the Chase Young pick is far more important than winning a throwaway game for Eli Manning’s career records.

Losers

Eli Manning

Just kidding: Eli’s legacy is tarnished and he will forever be remembered as a bad quarterback who couldn’t beat the Eagles and ended his career with a losing record. At least we got a few more Eli Face shots for the album on his way out.

The New York Giants

But did anybody really seem that upset or surprised?

Ronald Darby

Awful, no-good, very bad day for Ronald Darby, who was burned multiple times by rookie receiver Darius Slayton. Darby evidently skimmed over the report on Slayton, who burned him deep on multiple occasions (Slayton is very fast and regularly burns people deep).

Coming into the season, I would have told you that Darby was a good man coverage defender who was decent enough in the Eagles’ zones to survive out there. About halfway through the season, I would have told you Darby was becoming a liability in zone coverage. Now, I’m here to tell you that he’s a liability in man coverage as well. The Eagles should once again consider putting Rasul Douglas out on the field as a starting outside corner: While Douglas also gets burned and certainly commits more penalties, he makes the occasional play on the football, and goodness knows the Eagles need something positive from that position.

Halapoulivaati Vaitai

Not good, folks. Not as bad as Dillard at RT — but definitely not good, either.

Greg Ward

I see a lot of love for Greg Ward on the streets, and I get it — he isn’t awful — but I don’t get it. Ward had a critical touchdown drop in the fourth quarter of a seven-point game. Now, if we’re crucifying Eagles pass-catchers for bad drops, we’ll have no pass-catchers left at all — it’s been that kinda season — but Ward, who is supposed to be filling Agholor’s role, is suddenly taking on his bad tendencies.

Meanwhile, Ward is a subaverage route runner in the middle of the field who does not generate separation despite his quickness. With a diminutive frame, he does not win in those contested situations the stem from his inability to separate. He is a candidate for bubble screens and speed outs, but little more.

Jason Garrett

A Giants win would have locked up the Cowboys division title (essentially), which would have protected Garrett’s job for another year (probably). The Clapper is still coaching for his life in Texas, and likely will be in Week 16 if the Eagles handle business against the Redskins.

I Dunnos

Carson Wentz

Many, many times in this space, you’ve seen me refuse to knock Carson for bad throws and a losing effort in which the entire Eagles’ offense struggled as a result of bad game-planning and injury. You won’t see me give him much love for a good game in which much the same occurred, just the effort was a winning one.

I’ll give Carson love for a mistake-free game (the fumble on the QB sneak really doesn’t bother me that much, it’s a turnover on downs without the reach anyway). He didn’t take bad sacks or put the ball in harm’s way. That alone raises Carson’s floor, so he never piled on to the problems already created by the backups and third-stringers he was playing with.

But Carson generally took advantage of packaged plays and numbers/leverage games in the spread offense of the second half to move the ball down the field. He got rid of the ball quick into the flats and let skill positions players do the work. He did what he was asked, which was not very much, and he did it well.

But this was not a game characterized by his typical rocket tight window throws, his off-platform heroics, his play extensions with scrambles. He kept things tight and didn’t cause problems, and again, I’m very glad to see that. But this was much more so Doug Pederson’s comeback win than it was Carson’s, in my eyes.

You don’t have to like that — but I hope you can respect it. It’s how I’ve tried to evaluate Carson for his whole career, and I’m not gonna stop now.