It’s time for the 1-4-1 Eagles to make their playoff surge! (That is a real sentence.) Here are the three numbers that I think matter in the Eagles’ Thursday Night Game against the Giants.
31% - That’s the New York Giants’ team Pass Rush Win Rate, per ESPN. It is the lowest number in the league.
Pass Rush Win Rate is a fairly new metric, so to clarify: no team’s pass rushers win their pass-rushing reps less frequently than the New York Giants. For comparison, the Eagles are 7th on this list at 48%, while their last two opponents, the Steelers and the Ravens, are 2nd and 9th respectively. The Giants’ fellow basement dwellers include the Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys, and Green Bay Packers.
Considering the yet-again expected shuffling of the Eagles’ offensive line (both Lane Johnson and Matt Pryor could return to the starting lineup), this is good news for Philadelphia. With run defense prioritized on the interior, the Giants’ starting cadre of Dalvin Tomlinson, Dexter Lawrence, and Leonard Williams all don’t present nearly that threat that Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, and Calais Campbell have offered over recent weeks. Against Herbig and Pryor, yes, Williams will likely still cause some havoc — but it won’t be nearly what Wentz has endured in recent games.
The EDGE room? That’s where things are an utter joke. With Lorenzo Carter out for the season and Oshane Ximines still on IR, the best pass rusher remaining on the Giants’ roster is Markus Golden, who they weren’t terribly interested in returning to the roster during last offseason anyway. In Jordan Mailata’s young career, this will be the easiest start by a fair margin.
The Eagles have been providing help to their tackles via alignment (multiple TEs), chips (from slot receivers on delayed releases), launch point relocation (sprintouts and rollouts), and pre-snap motion into heavy protection off of play-action. I don’t think they’ll stop that strategy just because the Giants’ defensive line isn’t as talented — I just expect it to work more effectively as they lose fewer one-on-one matchups. It’s worth noting that, through all of the retooling, the Eagles remain sixth in Pass Block Win Rate on the offensive line — a testament not only to the schematic work they’ve done with OL coach Jeff Stoutland to assist their many backups, but also to the pressure Carson Wentz invites with his play style. Ever a play extender who wants to hang tough in the pocket, Wentz will create his own pressure by failing to reset his base, working quickly to his checkdown, or by moving off of his set point and compromising the pocket himself.
With that said, Wentz has been far more spry in the pocket in recent weeks, and has managed risk under pressure better, though imperfectly. It should be an easier night, but Wentz should not let that assumption lure him into dead feet and slow eyes in the pocket. It’s important to keep doing your part.
84.4 - That’s James Bradberry’s grade in coverage this year. It’s fifth among all cornerbacks.
The Giants went for the make-up signing when they added James Bradberry in free agency for $15M per year after their reported interest in Byron Jones fell fruitless — Jones signed for $17.5M with the Dolphins. The Eagles also missed out on the Jones sweepstakes, of course, and ended up trading for Darius Slay.
Suffice to say, both teams are happy with their consolation prizes: Slay has been an excellent shadow corner through the first few weeks of the season, while Bradberry has locked up WR1s with consistency — he’s the only bright spot on the otherwise dull Giants defense.
Bradberry’s role on Thursday will be interesting to follow. He has shadowed Allen Robinson, Terry McLaurin, and Amari Cooper for the last few weeks, and will likely shadow again against Philadelphia: but will it be Travis Fulgham or DeSean Jackson? Fulgham’s been the go-to receiver for Philly over the past two weeks, while Jackson is returning from injury and has been a high-volume receiver and deep target-getter at WR when healthy these past two years.
I think he’ll default to Jackson, even with Fulgham’s recent performance — but Jackson is not guaranteed to play, and in some of his previous returns to the roster, hasn’t made it through the entire game healthy.
Regardless of who Bradberry shadows, expect Wentz to go the other direction. The starting corner opposite Bradberry figures to be Ryan Lewis, who the Giants tried to play over McLaurin with little success last week. He is beatable by most of the Eagles’ WR room, even with their limited talent — the same is true of slot CB Logan Ryan and Greg Ward Jr.
The object here? Just avoid Bradberry.
5.5% - That’s how many of Daniel Jones’ passing attempt have gone further than 20 yards downfield. Only Drew Brees’ rate is lower.
The Giants’ passing game is effete. No TE in the league has a lower depth of target than Evan Engram, who ran a 4.42s 40-yard dash. Golden Tate’s depth of target is sixth-lowest among WRs, but he’s not generated the YAC that he typically does, so those targets don’t help. Sterling Shepard and Saquon Barkley are both out with injury, and Darius Slayton — okay, Darius Slayton is actually really good, but they don’t give him enough looks, and certainly enough downfield ones.
With the Eagles’ recent investment in man coverage considered, it will be interesting to see how they play the Giants. This is the sort of offense that Jim Schwartz would typically like to play in soft zones to encourage the underneath targets, then rally and tackle to them. If they play man, expect Darius Slay over Darius Slayton (awesome matchup) and with Avonte Maddox back in the lineup, he can follow Golden Tate outside and into the slot.
They’re gonna stay in man, so expect the Giants to look for Evan Engram and Tate YAC plays as they avoid Slay. Engram could be in for the big game that the Giants have been hoping to get from him this year, but it will take a ton of nickel and dime-ing to get the scoring drives they need to keep pace with the Eagles.