ReFo: Giants @ Eagles, Week 8
Before I started analyzing this game I had seen that Michael Vick had gone down hurt and figured there was no chance the Eagles were winning from that point on. While that seems to have been true with rookie Matt Barkley punctuating solid, chain-moving plays with horrendous turnovers, if anything, Vick was even worse before he left the game with injury.
The Eagles offense was scoreless in this game. Their only points came from the Giants gifting them a touchdown on special teams late in the game, and they managed this scoreless feat despite plenty of guys on offense playing well.
The Giants notched another less-than-impressive win and sit at 2-6, ridiculously just two games out of first place in an NFC East that is looking worse by the week.
New York — Three Performances of Note
Run Blocking? No Diehl
Cedric Thornton against David Diehl in the run game quickly took on the feel of somebody clubbing a helpless baby seal over the head, or taking candy from a baby if you’re in favor of a more Greenpeace metaphor. Thornton has excelled this season in run defense, and David Diehl has excelled at little on the line for some time now. Diehl was beaten for eight stops, two of which were tackles for loss on his way to a disastrous -8.4 grade overall, almost all of which came from his run blocking display. He was simply overmatched by Thornton, seeming to make good initial contact, but be completely helpless when the running back approached and Thornton simply tossed him to the side to make the play. Diehl has been a longstanding member of that Giants’ line, and doubtless is a tremendously positive locker room presence for the team, but they are now running out of positions to try him in the hope that he is any less poor at any of them having played his way out of LT and RT.
Hit and Miss D
Despite the Eagles laying a big fat goose-egg on offense, the Giants’ D wasn’t all green grades and positives. Several members of the front seven were outplayed by their Eagles blockers, with Cullen Jenkins, Jason Pierre-Paul and Mathias Kiwanuka in particular grading out in the red. That trio, representing a significant majority of the Giants’ pass-rush threat combined for just one sack, one hit and one hurry, while also drawing three penalties between them. It was left to other members of the line to try and pick up the slack and to be fair, a couple did just that. Linval Joseph was probably the most dominant member of that front four, but Justin Tuck continued to have something of a rebound season, totaling five pressures from his pass rushes and earning a +3.1 grade overall.
As you might expect with both Eagles QBs struggling, this was a good day to be a Giants defensive back. All four members of the starting unit graded in the green and Trumaine McBride, the nickel back, was at least respectable despite a -0.6 grade. Prince Amukamara spiked with another very good game in a season that has been hit-and-miss for him so far, and Terrell Thomas continues to provide an incredible comeback story with some fine play after a list of knee injuries in recent seasons, leading the team in both tackles and stops. They were certainly helped out by some errant throws from the Eagles but they made the plays they had the chance to make.
Philadelphia — Three Performances of Note
The Eagles were going nowhere all day long. Michael Vick seemed out of sorts, even for him, before he left the game with an injured hamstring, and though Matt Barkley was able to provide something of a spark to the offense when he took over, he undid all of his good work each drive by conspiring to turn the ball over, either by throwing it to the opposition or by fumbling on a play he should have seen coming. He also managed to drop a pair of shotgun snaps that weren’t exactly perfect, but were routine grabs for any quarterback who wants to be starting in the NFL.
The pair combined for an abysmal -10.3 grade over 63 total snaps. Barkley also put the offense under pressure, running the same option plays that Vick had been, except either without the option, or without the desire to ever actually keep the ball, putting his running backs in some suicidal positions after the handoff, facing an unblocked defensive linemen when the correct read would have been for Barkley to keep the ball himself. Whether that is a coaching instruction or something he was doing on his own it’s difficult to say, but is something the Eagles need to address if he plays more.
Another Rough Day For the Rookie
While most of the line played pretty well for Philadelphia, Lane Johnson continued to struggle, being taken to school by a rejuvenated Justin Tuck. Johnson surrendered a pair of sacks, a knockdown and four more hurries in 43 pass blocking snaps, and did nothing to help himself in the run game, despite plenty of opportunity as the ball often came his way. Johnson was a much-hyped talent at tackle coming into the season and there’s no doubt he has some skills, but along with the rest of that much heralded tackle class he seems to be having a very rocky rookie season. He has to hope that games like this can only help him forge iron with fire, because he is certainly taking his lumps early.
Push Up Front
Fletcher Cox is close to putting it all together for the Eagles. This season he has been in fine form with the exception of a couple of blips, and this was another strong game on the resume. He notched a sack and three more hurries, but the majority of his +3.1 grade actually came from his run defense, which has quietly improved to complement his ability to penetrate and disrupt things as a pass rusher. In truth, the combination of Cox and Thornton has quietly become an excellent 3-4 DE pairing and one of the better ones in the league. If the Eagles could get just a bit more of a consistent presence on the edge from Trent Cole and Connor Barwin (Barwin who actually graded well at +1.9 in this game), they would be a formidable front to deal with.
– Eagles QBs combined for five pass attempts of 20+ yards. They were 1-of-5 for 25 yards and two INTs.
– The Giants only blitzed the Eagles’ QBs on eight snaps, allowing their front to bring the pass rush alone on 32.
– Michael Vick’s average depth of target in this game was just 2.5 yards down field. His average for the season is 11.3
PFF Game Ball
The Giants have a host of potential candidates but none really distancing themselves from the pack. In the end, Linval Joseph sneaks the game ball.
Follow Sam on Twitter: @PFF_Sam