ReFo: Eagles @ Giants, Week 5
The rough start for the Giants continued as they fought back from a 12 point deficit in the third quarter to take the lead at home, only to be shut out the rest of the way while allowing the Eagles to score 17 points in the final 17 minutes to finish with a 36-21 victory. Turnovers continue to be a problem as New York threw three interceptions and lost a fumble, which Philadelphia took full advantage of. At 0-5, it can’t get any worse and it might be time for the team to switch to an evaluative stage, figuring out which players they want to move forward with, though they aren’t necessarily out of it yet in the division.
With a win, the Eagles took first place in the NFC East (with help from the Cowboys), and have a huge Week 7 game against Dallas that will provide the victor a crucial advantage in the division. That matchup notwithstanding, the Eagles will have a chance to continue their bounce back from a 1-3 start with games against Tampa, Oakland, and the Giants again over the next month.
Philadelphia – Three Performances of Note
Trouble at Center
It’s not often you see a player struggle as much as Jason Kelce did in this game. On the bright side, he came away with a clean sheet in pass protection, surrendering no pressure to a talented Giants interior. Unfortunately, his success ended there as he had a nightmarish game run blocking, coming away with a horrific -7.9 grade in that area. He ended the game having surrendered three tackles for loss and another two short or no-gainers, too often whiffing on his block attempts; Kelce standing at the end of the play with his hands on his hips wondering what happened was a common sight throughout the day. His stretch early in the third quarter, one in which he was beaten for two TFLs in a span of three plays, was particularly awful. First at 12:28, Shaun Rogers got past him center right to get LeSean McCoy three yards behind the line of scrimmage. Then two plays later, Mike Patterson bested him to the other side and took McCoy down for a six yard loss. Both times Kelce offered almost no resistance with the Giants blowing up the option runs before either had a chance.
It took a hamstring injury to Michael Vick for Nick Foles to see his first significant playing time this season, and Foles responded well, passing for 197 yards and two touchdowns while bringing the Eagles from behind in the second half. While he had some negative plays, Foles looked in command of the offense. His best play came at 10:35 of the fourth quarter, when on a rollout, he made the Giants pay for their interception on the previous play, hitting Brent Celek in the end zone on a pretty deep pass. While Foles finished strongly, Vick didn’t play too poorly himself before succumbing to injury. He had the Eagles ahead when he left the game, though the way he did it was much different, as evidenced by his +2.0 rushing grade. Vick gained 79 yards on seven carries, taking the ball on option keepers and designed edge runs, with his 34 yarder (1Q, 9:01) being particularly impressive coming on 3rd-and-19. On the other hand, he was somewhat scattershot passing the ball, despite a couple of great throws. He completed just half of his 12 aimed passes and none of his attempts under pressure.
It will be interesting to see whether Vick remains the guy going forward. While he hasn’t been terrible overall, his passing leaves something to be desired. Comparing the two in this game – both held onto the ball a long time with Vick’s average time to attempt of 3.11 just slightly higher than Foles’ 3.02; this led to some unnecessary pressure with three attributed QB hits between them. Foles was particularly good on intermediate throws, going five for eight with a +1.7 grade, while Vick missed all three of his attempts between 10 and 20 yards.
More Time for Curry
After a stellar preseason, in which he graded at +10.7, it’s been a surprise to see Vinny Curry’s playing time limited to just 37 total snaps through five regular season games. When he has been on the field, the second-year end has been stellar rushing the passer, and that was no different against the Giants. In his 12 snaps Sunday – all rushing the passer – Curry produced a hit and hurry, both of which came in a three-play span on New York’s final drive of the game and helped end any last chance at a comeback. The hit came on first down, when he exploded past RG David Diehl to force an intentional grounding call, as Eli Manning barely got rid of the ball as Curry brought him to the ground. Two plays later, he beat Justin Pugh off the snap, forcing Manning up in the pocket and right into the arms of Bennie Logan for a sack. On both plays, Curry showed off impressive snap anticipation and a quick first-step, each a large reason why his Pass Rushing Productivity rating of 20.4 leads all defensive players (regardless of position) with more than 25 snaps rushing the passer on the year.
New York – Three Performances of Note
Eli Struggles Again
As his stat line attests, Eli Manning didn’t have his best day with another poor showing in the team’s nightmare 0-5 start; he was 24-of-52 passing for 334 yards, two TDs, and three interceptions. However, his performance, at least passing, wasn’t quite as bad as those numbers might suggest. Removing the four passes thrown away, one batted, and another four dropped by his receivers, Manning completed a passable, if less-than-stellar, 57% of his passes. Additionally, none of his three fourth quarter interceptions were particularly egregious; the first came after he was hit across the face by Trent Cole – a hit which by rule should’ve drawn a penalty – and his pass deflected off of his center’s helmet, while the third was only intercepted when Hakeem Nicks stopped short on a slant route. The second of his three picks was the worst, but even that pass was thrown well enough that Victor Cruz got both hands on it, only for it to be ripped away in a spectacular play by Brandon Boykin.
On the whole, Manning was slightly above average passing the ball, grading at +0.6 in that area, while the bulk of his -2.2 grade actually came from a trio of intentional grounding calls. That’s not to downplay the impact of those plays; he had a shot to get rid of the ball on all three (though he had Vinny Curry on his back on the third), and each put the Giant offense in a poor position. Needless to say, for the Giants to have any shot at turning this season around – a still plausible feat in the weak NFC East – their QB can’t continue to make these mistakes.
Despite being let down at some other positions, the Giants defensive line more than held its own against the Eagles. Cullen Jenkins came away with the joint highest grade of the group at +3.7 after notching a sack and four pressures in just 24 pass rushes, besting Todd Herremans and surprisingly Evan Mathis. Take a look at 12:03 of the third quarter for an idea of how disruptive Jenkins was at times.
In the run game some other players picked up the slack in holding LeSean McCoy, who entered the game averaging more than five yards per carry on the ground, to just 2.3 YPC. Johnathan Hankins (+3.7) and Mike Patterson both had huge performances in run defense facing (and abusing) Jason Kelce. Hankins was especially impressive as the rookie second round pick saw the field for the first time this season and ended with four stops on the ground – and two QB disruptions as a rusher – in just 34 snaps. With a performance like that, it’s pretty ridiculous that the Giants haven’t played him sooner. His teammate Patterson wasn’t quite as good at finishing plays, but the former Eagle was in the backfield all game against his former team, forcing cuts and being a general nuisance against the run.
Another Giant defender that had a pretty solid game, despite an overall lackluster showing, was safety Will Hill. After an early unnecessary roughness penalty, Hill (+2.2) went on to make 11 tackles, including four stops. Among his plays in run defense, he made an unblocked tackle for loss and another TFSG. He also got inside of a pull block by Jason Peters early in the second quarter to bring down the rusher. In coverage, only one of his surrendered catches went for a first down, while he came up twice to bring the WR down short of the markers. It wasn’t a spectacular performance by any means, but in his first action of the season back from a suspension, Hill provided a solid presence on the back end, something the team has lacked to this point in their miserable start.
– Another player seeing his first snaps of the season, David Diehl struggled in his return at right guard, grading at -3.4.
– Eli Manning was 1-for-7 on passes over 20 yards in the air.
– Slot corner Brandon Boykin didn’t allow a single reception to Victor Cruz in four targets.
PFF Game Ball
Despite some trouble getting past the penetrating Giant defenders on the ground, this one goes to LeSean McCoy, who caught all six of his targets as a receiver en route to a team-high +2.3 overall grade.
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