All New York Giants fans pay attention to the division rivals, so we get the gist of what's going in with the Philadelphia Eagles: spanked last week by the Arizona Cardinals, Michael Vick's been leading a turnover parade that has them lucky to be sitting at 2-1.
But as we head into the first matchup with arguably the most hated division rival, we turn to the guys who follow them as religiously as we follow Big Blue around here. Robert Blechen from Eagles101.com steps in to let us know what to expect this week.
Vick took a physical beating last week with the Cardinals notching 5 sacks and 13 QB hits. Is it surprising he's still in one piece? How do you the offense approaching the Giants game offensively?
"It is very surprising to see Vick still in one piece. He was hurt twice in limited time during the preseason and we thought the coaching staff would make a better effort to protect him during the regular season, but he has been pounded in each game. At this rate it is only a matter of time before he misses time due to injury."
Robert adds something interesting that we've never heard before: that Vick exposes himself to bigger hits to his midsection because his smaller stature forces him to "angle upwards more than most quarterbacks."
We've heard a lot about offensive line troubles. How much of this isn't even Vick's fault?
"Vick is not the one to blame for the amount of hits.The line is missing two left tackles (Jason Peters and King Dunlap) and center Jason Kelce. Vick does hold the ball a little bit too long, but his receivers struggle to separate at times. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are speed guys not precise route runners, so it causes Vick to hold the ball because they do not have that timing and precision of a Manning to Cruz connection. Also, the coaching staff needs to run the ball more to slow down the pass rush. McCoy had 4 carries against the Cardinals in the first half, that is not acceptable."
Robert stresses that this game is more likely to revolve around the Eagles makeshift offensive line vs. the Giants defensive line than, Jeremy Maclin's health, DeSean Jackson's effectiveness or any other player, situation or matchup.
The Giants seem to have found something in Andre Brown and we remember the Eagles run D being a problem last year. What can we expect to see?
"The run defense is vastly improved from last year. The Eagles have faced Trent Richardson, Ray Rice, and a Cardinals committee attack this year [without giving up 100 yards to any of them]. Demeco Ryans is the main reason. The defensive line has played well and they go eight men deep, so they are always fresh on the field. We saw Brown run last week and was very impressed, but this Eagles run defense is average to above average. We expect Brown to find some success, but do not expect 100 yards on the ground."
Robert adds to keep an eye on rookie second-round pick Mychal Kendricks, a linebacker who Robert thinks, along with Ryans, can effectively slow down Brown.
They said on Sportscenter that Larry Fitzgerald "put on a clinic" last week. Should Giants fans be licking their chops with Nicks, Cruz, and co. heading into this matchup?
"Fitzgerald did put on a clinic last week, torching Nnamdi Asomugha time after time. Nnamdi and safety Kurt Coleman were seen arguing on the sideline, and Fitz was definitely causing the problems. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has played at a pro bowl level this season and he will do well against Nicks or Cruz, but Nnamdi is a different story and the Giants will definitely go after him and likely find success. Nnamdi was overpaid and is no longer an elite corner; he's good but not great. Also it will favor the Giants if they can get Cruz vs. Boykin in the slot. Boykin has been up and down this year. You can tell he is a rookie: he has talent but makes mistakes against crafty receivers."
While we'd love to see Cruz vs. Boykin in the slot, the Eagles might have a similar matchup if Jayron Hosely misses the game and Justin Tryon is matched up with one of the Eagles starters.
The Eagles win if…
"McCoy runs for 120 yards, Vick has less than two turnovers (largely dependent on the O-line vs Giants pass rush) and Eli Manning throws for less than 275 yards. The Eagles offensive line needs to come together and play as a unit despite the numerous injuries. McCoy needs to get involved, he's the best player on the Eagles."
We wouldn't like our chances either if all those things happened and to be sure, McCoy is the Eagles that probably scares us most. Four days to game day…
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