The Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants are entering their Week 3 match-up feeling differently. The Eagles (1-1) mostly played well in a road loss against one of the AFC’s best teams, the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Giants (0-2) have struggled to get anything going offensively in losses to the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions. For those keeping score at home, that’s 0-1 in the division and 0-2 in the conference.
Even though it’s early, the Giants cannot afford to go into Lincoln Financial Field and lose. The last time a team started 0-3 and made the playoffs was 1998 (Buffalo Bills), which is one of only five times that it has ever happened.
The Eagles can effectively end New York’s season before it even starts with a victory. Can Philly deliver the knockout blow? The answers to these five questions should provide the answer.
Is The Eagles Offensive Line Ready To Take A Chance?
Last week, against Kansas City, second-year left guard Isaac Seumalo struggled mightily. When the coaches met the media early in the week, they seemed to have their young player’s back. That didn’t last long.
The Eagles brought in Chance Warmack, who had been a first-round bust for the Tennessee Titans, in the off-season just to see what he could do. That was almost entirely based, seemingly, on the recommendation of one person. His position coach when he was dominating the SEC at Alabama was the Eagles’ offensive line coach, Jeff Stoutland.
Last season in Tennessee, Warmack looked every bit as bad as Seumalo did against the Chiefs. He looked slightly better for Philadelphia during the preseason, but only slightly. He also mostly played on the right side. Carson Wentz better hope that Warmack suddenly had an epiphany about how to block NFL defensive linemen in the last couple of weeks.
Speaking Of Offensive Lines, What’s Up With Ereck Flowers?
The Eagles aren’t the only ones experiencing problems on the offensive line. The Giants’ line was a problem last year, especially the tackles, and they didn’t do much to address it in the off-season. Right tackle Bobby Hart hurt his ankle in the team’s loss to Detroit, which didn’t help. Then there’s his counterpart on the left side, Ereck Flowers. Two games in and Eli Manning is starting to look for pressure from Flowers’ side at the snap.
The former first-round pick, though, takes a more pragmatic approach. As he told the New York Post, “Minus those few plays, I thought I played all right.” For now, it looks as though Giants head coach Bob McAdoo agrees with him.
The Giants see no need to move Ereck Flowers | New York Post https://t.co/i6zraraInj
— Paul Schwartz (@NYPost_Schwartz) September 20, 2017
The Eagles front four has been getting consistent pressure over the first two games, and the team has notched eight sacks. The Lions got to Manning five times in their win, with Ziggy Ansah collecting three on his own. Don’t think that Philadelphia defensive end Brandon Graham doesn’t have that tape on a loop right now.
Flowers has spent this week hearing from everyone how bad he’s played. That might cause him to pick it up. That’s assuming, however, that he’s capable of doing better, which isn’t entirely evident.
Exactly How Jumpy Is Eli Manning?
As mentioned above, Manning, the two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback, already seems scared that his offensive line is going to get him killed. Unlike the younger crop of signal callers, the 36-year-old can’t move out of the way of a heavy rush.
Not only is his O-line leaky, but his head coach seems entirely ready to throw him under the bus.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 19, 2017
While Flowers has become the poster child for the team’s struggles, the rest of the line hasn’t exactly been stout, either. The strength of the Eagles defensive line right now is in the middle, with defensive tackles Fletcher Cox and Timmy Jernigan consistently blowing up plays.
No quarterback likes pressure up the middle — it’s even Tom Brady‘s Kryptonite — but for a non-mobile thrower, it’s a nightmare. If the Eagles defensive tackles get that same push, that will move Manning right into the path of Graham, Vinny Curry, and Chris Long. That’s not a good thing for New York.
How Healthy Is Odell Beckham Jr.?
Philadelphia fans are terrified of Odell Beckham Jr. Last season, the wideout caught 15 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns. Even in games where he hasn’t done much against the Eagles, fans are leery of the threat OBJ presents.
Dealing with a high ankle sprain, Beckham made his season debut against Detroit, catching four balls for 36 yards. Without defenses unworried about the Giants’ star, the entire New York offense has stalled. Brandon Marshall has been a complete non-factor and the running game is non-existent. Sterling Shephard and Evan Engram are nice complementary pieces, but they’re not the standard bearers.
Philadelphia’s defensive backfield is dealing with a ton of injuries, but that only matters if someone from New York can make them pay. Normally, that would be Beckham but he needs to be healthy enough to run past someone.
Is Malcolm Jenkins Going To Play Safety By Himself?
Against Kansas City, Watkins pulled a hamstring. Starting safety, Rodney McLeod, also pulled a hamstring. Corey Graham replaced McLeod and, you guessed it, pulled a hamstring. That left Malcolm Jenkins as the lone healthy safety.
None of the three has been able to practice so far this week, which led the team to claim safety, Trae Elston, off waivers from Buffalo. Philadelphia has Chris Maragos at the position, but he’s on the roster as a special team’s player.
During his weekly press conference, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz hinted that linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill could be in the mix, as well. The second-year player was a safety during the early part of his college career at Eastern Illinois.
Considering the angst that observers had about the cornerback position before the season, the trio of Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson, and Rasul Douglas kept their heads above water against Kansas City. If the safety position breaks down, though, that will put way too much of a strain on the corners.