When the Eagles and Giants square off Sunday night, it won't just be a battle between rival teams. It will also be a battle of differing philosophies.
The Eagles feature a high-octane offense described by offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg as "aggressive." There are big-play threats at every position, something the Giants learned well during the Miracle at the New Meadowlands game in 2010.
Meanwhile, the Giants have historically preferred a more balanced approach. In addition to their passing game led by quarterback Eli Manning, the Giants like to utilize a stable of backs with differing styles. The most recent example is the "Earth, Wind and Fire" trio of Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw and Derrick Ward who helped the Giants lead the league in rushing during the 2008 season.
Manning's emergence as an elite quarterback last season, coupled with a generally ineffective ground game, turned the offense into a more pass-oriented attack. But through three games, the Giants have found new life in their running game, averaging over 100 yards per game on the ground. Coughlin is hoping to carry that success over to Sunday night.
"Obviously we hoped to have the balance last year; we didn't have much," Coughlin said. "We didn't do much with the run last year; we got better at the end of the year. But we had a little spurt here and hopefully we can continue that."
With starter Ahmad Bradshaw out against the Panthers last Thursday, Andre Brown rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns in his first NFL start. Though Brown will concede the starting role back to Bradshaw Sunday, Coughlin thinks Brown will provide another weapon against the Eagles.
"There's plenty of room for talented people," Coughlin explained. "And there have been years in which we've had three running backs make major contributions. So with Andre's emergence here and the last two games he's played and how well he's played, he's certainly indicated that we would have another weapon that we might take advantage of. In our opinion, the more playmakers we have the better off we're going to be."
So far, the Eagles defense has been up to the challenge of stopping the run. To date, they rank eighth in the league against the run, and have allowed only one rushing touchdown through three games. Beating the Giants will require a commitment to stopping the run, and from there the defense can use its own brand of aggression.
"Most teams are strong in one area or another, but they are a balanced team," said linebacker DeMeco Ryans. "With that, you just have to be ready to stop the run first and foremost, and then see if we can get after the quarterback."
Make sure to follow us on Twitter @EaglesInsider.