The New York Giants come to town on Thursday night with an offense ranked 31st in the NFL in total yards per game (275.3), 31st in points per game (16.8), 30th in rushing yards per game (87.8), and 23rd in quarterback sacks allowed per game (2.8). New York has had injuries, inconsistencies, and flat-out breakdowns on offense, and yet Eagles Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz knows how dangerous the short week of preparation and a young, active quarterback in Daniel Jones can be.
So, he's focusing on what the Eagles need to do better defensively as he gets set for the prime time on Thursday. The first priority is what it always is: Stop the running game and make an offense one-dimensional.
"He (Jones) is their leading rusher. There is that. They ran a little bit last year. They ran some zone-read type stuff with him. He can surprise you with his mobility. We can't be surprised about that on Thursday night because he does have good mobility and he's run for some first downs," Schwartz said on Tuesday at his weekly teleconference. "He's probably not the first guy you think of when you think about mobile quarterbacks, but he's run the zone read and a couple different layers of it really well, and he has not been afraid to put his head down and get extra yards.
"I think that that mobility, his ability to extend plays, has shown up probably maybe a little bit more than last year. Obviously, not having Saquon (Barkley) back there puts a little bit more on the quarterback. The run game really hasn't changed with (running back Devonta) Freeman or (running back Wayne) Gallman or any of those other guys in there, but obviously they try to distribute that burden a little bit and the quarterback has picked some of that up."
The defense mixed up its look on Sunday against Baltimore, moving Jalen Mills back to safety and inserting Nickell Robey-Coleman on the outside at cornerback to match up against Marquise "Hollywood" Brown. New York's best receiver is Darius Slayton, who has caught all three of Jones' touchdown passes this season. He's been battling a foot injury and is going to be a question mark for the game. Otherwise, the Giants are really struggling to put points on the board under new Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett, the former head coach of the Cowboys.
"It's not just Jason Garrett. And he had a couple different offensive coordinators for him in Dallas. (Current LSU Passing Game Coordinator) Scott Linehan, who was my offensive coordinator in Detroit and (Cowboys Offensive Coordinator) Kellen Moore, who was a third-string quarterback for us in Detroit," Schwartz said. "So it was a little bit different under those guys, but there are some continuities. (Giants Offensive Line Coach Marc) Colombo is their offensive line coach. He came from Dallas. So we can see some carryover to those things.
"We take every team independently of their past. But after we get done all of our breakdowns, then we can sort of DNA match it and say we have some carryover here and there's a certain percentage of carryover, obviously different personnel and things like that, but there is a certain percentage of carryover."
Schwartz is focusing on what the Eagles are doing – both well and not so well. The red zone defense ranks 27th in the NFL, and that is an area in which the Eagles have played well under Schwartz in previous seasons.
This year, it has been a struggle from the opening game at Washington. The Eagles have allowed a touchdown percentage of 72.73 percent, much higher than last season's 55.56 percent.
"Yeah, people are running the ball over our goal line too much, and I think that's probably the biggest thing. We've always prided ourselves on a good run-stopping defense, and I think that that's too many times we've been in that," Schwartz said. "Going back to last week, you don't survive many first-and-goals on the 1, and we put ourselves in those positions due to penalties. So, I don't really see that as a reflection of your run defense, but a lot of these other ones, we have to get that back.
"We obviously are not where we have been there and we're not where we want to be, but we can't rely on being good in the past at that position. We're not performing the way we need to perform in the red zone right now and it has a lot to do with the points that we're allowing, holding them to field goals in the red zone, that's a four-point play for the defense if you can get a third-down stop in the red zone.
"Those four points add up both in a positive and a negative way. We're not going to be where we want to be on defense until we are a consistent third-down team, until we are a consistent red zone team, we are a consistent run-stopping team. Then those other things will take care of themselves."