The Giants may be coming off their first win of the season, but head coach Chip Kelly knows not to underestimate Sunday's opponent – especially an offense led by two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Eli Manning. Turnovers have haunted the Giants offense this season, but Kelly knows that Manning and his stable of wide receivers present a constant big-play threat.
"You expect the best," Kelly said Thursday morning. "Eli is one of the top quarterbacks in this league. Every time that you have a chance to face him, it's a challenge, just because he's so smart and so intelligent. He's going to get the ball to the right people, but playing quarterback, or any position, a lot of it is what's around him. A lot of times he's had some guys up front be banged up and sometimes he hasn't had a chance to get to the top of his drop and throw the ball. They protected him a lot better in the Vikings game. I thought he played really well in the Bears game, but we expect a huge challenge whenever we face Eli."
Manning has certainly had a rough 2013 season, throwing a league-high 15 interceptions in seven games. Despite his shaky turnover numbers this season, his reputation as a two-time Super Bowl MVP still precedes him, as does his ability to throw the ball deep, something that Kelly expects to see a lot of again this weekend.
"They took some shots against us when we played them, and I think that's what they do," said Kelly. "I think in breaking down the Cowboys, the longest play against them was a (Victor) Cruz pass for a touchdown in that first game. I think that's the one thing we try to pride ourselves on is we're not getting the ball thrown over our head. But this team more than any team we've played, and we expect it again on Sunday, is going to challenge us from that standpoint.
"They're going to try to take some shots over the top, and we've got to be in position to make plays. I know Bradley [Fletcher] got tested and I thought he did a really nice job, but they still completed a couple deep ones that you've got to be really ready for. It's one of the things about Eli- he's such an accurate deep ball passer. I think that's something that I think he enjoys, and I expect him to take a couple more shots on Sunday."
When Manning does decide to try to go deep against the Eagles on Sunday, he will have a variety of targets at his disposal that are all capable of breaking a big play. In the Week 5 matchup, the Eagles managed to hold Cruz at bay, but Hakeem Nicks (nine catches, 142 yards) and Rueben Randle (six catches, 96 yards, two touchdowns) each had big games. As Kelly prepares for the rematch, this time at Lincoln Financial Field, he is once again faced with the arduous task of keeping the Giants' playmakers at bay.
"I don't think we're picking our poison," said Kelly. "I don't think when Billy (Davis) calls a defense it's 'We're going to shutdown Cruz, and it's okay to throw to (someone else)'. When you play talented players, guys are going to make plays. It may be the other way. Cruz may have more catches this week, and then the other guys are down. That's what you hope. You hope that they're all not hot on the same day because then it's a bad day for you.
"Our defense did a really good job last week on (Jason) Witten, but Dez (Bryant) had (eight) catches. It's very difficult when you have a lot of weapons, and that's what I think when you face good football teams on the offensive side of the ball. The more weapons they have, the harder it is to say 'Hey, we're going to take this guy away'. If there's only one receiver over there that really warrants attention, you say 'Hey, we're going to double that guy', and then you can shut him down and then we feel like we're going to be okay in one on one coverage on those other guys. But I think when you have a couple different weapons, which they do in those three receivers, what you have to do is you have to kind of mix it up."
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