Lawlor: Game Preview vs. Giants

The Eagles have one game with 30 or more points this year. That came in the first meeting against the Giants, a game that was played on a short week. Because that was a Thursday night game, the Eagles couldn't put in their normal game plan. They had to keep things a bit more basic.

Maybe there is a lesson in that.

Doug Pederson and the offensive coaches keep trying to figure out the best way to get the Eagles' offense off to a quick start. Maybe the answer was right there in front of them the whole time.

Keep things simple.

There are times when coaches out-think themselves. It is reminiscent of the famous scene from The Princess Bride when Vizzini and the Prince have the battle of wits. You can lose yourself when you start thinking too many moves ahead.

At its core, football is about blocking and tackling. Throwing and catching. There is something to be said for focusing on execution and not building the perfect game plan. This could be a smart strategy this week.

The Giants rank 25th in the league in points and yards allowed. They have given up an average of 152 rushing yards a game over the past three weeks. Only twice all year have they kept an opponent under 108 rushing yards.

The Giants gave up 359 passing yards last week to the Buccaneers, but why throw it a ton if you can run the ball effectively? This could be a good week to turn Josh Adams, Wendell Smallwood, and Corey Clement loose.

Carson Wentz is coming off one of the worst games of his career. I'm sure he and the coaches are anxious to erase that memory. Wentz has to be careful about trying to do too much. That was a big part of the problem in New Orleans.

Pederson should probably have some safe, simple pass plays to get Wentz started. Throw it short, get some yards, and get into a good rhythm. A quick screen to Golden Tate could be a good way to start the game. You also want to get Tate involved.

The headliner from the first Eagles-Giants game was rookie Saquon Barkley. He put on an amazing performance, both as a runner and receiver. His ability to move through traffic and break tackles was special.

The Giants have been feeding Barkley as more of a workhorse runner the last couple of weeks. He ran 20 times against the Niners two games ago and a season-high 27 times against the Bucs. He didn't have 20 carries in a game all year until the Niners game.

New York is on a two-game win streak. By taking the ball out of Eli Manning's hands and feeding it more to Barkley, the Giants helped their offensive line. That helped the overall offense. To be fair, they beat a couple of struggling teams so this hot streak has to be taken in the proper context.

The Giants are the team coming into this game with confidence and on a roll. That would have seemed nuts just a few weeks back, but here we are. The Eagles are coming off a pair of painful losses and have an incredibly banged-up secondary.

The cornerbacks are going to be Chandon Sullivan, De'Vante Bausby, and Cre'Von LeBlanc barring a late turnaround with Rasul Douglas, who is questionable. That group has more apostrophes than combined starts.

Do the Giants stick with their recent run game? Do they go back to having Manning throw the ball a lot? With such an inexperienced secondary, the Giants might feel they have to throw the ball more this time out.

The Eagles will get Tim Jernigan back in the lineup. Any time you can add a player of his caliber to the front seven, you have to be happy about that. He can help shut down running lanes while also help get some pressure on Manning.

Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, and Michael Bennett need to play lights out this week. The way you help out a young secondary is by dominating the line of scrimmage. Sacks are great, but just get regular pressure on Manning. Don't let him throw in rhythm from a clean pocket.

Middle linebacker Jordan Hicks is out so we'll see what plan Jim Schwartz has for his linebackers. We know Kamu Grugier-Hill and Nathan Gerry will get the snaps. We just don't know how he'll use them exactly. Eagles linebackers must tackle Barkley better than they did in the first meeting. They gave up way too many yards after contact.

Pederson always preached the Next Man Up philosophy. That's going to be really tested on Sunday. These young players do have a tremendous opportunity. It is up to them to take advantage of it and show that they can play in the NFL.

I thought Sullivan did some good things last week. He has quick feet and good instincts. I'm excited to see if he can open some eyes on Sunday.

The offense can help out the defense. They need to move the chains and work the clock, keeping Manning and Barkley on the sideline as spectators. That's another reason it would be smart to embrace the running game. Winning the time of possession battle could help you take the game.

The Eagles are a desperate team and this is a must-win game. Style points don't matter. This week is all about the scoreboard. Pederson and his players must find a way to get back on the winning track. Go get a W and get this thing headed back in the right direction.

Tommy Lawlor, goeagles99 on the Eagles Message Boards, is an amateur football scout and devoted Eagles fan. You can also find his work at IgglesBlitz.com where he is the site's editor.

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