Philadelphia Eagles News

Some random thoughts, news, and notes as NFC East battle nears

As we get into the thick of the day and look toward kickoff tonight, some final-day news and notes knowing just how important this game is for the Eagles. The NFC East may be Least to the rest of the NFL, but it's ours and the goal is to win the division and reach the postseason. A win tonight to start a three-consecutive-games streak in the division helps a ton. Some thoughts ...

• The Eagles have a chance to field an offensive line that has some continuity. Maybe not the exact desired continuity, but a semblance thereof. With Lane Johnson on track to start at right tackle and with Matt Pryor activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list, the Eagles have something somewhat familiar up front with Jordan Mailata at left tackle, Nate Herbig or Sua Opeta at left guard, Jason Kelce at center, Pryor or Herbig or Opeta at right guard, and Johnson at right tackle.

The questions are these: How many reps can Pryor, who's been out a week, handle with no practice? What is Johnson's ability to play a full game? As for depth, the Eagles have three players you haven't heard much about – Opeta, Brett Toth as the swing tackle (although Pryor can also kick out to tackle), and center Luke Juriga, who has been cross-trained, no doubt, at guard as well. Keep your fingers crossed that the offensive line stays healthy tonight. The mini-bye weekend is going to feel like a month off to those players.

• Replacing Malik Jackson on the roster tonight is T.Y. McGill, who has some experience and will be the fourth defensive tackle against the Giants. He's energetic, got fresh legs, and when McGill has had the chance to play, he's done well. So, we're looking at Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave starting with Hassan Ridgeway and McGill. The Eagles are better inside than New York. Cox and Co. must dominate here.

• The matchup to watch in the passing game for the defense is cornerback Darius Slay against wide receiver Darius Slayton. They played last season when Slay was in Detroit and Slayton caught touchdown passes both times he was targeted. Slayton is a quality receiver who hurt the Eagles last season (17 targets, nine receptions, 204 yards, and two touchdowns) and Slay, of course, is the Eagles' shutdown cornerback. He didn't follow Marquise Brown on Sunday against Baltimore, but it's a pretty good chance that he will be on Slayton tonight. And watch the "go" route. Slayton has five touchdowns running that route, ranking tied for second in the NFL since 2019. Having Avonte Maddox back at cornerback gives the Eagles more depth in the secondary, too.

• First quarter is key for the Eagles. They've scored just three points in three home games this season. Jumping out on New York puts all kinds of pressure on quarterback Daniel Jones.

• Remember this: New York has scored defensive touchdowns in each of the last two weeks. Protect the football!

• How will the Eagles play it at running back? Boston Scott is the lead man, with Corey Clement and Jason Huntley ready to get some touches. We'll see how the Eagles feel about Huntley, who has learned the offense the last several weeks.

• Having DeSean Jackson on the field means the Giants have to account for his speed, so that means they can't keep a safety in the box and so, yeah, maybe the running game can get going a little bit tonight. I'd love to see the Eagles take a deep shot to Jackson early. He needs to see how his hamstring will respond in a game situation and the Eagles need to show the Giants that they're going to get the vertical passing game going.

• Some streaks for you to consider: Doug Pederson is 5-0 on Thursday night games and is 7-1 against the Giants. Philadelphia has won seven consecutive games against New York. The Giants are 4-6 in Thursday night games, 2-5 on the road, and 0-2 against the Eagles. New York has lost its last six games at Lincoln Financial Field. If the numbers mean anything ... It is 2020, after all.

• Special Teams Coordinator Dave Fipp was questioned this week by the media about placekicker Jake Elliott, who is 1-for-4 on attempts from 50-plus yards this season. Fipp didn't hesitate backing Elliott: "I'm not concerned at all with Jake. You can paint any picture you want. Obviously, this year he hasn't connected on as many as we'd like to connect on from that 50-yard range. He's 100 percent from all his kicks underneath 52 yards. I think there's a lot of guys that would like to be there right now.

"What I look at is more globally. When you go back in time and look at his numbers overall, his kicks of 53 yards or less or 50-53 yards, I think he's hitting at about 60 plus percent on those kicks right there. I think last year the league average in that area was around the 58's or something like that. So, I think his numbers are kind of where probably a lot of guys are in the league, right around average in that 50-plus-yard area. We'd like to be a little bit better than that, but if you're saying it's real concerning, I don't have the same concerns."

• Finally, just something to think about: The Eagles are wearing their black jerseys tonight and did ... you ... know ... that the Eagles debuted the black jerseys in the 2003 season. Hard to believe it's been that long, right?

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