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Spadaro: Eagles have plenty of respect for Daniel Jones

Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro
Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro

Maybe he was a question mark before the season started, but Daniel Jones is now a thing for the New York Giants. He became the first quarterback in NFL postseason history on Sunday to deliver at least 300 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, and 70 rushing yards in a game as the Giants defeated the Minnesota Vikings, and now Jones leads New York into Philadelphia on Saturday night for the NFC Divisional Round game at Lincoln Financial Field.

The only question people are asking now about Jones is, "How do we keep him contained?"

"You've got to respect what he does. It's a possible run with him all the time. Literally every down, so you've got to follow your keys and be disciplined. What they do can really slow down a rush," defensive end Josh Sweat said. "When you play him, he's going to make you run. That's something you have to know going in. He wants to get you tired and he wants to get you looking around to see what's coming next and then you get your eyes in the wrong place."

This is, of course, nothing new. The Eagles have played against Jones five times, including the Week 14 48-22 victory at MetLife Stadium. They know very acutely how athletic Jones is, how strong he is with the football, and how physical he can be taking on defenders. The Giants will draw up their fair share of designed runs for Jones, and then there are times when he'll buy time in the pocket and stress a defense with the threat of the run. The statistics for Jones against the Eagles: 1,103 passing yards, 5 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions with a 65 percent completion percentage. Jones has run 29 times for 238 yards (8.2 yards per carry) and a pair of scores against Philadelphia since he was New York's first-round draft pick (No. 6 overall) in 2019.

Much of that damage came before Nick Sirianni became head coach and Jonathan Gannon took over the defense. In two games, Jones has gained 56 rushing yards on 13 carries. He threw for 202 yards and a touchdown in last season's 13-7 Giants win up north, and in Week 14 of this season Jones managed just 169 passing yards and one touchdown throwing the football and 26 rushing yards on 4 carries. The Eagles sacked Jones four times and dominated defensively.

The Jones from Week 14, however, was vastly different from the one who led the Giants to the postseason win on Sunday, and Gannon certainly took notice of that performance.

"He played extremely well," Gannon said on Wednesday. "Their offense was clicking on all cylinders. He made a lot of plays, a lot of throws. He used his legs at the right times to extend drives and get some first downs. We know it's just like anybody we go against that the skill set of everybody that we're playing against, how they use those guys and what we've got to be aware of and what we've got to have a plan for. He played extremely well that game and it's one of the major reasons they're playing us on Saturday night."

Jones isn't the only challenge here, because the Giants have relied heavily on running back Saquon Barkley, who rushed for 1,312 yards and scored 10 touchdowns on the ground in the regular season. Barkley is also a terrific receiver, as he demonstrated on Sunday in Minnesota with 5 receptions for 56 yards to go along with his 53 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries.

So, while it starts with Jones and there is going to be a heavy concentration on his movement in and out of the pocket, Barkley is also a huge part of the defensive equation.

"He's a dual-threat quarterback and they do some things for him scheme-wise to get him going in the run game. Passing-wise, you see him making the right decisions and he's getting the ball out of his hands as quick as he can," linebacker T.J. Edwards said. "He's done a good job of extending plays and making the right decisions. It's going to take everybody and it's going to take our best game. We know these guys decently well and we have an idea of what to expect.

"They do a good job of keeping it balanced and also using Saquon and their skill receivers on the perimeter. At times they do gap schemes and move the ball inside as well. Overall, it's a balanced scheme and they do a good job getting a lot of players involved making plays."

The Eagles also can't allow all of the things that the Giants do before the snap – the players in motion, the "window dressing," as Edwards calls it – to divert their attention.

"We kind of understand at our position that they do a lot of things to kind of try to take you away from their keys," Edwards said. "We have to focus on our keys, focus on our jobs, not try to see too much and make sure you are seeing the right things. It's a great offense and they always have a good scheme, but we'll be well-prepared and we'll be ready, for sure."

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