Eagles observations: The one thing the Eagles must do to beat the Giants


A huge priority Saturday night, expectations from Jalen Hurts, an unforgettable play from a postseason game almost 20 years ago and a franchise record to be broken.

Eagles-Giants is finally here. The Eagles are 5-0 at home in franchise history in the conference semifinals (or “division”), and they’ll look to make it 6-0 at the Linc on Saturday night.

Here are our 10 random sightings from the Eagles Playoff leading up to what promises to be a wild night in South Philly.

1. One thing that is imperative for the Eagles Saturday night is taking advantage when they have takeout options. The Giants rarely turn the ball over. Only 16 all year – second fewest in the league. Only five in their last eight games. They may not be the most talented team in the league, but they are smart, they are well coached and they don’t beat themselves up. At one time, the Eagles were the league’s best in takeaways, giveaways, and revenue margin. Through eight games they were plus-15 in turnover ratio, they had made only three turnovers and they had 18 takeaways. From that moment on? Minus-7 in takeaway margin, 16 turnovers and only nine takeaways. They’ve had plenty of chances. They’re just a step late on fumbles and they’ve dropped more than their fair share of interceptions. If the Eagles are plus one or better in turnover ratio this year, they’re 10-0 (and they’ve won 16 in a row, going back to the Chiefs’ loss last October). If they’re plus-nil or worse this year, they’re 4-3 (and 7-11 under Nick Sirianni). And they are 2-13 in 15 playoff games in the last 50 years when they are minus-1 or worse and 12-4 when they are plus-one or better. The Giants can’t just beat the Eagles. But if the Eagles continue to flip the ball and fail to generate a takeout, this will be a fourth quarter ball game. When the opportunities are there, the Eagles must strike.

2. The first 13 weeks of the season, Jalen Hurts’ average play was: 20-for-30, 243 passing yards, 1.7 passing touchdowns, 0.2 interceptions, a 108.4 passer rating, 53 rushing yards, 0.8 rushing touchdowns. Those are the Jalen Hurts I expect to see on Saturday night. He will have no limitations. Everything is in play. Shane Steichen doesn’t have to protect him or turn vanilla or hold back. This is the No. 3 offense in the NFL versus the No. 25 defense in the NFL, and I expect big things from Hurts on Saturday night.

3. Here’s a remarkable statistic: Daniel Jones ran 120 times this year, and 57 of those rushing attempts — 48 percent — went for first downs. That is incredible efficiency. He is a scary runner because he only takes off when he has a real advantage and he rarely takes a big hit. He’s faster than he looks, because at six feet tall, he’ll gobble up a lot of ground with those long strides. He ran a pedestrian 4.81 at the Combine – Sam Bradford ran faster and he averaged 42 rushing yards per season. Jones averaged 44 yards per game this year. Jones is just smart about when he runs. The Giants don’t have many ways to hurt you. But when Jones and Saquon Barkley get thick yards, they can be hard to stop. The Eagles’ defense was punctured—they finished 24th in the league with 4.6 yards per carry—the fifth worst in franchise history. They’ll have to get numbers on the ball, finish tackles and keep Jones and Barkley from reaching the second tier. Because the Giants keep hammering it to the ground until the Eagles prove they can stop it.

4. And if the Giants can pull off the run, it will take away the Eagles’ greatest strength: their world-class passing rush. The Eagles finished the season with an absurd 37 sacks in their last seven games, the most in NFL history by a team over the last seven games of a season and the third-most in history over a seven-game span competitions (thanks, brand new Stathead Team Spanfinder!). From Week 11 through Week 18, seven NFL players had eight or more sacks. Three of them were Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat and Brandon Graham. And Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave each had four. If the Eagles can get the Giants into a familiar pass and unleash their pass rushers, they’ll have a huge advantage.

5. I’ll go as far as saying this: I’d be surprised if the Eagles didn’t at least tie the franchise record for sacks in a postseason game. It’s four three times – vs. Tampa in 2000 (Hugh Douglas 2, Mike Caldwell, Hollis Thomas), Falcons in 2004 (Derrick Burgess 2, Jevon Kearse 1, Hollis Thomas 1) and last year in Tampa (Ryan Kerrigan 1 1/2, Alex Singleton 1/2, Javon Hargrace 1, Derek Barnett 1/2). The Eagles’ streak of 35 consecutive playoff games without more than four sacks is the longest in NFL history. That should come to an end on Saturday night.

6. I give Lane Johnson so much credit for what he’s trying to do. I don’t know what kind of Lane Johnson we’ll see on Saturday night. I don’t think anyone knows, including Lane. I do know that if it’s a matter of pain tolerance, he’ll be fine. No one is louder. But if his core muscle injury prevents him from anchoring, prevents him from generating power to punch, that could be a problem. Jack Driscoll is a hard backup and he’ll be ready, but even if the Eagles get 80 percent Lane Johnson, he’s still better than most good tackles in the NFL.

7. This Eagles roster is full of stars. Jalen hurts. A. J. Brown. Devonta Smith. Miles Sanders. Jason Kelly. Lane Johnson. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. kill Darius. James Bradberry. Haason Reddick. T. J. Edwards. Brandon Graham. Fletcher Cox. Josh Sweat. Jake Elliott. Landon Dickerson. Professional bowlers. All professionals. Players of the week. Players of the Month. Howie Roseman did his job. He built one of the best rosters in the NFL. From top to bottom, perhaps the best. The coaches did their job. They got these guys ready. Now it’s time for the stars to play like stars. That’s what the postseason is all about.

8. Still can’t believe Brett Favre threw that pass in overtime in the 4th and 26th games. Worst pass in history by a Hall of Fame quarterback? A few underrated things about that game: 1) Great blitz by Clinton Hart, I think, forced Favre to throw much faster than he wanted, 2) Lito Sheppard could have gotten the pass too, but smartly got out of Dawk’s way and blocked Javon Walker out of play, 3) Incredible 35-yard return by Dawk all the way to the Packers’ 34-yard line, 4) Big 11-yard Duce Staley run on a 2nd and 13th to the 14 made it was a lot shorter game-winning field goal for David Akers.

9. Crazy that there will only be 13 guys on the field for the Eagles Saturday who played in the Eagles’ last home game just three years ago: Jason Kelce, Isaac Seumalo, Miles Sanders, Dallas Goedert, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Jake Elliott, Boston Scott, Marcus Epps, Rick Lovato, TJ Edwards, Andre Dillard, and Josh Sweat. And nine of those 13 won’t be signed until after this year (all except Goedert, Elliott, Edwards and Sweat).

10 A. It’s easy to see AJ Brown as WR1 and DeVonta Smith as WR2, but I’ll tell you what, from what I’ve seen this year, they’re definitely co-WR1s. Brown made a Pro Bowl, second-team all-pro and broke Mike Quick’s single-season receiving record. He’s an incredible player. But what Smith has done over the course of the year this year has really elevated him to Brown’s equal in my eyes. From Week 11 through Week 18, as the Eagles battled for the No. 1 seed, Brown had the most receiving yards in the NFL (96 per game) and following Justin Jefferson (94) and Davante Adams (92), Smith was fourth with 89. Smith finished with 1,196 yards in his sophomore season, a mark Brown reached only this year, his fourth season. His 2,112 yards are the most ever by an eagle in his first two years (46 more than DeSean Jackson). Brown is incredible. Smith is incredible. Both have great chemistry with Jalen Hurts. Both can take over a game at any time. And the Eagles will keep both their contracts for another three years. I’m not going to put one above the other. And that’s certainly not a knock on Brown. It’s just how impressed I’ve been with Smith.

10B. Imagine if there were sports talk radio, social media and internet bulletin boards when the Eagles had one winning season from 1962 to 1977? During that 16-year span, the Eagles won an NFL-worst 4.5 games a year and failed to make it to the postseason. They were the worst team in the NFL for nearly two decades. They had seven coaches in 18 years and went 18 seasons without winning a playoff game.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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