5 Important Eagles for Tonights Game Against the Giants
The Philadelphia Eagles will welcome in the New York Giants to Lincoln Financial Field tonight, an NFC East showdown on prime time TV. Like most Eagles,-Giants games, this match-up has all the makings to be another epic battle, in this great rivalry. At 4-1, the Eagles have a great chance to position themselves atop the division and the conference, heading into their bye week.
Here are five eagles, who will be pivotal in helping the Eagles try to win their 5th game of the season tonight against the Giants:
1. Brandon Boykin: On a secondary that has a lot of concerns, next to safety Malcolm Jenkins, Brandon Boykin has true play making ability. As a nickel corner, Boykin is reduced to covering only slot duties, and it appears will not take on primary cornerback responsibilities in Billy Davis’s defense. Boykin will have a tall task on Sunday night, matching up against Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Boykin is one of the better slot cornerbacks in the league, and has the second-least amount of yards given up, along with the third-lowest QB Rating among CBs with at least 85 snaps in the slot. Though Cruz only has one touchdown in five games this season, he always seems to fare well against the Eagles, tallying five touchdowns and over 500 yards receiving since joining the Giants in 2010. Boykin, will have a big role in tonight’s game, trying to shutdown one of Eli Manning’s favorite weapons.
2. Lane Johnson: Tonight will mark the second start for Lane this season, after serving his four game suspension for violating the leagues PED policy. In last weeks win against the Rams, Johnson seemed gassed at times, and didn’t really find his rhythm until the second half. Johnson graded out well in his first start back, despite conditioning concerns, and relinquishing three quarterback hurries. Johnson, who is in his second season after being drafted 4th overall in 2013, will have to continue to build upon last weeks game, as he climbs his way back to form, that made him a successful tackle in his rookie year. Whether it is Jason Pierre-Paul or Robert Ayers, Johnson will certainly have his hands full tonight, protecting Nick Foles, and trying to ignite a running game that ranks 21st in the league (after leading the NFL last season).
3. Connor Barwin: After struggling to create a consistent pass rush through the first three games of the season, the Eagles front seven have been very aggressive as of late. The last two weeks they’ve amassed 8 sacks (including two forced fumbles, one returned for a touchdown), and constant pressure (when they’re not in a prevent scheme). With Mychal Kendricks out, and DeMeco Ryans questionable with a groin injury, the entire linebacker unit is going to have to step up on Sunday night. That’s where Connor Barwin comes in. With his ability to rush the edge, athleticism and football IQ, Barwin will have to continue to get after the quarterback like he has the last couple weeks, and create uncomfortable situations for Eli Manning. With a mediocre secondary in coverage, the only way the Eagles can win tonight is if they can get after Eli and force him to throw those interceptions, he’s been prone to lunch throughout his career. Manning has been very efficient this season under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, so a strong push upfront and Barwin’s speed around the edge will have to nullify the quick release of Manning in this west coast offense.
4. Nick Foles: What an obvious statement, the quarterback has to play well in order for the team to win. You’re absolutely right; it’s absurdly obvious, and incredibly true. If you ask one fraction of the fan base, they’ll blame the offensive line and lack of running game on Nick’s struggles, in fact ESPN’s Sal Paolantoio said Friday on the Sports Bash “Don’t Blame Nick Foles!”, but the other fraction can see the struggles and inconsistent play from the Eagles quarterback throughout the season. With the national spotlight on him, against a division rival, this will be a great opportunity to curb some anxieties those have about his play, headed into the bye week. The Giants lead the league with eight interceptions so far this season, and will be looking for more back foot throws from Foles, to add to their total. Nick is going to have to be more efficient, and careful with this reads. He’s going to have to trust his line and step up, not backwards into the pocket. I’m not sure if Foles can find the touch that has eluded him with his deep ball all season, but tonight would be a great start, given the Giants tendency to give up the big play. There has been plays left on the field, open receivers missed, and that can’t happen tonight against the Giants. Also…..if you’re going to slide Nick? Feet first please!
5. LeSean McCoy: After leading the league last season, McCoy’s struggles this year have been well documented. Much like Foles, McCoy looks to have no trust in offensive line at times, and appears to be pressing, trying to hit the homerun. Though a long touchdown tonight sounds great, that may not be the case. Last year the Giants had a lot of success bottling up McCoy, keeping the All-Pro at bay with just 94 total yards on the ground and one touchdown in two meetings. McCoy can’t let his frustrations get the best of him tonight, and continue to take what the defense gives him. The running game started to find a groove in the second half last week against the Rams, and the ability to run the football tonight will be imperative for an Eagles victory. However, this doesn't solely lie on LeSean McCoy. The offensive line needs to show improvement, and Chip Kelly needs to find a way to get McCoy involved in the offense, if the running lanes aren’t there. We saw a little of that last week, and we need to see more of that tonight.
You can hear this great NFC East rivalry between the Eagles the Giants tonight on 973 ESPN FM. Pregame Coverage starting at 730pm, and Merrill Reese and Mike Quick with call at 830.