Look Out Below!
Nose-Diving Birds Humiliated In Season Finale Butt-Kicking From Giants
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Snow flurries and overcast skies draped over MetLife Stadium on Sunday, mirroring the nonchalant, melancholy atmosphere and sparsely filled seats inside the stadium ahead of a regular season finale between the Eagles and New York Giants.
The Eagles dropped the season-finale in unfathomable fashion, a 27-10 loss, marking their second consecutive loss in general and to a sub .500-team.
The Eagles, who had narrowly bested the Giants on Christmas, were missing several key contributors, including running back D’Andre Swift, wide receiver DeVonta Smith, and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.
During the game, they lost pillars, such as wide receiver A.J. Brown (knee), safety Sydney Brown (knee) and safety Reed Blankenship (groin).
Jalen Hurts, who played through a finger injury he suffered in the game, completed 7-of-16 pass attempts for 55 yards and an interception.
Running back Kenny Gainwell led the charge for Philadelphia offensively, totaling 62 yards on seven carries. Giants wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson led all pass-catchers with 85 yards on five receptions.
Let’s go ahead with the observations.
*Eagles inactives: RB D’Andre Swift, CB Darius Slay, WR DeVonta Smith, QB Tanner McKee (3rd QB), OL Tyler Steen, DT Fletcher Cox.
* The Cox deactivation was likely due to the notorious MetLife Stadium and its reputation for causing lower-body injuries. Swift (illness) was an early afternoon scratch, his first of the season. Notable to see Steen, a 2023 third-round pick, deactivated, potentially depriving the rookie of crucial game reps.
*Josh Sweat, Milton Williams, Jordan Davis and Jalen Carter opened the game on the defensive line. Haason Reddick dropped in coverage on the first play.
* The middle of the defense proved vulnerable on the first play, as Giants WR Darius Slayton picked up 18 yards, but the defense would ultimately settle in on that drive. Reddick stopped RB Saquon Barkley for a five-yard loss and rookie CB Eli Ricks blanketed WR Jalin Hyatt on the third-down deep shot.
* Appears the aforementioned MetLife turf claimed S Sydney Brown. Watching Brown on punt coverage, his lunging attempt at Giants PR Gunner Olszewski whiffed, and he struggled to put any weight on his right leg. After a trip to the blue medical tent, Brown was promptly ruled out due to a knee injury. Obviously, not a good sign for a young player carving out a prominent role.
* Scary moment on the second offensive possession. On a 2nd-and-9 from the Giants’ 27-yard line, Hurts appeared to complete a 9-yard pass to WR A.J. Brown, who fumbled away the conversion. More importantly, however, Brown remained down after the play, grabbing at his right knee. He ultimately walked off under his own power and headed to the locker room. He was ruled questionable to return.
* Mildly encouraging to see the Eagles generate some sack production from players other than the usual suspects. Rookie CB Kelee Ringo collected his first career sack when he brought down Giants QB Tommy DeVito and reserve DT Marlon Tuipulotu wrangled Tyrod Taylor for a sack. The Eagles finished with 43 sacks – far below last season’s historic total of 70.
* RB Kenny Gainwell was the team’s lone first-half bright spot, running tough and seeing the field well. The third-year ball-carrier accumulated 62 yards on seven carries.
* The secondary continues to appear hesitant and discombobulated. On multiple occasions, there were vacant patches in the middle of the field. On other occasions, there were three defenders in the vicinity of a completion. While some of the shortcomings can be attributed to inexperienced players, it’s pretty revealing that communication lapses have been a common theme throughout the season. Shuffling defensive players in and out doesn’t help from a continuity standpoint, but both Sean Desai and Matt Patricia might want to consider simplifying their coverages.
* DB Tristin McCollum, a practice squad call-up, replaced Brown’s spot at gunner opposite Josh Jobe.
* Gotta go back and watch the All-22 but not sure how DC Matt Patricia could draw up a play in which SAM Nolan Smith is isolated on Barkley, defending a wheel route down the left sideline. They play went as expected, with Barkley picking up 46 yards on the play. The Giants scored on the very next play to go up 24-0, with Taylor finding Slayton for a 19-yard touchdown.
* The toe-tap sideline interception from Giants S Xavier McKinney showcased tremendous range, while also underscoring the fact that the Eagles sorely lack a ball-hawking centerfielder who can cover that kind of ground. Five players later, McKinney read the eyes of Eagles backup QB Marcus Mariota and snared his second interception of the evening, returning possession to the Philadelphia 12. The defense held firm, however, as CB James Bradberry defended a pass at the goal line that was picked off by S Reed Blankenship.
* LG Landon Dickerson took snaps at center coming out of intermission. Sua Opeta and Jack Driscoll were at left and right guard, respectively. Jordan Mailata and Fred Johnson were at left and right tackle, respectively. McCollum replaced an injured Blankenship (groin) at safety.
– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.