Eagles vs. Giants: ITB Scouting Report
The Eagles (1-4-1) will take on NFC East rival New York Giants (1-5) on prime time at Lincoln Financial Field.
While the Giants’ struggles were expected going into the season due to a new coaching staff, the Eagles were pegged by many as among the league’s elite, but they’ve been plagued by injuries and inconsistency, making this historic divisional rivalry a bit more balanced than in recent years.
Eagles Offense vs. Giants Defense
RB Boston Scott vs. Giants LBs: Since his four-game sample size last December, Scott has been wildly ineffective in a more prominent role. In six games, the 5-foot-6, 200-pound running back has yielded just 21 carries for 67 yards while totaling 48 yards as a receiver.
On Thursday, the diminutive running back comes under the spotlight once again and must elevate his performance. Although he has struggled to find his footing as a runner, Scott should expect the Eagles to take advantage of his receiving prowess by isolating him in space against a Giants’ linebacking corps that doesn’t cover a ton of ground.
WR Travis Fulgham vs. CB James Bradberry: The Eagles’ top receiver will square off against the Giants’ prized free-agent addition. Bradley, who has two interceptions and 10 passes defended thus far, is a lengthy boundary cornerback who plays a physical brand of football. Bradberry’s pedestrian change of direction and lack of long speed should be noted, however, as Fulgham has proved he can make plays at all three levels of the field. Look for the Wentz-Fulgham connection to remain strong in this NFC East clash.
Eagles Defense vs. Giants Offense
LB Nathan Gerry vs. TE Evan Engram: Like the Eagles, the Giants also boast a barren cupboard of skill players. However, there should be opportunities aplenty to capitalize on the explosiveness of Engram by getting him on the move and working the middle-seam. Engram is a smooth athlete with enough speed to consistently separate at the top of routes. A common trait among Giants pass-catchers, yards after the catch is one of Engam’s assets. Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett implemented heavy 12 personnel usage in Dallas, so the Eagles may see Kaden Smith as well.
DE Josh Sweat vs. LT Matt Peart/Andrew Thomas: Thomas, the No. 4 overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, has been a disappointment through six games. Though he was touted as being among the most pro-ready tackles in a loaded class, the Georgia product was benched last week for team rules reasons, giving way to third-round pick Matt Peart, who performed well enough to force a decision. Whoever starts left tackle must contend with a sizzling Eagles pass-rush.
Sweat, second on the Eagles in sacks (3.0), has been among the better stories to emerge from the rubbles of a so-far dismal 2020 season. The athletic pass-rusher was remarkably productive last season, despite playing just 352 snaps, and has carried that momentum into 2020. Sweat possesses rare length and an enormous wingspan, which accompanies a lightning-fast first-step, powerful punches, and ability to dip-and-rip. The third-year defender is tough assignment for any lineman – let alone a rookie.
Though improved from a coverage standpoint, the Giants’ return units have lacked for explosive plays. Second-year cornerback Corey Ballentine serves as the kick returner. The Washburn product has mustered 140 yards on seven opportunities. Jabrill Peppers and Golden Tate handle punt return duties. The pair has combined for 80 yards on seven returns.
Only two NFL teams can claim undefeated records on Thursday Night Football since 2016: Philadelphia (5-0) and Seattle (4-0).
The Eagles have won seven consecutive games against the Giants. Philadelphia is 88-86-2 (.506) all-time versus the New York Giants, dating back to 1933.
Giants LB Markus Golden: Golden started all 16 games for the Giants last season, notching a team-high 10.0 sacks, but the veteran pass-rusher has been an afterthought through six games. Through six games, the 6-foot-3, 260-pound sack specialist ranks fourth among Giants linebackers in defensive snaps (148) — accounting for nearly 37 percent of the total. Golden, lauded for his versatility, motor, and wicked hand usage, has mustered four quarterback hits and a half-sack despite limited use.
Now in a situational role, the 29-year-old finds himself in a prime spot to wreak havoc against a patchwork offensive line.
Eagles LB Genard Avery: The Eagles must make a concerted effort to dedicate 12-14 snaps to Avery every week. In the Week 4 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers, Avery parlayed 16 snaps into a sack and five quarterback hits. The undersized edge defender was deployed as a standup rusher, and he was given free rein to turn it loose.
Avery’s explosive get-off, power, and use of leverage gave San Francisco fits. The Eagles should capitalize on a porous, disjointed Giants offensive line by deploying the quick-twitched Avery in a joker role over a rookie left tackle.
Thursday night will perhaps feature two of the league’s most deficient offensive lines.
The Giants, notorious for perpetually fielding makeshift offensive lines, invested ample resources in retooling the trenches via the 2020 NFL Draft. However, although they selected tackles Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart in the first three rounds, Thomas has shown glimpses of Ereck Flowers while Peart remians a work in progress. Shane Lemieux, a guard taken in the fifth round, is the primary backup along the interior but projects as a future contributor.
The Giants’ strength lies along the interior of the offensive line. Left guard Will Hernandez is a physical road grader who generates movement and plays with a mean streak. His lack of discipline sometimes works against him. Nine-year veteran Kevin Zeitler is a technically sound right guard who provides much-needed leadership and stability to the unit.
Although the Eagles’ defensive tackle group is formidable, their edge rushers project to get home with frequency.
Both teams come into Thursday night decimated on offense, and while I don’t anticipate many fireworks from either team, the Eagles have enough to work with to effectively move the football. When Doug Pederson-led teams harbor a back-against-the-wall mentality, they tend to respond with inspired play when the chips are down.
The defensive line will be the key to victory, but expect to see some fight from the Eagles’ offense.
Eagles 23, Giants 13
– Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.
For more Eagles-Giants breakdown, listen to the latest “Inside The Birds” podcast: