The Giants are the first team in the NFL to get a second look at the Eagles’ uptempo offensive attack, and depending on who’s asked the question, it could either be a gift or a curse.
Eagles head coach Chip Kelly, who brought his brand of fastbreak football from the University of Oregon, said it works both ways, noting his Eagles (3-4) now have even more game film to show what worked in the 36-21 win in Week 5.
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During that game, backup quarterback Nicks Foles racked up 197 yards on 16-of-25 passing and two touchdowns in relief of a gimpy Michael Vick, who left the game late in the second quarter with a hamstring injury. Foles, though, suffered a concussion in last week’s loss to the Cowboys, which has allowed Vick to get back in the saddle again as he’s taken the first-team reps this week.
“I don’t look at it as a challenge that they’ve seen us once already, because they have the same exact situation. They have to look at us the same time,” said Kelly. “Obviously, you spend more time because you played each other. But then you look through that game and they did this last time, they won’t do it again, and you play that guessing game. ... It comes back down to what happened in the first game. We’ll go do what we do and they’re going to do what they do and we’re going to see who has the best team at the end of the day on Sunday.”
The Giants defense has made improvements in the last couple of weeks, as they haven’t allowed a point in the last six quarters. And defensive coordinator Perry Fewell thinks his defense is on the verge of getting back the swagger that used to make it one of the best units in the league.
“It really all depends on the football intelligence and then the chemistry of your defensive football team,” said Fewell. “I expect them to win more one-on-one battles. We haven’t been really consistent because of injuries and that type of thing, [but] sometimes you’ve just got to whip somebody’s [butt] and you’ve got to get to the quarterback. We can try to become more creative and do some things of that nature, but it just comes down to winning the battles ... whether it’s one or two people. Sometimes you’ve just got to will yourself to get there. We’re talented enough that it will happen for us.”
Head coach Tom Coughlin noted how little pressure his defense applied in the first meeting and agreed with Fewell in thinking that Big Blue needs to get to the quarterback quicker, especially with a banged-up secondary that routinely lists multiple defensive backs on the injury report.
“It certainly is encouraging [to see the pass rush pick up in recent weeks]. That’s the whole point we’ve been trying to create is that pressure again, where the quarterback knows coming in when he plays the Giants, he’s going to have to contend with that,” said Coughlin. “With Michael Vick, the read option is a part of their offense. He can keep the ball in those circumstances and find lanes opening up in front of him — that’s where he got a lot of his yards in the first half rushing [79 yards on seven carries], which can be frustrating.”
What was really frustrating for the Giants the last time they matched up were the amount of rushing yards allowed (140), the average yards per pass attempt (7.5), the goal-to-go efficiency (the Eagles scored touchdowns 66 percent of the time) and total yards allowed (439). Those aforementioned stats are all reflections of a defense that was a walking mat for a bitter rival.
Fewell truly believes the green-and-white parade of big plays ends on Sunday, as he’s stressed better communication all week.
“You’re trying to make the players more ball aware. You’ve got to put pressure on the receivers and your front [seven] and coverage have to work in harmony,” said Fewell. “If we’re playing man, zone or whatever, we’ve got to do a good job of jamming the receivers to hold up the route getting down the field and then the rushers have got to do a good job of getting there. ... So we’ve got to work in harmony together.”
Big Blue notes ...
»Giants running back Brandon Jacobs said he takes his job very seriously, but apparently not as serious as fantasy football players. Jacobs was the target of death threats via Twitter, and while it’s apparently been handled, the bruising running back was shaken and dismayed by the incident. He had no problem sounding off on the pitfalls of fantasy football being taken too seriously.
“Huge problem, no question. Fantasy football is something the fans can connect themselves [but] to us [athletes], some people take it too seriously,” said Jacobs. “The people that understand us and know what we go through every day, [they] know that fantasy is just fun for them, [and] it’s cool to have people like that being involved that know what it is and don’t take it too serious. [But] to the people that take it too serious, us as football players don’t owe you nothing. It’s up to you to manage your team the way you want to manage it. The only owners and general managers I owe anything to is Jerry Reese, the Mara and Tisch family. Everybody else, I don’t concern myself with. It’s [the threats] just unnecessary. It’s just a game they play on a computer. I think sometimes fantasy football is good, but sometimes I think it has disconnected a lot of players from fans. That’s all people ever talk about ... even when I’m out eating dinner. Players don’t want to hear anything about fantasy football. We’re living in fantasy football. My only fantasy was I wanted to go back with the Giants. That was my fantasy football. As far as anything else, we don’t owe anybody anything.”
»Giants linebacker Spencer Paysinger is living a fantasy in his own right, going from an undrafted player from Oregon to one of the better players on Big Blue’s defense. His former college coach, Kelly, is happy for his achievements, even if his former player has plans on blowing up the Eagles offense.
“Pays was awesome when I coached him at Oregon. He was a real leader of our defense, a true three-down guy that can play in nickel situations,” said Kelly. “He’s got great coverage ability and an outstanding special teams player. I always thought Pays was a guy that, for some reason, was probably more underrated in college than he should have been. He was really the glue for us on the defensive side of the ball. I’m not surprised at his production. That’s the Spencer Paysinger that I know. He was the backbone of our defense that took us to a national championship game and he’s doing the same thing in the NFL.”
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.