Donovan McNabb is like the kid with too many toys during the holidays. The Giants’ defense is like the jealous sibling trying to break them all.
McNabb’s Eagles, who have won three straight over the Giants, can grab a two-game lead over their rivals in the NFC East on Sunday. Their offense exploded for 391 yards in a 40-17 win earlier this season. The unit is so loaded, it can lose an all-pro back like Brian Westbrook and not even miss a beat.
“They have done a very good job employing LeSean McCoy and Leonard Weaver,” coach Tom Coughlin said of the backup rookie running back and their hybrid fullback. “They’ve offset the temporary loss of Brian [Westbrook].”
That temporary loss could turn into a permanent one, as Westbrook has missed three straight games and wasn’t dressed in full pads at yesterday’s practice. While he isn’t expected to play on Sunday, speed-burning receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin should be in the lineup.
Jackson missed last week with a concussion but practiced yesterday. The rookie Maclin missed practice, but coach Andy Reid said he would have played if it was game day.
“There are other people out there to worry about,” Coughlin said. “If you go overboard trying to take something away, you are giving yourself some problems in other areas. You can always do something, but if you do, you have to be prepared [to be vulnerable elsewhere].”
One of those problem areas is tight end, where Dallas’ Jason Witten lit up the Giants for 156 yards on 14 receptions on Sunday. Philadelphia’s Brent Celek is just as imposing and has four touchdowns in the last six games. Throw in the explosiveness of Michael Vick, who threw and ran for a score last week, and the Giants have good reason to worry.
“It’s not easy,” linebacker Michael Boley said. “Those guys are fast, quick and can throw a lot of things at you, but that’s the good thing about playing an opponent twice in a year. Things happened that first game, so you get a chance to correct it and you have something to go on. Unlike preparing for a weekly opponent, teams in-division usually don’t throw anything at you that you haven’t seen before.”
One thing, however, that wasn’t a factor in the first game is the emergence of Vick. He adds yet another dimension to the Eagles’ offense.
“I wouldn’t call him a Wildcat anymore,” Coughlin said. “Because when he comes in, he’s a quarterback. They have plays designed where he just throws the ball down the field. He has an opportunity, as any other quarterback does, to run and throw.”