Big plays killed the Giants in their 40-17 loss to the Eagles Nov. 1. It’s time to play catch-up.
The Giants fell behind 30-7 in that first matchup, but the offense picked up steam last week with two 70-plus-yard touchdowns in a win over Dallas. Creating more explosions won’t be easy against Philadelphia, an aggressive and blitz-happy defense that has won three straight over the Giants.
“They still have the same foundation and same blitz packages,” Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said. “They are a pressure team that plays two deep [coverage]. They’re still a very physical defense.”
The Giants offense has to match them. Brandon Jacobs, who hasn’t carried the ball more than 20 times since Week 8, will be asked to grind it out on the ground, as well as protect Eli Manning. Big plays are a result of good protection, and it will be a difficult task against a team that has 33 sacks (sixth in the league).
“You have to know your keys and the tips they’re giving you,” Jacobs said. “You have to be able to get it done.”
One guy the Giants will have to account for on every snap is strong safety Quintin Mikell. The seventh year safety is replacing a Philadelphia legend, all-pro safety Brian Dawkins, who left for Denver via free agency, but seems every bit as dangerous. Mikell was a nuisance to the Giants in last month’s route, recording a team-high 12 tackles and a pass defended. Gilbride noticed in this week’s tape study that Mikell may be the one guy who can deter both New York’s passing and running schemes because he’s also an excellent blitzer.
“It used to be Dawkins,” said Gilbride. “And now it’s Mikell who’s the aggressor and the defense kinds of feeds off him.”
New York would be wise to use a “spy” of sorts to pick up the blitzers. And if they do, that onus would fall on Brandon Jacobs, backup Ahmad Bradshaw, and third-down back D.J. Ware.
Ware, who suffered a concussion in the Denver game, Thanksgiving night, said picking up the blitz is part of his job description and isn’t worried – too much – of all the banging he’s sure to engage.
“It’s part of the game,” he said, not worrying about blitz-pickup ramifications. “Sometimes you get knocked out, sometimes you get concussions. But you just go out there and give it your all and hopefully be prepared for everything they throw at us.”
Ware said what makes Philly so tough is that regardless of seeing them twice a year, it’s still a daunting task in film study to catch all their tendencies.
“They send ‘em from a variety of areas and they send ‘em a lot,” Ware said. “[Defensive] ends, ‘backers, safeties. They throw a lot of wrinkles.”