As we get ready for another huge NFC East matchup between the Giants and Eagles, Derek from the Iggles Blog was nice enough to offer some insights on the Eagles for this week's Behind Enemy Lines feature.
This is a huge game. A Giants win puts some separation between them and the rest of the division. An Eagles win put them, along with the Redskins, just a game back of New York.
Derek: Yes, to the first part. A loss Sunday would give the Eagles an 0-3 division record and put them 3.5 games back of the Giants. Even the Mets would have trouble blowing a lead like that to a Philly team.
On the second part, no. A loss would move the team to 5-4, only a game back of Washington and Tampa Bay. There's still plenty of fluidity at the bottom of the playoff ladder.
Sportz: Who has been the biggest surprise for Philly this season?
Derek: Without question, it's DeSean Jackson. For years we've heard that rookie wide receivers can't come in and do well immediately in this offense. So much for that. Now that Kevin Curtis is back, we're seeing Jackson's snaps come down a bit, but I think that just means the Eagles will try to set him up more as the home run threat, rather than the guy who has to carry the mail every down.
Sportz: Who has been the biggest disappointment, thus far?
Derek: That's a question where the answer really depends on how close you are to the Eagles. For hard-core fans, it's clearly Lorenzo Booker, the off-season acquisition who was supposed to provide a big-play ability as a kick returner and complement to Brian Westbrook in the backfield. He looked great in minicamps, but the minute the pads came on, he disappeared.
Of course, most folks out there don't care much about the Eagles' third-string running back, so for the population at large, you'd have to say David Akers - until the last couple weeks. He really struggled on the longer kicks early in the year, but after nailing two 39-yarders and a 42-yarder last week against the Seahawks, he just might have things turned around.
The top sports headlines of the day
Sportz: How do you think the Eagles will deal with the Giants explosive offense?
Derek: The Eagles really need to keep the Giants in predictable down-and-distance situations. That, of course, starts with stopping the run.
I've watched the Giants a number of times this year, and while they have a very good offensive line, I really think two of their three running backs are kind of ordinary. Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw are nice players, but they seem like "take what you get" backs. Brandon Jacobs, on the other hand, is an unholy terror who can snap a secondary like match sticks.
The key, then, seems to be stopping Jacobs behind the line of scrimmage. That's easier said than done, of course, but if he hits the hole unimpeded, he's got too much inertia going to knock him back.
Not to dork out too much on the tactical stuff, but Jacobs provides an interesting and somewhat unique situation, I think. Generally speaking, defenses are afraid to stack too many guys at the line of scrimmage because if the back breaks through, there's no one at the second level to bring him down. The thing with Jacobs, though, is that because he gets so much momentum going and it takes more than one guy to tackle him, you're almost not going to bring him down close to the line of scrimmage anyway, if there's a hole.
So if he's not a speed guy you worry about popping off 60-yard runs, and if your base defense will yield seven-yard gains even if things work out the way you hope, then you might as well jam the line and try to stop him in the backfield before he gets going. You'll lose a few battles that way, but you may rack up enough "no gains" to force the offense to change its play-calling.
Sportz: What advantage do the Eagles have on the Giants?
Derek: The Eagles seem to have all the oars pulling in the same direction, in a way that might not be totally true for New York. That's an advantage over the Giants.
More importantly, an advantage this Eagles team has over previous Eagles teams is DeSean Jackson. We know that the Giants' gameplan against the Eagles is always focused on stopping Brian Westbrook. I'm convinced they dedicate an entire practice session each year to work on defending the Westbrook screen game.
The difference this time is that the Eagles now have a guy who can burn you in one play if you don't give deep help on him. I'm sure the Giants will try to counter that by providing pressure up front, but if the Eagles can get that rush blocked up, look for a number of deep shots down the sidelines.
Sportz: What advantage do the Giants have on the Eagles?
Derek: They just look like they're playing with a lot of confidence right now. The Eagles think they're a pretty good team. The defending champs know they are. When the chips are down, that's a good feeling to have.
Derek: One of two things. Either this is the typical Giants/Eagles game - meaning a low-scoring slugfest that comes down to one or two plays in the last couple possessions - or the Eagles shock everyone by winning this thing in a blowout. I know it sounds crazy, but I can't shake the feeling that the Eagles are going to kitchen-sink the Giants on offense. If they can score some points early and force the Giants' offense to go pass-heavy, it could be fun to watch.
Sportz: That's an understatement. This should be an awesome game between two heated NFC East rivals. With both the Redskins and Cowboys off, this is an excellent opportunity for either the Giants or Eagles to pick up a game.
Thanks go out to Derek from the Iggles Blog for breaking down the game from a Philly point of view.
Behind Enemy Lines: 'Iggles' Blogger Comes Back to Discuss Showdown With Giants originally appeared on NFL FanHouse on Fri, 07 Nov 2008 08:20:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.