The New York Giants stumbled to a bad 48-22 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 14. It was a game that the Giants were always expected to lose — they were 7.5-point underdogs at kick-off. But nobody really saw the Giants being run off the field at home in the way they were.
Ultimately, the game was about as miserable as the cold, rainy (eventually snowy) weather.
There isn’t much else to say for the game as a whole. It was a depressing, embarrassing loss to a team that was just better in every phase of the game. That said, the advanced stats reveal a few insights and silver linings that might have been missed in the overall gloom of the game.
Plays of the game
There isn’t a whole lot here. The Eagles pretty much controlled the game from the opening kick-off to the final whistle, and both the Win Probability and EPA metrics reflect that.
Most Win probability added
It says something about the game that the Giants’ biggest positive play was a punt.
Jamie Gillan had one of the worst plays of the game when the ball slipped out of his hands, setting up a one-play touchdown “drive” for the Eagles. He also had biggest positive impact for the Giants on a punt with 12:28 on the clock in the first quarter. That punt marked the end of the Giants’ first drive, but it was a good 52-yarder that was covered well and only returned for 1 yard. That set the Eagles up on their 16-yard line for their first possession and was worth a 5-point bump in win probability for the Giants. It only raised their win probability from 19 to 24 percent, but that was still the biggest positive play for the Giants.
Most expected points added
The biggest play in terms of expected points added was Devonte Smith’s touchdown reception on fourth-and-1 with 12:14 on the clock the second quarter. While the entire win probability graph is pretty lopsided, the jump in win probability added (or lost, for the Giants) stands out.
That play was a combination of a fantastic pass by Jalen Hurts and a terrible angle by Julian Love. Hurts put the ball where only Smith could make a play on it, and between that and Love’s bad angle, it was pretty much a walk-in touchdown for Smith. That was worth 7.0 EPA for the Eagles, but only cost the Giants 5 points in win probability, dropping them from a 10 percent chance to win to 5 percent.
A complete effort ... by Philly
The Eagles weren’t able to do whatever they wanted whenever they wanted, but it sure seemed like it during the game. The advanced box score also has a heck of a lot of green on the Philadelphia side of things.
The Giants did do a pretty good job of containing the damage the Eagles were able to do through the air, And even when they had a positive passing EPA, those shorter passes didn’t accomplish much (more on that in a bit). The Giants also frequently forced Jalen Hurts to throw into tight windows, creating opportunities for coverage players to knock the ball away. Unfortunately, Hurts’ ball placement was also frequently excellent and he finished the game with 3.9 completion points above expected (excluding throwaways and spikes).
The Giants were able to exploit the Eagles’ run defense early in the second half, as well as some lapses in the Eagles’ discipline. In particular, Saquon Barkley and Gary Brightwell were both able to average 5 yards per carry behind the left side of the Giants’ offensive line. Jones, meanwhile, averaged 3.5 yards (and a touchdown) running to the offensive left and 9 yards per carry running to the right.
New York was actually pretty good at picking up that initial first down at the start of their drives. The Giants only had two “three-and-out” drives all game (excluding the sack-fumble of Tyrod Taylor in the fourth quarter), which is responsible for New York’s generally positive “success rate”. However, their drives also quickly stalled, leading to too many punts and not nearly enough points.
Credit to the skill position players
The Giants’ skill position players — particularly their receivers and corners — have taken quite a bit of flak this year. To be sure, nobody counted on the Giants having to start Nick McCloud, Fabian Moreau, Isaiah Hodgins, or Richie James. At best they probably should be depth and special teams players, but they’re forced into starting roles for the Giants.
And while the Giants were never really able to slow down the Eagles’ offense or put up yards against their (starting) defense, the skill players deserve some respect.
Let’s start on the defensive side of the ball and the Giants’ secondary. As mentioned above, Julian Love definitely deserves criticism for his uncharacteristically bad decision and angle on the DeVonta Smith touchdown. However, we can see from Hurts’ passing chart that the Giants’ coverage did affect their passing offense.
The Giants appeared to mix their customary man coverage with more zone coverage this game. They also appeared to play with more of a lid on the defense in an attempt to keep the Eagles’ offense in front of them. We need to get a look at the All-22 tape to see just how often Wink Martindale’s defense used quarters concepts, however, we can tell from GPS tracking that the Giants were successful in forcing Jalen Hurts to throw short.
Per NFL NextGenStats, Hurts’ average completed air yardage was just 5.6 yards, with an average intended air yardage of 9.5 yards. Those are both significantly off his season averages — in opposite directions.
To start, Hurts has averaged 8 intended air yards on the season, a full 1.5 yards shorter than against the Giants. That suggests that Hurts and the Eagles didn’t have much respect for the Giants’ pass coverage and were looking for opportunities downfield. However, his average converted air yardage has been 6.1 yards on the season (including this game), half a yard longer than his average this game. So while Hurts may have wanted to test the Giants deep, they were forcing shorter completions.
The Giants’ pass rushers also did a good job of affecting Hurts behind the line of scrimmage. Ojulari and Thibodeaux were facing one of the better tackle duos in the NFL, yet still spent plenty of time in the Eagles’ backfield.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Giants’ receivers did a good job of getting open for the second week in a row.
Well, most of them did. Kenny Golladay played just 11 snaps, as compared to the 58 by Richie James, 57 by Isaiah Hodgins, and 53 by Darius Slayton.
The Giants’ receivers were going against one of the best secondaries — best overall pass defenses — in the NFL. The receiving output was predictably low, but they did about as good a job as the Philly receivers in generating separation.
The Giants’ receivers generally ran their routes and executed passing concepts well. The Giants receivers weren’t likely to win many one-on-one matchups against Slay and Bradberry, but they did well enough to exploit route combinations for schemed separation.
That said, the Giants continued to throw short passes, so not many of their receptions contributed much to the overall offense. Five of the Giants’ passes were intended for 10 yards (or more) downfield, compared to six that were thrown behind the line of scrimmage.
As we’ve seen throughout the year, those short, quick passes are good for ball security and completion percentage, but don’t contribute much to EPA. The Giants’ passing attack was actually a bit more aggressive this game than last week against the Washington Commanders. We’ll have to see if that trend continues or if the offense contracts again in Week 15.