With this being Eagles Week for the New York Giants, we turn to Brandon Lee Gowton of SB Nation’s Bleeding Green Nation for insight into the Eagles in this week’s ‘5 Questions’ segment.
Ed: The way this season has gone for the Eagles and the amount of talent the team has collected, would anything short of a Super Bowl title make the season a disappointment?
As NFC East observers, we know that opportunity is not a lengthy visitor. We’re nearly 20 years into the ‘no repeat division winner’ streak. There’s no guarantee the Eagles will be amazing again next year.
Especially when one considers they have a lot of key players who are set to be free agents. They’ll obviously retain some of those guys. But they won’t be able to keep all of them. Their ability to add more difference-makers could also be limited by signing Jalen Hurts to a lucrative long-term extension.
This is hardly to suggest the Eagles are doomed to take a major step back. Hurts’ emergence as a top quarterback portends well for the health of the franchise. The Eagles also have a first-round pick from the New Orleans Saints that currently sits at No. 5 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft.
But the Eagles need to strike while the iron is hot. In addition to being likely to lose players, they’re also likely to lose coaching staff members. It’s entirely possible they’ll have new offensive AND defensive coordinators next season with Shane Steichen and Jonathan Gannon expected to draw head coaching interest.
The Eagles have a strong claim to being the best team in the NFL. They need to capitalize.
Ed: Is there one thing you fear that could derail what has been an outstanding season to date?
BLG: Prior to the Titans game, the Eagles’ special teams unit had been a consistent weakness each week. It remains to be seen if that group has legitimately turned a corner or if it was just a blip on the radar.
Besides that, we’ve still yet to see Gannon go up against one of the league’s very best quarterbacks and keep them in check. One could say the same about Jalen Hurts being able to out-duel an elite passer. We’ll see how that goes in the playoffs.
Ed: Not that the Eagles need the help, but is there one Giants player you would like to take off New York’s roster and put into the Eagles lineup?
BLG: The Eagles’ offense doesn’t really need extra help but it would be interesting to see Saquon Barkley play behind the best offensive line in his career. The way Barkley’s efficiency has declined recently concerns me a bit, though.
If the Eagles weren’t already loaded with defensive tackle bodies, Dexter Lawrence would be a strong candidate. I know he’s having a career year.
Ultimately, I’ll go with Kayvon Thibodeaux, especially if I get to keep him beyond this season in this scenario. The Eagles just put Robert Quinn on injured reserve, leaving them a little thinner on the edge. A team can never really have too many pass rushers, so I’d add Thibodeaux to be part of the rotation. He’d be nice to have around for the long-term with Brandon Graham currently playing his age 34 season.
Ed: The Giants didn’t want to, but because of cap issues they had no choice but to let James Bradberry go. How much of a difference has he made for the Eagles?
BLG: The Eagles should be sending the Giants a holiday card thanking them for such a nice gift. Bradberry has been awesome in Philly.
The former Giant is on track for a career year. He has a real chance to set new single-season highs in interceptions (two shy) and passes defensed (five shy) with five games left to play. He’s only allowing a 40.0 passer rating when targeted, which is pretty insane. Bradberry is Pro Football Focus’s third-highest graded coverage corner this year, only behind Sauce Gardner and Patrick Peterson.
Bradberry certainly benefits from getting to play across from a Pro Bowler in Darius Slay. It’s not like he’s always facing No. 1 wide receivers. But he does draw those matchups sometimes. And, regardless of who he’s facing, it’s really impressive for him to be such a lockdown presence.The Eagles went way too long without having one good cornerback. Now they have two. It makes a huge difference when you can enter a matchup with confidence that you can prevent the opponent’s boundary wide receivers from having a lot of success.
I don’t know that it’s likely that Bradberry will be back with the Eagles in 2023. Even if he isn’t, though, he’s been a fantastic one-year rental.
Ed: The Eagles should win. If I asked, and I won’t, I know you would pick Philly to win. If the Giants are going to win, or get the middle of the fourth quarter with a chance to win, what is that going to look like? What are they going to have to do?
BLG: I know you didn’t ask but, for the sake of getting my prediction on the record, I think it’s one-score game until the Eagles score a late touchdown to seal the deal and cover the spread. A margin of victory between a range of 10 to 13 points.
If the Giants are going to win (or tie?) or have a chance to win, they’re going to have to a steal a page from the Commanders’ book on beating the Eagles.
Now, to be clear, that approach is probably easier said than done. Washington played ball control offense and regularly converted third-and-manageable opportunities at a very high clip. They also came away with multiple takeaways that were somewhat flukey.
The Giants should try to see if they can get Saquon going and keep the Eagles’ offense off the field as much as possible. When it comes to actually stopping Philly’s offense, well, it’s hard to say how that can be done after just watching them run all over the Packers and then pass all over the Titans. Jalen Hurts has struggled against the blitz in the past but he’s shown progress in that area.
Perhaps the Giants should look back at whatever Patrick Graham did to cause Hurts to play the worst game of his career in Philly’s loss at MetLife last year. But it’s not like they held all the answers to stopping him considering Hurts had a much better game when the Eagles hosted the Giants several weeks later.
From the outside looking in, it seems to me that this year’s version of the Giants is good at not beating themselves. They just kinda hang around and have a chance to win at the end. I don’t know if they can do that against the Eagles but I can’t rule it out with how often it’s happened for them this year.