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The first time these two teams played, Kafka was able to exploit James Bradberry’s aggression in the Eagle’s coverage scheme. There were several instances throughout the game where Isaiah Hodgins used double-moves to force mistakes on Bradberry’s behalf. The Giants were unable to exploit those mistakes, but they were there and Kafka surely remembers.
Complicating matters somewhat is how the Eagles played in the season finale. They used more pure man coverage against the Giants’ backups than they had previously. The Eagles did use their zone-match scheme a few times in the season finale, and Kafka was sure to test it. In particular, his use of pre-snap motion, sending Saquon Barkley out of the backfield and to a receiver position and creating a 4x1 set stands out. Not only does the pre-snap motion help Daniel Jones identify the coverage, by motioning the running back to a receiver position the Giants are able to stress the Eagles’ coverage.
Finally, we should also pay attention to the schematic shift the Giants underwent over the course of the Wildcard game. The Giants opened the game by playing predominantly 21-personnel and incorporating deep shots into their offense. In the second half of the game we saw the Giants transition to a predominantly 11-personnel offense. They leaned into their quick-game offense, exploiting Ed Donatell’s adjustments, his Cover-4 based scheme, and the Vikings’ overall lack of defense in defending run-after-catch opportunities.
The Eagles’ defense is, of course, whole different beast from what the Giants saw from the Vikings and Colts. However, the fact that this is the third time Kafka has seen the Eagles’ starting defense should allow him to have a pretty good read on what to expect — and how to manipulate it.
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Other Giant observations
Since debuting on Nov. 13 against Houston, Hodgins has 41 receptions, tying Richie James for the team high over that span - despite sitting out the regular-season finale in Philadelphia with most of the other starters. He has scored five touchdowns in the last six games. In the Giants’ 31-24 wild card victory in Minnesota on Sunday, he caught eight passes for 105 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown and a 32-yarder. Hodgins is the first Giants receiver to exceed 100 yards in a postseason game since Hakeem Nicks had 109 on 10 catches in the Giants’ Super Bowl XLVI victory against New England. That is quite a rapid rise for someone who was a relative unknown when he arrived 11 weeks ago.
“I would definitely say it’s a surreal moment,” Hodgins said today. “I never look past it. I knew that I could do this, but just to be there sitting back looking at a couple months ago, I was getting cut from one team. And now, I’m playing in the second round of the playoffs. Sometimes I get that overwhelming feeling of just like, ‘Man, I’m so blessed to be here and I’m so thankful.’ I just try to remind myself of that every day.”
Giants sideline hype man Sterling Shepard
“First of all, to show how bad the injury was,” McKinney said. “I don’t think people understood the magnitude of what it was. They didn’t really understand how broken that it really was. I think a lot of people didn’t understand that I coulda really lost three fingers. I was almost close to losing three of my fingers.”
“When we were doing surgery, actually the doc told me afterwards, he was like he wasn’t sure how he was even gonna be able to get all the pieces back together ’cause there was so many,” McKinney said. “My fingers were shattered.”
“He’s a lot smarter than I thought he was,” Lawrence said with a chuckle. “I’m talking football intelligence. You gain respect with how you work and how you hustle. That’s how you show who you are, and the veterans will believe in a rookie real quick when they see that from you. He’s shown that, and then on top of that, he doesn’t just know the game, he’s really smart about it and that takes his play to another level.”
Mike Kafka is in demand: Inside the Giants OC’s meteoric rise to NFL head coach candidate | The Athletic
Kafka was a natural coach. He offered a calm, reassuring perspective to his quarterbacks, an easy relatability given the proximity to his own playing days, an inquisitive mind and inherent creativity. He also came with his own lessons learned as a backup competing for reps and dealing with injuries.
“For me, right away, it was like, ‘This is exactly what I want to do,’” Kafka said of his first few days at Northwestern. “A couple days into it, I called my wife and was like, ‘This is what I want to do forever.’”
“Anybody that was here when Mike was a student-athlete or that worked with Mike when he was here, none of us are surprised at all with his success in coaching,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s just like, ‘Yep, could’ve told you that one. That was a no-brainer.’ So I just can’t believe he’s not a head coach yet, you know, that’s me. But his day will come.”
“It’s an honor, but we’re not interviewing this week,” Martindale said. “When I came here as a Giant, it wasn’t a stepping stone for me as a destination."
“We’ll find the appropriate time, what’s best for myself and the team,” Kafka said. “I know [head coach Brian Daboll] hit on that this week about not doing it this week during the game week, so try to keep that as normal as possible and then we’ll find a good time when it’s right.”
Giants DC Wink Martindale and OC Mike Kafka have dates set for their head coaching interviews with interested teams, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.
I doubt we will ever see this happen in a game
FOX Sports’ Colin Cowherd argues that Daboll came in and saved quarterback Daniel Jones’ career. He said on The Herd: “His career was done. He was awful ... Brian Daboll saved a disaster of a career. He was flunking the class ... Brian Daboll saved a bust. This was a bust career ... He’s not even at the point that he’s consistently excellent against bad defenses. He was really solid against the Vikings twice and the Lions once.”
Jones showed conviction in the passing game with his decisions on where to go with the ball and in the run game with his decisions on when to scramble. There’s little “wonder” to his game right now. He doesn’t look unsure. He recognizes early in the pass play where the ball needs to go, and he doesn’t hesitate when scrambling is the best option. Watching him play reminds me that being quick-minded at the quarterback position can come in handy more often than being strong-armed.
Saquon Barkley believes Giants 'can learn from the good, the bad, the ugly' to upset Eagles | SNY.tv
"Yeah, you can learn from the good, the bad, the ugly," Barkley said. "Obviously the first game they got up right away. Offensively, I think we did some pretty good stuff, but we can be a little more consistent. At the end of the day we know they're a talented team. They have how many Pro Bowlers, how many All-Pros, they're number one team in the NFC for a reason. It's going to be a tough challenge, but you can definitely go back and look at film and also like I said, learn from the good, the bad, the ugly."
Two Angry Run scepters at the Giants complex
“I take a lot of pride in what I do,” Golladay said at his locker. “I wouldn’t be able to look myself in the mirror to just be checked out. I’ve got a lot of football left. The last name on my back, I take a lot of pride in that. That’s kind of what it boils down to. And then [it’s for] these guys in the locker room.”
GMFB’s Peter Schrager offers a comparison for to the 2007 Super Bowl winners and this year’s Giants
Before the two teams kick things off Saturday, we decided to rank each of the previous four playoff games between the two teams. These games provide both pleasant and painful memories for members of both fan bases.
This week’s opponent
Will the Eagles be able to get to Daniel Jones? The Eagles were able to sack the QB 70 times in the 2022 season. With 4 players getting over 10 sacks for the first time in NFL history, it was a truly historic season indeed. With the ability of Jones to run for first downs and touchdowns, the Eagles’ pass rush will need to keep him contained in the pocket. Haason Reddick and company will not just need to worry about a 1,000-yard rusher in Barkley, the unit must also make sure to get to Jones and avoid being hurt by his rushing acumen.
“We’ve always used something that’s within the rules,” Elliott said. “It’s just literally to mark the spot. It’s part of the playing surface, like a piece of grass or something like that.”
“When we talked to them, we explained what we’re doing, and they saw what we were doing,” Elliott said. “Probably 30 teams do it around the league. It’s just a point of emphasis, and someone makes it bigger than it is. Everything we’ve done has been completely legal.”
Primarily because of Kelce, a five-time first-team All-Pro, the Eagles have been good at quarterback sneaks for quite a while now. They were 11-for-11 on sneaks in 2017 when they won the Super Bowl, converting 8 of 9 in 2018, 13 of 15 in 2019 and 10 of 13 in 2020.
“Kelce’s usually lining up across from guys that are 320, 330, 340,” said former Eagles wide receiver Mike Quick, the team’s longtime radio analyst. “He’s maybe 290. But it’s about technique. It’s about quickness. It’s about leverage. It’s about getting off the snap and taking the fight to them before they can take it to you. If he’s quicker on the punch than the defensive guy and he’s in a good leverage position, that’s where he wins.”
"I think one of my many weaknesses is that I spend more time thinking about my mistakes than I do any of the successes we may have had," Roseman said in September in an interview with 94WIP, a Philadelphia radio station. "I think it continuously motivates me to get better. Whenever we do something like that, I go back and I look at the process and how we came to that decision. It's obvious, I'm not going to sit here and lie, we'd love to have that moment back. ... That's on me, 100 percent. At the end of the day, I'm responsible for all of that. But I also promise you one thing: If I make a mistake, I'm going to do everything in my power to make it up."
Around the league
Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy says kicker Brett Maher 'needs to practice well this week' | NFL.com
"We all need to practice well this week," McCarthy said. "I better coach well this week. ... Both guys will have a chance to kick (Thursday). … We're in a real good spot. I just think we want to make sure that we're always in position to always add depth to our football team."
Bengals' Joe Mixon not happy that NFL is already selling tickets to potential Chiefs-Bills AFC title game | CBSSports.com
"To be honest, it's disrespectful, but we're not worried about that shit," Mixon said. "We got a game to play on Sunday, right? So you can't count us out. ... We're going to go out there on Sunday and we're going do what the hell we got to do to come back with that 'W.' And then we're going to see what they're talking about."
“I never feel like an underdog,” Burrow said after Wednesday’s practice.
Buccaneers fire offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich among sweeping staff departures | CBSSports.com
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