clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Giants-Eagles: When the Eagles have the ball

The Giants couldn’t stop the Eagles’ offense in 2022

Philadelphia Eagles v Seattle Seahawks
Jalen Hurts
Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The last three games of the New York Giants’ 2023 schedule were going to be daunting from the outset, as two of them feature the Philadelphia Eagles. With the Giants’ playoff hopes on life support, heading into Lincoln Financial Field to try to keep them going is a mammoth task. In 2022, the Eagles scored 108 points in three games against New York (36 points per game); pulling off the upset will need to start on the defensive side of the football for New York.

What can the Giants expect from the Eagles’ offense, and how can they stop it?

More pressure than usual

Jalen Hurts has not enjoyed the same pass protection that he did in 2022. Last year, Hurts was pressured on 30.1% of his dropbacks, ranking 11th out of 34 qualified passers (min. 75 pressured dropbacks). In 2023, Hurts has been pressured 41.1% of the time, which ranks 28th out of 33 qualifiers — just behind the sack magnet Tommy DeVito (41%).

In part, that is caused by left tackle Jordan Mailata, whose pressure rates and Pro Football Focus pass-blocking grades do not match. He ranks 10th among tackles with a 79.2 PFF pass-blocking grade, ahead of even Lane Johnson (77.0, 16th). However, his 7.5% pressure rate is considerably worse than the 6.5% average for tackles and Johnson’s 6.4% rate.

Guard Cam Jurgens is another contributor. His 52.1 pass-blocking grade ranks 53rd out of 62 qualified guards, and his 6.1% pressure rate is far worse than the 5.5% guard average. The Eagles’ other guard, Landon Dickerson, is having surgery on his thumb and may miss the game.

Struggling on the ground

Outside of the fabled Eagles tush push, they’ve had their struggles on the ground this year. Although they rank eighth with 128.3 yards per game on the ground and 10th with 4.2 yards per carry, that’s a far cry from the 152.0 rush yards per game and 4.6 yards per carry they posted in 2022.

Jalen Hurts’ rushing production outside of those short-yard situations is also more lackluster. He ranks second to Lamar Jackson with 106 rush attempts on plays with more than one yard to go (among 28 quarterbacks with at least 25 such runs). On those runs, he ranks 18th in yards per carry (4.58), 19th in EPA, and 17th in success rate.

Furthermore, while D’Andre Swift has decent counting stats, his underlying metrics are unimpressive. He ranks ninth out of 41 qualified running backs (min. 100 carries) with 4.6 yards per carry. Still, he has four touchdowns and three fumbles and ranks 38th in yards after contact per attempt (2.43), 23rd in rushes of 10+ yards (16), 13th with 26.9% of his rushing yards coming on breakaways (15+ yards), 26th in PFF elusiveness rating (46.7), and 30th in yards per route run (30th).

In other words, Swift can break one occasionally, but he’ll take only what his offensive line gives him — more so than other backs. The Giants need to find a way to get their hands on him.

Personnel usage

The Eagles play 11 personnel — one running back, one tight end, and three receivers — 72.2% of the time, the seventh-highest rate in the NFL. The only other personnel grouping in which they rank in the top 10 is 10 personnel (1 RB, 0 TE, 4 WR), but it’s just 3.8%.

The Eagles are quite successful out of 11 personnel. They rank sixth in EPA per play and eighth in success rate out of the formation, although they also rank a pedestrian 15th in yards per play.

Philadelphia’s second-most-used formation is 12 personnel (1 RB, 2 TE, 2 WR), but they rank 18th in the NFL in using it (17.7%). Their production out of 12 personnel is interesting: they lean heavily on the run (63.6%, second-most) and rank 10th in EPA per play and success rate, but just 23rd in yards per play. If you remove plays with one yard or fewer to go for a first down, the Eagles drop to 21st in EPA and 23rd in success rate, but they rise to 16th in yards per play. They still run 59.7% of the time in those formations, the third-highest rate.

In other words, when the Eagles go into 12 personnel, the Giants should be thinking run.

Man vs. zone

The differences between the Eagles’ performance against man and zone coverage are vast. Against man coverage, the Eagles have a 103.6 passer rating, ranked 10th in the NFL. Against zone, they’re at just 84.6 (19th). This is largely due to a disparity in big plays and turnovers: against man, they have 12 passing touchdowns compared to four interceptions; against zone, it’s seven touchdowns and eight picks.

This means the Giants should be playing more zone in this game. Wink Martindale has shown some inclination to respond to these tendencies, so perhaps the Giants will actually revert to zone more often.

Flush Hurts out of the pocket

Despite his reputation for throwing well on the run, Hurts has struggled somewhat out of the pocket this season. He has 101 out-of-pocket dropbacks, the third-most among passers, and he does have a 5:0 TD:INT ratio on those dropbacks. Despite that TD:INT ratio, which would normally bode well for passer rating, Hurts’ rating when out of the pocket is 76.5, which ranks 19th out of 35 qualified passers. He’s tied for second-worst in completion percentage on those passes (40%), even though he ranks 12th in completion percentage over expected. His 5.2 yards per attempt ranks 28th.

Interestingly, Hurts’ average depth of target on those throws ranks 16th (11.4), which belies the theory that he may be chucking the ball up deep when out of the pocket. Instead, it appears that he’s simply throwing low-percentage passes in those situations. A defense can’t ask for much more than that. That’s why it’s critical to force Hurts to throw on the run.

The receivers...

There’s not much to say about the Giants’ secondary against A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. Brown has a ho-hum 95 catches for 1,314 yards and seven scores, while Smith has 74 catches for 957 yards and six scores. The best that can be said about the pair is that if the Giants play zone coverage, perhaps they can contain the game-wrecking plays.