The Giants, after a second-half quarterback switch, took advantage of some Eagles mistakes and made Philadelphia fight all the way to the game’s final play to get a closer-than-expected victory.
Here are a few ‘things I think’ as Christmas Day winds into late on Christmas night.
The end of DeVito-mania?
Giants coach Brian Daboll brought a crashing end to DeVito-mania at the start of the second half when he replaced undrafted free agent rookie cult hero Tommy DeVito at quarterback with veteran Tyrod Taylor.
DeVito was just 7 of 16 for 55 yards in the first half. Per the FOX broadcast, he didn’t throw a single pass beyond 10 yards. Daboll had said DeVito “earned it” when asked last week why the rookie would continue starting.
Maybe so, but while the game plan didn’t exactly show a New York Jets game level of distrust, the Giants only allowed DeVito to throw a steady diet of wide receiver screens and quick slants. Nothing that challenged the less-than-stellar Eagles’ secondary at all. Nothing, honestly, that really showed any faith in the rookie.
DeVito’s average depth of target? A measly 1.3 yards.
Taylor was far from perfect in his two quarters. He missed at least three throws that probably should have been completed, third down throws to Saquon Barkley and Darren Waller, and a final drive throw to an open Wan’Dale Robinson that sailed well over the receiver’s head.
Taylor, though, pushed the ball down the field. His average depth of target was an astonishing 15.3 yards. He had a 69-yard touchdown strike to Darius Slayton, passes to Daniel Bellinger and Darren Waller for 20 yards, and three other completed passes of at least 12 yards.
It was understandable that the Giants would ride DeVito during their three-game winning streak. The Giants, though, had not scored a touchdown in seven quarters when Daboll pulled DeVito, with the offense increasingly becoming a dink-and-dunk fest seemingly designed to limit opportunities for a mistake by the young quarterback.
Daboll said he made the move to “spark the team.” Though I thought starting DeVito last week was the right decision, you can argue that Daboll should have made the move to Taylor at some point during that 24-6 loss to the New Orleans Saints. The Giants only managed a pair of first-half field goals in that game and DeVito took seven sacks.
The quarterback change wasn’t the reason for the second-half comeback. Taking advantage of Eagles’ mistakes for 14 gift points made that possible.
Taylor’s experience, athleticism and willingness to push the ball down the field open up possibilities for the offense that DeVito just doesn’t right now. That’s not to say Taylor was perfect Monday, because he clearly missed some plays that should have been made.
DeVito has certainly made the most of his sudden rise to fame the past few weeks, and good for him. In my view, though, this was a serious reality check for those holding on to the belief that DeVito can rise from undrafted player to franchise quarterback for the Giants.
Yes, there were plenty. The most egregious, in my view, was the third quarter ‘false start’ called on Giants’ center John Michael Schmitz. That turned what should have been a first down for the Giants due to offsides on Philadelphia on a fourth-and-4 with the Giants trailing 20-10 into a fourth-and-9 punt.
Daboll wasn’t thrilled.
"You can ask the refs"— Giants Videos (@SNYGiants) December 26, 2023
Brian Daboll on the officiating today: pic.twitter.com/2K6RUWAn83
The Bobby Okereke delay of game that gave the Eagles three points at the end of the first half was another odd call.
Taylor thought “there was a couple flags that could’ve been thrown, but that’s not my place.”
Still, I think it’s ridiculous to blame officiating for the Giants losing the game. They lost because, while they played an energetic second half and capitalized on a couple of Eagles’ miscues for 14 points, they missed on some opportunities they needed to capitalize on.
There was a first-half fourth-and-1 at the Eagles’ 21-yard line where they failed to block Haason Reddick and he stuffed Saquon Barkley. There were those two missed throws by Taylor on third downs, one intended for Barkley and the other for Darren Waller, that should have been completed. There was also a first-half drop by Waller that cost the Giants a first down and preceded a second straight poor Jamie Gillan punt. Banged up or not, Waller also cost the Giants time before their final play by laying on the ground with the clock running while his teammates tried frantically to get him up and back to the line of scrimmage.
It’s about the draft now
Not that playoff talk over the last few weeks was ever realistic, but that is officially over now. The 5-10 Giants are officially eliminated. They are also No. 5 in the ever-changing 2024 NFL Draft order.
Somewhere in the 5-7 range is where I think the Giants end up. Maybe they end up No. 4. We’ll see.
Overall, the Giants currently have picks 5, 39, 52, 70 and 105 in the first four rounds.
The Eagles aren’t all that
Philadelphia entered Sunday’s game with a three-game losing streak. The Eagles recently changed defensive play-callers. There were questions, justifiable or not, about Jalen Hurts’ leadership. Hurts himself was questioning the “commitment” of his teammates.
The Eagles won Sunday. They are still the defending NFC champions. They are going bak to the playoffs. They might take advantage of playing the Giants twice sandwiched by a game against the Arizona Cardinals over the season’s final three weeks to win the NFC East.
All is not well with the Eagles, though. They bungled a kickoff thanks to a huge play by Isaiah Simmons of the Giants and Jalen Hurts threw a pick six. They let the Giants, a clearly inferior team, crawl back into a game they trailed 20-3 at halftime. Eagles fans were restless.
The Giants haven’t won at Lincoln Financial Field since 2013, losing 11 straight games. Lots of weird and unfortunate things have happened. Among them the gruesome Victor Cruz injury and losing a game on a last-second 61-yard Jake Elliott field goal.
This was an entertaining game, but I think the Giants might watch the film on Tuesday morning and think that losing streak in Philly should be history. They might be right. The Eagles were there to be taken, and the Giants just couldn’t quite get it done.
Honestly, the Giants win that game if they make a few plays that were there to be — and should have been — made.
The Eagles are, from what we saw Sunday, surprisingly vulnerable.