Three Giants writers share their thoughts on what Big Blue can take from this year's Super Bowl LII participants:
With Super Bowl LII week upon us, our writers discuss what this year's participants have in common that the Giants can use to get back on the path to becoming a contender.
I'm going to go back to what Dave Gettleman said at his introductory press conference about what a team needs to do in order to win football games consistently. The Eagles had one of the best running games in football this year, led by an excellent offensive line in both the run and pass game. They also had one of the best run defenses and pass rushes in the league, buoyed by the deepest defensive line in the league, one that sends waves of pass rushers at opposing quarterbacks. Some think they have eight defensive linemen good enough to start on teams around the league. As much as it might pain Giants fans, the Eagles provide a good blueprint for how the Giants might build their team going forward.
Did I not mention the Patriots? Can anyone clone Tom Brady and Bill Belichick? In all seriousness, what you can take from New England is a consistent organizational philosophy. From top to bottom, everyone is in lockstep regarding the type of player the team wants and what the expectations are of the player. If players do not do their job, they don't last long. The Giants will try to instill their own philosophy with Gettleman and Pat Shurmur in the hopes of developing a long lasting philosophy of their own.
We talked recently about the importance of playing situational football. I'm going to stay along those lines and talk about adaptability, which applies to everything from overcoming injuries to style of play. And that starts with the head coaches. Bill Belichick and Doug Pederson rose through the ranks on the defensive and offensive side of the ball, respectively. And both coaches' teams feature strong units opposite their backgrounds. The Patriots' adaptability is well documented and well rewarded, so no need to go into them at length.
Meanwhile, as hard as it is for Giants fans to accept or even acknowledge, the Eagles have done an incredible job adapting to everything thrown their way this season. After losing Carson Wentz, who would have been the league's MVP until suffering a season-ending injury in Week 14, Philadelphia weathered the storm to lock up the top seed, which proved invaluable in the NFC Championship Game. If played indoors in Minnesota, it could have turned out a lot differently. But those underdogs have allowed just 17 points in two playoff games against Matt Ryan's Falcons and Case Keenum's Vikings.
That brings us to Pat Shurmur, whose offense flourished behind Minnesota's third option at quarterback and with an overhauled offensive line. The 13-3 Vikings also lost a promising rookie running back in Dalvin Cook four weeks into the season. "The guy is adaptable," general manager Dave Gettleman said of Shurmur down at the Senior Bowl. "He's proven he can win."
The biggest similarity between the Patriots and Eagles is their depth. No team in the NFL goes through a season unscathed. Injuries are guaranteed to happen, but teams that overcome those issues are the ones best equipped for a deep postseason run. Throughout the season, the Eagles lost their starting quarterback (Carson Wentz), starting left tackle (Jason Peters), versatile running back (Darren Sproles), placekicker (Caleb Sturgis), key special teams player (Chris Maragos) and starting middle linebacker (Jordan Hicks), plus Hicks' replacement Joe Walker. Despite all of those injuries, Philadelphia still managed to make the Super Bowl thanks to a veteran backup quarterback in Nick Foles, the addition of running back Jay Ajayi at the trade deadline, depth on the offensive line and rookie kicker Jake Elliott. That speaks volumes of their scouting department and depth chart.
The same can be said for the Patriots, who lost Julian Edelman, their top wide receiver, in the preseason and then fellow wideout Malcolm Mitchell in early September. Add starting right tackle Marcus Cannon, starting linebacker Dont'a Hightower and linebacker Shea McClellin to the list, and that's another team that lost plenty of key playmakers yet found a way to make it to the Super Bowl. While fans tend to be enamored with household names and starters, it takes way more than 22 players to contend for a championship. The Eagles and Patriots both proved that in 2017 while the Giants struggled to overcome the loss of significant players at just about every level on offense and defense.
Giants Coach Pat Shurmur tours the Quest Diagnostics Training Center