Joe Judge will look for his second NFL win this week as the Giants take on their third straight NFC East opponent on Thursday Night Football.
The Giants picked up their first win of the season last week when they defeated the Washington Football Team, 20-19, at MetLife Stadium. In Week 7, the Giants will jump on the highway and head south to Philadelphia to take on Doug Pederson's Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Eagles mounted a big second-half comeback in Week 6, but ended up falling short against the Baltimore Ravens, 30-28. It was their second straight loss to the AFC North, as they were beat by the Pittsburgh Steelers, 38-29, in Week 5. Last week's loss dropped Philadelphia's record to 1-4-1 on the season, with their one win coming in Week 4 against the San Francisco 49ers.
Here are five players to keep an eye on heading into this Week 7 matchup.
QB Daniel Jones
Daniel Jones had a mixed performance against Washington. The second-year quarterback completed just over 63 percent of his passes for 112 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The touchdown came on a beautiful pass to Darius Slayton in the back of the end zone to give the Giants an early 10-0 lead. Jones added seven rushes for 74 yards, including an impressive 49-yard run to set up a Graham Gano field goal.
Jones has three touchdown passes through the first six games of the season. However, he has been making up for it with his rushing abilities. He has put up more than 20 rushing yards five times, with three games of at least 45. After gaining 279 yards on 45 rushes (6.2 yards per carry) in 13 games last season, Jones has registered 27 rush attempts for 204 yards (7.6 yards per carry) this year. On his long jaunt against Washington, Jones registered a top speed of 20.64 miles per hour. Baltimore's Lamar Jackson is the only quarterback to record a faster speed this season.
"I think Daniel has done a good job operating what the game plan is and the plays that have been called for him," coach Joe Judge said this week. "We want him to be aggressive, we just want him to smart. There's times where our game plan may include throwing the thing down the field on deep passes. There's times where maybe nickel and diming a little bit, get the ball to some guys underneath, let them catch and run the ball. Whatever the defense presents us with and the opportunity arises, Daniel's job really is to facilitate the other players by getting them the ball when they're open.
"We're not really worried about stats here, that's not something fueling anything we're doing. We come out of the game really evaluating how he played within what was presented to him, within the play calls and situations. That's the evaluation for all our players and all our coaches as well. We're not a stats-driven organization, there's only one thing that matters. There's a couple key, critical factors that lead into having success in the NFL. The other stuff is a lot of just fluff."
In last week's loss to the Ravens, the Eagles allowed Jackson to throw for 186 yards and a touchdown. It was the first time Philly's defense surrendered less than 230 passing yards since their Week 1 loss to Washington. Jackson also found a ton of success on the ground, rushing times for 108 yards (12.0 yards per carry) and a touchdown. On the season, the Eagles rank 12th in passing yards allowed and 21st in passing touchdowns allowed.
WR Darius Slayton
Darius Slayton has undoubtedly been the Giants' greatest receiving threat this season, earning a 77.7 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, ranking 20th among the league's wide receivers. Through six games, the second-year pro has caught 25 passes for 406 yards and three touchdowns. He reeled in two passes for 41 yards and a touchdown against Washington last week, snapping a four-game streak without a score. It was the second consecutive strong outing for Slayton, who caught eight passes for 129 yards against the Cowboys in Week 5.
Slayton has been the top deep threat since Daniel Jones took over as the starting quarterback last season. This year, Slayton leads all wide receivers with the highest percentage of a team's air-yard share at 45 percent, with Baltimore's Marquise Brown (44 percent), Washington's Terry McLaurin (43 percent) and Seattle's D.K. Metcalf (43 percent) behind him. Slayton has shined in his last two prime time games. In Week 1, Slayton caught six passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns, including a 41-yard score, vs. Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football. Going up against the Eagles on MNF last year, Slayton snagged five passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns, with catches of 35, 42, and 55 yards.
"Darius has done a great job through these first few weeks getting open," Jones said. "He's an extremely talented player, a smart guy and you can trust him to get open and be in the right spot."
Through six games, the Eagles have surrendered 16 passing plays of 20 or more yards, ranking 11th in the league. However, Philly's defense is allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 68.8 percent of their passes, the eighth-highest mark in the NFL.
C Nick Gates
Nick Gates admitted at the start of the week that - due to the lack of a preseason - it took him a few games to truly feel comfortable in his new position. Now that we're heading into Week 7, the 24-year-old lineman feels like he has made a lot of progress.
"I feel like I've done a lot better than I did the first couple of games," Gates told reporters on Monday. "I'm a lot more comfortable in there making the calls and just being able to snap the ball not having to think about it anymore. I think I've excelled pretty decently."
Gates has already opposed some of the NFL's top interior lineman – and he draws another one in Fletcher Cox this week. The four-time All-Pro has 12 tackles (nine solo), 1.5 sacks, three tackles for loss, four quarterback hits and one pass defended this season. Cox has earned the 15th-highest overall grade (75.2) from PFF among interior defensive linemen.
"You watch that defensive front, they're very deep, they're loaded, they rotate their players equally so they stay fresh throughout the game," Judge said. "They do a great job of getting after the passer. But then more importantly than that, they're very disruptive in creating negative runs and really affecting early downs to put you in those third and long situations where they can really get after the passer."
OLB Kyler Fackrell
In Dallas, Kyler Fackrell intercepted a pass and returned it 46 yards for a touchdown. Last week, Fackrell sacked QB Kyle Allen late in the fourth quarter, forcing the fumble that led to Tae Crowder's game-winning touchdown.
Six games into the season, Fackrell is tied with Leonard Williams for the team lead in sacks with 3.0. This is especially impressive considering the fact that he did not play on more than 55 percent of the team's defensive snaps until Week 4. Fackrell has seen his playing time increase over the last three games due to injuries to Oshane Ximines and Lorenzo Carter. In that time, Fackrell has 2.0 sacks, 10 total tackles (eight solo), four tackles for loss, the interception and touchdown along with the forced fumble and a pass defended.
"Kyler has a good tool set with a lot of versatility to it," Judge said. "Whether it's dropping in coverage, rushing, setting the edge against the run, whatever it may be. He does a good job of really applying all his tools to it. He's got good instincts and savvy to be able to understand, especially as the game goes on when he makes a lot of plays, what his opponent has been showing him, what he can use to kind of set that guy up to go make a play. He's a good, smart football player. He's made a lot of players for us when his number has been called, we're happy to have him."
Heading into Week 7, the Eagles have allowed a league-high 25 sacks. Although Philadelphia will be getting starting tackle Lane Johnson back for this game, they will be without another starting tackle in Jack Driscoll. Driscoll's absence adds to the Eagles' injury woes along a unit that has already lost Jason Peters, Andre Dillard and Brandon Brooks.
LB Blake Martinez
Against Washington, Martinez was forced to come off the field for six snaps to be evaluated for a concussion. Why is this significant? It was the first defensive snaps Martinez missed all year. He still led the team with 14 tackles (eight solo).
The 26-year-old ranks second in the league with 64 total tackles, just three behind the Vikings' Eric Kendricks for the most in the NFL. He has also recorded 2.0 sacks, five tackles for loss, two quarterback hits and a fumble recovery, and has earned one of the top run defense grades from PFF at 89.6.
Philadelphia ruled out starting running back Miles Sanders on Wednesday, dealing a blow to their run game. However, Boston Scott will be filling in for the injured Sanders, and the Giants are well aware of the damage Scott can do. In last year's Week 14 meeting, Scott rushed the ball 10 times for 59 yards and a touchdown, adding six receptions for 69 yards. Then, he caught four passes for 84 yards in their Week 17 meeting.
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