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Film Study: Breaking down the Eagles

The Giants this week take on the Eagles on Monday Night Football. Here's what the Giants need to be prepared for on both sides of the ball:

When the Eagles Have the Ball

The Spotlight: Quarterback Carson Wentz

When you watch Carson Wentz this season, you see all the things that made him a MVP candidate in 2017 before his injury. He has the arm to make all the throws. He can escape pressure and make throws on the move and off-schedule with different arm angles. He is willing to squeeze the ball into small areas.

After completing 69% of his throws in 2018, he is down to 62.4% this season. He has 9 fumbles and 7 interceptions. When he is on top of his game, he is as good a quarterback as anyone the Giants face all year.

Wentz still wants to get the ball down the field but his accuracy on those throws has been up and down. He has a 9.3 average depth of target, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). Wentz is 13 of 48 for 454 yards with four touchdowns and four interception on throws that travel 20 or more yards in the air. His quarterback rating is 67.4 on those throws.

The Matchup: Tight End Zach Ertz

Zach Ertz leads the Eagles with 70 catches for 736 yards and is Wentz's go-to receiver. Of his 70 catches, 40 have been for first downs. They like to use Ertz in the middle of the field on crossers, deep in-cuts, crossing routes, flag routes and deep-outs. He is difficult to cover in space.

Ertz only has three drops this season and will eat a defense alive at the intermediate level. Acccording to PFF, he has caught 18 of his 30 targets for 312 yards on passes from Wentz that travel between 10 and 20 yards in the air. He was battling a hamstring injury heading into last week's game, but he appears healthy now.

Scheme and Tendencies

* The Eagles use 12 personnel (1 RB, 2 TE's, 2 WR's) on 40.5% of their offensive snaps, which is the highest rate in the NFL. Dallas Goedert has developed into a fine blocker and is also effective as a receiver. He has 37 catches on only 51 targets for 355 yards and four touchdowns. He is used primarily on short passes, with only 10 targets coming on throws that travel more than 10 yards in the air.

* Alshon Jeffery missed two consecutive games with an ankle injury before returning with his best game of the season last week against the Dolphins. He caught nine passes for 137 yards and a touchdown. At 6-3 and 218 pounds, he wins with his size and route running ability. He is a reliable and big play target for Carson Wentz.

* Nelson Agholor is the team's other starting wide receiver, but he has only 39 catches for 363 yards. With DeSean Jackson still injured, Agholor has taken over as the team's deep threat. He has been targeted on 17 passes that travel more than 20 yards in the air but has caught only three of them for 90 yards. Partly due to Jackson's injury, the Eagles have not been a big-play team through the air. They only have 36 pass plays of 20 or more yards, which ranks 20th. Only two teams have less receiving production than their wide receivers than the Eagles.

* The Eagles still have one of the best offensive lines in football and all their starters are healthy. Lane Johnson and Jason Peters are two of the league's best offensive tackles. According to PFF, they have only allowed 2 sacks and 7 quarterback hits between them. Brandon Brooks is playing like one of the best guards in the league and has only allowed one sack and one quarterback hit. Center Jason Kelce is a perennial All-Pro candidate and has only allowed one sack and two quarterback hits.

* Miles Sanders has taken over as the Eagles' primary running back in recent weeks, logging more than 60 snaps in each of his last three games. The Eagles like to run him outside the tackles out of shotgun on outside zone runs. The Eagles run game has not been explosive this season, with only three runs of 20 yards or more. Sanders is also a weapon as a receiver, with 32 catches for 359 yards. The Eagles use him as a downfield threat. He has caught three of his four targets on passes that travel 20 or more yards in the air.

* The Eagles still utilize a lot of jet sweep and other pre-snap motion to try to control the eyes of the defense. They use misdirection to free their players for big plays. 

* The Eagles offense is ranked 24th in the NFL in yards per play. They are ranked 16th in scoring due to good play on 3rd down and in the red zone. The Eagles are the 6th best team in the league at converting third downs (45.4%). They are the best team in the NFL converting 74% of their third downs of less than 4 yards. In the red zone, the Eagles are scoring touchdowns on 63% of their possessions, which is 10th best. The Eagles are the best team in football in goal to go situations, converting 89.5% of those opportunities into touchdowns.

* The Eagles are one of the more aggressive teams in going for it on fourth down and attempting two-point conversions. The Giants defense will have to be aware that when defending third down that a potential fourth down attempt might be on the horizon. It could affect strategy in terms of when to simply play the sticks in softer coverage or be more aggressive in trying to force an incomplete pass.

* A big reason the Eagles have struggled this year is their inability to protect the football. They have 21 giveaways, which is tied for 7th most in the NFL. Their 13 fumbles lost are the second most in the league to the Giants. Five of those lost fumbles belong to Carson Wentz, while Agholor, Goedert and Sanders all have two fumbles each.

Keys For The Giants Defense

1.    Take the ball away

2.    Maintain coverage down the field on Wentz scrambles

3.    Cover Ertz in the middle of the field

When The Giants Have The Ball

The Spotlight: Edge Rusher Brandon Graham

Graham leads the Eagles with 7.5 sacks and is second on the team with 18 quarterback hits. He lines up primarily as the team's left defensive end, but has also sacked the quarterback this year rushing from the defensive tackle position. According to PFF, his 39 hurries are tied for eighth most in the NFL. He is a relentless rusher who wins with technique, power and a constant effort. He is the team's best pure edge rusher and is also good at setting the edge in the run game.

The Matchup: Fletcher Cox

Cox might only have 3.5 sacks but he is still one of the top three interior defensive linemen in all of football. He also has eight quarterback hits and 36 hurries thanks to his combination of power and quickness. According to PFF, he has more total pressures than any interior defensive lineman not named Aaron Donald. He is also a dominant run defender. Cox will line up near Kevin Zeitler in the three technique position. It will be a great matchup.

Schemes and Tendencies

* The Eagles still utilize their wide-nine alignment, which puts their defensive ends well outside of the offensive tackles in pass rush situations. The Eagles do not use a lot of stunts or blitzes and instead trust their players to win in space one on one. When the Eagles do blitz, they often bring six or seven players and play zero coverage in the secondary. They like to bring safety Malcolm Jenkins (2.5 sacks) and other defensive backs with looping and other movement to confuse opposing offensive lines. 

* The Eagles have a heavy rotation on their defensive line. Derek Barnett, the team's first round pick in 2017, will line up over Nate Solder for much of the game. He only has 4.5 sacks, but his 13 quarterback hits leads the team. He also has 22 hurries. Barnett is dealing with an ankle injury and did not practice early this week. Tim Jernigan has been a good starter at the other defensive tackle spot. The team will rotate Josh Sweat and Vinny Curry at defensive end, along with Anthony Rush at defensive tackle.

* Nigel Bradham is Philadelphia's MIKE linebacker. He's their best coverage linebacker and rarely leaves the field. Kamu Grugier-Hill, who is a strong run defender, and Nathan Gerry are the other two linebackers.

* The Eagles often play eight men in the box to help stop the run on early downs. Teams are only averaging 3.99 yards per rush play against them, which ranks 8th best in the league.

* The Eagles are a man to man team. They play cover one (man to man with a single high safety) and cover zero (man to man with no single high safety) on 37% of their snaps. They are mostly a single high safety team with cover three their most popular zone coverage, which they play 33% of the time.

* The Eagles secondary is healthy for the first time in what seems like years. Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills are their outside cornerbacks, with Avonte Maddox their primary slot player. Teams are averaging 6.87 yards per pass play against them, which ranks 20th in the NFL. Philadelphia has done well in limiting explosive plays. The Eagles have only allowed 65 passes of 15 yards or more, which is the eighth fewest in the league.

* Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod are two active safeties. Jenkins is often near the line of scrimmage, where he has 2.5 sacks, 59 tackles (2nd most on the team), 2 forced fumbles, 4 passes defended and 4 tackles for loss. Jenkins is their primary playmaker on defense and the Giants will have to know where he is on every play. McLeod plays deep centerfield, where he has 2 interceptions and five passes defended. He leads the team in tackles with 60.

* The Eagles red zone defense is allowing opponents to score touchdowns on more than 60% of their trips. Their third down defense ranks 13th in the league with a 36.6% opponent conversion rate. They are more effective on third and short and medium. On third down and 10 or more yards, they allow a 25.5% conversion rate, which is fourth worst in the league.

Keys For The Giants Offense

1.    Protect long enough for Giants wide receivers to get open

2.    Protect the football

3.    Attack the middle of the field with the passing game

A look at the New York Giants' current active roster

Giants vs. Eagles Broadcast Info: TV channel, Radio Station and Live Stream.


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