All 11 guys around the ball. That has been the message this week from Sean McDermott to his defense. Inside the locker room, that has been translated to: Stop and the run and you’ll beat the New York Giants.
“There are no guarantees, of course,” cornerback Dimitri Patterson said. “But if you control the run, you have a good chance to win. When they’ve been successful, they’ve been able to run the ball.”
The Eagles did exactly that four weeks ago, when they beat the Giants 27-17 to take over first place in the NFC East. But this Giants team is better, thanks to a change on the depth chart. Giants coach Tom Coughlin replaced Ahmad Bradshaw with Brandon Jacobs at starting running back. Since then, New York has ridden the 265-pounder to three straight wins.
“I feel like the resurgence of their running game is putting Jacobs back at starter,” safety Quintin Mikell said. “He’s a guy that’s much better coming in the game as a starter than he is at coming off the bench. And I think Bradshaw is much better as a change-of-pace guy. The more carries [Jacobs] gets, the more he gets going and the harder he is to stop.”
By placing so much emphasis on the run, the Eagles are almost inviting Eli Manning to beat them. The quarterback can expect a lot of 1-on-1 matchups in the Eagles’ secondary, which gets a boost with the return of ball-hawking cornerback Asante Samuel.
“No doubt about it, it’s something that comes with the game but it has to be in a competitive situation,” Patterson said of 1-on-1 coverage. “You don’t want to be in 1-on-1 coverage and the quarterback has five, six, seven seconds.”
The Eagles’ front four will be responsible for keeping Manning honest.
“Stop the run game and get that pressure on Eli,” defensive end Trent Cole said.