Plenty of Blame to Go Around – Ten Takeaways from Giants 13, Eagles 7

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I’ll be honest with you on a Monday morning –

I really struggled to write an intro for this column. Usually it comes very easily, but this game was such a putrid pile of municipal waste that it was impossible to know where to even begin. I just can’t believe they lost to fake tough guy Joe Judge, who fired Jason Garrett midweek and had Freddie fucking Kitchens calling the plays. You have got to be kidding me.

It was a miserable loss. A momentum-killing, question-raising, doubt-inducing loss. Instead of clawing back to .500 with a realistic shot at the division title in front of them, the Eagles fell back to 5-7 and now everybody is asking if Jalen Hurts is the quarterback of the future. The first round 2020 draft pick was abysmal, Boston Scott fumbled the football, and Jason Kelce left the game. It was like that Spinal Tap album review, where the name of the record is Shark Sandwich but the review comes in as “Shit Sandwich.” The Birds served it up on a stale Amoroso roll that had been sitting on the ACME discount rack.

We did not expect the Eagles to be good this season, but they had carved out an identity while the Cowboys struggled. So of course it’s disappointing to see that enjoyable push come to a screeching halt.

1) Hurts so bad

Jalen Hurts was 14 for 31 for 129 yards and three interceptions. He had a couple of touchdown passes that were dropped. He also threw some terrible balls, and while it’s never solely one person’s fault, he just wasn’t good enough on the day.

If anything, this game reiterated what we’ve been talking about for a few weeks now. Hurts is probably not going to win consistently in the NFL with his arm. But if you run the ball and game plan to his strengths, you can replicate what the Ravens did with Lamar Jackson that got them to three straight seasons of double-digit wins, with a fourth looming. That’s the philosophical decision Howie Roseman and Jeffrey Lurie are going to have to make. Will they commit to building a run-first team and sticking with Hurts moving forward? Or are they going to trade multiple picks for a washed veteran? Maybe reach for some 6’4″ stiff in the draft?

Only time will tell!

2) running the damn ball

From a play calling perspective, there was too much sideways stuff early. A college-style receiver screen and a bubble screen thrown behind Dallas Goedert, who had to do a 360 spin upon receiving the ball. You could see Nick Sirianni reverting to bad habits from early in the season, and going back to stuff that just didn’t work.

To his credit, they got out of that funk on the drive before halftime, and then opened the second half running the ball. They finished with 33 runs and 31 passes, though the box score never tells the full story for a team that runs a lot of RPO and zone read. If you’re splitting the carries between QB and running back, Hurts took it eight times and Boston Scott and Miles Sanders ran it 15 and nine times, respectively. Quez Watkins had a carry as well.

I’m okay going Posidelphia here. I will try. They didn’t have Jordan Howard and lost Kelce and could have gone into a throw-heavy shell mode, and while some of the individual play calling decisions were iffy, they did balance it out in the second half. On the 10-play touchdown drive, they ended up running the ball nine times. The other drives were long ones that ended in turnovers. The formula is there and they need to stick with it.

3) Jalen Reagor

Don’t tell Montae Reagor, but his son stunk up the joint on Sunday. He looked like a total bust out there, just low on confidence and any kind of playmaking ability.

It sounds harsh to go after an individual player like this, but none of the criticism is unjustified. It’s not over the top. Reagor dropped a couple of big passes, including the final toss of the game, which hit him on the hands at the one yard line. A deep shot prior to that bounced off his helmet:

On the season, Reagor has 23 catches for 170 yards and two touchdowns. He’s on pace to do less during his sophomore season, even though he’s on pace to play six more games than he did as a rookie. There’s no injury holding him back. No nascent learning curve. He’s a first round pick in his second season and doing jack shit on the field.

Beyond his individual struggles, you see the need for a bigger-bodied possession receiver on this team. Travis Fulgham was supposed to be the guy, but now you’ve got three smaller/faster guys in Reagor, Quez Watkins, and DeVonta Smith. The latter two are athletic enough to attack the ball, but they really need a Mike Evans type to go up and make contested catches, the way Alshon did during the Super Bowl season.

4) Speaking of Smith…

He only got four targets in this game. Two catches for 22 yards. He’s only had fewer than four targets once this season, and that’s when the Eagles were running all over the Lions a few weeks ago.

Not sure if it was noticeable on the broadcast, but some of the writers at the game picked this up after the final drive:

Going through these kinds of receiver gripes requires a lot of nuance. You honestly have to comb through the All-22 film and look at the routes, see who’s open, etc. But from a macro standpoint, the game is on the line and the Heisman winner, who is more productive than Reagor, is more or less AWOL on that entire drive. You want the ball going to your best players during the most critical portions of the game. Duh. Captain Obvious reporting for Crossing Broad.

5) Zebra Watch

There was some talk about pass interference on that Kenny Golladay/Darius Slay 3rd down end zone play, but it honestly seemed like a good no-call in the end. Both guys were fighting each other and the refs decided to let them play.

The next sequence was the Avonte Maddox non-interception:

The right call, because he was bobbling the ball when he stepped out of play.

More than anything, the officials held a lot of whistles on Sunday. There were a handful of sequences where it looked like Giants defenders got to Eagle receivers early, but no flags. I’m not a “blame the refs” guy, and usually think going that route is corny as hell, like a fake outrage postgame show kind of thing, but there were a couple of times in this game I thought to myself, “surely there was contact there.”

Also, this looked like the right call at the end of the day, but it seemed like a REALLY QUICK review of the Chris Myarick TD:

Local guy, Myarick. Of course.

6) Mistakes and breaks

They regressed pretty badly here:

Mistakes:

  • Hurts bad interception on 2nd drive
  • Nate Herbig holding call on a big run
  • Herbig holding to wipe out a TD run
  • Greg Ward dropping a TD pass
  • Hurts second interception
  • Steven Nelson DPI in the end zone
  • illegal block on JJAW
  • third Hurts interception
  • Boston Scott fumble
  • Goedert drop
  • Reagor plays on the final drive

So on and so forth. They had begun to limit these types of things over the last four games, and took several steps back in this one. The most egregious mistake was Hurts NOT THROWING THE BALL OUT OF THE BACK OF THE END ZONE on that interception. Just count to five and if nobody is there, heave it man. I have no idea what he was trying to do.

Breaks:

  • Graham Gano missed field goal
  • Andrew Thomas holding to set up 2nd and 21
  • false start penalty on 3rd and 2 during final Giants drive

New York absolutely blows, but they didn’t do anything as stupid as the Eagles. No turnovers, no backbreaking penalties, etc. That’s a blueprint for winning games, even when you’re shite.

7) Ancillary wins and losses

Regression here as well:

  • lost time of possession 32:02 to 27:58
  • -4  turnover margin
  • 4-11 on third down (36.3%)
  • 0-2 on fourth down
  • NY went 3-12 on third down (33%)
  • lost five yards on one sack
  • 1-2 success rate in the red zone
  • New York 1-3 in red zone
  • 4 penalties for 26 yards
  • 19 first downs, 17 for Giants
  • ran 65 total plays, Giants 58

Not much to write here. They turned the ball over four times and didn’t do enough in other areas to make up for it.

8) Nick’s best call?

I liked the decision to go for it on 4th and 2 from the 40 on the opening drive of the second half. Just didn’t like the slant to Reagor as the play they ended up running.

Otherwise, you could point to Sirianni sticking with the run on the touchdown drive, and the drive before halftime. It just seemed like every time they built some momentum that they did something to kill it off.

9) Nick’s worst call?

Jordan Howard was out for this game, but even then you still had Miles Sanders and Boston Scott to work with and they didn’t run consistently in the first half. The drive that really stuck out to me was the three and out after the missed New York field goal, where Sirianni opened with the Goedert screen for zero yards before Hurts threw two incomplete passes. They got the ball on the 41 there with some juice and then did absolutely nothing with it.

10) Excellence in broadcasting

For the second straight week we had Adam Amin, Mark Schlereth, and Shannon Spake.

Amin got things off to a flying start when he referred to Joe Judge as being from North Philly:

Judge’s parents have roots in Tacony and Mayfair, but he grew up in Doylestown and transferred from St. Joe’s Prep to Lansdale Catholic. He’s not from “North Philly,” and he is a disgrace to the great borough of Lansdale and its people. Can’t believe the Birds lost to him. What a travesty.

I don’t mind Schlereth because he is a former lineman and does a good job of showing trench things you might otherwise not notice. The color commentators who are former players tend to focus on the position they played and that’s where the Xs and Os really pop.

However, the broadcast was rough from a macro level. It took them five plays to realize Jason Kelce had gone out. Then no replay of the Hurts pick. You should be legally required to show replay of every turnover, and if you don’t, the FCC comes in with a hefty fine. It seemed like the person producing the broadcast was asleep at the wheel and underperforming, kind of like the Philadelphia Eagles.

Good morning.

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