Giants QB Eli Manning and head coach Tom Coughlin are easy targets. They are the first ones to go, at least in fans' minds, when it comes to shaking up the Giants when the team struggles. But Sunday was a great example of the power of Manning and Coughlin and just how valuable they are to the operation when things around them are crumbling. No team has had more to overcome the past two months than the Giants, and it appeared to catch up with them in the Week One loss to the Redskins. But two victories later, the Giants are standing strong despite all their questions after a major statement win over the Eagles.
The PFW Spin
The Giants' game plan suggested they knew they couldn't trade blows with the offensively superior Eagles — not with WR Mario Manningham out for the game. So they took a measured approach offensively and defensively and made the Eagles work for their yards and not get the deep plays that make them so dangerous.
They also attacked specific weaknesses of the Eagles, such as their linebacker corps. With defensive changes afoot — namely rookie LB Casey Matthews moving to the weak side — the Giants knew they could get man coverage in a few key situations and isolated Brandon Jacobs on a wheel route for a 40-yard TD past Matthews.
They also preyed on the Eagles' other weaknesses defensively, such as poor tackling and taking bad angles. It showed up glaringly on tape the first two weeks, and the Giants exploited it with short passes, such as Victor Cruz's 74-yard catch-and-run touchdown and the Ahmad Bradshaw screen for a score.
And the secret no one wants to admit? CB Nnamdi Asomugha is struggling so far, unable to do the things the Eagles are asking of him. In Oakland, he was a press-man corner who could muscle receivers at the line. In Philly, he's playing a lot of off-man and zone coverage, and he's all turned around. What no one expected was his inconsistent tackling.
The Giants went after Asomugha a number of times, but the fact that Manning had only 26 dropbacks (23 pass attempts and three sacks) shows how measured the passing approach was. The past two games, including Monday's win over the Rams, the Giants have called 59 pass plays (including sacks) and run the ball 63 times. They are playing to their strengths right now.
Defensively, they kept their safeties deep and forced the Eagles to go underneath. They also pressured Michael Vick, hit him incessantly and made the Eagles a running team. The last time the Eagles ran the ball 40 times in a game was in 2008. They did it effectively, amassing 177 yards, but it came at a cost. The drives took longer, there were few explosive plays (none longer than 24 yards) and it took the X-factor, DeSean Jackson, out of the game for the most part.
Manning played in control. Coughlin had a great game plan and the team executed it flawlessly. And in the process, the Giants won a game they probably should not have.