Dave Klein was the Giants' beat
writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books
and he is one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls.
Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.
GIANTS-EAGLES LOOMS CRUCIAL TO BOTH NFC EAST OPPONENTS,
EVEN WITH A ROOKIE
The last time the Giants swept their two-game series with the Philadelphia Eagles
was in the 2007 season - when they went on to win Super Bowl 42.
four years later, when they once again beat the New England Patriots and Bill
Belichick, they did no better than to split with the Eagles during the regular
Currently, they have lost four
in a row, five of six and Sunday they'll try to uphold their favored status (by
a skimpy 2½ points, or roughly one cheesesteak) in a game with significant importance
to both teams, currently tied at 4-3 for second in the NFC East behind Jerry Jones
and his Cowboys.
And to make matters
even more appealing, the Eagles enter this game with a rookie quarterback (the
second overall pick in the draft) named Carson Wentz, who has impressed scouts
in every game he has played, win or lose - and he has played, and started, in
each and every one of them.
is this about rookie quarterbacks, and nobody ever explained it better than the
Giants' All-World linebacker, Lawrence Taylor. "They haven't seen anything
like what we can bring," he said. "We're bigger and we're faster and
we know this game better. A rookie quarterback is doomed. He's going to see things
he's never seen before. He'll make a few mistakes."
But do the Giants have the defensive players to take advantage of those mistakes
made by the 6-5, 240-pound kid from North Dakota State? Granted, they don't have
L.T. or anyone like him. Nor do they have Carl Banks or Leonard Marshall or most
of the other defensive guys who once roamed the field in Giants' uniforms.
there are some bright pinpoints of light, such as defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul
and Olivier Vernon, defensive tackles Jonathan Hankins and Snacks Harrison, a
secondary that offers cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins
and safety Landon Collins and, well, a few others.
the Giants also have is defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who boasts a creative
defensive mind and who isn't afraid to offer creative solutions to problems. He
has used four defensive ends on the line; he has had two defensive backs blitz
from the edge; he has instructed his ends on pass coverage while brining linebackers
into the box to plug the run.
begs to be asked here: If the Giants' defense is so threatening, why is the record
so mediocre? Just asking.)
feels strongly that all four teams in the division are capable of winning. "Dallas
has gotten better and better since we played them [and won in the opener]. They
are more confident. Washington is winning games. And Philadelphia? That's a good
team. I am impressed with the rookie quarterback. I really am. I didn't know what
to expect from him and I think they are happy with what he's doing."
But does Spagnuolo have anything special, something the kid from North Dakota
State has yet to see? He just smiled. Coaches don't give anything away on the
eve of a crucially important game.
you know," he added, "the kid doesn't look like a rookie to me. He really
doesn't. Not the way he functions. I'll give you one thing - he throws the ball
as good going to his left as I have ever seen a right-handed quarterback do it.
He's really well coached. I didn't see any of his college games because I didn't
have to study him, but obviously he won a lot of games. He is really good."
The bad news involving the Giants' defense
is that starting rookie free safety Darian Thompson re-injured his foot, did not
practice Thursday and is highly unlikely to be activated for Sunday. "We
had hoped to have the full secondary back," said Spagnuolo, but now not only
Thompson but reserve safety Nat Berhe (concussion protocol) are likely out, giving
the nod at free safety to undrafted rookie (5-11, 200) Andrew Adams.
Thompson was the only one who did not participate in practice, but seven were
seven listed as limited. They were wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., (hip), Berhe,
long-snapper Zak DeOssie (ankle), backup quarterback Ryan Nassib (right elbow),
offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse (calf), running back Bobby Rainey (calf) and
defensive end Kerry Wynn (concussion).
the truth is that the Eagles have a far better and more effective running game
than the Giants, and that tends to make things less stressful for the quarterback,
rookie or otherwise. "He's a good one," says Vernon, who hopes to continue
his performance of the last few games and prove he was worth all the money he
was paid as an Unrestricted Free Agent. "He has made some good throws that
you wouldn't expect from a rookie. He plays like he's been in the league a few
Once again, beware
unexpected praise, especially if you are a rookie quarterback.
The spread dropped to two points overnight, but still in favor of the Giants,
and a victory would put them at 5-3 and drop the Eagles to 4-4.
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