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November 25, 2018

First half observations: Giants 19, Eagles 11

The bad news on Sunday is that the Eagles came out looking as bad as they've looked all season against a Giants team that would be better off losing down the stretch. The good news is that it's a nice Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia, and you guys can go out and enjoy it with this garbage football team down 19-11 at the half to New York.

Here's what I saw in the first half of play in what feels like the end of Philadelphia's season, for real this time.

The Good

• Set aside the call on Jason Kelce for a second (it was a soft call), but Josh Adams' called-back touchdown in the first quarter was a display of exactly what we've been talking about here for weeks. If you give him the ball in the right situations, he is more than capable of hitting holes and turning on the jets once he gets to the second level.

So no more damn toss plays, please. Let this kid get downhill and do what he is best at.

• Good on Malcolm Jenkins for deciding to show up in the first half, because just about no one else on the defensive side of the ball did. Even before his interception at the end of the first half, it was Jenkins who came out and tried to set the tone, or at least make tackles a professional football player is supposed to make.

The Jenkins interception was pretty big, of course, with the Giants in field-goal range when he hauled it in. Thanks for the gift, Eli.

• Corey Clement had his longest run of the year, which is nice I guess. Dallas Goedert finally got involved in the offense again, which has really not been the case since Golden Tate came on board.

I'm not sure how much we need to discuss all the deck chairs on the Titanic, though.

• It took the Eagles until the final few minutes of the half to get something going, and it should be no surprise that Zach Ertz was the guy leading the way. Philadelphia's tight end dragged a couple Giants defenders into the end zone for Philadelphia's first touchdown of the day, and he followed it up with the key block for Corey Clement's two-point conversion that followed.

You can't put much of this terrible title defense on Ertz. He has shown up week after week ready to play.

The Bad

•The Eagles gave up a third-down conversion by playing sticks D and allowing the Giants space underneath on the very first possession of the game. In other news, water is wet, the sky is blue, and the Eagles beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

If you can't get off the field on third and long, you have no chance. Philadelphia has been horrendous at seizing any sort of momentum all year, and the Giants made them pay for it once again to start Sunday's game. The "sticks defense" has consistently let the Eagles down all season, and Jim Schwartz won't stop going to that well.

I get that Philadelphia's personnel is an issue in the secondary. But you're never going to convince me that playing soft and scared coverage is the answer to that problem — empower your guys to go out there and make plays and stop cowering behind excuses. You're not getting results anyway, at least make your opponent win a matchup instead of conceding the field to them.

• If you're going to call a screen pass around midfield on third and 10, I'm pretty mystified by the decision to punt the ball on the ensuing fourth and five. The Eagles' starting secondary might be worse than Roman Catholic's at this point, and you're going to have to put points on the board to win. 

New York handed the Eagles exactly what they deserved following that gutless decision, driving into Eagles territory with ease. And that wasn't even the most gutless decision of the half from Pederson — the Eagles opted to kick a field goal on fourth and three in Giants territory, even as New York was in the process of gashing their defense up and down the field. This team is not equipped to win playing field position battles or leaning on the defense.

Where art thou, Big Balls Doug? Because you sure aren't on the Eagles sideline today.

• Going to emphasize the last point — the Eagles "took the points" and then watched as Barkley took a long touchdown to the house on the very next series. The crappy thought process from the coach was rewarded with a crappy result. This team is bad, and poorly coached, and is getting exactly what it deserves accordingly.

• I'm going to go out on a limb and say you should probably cover Saquon Barkley on third and four. The Giants kind of try to get that guy involved.

• Speaking of guys that are involved, the Eagles are overreacting to their inability to get Golden Tate involved by forcing the ball to him instead of letting the game come to him within the flow of the offense. A botched screen on their opening series, an attempt that could have been a pick-six late in the second quarter, and an overthrow from Wentz were the extent of his work in the first quarter, and outside of the latter play, they reeked of desperation.

If Tate doesn't get the ball, so be it. The Eagles have to be more concerned with moving the ball and scoring than getting Tate going.

• When Rhett Ellison is still getting open against triple coverage or more, your season is probably over.

• We haven't gotten to talk about them much because the offense and defense have both been so bad, but special teams play has been atrocious for Philadelphia this year, and started to falter last year despite the team's success. Elite kicking sort of overshadowed that in 2018.

• Why did the Eagles use a timeout with 1:11 left in the half on the Giants' 15-yard-line? Who was that benefitting other than New York?

The Ugly

• An Eagles-Giants game that doesn't involve Kenny Albert announcing? Have to like Philadelphia's chances for a come back still today.

• How do you take a penalty for 12 men in the huddle on an extra point attempt?

• The Eagles are more than capable of ruining their own chances to win. They do not need any "help" from the officials, who made some calls against them that ranged from "Soft!" to "How the hell do you call that a penalty?"

Alshon Jeffery's offensive pass interference penalty was especially bad, and it was made even worse when the Giants got away with a push off of their own on the very next series. Being bad and inconsistent is the worst kind of officiating you can get.

And even if the calls weren't hurting the Eagles, the constant flags made this one a tough watch. Nobody turns the game on to see you, zebras. 

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