The war of words between bitter rivals heated up this week as the as several Giants pointed out the Eagles lack of Super Bowl success, Jason Pierre-Paul spoke of his dislike of Philadelphia, and the Eagles Twitter account posted a video, narrated by actor Bradley Cooper, that took a swipe at Giants fans. Some consider the video, in which Cooper mocks Giants fans a exaggerated New York accent, to be of questionable taste, and it’s surprising the official team account would post it. The Giants would not post that type of media on any official team account. It’s Eagles week, and with a share of first place potentially on the line, both teams are falling prey to the hype.
Tom Coughlin is not, having gone through this almost two dozen times before, and only speaks of the talent on the Eagles roster. He’s not concerned with the big plays the Eagles have made on offense, but focused on the five plays over 40 yard the Giants have surrendered, and how to stop giving them up. Calling it “An objective since day one,” Coughlin had the team talking about it, and working on it, with their elimination a top priority.
At yesterday’s and today’s practice, Jon Beason was among the three injured players who took part, along with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Steve Weatherford. Coughlin said that it’s so far, so good with the middle linebacker, and “We’ll see tomorrow,” how Beason responds to his increased snaps. Rashad Jennings and Spencer Paysinger did not practice either day and will miss the game. Robert Ayers missed today’s practice with a sore neck. More news will be tweeted out as it becomes available.
Victor Cruz has been receiving additional attention from opponents as the team’s top receiving threat in 2014, but Coughlin won’t hear of it. He expects big plays from Cruz, and believes that if “He plays hard, runs good routes, and does everything we ask him to do,” the big plays will come.
Having Odell Beckham on the field will open things up for Cruz and the other players on the Giants offense. It’s also possible he will see some time as a punt and kickoff returner, although not on a full time basis. Coughlin prefers to have multiple players in those roles and then chooses among them depending on game factors, including field position, game situation, and time of the game.
Pointing out that he’s not seen Beckham as return a kick as a professional, Coughlin spoke of his outstanding speed, quickness, ability to stay upright, toughness, and ability to run through arm tackles as attributes that he displayed in college that made him an effective in that role.
On of the key ingredients in the Giants three game win streak has been the improved offensive line play, and center J.D. Walton’s protection calls have been a big part of that. Coughlin explained that Walton works with Eli Manning at the line to set the right protection, with Manning having the final override. Coming off an almost two year injury induced layoff, Walton has gotten back into the swing of things and is playing solid football. Continuity along the offensive line has also helped meld this group into a cohesive and effective unit.
Coughlin blanched when asked about Geoff Schwartz’s potential return in three weeks, saying, “Let’s let him get back first.” He did add that his recovery from a dislocated right big toe is coming along well, is on the schedule laid out in early September, and he is at a point where trainers are able to start “Doing things” with him.
The opening question to Perry Fewell asked if he heard reports that Philadelphia’s offense was struggling and speculated that “He’s not buying into it.” The question drew a hearty laugh from the Giants defensive coordinator and predictable compliments for the talent on their team.
Fewell was also asked about the five forty yard plus plays surrendered by the Giants, the same number they have up all of last season, and he provided a blueprint for stopping the bleeding. “Communication, continuity with who we are playing, making the play when it should be made, and sure tackling,” explained Fewell, will prevent those big plays. As the Eagles offense has several players capable of taking the ball a long distance in a flash, the Giants defensive players had best pay attention to that simple formula.
Rodgers-Cromartie is not hurt, according to Fewell. He’s got an injury, but just about every player is dealing with something at this point in the season. Rodgers-Cromartie is going to play through his injury and the Giants defense is going to “Play how they always play.” No adjustments will be made because of the cornerback’s situation.
On of the biggest plays in Sunday’s 30-20 victory over the Falcons was Jonathan Hankins sack on 4th and 1 late in the game. Asked about it, Fewell said, “When he made the play, I wanted to hug and kiss him, but I didn’t think that would be appropriate. I did hug him. I was proud of how he was able to convert, make that move he made, and sack the quarterback.” Seeing improvement every day, Fewell views Hankins as a complete football player capable of getting better. He continues to encourage Hankins to work every day to improve his skills.
Jason Pierre-Paul is best known for his highlight plays rushing the passer, but Fewell sees him as a complete player who does some of his best work against the run. Pierre-Paul rates out as one of the best defenders in the NFL at run stopping and given his work ethic and the Giants emphasis in stopping the run.
Fewell also feels more confident about Beason’s chances of playing. “He’s practiced well and has a lot more reps,” said Fewell. Beason’s return will bolster the Giants run defense and help keep the Eagles run game in check.
The Giants have a plan to slow down the Eagles potent screen pass game, but Fewell won’t share, fearing anything he said would give too much away. He did share that defensive linemen turning and pursuing are the key to stopping these plays. While other players are in coverage, the linemen have to watch for the screens. It’s about effort and pursuit for the linemen. “If they don’t do that, you’re dead,” offered Fewell.
Fewell was honest about his thoughts about the Eagles screen game, “It’s a big concern of ours because it’s an explosive play we’re trying to eliminate. I don’t know if you can stop it because [Darrin] Sproles is so good at it.” Having Devon Kennard back on the field and Jameel McClain at strong side linebacker will also give the Giants pass coverage against running backs a boost.
Superfan Corner: I first encountered superfan @danablatchford, and his very memorable profile picture, when he challenged my Giants loyalty for playing fantasy football. It seems he picks all Giants when he plays, and can’t abide a Giants fan who selects NFC East opponent’s players. Once Dana learned I don’t pick players from the NFC East who aren’t wearing “NY” on their helmet, this fellow bearded American and I were good. Then he responded to Giants360’s call for superfan stories and his is quite the fascinating one.
Raised by his father to be a Giants fan in New England Patriots country, Dana withstood the abuse of being the lone Big Blue fan in every school he attended growing up. Older fans know that the Giants were the team in that part of the country before the Patriots existed, and many long time fans, including Dana’s father, stuck with the team, and he raised his son right.
As you can imagine, vindication came twice in recent years for the Blatchford men, and after the 2007 Super Bowl win over the heavily favored 18-0 Patriots, father and son drove around honking their horn in celebration. Calls from friends flooded in suspecting who was behind the automotive hi-jinx.
With a Giants tattoo (featured image) showing four Lombardi trophies, and room on his arm for numbers five and six, Dana is known as Mr. Beard’O and Big Blue Beard for the unique Giants themed designs he styles into his facial hair. Now blessed with two boys of his own, Ryan, 8, and Brandon Jacob, 4, Dana is raising them right, as Giants fans. He shared that his eldest son is starting see the merits of rooting for a team other than the hometown Patriots. The younger Blatchford’s could use a Lombardi of their own to mention to their friend at school, undoubtedly Patriots fans.
Show superfan @danablatchford, Mr. Beard’O, some love on Twitter. Not only is he a big time Giants fan, but he’s a fun dude to talk to as well. I included a couple more photos of his boys, showing their Giants spirit, at the end of today’s article. Many thanks to Dana for sharing his terrific story with us.
If you would like to be featured in Giants360 superfan corner, send your pictures and/or story @giants360 on Twitter. We love seeing your pictures hearing your stories and will share the best each week here on giants360.com. You must be following the Giants360 Twitter account to be eligible to be featured in Superfan Corner.
Tomorrow, we’ll have our weekly 360 picks and Sunday morning is the Keys to Victory. We will be live tweeting Sunday with while watching the Red Zone channel while waiting for the Giants/Eagles game at 8:30. Join us on Twitter for a day filled with football, fact, and a little sarcasm. It’s the biggest game day party on the world wide web.