Eagles Opposition Report: New York Giants Offense

Eagles Opposition Report: New York Giants Offense

Seeing the Giants play the Eagles twice a season, we're pretty familiar with what they have at the key offensive positions. Here's an update on what their skill players have been up to lately, and check out Kulp's look at the defense here.

QB Eli Manning
The usually solid if unspectacular signal caller threw a career-high 25 interceptions last season, but also topped his best TD mark with 31. Reports are that he had a poor showing in the Giants limited camp, and his preseason was bad as well. Without Steve Smith (not that he won't be close by this weekend), Kevin Boss (gone to Oakland) and now Dominik Hixon (lost for the season) and Mario Manningham (out for week 3), Eli is somewhat lacking in familiar targets beyond Hakeem Nicks. Eli didn't have a particularly great game in either of the Giants' first two outings, although he hasn't been wholly terrible either. He threw for 268 yards in a loss to the Redskins, rushing for the only TD he was credited (oddly enough) and throwing one pick. He got off to a terrible start against the Rams in week 2, but leveled out and found a rhythm that helped the G-men sustain enough offense to get a W. Eli found Nicks on a short TD, then Hixon for a circus-like catch, both requiring great plays by his receivers. He threw one interception during his first quarter struggles, and the offense looked terrible out of the gate, which probably had the Eagles defense salivating as they watched Monday Night Football. Minus even more weapons than he started the season with and behind a line that's allowed seven sacks through two weeks, the Giants will hope Eli has more opportunities to hand off on Sunday.

WR Hakeem Nicks
The 6'1 receiver out of North Carolina is the best weapon in the Giants' arsenal, and one of the best in the league. Through two weeks, he has 11 catches for 160 yards and a touchdown, and his yards per game (80) is right on pace with last season. In four career games against the Eagles, Nicks has hauled in 20 catches for 291 yards and 2 TDs. That was before he was up against a defensive backfield that included Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in addition to Asante Samuel. He'll likely draw Nnamdi in most sets, as both usually line up on the quarterback's left.

WRs Mario Manningham and Dominik Hixon
Out with a concussion and torn ACL, respectively. The Giants' injury-plagued season from hell rolls on, and it's only September.

WRs Brandon Stokley and Victor Cruz, et al
The Giants recently signed the 35-year-old Stokley to be their slot man, after Cruz did nothing there in week 1. Stokley too was held without a catch in his first game with the team on Monday night. With Manningham out, the 6'1 Cruz will likely line up outside opposite Nicks, where the Giants hope he can replicate some of the success he had in the preseason, albeit then coming mostly in the slot. Michael Clayton was also signed this week, though it's hard to say what his role would be, if any. Devin Thomas and Jerrel Jernigan round out the corps of receivers pressed into service due to injuries to others. Jernigan could see some time opposite Nicks when Cruz isn't lined up out there.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw
With their receiving corps in shambles after Hicks and Eli looking inconsistent, in addition to the Eagles being built much better to stop the pass than the run, we'll likely see a healthy dose of Bradshaw and Jacobs at least early on. However, the two haven't been entirely successful getting yards on the ground. Bradshaw has just 103 yards rushing on 28 carries through two games. He's totaled 55 yards receiving, and five of his six catches came last week for 45 yards (interestingly, after he complained about the Kevin Gilbride's offense being too pass-heavy in week 1). The Eagles were effective in bottling up Bradshaw last season at 12 for 29 and 19 for 66, no TDs in two games, respectively.

RB Brandon Jacobs
Seen as the thunder to Bradshaw's lightning, Jacobs may be big at 6'4, 264 lbs, but he's not nearly as hard to bring down as he once was, nor as even some smaller backs. Still, he can be effective, as he showed last week when he punched in a 9-yard carry against the Rams and rushed for 50 yards on 16 totes (one more than Bradshaw got, a week after Bradshaw saw the majority). Both backs are getting carries, and it doesn't always break down that Jacobs gets the short and goal line stuff. Despite previously having success against the Birds, Jacobs too was a non-factor in their two meetings last season, totaling just 44 rushing yards and no scores.

TEs Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum
Ballard has seen the bulk of the TE action through two games, and that hasn't been much. He has three receptions for 72 yards so far this season, including a pair of catches for 59 yards in week 1. The more athletic Beckum hasn't played yet this year, dogged by some hamstring issues, but he practiced this week and appears ready to go. He's a sizable receiver and can be used as a goal line target. Neither guy is a Kevin Boss, nor a Tony Gonzalez, so the Birds might have a decent chance at stopping the tight end position this week. The Giants will still try to get them the ball though, if they can get them to draw anyone outside of the big 3, because their wideout options are so limited. Beckum in particular could be a target for Eli as he tries to find the soft spots in Juan Castillo's defense.

(Photo: The Star-Ledger-US PRESSWIRE)

Penn State uses dominant second half to top No. 6 Wisconsin for Big Ten title

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Penn State uses dominant second half to top No. 6 Wisconsin for Big Ten title

INDIANAPOLIS — Penn State’s offense rewrote the Big Ten Championship’s offensive record book Saturday night but its 38-31 victory over Wisconsin wasn’t secure until the final minute.

And Linebacker U. got the game-saving play from the secondary.

Wisconsin, armed with a pair of timeouts and lining up for a fourth-and-1 play from the Nittany Lions’ 24, called on Corey Clement. Clement, who’d already racked up 166 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, got the ball but never got close to the marker.

Grant Haley made sure of it.

The junior cornerback wrapped up Clement’s legs and safety Marcus Allen kept Clement from leaning forward and the game was over. Penn State (11-2) has the 2016 Big Ten title and, at worst, will play in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2009.

“They ran [a counter] early in the game and split it for a touchdown,” Haley said of the final play. “I saw them set the edge, so I got triggered really well and Marcus finished off the play.”

Haley and company watched the Badgers run wild in the first half; 164 yards and three touchdowns, including Clement’s 67-yard scamper. Wisconsin, one of the conference’s best rushing teams this season, managed less than half that total (77) in the second half.

“They really weren’t running that many plays,” Haley added. “We just came out in the second half and had a jolt. 

“We just had the energy going into the second half.”

Wisconsin got the ball twice in the fourth quarter but managed only 65 yards - 51 of which came on its final drive.

“Give credit to Penn State for coming out in the second half and making those adjustments and allowing those big plays to happen,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. 

Give plenty of credit, too, to the Nittany Lions’ offense. 

Quarterback Trace McSorley was named the game’s most valuable player after completing 17 of his 25 passes for 319 yards and four touchdowns - both championship game records. He helped Penn State complete the biggest comeback in the game’s six year history after his team fell behind 28-7 in the first half and also finished the regular season with 3,360 yards and 25 touchdown passes, both school records.

Saeed Blacknall had six catches for a Big Ten Championship-record 155 yards and two touchdowns and DaeShean Hamilton finished with 118 yards on eight grabs.

Tailback Saquon Barkley, injured in last weekend’s victory over Michigan State, returned with 88 yards and a touchdown on the ground and caught an 18-yard scoring pass from McSorley early in the fourth quarter to put the Nittany Lions ahead for good.

Penn State, in its first-ever trip to this game, is coming home from it with just its second outright Big Ten title. It’s on a nine-game winning streak that has seen it average 40 points per contest.

It also could present the College Football Playoff selection committee with a bit of quandary. The Nittany Lions, who were ranked seventh by the committee last week, topped the No. 6 Badgers and claimed a conference championship, something likely playoff teams Alabama, Clemson and Washington all boast.

On the flip side, Penn State’s last defeat was a lopsided 49-10 loss at Michigan, which sits at No. 5 in the rankings and likely won’t move into the top four after losing last week to No. 2 Ohio State.

Penn State coach James Franklin stated his team’s case after Saturday night’s win, but also made it clear he and his team won’t be moping their way to Pasadena, Calif., where the conference champion is slotted if it is not chosen for the playoff.

“We’ve got great options in front of us,” he said. “I hear people on TV talking about they feel like maybe the playoff has taken away from the bowls. 

“Are you kidding me? The Rose Bowl? It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that.”

Report: Jordan Matthews (ankle) not expected to play vs. Bengals

Report: Jordan Matthews (ankle) not expected to play vs. Bengals

Jordan Matthews will not play Sunday against the Bengals after missing practice all week with an ankle sprain, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Matthews is the Eagles' leading receiver with 57 catches for 686 yards and three touchdowns. The team has called him a game-time decision.

Second-year receiver Nelson Agholor will reportedly be inserted back into the lineup. If Matthews doesn't play the Eagles will have only four healthy receivers active on Sunday: Agholor, Dorial Green-Beckham and undrafted rookies Bryce Treggs and Paul Turner.