Eagle Eye: Eagles-Giants predictions
Isaac Sopoaga signed a three-year, $12 million deal with the Eagles this past offseason. (USA Today Images)
Each week throughout the season I answer Eagles questions from my Twitter timeline and e-mail. This week, I address the Eagles’ changing nose tackle position and the Giants’ ability to withstand the Eagles’ pass rush despite a banged-up offensive line.
Q. How long before Sop (Isaac Sopoaga) is inactive?
A. I don’t think the coaches are ready to completely take away reps from the veteran nose tackle, but Cedric Thornton looked surprisingly dominant playing over center last Sunday against Denver and I’d expect Thornton to resume that role going forward with Sopoaga coming off the bench. Sopoaga hasn’t played very well, especially in run defense, which is what the Eagles needed from him, but signing him this offseason wasn’t a mistake. At the time, the Eagles were implementing a scheme change from the 4-3 to the 3-4 but lacked any linemen with nose experience. Most of the young linemen credit Sopoaga for helping to teach them the technique and feel that come with playing a two-gap scheme. It helps to have someone in the classroom besides the coaches who can impart some wisdom based on playing experience. Thornton is still young, so he can hold down the job before it goes to either Benny Logan, Damion Square or a future addition. But those rookies are still coming along, so it’s important to have Sopoaga active and occupying snaps as a backup on gameday.
Q. How much impact will [Giants right guard] David Diehl's starting have?
A. It’s an underrated impact. Diehl’s been around a long time and he’s getting longer in the tooth, but he’s cagey and way more experienced than James Brewer, who had been replacing injured Pro Bowl guard Chis Snee, who’s now out for the year. Diehl has played several positions on the line and having him alongside rookie right tackle Justin Pugh, who like Lane Johnson, is struggling, can only help an offensive line that needs all the help it can get. Eli Manning doesn’t need that much time to find his explosive wideouts but his decimated line wasn’t even giving him a few seconds. Diehl, who’s finally over a thumb injury that kept him on the sidelines, can bring some stability. That’s not to say the Eagles can’t beat him and generate pressure on Manning, but Diehl is certainly an upgrade over what the Giants were putting out there.
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