Hidden Keys to the Eagles-Giants Game

Hidden Keys to the Eagles-Giants Game

We've talked about some of the more obvious aspects of the game.  Let's face it, like both teams are familiar with one another, we too have a good idea of how these games usually play out and some of the tendencies of the New York Giants.

Besides stellar individual performances from the game's playmakers, there are always a few overlooked aspects that push the odds in one team's favor.  So what sort of football-type stuff will be the difference between winning and losing?  A breakdown after the jump.

Time of Possession

We already touched on this, but didn't really explain why it's so important.  In Week 10, the Giants perpetrated one of the most lopsided 36-31 victories in the history of the NFL.  I'm really not interested in how the Eagles almost won the game because they certainly didn't deserve it.

New York imposed its will all night, rushing for almost 6 yards a clip and controlling the ball just short of 40 minutes.  Think about that.  Two-thirds of the game, the Giants had the ball.  They set the pace, which contributed to the Eagles frantic Reidball gameplan.  They wore down a defense that had already failed to stop the running game from the outset. 

The Eagles don't necessarily need to win time of possession, but it must be near even or they won't win.  It's that simple.  If the Giants are dominating the clock, that means A) the defense isn't getting off the field on third down, and B) too many three-and-outs for the offense.  That's a recipe for losing.

Field Position Battle

This may be the biggest factor for the Eagles to be successful on Sunday.  One reason why they beat the Vikings were two drives where they started pinned inside their own 20, but were able to pick up a few first downs and reach midfield.  Both trips ended in punts, but they reversed the field position and forced Minnesota to go the distance.

They cannot punt from their own territory often and expect to keep the Giants from scoring.  For one, Sav Rocca struggled mightily to punt even one decent ball in the swirling winds of the Meadowlands earlier this season, so they can't rely on the kicker to change their fortunes.

On each possession, the offense must move the chains a few times and at least put their defense in a favorable position to keep the other team off the board.  The Giants are not as effective in the red zone, but they walk off the field with 3 more often than not, so putting them on the 50 is like giving away points.

Fred Robbins v. Eagles Interior Linemen

The player who scares me the most is not Brandon Jacobs, it's DT Fred Robbins.  In game two, the Eagles catalyst for victory was a strong day running the football.  What fell by wayside in Philly was the fact that Robbins was not 100%.

I'm not sure how many Eagles fans are familiar with Robbins' work, but he is probably the most underrated player in this match-up.  Robbins is a Pro Bowl caliber lineman who clogs running lanes and adds pressure on the quarterback.  He sets the tone for the D line, the kind of player that could see the attention of multiple blockers, creating one-on-one for the ends.

If Robbins is healthy, for the second week in a row Westbrook may find holes lacking, and whenever that's the case there is always the chance Reidball will return.  This will be the most interesting battle on the field come 1 pm, because it has the greatest potential to sway the coach's gameplan and ultimately alter the final outcome of the game.

P.J. Carlesimo turns down Sixers' associate head coach job for 'family reasons'

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P.J. Carlesimo turns down Sixers' associate head coach job for 'family reasons'

Thirty-five years is more than enough time to get a sense of who a person is and how they do their job. That is how long Brett Brown has known P.J. Carlesimo, which made it easy for the Sixers' head coach to have interest in adding him to the staff. 

With Mike D’Antoni leaving to coach the Rockets, the Sixers had a vacancy at the associate head coach position. On Sunday, though, Carlesimo decided not to join the Sixers’ staff and remain a television analyst.

“He was a natural fit for me,” Brown said Monday following a pre-draft workout. “For family reasons, he just couldn’t do it. We talked a lot and it was an emotional thing from P.J.’s perspective. 

“P.J. is a very close friend of mine and he made that decision for family reasons and I understand it. The phone call really didn’t surprise me knowing what I know of him and how he views his family, having to travel across the country the whole time.”

Like D’Antoni, Carlesimo has a lengthy résumé on the NBA sidelines. He was a head coach for parts of nine seasons and worked five as an assistant coach. Brown called working with D’Antoni “a real learning experience,” and an ideal candidate would have similar experience to help both the staff and the young roster.

“That role will be filled with maybe that type of flavor,” Brown said. “I know this, we are still in a complete development mode. We still have a bunch of 20 year olds, guys that could be with us for a long time, but they’re not old, that we have to make sure that the city and me, we remember that. We still need people and teachers that can teach and coach and establish relationships. 

“So you tick boxes on relationships, teaching, development, those still rule the day. If you can do that with some veteran wisdom and some type of experiences like Mike’s, say, or P.J. had, well then you’re really knocking it out of the park.”

Coaching vacancies are coveted at this level. With the No. 1 pick in the draft, a revamped front office, and a 125,000-square foot training facility under construction, the Sixers have enhanced the appeal of the role. 

"My phone is very active, as you can imagine," Brown said. "I think it’s a highly attractive position. … Like our draft picks, I too spend a lot of time studying who will be the best fit for me and our program."

Tonight's Lineup: Ryan Howard (surprisingly) starts at 1B

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Tonight's Lineup: Ryan Howard (surprisingly) starts at 1B

So much for trimming Ryan Howard's playing time.

One day after Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said he plans on giving 24-year-old Tommy Joseph more starts against right-handed pitchers, Mackanin flipped the switch Monday.

Howard is penciled in as the starting first baseman for the Phils' series-opener against the Nationals on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park against Tanner Roark (3-4, 2.71).

After the Phillies were clobbered by the MLB-best Chicago Cubs on Sunday — and the weekend, really — Mackanin said the Phils have to get a longer look at Joseph.

"We brought up Joseph up here for a reason, to get a look at him," the manager said after the Phillies' 7-2 on Sunday afternoon (see story). "I can't let him stagnate on the bench like (Darin) Ruf ended up doing, so he's going to face some right-handed pitchers to keep his timing."

Joseph will have to wait another day to get in the lineup. To be fair, Joseph did face five righties last week, but three of those came with the designated hitter in play.

For Howard, however, the club icon is in a major rut that has had many outsiders calling for him to retire or for the team to release him. He's hitting .154 with eight home runs and 18 RBIs in 136 at-bats and is 6 for 62 (.097) with 25 strikeouts in May.

Here's the silver lining, however. Howard is a career .333 hitter in 12 at-bats against Roark, who he's taken deep once and has six RBIs against.

The Phillies turn to Jeremy Hellickson (4-3, 3.97) to snap their three-game skid. He's faced the Nationals twice this season, allowing six — five earned — runs over 10⅓ innings.

Here is the Phillies' full lineup:

Phillies
1. Odubel Herrera, CF
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Carlos Ruiz, C
6. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
7. Tyler Goeddel, LF
8. Jeremy Hellickson, P
9. Peter Bourjos, RF

For more on tonight's game, check out Steven Tyding's game notes.

MLB Notes: Mets' manager Terry Collins worried David Wright might be headed for DL

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MLB Notes: Mets' manager Terry Collins worried David Wright might be headed for DL

NEW YORK -- Mets manager Terry Collins is worried David Wright may wind up on the disabled list because of a neck injury.

New York's captain and third baseman was out of the starting lineup for the third straight day Monday because of his neck. He was given anti-inflammatory medicine over the weekend.

Now 33, Wright was on the disabled list from April 15 to Aug. 24 last year when he strained his right hamstring and then developed spinal stenosis. He has a lengthy physical therapy routine he must go through before each game.

Wright homered in three straight games last week before getting hurt. He is batting .226 with seven homers, 14 RBIs and 55 strikeouts in 137 at-bats.

White Sox: Shuck called up with Jackson injured
NEW YORK -- With Austin Jackson bothered by turf toe, the Chicago White Sox recalled outfielder J.B. Shuck from Charlotte and optioned right-hander Tommy Kahnle to the Triple-A farm team.

Jackson left Sunday's game in the eighth inning because of his left foot.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said before Monday's series opener against the New York Mets that he doesn't think Jackson's injury at this point merits a move to the disabled list. He adds that the team does not "necessarily want to lose him for two weeks right away."

Shuck was batting fifth and playing center field Monday. He was 0 for 9 with the White Sox before he was sent down April 18 when Chicago needed to add a pitcher. He is hitting .299 at Charlotte with two homers and 17 RBIs.

Kahnle is 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in four games over three stints with Chicago this season.