Chip Kelly's rejoinder of 'F---ing score points!' to Riley Cooper before a game last season is the most basic tenet of this Eagles team. They have to score, and they have to do it often, lest the opposition gets back into the game with their own flurry of points.
It hasn't been easy behind a porous offensive line, which has neutralized the running game to a heavy degree, but there are the Eagles, 4-1. It helps that the special teamers and defense have become surrogate scorers themselves, but there's been just enough offense (save for the 49ers game) to make all the difference.
Undoubtedly Foles has had his share of butt-ugly performances this year, evidenced by being too whimsical on the deep ball, and an inability to hit his open receiver. Looks to be a mechanical issue, which can be overcome, but it needs to happen soon. Foles' off-cited work ethic means we'll probably hear about him working extensively in the bye week to fix his calamities. As for right now, there's a Giants defense that struggles against deep passes, but can bring heavy pressure, to focus on.
KEY STAT: Despite all of the worrisome comments toward Foles, especially comparing last year's Herculean stats to this year's pedestrian ones, Foles has topped an 80.0 passer rating in all four Eagles victories, peaking with 114.4 against the Redskins.
Is Lane Johnson the alpha and the omega? McCoy found some of those familiar open spaces with the big man back, although 'Shady' was finding them on both sides of the line. There were mistakes (too much dancing around for space, the ridiculous fumble), but it's certainly progress compared to the dismal days against the Redskins and 49ers. McCoy's 81 yards Sunday are his high for the season and at this point, Birds fans will take it.
KEY STAT: Before Sunday, the Eagles had a mere 11 runs of 10+ yards. They had six against the Rams, and McCoy had two of them, peaking with a 19-yarder in the fourth quarter, his second longest of the season.
You'd figure they'd have to be talking contract extension soon for Maclin. Sunday was his third game of 70+ receiving yards, and it just so happens that the Eagles win each time he catches a touchdown pass (his only scoreless game was vs. the 49ers). The coincidence probably won't hold up over the season, but it seems as Maclin is good for those one or two crucial catches per game. He did almost win the 49ers game, virtually single-handedly on that next-to-last drive.
KEY STAT: Maclin averages 85.8 receiving yards a game this season. In 2013, DeSean Jackson, his best season, averaged 83.3.
While Lane Johnson's return to right tackle had an effect on the running game, and Jason Peters' continued presence is a major boost to a struggling unit, the interior presence has been the weakness, namely center David Molk. His pass protection looked better against the Rams (who have pass rush issues), but he's not opening running lanes in the middle the way Jason Kelce does. Guess Eagles fans are just spoiled that way.
KEY STAT: Of the Eagles' six runs of 10+ yards on Sunday, only one went through the middle: a ten-yard Darren Sproles run on third down, keeping the Riley Cooper touchdown drive alive late in the second quarter.
In 2013, Perry Fewell's defense allowed 21+ points in just four of their final 11 games. While Eli Manning sputtered to the worst season of his career, the defense held up their end in the home stretch, going 7-4 in that run. Of course, they did lose their first five games of the year, giving up 31+ points in each.
After a rough pair of early losses that had just as much to do with poor offensive play, the 2014 Giants defense has settled in beautifully with three wins, allowing 17, 14, and 20 points in each. The Giants have won each game by at least ten points, indicating a balance has been found that will allow the team as a whole to thrive.
Ayers has been a godsend to the Giants defense, after he was signed away from the AFC Champion Broncos this spring. The bulky defensive end has proven versatile against both the run and the pass, despite being merely a rotational player. Ayers has been a colossal part of the Giants allowed just under a third of third-downs to convert (32.79%).
KEY STAT: In just 162 snaps, Ayers has ten stops against the run, nine quarterback hurries, and five quarterback hits.
One of the other notable free agent signings on defense, McClain is a consistent pass rusher (four hurries, a hit, and half a sack), but has struggled against the run, particularly in the last two games. McClain has been burned by runs through the middle against the Redskins and Falcons, suggesting a difficulty when his defensive tackles can't make the play.
KEY STAT: After making six stops in the run game for losses in the first three weeks, McClain has just two in the past two games.
Amukamara has blossomed into one of the better cover-corners in the game, owing some of his new-found success to, uh, clearing his mind of certain anxiety. Amukamara has the first two-pick season of his career, and is proving to be a reliable tackler. Quarterbacks throwing his way have a 47.0 rating, with zero touchdowns.
KEY STAT: Despite playing 18 more snaps than Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (181 to 163), Amukamara has been thrown at eight less times (34 to 26).
Statistics from Pro Football Focus were used to write this story.
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