You can make an argument that the season completely unraveled for the New York Giants when Jake Elliott of the Philadelphia Eagles beat them with a 61-yard field goal in Week 3. The teams meet again on Sunday, so we turn to Brandon Lee Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation for this week’s “Five Questions” segment.
Ed: Lots of brave talk about being able to win the Super Bowl with Nick Foles replacing Carson Wentz. Do Eagles fans really, really, really believe that deep down in their hearts?
Brandon: I think the mentality is: we’ve made it this far, no reason to give up hope now. The Eagles are still in great shape as far as playoff seed opportunities go. They only need one more win to lock up a first-round bye. They only need two more wins (or one win plus one Vikings loss) to clinch the No. 1 seed. The Eagles are 12-2 at home since the beginning of 2016. So you have to feel like they at least have a fighting chance to go on the run.
There’s no doubt there’s a big drop-off with Wentz gone. He was the NFL MVP. And I’m not even that big on Foles.
But as New York Giants fans can attest to, unlikely Super Bowl runs can happen. The Eagles have a strong pass rush and enough skill plays to still score some points. Maybe there’s a 2007 Giants thing going on somewhere. Or maybe Foles can be the Eagles’ Jeff Hostetler, which has been suggested a lot this week.
With Wentz, the Eagles were arguably Super Bowl favorites. Now they’re likely “just another contender.” They still have a chance. I think.
Ed: The Giants need a new head coach. The Eagles have Jim Schwartz, Frank Reich and John DeFilippo who could all be candidates for head coaching vacancies this offseason. Which one would it really tick you off to lose, especially if it was to the Giants?
Brandon: Here’s how I’d rank them from order of most ticked off to least:
1 - Flip
2 - Schwartz
3 - Reich
The unfortunate reality is that Flip is likely gone after this season. His contract is reportedly up and he’s going to have a lot of suitors after the work he did with Wentz. It would be great if the Eagles could keep him around as their quarterback coach, but that doesn’t seem realistic. Maybe the Eagles could convince him to stay by promoting him to offensive coordinator if Reich gets a HC job, but that’s probably wishful thinking.
It’d be annoying to lose Schwartz considering how he’s helped turn the Eagles’ defense around. I certainly don’t think it’s out of the question, but I would be a little surprised if he gets another HC job so soon. I still think the NFL isn’t eager to give him that second chance just yet.
To be honest, no one knows exactly what Reich does since Doug Pederson calls the plays and DeFilippo is super involved with the quarterback. I don’t doubt that he’s made some contributions to this team’s success, but it’s hard to pin-point exactly what those are. I don’t think people would really mind losing him, especially since there are a number of potential in-house candidates to take his place.
Ed: Looking back on it, how much do you think the game-winning 61-yard field goal by Jake Elliott against the Giants changed the Eagles' season?
Brandon: It was huge. The Eagles easily could have lost that game after going down 21-14 in the fourth quarter. But they battled back and won in miraculous fashion. Something that seems to happen quite often when the Eagles and Giants play.
That moment felt like a real confidence booster for this team. Last year’s team loses that game. This year, though, things are different. They’ve faced a lot of adversity and bounced back. It was a character-defining moment for the team.
Ed; If you could take one player off the Giants roster not named Odell Beckham (who is on IR, anyway) and put him in your lineup who would it be? Why?
Brandon: Not any easy question to answer. The Giants’ roster looks depleted at this point. And some of their positions of strength happen to line up with where the Eagles don’t need immediate help.
I guess I’ll say Damon Harrison. The Eagles already have Fletcher Cox and Tim Jernigan but they also rotate their defensive line pretty heavily. A combination of those three on the inside would be pretty tough to deal with.
I also thought about Sterling Shepard since I think he’s a nice player.
Ed: Player who has been the biggest surprise in a positive way for the Eagles? And the biggest disappointment?
Brandon: I think you could say Wentz has been the nicest surprise since not many expected him to be the NFL MVP in Year 2. It’s not like Eagles fans were down on him, but he certainly exceeded expectations.
But that’s not my answer for this question. The biggest surprise in a positive way has been Nelson Agholor. The 2015 first-round pick was literally one of the worst wide receivers in the NFL during his first two seasons. Now he’s a legitimate weapon in the slot. Agholor ranks third on the team in receptions, tied for second in yards, and tied for second in touchdowns. He made a crucial catch on third down to help the Eagles defeat the Rams last week. He’s gone from being a big bust to being clutch.
I don’t think the Eagles have had a lot of big disappointments, but Torrey Smith sticks out. He’s coming off his best game of the season and he provides a deep threat, so I’m not trying to say he’s been useless, but he’s had some big drops this year. The Eagles need more consistency out of him.