The challenge that Jalen Hurts’ running ability presents to opposing defenses can sometimes be a double-edged sword during the game-planning part of the week.
When Shane Steichen and the rest of the Eagles coaching staff watched the Giants play Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night, there was only so much they could learn in preparation for their game against New York this Sunday.
“We were game-planning and we had it on mute in the background,” Steichen said during a Tuesday news conference. “We were game-planning; we’d peek up at it, but really getting ready for the game and watching their previous games.”
Regardless of how much Brady’s holistic practices have helped his speed, it’s fair to assume the Giants defense will look somewhat different against Hurts at MetLife this weekend.
“You’ve got to expect the unexpected when you have a quarterback that can run like ours,” Steichen said. “So we have to be ready for everything going into every game.
“When we go into a week and the game plan, [we ask,] ‘How are they playing that and how do we counter it?’” he added. “‘How are they going to take away the quarterback and how do we counter it if they want to take away the quarterback?’”
The Giants haven’t played many true dual-threat quarterbacks so far this season, especially in recent weeks. They played Patrick Mahomes in Week 8 and spent about a half matched up with Panthers backup P.J. Walker the next week.
Still, Mahomes is more of an improviser than he is a running threat and they didn’t come into the Panthers’ game with a scheme suited for Walker, who came in once Sam Darnold was benched.
The coaching staff shifted the Eagles’ offensive philosophy drastically four games ago, going from one of the most pass-heavy teams in the league to a group that leans on a productive running game to set up the rest of the offense. Hurts’ option to keep the ball on zone read plays has often required defenses to account for him with an edge rusher or a linebacker responsible for him.
Especially after the Eagles rushed for 242 yards against the Saints’ vaunted run defense, which ranked No. 1 in the league in several categories going into the game, Steichen said he expects defenses to adjust the way they play against the Eagles.
“They could put an extra defender in the box, try to load the box up a little bit,” Steichen said. “When you’ve got a quarterback that can run like our quarterback’s running right now, they have to account for that. We’re plus-one in the run game and they have to account for that. We’re going to continue to do what we do and go from there.”
The Saints didn’t use many loaded boxes against the Eagles. According to Next Gen Stats, only one of Miles Sanders’ 16 rushes came against a box with eight or more Saints defenders. Jordan Howard faced just one in his 10 carries as well.
Giants fire Jason Garrett
Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon might also have to make some educated guesses during his film study this week.
The Giants will have a new play caller for Sunday’s game after firing offensive coordinator Jason Garrett on Tuesday. The former Cowboys head coach had been with the Giants since the start of the 2020 season and the offense has struggled in each of the last two years.
The Giants ranked 27th in defense-adjusted value over average by Football Outsiders and 25th in points per game. Giants quarterback Daniel Jones has regressed under Garrett and the team is coming off a 30-10 loss to Tampa Bay on Monday Night Football, which dropped them to 3-7.
According to an ESPN report, Giants offensive analyst Freddie Kitchens will take over play-calling duties. Kitchens was the Cleveland Browns’ head coach for one season in 2019.
Eagles-Washington time set
The Eagles announced that their Week 15 home game against the Washington Football Team will be played at 1 p.m.
The NFL leaves some late-season games without a time when setting the schedule to maintain the flexibility to fill Saturday and Sunday prime-time slots with meaningful games.