Just as Monday morning took the ball from Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field, Tom Coughlin stood in a basement meeting room and said he didn't have much to say. That wasn't really a departure for Coughlin, but it represented a change of course for the New York Giants organization, whose players had chattered away the previous week about the coming divisional showdown with the Eagles.
Talk is cheap and the Giants were apparently buying it by the pound. After three straight wins, a stretch in which New York's offense averaged 35 points, they were feeling good about themselves and weren't all that impressed with the Eagles early wins, which - let's face it - were not without warts.
So, the Giants jumped around at the end of warm-ups and gathered in the middle of the field and stomped on the Eagles logo and all that high school stuff they must have thought meant something. About three hours later, after the 27-0 pasting, they left the field a lot more quietly.
"Very, very poor performance . . . and there's not a lot to say," Coughlin said. "Not a lot to say."
The Eagles accepted the outcome with reasonable humility, taking a cue from their own coach, who ascribed the win to hard work rather than innate superiority. According to Chip Kelly, the Eagles don't outscheme or outthink opponents. They have to rely on merely outplaying them, which is a nice sentiment, but might not be entirely true.
More often than not, Kelly is able to tailor an offensive strategy for each opponent that is designed to either surprise the other guys or to laser in on some deficiency he hopes to exploit right away. If successful, the result is early points, a quick lead and a better idea of what the other offense will have to do from there. All teams adjust and Kelly's game plans are met with countermeasures eventually, but there's nothing like grabbing hold of a game at the beginning. Of all the things Coughlin did or didn't say, his take on that part of it was very interesting.
The Eagles had come out firing quickly, lining up and tearing through one play after another to get a field goal and a touchdown on their opening two drives. They picked at the holes in the New York defense just the way Kelly might have imagined it in the film room.
"They do that. They play very well in their - what should we call it? - [first] 15 [plays]," Coughlin said. "After that, they settled down a little bit. When they started making substitutions, it settled down a little. But there was no doubt that they had success early on. They do have success with that first 15 and that pace is a very rapid pace. Their execution was very, very good."
When Kelly went back over the game, the execution is what he chose to emphasize. He attributed that to the offensive line gaining some consistency, to good practices and to good players. He left out the part about outsmarting the other defense.
"You've seen guys continue to develop," Kelly said. "It's not a scheme thing. We're not a scheme operation where, 'Hey, let's run this this week. Let's run that this week.' "
That's true enough, but Kelly's system allows for enough flexibility to match the first barrage of offense with the weakest points in the opposing defense.
The opener this season against Jacksonville was an anomaly because the Eagles fumbled on their first two drives against the Jags, but the pattern in their other four wins has been consistent.
Against Indianapolis, Washington, St. Louis and the Giants, the Eagles scored a combined 26 of their 107 offensive points in those games on the opening two drives, 24 percent of their production. They gained 494 of their combined 1,637 net yards on the first two drives of those games, 30 percent of their total. The Giants game was particularly productive, as they scored 10 points and gained 148 yards before New York had time to take a breath.
"Definitely, the first couple of series, we got punched in the mouth," Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara said. "We started bleeding, and we couldn't put a Band-Aid on it."
The Eagles, despite the injuries that might have derailed them this season, are looking very settled under Kelly, just as they did in the second half of last season once the quarterback situation was resolved. They have now won 12 of their last 14 regular-season games, and, perhaps not coincidentally, scored first in 10 of those games.
"They did a great job of breaking tendencies," New York linebacker Jon Beason said. "We had some [ideas] and they did a great job of completely throwing us out the window, hitting us with a couple of new wrinkles, and they were able to be successful."
That sounds like brain power as much or more than muscle power, but that's also something you'll never hear from Kelly.
"I just look at it as we had a bunch of guys that went out there, and I thought we had a good game plan on both sides of the ball and on special teams, and we executed," he said.
That little part there between the commas - the inscrutable early game plan - don't overlook it. The Giants found themselves punched in the mouth and bleeding right away. There weren't any bandages and, judging by the previous week, it was far too late to cover their mouths, either.