When your football team enters week 15 averaging close to as many points as the Cleveland Browns, you really appreciate performances like the one Eli and Giants offense gave on Sunday against the Eagles. I was so appreciative of their performance, I went back and watched every single pass play.
Am I the only one who thought the Giants ran the slant and go pass patterns just to intentionally troll former head coach Ben McAdoo? It is that type of creativity that the Giants haven’t displayed all season. Between the slant and go’s and the Giants discovering the deep middle of the field again, it was like watching a whole new offense.
It’s lazy to say the Giants offense came up just short to get the victory. In the literal sense, that may be true, but the Giants offense put up 504 yards and 29 points against the number three defense in the league according Football Outsiders DVOA. In fact, coming into week 15, the Giants offense was rated higher than its defense (26th to 28th), with the rankings widening (22nd to 29th) after the Giants moved the ball at will against the Eagles defense.
Even though the Giants didn’t get the win, they at least let some doubt about the Eagles defense creep into the minds of Eagles fans, isn’t that at the very least a moral victory? How many Eagles fans even knew who Roger Lewis Jr. or Tavarres King were prior to this past Sunday? Is Jalen Mills officially the Eagles player that makes their fans most nervous?
It was nice to see vintage Eli last Sunday. Let’s look at film.
This play was all Evan Engram. One of the knocks on Engram coming out of college was that he did a poor job boxing defenders out and attacking the football. Throughout the season he has showed off his great ball skills and does it again here to get the first down.
Under McAdoo, the Giants operated their offense as if teams didn’t know their tendencies. They run 20 slant patterns like teams weren’t expecting it. Every team has tendencies, but the best ones know what their own tendencies are and design plays based off those tendencies to keep the defense off balance. The Giants opened the game with a few quick slants, setting up this beautiful throw from Eli to Roger Lewis Jr. on a slant and go route.
A strong sign that Engram is becoming a smarter route runner is when he’s able to find the soft spots in zone coverage. He immediately snaps his head around once he gets past the second level of the defense to haul in a pass over the middle of the field.
Do you think after the second slant and go route Sullivan called McAdoo dove into the NFL rule book to see if it were legal to run a double move in the same route?
Sterling Sheppard entered the 2017 season looking for ways to generate more yards after the catch. If this were hockey, Ellison would get the assist for this score.
Giving Engram more opportunities to make plays with the ball in his hand should be one of the top priorities for the new offensive coordinator next year. Ellison does an excellent job of giving Engram a lane to run through on the end around. Ellison has quietly had a strong year for the Giants, he is ProFootballFocus’s #3 ranked run blocking tight end.
This is the most common play in the Giants play book, it’s inexcusable for any team to give up a big play from this passing concept. Receivers closest to the line of scrimmage run to the flats as the outside receivers run slants. King shows off great speed by taking this slant for a touchdown.
This is another example of the Giants calling a pass pattern to take advantage of the aggressive Eagles defensive backs. Sterling Sheppard runs a stop and go, drawing a holding penalty on the play.
It’s hard to know if this was a designed route by Lewis, but since I’m in a giving mood coming off a vintage Eli performance, I’ll give Mike Sullivan the benefit of the doubt. Kudos to Eli for subtly sliding to his left to by himself more time to complete the throw to Lewis on the sideline.
The main takeaway from the Eagles game last Sunday: Eli can still sling it.