By Kevin McGuire
For the first time in his coaching career, Chip Kelly has lost three straight games. Unless he can start getting things turned around, the Eagles will sink to the bottom of the NFC East standings before too long. This weekend looks like an opportunity to get back in the win column with a road trip to play an even more woeful New York Giants team.
This weekend marks the first time since 2007 that the Eagles and Giants meet for their first of two division match-ups with losing records since 2007. The two longtime rivals have combined for a record of 1-7 and the records are every bit as indicative of the level of play each franchise has put on the field in the first month of the season. This weekend’s match-up could be considered a pillow fight, but there will be some rocks hidden inside those pillows.
A Must Win
Make no mistake; this weekend is a must-win for both teams. The Dallas Cowboys sit in first place in the NFC East at 2-2, which means the division is still within reach for either team if they can pick up a win Sunday in MetLife Stadium.
The Eagles need their defense to tighten up and play with the same intensity they showed in the first half of the Monday night opener against Washington. The Giants offense has been abysmal thus far, but the Eagles defense is not a unit that can take anything for granted. Eli Manning leads the NFL in interceptions thrown and the Giants are also a fumble away at any moment’s notice. The Eagles need to pounce on these opportunities and have the offense take advantage by putting points on the scoreboard.
Turnovers have actually not been damaging to the Eagles for the most part this season. The Eagles have seven turnovers, five coming by fumble and two through the air. Seven turnovers in four games are not great, but it puts the Eagles right around the middle of the league in the turnover rankings. The Giants, on the other hand, lead the NFL in interceptions thrown (10) and fumbles lost (six).
For the Eagles, getting LeSean McCoy to control the tempo on offense should be a priority. McCoy is the NFL’s leading rusher but has just two touchdowns and last weekend’s loss at Denver marked the first time he was held to fewer than 100 yards of total offense since October 28, 2012 against the Atlanta Falcons. Since 2010, McCoy has had at least 100 yards of total offense against the Giants in five of six games.
A win will calm many nerves around Philadelphia. Kelly’s introduction to the NFL has come with some expected growing pains, and the rebuilding of the Eagles remains a work-in-progress. Is the heat already on Kelly? Probably, but this season will be a test for patience. How much patience will there be though if the Eagles drop a game to an 0-4 Giants team that may have more to be concerned about entering this weekend?
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Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.