By Kevin McGuire
You might think fans of an NFL franchise hitting this point in the season with a 4-1 record might be feeling pretty good, but it seems panic is starting to settle in with a sense of impending doom about to fall down on the Philadelphia Eagles. Perhaps the Eagles deciding to suit up in the alternate black jerseys this weekend is the team wearing the appropriate attire for a funeral for the 2014 Eagles. With concerns about the lack of a running game, a quarterback failing to match the effectiveness he had a season ago and the defense showing weak spots easily exposed by third-string quarterbacks, there are plenty of reasons to suggest the Eagles could be in some trouble moving forward, starting with a Sunday night contest with the rival New York Giants, a storied NFC East rival.
The Eagles have a chance to enter the bye week reversing the vibes going on around the city. Winning against the Giants should be enough, but doing so while addressing a few areas of concern would be the best way to head into the bye week next week.
The Real McCoy
LeSean McCoy has been slow out of the gates this season. Much of that can be attributed to the instability of the offensive line the first few weeks of the season. Can it get better? Absolutely. Having Lane Johnson back helps and should allow the line to gel into more of its 2013 form over time. McCoy has a way of coming up with some good production against the Giants too. In 10 career games against the Giants, McCoy has rushed for 788 yards and added 234 receiving yards and eight total touchdowns. Last year the Giants managed to hold him to fewer than 50 rushing yards in each game, so it looks like New York knows how to counter what he does.
The stage is set for a big game from McCoy. Or so you would hope. The Giants have held three opponents to fewer than 100 rushing yards this season, including the last two games against Washington and the Atlanta Falcons. Talk about McCoy taking himself out of last weekend’s game could easily be silenced with a big day on the ground.
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If the Giants are going to win this Sunday night, they will likely do so by capitalizing on Eli Manning’s effectiveness passing on the outside to receivers. The Eagles have been hit for big gains by opposing offenses on the corners in recent weeks, most notably last weekend against the St. Louis Rams. Manning has two receivers fully capable of making plays against the Eagles corners of Carey Williams and Bradley Fletcher.
Victor Cruz and rookie Odell Beckham Jr. could make for a long night for the Eagles defensive backs, and it could be the final push needed to make some personnel changes at the position. Head coach Chip Kelly says he is not ready to make any roster changes at the position, but if Manning, Cruz and Beckham start getting hot early, Kelly may have his hands tied.
Keep The Foot On The Gas
The first few games of the season saw the Eagles start slow and come through in the second half of the game. Last weekend at home against St. Louis it was all about the Eagles starting fast and then having to hold on. What cannot be overlooked are the contributions of the defense and special teams on the scoreboard. The two non-offensive units have combined for 28 points the past two weeks. The offense has to get going and follow through Sunday night, because at some point it should be expected Eli Manning will find something to work with on offense, be it late or early. The Eagles have to hit the gas pedal early and often and never let up against the Giants.
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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.