Slumping Eagles, Hurts host Giants, DeVito in Christmas Day matchup
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Three weeks ago, Philadelphia had a quarterback who was a leading MVP candidate and a team that looked poised for a return trip to the Super Bowl.
Now, the Eagles are plummeting in the standings.
Consecutive losses to the 49ers, Cowboys and Seahawks, plus inconsistent play by QB Jalen Hurts and the offense as a whole, have stymied the Eagles. Their struggles on defense resulted in the demotion of the coordinator and suddenly put coach Nick Sirianni on the defensive in Philadelphia.
“We’re in a little bit of a skid right now that I’m very confident that we’ll be able to get out of because of the people that we have in this building and the accountability not only that I hold the standard to for the team and myself, but also what they hold the standard to,” Sirianni said on Wednesday.
The Eagles (10-4) will get a chance to snap out of their funk in a Christmas Day NFC East matchup against the New York Giants (5-9) on Monday.
While Philadelphia already has clinched a playoff berth, the Giants need to win out and get a lot of help to make the postseason.
The Giants won’t get an opponent in a giving mood this holiday season.
Philadelphia’s latest loss came on Monday night at Seattle when Hurts threw two late interceptions in a 20-17 defeat. Before the game, Sirianni made a surprise switch on defense that had Matt Patricia take the play-calling duties from Sean Desai. Though there also has been criticism of first-year offensive coordinator Brian Johnson, Philadelphia’s head coach said there won’t be changes there.
“The criticism on this offense should come at me because this is my offense,” Sirianni said.
The double-digit favorite Eagles will have a chance to get right against a Giants team that is statistically one of the worst in the league. New York is 31st of 32 teams in total offense and 24th in total defense. The feel-good story of undrafted rookie quarterback Tommy DeVito took a hit when the Giants’ three-game winning streak ended last week at New Orleans.
New York lost all three games to Philadelphia last season, including a 38-7 drubbing in the divisional round of the playoffs. Coach Brian Daboll knows beating the Eagles won’t be easy.
“I’d say they’re still real good,” he said. “Got a lot of talent on their team.”
Sirianni believes it’s just a matter of time before that talent has the Eagles soaring again.
“I know a lot of our guys have been through a lot and been through some tough times,” he said. “That’s what life is, and those moments are in life. You draw back on those moments and know you have overcome, and you are better off because of it. And that’s been a consistent message there through some of these difficult times that we’re going through right now.”
Philadelphia’s beleaguered defense could get a big boost from its defensive line against the Giants. The Eagles’ front four is one of the team’s strengths, though it's even struggled in that area of late. For the season, Philadelphia’s 224 pressures are fourth in the NFL. In the Giants, they’ll be facing a banged-up offensive line that allowed seven sacks against the Saints last week and has allowed DeVito to be sacked 35 times in seven games. New York starting RT Evan Neal (ankle) has missed five straight games, and Daboll would only say early in the week that he’s continuing to work through the injury. LG Justin Pugh (calf) is expected to play, although he's dealing with an injury.
“I didn’t do my job on Sunday, but it’s how you fight back from that adversity and that’s what I’m going to do and that’s why I’m here,” Pugh said.
Eagles backup running back Boston Scott has been dubbed the “Giant Killer” in Philadelphia for his uncanny play against New York. Scott is third on the depth chart, behind D’Andre Swift and Kenneth Gainwell, but expect him to be featured in Sirianni’s game plan on Monday. In nine games against the Giants, including last season’s postseason matchup, Scott has rushed for 446 yards and 10 touchdowns on 92 attempts. In 70 games, including playoffs, against the rest of the NFL, Scott has 228 rushing attempts for 961 yards and nine TDs.
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