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News, Notes And A Focus On The Giants
December 13, 2017 04:07 PM | Dave Spadaro
It's not just all about Nick Foles taking over the quarterback position. It's about an entire team approaching the rest of the season on a game-to-game basis. How to defeat the next opponent? That's the task. And it's never been more pronounced than now, with the Eagles one win away from clinching a first-round bye in the postseason.

> Let's focus on the Giants first. A couple of injuries bear noting. Offensive tackle Justin Pugh remains out with a back injury, so the Giants' offensive line, already a concerning spot all season, isn't going to get any better. The Eagles need to win convincingly at the line of scrimmage. And the Giants are likely not to have Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins, who aggravated his ankle on Sunday against Dallas. He's the best player on the Giants' defense. Key losses for the Giants.

> Will Stefen Wisniewski be able to go for the Eagles at left guard on Sunday? He's battling an ankle injury that knocked him out of the game in Los Angeles. If he can't go in New York, the Eagles will likely turn to second-year man Isaac Seumalo. The team has high hopes for Seumalo, who was the starting left guard at the start of the season. He's a talented player who needs to play with confidence. It's taking some time with Seumalo, but the ability is there.

> Why Bryan Braman? It makes a lot of sense, actually. The Eagles gave up a blocked punt on Sunday and had another one nearly blocked. Braman is a difference-making player on special teams who fell victim to the numbers game this year in the NFL. How many teams want to pay money for someone who is primarily a special teams player? Braman comes in here and he solidifies many areas in coverage and in protection in the kicking game. Good move. The only question is what kind of shape is Braman in having not played since the preseason.

> The Eagles aren't going to change much in their scheme, but what about the approach to play calling? Will Foles do more three-step-drop passing? Will he attack the deep field? How much designed movement out of the pocket will the Eagles have planned for Foles? And then there's this: If it's fourth-and-1, a situation the Eagles have successfully gone for 12 times this season, will head coach Doug Pederson still be aggressive? Carson Wentz is brilliant at the quarterback sneak. Foles? We don't know.

> One thing for sure is that the Eagles have to run the football successfully, even if they're staring at eight-man boxes. And Jay Ajayi looks like he's ready to carry a larger load. It would make sense if the Eagles start leaning a bit more on Ajayi, who has the big-play ability to defeat eight-man fronts and go the distance.

> Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was forthright, as always, discussing his defense on Tuesday and he was pointed when asked about the tackling of the unit. "Last couple of games, it hasn't been up to par," he said. "Our style of play dictates that we must be good tacklers. If we don't, we're going to give up yards and give up points." Look for the defense to ratchet up the intensity this week.

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> What to expect from rookie cornerback Sidney Jones? Just getting him on the field for practice today - he has a three-week window to practice, after which the Eagles must put him on the active roster or keep him on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list for the remainder of the season - is a win. Jones has been in all the classes and he has a mental grasp of the defense. What's going to be interesting is how much actual work he gets in practice. If he's only running scout team defense, Jones won't really test the Achilles and the Eagles won't see where he is on the physical side. But can they give him reps with the active defense? The idea that Jones could be activated after three weeks is possible, yes, but it would seem to be quite a long shot. As Schwartz said, today is really like the first day of Organized Team Activities for Jones, so he's got a long way to go. But it's a great day for the kid, who has worked so hard to get to this point.

> Is Nelson Agholor the go-to receiver on this team? He's trending in that direction after catching seven passes for 141 yards and a touchdown in Seattle and making eight receptions for 64 yards, including the clinching stab of a Foles pass to convert a third-and-8 situation late in the game, against the Rams. Agholor already has career highs with 48 receptions, 663 yards, and 7 seven touchdowns. And he's played in more than 80 percent of the offensive snaps in each of the last three weeks.

> Good news: The defense is healthy heading into this Giants game against an offense that has had trouble all season moving the ball and scoring points. With all of the concern about the defense, let's not forget that the Eagles lead the NFL in run defense (71.2 yards per game allowed) and they rank first in red zone touchdown percentage (67.39 percent, including 50 percent the last three games). The Eagles are also tied for third in the league with 24 takeaways and are fourth in the NFL in opposing quarterback passer rating (78.8).

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