(TSX / STATS) — PHILADELPHIA — After splitting their first two games on the road, the Philadelphia Eagles will open their home schedule Sunday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field against the desperate New York Giants, who dropped their first two games.
The Eagles, coming off a 7-9 season, opened the season with a victory at Washington before falling 27-20 last Sunday at Kansas City.
Philadelphia finished 6-2 at home last season and could improve to 2-0 in the NFC East with a win against the Giants.
Second-year coach Doug Pederson has been criticized throughout his brief tenure for a lack of balance on offense. In the seven-point loss to the Chiefs, quarterback Carson Wentz threw 46 passes. The Eagles ran the ball 13 times for a total of 52 yards.
In his rookie season, Wentz threw the ball a franchise-record 607 times.
In the offseason, the Eagles signed free agent running back LeGarrette Blount, who was a member of the New England Patriots team that won the Super Bowl last season. Blount went without a single carry against Kansas City after rushing for 46 yards on 14 carries against the Redskins.
“I still got a lot of confidence in him,” Pederson told reporters, referring to Blount after the loss to the Chiefs. “And we’ll find ways to get him on the field.”
The run-pass ratio was a constant source of tension during Andy Reid’s 14 years with the Eagles, and it has continued under Pederson, who was previously Reid’s offensive coordinator in Kansas City.
“Yeah, I’ve got guys, we talk run-pass all the time during the game, especially first down, series start and first down earned during the game,” Pederson told reporters. “And a lot of times, you get into the game and it starts to become situational and things change, as you know, and so — but yeah, I’ve got guys in my ear all the time.”
Even with the disparity, the Eagles recovered a late onside kick and had a chance to tie the game with a Hail Mary pass, but Wentz’s pass was knocked away in the end zone. The Eagles trailed the entire fourth quarter, which was acknowledged in the aftermath of the loss.
“Even if it was a little bit out of proportion at that point, it gets — it ends up looking worse,” offensive coordinator Frank Reich told reporters. “And my experience is when you look around the league, it pretty much happens every week to one team or two teams are going to find themselves in the same kind of situation.”
The Eagles could be short-handed defensively heading into the home opener, with cornerback Jaylen Watkins and safeties Rodney McLeod and Corey Graham struggling with hamstring injuries.
Pederson said at his Wednesday press conference that neither Watkins nor McLeod would be practicing. Graham showed up on the injury report later in the day.
The Giants went 11-5 last season and looked to be a contender in 2017, but they dropped to 0-2 after a disappointing 24-10 home loss to the Detroit Lions. Coach Ben McAdoo was critical of 14-year veteran and two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Eli Manning following the loss.
Manning completed 22 of 32 passes for 239 yards and one touchdown yet the offense looked dormant for much of the game.
“Hey, you lose games, you only score 10 points, you deserve some criticism,” Manning said on WFAN Monday. “Coach McAdoo knows I can handle it.”
McAdoo has been clearly perturbed after seeing his team fall to 0-2.
“Yeah, we can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again,” McAdoo said on a Tuesday conference call. “That’s insanity. It’s not working. So we are going to look to make some changes this week, like we did last week. Maybe it will be a little more drastic this week, to use your word. If that means me giving up play-calling duties, that’s something we will look at, that we’ll talk about. For personnel, jobs are won in this league, they are not given away. So somebody’s got to win a job or take a job to get a job.”
Giants All-Pro wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. returned from an ankle injury to catch four passes for 36 yards against the Lions. It’s unclear how much he’ll contribute against the Eagles.
Another troubling sign for the Giants was the play of left tackle Ereck Flowers, who allowed three sacks. Flowers’ status could be one of the changes looming Sunday which was alluded to by McAdoo.