The New York Giants’ 33-25 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Christmas Day was a much more entertaining affair than many, myself included, thought it would be.
The Giants, after switching quarterbacks in the second half, took advantage of some Eagles mistakes and made Philadelphia fight all the way to the final play of the game for a closer-than-expected victory.
Here are a few “things on my mind” as Christmas rolls into late Christmas Eve.
The end of DeVito-mania?
Giants coach Brian Daboll put a disastrous end to the DeVito-mania early in the second half when he replaced undrafted rookie cult hero Tommy DeVito at quarterback with veteran Tyrod Taylor.
DeVito was just 7 of 16 for 55 yards in the first half. According to the FOX broadcast, he didn’t throw a single pass over 10 yards. Daboll said DeVito earned it when asked last week why the rookie would continue to start.
Maybe so, but even though the game plan didn’t exactly reflect the level of distrust in the New York Jets’ running game, the Giants only allowed DeVito to throw a steady diet of wide receiver screens and quick slants. Nothing at all to challenge the secondary spot of the less-than-stellar Eagles. Frankly, there was nothing to show faith in the rookie.
DeVito’s average target depth? A paltry 1.3 yards.
Taylor was far from perfect in both parts. He missed at least three throws that probably should have been completed, third down throws to Saquon Barkley and Darren Waller and a final throw to an open Wan’Dale Robinson that flew well over the receiver’s head.
However, Taylor pushed the ball down the field. His average depth of field was an astounding 15.3 yards. He had a 69-yard touchdown strike to Darius Slayton, 20-yard passes to Daniel Bellinger and Darren Waller and three other completions of at least 12 yards.
It was understandable that the Giants would ride DeVito during their three-game hitting streak. The Giants hadn’t scored a touchdown through seven quarters, however, when Daboll picked off DeVito, the offense increasingly turning into a dunk-and-dunk fest seemingly designed to limit the young quarterback’s margin for error.
Dabol said he made the move to “ignite the team’s spark”. While I thought starting DeVito last week was the right decision, you could argue that Daboll should have switched to Taylor at some point during that 24-6 loss to the New Orleans Saints. The Giants managed just two field goals in the first half in that game and DeVito had seven sacks.
The quarterback change wasn’t the reason for the second-half comeback. Capitalizing on Eagles mistakes for 14 free points made it possible.
Taylor’s experience, athleticism and willingness to push the ball down the field open up opportunities for offense that DeVito just isn’t doing right now. That’s not to say Taylor was perfect on Monday, because he clearly missed some plays that needed to be made.
DeVito has certainly been making the most of his sudden rise to fame these past few weeks, and good for him. In my opinion, though, it was a serious reality check for those who believe DeVito can rise from undrafted player to the Giants’ franchise quarterback.
Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images
Yes, there were many. The most striking, in my opinion, was the “false start” in the third quarter called by Giants center John Michael Schmitz. It turned what should have been a first down for the Giants due to a Philadelphia fumble on fourth-and-4, with the Giants trailing 20-10 on a fourth-and-9 drive.
Dabol was not thrilled.
Bobby Okereke’s layup that gave the Eagles three points late in the first half was another strange decision.
Taylor thought, “There were a few flags that could have been thrown, but that’s not my place.”
Still, I think it’s ridiculous to blame the umpiring for the Giants losing the game. They lost because while they played a spirited second half and capitalized on several Eagles mistakes for 14 points, they missed some opportunities they should have capitalized on.
The first half had a fourth-and-1 at the Eagles’ 21-yard line, where they failed to block Haason Reddick and he stuffed Saquon Barkley. There were those two missed throws by Taylor on third downs, one intended for Barkley and the other for Darren Waller, that should have been completed. There was also a first-half fumble by Waller that cost the Giants a first down and preceded a second straight fumble by Jamie Gillen. Hit or not, Waller also cost the Giants time before their final play, lying on the ground with the clock running as his teammates frantically tried to get him up and back on the line of scrimmage.
Now it’s about the draft
Not that the playoff talk of the last few weeks was realistic, but it’s officially over now. 5-10 giants are officially eliminated. They are also the No. 5 pick in the ever-changing 2024 NFL Draft.
Somewhere in the 5-7 range is where I think the Giants end up. Maybe they’ll turn out number 4. We’ll see.
Overall, the Giants currently have picks 5, 39, 52, 70 and 105 in the first four rounds.
The Eagles aren’t all that
Philadelphia entered Sunday’s game on a three-game losing streak. The Eagles recently switched players on defense. There have been questions, valid or not, about Jalen Hurts’ leadership. Hurts himself doubted the “commitment” of his teammates.
The Eagles won on Sunday. They are still the defending NFC champions. They’re going to the playoffs. They can take advantage of a doubleheader against the Giants, pressured by a game against the Arizona Cardinals in the final three weeks of the season, to win the NFC East.
However, not everything is fine with the Eagles. They fumbled a kickoff thanks to a great play by the Giants’ Isaiah Simmons, and Jalen Hurts threw a pick-six. They let the Giants, a clearly inferior team, claw their way back into a game where they trailed 20-3 at halftime. Eagles fans were restless.
The Giants haven’t won at Lincoln Financial Field since 2013, losing 11 straight games. Many strange and unpleasant things happened. Among them, the horrific injury to Victor Cruz and the loss of the game on Jake Elliott’s last-second 61-yard field goal.
It was a fun game, but I think the Giants might look at the film on Tuesday morning and think that Philly losing streak should be history. They might be right. The Eagles were there to be taken, and the Giants just couldn’t do it.
Honestly, the Giants win this game if they make a few plays that should have been – and should have been – made.
From what we saw on Sunday, the Eagles are surprisingly vulnerable.