Eagles

Eagles-Giants 5 matchups to watch

Eagles-Giants 5 matchups to watch

The Eagles have a chance this week to improve to 2-1 and start their season with two division wins. That would be huge for them. 

They should have a pretty good chance. The Giants have been a dumpster fire through two games. They're 0-2 and have been outscored by 30 points. 

With that said, they're an absolutely desperate team. And desperate teams can be dangerous teams. 

Here are five matchups to watch on Sunday at the Linc: 

Ereck Flowers vs. Vinny Curry and Derek Barnett
For as bad as Isaac Seumalo has been through two games with the Eagles, Ereck Flowers has been even worse for the Giants. The former first-round pick has been a disaster. He gave up three sacks to Ziggy Ansah and was basically a turnstile. Things won't get much easier. With Brandon Graham on the other side, Curry and Barnett should have a chance to do some damage. And Graham should feast on Bobby Hart on the other side. This could be the week when Barnett picks up his first NFL sack. 

But just because the Giants' O-line has struggled, it doesn't mean the Eagles can abandon their technique. 

"You still have to be disciplined," defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. "You still have to read your keys, and you still have to be able to execute. Just because they haven't been very successful in the first two weeks running the ball doesn't mean they're not going to come out in this game and try to run the ball. So we have to play good technique there."

Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Eagles corners
The Giants' top receiver is still hampered by that ankle injury he suffered in August. Beckham played just 34 snaps (61 percent) against the Lions and now has a short week to recover. Beckham sure doesn't appear to be 100 percent, but Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said they have to prepare as if he is. 

In six career games against the Eagles, Beckham has 41 catches for 524 yards and four touchdowns. Not bad. 

"He's another week away from that [injury], another week ahead of his rehab and things like that, so we'll have to be ready for (No.) 13, and we're going to have to be ready for him being the same guy we remember from last year," Schwartz said. "And he's a very difficult player to handle, and their offense has missed him the first couple weeks. It's our job to keep him from being a factor — well, he's going to be a factor, but keep him from being a game-changing factor. It's going to take good team defense to do it. It's not going to be one guy that'll do it."

Chance Warmack vs. Damon Harrison
We already talked about the Giants' offensive line. Well, the Eagles haven't been that much better. Seumalo was a big enough problem in the first two weeks that he's now been benched. That means former first-round pick Warmack is the new starting left guard. And he'll have a tough task against "Snacks" Harrison. At 6-foot-4, 350 pounds, Harrison is a load in the middle of that line and one of the biggest players in the NFL. Harrison is great against the run, but Warmack has a reputation for being a good run-blocker. Should be a good battle. 

Nelson Agholor vs. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Remember when Agholor was heading for the Pro Bowl after a big Week 1 performance? Well, he didn't have a great game in Week 2. Although, he did pull in his second touchdown of the season. It's the first time in his career he's had touchdowns in back-to-back games. He'll get to face off against old friend DRC on Sunday. 

It sounds like Janoris Jenkins will be back for the Giants in Week 3; that'll be a big boost for them. But either way, DC Steve Spagnuolo likes having Rodgers-Cromartie as their nickel corner. That will leave this matchup for most of the game. 

DRC fact from the 2012 Eagles media guide: his nickname is "Sexy Bologna." 

Evan Engram vs. Malcolm Jenkins
The Giants' first-round pick is off to a pretty good start. He has eight catches for 93 yards and a touchdown in his first two NFL games. He's going to face a tough test Sunday, though. The Eagles are pretty good against tight ends. I know, I know, 'They weren't very good against Travis Kelce.' But Engram isn't Kelce … not yet anyway. 

Schwartz said Engram is looking like a Kelce or Jordan Reed-type player so far and mentioned that the Giants are finding ways to get him involved. 

The Eagles will likely be without Rodney McLeod in this game, but Jenkins will need to have a big game against Engram. 

Jay Gruden 'very upset' Eagles were able to land Carson Wentz

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USA Today Images

Jay Gruden 'very upset' Eagles were able to land Carson Wentz

Washington head coach Jay Gruden has faced Carson Wentz just three times so far.

That's all he needed to think Wentz is special.  

"I think he's progressed at a rate as fast as anybody I've seen really," Gruden said on a conference call with Philly reporters on Thursday. "His ability to make plays in the pocket, his ability to stay in the pocket in the face of a rush and still deliver balls accurately, his command of the offense. 

"I think he's already proven this short in his career that he's one of the top quarterbacks in the league, quite frankly, and he's going to be for a long time. And I don't know how he got to Philadelphia. And I'm very upset about that." 

Wentz is 1-2 against Washington in his first three games, but that first win came in this season's opener on the road. In that game, Wentz completed 66 percent of his passes for 307 yards, two touchdowns and one pick, for a passer rating of 96.8. 

And Wentz has gotten even better since then. He's now the favorite in Vegas to win the NFL MVP. 

When asked how daunting it might become to face Wentz twice per season for the foreseeable future, Gruden pointed out that it's similar to the Cowboys and Dak Prescott. Then he pointed out they still have to face Eli Manning twice per season. 

"Every week it seems like we're playing against an excellent quarterback and knowing that Wentz is going to be there for a long period of time just puts a few more gray hairs on my head," Gruden said. "But love the competition and it's our job to get after him and make him uncomfortable." 

While Wentz is clearly the Eagles' quarterback of the future, things are a little cloudier in Washington, where Kirk Cousins is in his second year of playing on a franchise tag. 

Gruden said the "intent" is to have Cousins for the long-term, but it's already been a long saga and there's still no deal in place. 

Cousins has had a crazy career path. He began as Robert Griffin III's backup after being taken three rounds later in the same draft in 2012. But he won the starting job and he's started every game for Washington the last three seasons. 

Thursday, on a conference call with Philly reporters, Cousins said he thought there was a good chance the Eagles were going to draft him in 2012. He felt that way after meeting with Howie Roseman and Andy Reid before the draft. But instead, the Eagles took Nick Foles 14 spots ahead of him. 

After watching the Eagles rotate quarterback since then, Cousins doesn't have any hard feelings. 

"I think the Eagles have ended up with the guy that they want," Cousins said. "I think they're really excited about Carson Wentz and for good reason. They're one of the best teams in the league on third down, and some of the plays he's making off-schedule are very special. I think they're very content and I'd like to think the Redskins are as well. Hopefully, it can make for a great rivalry that a lot of fans can get behind and get excited about, hopefully, for many years ahead."

Doug Pederson responds to Chris Thompson's comments about Eagles fans

Doug Pederson responds to Chris Thompson's comments about Eagles fans

Redskins running back Chris Thompson doesn't want to bring his family to the Linc Monday night because he's afraid of what Eagles fans will do.

Doug Pederson hopes Thompson changes his mind.

"Philly fans are some of the meanest fans I've ever experienced," Thompson told ESPN radio's Washington affiliate, ESPN 980, on Wednesday, according to a story in the Washington Post.

"I heard that's the one stadium you keep your family from going to. My family will be (up from Florida) this week, and they were like, 'I want to come to the Philly game.' I said, 'Absolutely not, you're going to have to wait until Dallas comes around. … I was told that right away my rookie year: Keep your family away."

Pederson said he loves Eagles fans and the energy and passion they bring but also said he hopes Thompson or any opposing player feels comfortable bringing his family to the Linc.  

"I just know that playing at home is a great advantage for us," Pederson said before practice Thursday. "Our fans are great, they're energetic, I love playing at the Linc. 

"You know, I hope every family can watch their sons play. I think it's important that they're there and have a chance to watch their siblings play, brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents.

"Right now in the league, every stadium is great for the home team and ours is no different. We're just excited now to finally be getting a stretch of games where we can play for the home fans."

Thompson, a fifth-year running back out of Florida State, has played at the Linc twice, in 2015 and 2016, both Redskins wins.

The Eagles, 5-1, host the 3-2 Redskins in a national TV game Monday night at the Linc. The Eagles are 8-2 at home under Pederson, including a 2-0 mark this year, although they're only 4-6 at home against the Redskins over the last 10 years.