Eagles vs. Giants: Containing Daniel Jones should be Jonathan Gannon’s top priority in Divisional Round
With Super Wildcard Weekend in the rear view, along with the Eagles bye week, all of our attention is squarely on the New York Giants, Philly’s divisional round opponent.
New York pulled off the upset on Sunday, defeating the fraudulent Minnesota Vikings 31-24. Thanks in large part to QB Daniel Jones, who had a tremendous postseason debut. I’ve never been shy about poking fun at Jones, and in all honesty, I’m still not sold on him as a franchise quarterback. But truth be told, he played flawless football against Minnesota.
Through the air, Jones completed 24-of-35 passes for 301 yards and two touchdowns while posting an 81.2 QBR. Where Jones really gashed the Vikings defense, though, was on the ground. He led his team in rushing, racking up 78 yards on 17 attempts. Seven of those rushing attempts went for a first down, and he joined Steve Young and Lamar Jackson as the only QBs in postseason history to record 300 passing yards and 75 rushing yards in the same game.
Although RB Saquon Barkley is typically cited as the Giants most explosive playmaker, Jones is the true focal point of Brian Daboll’s rushing attack. It sounds kind of crazy, but it’s true.
Jones accumulated 708 rushing yards on the season on 120 attempts (5.9 YPC) while finding the end zone seven times. He posted a ridiculous 27 runs of 10 yards or more. The only two QBs to record moe explosive runs this season were Justin Fields and Lamar Jackson.
In the Eagles lone matchup against Jones this season, they did a masterful job keeping the Giants QB in the pocket. He only posted 26 rushing yards on the day and he was under duress for most of the afternoon. Philly managed seven sacks in the first meeting, and once the game got out of hand, Jones was pulled by the beginning of the fourth quarter.
To New York’s credit, they had a perfect game plan against Minnesota’s suspect defense. They let Jones loose with designed runs left and right, forcing the bend-but-don’t-break Vikings defense to play closer to the line of scrimmage, allowing the Giants wideouts to feast down field.
This isn’t to take away from what Jones did, but the Vikings had by far the worst defensive unit in this year’s postseason bracket. That’s just a fact. They ranked 27th in defensive DVOA for the regular season, 28th in total defense, 31st in passing defense, and 20th in rushing defense.
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As for the Eagles, they finished the year sixth in defensive DVOA, third in total defense, first in pass defense, and 17th in rushing defense. Jonathan Gannon’s unit is light years better than Minnesota’s defense.
However, the Eagles have struggled stopping quarterbacks on the ground throughout most of the season. They’ve allowed 448 rushing yards to QBs during the regular season, the fourth-most of any team in football.
The “blueprint” to defeat the Eagles has been public knowledge for months now. Control the clock, win the turnover battle, and keep Jalen Hurts and Co. on the sideline. With Daniel Jones newfound rushing ability, there’s no doubt Daboll will employ a similar game plan against Philly. Especially with the Eagles struggles containing rushing quarterbacks this season.
Forcing Jones to beat you with his arm if arguably the biggest x-factor heading into this divisional round matchup. If Gannon manages to pull that off while the Eagles offense puts up points, the NFC Championship game will be played in Philadelphia next week.
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