Battered Giants must stop Eagles' up-tempo offense
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It's the hot new thing in the NFL! Or at least it was for the first half of the first game of the season back on Sept. 9, when Eagles coach Chip Kelly's up-tempo attack blindsided the Redskins for his first and so far only pro victory.
But Kelly's offense still leads the NFL in total yardage -- not counting the Broncos, who appear to play in another league -- and presents huge and unique challenges for any defense, particularly one as banged up as the Giants'.
So that naturally was a starting point for the questions facing the 0-4 Giants Wednesday as they began preparations for their latest must-win game.
How about it, Justin Tuck? Is the approach of these Eagles as unique as fans and journalists perceive it to be? "It's unique; it is,'' the defensive end said.
Defending it, Tuck said, requires getting "lined up and being on the same page, not being confused. An offense like this, somewhere or another they find the one guy who didn't get the call or the guy who was lined up in the wrong gap.
"Especially when you have a back like [LeSean] Shady McCoy, he kind of finds that out-of-place person.''
Several Giants echoed what Tuck said, indicating coaches were getting their points across.
Coach Tom Coughlin said he hoped the fact the Giants used an up-tempo attack against the defense during training camp might help. "Very good skills with a very unique pattern all of us have been scrambling to work on all throughout the winter,'' he said of Kelly's offense. "They've been very effective with it.''
Complicating matters for the Giants is an injury list that Wednesday included seven defensive players who did not practice and another, cornerback Corey Webster, who was limited.
The good news was that defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul practiced fully and pronounced himself ready to go after suffering what he described as a sprained medial collateral ligament Sunday in Kansas City.
"It doesn't hurt,'' he said. "I'm past that.'' But he still is not entirely himself after offseason back surgery. He said when he watches himself on tape, he looks slow off the ball.
The Eagles have their own problems, having lost three in a row. That could explain why Kelly wasn't in the mood to talk expansively about his offense, saying on a conference call with New York-area reporters, "I don't think anything we do is revolutionary.''
Still intriguing and dangerous after all these years is quarterback Michael Vick, who said Wednesday he feels "fresh.''
"I feel just as quick and fast as I did over the last [few years],'' he said. "I'm not a young guy. I'm 33 years old. But the physical shape that I'm in, I'm blessed to be in the position that I am, to be able to move the way I can.''
Vick said defenses have not figured out precisely what the Eagles are doing, but they have figured out the best approach is "putting a man on a man and playing simple football.''
Kelly and Vick spoke Wednesday, and the coach told him he noticed a rising comfort level. "Each and every week we're figuring out how to play with one another, how we have to jell, in game-time situations,'' Vick said.
At 1-3, the Eagles are running out of time for jelling. At 0-4, the Giants can't let them.