Giants wanted to make Hurts beat them with his arm, and it worked

If the Philadelphia Eagles(5-7) miss the playoffs this season, they will most definitely look at their loss against the New York Giants(4-7) on Sunday. Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts threw three interceptions, and Philadelphia had four turnovers as they fell to the Giants 13-7 at MetLife Stadium.

Philadelphia rushed for 208 yards on Sunday, which is the third consecutive time they ran for over 200 yards. The Eagles have also produced 175-plus rushing yards in five straight games for the first time since 1950.

However, Hurts, who had a game-high 77 yards on the ground, struggled to throw the ball. He was 14/31 for only 129 yards with zero touchdowns, and again, three picks. 

Giants safety Julian Love, who almost got a pick on Philly’s final drive, said the team wanted Hurts to beat them with his arm.

“Obviously, he’s pretty dangerous running the ball, and they’re finding that in their offense,” Love, who had a fumble recovery, said after the game. “With us, we just tried to play physical, just play straight up and kind of make him throw the ball, so to speak. He got some runs, obviously, but when it comes down to crucial passing situations, I thought we handled him well. So that was part of the plan, and guys executed.”

Clearly, that game plan worked as the Giants’ defense stepped up on the day the team retired legendary DE Michael Strahan’s number 92 jersey.

However, despite Hurts’ struggles, the Eagles had two opportunities to put themselves in a position to win the game. With 31 seconds left, Hurts threw a nice pass to Jalen Reagor in the end zone, but he dropped it, and on 4th and 10, Reagor had another drop that would have put the Eagles around the Giants’ goal line.

“That was a heart-stopping play, that last one. Different than the previous one,” Love said. “That was a heart-stopping play, and I think he just played through it, and he was applying pressure all game, and sometimes that accumulates. So yeah, Reagor didn’t come down with that one at the end, thankfully.”

Reagor, who has only 25 receptions for 201 yards this season, has been a disappointment for the Eagles since being selected by Philadelphia in the first round(21st pick) of the 2020 NFL Draft, but to his credit, he did take ownership for what happened.

“You have bad days; you have good days; you’ve just got to move forward,” Reagor said. “Because tomorrow’s still gotta be here, I still have to go practice; I still have to play next week. You can’t too much dwell on it. Just me taking ownership and moving forward.”

It’s not all on Reagor. Hurts was terrible on Sunday, and Boston Scott had a critical fumble on the previous drive, but Reagor has to make those plays, and he didn’t. Now, the Giants, who fired OC Jason Garrett this week but still struggled on offensive against Philadelphia, has life in terms of the playoffs, and the Eagles, who still have a legitimate chance to make the playoffs, missed out on a valuable opportunity to move up the standings.

Notes:

-The 20 total points and the 13 points in a victory were the fewest in a Giants game since a 10-7 triumph against Dallas on Dec. 11, 2016. Before Sunday, the Giants lowest points total in a victory under Judge was their 17-12 triumph in Seattle last season.

-Darnay Holmes, Xavier McKinney, and Tae Crowder had the Giants interceptions off Jalen Hurts. It was the Giants’ first three-interception game since Blake Martinez, Jabrill Peppers, and Logan Ryan all had interceptions in Washington in 2020.

-Daniel Jones completed 19 of 30 passes for 202 yards, including a one-yard touchdown to tight end Chris Myarick. He did not throw an interception for the seventh time in 11 games. Jones was not sacked until the Giants’ final non-kneel down play in the fourth quarter. Jones also rushed for 30 yards on nine carries.

Giants’ Judge on Julian Love: ‘He’s a guy that brings a lot of versatility to us’

The flexibility and multiple skills Julian Love contributes to the Giants’ secondary is perhaps best exemplified by his positioning and performance in the team’s first and final games of the 2020 season.

In the season opener against Pittsburgh, Love started and played all 64 defensive snaps and had three solo tackles at safety. Sixteen weeks later, he started at cornerback, missed just one of the 82 defensive plays and had seven tackles (five solo) in the season-ending victory against Dallas.

So, where will Love play in 2021, when he will be a third-year pro in a defensive backfield that is arguably the Giants’ deepest position group? Anywhere the team wants him.

“After talking to the coaches, the versatility role for me is kind of what will happen going forward as well,” Love said on a Zoom call today. “Kind of being able to play a lot of positions, and then we’ll see how the offseason goes. I’m going to keep working and try to really establish myself in a role. But right now, my role is the guy who can get it anywhere for us.

“I think that’s kind of what I’ve always done before college, high school ball and growing up. It’s kind of a fun aspect of playing the game.”

The drawback to not having a set position is that Love spends more time in some games on the sideline than on the field. He played no more than 50% of the defensive snaps in six games and played only on special teams at Dallas on Oct. 11. In the season’s penultimate game, he participated in only 11 defensive plays (16.2%) in Baltimore.

“They told us that’s kind of how things might operate,” Love said. “One week you might not play at all, one week you might play every snap. I thought it was kind of a joke, like, ‘Oh okay, yeah you need to be ready, you have to be flexible,’ all that stuff. But for me, it was pretty real. It requires some patience at times. But I knew there was always a plan. That kept me motivated, it kept me going. I was always really on the game plan and really ready to go. The ending, a lot of snaps played, I played the last game, it sent me into the offseason ready to keep working and keep growing.”

Love did play in all 16 games, starting six, and was on the field enough to finish fourth on the team with 61 tackles (45 solo). He picked up his second career interception – both in Chicago – and had three passes defensed.

Love made his first pro start at cornerback against Cleveland on Dec. 20, after James Bradberry was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. He played little against the Ravens but replaced Isaac Yiadom at the corner opposite Bradberry on Sunday vs. the Cowboys.

“He’s a guy that brings a lot of versatility to us,” coach Joe Judge said. “He’s just a steady, even-keeled guy. (Against Cleveland), we had a situation come up with the corner position. When we went to Julian and said, ‘Hey, you have to play corner this week,’ he didn’t blink. He said, ‘Whatever you need,’ and went out there and worked it. I thought he played a solid game for us right there. That just kind of shows his overall value to the defense, his ability to play nickel corner, perimeter corner, or deep field safety. He does a lot of things for us and that’s a strength.”

Love played cornerback at Notre Dame where, as a junior in 2018, he started all 13 games and was one of three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is presented to the nation’s best defensive back. The Giants selected him in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft and after playing as a reserve early in his rookie season, Love started the season’s last five games at strong safety, after Jabrill Peppers suffered a season-ending back injury.

This year, Love started the season’s first two games at free safety before veteran Logan Ryan replaced him. He started two games at midseason as an extra safety. When Love next appeared as a starter, against the Browns, it was at corner. He played there against Dallas and helped limited the Cowboys’ talented trio of wideouts – Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb – to 133 yards and no touchdowns on 15 catches.

“It was pretty fun,” Love said of returning to corner. “Kind of going back to some of the roots I established in college. I enjoyed it.

“Julian Love had to be prepared,” Ryan said. “He looked like he was up for the Thorpe Award again, like he was at Notre Dame. It was like his old Notre Dame days again. There was a lot of him.”

Ryan is a role model for Love. Prior to joining the Giants, Ryan played seven seasons for New England and Tennessee and started 95 regular-season and postseason games. Every one of them was at cornerback or as an unspecified defensive back. Ryan made his first career start at safety on Sept. 27 against San Francisco.

“Logan Ryan, having him on the team really helps me, football wise and just off the field wise,” Love said. “He’s a true pro in all he does. It’s easy to look at him and say, ‘Alright, this is kind of what I want to be. This is the type of player and person I’m striving to get toward, the type of career I’m trying to have.’ He was a guy I could always ask any question about, whether it was technical or not. He always had an answer for me. Him and Nate Ebner have really just helped me grow. Those guys, their careers are something you only dream of. Hopefully, I can learn from them going forward.”

The Giants have a talented group of returning defensive backs, including Bradberry, Ryan, Peppers, 2020 rookies Xavier McKinney and Darnay Holmes, and Love.

“We have some very talented pieces, and it does nothing but excite us going forward,” Love said. “We have a lot of players who have that just base of being ballplayers, and guys who are versatile, guys who can play different types of schemes. I know we’re going to use that to the best of our ability. We’re going to max out everything we have in the back end because when you look at it, we have kind of a young core. Logan Ryan and James Bradberry are experienced players. We’re young but we’re very talented. We feel the sky is really the limit for us. I think it’s perfect Xavier McKinney finishing the game (with an interception), finishing the season for us. That just shows kind of where our trajectory is, really.”

Via: giants.com