Once a week throughout the 2013 season, we will focus upon on a player or matchup that could prove troublesome for the Giants in their upcoming game. This week’s spotlight is on Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
The Giants' problems stopping DeSean Jackson in their first meeting with Philadelphia were reflected in the final score.
Jackson, the Eagles' exceptionally speedy wide receiver, hauled in seven passes for 125 yards and a touchdown in the Eagles' 36-21 victory at MetLife Stadium on Oct. 6, and his big-play ability helped tilt the game in Philadelphia's favor.
Three of Jackson’s catches were 21 yards or longer. All were on drives ending in Eagles’ points, including their final scoring drive, which was punctuated by Jackson’s five-yard fourth-quarter TD catch. Jackson also drew a 27-yard pass interference penalty to begin a drive ending another field goal.
The Eagles figure to test the Giants’ pass defense with some longer throws to Jackson on Sunday. Michael Vick, who could return to the lineup after missing two games with a hamstring injury, connected with Jackson on a 56-yard pass play in the first game with the Giants.
The Giants defended the play well, and Vick didn’t throw a perfect ball. In fact, cornerback Trumaine McBride had a chance for an interception. However, the pass eluded McBride, and Jackson made the catch, setting up a LeSean McCoy rushing touchdown later in the drive.
The Giants have to be to wary of formations and plays that help Jackson get a free run off the line of scrimmage and allow him to sprint into open space. In the first meeting with the Giants, Jackson broke free for a 28-yard reception out of “trips” formation to the right. In the middle, Eagles receiver Jason Avant feigned as if he were running a screen pattern, keeping one defender occupied near the line. Out wide, Eagles receiver Riley Cooper ran a deep post, which occupied cornerback Prince Amukamara and safety Antrel Rolle.
Jackson, meanwhile, lined up in the slot and got a clean break. He streaked upfield, then cut into the area vacated by Cooper, who had sprinted toward the endzone. Giants safety Ryan Mundy, left in one-on-one coverage against Jackson, gave a good effort against the Eagles’ speedy receiver, but Jackson broke wide open all the same.
This was an easy pitch-and-catch for quarterback Nick Foles and Jackson, something the Eagles couldn’t have executed much better.
In his last three meetings with the Giants, Jackson has caught 19 passes for 319 yards and two touchdowns. Restricting his big-play opportunities is a must for the 1-6 Giants, who can't afford a second loss to the Eagles.