But the Giants defensive coordinator knows very well about the explosiveness of the Philadelphia offense.
“I was telling my defensive staff, I know they’re not gonna play the Pro Bowl [game] this year, but they’re playing it in Philly. Because they’re talented across the board,” said Wink Martindale Thursday ahead of Sunday afternoon’s showdown at MetLife Stadium.
It’s certainly a fair assessment, considering the Eagles are second in the NFL in points per game, and third in yards per game. And Martindale wasn’t finished praising his opponent, particularly wide receiver A.J. Brown, who is coming off a two-TD performance this past week against the Titans, his former team. Martindale was asked how he intends to game plan for Brown come Sunday.
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“Hoo! Got any ideas? He is a… it’s like they got T.O. [Terrell Owens] back there playing again. He is a problem. We went against him when he was with Tennessee. He is a big, physical receiver, that you have to fight every play. I told [Giants defensive backs coach] Jerome Henderson if he was a defensive player, he’d be an outside ‘backer. That’s how physical he plays at wide receiver.”
That is one lofty comparison. For those that don’t know, Owens is widely considered among the top five receivers to ever lace them up, ranking third in league history in both receiving yards and TD catches. Eagles fans certainly remember Owens’ one full season in Philadelphia in 2004. Owens was a force of nature, catching 77 passes for 1,200 yards and 14 TD in 14 games before breaking his leg. He returned seven weeks later for Super Bowl 39, catching nine passes for 122 yards in a 24-21 loss to the Patriots.
The Hall-of-Fame comparisons didn’t end with Brown, however. Jalen Hurts had the worst of his 31 career starts to date last year against the Giants 13 months ago, completing just 14-of-31 passes for 129 yards in an awful 13-7 loss. He threw three interceptions in that game, exactly as many as he has through 12 games this season.
Hurts has made sizable advances in his game since then, as Martindale is well-aware. “Jalen is getting into that level, that top-tier quarterback. Because you can just see the jump,” he said. “Last year to this year he’s really worked on his throwing mechanics, his footwork, and it’s paying off for him, the same way that it did for Patrick Mahomes. If you go back and look at those comparisons, it’s very similar. He is a triple threat.”
Another thought-provoking comparison here. Mahomes won the league’s MVP in his first season as a full-time starter; Hurts is in his second season at the helm. Both weren’t the most-heralded choice in each’s draft class. The two quarterbacks are 1-2 in the NFL MVP race, depending upon whom you ask, and that’s not debatable.
There are some Eagles fans that aren’t ready to appreciate the year that the Eagles offense is having, but the Giants are definitely on notice.