Eagles’ early trash talk directed at Saquon Barkley-less Giants sets up new chapter in rivalry


Eagles’ early trash talk directed at Saquon Barkley-less Giants sets up new chapter in rivalry


There is no need for Giants fans to bring an umbrella to the Jersey Shore’s beaches this summer with all the shade already being cast upon them from South Philadelphia.


Former face of the franchise Saquon Barkley gushed about the Eagles’ offensive talent at OTAs after spending six years in New York.


“The biggest thing that struck me is the first 7-on-7 huddle, you see A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert and Jalen Hurts,” Barkley said in late May. “That’s not a bad group to be out there with, and that’s not even including offensive linemen.”


Then Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said Tuesday that he likes to trash talk Giants fans by responding, “We got your best player.”


“Saquon, it’s really nice to see him in green,” Sirianni said at Philly’s mandatory minicamp. “Sometimes you see Giants fans around here, being so close. And they give me a good, ‘Hey, go Giants.’ And I typically let it go. But if the guy gets me good enough, I usually say, ‘Ya know, we got your best player.’”


It’s early for the Eagles to be stoking this fire, although they’re obviously confident in this NFC East matchup, with a 4-1 record against Brian Daboll’s Giants the past two years by a combined score of 151-97.


Sirianni lost his best player this offseason, too: center Jason Kelce. He and mainstay defensive tackle Fletcher Cox both retired, removing the anchors of Philly’s interiors from the equation.


Kelce was the one center that Giants defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence couldn’t really figure out. And now he’s gone, possibly opening the door for Lawrence to turn this into a two-sided rivalry again.


It isn’t a fair fight right now until the Giants make it one, though, even after last season’s 27-10 Week 18 win over the Eagles in north Jersey.


That’s why Sirianni can take jabs that imply the Eagles don’t take the Giants seriously, even if the coach’s ramblings tend to sound like they’ve come out of left field.


“Always takes a while to figure out where Nick Sirianni’s going with these things,” ESPN host Hannah Storm said on “NFL Live” Tuesday after playing the video.

The league obviously wants to see more fight from the Giants in this division matchup, too, though. The NFL made Barkley’s Week 7 return with the Eagles to MetLife Stadium on Oct. 20 a run-of-the-mill 1 o’clock Sunday kickoff.


It can be flexed to Sunday Night Football, but right now, Aaron Rodgers’ Jets and Mike Tomlin’s Pittsburgh Steelers occupy that real estate. So if Rodgers is healthy, that game probably sticks.


Sirianni and the Eagles, of course, need to rebound themselves from a putrid finish to the 2023 season. They lost six of their last seven, looking lifeless all over, predictable on offense and inept on defense.


Sirianni, like Daboll, seems like he’s under significant pressure to right the ship this fall. They’re both on the short list of teams Bill Belichick is believed to be eyeing for 2025. It actually took a long time and a lot of meetings just for the Eagles to confirm Sirianni would be returning as their head coach this year.


And yet, Philadelphia’s hiring of coordinators Vic Fangio and Kellen Moore appear to bode well for Jeffrey Lurie’s franchise to figure out their issues and position their superior talent for success. They also boast offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, their ace in the hole.


That’s their best chance at pivoting away from Kelce and maintaining a strong O-line.


“It’s been different. It’s kind of weird not having the GOAT there,” Eagles left tackle Jordan Mailata said Wednesday. “[But] I think we’re doing a good job of maintaining the standard.”


Meanwhile, in New York, Daboll is expected to take over play-calling. OC Mike Kafka is on the proverbial sidelines. And new defensive coordinator Shane Bowen is an unknown commodity who only landed the job after an interminable search that saw many of the Giants’ initial targets choose other gigs.


Still, no matter what the Giants’ and Eagles’ recent head-to-head history is — and no matter how each team starts the season — Barkley’s return to the Meadowlands in Week 7 will be a big deal.


There will be an unmistakable revenge element from his point of view, even if he never publicly expresses it. The Eagles will try to have his back. Many Giants fans, meanwhile, now treat Barkley like the ultimate villain and pray for his downfall.


And GM Joe Schoen and Daboll will be out to validate their opinion that a top wide receiver opens up an offense like a running back can’t.


Adding Malik Nabers to an offense that already included Barkley, though, arguably would have been the optimal way for the Giants to try to take the next step. Then opposing defenses have to pick their poison.


Without Barkley, a player that defenses game plan for and key on, the Giants don’t have that secondary top weapon to draw eyes away from their No. 6 overall pick.


They don’t have him because their 2023 contract negotiations grew contentious, he played on a one-year deal, and then he signed with the Eagles as the Giants watched idly and didn’t make a new offer.


Now Sirianni is the one smiling, in June at least. It will be up to the Giants to wipe that smile off his face.


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