The Eagles player who may decide the Giants’ playoff fate this season didn’t even play in Sunday’s 48-22 demolition at MetLife Stadium.
Ian Book, Philly’s third-string quarterback, was inactive and quietly packing his bags at his locker with a smile after his team improved to 12-1. And he sees the hypothetical scenario that could unfold.
The Eagles might have the NFC’s top seed locked up heading into their Week 18 rematch with the Giants at Lincoln Financial Field on Jan. 8.
He might even start.
“Of course it’s on my mind,” Book, 24, told the News of that possible scenario. ” I’m sure Gardner is thinking the same thing.”
NFL players don’t live in hypotheticals. They can’t. And Book made clear that he and the entire Eagles team are “only focused on our next game.”
Still, with the sliding Giants (7-5-1) probably needing at least two more wins in four remaining games against the Commanders, Vikings, Colts and Eagles, it’s possible Book could decide their fate.
And the Giants who know Book, Notre Dame’s all-time winningest quarterback (30 wins), have a lot of respect for what the dual-threat QB can do on the field.
“He’s a great game manager. He’s one of the smartest guys I’ve ever met, so he knows the system in and out,” Giants linebacker Jaylon Smith, a former Notre Dame standout, said of Book. “He also plays with a little style and a little swag, so he’s not afraid to make the big throw. I love him. I actually talked to him after the game, saw him. He’s doing a lot of learning over there being a sponge, soaking everything in.”
That’s exactly what Book has been doing.
Eagles assistant quarterbacks coach Alex Tanney, the former Giants QB, said Sunday that Book has “put in the work” and “bought into everything” he’s learning to “develop” and improve.
Book raved about the Eagles’ process and coaching, too. Asked what he loved about the team, he said: “The offensive-minded head coach. Nick has been great.”
He gravitates to the “offensive scheme,” their meetings, and how the team prepares.
“Everyone here is dialed in,” Book said. “They do everything here to make you better, from the way they organize your lifts, to your eating, to your reps. They grade your practice squad reps. One of their pillars is to ‘connect,’ and everyone here is connected.”
What’s so interesting about projecting Book’s possible Week 18 impact, though, is that he has barely any NFL sample size after being drafted in last year’s fourth round by the New Orleans Saints.
His only regular season appearance came in Week 15 last December. It went poorly in a 20-3 Monday Night Football loss to the Miami Dolphins, but Book, then a rookie, had only found out the Thursday prior that he was going to play.
Quarterbacks Trevor Siemian and Taysom Hill both tested positive for COVID-19 in a team-wide outbreak, which thrust Book into emergency duty. So it’s not like he’s clinging to the need to redeem himself.
“I’ve erased that game,” he said. “Not sure anyone will get those circumstances again unless there’s another Covid outbreak. But obviously I want to get back in and show what I can do.”
For now, Book will help the Eagles prepare for next Sunday’s opponent, the Chicago Bears.
“Get to act like Justin Fields this week, so that should be sweet,” Book said with a laugh.
Come January, he could end up having the Giants’ postseason hopes in his hands.