NEW YORK GIANTS
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PIGSKIN; Week Three Picks - BTB
Off to Philly on Big Blue Crutches; - BTB
I. - OFFENSE:
1) - Receiver Corps.
The Giants signed recent living room resident; WR-Michael Clayton. What do you want me to say? Michael Clayton played a couple of games for us last season and was cut from the roster in camp this season. Hey man, thanks for answering the phone?
With Domenik Hixon gone for the season, and Mario Manningham most likely sitting out Sunday, Eli will be left with Hakeem Nicks; Victor Cruz; R-Jerrel Jernigan; Devin Thomas; Brandon Stokley; and now Michael Clayton. And I hope the pecking order remains just as I named them. Really! Tight End Travis Beckum might be back, but he's not an option. Option? He should be flat out ignored. He just better pass block well if he's on Eli's left side. That's all I'll say about him.
None the less, those are the receivers left at Eli's disposal. Now let's speak briefly about which one of those receivers will disappear from Sunday's game at roughly 1:05 pm. Once Philly's Nnamdi Asomugha takes the field, in all likelihood, there goes Hakeem Nicks too. And if I turn out to be very wrong about that match-up, then that means Hakeem has officially joined the ranks of the League's elite receivers. ..."Perchance to Dream."
But the slings and arrows await Victor Cruz and rookie-Jerrel Jernigan. Welcome to the New York Receiver Corps; Boot Camp Philly Style. A huge game against the top division rival just showed up on their front steps. What are they gonna do when Game Time breaks down the door and shines the bright lights on them? It's called stepping up Boys.
2) - Eli Manning
Eli needs to trust that his revamped O-Line will give him time to find these tertiary receivers of ours. And new Center; David Bass; might have an injury that will be a last minute game time call. Will Beatty is probably in for his biggest test as a Left Tackle this week.
But even then, Eli needs to bear down and be more accurate than he's been (like always). And I hope he and his patchwork of receivers communicated like hell this week in practice, because we can't afford blown assignments and errant passes to nowhere; and especially the dreaded INT's.
For the Giants to have a successful passing game. It should be quick drops; three steps and pop. That cuts down your odds of getting sacked, and it takes defense off their plan. Ever hear of crossing patterns..., or something along the lines of "Run and Shoot" - to shake it up? Draw them in, then maybe they'll give us chances over the top.
The bottom line is, the Eagles are going to have the Giants well covered. But how many of them can they cover? That's where Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw come in. They'll have to be taken out of their comfort zone and catch many more passes out of the back field this game. They should be busy with swing passes; screens; and Ahmad Bradshaw in scat patterns. That's what I'm thinking.
All that is going to be needed in order to keep the Eagles honest if the Giants want any chance of running the ball with power. I realize that's coming from me. But the fact is, if Asomugha and the Eagles' secondary shut down Eli and the passing game, Philly will be stacking the box with eight and nine at a time to make sure Eli is throwing, and the Giants' Jacobs and Bradshaw aren't rushing. You don't think Philly will go man-coverage most of the game? They are dying for Eli to throw the ball.
3) - Kevin Gilbride and the Running Game
There are indeed two games I can refer to from last season, where Kevin Gilbride devised offensive plans that kept us right in the mix; up until we ran into that dreadful Eagles game. They came at times when our receivers; not the Defense; were being crippled by injuries. That's the kind of plan that the Offensive Coordinator needs to come up with this week. We need something original and creative; which for the most part, are the largest criticisms levied against him today.
But nothing will work unless the Giants run the football. Of course. And how can Gilbride help them run the ball if the Eagles' plan is to flood the box and force Eli to throw? Spread their defense out with the old "run and shoot style" and make the defense be accountable for catches out of the back field. Then leave it to the O-Line to create some holes and pound em. Schemes like that demand a lot from a cohesive O-Line. Let's hope ours is up to snuff.
It's Kevin Gilbride's job to devise something that will keep Philadelphia from teeing off on Eli or the run. Keep them honest, and something can be done. And please, make it something which involves Brandon Jacobs a little more? There is still plenty to be said for; and plenty of room in today's game for; if not cause to implement; power football. If Gilbride plans this right and we execute, the Giants can score 24 or 27 points against Philly.
There are roster problems. And then there are execution problems. The latter can be corrected.
II. DEFENSIVE SIDE:
Michael Vick practiced this week. But he's dealing with the mysterious concussion; or post; symptoms. Mysterious; because there is so much we don't know about them. But what we do know about them, is everything to be taken seriously. So without jokes, one unfortunate hit on Vick could effectively remove him from the game. And Vick's style, or propensity to run, also presents a precarious situation for him. Ironically, he was injured standing in the pocket.
But should Michael Vick play an incident free game against us; our Secondary I fear, will be made to look feeble for a third consecutive week. Bend But Don't Break won't work against Philadelphia like it did against the Rams last week; whom the Giants held to mostly field goals. The fact remains; the Secondary is giving up huge yardage plays on a regular basis.
Rex Grossman and Sam Bradford both threw for +300 yard games against our Secondary in the first two weeks of the season. Michael Vick will be, by far the best they've faced so far; and with so many speedy weapons at his disposal, I smell toast. We haven't seen an ounce of improvement from the unit yet.
That brings me back to this team's over reliance on the defensive line and getting sacks. You can't let Vick get outside on you. So you need discipline to seal the outside. And if you contain him, and get to him; say four or five times; what's he doing for the rest of the game is my point?
The Eagles O-Line isn't that great; so I think the Giants will defend Philly's running game quite effectively. And the Giants D-Line will certainly have their chances to get at Vick. But what will be the cumulative effect of that, and will it be enough before he tears up the secondary?
No Linebackers; our team's soft white under belly. - After taking all the injuries away that have decimated the Giants defense this season; the fact remains; Jerry Reese never adequately addressed the linebacker position. And I don't mean any offense towards Michael Boley.
The bottom line is, if the Giants get behind in this game, there is little come-back in them; not in their current state. If the Giants are to win this game, they will need stellar Special Teams play; maybe a score on Defense; stay away from penalties and turnovers; but most of all, they need to be able to hang around. Hanging around is the key to this game for the Giants. Games between us and Philly are never pretty. So don't expect a ballet in this game either. But the game needs to be within a score in the fourth quarter in order for the Giants to be able to steal one on the road.
And lastly, Perry Fewell; or should I saw; Perry Fool? What the hell were you thinking? Stop talking to the media or say nothing when questioned by them. Got it? That was embarrassing. Instead, figure out a way to sure-up two-thirds of your defense instead of teaching your unit how to roll over and play dead. Better yet; Surprise us Sunday with turnovers and some blitz packages worthy of Sports Center. A one time Giant great once said, "...go out there like a bunch of crazed dogs!"
PREDICTION: 35-17; Eagles
It pains me to say, but it's not looking good my fellow Brothers in Blue. Not this week. There are too many injuries which will compromise a representative game on our part. It's just bad timing. Thoughts of revenge for last year's meltdown will likely have to wait till we get the Eagles at home. Way too many things have to go right for us Sunday and fortune hasn't been one of our stronger suites this year. But unlike if we had gone down 0-2 after a loss last week; a loss this week may not be as catastrophic to the big picture even though it's a division game. That is unless you think Washington is running away with this division. Stop that.