NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL:
Beware The Trap Game!
Big Blue Can Not Drop A Second Straight Home Game And Expect To Get Away With It.
Somehow in Week Two, They Are Already Playing Must Win Games.
For us Northeastern'ers, playing the 4:00 p.m. game is understandable. Although we blame California and the old AFL, we Giants fans tolerate it. I personally hate when the Giants play on Sunday nights; Monday nights; and Thursday nights. Now you can add Wednesday nights to the list of my least favorite days of the week for Giants Football. Other than a Saturday game in December or January..., fuhgeddaboudit. I like my Giants Football one way - on Sundays at 1:00 p.m. Unfortunately for us Giants fans, as part of being defending Super Bowl champions, this ten day break between game one and two is only the first of many more scheduling annoyances to come.
Welcome to Opening Day part two; the relaunch of Giants Football. This was an exceptionally long time to wait before getting back on the field. The layoff disturbs me. I expect rust to show for at least a portion of the first quarter against Tampa. What perturbs me however, is I expect the Giants to have some rust while coming on the heals of a dismal performance against the Cowboys. One doesn't speak well of the other.
I - Dee Fence
A) - Secondary
Defensively for the Giants, the Cowboys had their way with us. The Cowboys running game rushed through the G-Men like they were Big Blue toilet paper. On a wholly different plain, Tony Romo pinned our Corner's arms and legs back, and dissected the Giants Secondary like frogs in a high school science lab.
I do not expect Josh Freeman to have the kind of game Tony Romo did, but the opportunity is there. Unless the replacement refs start calling more holding penalties against linemen, or any one for that matter, quarterbacks just need to make sure they throw the football before Osi, JPP, and Tuck, get their hands on them. The book is out on the Giants - throw, throw, throw. After Corey Webster, who himself looked incapable of covering a mail box last week, the remaining Giants corners offer plenty to worry about. Prince Amukamara and Michael Coe are listed as probable for Sunday. That in itself is an improvement over last week. But can they be trusted to play at top effectiveness? Even then, Michael Coe is a suspect backup, and Prince Amukamara is on the verge of becoming over-rated.
Josh Freeman and the Bucs didn't throw the ball much against Carolina during their Week One victory. Combined, their top four receivers totalled thirteen catches for 124 yards receiving. What's more, Vincent Jackson and Dallas Clark were held to just five catches between them. Instead, Tampa stuck with the run. They rushed twenty-six times for 109 yards. Doug Martin rushed for ninety-five of those yards. So he is the one the Giants need to stop. But the Bucs can indeed throw the ball. And my only question is why wouldn't they try to throw down field against the Giants......repeatedly? Despite Antrell Rolle and Kenny Phillips having solid games last week, as we saw, they did little to help disrupt Tony Romo.
B) - Run Defense
It was only Week One, but fans and coaches alike can not like what they saw out of the Giants run defense. In a word, they were pathetic. Dallas racked up 143 yards rushing. Twelve came from Tony Romo. The rest came from DeMarco Murray who rushed for 131 yards on just twenty carries. He had one rush of forty-eight yards which means DeMarco still effectively rushed another nineteen times for inexcusable yardage.
Up front, do we really need to worry about the big three not getting sacks last week? In their failed efforts against the Cowboys, the Giants still got two sacks from their Tackels. So no worries there. The Giants clearly hold the advantage with three individual pass rushers who can disrupt football games all by themselves. The Giants are perhaps the only team in the NFL who can claim that.
However, stopping the run is an entirely different matter. And I wonder what Coach Fewell has in mind? Conventional thinking says open up the game by playing it straight. Bump their receivers at the line, then let physical ability do the rest. Coach Fewell can't exactly key on the run and dare Josh Freeman to pass. Tampa has definite pass capabilities. At the same time, Coach can't keep going nickel and dime to compensate for his corners, because Tampa actually wants to run the ball first. So guess what..., if at least two linebackers do not lead the Giants in tackles Sunday, Big Blue probably did something wrong.
II - Offensively Speaking
A) - Running Game
Turning over the ball is what got Giants rookie David Wilson in trouble. Offensively, the Giants running game has entered strange territory. As a Giants fan that goes back to the days when Ray Perkins coached here, it is difficult for me to reconcile the Giants old smash-mouth ways with Coach Gilbride's modern machinations. But try I must. And so must David Wilson. The Giants need this rookie in a big way. No fan is confident Ahmad Bradshaw will complete a full season without re-injuring himself. Therefore, the Giants need Wilson to help manage Bradshaw's time and effectiveness. After two touches and a fumble in Week One, this Sunday is in effect David Wilson's relaunch into the NFL. Doghouse or no doghouse, the Giants can't afford to bench him a second straight game. The hope here is that after ten days to reflect and gain instruction, David Wilson will put forth a more representative effort against Tampa.
Here is the problem with that. Tampa did a devastatingly good job shutting down the Panthers run game in Week One. Carolina rushing netted ten yards all game. I hope the Giants took notice of that. And we will see if the O-Line is up to the task.
B) - Recieving Corps
Even after a ten day break, Hakeem Nicks is still not fully functional. But tight end Martellus Bennett is already proving to be a nice alternative. Against Dallas, Eli threw to Bennett four times for forty yards and a touchdown. I look for Bennett to play an even bigger role Sunday.
I could be mistaken, but I believe the Anti-Cruz tried making an appearance last game. Just when everyone thought it was out of his system, Victor Cruz showed symptoms of the yips against Dallas again. Giants fans are hoping six catches for fifty-eight yards ends up being one of his poorer efforts of the season. But cries for Cruz The Savior have already begun.
All hail the arrival of the new Domenick Hixon; who replaces the outgoing Mario Manningham; who replaced the old injured Domenick Hixon; who filled in for the old Mario Manningham! That's another way of saying it is nice having Domenk Hixon back. He in effect became Big Blue's top receiver versus Dallas. And the best part of his return is his familiarity with Eli, and Eli with him. If he stays healthy, he will make an impact.
With Hixon back in the fold, and once Hakeem Nicks is right, with Cruz and Bennett, the Giants have a fine unit led by Eli. If there is an issue, it lies with the back-ups. Ramses Barden and Jerrel Jernigan failed to see action in Week One.
III - Tampa Bay Bluffs
Worth noting though, is much of what Tampa accomplished over the Panthers last week came as a result of multiple turnovers. They picked off Cam Newton twice, and spotty special teams play doomed Carolina as well. Cam Newton interceptions aside, he still lit up Tampa's defense for over three hundred yards passing, and the incredible Steve Smith had another game with one hundred yard receiving. Three other receivers found enough space in Tampa's coverage to record six catches for another 184 yards. So what's not to like about Eli and Company's chances against Tampa's defense?