Reese's Defensive Pieces Making Him Look Smart ... Again
New York Football Giants: Revamped defense must validate last week's strong peformance against the Saints with an even stronger effort against Kirk Cousins and division rival Washington.
The Giants enter this year's first clash against Washington undefeated, while the Hogs are still seeking their first victory.
That makes Washington a desperate team, in turn giving this superstitious fan enough reason to believe things can go completely wrong Sunday ... if only just because.
My anxieties aside, Week Three is about legitimizing two weeks of play ... or not.
The defense has played well, and is improved from one game to the next. In Week Three, they'll either take another promising step forward, or experience their first real setback. Which will it be?
Since actions speak louder than words, this year's defensive performance so far reflects very well upon Jerry Reese's off-season improvements - a small sample size, but nonetheless.
Big Blue allowed the Cowboys 328 net yards in Week One, but held them to under 20 points.
They followed with a rather impressive Week Three effort against New Orleans, holding them
to 13 points and 288 total net yards. Brees was limited to just 263 yards on 44 attempts, was sacked twice, and hit on six other occasions. That in itself was an accomplishment, considering Brees threw for 505 yards against last season's inferior defense. A good New Orleans running game was additionally held to just 41 yards rushing.
After two weeks, the total splits reflect nicely, and the dividends even more so for Jerry Reese. The Giants have allowed a total of 31 points and 616 net yards, which averages to 15 points and 308 yards per game (only 71 yards per game on the ground).
All we can ask now is for them to keep improving.
There's a saying - once is an occurrence, twice is a coincidence, and three times is a trend. And so we'll see if the defense can establish a pattern, and perhaps even create a defensive identity, again.
They'll be up against Kirk Cousins, whom scuttlebutt says is not the most loved member among his D.C. team mates. If the Giants continue bottling up the run as they've been, Kirk Cousins will be forced to put the ball in the air perhaps more than Washington is comfortable with.
With the defensive line playing well so far, look for them to force up many 50/50 balls. That's where Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rogers Cromartie, and Eli Apple come in.
The Giants enter Sunday with a 1-0 division record. If history has taught us anything, it's that they must continue gaining every division advantage possible over their arguably weaker division rivals, or be haunted by potential failures later in the season.
Last season, the Giants defeated the Hogs 32-21 in Week #3 at home, then fell 20-14 in Week #12 at Washington.
I like the match-ups, and if the Giants play smartly, they should end the day 3-0 and in firm control of the NFC East.