Last week, the New York Giants faced the challenge of stopping Peyton Manning and the Colts’ machine-like offense. They failed miserably, in every sense of the word.
The Giants coaching staff devised a scheme to stop the Colts passing attack at all costs. They dressed only two defensive tackles and activated extra defensive backs and defensive ends. The elder Manning, ever the intelligent fellow, noticed this, and called running plays for the duration of the first half that caused the Giants’ plan to backfire dramatically.
This week, the Giants face the Tennessee Titans and the league’s best running back in Chris Johnson. Fortunately for Big Blue and their impulsive defensive coordinator, Perry Fewell, the Titans and Vince Young are not likely to be able to throw the ball all over the field if New York decides to dress eight defensive tackles or activate Harry Carson in an effort to stop the run.
All kidding aside, this whole game is predicated on the Giants defense being able to stop Johnson. The Pittsburgh Steelers proved last week that with the right game-plan, it is possible. The Steelers held Johnson to 34 yards on 11 carries last week, ending his streak of 100 yard games at 12. If the Giants can stop CJ, Tennessee does not have many dangerous weapons to turn to in their passing game. Their receivers include Nate Washington, Kenny Britt, and Justin Gage—-not exactly the Greatest Show on Turf. Their most dangerous receiver might be tight end Bo Sciafe who has established himself as a productive player and Young’s favorite target.
In order for the Giants defense to do the job, their defensive line has to be fantastic. Johnson’s speed is deadly and it will be important for defensive ends Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, and Osi Umenyiora to stick to their outside contain responsibilities and force the Titans runners inside on sweeps and off-tackle runs. As fans of the NFL know, Johnson is not a “one-trick-pony.” He runs hard on the inside as well as the outside, despite his relatively small frame. Assuming Coach Coughlin activates them, Barry Cofield, Rocky Bernard, and Linval Joseph need to have big games. This unit is also responsible for keeping Young in the pocket. As we all know, VY is much more dangerous out of the pocket, scrambling, than he is in it.
As far as the linebackers are concerned, I expect Keith Bulluck to be a beast this week. He knows the Titans like the back of his hand, having played ten seasons with them before joining the Giants in July. He is going to be very emotional and hopefully that leads to a lot of solid tackles. The big question is how first-year starter Jonathan Goff will fare during his most daunting test as run-stuffing middle linebacker. Goff gets praise from all of his coaches for his leadership on the field and his smart decision making. However, in my opinion, he leaves a lot to be desired in his run defense. Giant fans are going to be watching Goff very closely this week, as his performance may make all the difference for the team in this one.
Offensively, the Giants are simply waiting for the offensive line to start pulling its weight. With the exception of a dud game every once in a while, Eli Manning is as steady as they come. I do not put any blame for the lack of a running game on new starter Ahmad Bradshaw, who runs as if his life depends on it every down. I also have a good amount of confidence in the Giant receivers, who have alleviated the concern of fans who didn’t think the group could be productive without a certain someone currently residing in a New York State prison.
The Giants’ offensive problems this year have solely been the product of offensive line malfunctions, across the board (line). Interior lineman Rich Seubert and Chris Snee have failed to open up holes for Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. Dave Diehl and Kareem McKenzie were completely and utterly abused last week by Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney. Manning fumbled the ball three times under intense pressure, and the Giants had no chance to come back after falling behind early.
This week, the task only gets tougher against a Jeff Fisher-led defense. Defensive end Jason Babin has two sacks in two games and rookie end Derrick Morgan already has 1.5 sacks to his credit. If the Titans establish pressure on Manning, their defensive backs will be ready to pounce. One of the best secondary units in the NFLis led by Cortland Finnegan who has had five interceptions in the last two season. Michael Griffin, the hard-hitting safety out of Texas, leads the team in tackles thus far, and Chris Hope is no slouch back there either.
To me, in order to beat the Titans, the Giants need to correct the two main issues that were the reasons for their loss last week They need to be able to stop the running game on defense and offensively, their offensive line needs to be better in all facets of blocking.
This will be a tough game for Big Blue and it will be interesting to see if they have learned form their previous mistakes.
About the Author
Written by Chris Ippolito
Grew up in Holmdel, NJ. Studied at Marist College. Worked as personal intern for hockey analyst and writer Stan Fischler of MSG network. Interned at MSG network for school credit during Fall of 2008. Worked as play by play broadcaster for the Danbury Westerners of the NECBL in summer of 2007. Passionate about baseball, football, basketball, and hockey. I mostly follow New York teams, but I pay attention to what goes on outside the tri-state area very closely. I feel as though I write so that people can both relate to and understand what they are reading. I am honest, but I also try and look at issues from different perspectives. I will do my best to both inform and entertain while contributing to this website.