Oct 262001
 

Approach to the Game – New York Giants at Washington Redskins, October 28, 2001: The Giants have to put a winning-streak back together, but as the old sports adage says, they must take the upcoming games one game at a time. The first opponent is the Redskins again, who are coming off their first victory of the year. Last week, led by an improving defense and some deep passes late to rookie WR Rod Gardner. Division games are never easy and the Skins’ defense has been stingier of late. Keep in mind how close the first Redskins-Giants game was just a few weeks ago. With the Giants’ offense struggling, this game most likely will be no push over.

Giants on Offense: The focal point of my offensive game plan would be to attack the Skins’ nickel corner. Starting right corner Fred Smoot is hurt and won’t play. Thus, nickel corner Darrell Green will start in his place. His replacement at nickel, Central McClellion, has struggled. Thus, if I’m Jim Fassel, I come out in a 3-WR package and match Ike Hilliard up on McClellion and go after him all day. But the other wide receivers, Amani Toomer and Joe Jurevicius, are going to have to step it up against Green and All-World Champ Bailey too.

The other thing I would do is get Tiki Barber matched up on the Redskins’ linebackers in the passing game. Their linebackers are better moving forward than in reverse and Barber should be able to get free of them. Of course, the Redskins may follow Philly’s strategy and double- and triple-team Barber. If they do, the wide receivers MUST step it up and deliver. To me, this game rests on their shoulders.

I also think the Giants need to throw two or three times to Dan Campbell and/or Howard Cross in this game – just to loosen up the undercoverage a bit for Barber and FB Greg Comella. Opposing linebackers rarely worry about the Giant tight ends. New York needs to take advantage of that.

Up front, there are some critical battles. RG Ron Stone played terribly against DT Dan Wilkinson the last time these two teams met. He must play better this week for the Giants’ ground game to get going. The other defensive lineman to have a big game against New York was Kenard Lang who was playing at his more natural end position due to a previous injury to left end Marco Coleman. However, Coleman is expected to play so Lang may move back inside this week and face LG Glenn Parker. Regardless of who he faces, RT Luke Petitgout needs to elevate his game and play better than he did the last time these two teams met as well. LT Lomas Brown got a break last time when right end Bruce Smith left the game early with a shoulder injury. But he’s back this week.

Giants on Defense: The Giants’ defense needs to be wary of a couple of things here. First is that DT Lance Legree will get his first start in place of the injured Keith Hamilton (shoulder). You can bet that the Skins will target their ground attack with HB Stephen Davis right at Legree. I hope they do because the once thing Legree does is jam things up pretty well inside. The other thing is that the Giants must be very wary of giving up anything easy deep. The Redskins have had problems sustaining drives, but they got two huge plays with deep passes to Gardner last week. Will Peterson will most likely face the fellow rookie and he needs to play well.

The loss of Hamilton will hurt the pass rush, and DT Cornelius Griffin and DE Kenny Holmes need to compensate by providing more of a pass rush. Griffin played pretty well last time, but Holmes was kept quiet by the impressive Chris Samuels at left tackle. You can bet that since Legree is over there, the running game will come straight at these two. Holmes needs to play stout against the run and make more noise on the pass rush. Michael Strahan’s stats against the Skins from the last game are a bit misleading; he didn’t have a strong game against RT Jon Jansen.

What the heck is going on with Jessie Armstead? If his lack of production has to due with his declining physical skills and is permanent, then I don’t think I’ve ever seen a linebacker become less of a factor quicker since Carl Banks. All the linebackers are going to have to play a physical game up front against Davis. They also need to keep an eye on Ki-Jana Carter in the passing game when he is in the contest.

The good news for the Giants is that TE Stephen Alexander (ankle) is out and therefore the safeties can help out a bit more elsewhere.

Special Teams: It will be interesting to see if Owen Pochman is activated this week; same with new special teams player Kole Ayi. Keep an eye on Clayton White on the Giants – he’s been doing a good job of covering kicks and punts. Also, Cedric Scott has been added to the special teams, which shows you how athletic the big man is.

Eric Metcalf was just signed by the Skins and he is a very dangerous punt returner as is Michael Bates on kick-off returns. Both are two of the best at returns in the history of the game. Scary thought for the G-Men.

If Ron Dixon (ankle) plays, it’s time for him to start earning his paycheck and make a big play on kick returns himself.

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Eric Kennedy

Eric Kennedy is Editor-in-Chief of BigBlueInteractive.com, a publication of Big Blue Interactive, LLC. Follow @BigBlueInteract on Twitter.

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