Sep 192003

Approach to the Game – New York Giants at Washington Redskins, September 21, 2003: This will be a short preview this week as we lost a couple of days due to a power outage from Hurricane Isabel.

This is a very important game for the Giants in two senses. For one, it is important for the Giants to move past the Monday night disaster of the Cowboys as quickly as possible and focus what this team still may accomplish. Second, the Giants are now 0-1 in the NFC East. Going 0-2 in the division and chasing a 3-0 (1-0 in the division) Washington Redskins team would obviously not be a good thing.

Giants on Offense: The Washington Redskins have some very good players on defense. The Redskins have moved LaVar Arrington his more natural position at weakside linebacker, freeing him up to do what he does best – run, chase, and attack the ball carrier. Thus far, Arrington has really responded and is having the type of season the Redskins hoped when they drafted him so high. Arrington is a very fast player for his size. He is an excellent blitzer and hits like a ton of bricks. But you can run at him some.

CB Champ Bailey is not the greatest tackler in the world, but he is very capable of being a shut-down corner when he is at his best. It will be interesting to see if the Redskins have him follow WR Amani Toomer all day long. Toomer has had some recent success against Bailey, but his has also had his problems with him.

MLB Jeremiah Trotter is coming off a serious knee injury from last year and appears to be playing well again. He is a play-maker who sometimes forgets to play within the discipline of the defense so you can sometimes fool him. But he always played well with the Giants when he was with the Eagles. SLB Jesse Armstead is not real strong at the point-of-attack, but as Giants’ fans well know, he is a guy who can still make a big play or two.

The rest of the Redskins’ defense is not really special. In particular, the Redskins have issues on the defensive line as they lost both their run-stuffing defensive tackles in the offseason. In their place are journeymen Jermaine Haley and Bernard Holsey. LT Luke Petitgout will face future Hall of Famer DE Bruce Smith. How long and how well Luke can play will have a big impact on the Giants’ offense as the Giants don’t want to into a position where rookie Jeff Roehl is forced to play against Smith. The Giants also need Chris Bober, in his second start at right tackle, to play better this week. He faces DE Renaldo Wynn.

In the secondary, Champ Bailey is an excellent player. The other corner, Fred Smoot, has his moments, but he may not play due to a concussion he suffered this week in practice. If Smoot doesn’t play, the nickel back Rashad Bauman will get the start and rookie Ade Jimoh will enter the fray. This are match-ups the Giants MUST take advantage of by playing 3- and 4-WR sets.

The Giants need to be aggressive in this game. Get out on top big early and coast with the running game the rest of the way. I am not impressed with the Redskins’ run defense.

Giants on Defense: The Redskins are far scarier on offense. Patrick Ramsey is playing well at quarterback and he is improving. And he has some dangerous weapons to throw to such as receivers Laverneous Coles, Rod Gardner, and Patrick Johnson. Coles and Johnson have deep speed, but Gardner is a talented guy who keeps the chains moving. The Giants secondary has not played well the past two weeks, especially when facing 3- and 4-wide receiver sets. Look for the Redskins to try to go after nickel back Ralph Brown just like the Cowboys did last week. The Giants need Brown to play well, but they also need their two starting corners to start making big plays. Right now, the two Wills are dramatically over-hyped.

Another area of concern is that Spurrier will use some strange, but innovative plays that are seldom seen in the NFL. Because of their novelty, teams are often surprised by these shenanigans. The Giants need to play smart, disciplined defense and look for trickery.

A big key is making the Redskins one-dimensional by taking away the running game. Surprisingly, Spurrier has indeed called more running plays this year. Trung Canidate is the speedster, but he does poorly in blitz pick-ups and is not the most physical guy in the world. The Giants need to hit him in the mouth a few times. The running back who impresses me much more is Ladell Betts. He is bigger and more physical. The Giants need to make sure that both are not factors in the game running the ball.

Linebacker coverage will be instrumental on these two backs, plus Chad Morton. The Skins will also surprise teams occasionally by throwing to the tight end (Robert Royal).

Where the Giants can really make things easier on themselves is if they can get heat on Patrick Ramsey. Ramsey is not mobile. Bring the blitz from all angles. At the same time, the defensive line needs to play much better than it did last week…especially if DT Keith Hamilton (hamstring) is not playing. Lance Legree and William Joseph will share snaps at his position against former 49er Dave Fiore. DE Kenny Holmes faces Pro Bowl LT Chris Samuels. The two who really need to elevate their game if the Giants are going to slow Washington down are DE Michael Strahan (facing his nemesis RT Jon Jansen) and DT Cornelius Griffin (facing ex-Jet Randy Thomas).

If the Giants don’t get heat on Ramsey, and play soft in the secondary…especially over the middle as they have the past two weeks, the Giants won’t be able to stop the Skins from moving the football.

Giants on Special Teams: The big concern is stopping the explosive Chad Morton as both a punt and kick returner. Morton can break games wide open with his moves and speed.

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Eric Kennedy

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

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