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Approach to the Game – New York Giants at Tennessee Titans, November 26, 2006:

Pressure
Pushing down on me
Pressing down on you
No man ask for

Under pressure
That burns a building down
Splits a family in two
Puts people on streets

Queen, Under Pressure

Strahan, Umenyiora, Petitgout, and Madison still missing in action. Toomer done. Eli struggling. Schedule getting tougher again. Only six games left. Two game losing streak. Half game out of first place in the division. Tony Romo has made pact with Satan. Everyone already crowning Dallas as the division champs.

Pressure…Pushing down on me…Pressing down on you…

Giants on Defense: The approach the Giants have to take in this game defensively is the same approach that they took against the Atlanta Falcons. Stop the traditional ground game as well as stop the quarterback from hurting you on the ground – both in terms of designed plays as well as those improvised runs that occur when the play breaks down. I think it will be a big help if the Giants can get Brandon Short (questionable with a quad injury) back for this game. He would start at weakside linebacker, allowing Carlos Emmons to move back to strongside linebacker. The trio of Short, Pierce, and Emmons is good against the run.

The feature back in Tennessee is Travis Henry, who is averaging an impressive 4.6 yards per carry. Not only did he run for 143 yards against Philadelphia last week, but he went over 100 yards against a very tough Ravens’ defense the week before. The Giants are going to have to play far tougher and much more stout up front than they did against the Jaguars. The Titans are certainly going to try to run the ball down the Giants’ throat. Will the front seven on defense play like they did against the Bears (first half), or will they play like they did against the Jaguars?

Rookie QB Vince Young places added stress on a defense – just like Michael Vick – with his feet. The Titans will run the option and other designed QB-move plays, and Young certainly can hurt you when the play breaks down. The front four absolutely must maintained disciplined rush lanes. And with William Joseph subbing for Michael Strahan, the Giants certainly are far less athletic at strongside end. And the two outside linebackers are not the fastest guys either.

The Titan passing attack is not impressive, but Young will occasionally make a throw that makes you say, “Wow!” WR Drew Bennett is the Titans’ most consistent and dangerous receiving target. He will be covered by Corey Webster (assuming Corey plays – he’s questionable with a toe injury). The other receiver is Brandon Jones, who only has 14 catches on the year. Young’s second favorite receiver is TE Bo Scaife and the Giants need to do a better job of covering the tight end than they did against Jacksonville.

The most important thing is for the Giants to play aggressively and be physical. The season is on the line, play like it! It’s time to start creating some turnovers too.

Giants on Offense: Everyone and their mother knows the Giants are going to run, run, run. Coughlin lamented all week about not running the ball more against the Jaguars. So did Tiki Barber. So did the fans and the press. If I’m Tennessee Head Coach Jeff Fisher, I sell out against the run and put Eli Manning in difficult down-and-distance situations. Most fans are going to disagree with me – especially given the fact that Tennessee has the third worst rushing defense in the NFL – but I’d be very careful not to run the ball too much early in the game, especially on first down. I think this plays right into Tennessee’s hands.

I would use the short- to intermediate-passing game to hurt the Titans first, put a score up on the board, then come back with the power running game. If Eli can’t hurt a Titans’ defense with eight or nine men stacked in the box against the run, then this team isn’t going to make the playoffs anyways. Don’t play scared. Play your game. If the defense dares you to hurt them with the pass, then hurt them with the pass.

The Titans should be tougher in run defense with the return of DT Albert Haynesworth from suspension. Left defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch can rush the passer so RT Kareem McKenzie needs to play well in pass protection. The linebackers are very solid, led by Keith Bulluck. He’s a play-maker and one of the best in the business.

The Titans’ most physically-gifted, but inconsistent, corner is Pacman Jones. He will face Plaxico Burress. Jones does well in man-to-man, press coverage. The Giants need Plax to play well here and make some plays. The left corner is Reynaldo Hill, who has been bothered by an ankle injury. The safeties – Chris Hope and Lamont Thompson – are solid. Hope and Thompson have a total of six picks this year. That all said, Tennessee is the fifth worst pass defense in the NFL, mainly because they are not a strong pass-rushing team.

Eli’s got to stop trying to over-think and just play. Drop back quickly, set your feet, find the open man, and deliver the football. Get the ball to your play-makers – Barber, Shockey, and Burress – but if you see someone else wide open (i.e., Tim Carter or Visanthe Shiancoe), throw them the rock.

Stop worrying and start playing some football! C’mon, let’s get back to kicking ass!

Giants on Special Teams: Pacman Jones is a phenomenal punt returner who already has two touchdowns this year, including a superb effort last week against Philadelphia. Feagles need to punt it high and near the sidelines – like he did against Chicago two weeks ago.

Craig Hentrich is an outstanding punter and the Titans put a lot of emphasis in special teams play so I wouldn’t expect this to be the game where Chad Morton breaks one. Kickoff returner Derrick Ward has fumbled/muffed a return in two straight games.

The Giants need to be wary of a trick play on special teams such as a fake field goal or punt.

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Eric Kennedy

Founder and owner of BigBlueInteractive.com, which is now entering its 20th season. Follow Eric on Twitter @BigBlueInteract.

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