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 September 13, 2007  Posted by on September 13, 2007 Game Previews and Reviews
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by Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com

Approach to the Game – Green Bay Packers at New York Giants, September 16, 2007: Stating the obvious, the good news last week was the continued strong play of Eli Manning and the offense as a whole. But the Dallas game was an utter disaster. Losing three of the cornerstone players of the team in one game to injury can derail an entire season. Hopefully all will be back sooner rather than later, but we still don’t know how their play will be affected by these injuries for the remainder of the season. Will Eli’s shoulder remain a problem all year? Will it affect his game? What if he gets driven into the ground again on it? How quick and agile will Umenyiora and Jacobs be when they return?

And the defense was beyond dreadful. Good God…what a way to waste a tremendous offensive performance. The Giants put 35 points up on Dallas – and lost!!! The Giants’ defense is dead last in the NFL in yards and points allowed. Unless the Giants turn the defense around very quickly, this team is going to stink this year. But this is what you get with years of shitty defensive player acquisitions.

As for the Packers game, unlike many, I don’t see this as a “must win” game for the Giants. It’s not panic time. Yet. But a 0-2 hole won’t help matters and would make the following week’s game against the Redskins critical.

Giants on Defense: I don’t even know where to begin. And if the Giants’ defensive coaching staff and defensive players don’t either, it will be a long, long season. 45 points and almost 500 yards of offense allowed in the first game is beyond dreadful. It’s reminiscent of the disgusting defenses that Giants had under Allie Sherman.

The first problem last week was the pass rush. There wasn’t any. This defense is built around the pass rush. It’s the supposed strength of the unit. Umenyiora is the best pass rusher on the team and when the Giants lost him, it had a domino effect on the entire defense. That fucking selfish bastard Strahan hurt his team big-time against Dallas. He was not in game-shape and it showed. Justin Tuck was OK, but Adrian Awasom was overmatched. Fred Robbins and Barry Cofield have to play better than they did last week too. If the down four can’t get the job done, then the defense will be dreadful. The tackles on the Packers, LT Chad Clifton and RT Mark Tauscher, are very steady. The guards are more inexperienced. Cofield and Robbins need a big rebound game here.

Moving Mathias Kiwanuka to linebacker never did sit quite right with me, especially after Strahan’s holdout. My basic problem is this – why have a guy, whose strength of his game is moving forward, move backwards? Imagine if Parcells had LT dropping into coverage all of the time? The future may prove me wrong, but why do I get the feeling that next year Kiwanuka will be back at defensive end on a full-time basis and we’ll be looking back on this experiment as a bad joke? The Giants had problems rushing the passer last week and we’re getting worn down up front, but they still had Kiwanuka try to cover one of the best tight ends in the game. He was completely overmatched. So not only did the Giants voluntarily take away a pass-rush weapon, but they handed the Cowboys an easy match-up to exploit. Stupid. Stupid coaching.

I’d rotate Kiwanuka, Tuck, and Strahan at defensive end and put Reggie Torbor or Chase Blackburn at strongside linebacker.

TE Donald Lee lacks ideal size, but he is a receiving threat. Look for the Packers to test the Giants ability to cover the tight end again this week since the G-Men were so hideous doing so against Dallas. TE Bubba Franks is overrated and hasn’t played all that well in recent years, but you can’t ignore him either.

The Giants’ safeties suck. James Butler has been a major disappointment. He’s an atrocious open-field tackler. Gibril Wilson is just too inconsistent.

The Packers have some decent receivers in Donald Driver and Greg Jennings. The scary match-up for the Giants is R.W. McQuarters against Driver. If McQuarters struggles, it may be time to bring in Corey Webster or Aaron Ross at left corner.

The Packers don’t run the ball very well. Vernand Morency is ordinary and has been bothered by tendonitis in one of his knees. The best back on their roster may be Ryan Grant, who the Giants traded to Green Bay at the beginning of this month. He should play this week and will be motivated to hurt his old team. Still, the Giants should be able to control the Packer running game.

This game defensively for the Giants is pretty easy to figure out. The Giants MUST get a good pass rush on Brett Favre from their down four or it is going to be another long day. If the Giants give Favre the kind of time they gave Tony Romo…well, I don’t even need to finish that thought. Furthermore, the undercoverage (linebackers and safeties) need to dramatically improve their play. On the other hand, if the Giants can get after Favre, despite all of his years in the league, he will still make some really stupid decisions and throw the game away.

Giants on Offense: It’s hard to predict how this is going to go. For one, we don’t know if Manning will play. And even if he does, will the shoulder injury affect his ability to throw the football? There will be big time pressure on Derrick Ward, Reuben Droughns, and Ahmad Bradshaw to perform with Brandon Jacobs out.

The bad news for the Giants is that the Packers have a very good defense that is young and getting better (must be nice – please take note Mr. Reese). Worse, the Packers just played the Eagles so they are pretty familiar with the style of defense that Steve Spagnuolo employs.

Up front, the Packer defensive line is big and physical. The Giants’ offensive line will be put to the test. The Giants have to be able to create movement at the line of scrimmage and run the football to help out whomever is playing quarterback. RT Kareem McKenzie will face Pro Bowl DE Aaron Kampman. RDE Cullen Jenkins is built more like a defensive tackle. RG Chris Snee draws a tough assignment against LDT Ryan Pickett.

To make matters worse, Green Bay has two very good linebackers in MLB Nick Barnett and WLB A.J. Hawk. These guys can play the run, cover, and blitz.

The safeties of the Packers are so-so and the corners are a tad overrated. The Giants receivers are not Philadelphia’s receivers. If Manning plays, plays well, and the offensive line gives him time, he could make some big plays on this group. RCB Al Harris is a player the Giants are familiar with from his days in Philadelphia. He will face Plaxico Burress. On paper, he’s the type of corner you want to put on Plaxico because he plays a physical game. But the Giants have hurt him in the past. Amani Toomer will line-up against Charles Woodson. Woodson will take chances. The Giants may be able to take advantage of nickel back Jarrett Bush.

Much depends on the quarterback play. If Manning or Lorenzen stink, the Packers will load up against the ground game and shut the Giants down. Even under normal circumstances, it would be tough going to run the ball against this group. But if the quarterback plays well, and the offensive line can pass protect, the Giants should be able to move the ball with passes to Shockey, Burress, Toomer, and Smith. Keep in mind that Ward, Droughns, and Bradshaw are good receivers too. That could come into play.

Giants on Special Teams: The Packers have a rookie place kicker (Mason Crosby) and a very good punter (Jon Ryan). Woodson returns punts and he can hurt you there.

The worry for the Giants remains the long snapping. Plus, Lawrence Tynes has been bothered by a calf injury.

One gets the sense that Bradshaw is going to break one soon.

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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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