By Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com
Approach to the Game: To continue using my sinking ship analogy from last week’s preview, the Giants have obviously righted the ship. And while the team trails the undefeated Cowboys by two games (made worse by already losing a head-to-head game), the Giants are not in bad shape.
But to seriously contend for a playoff spot this year, the Giants need to string some wins together. And to catch the Cowboys the Giants may have to win all their games in October.
But the team can’t think like that. It’s a beaten-to-death cliché but it is true – take it one game at a time.
Personally, I think this game against the Jets is extremely dangerous. At 1-3, the Jets are a desperate team. This game may represent their season. And you know how worked up the Jets and their fans get about playing the Giants.
As for the Giants, this team has a long history under Jim Fassel and Tom Coughlin of getting too lackadaisical when it starts feeling good about itself. Through four games, they shouldn’t. Both the offense and defense have been tremendously inconsistent. The special teams are still a sore spot.
What worries me the most is this – the game against the Jets is a non-conference game coming right after two tough, do-or-die division games. That usually is a recipe for a let down.
Giants on Special Teams: I’m going to continue listing special teams first until the special teams units out-play their opponent and actually are a key factor in winning a football game. Through four games, new Special Teams Coach Tom Quinn and his various units have not been impressive. There are long-snapping issues, missed chip-shot field goals and an extra point, poor kickoff and punt coverage, and no big punt or kick return. The best thing you can say is that Jeff Feagles has been steady and the Giants have come close to blocking a couple of punts. Get your sh*t together guys! At least – at least – two games a year are decided by special teams. That’s the difference between 10-6 and 8-8.
Leon Washington is very dangerous on returns. He already has returned one kickoff for a touchdown this season.
Giants on Offense: The Giants need to get the offense back on track. The running game with Derrick Ward has been OK, but it has not been dynamic. It will be interesting to see which of the running backs starts and receives more playing time. Brandon Jacobs (knee) has practiced fully all week; Ward (ankle) has been limited again. If Jacobs sees the bulk of the action, which I suspect, how much of a factor will be the knee and/or the layoff from not playing? If Ward sees the bulk of the playing time, does he hurt his old team?
The Jets employ a combination 3-4/4-3 defense. The good news is that the Giants have played against both styles already this year. The Jets’ defense has been surprisingly soft this year. The center of the defense, NT Dewayne Robertson (knee) has been limited in practice. The Jets’ leading tackler, S Erik Coleman, will like miss the game due a concussion. The Jets will miss his run defense.
If Jacobs is healthy, pound the football. Feed the Beast! But the Giants should aggressively attack the Jets as well through the air as the Jets’ pass defense has been suspect. Rookie LCB Darrelle Revis played well against the Giants in the preseason. He will line up over Amani Toomer. The gimpy Plaxico Burress will face RCB David Barrett. Nickel corner Andre Dyson has been limited with a foot problem. This may be the week that we finally see some big plays out of Sinorice Moss.
Personally, I think the Giants need to get Jeremy Shockey more involved again. Last week was too reminiscent of last year’s early part of the season when the Giants didn’t throw much to Shockey. Shockey can cause match-up problems. Take advantage of that!
Lastly, don’t forget that Jacobs can catch the football. He can be extremely dangerous on a screen pass with a full head of steam.
Giants on Defense: I’m not completely comfortable that this unit has come out of the woods yet. The Eagles are not a strong running team, and even without their most dynamic back, they gashed the Giants’ run defense for some decent-sized runs. Some of this came on plays where the defense was being too aggressive, but the reasons don’t really matter, the results do. The Giants’ defensive tackles need to start playing better. It’s nice to get to the quarterback, but the ends also need to play disciplined run defense. If I’m the Jets this week, I use a lot of draws, screens, and misdirection to take advantage of a defensive line that might be looking for too many highlight reel-type plays. I may also throw in a flea flicker. Be careful defensive line! And the safeties had better be careful of the trick play.
The Giants are not going to accrue 12 sacks in one game again. And Osi Umenyiora is not going to get six sacks in one game again. That was a one-time deal folks. But this defensive line can present all kinds of problems and the Jets’ offensive line has not been impressive. The Jets are struggling to run the football and the passing game has sputtered at times. Chad Pennington is playing on a gimpy ankle.
The back-up running back, Leon Washington, actually worries me more than the starting halfback, Thomas Jones. Washington is quick, elusive, and fast. He can hurt you running the ball or catching it. He is the type of back who can present match-up problems for linebackers – the type of match-up problems the Giants avoided last week against the Eagles with Brian Westbrook missing the game. Plus, Pennington is a much better short thrower than long-ball quarterback. The short passing game with our linebackers in coverage still worries me. TE Chris Baker can also catch the football and the Giants have had issues with tight ends (keep in mind that the Eagles were without TE L.J. Smith last week too).
CB Sam Madison and WR Laveranues Coles have played against each other before from the old Jets-Dolphins rivalry. That is an important match-up in this game as well.