By Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com
Approach to the Game: In recent weeks, I’ve had this feeling that I am unaccustomed to, specifically, that I haven’t been terribly anxious about the upcoming Giants’ game. While I knew they could lose, I didn’t think it was likely. As long-time readers of this site know, that is not the norm for me. I am a worrier once the season starts, but not this year so far. I can’t explain it.
I’m trying to find a reason why to be worried about the Dolphins game. The best I can come up with is that PK Jay Feely or CB Will Allen will somehow exact their revenge on the Giants for letting them go. That’s more likely with Feely. For some reason, the Giants continue to take their chances with Lawrence Tynes. We all know that is going to cost them. It’s the one move that Jerry Reese made that doesn’t sit well with me. Not that I was a big fan of Feely, but he is a better football player than Tynes. Acquiring Tynes also cost us a draft pick.
An interesting aside that no one has talked about this week is that the Dolphins were interested in possibly hiring Reese a few years ago. How different would things be had that happened?
Back to the game. Could the Giants lose? Sure. Every weekend in college or pro football – every weekend – we see game or a score that leaves us scratching our heads. The Dolphins, while winless and beat up, still have good football players. And the Dolphins are not going to go winless in 2007. They will beat somebody.
But I don’t expect it to happen this weekend.
Giants on Special Teams: The Giants have had many, many bad place kickers, but I can’t recall anyone who makes me nervous about extra points like Lawrence Tynes does. While his statistics on field goals (10-of-12) don’t look bad, we know how shaky some of those kicks have been as well. The Giants need to cut bait on this guy before it hurts them bad. They are in a tight divisional race.
Feely, meanwhile, has been a perfect 12-of-12, including 4-of-4 in the 40-49 yard range.
The coverage units need to play well because rookie WR/returner Ted Ginn is a very, very fast and dangerous kickoff and punt returner. Anyone who saw him in college knows that.
Giants on Offense: The Dolphins are hurting on defense. LB Zach Thomas (neck) will miss the game. S Renaldo Hill (knee) is now out for the season. DT Vonnie Holliday is bothered by an ankle injury. DT Keith Traylor has had ankle and knee problems, and has been sick this week. (Injury update: Holliday has been ruled out of the game).
The Dolphins do have DE Jason Taylor. He can make the game-turning play with his ability to penetrate and disrupt. The Dolphins will drop him into coverage too. He’s a tough test for LT David Diehl.
But the Dolphins have been dreadful on defense. They can’t stop the pass or the run. Since they are 31st in run defense, we should see a heavy dose of Brandon Jacobs on Sunday, especially with Zach Thomas out. If the Giants don’t turn the football over or fall behind, it should be a long, long day for Miami against the run.
The Dolphins’ secondary has been ravaged by injuries. Aside from Will Allen, who will face Amani Toomer, they have guys starting who should be on the bench or on the street. The nickel corner, Mike Lehan, is now the starting right corner. He has the unenviable task of guarding Plaxico Burress. The safeties are just dreadful, and the linebackers, without Thomas, are overrated. Jeremy Shockey should also make some big plays.
The Giants shouldn’t get cute. They are the better and healthier team. Pound the football and take the life out of the Dolphins early. Again, as I said last week, turnovers are likely the only thing that will stop the Giants. If the Giants don’t turn the ball over, they should win easily.
Giants on Defense: The heart of the Dolphins’ offense – HB Ronnie Brown and QB Trent Green – are now on Injured Reserve. Miami also recently traded away WR Chris Chambers, their best receiver. Cleo Lemon will start at quarterback; Jesse Chatman at running back. Who? What? Before we all get too giddy, keep in mind that the Giants have a long and storied history of losing to no-name, back-up quarterbacks (okay, that’s the old Eric talking).
Making matters worse for Miami is that TE David Martin has been bothered by a groin injury (he may play however). (Injury Update: Martin has been ruled out of the game).
Chatman is averaging almost six yards per carry, but that stat is most likely deceiving and inflated with some cheap runs like last week against the Patriots. Still, as always, stop the run first. If the Dolphins can’t run, they will be in deep trouble. If I’m Miami, I try to grind it out, take time off the clock, keep the Giants’ offense off the field as much as possible, and keep the game close. Then let my specials out-play New York’s. The Giants ruin this strategy if they stop the run. The Giants love to rush the passer, but they have to stay disciplined and do the dirty work first.
The other key element is preventing Ginn – who is a speed merchant – from making big plays – either on passing plays or end arounds. The Giants’ corners and safeties will be challenged by his speed.