Approach to the Game – New York Giants at Kansas City Chiefs, October 4, 2009: All Giants’ fans know the story Lieutenant Colonel Greg Gadson, the U.S. Army veteran who lost both his legs in Iraq and who served as an inspiration to the New York Giants during the 2007 NFL season. Gadson first addressed the Giants as a team in September 2007. Tom Coughlin wrote about that meeting in his book, A Team To Believe In.
“Everyone took away something different from a story like Greg’s, and here is what stuck with me: vigilance. He relayed the story of a soldier on patrol in a violent section of Baghdad. The solder goes out on patrol one night and doesn’t have to fire his weapon. He breathes a sigh of relief when he gets back to the base and doesn’t bother cleaning his weapon for his next patrol the following night, assuming he will be safe again. But vigilance and preparation are what keeps the soldier alive. Human nature is to relax; it’s not to clean a gun, not to run the extra lap, not to get up thirty minutes early to get more done. Human nature will get you beat every time.”
The vigilance of Tom Coughlin, his coaching staff, and his players will be severely tested over the course of the next two weeks. Fans and the media are already counting Sunday’s game against the Chiefs on Sunday and the following game against the Raiders as automatic wins. If the Giants’ coaches and players adopt that same mindset – even a little bit – that they can relax against the Chiefs and Raiders, they run the very real risk of being defeated and losing the small lead (one game in the standings) in the competitive NFC East.
Giants on Offense: Statistically, the Chiefs’ defense is not impressive. They rank 21st in the NFL in yards allowed and 27th points allowed. They have not been very tough against the pass (20th) or run (19th).
The game plan for New York? The same as it was last week and every week: use the Giants’ very balanced offense to take advantage of what the opponent is giving up. If the Chiefs load up against the run, throw the football. If they play farther off in order to prevent the big play in the passing game, run the football. That’s the beauty of the Giants’ offense.
The Chiefs have undergone a major shift defensively this season, moving from the 4-3 to the 3-4 and they are having their problems adjusting. 3-4 defenses have given the Giants problems at times. Both of the Chiefs’ ends (Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson) are young, high first-round draft picks. Tamba Hali is another first rounder; he has moved from end to linebacker and can rush the passer. The Chiefs will move him to the down position in obvious pass-rushing situations. The starting corners are both second-year players who are improving. There is some talent on this unit and it should improve with time, but it’s a relatively young defense. The Giants should be able exploit that inexperience. The two veterans of the group are SS Mike Brown, who was an instinctive play-maker in Chicago, and SLB Mike Vrabel, who is on the downside of his career.
Assuming Hakeem Nicks plays and is relatively healthy, the Giants may want attack the Chiefs with a talented three-wide set of Manningham, Smith, and Nicks. Opposing tight ends have had productive games against Kansas City as well. The Chiefs have had issues defending the cutback run, so we may see another big game from Ahmad Bradshaw this week if his ankle holds up.
The Giants need to protect the football – again turnovers are the great equalizer. They also need to continue to improve in the red zone.
Giants on Defense: Statistically, the Chiefs are even worse on offense, ranking 30th in total yards, 28th in passing yards, and 22nd in rushing yards. But there is talent on this unit. Matt Cassel has struggled but is no Byron Leftwich. We all know that Larry Johnson can run the football. Much depends on whether WR Dwayne Bowe (hamstring) plays. WR Mark Bradley is the speedster of the group, but he is inconsistent. WR Bobby Wade is the veteran route runner.
The strength of the Chiefs’ offensive line is its left side. Left tackle Branden Albert is an impressive second-year player and another first rounder. Brian Waters is a very good left guard. The Chiefs will test DE Osi Umenyiora and LB Michael Boley in run defense on the weakside repeatedly. However, Kansas City may have problems on their right side in pass protection with RT Ike Ndukwe against Mathias Kiwanuka and/or Justin Tuck (shoulder).
Giants on Special Teams: The big worry here is the funk that Lawrence Tynes admits he is in. The Giants have changed Tynes’ mechanics and he is still adjusting. It will be interesting to see if Domenik Hixon (knee) can make it back this week and contribute as a returner.