By Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com
Approach to the Game – Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Giants, November 28, 2010: With the avalanche of injuries, especially concentrated at wide receiver and the offensive line, it’s easy for Giants’ fans to start feeling sorry for themselves. Only two weeks ago, many were calling the Giants the best in the NFC. Now unless they finish the last six games 5-1 or 4-2, they probably won’t make the playoffs.
Fans can afford to feel this way. The coaches and players can’t. At 6-4, the Giants are very much still in this thing. If – and it’s a big if – the Giants can just scrape by the next two games and get to 8-4, they might start getting some of the walking wounded back.
It’s easy for the players to get down. With one injury after another, it’s like the Big Guy upstairs is plotting against the Giants. But Tom Coughlin and his players have to be like Lieutenant Dan shouting at God in the movie Forrest Gump when the Hurricane strikes the shrimping boat.
“You’ll never sink this boat! Come on! You call this a storm? Blow, you son of a bitch, blow! It’s time for a showdown – you and me! I’m right here – come and get me! You’ll never sink this boat!”
So if Fate wants to keep hitting the Giants with injuries, so be it. Bring it! It’s time to climb the ships mast and laugh at Fate. The Giants are not feeling sorry about themselves. They don’t want your pity. Unlike 2009, they will fight to the bitter end. So who’s with them? We only want the crazy ones who are ready to laugh at the storm.
Giants on Defense: The defense has to carry the team for the next few weeks. Let’s say it again. The defense has to carry the team for the next few weeks. It’s not enough to get off the field. The Giants have to get some turnovers, and ideally take some of those to the house. They have the talent to do it. Get it done.
The key to defending the Jaguars is obviously stopping the running game and halfback Maurice Jones-Drew. The Jaguars are sixth in the NFL in rushing. Jacksonville only wins when they can run the football. Stop the running game and they struggle. This is not the time for the Giants’ run defense, which has played well for the most part this season, to come up with a stinker. On the contrary, it’s time to pick it up even more. That includes the defensive line, linebackers, and secondary.
When the Jaguars puts the ball up, much depends on which version of David Garrard shows up. In some games, Garrard looks terrible; in others, he looks like world beater. Obviously, if you take away his running game, and get after him with the pass rush, his life becomes much more difficult on gameday.
The biggest threat in the passing game might be Mercedes Lewis, a huge tight end who can really make plays on the football down the field. The Giants have done a good job of defending the tight end this season, but they really will be challenged by Lewis who already has eight touchdown receptions. Reserve tight end Zach Miller can also catch the football. And Jones-Drew is dangerous out of the backfield.
The receivers on Jacksonville are an ordinary group. Corey Webster, Terrell Thomas, and Aaron Ross must shut these guys down.
Giants on Offense: The amount of bashing Eli Manning has taken this week for one bad game is unbelievable. But that’s the nature of being the Giants’ quarterback. Like Phil Simms, many won’t appreciate him until he is gone.
The offense struggled to both run and pass the football last week against the Eagles. The injuries are catching up with this team. This isn’t a video game. You can’t just plug in one reserve after another and not expect it to have an impact on the quarterback and running game. But people can’t seem to connect the dots.
Until they get some guys back, Tom Coughlin, Kevin Gilbride, and Eli Manning have to change their offensive philosophy. They are not the same offensive team they were a month ago. They must adjust. Be more conservative on offense. That does not mean just run the football, but use more conservative passing plays. Use the tight ends and running backs as receivers. Eli needs to be less of a gunslinger and more of a game manager. If no one is open, throw the football away or take a sack. Punt. Don’t put the defense in a bad spot. It’s not going to be pretty. It’s not going to be exciting. But there is no shame in winning a 16-7 game. Just get the win.
Assuming Shawn Andrews cannot play this weekend, the Giants will have to rely on Will Beatty to play left tackle, as Kevin Boothe also remains at left guard. By using a more conservative passing attack, less pressure will be placed on these two as well.
Jacksonville’s defense really is a no-name group. They don’t really have any dynamic defensive linemen who can rush the passer. They also are not very good against the run either. But given the injuries on the offensive line, the Giants can’t take anyone for granted.
The Jaguars are terrible at defending the pass, being 28th in the NFL. But without Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks, the strategy of the Jaguars is obvious. They will stack the line of scrimmage with extra defenders, focus coverage on Mario Manningham, and dare the other scrubs to beat them. I would. Why should Jacksonville fear Derek Hagan, Duke Calhoun, and Michael Clayton?
Brandon Jacobs has regained the start running back job. But he needs good blocking up front in order to get going. Given the state of the Giants’ offensive line – relying on two players who have not practiced much at all this season – can the Giants run the ball against a defense loaded up to stop the run? Questionable at best. But the Giants have to try. Maybe they should not run in obvious running situations and pick up short gains in the passing game. Short pass on first down. Come back with a run on second down. Keep the chains moving. And at all costs, do not turn the football over!!! (Keep in mind that Jacobs has had some fumbling issues this year too).
Dial it down Tom, Kevin, and Eli. Play it more safe. Don’t turn the football over. Don’t put your defense in a bad spot.
Giants on Special Teams: Special teams are crucial in tight ball games, especially low-scoring defensive affairs. Matt Dodge has been up and down all season. They need more ups than downs from here on out.
Prediction: I’m one of the crazy ones ready to climb the mast and laugh at the hurricane of injuries. I don’t know how, but this team will be 8-4 in two weeks.