By Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com
Approach to the Game – Washington Redskins at New York Giants, December 18, 2011: You can feel the momentum changing in the Giants’ favor. Could it be that the Giants are beginning to peak at the right time? One could certainly make that case for the offensive side of the football. The passing game is hitting on all cylinders right now and except for the perennially-injured Travis Beckum, Eli has all of his targets healthy. This is a far cry from last season when the Giants were left with Mario Manningham and a bunch of free agents signed off the street. The running attack is also coming off arguably its best performance of the season too with Brandon Jacobs running well against a very good front seven in Dallas.
And shhhh! Quietly, the special teams are having a very steady season. Yes, the return game is still disappointing, but the Giants are getting strong seasons out of both their kickers and the coverage units have performed fairly well except for the major breakdown against DeSean Jackson last month.
We all know what the problem is – the NFL’s 30th ranked defense. It’s a defense that can’t stop the run or the pass. It’s confused and clearly lacking confidence and leadership. It’s a defense that is putting a tremendous amount of pressure on the offense to perform at a high level each and every week. And that’s not always possible (see the Eagles game in the Meadowlands). Can the Giants win the NFC East with this defense? Can they make a playoff run?
This Redskins team already beat the Giants once this year and gave the New England Patriots fits last week. The Giants are coming off two emotionally-draining games and will need to dig deep to find fresh reserves of energy and intensity for yet another week.
Giants on Offense: Eli Manning is single-handily carrying this football team. Without him, the Giants are probably a 2- or 3-win team. Six of the Giants’ seven victories have been fourth-quarter comebacks led by Manning. He also tied the game with under a minute to go against Green Bay and was a play away from beating the Seahawks (slip by Cruz) and tying the 49ers. At the age of 30, he has become the very definition of a franchise quarterback, an elite play-maker who elevates the performance of his entire team. Eli is carrying this team and it’s something to behold. Since Y.A. Tittle had a defense, I don’t think anything like this has ever happened in Giants’ history.
The amount of pressure on Eli to perform at a high level on almost every play is immense right now. The season came perilously close to ending last Sunday night. The Giants were 12 points down on the road with under six minutes to play. Can Eli keep this up?
The Redskins have a very respectable 3-4 defense (11th in the NFL). It’s well-coached and Washington has two outside linebackers who can rush the passer – Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan. It will probably help the Giants’ offensive line that they are playing a 3-4 defense for the third week in a row.
The Giants need the left side of the offensive line to pass protect better than it did against the Cowboys and RT Kareem McKenzie will also be challenged by the quickness of the outside linebackers.
If the line plays well – along with the tight ends and fullback as blockers – the Giants should be able to move the football against Washington and score. Their secondary is suspect and the Giants have a lot of offensive weapons. It will be interesting to see if Brandon Jacobs will run with the same type of authority he did against the Cowboys. That was his best game in quite some time.
Remember…turnovers are the great equalizer. Don’t lose the turnover battle!
Giants on Defense: The Redskins moved the ball surprisingly well last week against a Patriots’ defense that is also struggling. QB Rex Grossman can still surprise you with good plays and rookie HB Roy Helu has injected new life into Washington’s ground game. But the Skins will be missing TE Fred Davis and their offensive line is a bit of a mess.
I can’t tell you how angry I am with the Giants’ defense. It truly is pathetic. Yes, injuries are a problem. Umenyiora remains out and Tuck is playing like a journeyman. Once again, the high praise given to the defensive line in the preseason was misplaced because these guys can’t stay healthy. Chase Blackburn was sitting on his couch a few weeks ago and now he’s starting. Jacquian Williams is not the player he will be with more experience. In the secondary, some folks ask what is wrong with Prince Amukamara. What is wrong? He’s playing on a surgically-repaired broken foot that is not completely healed. He only started running a few weeks ago. He missed all of camp, the preseason, and the bulk of the regular season. He’s not in shape (football or otherwise) and he certainly has not had enough reps to be mentally prepared for the NFL. Losing Terrell Thomas was huge, but losing replacements such as Justin Tryon and Michael Coe was also big. Fortunately, the Giants will have Kenny Phillips back this week at safety. But they may be without Tuck and Umenyiora is taking his own sweet time.
That all said, this defense seems to be reaching new lows every week. The defense is giving up yards and points at unacceptable levels. It’s bending and breaking. It can’t get off the field on third down, it can’t stop opposing teams in the red zone, and it can’t hold a lead with less than 60 seconds on the clock.
One “leader” keeps whining about how hurt he is…we get it Justin, you have a lot of boo-boos. Either shut it down, man up, or shut up. The unit’s other “ball-hawking leader” has two interceptions in two seasons and is yapping the Giants could beat the Redskins 99 times out of 100 games. The defense lacks personalities. It lacks accountability. It lacks leadership. Most damning, it lacks production.
And where is Perry Fewell in all of this? On Thursday, four days after the Cowboys game, the defensive players still can’t agree who messed up on the 50-yard touchdown to Dez Bryant. Fewell said on Thursday he would talk to the players to make sure they knew. Thanks Perry, get right on that will ya? And if you watched the sights and sounds video from the game, you see Prince Amukamara coming to the bench, confused about the coverage on the play where he gave up a 74-yard reception. Grant is heard chewing him out. Where are the position coaches? And Fewell walks right by simply saying, “Keep your heads up!” Great!
The mental breakdowns seem to be accelerating, not diminishing. The confidence is waning. Perry’s reaction…well Green Bay has a bad defense too. Holy shit!
Giants on Special Teams: The Giants’ unit is performing at an acceptable level. An unsung hero last week was Lawrence Tynes with six touchbacks in the game. Be wary of Brandon Banks of the Redskins. He is a very dangerous punt and kick returner.
The return game has to get going. The Giants are long overdue to break a big return.