Sep 292017
 
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Game Preview: New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, October 1, 2017

THE STORYLINE:

Well, it just so happens that your friend here is only mostly dead. – Miracle Max

The 2017 New York Giants aren’t all dead yet. But they are officially on life support. Lose to Tampa Bay, and Miracle Max will start rummaging through their uniforms looking for loose change.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • RB Shane Vereen (calf – probable)
  • RB Orleans Darkwa (back – questionable)
  • OT Bobby Hart (ankle – probable)
  • OL Brett Jones (hip – questionable)
  • DE Olivier Vernon (ankle – questionable)
  • LB Jonathan Casillas (ankle/wrist – questionable)
  • LB B.J. Goodson (shin – probable)
  • CB Janoris Jenkins (ankle – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
We can talk X’s and O’s, discuss personnel strengths and weaknesses, and analyze match-ups. But all of that is moot unless the New York Giants offensive coaches and players decide enough is enough, man up, and takes their frustration out on their defensive opponent. We can argue about personnel liabilities, but there is enough talent on this offense for it to not be 21st on offense in yardage and 31st in scoring. It is absolutely outrageous that the team is scoring only 12 points per game (with 24 of those points coming in the last quarter played). At least go down swinging. Get angry. Be a man.

Time has run out. The offensive coaches have to decide what the New York Giants’ offensive identity is going to be. It appears that any attempt to be “heavy handed” are fruitless with this offensive line. The Giants are DEAD LAST in rushing in the NFL. They are the only team in the League who aren’t even averaging 50 yards per game. That’s beyond pathetic. Making matters worse is that Tampa Bay is 4th in the NFL in rush defense, allowing only 72.5 yards per game. Ironically, that figure would be a season high for New York…that’s how bad the Giants running game is. But at the same time, New York has only rushed the ball 47 times in three games. Chicken or egg? Is the running game bad because of the personnel or have the coaches shown enough commitment to the run? The wiggle room is gone. They can’t afford to experiment anymore. If they are going to save their season, they need to pick and identity and sink or swim with it.

Exacerbating matters this week is the injury situation. Their most reliable back (Shane Vereen) and their most productive between-the-tackles back (Orleans Darkwa) are hurt. Neither seem to be able to stay healthy. Paul Perkins has been a major disappointment. Whether it is lack of talent, him pressing, or the guys up front, he’s barely averaging 2 yards per carry. Rookie Wayne Gallman has yet to play this year. Would the coaches dare to put the fate of their season in the hands of a rookie?

The waiving of fullback Shane Smith could be a sign that the Giants – for better or worse – are going full bore West Coast Offense finesse again. Tight end Rhett Ellison isn’t getting the snaps anticipated and his run blocking has not been as good as expected. Odell Beckham seems to be rounding back into form. Brandon Marshall finally got into the action. And Sterling Shepard broke what should have been the game-deciding play last week. Evan Engram is still green, but he’s receiving valuable playing time each week and it is only a matter of time before he explodes.

To build upon the 4th-quarter success the Giants experienced last week, New York has to cut down on the mistakes. There were too many penalties, too many turnovers, and an inability to execute in crucial situations (see both 4th-down conversion attempts). The Giants should have beaten a very good Eagles team last week and they know it.

Manning will probably have to throw the ball at least 45 times in this game. Get it into the hands of your play-makers and see what happens.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The offense has sucked. But I’m not going to let the defense off of the hook. Many anticipated that the defense would have to carry the team again this year. It was hoped that the defense might even be better than the 2016 version. That hasn’t happened. Worse, the Giants have fallen to DEAD LAST in run defense. It’s bad. They are allowing over 150 yards rushing per game. And last week, the offense gave the defense two 4th quarter leads that the defense could not hold. Yeah, yeah, yeah… the defense is on the field too much, they wore down, etc. That shouldn’t matter to very good defenses. Make a play. Get off the field. Where are the turnovers? Where are the sacks? Why is the third down defense so shoddy? This group is underachieving, and specifically Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, Landon Collins, and Eli Apple. Partially due to injury, the linebackers haven’t been as good. And Darian Thompson isn’t the safety we were told he was.

Tampa can’t really run the ball either (27th in rushing) and doesn’t even try all that much (only team with fewer rushing attempts than the Giants). So the expectation (knock on wood) is that this is a good opponent for the Giants to start improving their league-worst run defense against. Obviously the strength of Tampa’s offense is their passing game (9th in the NFL). Jameis Winston is completing almost 66 percent of his passes. His TD/INT ratio is ordinary at best with three touchdowns and three interceptions. That said, he is a big, mobile quarterback with a strong arm and some very dangerous receivers in Mike Evans and former Eagle/Giants-killer DeSean Jackson. To me, the guy on the spot Eli Apple. I expected Apple to take a major step forward in 2017. Thus far, he has been a liability. The Giants coaches have been very defensive of him and he has had plenty of good coverage too (opposing teams are not racking up big yardage on the Giants – 6th in pass defense). But opposing teams are clearly targeting Apple and those 2-3 bad plays per game are killing New York. It’s not just the coverage breakdowns, but the penalties. Apple still is too grabby. And it won’t get easier with Evans and Jackson this week.

The other guys now officially under the microscope are Pierre-Paul and Vernon. They are being paid to be difference makers. Yet they aren’t making a difference. Get to the quarterback. Landon Collins hasn’t been “bad” but I had exceptionally high expectations of him based on his preseason play. In a secondary with three Pro Bowlers – Collins, Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – the Giants have NOT intercepted a pass this year. Get the ball!

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
Folks love to argue talent versus coaching, but I’ve always felt special teams was that one area where coaching deficiencies are obvious. Tom Quinn seems to do just enough to keep his job but his unit rarely excels. And worse, there always seem to be a few games each year where a major breakdown loses the game. It happened against Detroit with the punt return for a TD. And last week it happened again. Is it fair to blame Quinn for Brad Wing’s shank? Perhaps not. But damn it, it always appears to be something. To be blunt, Quinn’s special teams are a MAJOR reason why the Giants are 0-3 right now.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Ben McAdoo on the Buccaneers: “Offensively, they’re led by Jameis Winston, a very aggressive and talented quarterback. The youngest player in NFL history to throw 50 touchdowns. They’re very talented on the perimeter, as talented of a group as you’ll find in this league. Defensively, they’re fast, athletic. They make messes all over the field. They do a good job with their line stunts, and their linebackers run well to the football. (Gerald) McCoy is a tremendous player at the three technique. He can wreck a game if you don’t account for him early and often. Their linebackers are a fast flow and active group. The secondary – they play very well to the front. Special teams – (Bryan) Anger is a tremendous directional punter, does a good job hanging it up there, puts it where he wants to put it. Nick Folk is a reliable kicker. He was just down the street a little bit ago and does a nice job for them.”

THE FINAL WORD

VALERIE: “Bye-bye, boys.”
MIRACLE MAX: “Have fun storming the castle.”
VALERIE (to Max): “Think it’ll work?”
MIRACLE MAX: “It would take a miracle.”

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Eric Kennedy

Eric Kennedy is Editor-in-Chief of BigBlueInteractive.com, a publication of Big Blue Interactive, LLC. Follow @BigBlueInteract on Twitter.

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