Thursday, December 29, 2011

Giants: Cowboys Game 2 Preview

Osi got back on the practice field Wednesday and several players said that he looked as fast as ever. I think Osi is protecting himself and wanted to get back on the field only when he was in 100% tip top shape so he could promote himself for his next contract. If he had played when he wasn't fully recovered, teams looking at him would judge him as a player diminished by age rather than as one who was injured. If he is 100% now, he was probably 80% last week and could have conceivably played and given something to the team. JPP and Tuck could have used a break from the 90 or so snaps they took on defense. I love a guy that puts himself over the team.

Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham are both hurting and the Giants will need a full complement of receivers to punish the Cowboys secondary. In my preview of the game against the Jets,  I said I did not like the match up of their defense against the Giants offense. Giants have a pass heavy offense and Jets have very good CBs. I turned out to be right - Eli had his lowest completion percentage in a long time but did make enough big plays to win it for the Giants. However, I love the match up against the Cowboys, because the passing game, the strongest part of the Giants offense is going against the Cowboys secondary, the weakest part of the Cowboys defense and among the weakest in the league. Eli threw for 400 yards in the first game and I don't see why he should not be successful this time either, unless of course two of his main threats are lame. Cowboys pass defense is predicated on getting to the passer, but with Ware hurting, that tactic might be mitigated somewhat. If Giants OL can block 'em up, the offense should be productive.

On defense, the Cowboys OL did a very good job against the Giants DL in game 1, both blocking for the run and providing pass protection for Romo. But with Tuck back healthy and with JPP playing at another gear, with Phillips back playing well and with Jacquian Williams playing better and improving with each snap, you can hope that the Giants defense will not be as porous as it was last time. However, the Cowboys have a very intelligent coach. With the Giants simplifying their schemes, playing more man-to-man, a defensive playbook which the Cowboys now have on film from the Jets game, they in turn adjust and can devise a plan that takes advantage of the anticipated Giants defense. What it will come down to is the Giants DL defeating the Cowboys OL in their individual one-on-one battles to control the game.

Amukamara hardly got on the field last week and when he got on, he was immediately picked on by Sanchez who threw a TD pass to Burress which was called back because of penalty. Amukamara will have to play some this week - Jets don't have the depth at WR which would require all 3 CBs on the field; they got away often with 3 safeties and used Rolle in coverage often. However, the Cowboys have more depth and talent at WR and will surely play offensive packages that require Amukamara to get on the field. Let's hope the Prince has learned to be competent in his coverage and maybe even make a play or two. Jets lined up two TEs  fairly often and a FB, and often had Burress on the bench. The Jets WRs don't stretch the defense like the Cowboys do. With Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Laurent Robinson along with a  threat at TE in Witten, Amukamara will absolutely have to play.

If Fewell starts Osi at DE and shifts JPP to DT full time, he should be fired at halftime. Osi will be fine to play on some obvious passing downs and to give Tuck and JPP a breather, but he should not get the bulk of the snaps. His trademark wide speed rush reaching back for the ball in the QB's right hand could be particularly effective against a QB with an injured hand. I would not be surprised if Cowboys use some more short passes to get get the ball out of Romo's hands more quickly and perhaps run more two TE sets to keep extra blockers in to protect Romo from the pass rush. Of course, this plays into the Giants new defensive tactic of not playing so much zone and trying to take away those short easy throws.

JPP has become a dynamic player and he is not just a pass rusher; he is a great run defender. He is leading all NFL DL-men in tackles. I don't think I am overstating things when I say that JPP will be the most dominant defensive player in football for the next 5 years, if he is not already. This is of course another reason that Osi should be shown the door this off-season. Giants should lock JPP up as soon as possible with a long term deal and how much money can you invest in one position?

I want to repeat that Jacquian Williams is really coming on and improving. He played his best game of the year against the Jets and his uptick in performance started in the first Cowboys game when he did a great job on Witten. He may be called on to do the same this week. He is a tremendous athlete and agreat physical specimen; it's just a question of him learning the game, which he seems to be doing. i am not giving up on Greg Jones or Herzlich for the future. Giants have some real young talent at the LB position for the future. But week 17 against the Cowboys is not a time to start making draft plans for next April. It's about kicking the @#$%^ Cowboys to the curb and sending them back to Dallas so they can reserve tee times for next week.

The worry for me is that Jason Garrett is a smart guy and I expect he will come up with a revised game plan to handle the defense he saw in the first game and that he saw on film in the Jets game. (He doesn't really need to change what he did in game 1, but can learn from the Jets game film.) I don't have confidence that Fewell can adjust on the fly to what Garrett does.

After beating the Cowboys, the Giants compass was pointing upwards and everyone expected the rise to continue witha  win against the pitiful Redskins. Of course, they lost to the Redskins and made Rex Grossman look like a star. Then after the Redskins loss, the needle or the Giants was definitely pointing downward and even the most ardent Giants fan expected them to lose to the Jets. They fooled everyone and beat the Jets. Now after, the Jets win, Giants are confident and hopeful, their fans pumped up and expecting the best, but who's to say that the alternating up-down cycle doesn't continue. On paper, I think the Giants have a good chance, but who knows what happens Sunday night.

All Giants season ticket holders got a phone call from Eli Manning (it was recorded, not Eli actually dialing 80,000 fans). On the call, Eli tried to pump everyone up, asked them for their greatest support, asked them to be proud and be loud and cheer the Giants on to victory. It was a nice gesture, but it seems a little lame and small-town to me. That's something they do in Kansas City or Jacksonville to get the hometown fans excited. We don't need that in NY area. We know when to get excited and cheer. I wonder if Eli made the call to all the Cowboys fans that bought tickets from Giants season ticket holders. There are always a lot of Cowboys fans at Giants games and it really annoys me.

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