Courtesy of our favorite mystery guest contributor – “The Tall Guy”.
First quarter’s in the books. What happens Sunday?
Well, the first four games of the season have been finished. As Giants fans, where do we stand? If you had asked any of us before the season started what the record would be at this point during the season, most people would have said 3-1, with victories over the ‘Skins, Cards, and Rams. Given the offseason moves, most of us would have said that the Eagles had our number.
Well, the record is 3-1, but the results were somewhat unexpected. The Redskins seem to be motivated by Coach Shanahan, and the addition by subtraction of Albert Haynesworth seems to have revitalized a young and aggressive defensive unit. The Eagles, labeled “The Dream Team” by Vince Young, have woken up to the reality of the regular season. From the standpoint of the G-Men, there are areas of strength and areas of concern. The passing game is clicking, mental errors are down (‘nuf ‘ced), and the pass defense is good. The draft choices and free agent moves of the past few years look to be paying off. To paraphrase a line from Snow White, someday the Giants’ Prince will come. Prince Amakamura, that is. He should be ready to see limited duty shortly, perhaps after the bye week. Special teams are solid, and the emotional let-down from the Eagles game never materialized. On the negative side of the ledger, the running game is anemic, and the run defense seems to be porous. Both concerns will need to be addressed if Jerry Reese’s prediction of a playoff spot is going to prove accurate.
In looking at the schedule, the Giants face another avian adversary in the form of the Seattle Seahawks. This is the third of four games against the NFC West, and the first of two home games before the bye week. The last time that Seattle won a road game was November 14, 2010, and they have the worst ranked offense in the league. The Seahawks are a young team, and last week they gave Atlanta all that they could handle. Pete Carroll has Tarvaris Jackson playing with confidence, and he had a solid game last week. The former Viking is aided by another former Viking, Sidney Rice. The two of them should be familiar with each other from their time in Minnesota, and they represent a quick strike capability. Marshawn Lynch is a quality player, and represents the third consecutive game where the Giants have to contend with a running back that can gash them. The roster has turned over quite a bit from when the Giants last played the Seahawks, but they are still a young team. In spite of the youth movement, Seattle tends to hold up as the game goes on. In fact, they tend to outscore their opponents in the second half.
From a statistical standpoint, the Hawks rank 14th in the league in run defense, while the Giants are 24th in the league in run offense. In fact, the Seahawks rank in the middle of the pack in most defensive categories. The Cards had a better run defense, so the G-Men should look to try and work out their problems running the ball in this game. When the Seahawks have the ball it looks a little different. One Seattle scribe described the Seattle offensive line as “turnstiles.” The Giants have a terrific pass rush, and if the Hawks can’t move the ball on the ground or use short passes, the Giants should be able to ratchet up the pressure. The G-Men are 5th in the league in sacks despite not having Osi for three games and Justin Tuck for two. Tarvaris Jackson is a mobile quarterback, and he might look to mitigate the rush by moving the pocket or rolling out. The conventional wisdom against a strong pass rush is traps, draws, and screens.
Mario Manningham appears to be something of a forgotten man, at least by last week’s statistics. Eli Manning lectured him on the sidelines during the game, so it may be the case that he was still a little foggy from the concussion. Manningham is too good a receiver to be kept down for long, and Kevin Gilbride will look to work him into the game plan. The development of Jake Ballard at the tight end slot should continue to grow as the season progresses and he and Eli grow used to each other. The other fact to note is that the Seahawks only have two interceptions this year. The offensive game plan might look to test the secondary, especially if the running game can get going.
The one concern for the Giants is injuries. David Baas has a burner, which would leave the center’s slot in the hands of Kevin Boothe. He was beaten on one play, and this has been discussed elsewhere. He will likely get a lot of reps in practice this week, and shouldn’t be a major area of concern. Justin Tuck is also banged up, and could see limited action. That leaves the QB slot. Eli Manning is on a torrid pace this year, and seems to play lights out football in October. Eli caught a lot of heat this summer over his comments that he was an elite quarterback in the same class as Tom Brady. This year, Eli Manning’s rating is third in the league behind Aaron Rodgers and…Tom Brady. This week should provide an opportunity for Manning to burnish his record.
Looking ahead, if only briefly, brings the start of the AFC East opponents. In succession, the G-Men will face the Bills, Dolphins, and Patriots. The Bills are playing with confidence, and this week’s contest versus the Eagles will prove a measuring stick as to how far they have come. The Dolphins have their own injury issues, as Chad Henne is done for the season with surgery on his non-throwing shoulder. The Dolphins have signed fromer Viking and Giant back-up QB Sage Rosenfels to their roster as a replacement. After that comes the game against the Patriots. We’ll discuss each of these games in turn, but for now, we offer this prediction:
The Seahawks are a young and aggressive team, and Pete Carroll is a teacher and a motivator. They are still somewhat thin with talent, and will have a cross country flight to deal with. The team picks doesn’t appear to fold late in games, and actually outscore opponents in the second half. The Giants are playing at home after a tough two game road stretch, and played come from behind in both games. It would be nice if they could play with a lead for once, and this looks to be the game where they do it. Talent wise, we give the Giants the edge. That, a raucous home crowd, and the fact that they play well in October argues for a Giant win. Let’s say 27-10 as a final.