I decided to take a look back at the Giants Falcons Wild Card Playoff game from last year to see just how the GMen handled the high powered Falcons. There are of course some differences in the two teams and in the venue from last season, but some of the schemes might prove successful again this year.
The notable changes from last year for the Giants begins on kickoff returns. Last year these duties were manned by Jerrell Jernigan, and this year by David Wilson. We all saw how Wilson could be a game wrecker if given the chance. This obviously didn’t come into play last year as the Giants only received one kickoff, and that to start the game. Difference two is Martellus Bennett instead of Jake Ballard. This two fold as Ballard might have been a bit better at blocking, but I think Bennett has more potential as regular weapon. Ahmad Bradshaw is out for Sundays game and Brandon Jacobs is sitting at home suspended earlier this week by the 49ers. In step David Wilson, Kregg Lumpkin, and Ryan Torrain. The Giants rushed for over 200 yards last year in the Wild Card game, this might be the biggest difference. However the Giants tried to run a lot of screens and wheel routes to Bradshaw and DJ Ware last year, these might be more successful with Wilson and Lumpkin. One other note of significance is the loss of “The Prince”. Say what you will about Prince Amukamara, but he is certainly willing to play the run and make a big hit. Jayron Hosley is not as physical as Prince and the Falcons might try to run at him this week.
One of the most significant factors in last years win was the controlling of TE Tony Gonzalez. Gonzalez was held to two catches in the entire first half and was consistently unable to block JPP on running plays. The Giants employed many different looks against Tony including stopping him at the line using Tuck and JPP, then covering him with Boley, Williams, and Rolle at different times. Taking away the easy quick pass to Matt Ryans favorite target certainly added to Ryans uncomfortable feeling that day. That will be the goal again this week, to make Ryan uncomfortable. You can’t help but notice his “Happy Feet” as the game progresses as the Giants got consistent pressure up the middle and made him move.
The Falcons should have two advantages this week. One will be home field where they are undefeated this year, and can control the crowd noise that Matt Ryan seemed to struggle with last year. They also will not be saddled with their coaches proclamation that he would go for it on any 4th and short, just to prove he had not made a mistake earlier in the year. Some of you will recall the Falcons tried to make a 4th and one against the Saints, in overtime, in their own end of the field, and it cost them a game. The Falcons had three 4th and shorts against the Giants, and made none.
The Falcons were able to bring heavy pressure last year against Eli for most of the first half. That of course must change. The O-line needs to give Eli time, just as the defense has to force Matt Ryan to panic a bit.
Stop the run, run the ball, create turnovers, and score some points….Sounds easy….We will see just how easy come Sunday afternoon.