Giants look to break Bayou voodoo hex, ruin Saints’ party
By Curt Macysyn
Is it a Big Easy hex?
When the New York Giants face off against the New Orleans Saints, everyone thinks points. Last season, these two teams combined for 101 points, the third most in a single-game in NFL history. For you history buffs, the G-Men were also involved in the highest scoring game of all time. The Washington Redskins and Giants put up 113 points on Nov. 27, 1966. The Giants lost that game 72-41, so it seems that the 1966 club may have had a worse defense than the 2015 squad.
It may be hard to believe that Big Blue actually leads the all time series against New Orleans 15-13. Maybe the hex was placed on former head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a 2-4 record against the black and gold. Coughlin’s teams gave up an average of 36 points per game to the Saints under his tenure. Yikes!
The week former Giants’ wide receiver Amani Toomer put it in perspective. According to the New York Post on Sept. 15, 2016, Toomer said, “It’s an overreaction to Week 1, even though I think they improved dramatically, especially on the defensive side of the ball.” Toomer made the comments as an MSG Network postgame analyst.
“Olivier Vernon made an immediate impact, Jason Pierre-Paul is playing much better and [is] more of a disruptive force now, more than a year after his hand surgery. Everything looks good, but my only concern is if Tony Romo was in that game, we are having an entirely different conversation right now.”
Simply put, the Dallas Cowboys were tailor-made for a strong win for the G-Men. The ‘Boys were starting rookies at quarterback and running back on opening day for only the second time in their history. In addition, due to NFL suspensions, Dallas was emasculated on defense without Demarcus Lawrence, Rolando McClain and Randy Gregory.
Hanging on for a one-point win (20-19) was good for psyche, but perhaps not so great inside the position rooms. The reality is that the defense will be a work in progress until all the kinks are ironed out. Getting wins while the unit jells is the objective here, so another Giants-Saints shootout will not be devastating. It will only be a negative if the Giants come out on the wrong end of the score.
In addition, NJ.com reports on Sept. 16, 2016 that defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is questionable for the Saints’ game with a shoulder injury.
“If we would have had practice today, he would not have practiced,” McAdoo said. “We’ll take a look at him tomorrow, when we have an opportunity to get out on the field and practice.”
This week, we quote Oakland Raiders owner, the late Al Davis, “Just win baby.”
Fast…name one starter on the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive line. The G-Men weren’t exactly facing the Fearsome Foursome or New York Sack Exchange last Sunday. On over-reaction Monday, the analysts were ready to consider all the offensive problems alleviated on the Giants.
In fact, let’s start fitting Sterling Shepard for his Hall of Fame jacket. Toomer has other ideas about the rookie receiver as well.
“Shepard was a mixed bag,” said Toomer of the Oklahoma product, who also scored a touchdown in the game. “I hate to nitpick, but as a receiver when you run the wrong route and turn the wrong way, that’s kind of a biggie. … I think they need to ease him in a little more gently. They should rely on [Victor] Cruz a little more because of his experience, and take it a little slower with Shepard. I just wonder about his overall adjustment period that has to take place.”
The Giants ran the ball well, and that bodes well for the offensive line. Then again, we go back to the fact that the Giants should have dominated Dallas’ front four. The unit needs to back it up this week.
The Victor Cruz comeback is a feel-good story, and thankfully the team got that out of the way on Sunday. But as offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan points, Big Blue needs consistent production from the veteran receiver.
“[Cruz] continues this week to get better and get more acclimated into the system, being able to move around in various spots. The timing with Eli is showing signs of improvement,” Sullivan said according to Newsday on Sept. 16, 2016.
The formula this week is simple, survive and advance. But being simple does not mean that a victory will be easy, however. Hopefully, Sean Payton and Drew Brees don’t ruin Ben McAdoo’s homecoming.
I’ll have my tape measure ready, so hopefully I can measure progress on Sunday.