There have been way too many 'Wet Willies' and far too few 'Kudos' around here the past couple of Mondays. That goes with the territory when our New York Giants don't win. I am, of course, hoping that changes this week.
Here is this week's totally meaningless preview of what might be today against the Philadelphia Eagles.
There will be lots of 'Kudos' Monday if ...
- The Giants make the blitzing Eagles pay. There has been a lot of talk about teams stacking the box and blitzing the Giants the past couple of weeks. Well, the blitz-happy Eagles do that more often -- and better -- than anyone. The Giants have to find a way to burn the blitzers. That does not mean by going deep every time they see what Eli calls 'single high,' or even no safety in the middle. Short throws for first downs. A well-timed screen pass occasionally. A run play into a hole vacated by an overzealous blitzer. Anything that results in a positive play and allows the Giants to keep the ball.
- Kevin Boss is a focal point. I think I was pretty clear earlier in the week that the Giants have under-utilized Boss. If you are going to pass more than run, you have to use all of your weapons. And Boss can be a weapon. Instead of Boss blocking against the blitz I want to see some quick throws to him that result in first downs. I will be disappointed if the Giants don't start making more of an effort to get the ball to the Bossman.
- The Giants get pressure on Donovan McNabb. Last season it seemed like the Giants rarely hit the Eagles quarterback. And we know this season the inconsistent pressure on quarterbacks from the Giant defense has been a source of debate. I'm not a 'blitz on every down' advocate, but the Giants cannot let the streaky McNabb get comfortable.
- Eliminate the turnovers. The Giants had four last week, and we know that is unusual for them. Turnovers also killed the Giants in a regular-season meeting against the Eagles last season. Efficient, mistake-free offense. Not a track meet. That's what I want to see.
- Special teams. Last week was not a good one for the Giants -- on returns or in the punt game. I would expect Jeff Feagles to look more like himself this week. And a big return or two from Domenik Hixon to change field position -- or the scoreboard -- would not hurt, either.
- Brandon Jacobs has a big day. The Beast has had just 20 carries total the past two weeks, even though he appeared to be running well. If the Giants can get him 20 carries on Sunday -- a huge game in which protecting him for the long haul has to go out the window -- it will be a great sign that they are playing their type of football. By the way, an interesting side note. Jacobs is actually averaging more carries per game this year (17.1) than he did last year (16.8).
There will be lots of 'Wet Willies' if ...
- The Giants continue to be 'home run happy.' Offensively, the Giants have resembled an Earl Weaver-style managed baseball team the past couple of weeks. Sit around and wait for the three-run homer. Well, what about the bunt, the hit-and-run, the stolen base, moving runners? As I said above, first downs and efficient, turnover-free offense win football games. That's what the Giants have done best the past few seasons. The home run is great when it comes, but sluggers don't always connect.
- Donovan McNabb gets hot. Again, pressure him, keep him out of rhythm. Don't give him chances to expose 'Bad, Bad C.C. Brown.'
- Eli gets hit more than McNabb. We know the Eagles are coming after Manning. If he is constantly on the ground the Giants won't win.
- The Giants give up the big play. The Eagles may not be a grind-it-out offense, but they have a ton of big-play threats. Brian Westbrook (if he plays), DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy. If the Giants can keep the Eagles from ripping off huge chunks of yardage they should be fine.
- The Red/Green Zone woes continue. The Giants are among the worst teams in the league at scoring inside the 20 when they have the ball, and at preventing touchdowns inside the 20 on defense. That's a bad combination that needs to change.