Much has been made the past couple of days of all the different looks the New York Giants showed defensively in Sunday's season-opening victory over Carolina.
Mathias Kiwanuka played defensive end, defensive tackle and linebacker. There were sets with four defensive ends. There were packages with three safeties. There were times Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck lined up next to each other.
Indianapolis coach Jim Caldwell knows, however, that Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has more goodies in his bag of tricks.
"Every week everybody in this league puts in something a little bit different. They never show it all. We anticipate something coming our way that may be something we haven't seen," Caldwell said. "They are a very, very talented team and so they run a lot of different packages at you so they have that potential to create the matchups that they think are favorable, but overall you could see that they functioned well, they ran around well and they've got good talent, speed, and power."
The question for the Giants will be whether they can get those packages on and off the field with Peyton Manning and the Colts running a no-huddle offense. Fewell speaks to the media today, and I will be interested to see what he says about that.
Here are some other stories of interest to Giants fans this morning.
Columnist Steve Politi has an interesting take on the Manning Bowl.
The matchup on Sunday night is not really about seeing one Manning outdo the other one. It's more of a chance to see them together and appreciate the uniqueness, to marvel that two players who have combined for 69,468 yards and 497 touchdown passes are family.
There are 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL. Maybe a dozen of them are truly elite players. That two of that dozen come from the same family is not just unprecedented, but remarkable.
Travis Beckum, who has to play a key role Sunday for the Giants with Kevin Boss sidelined by a concussion, did not exactly mince words when placing blame for the hit that KO'd Boss.
"I’ll tell you what happened," Beckum said as he interrupted. "(Boss) ran the seam, and the little dirt-bag safety, wherever he was, came over ..."
Asked a few minutes later to clarify his remarks about Martin, Beckum replied, "He’s not a dirt bag. That’s a dirt-bag move. Any head on head is a dirt-bag move."
''For us, we always think that to win football games we have to get the run game going to open things downfield,'' [David] Diehl said. ''It's nothing against Eli and our receivers, we have all the faith in the world in them, but up front we think we are at our best when we get our run game going so we can play smash-mouth football and take the edge off the defense.''
The Giants are 16th in the first edition of the SB Nation NFL Power Rankings.
In his 'NFC East Stock Watch,' ESPN's Matt Mosley was effusive in his praise for Fewell.
Someone give this man a raise. He's changed the mindset of this defense and the players have responded to him in a big way. Chris Canty looked like a beast at defensive tackle and the defensive ends had a big day. Mathias Kiwanuka may be coming off the bench, but he still managed two sacks. All this petty stuff that was happening last season and into the offseason seems to have vanished. I also love what Fewell's done with the back end of this defense.
I agree with all of that, but here is a word of caution. We all know the Panthers are not the Colts, and Matt Moore is certainly not Peyton Manning. There is a lot of reason for optimism, but let's see what happens Sunday.
Giants defensive players felt good about Sunday's performance against Carolina, but they know there is work to be done.
"We're making the right steps in the right direction," said cornerback Corey Webster, who started on Giants defenses that ranked fifth in 2008 and seventh in 2007. "We had a lot of opportunities to get our hands on the ball. We left a couple of them out there, but overall we did a good job of flying around to the ball, playing physical and trying to dictate (to the offense) and not let (them) just sit back and react to them, making them react to us."
"We didn't create enough turnovers (last year) and we gave up far too many touchdowns," said defensive tackle Barry Cofield, another veteran of the elite 2007-08 defenses. "So the fact that we pretty much flipped that (against Carolina) made it feel like a completely different team.
"The big plays the secondary made, that was something that we didn't have as much as that last year, and we didn't have as great of pressure last year as we were accustomed to. So being able to do those things just gave me flashbacks to when we were really playing good defense."