The New York Giants meet the Carolina Panthers Sunday in a meeting of 0-2 teams trying desperately to break into the win column. Let's go in-depth and break down Sunday's match-up.
When The Giants Have The Ball
First and foremost when the Giants have the ball on Sunday they will they will try not to give it away. The Giants have 10 turnovers through two games and are a league-worst -8 in the takeaway/giveaway category. No other team in the league is worse than -4.
"We can fix a lot by hanging on to the ball," said head coach Tom Coughlin.
In addition to hanging onto the ball, the Giants are determined to fix their league worst rushing game (73 yards total, 2.2 yards per carry) thus far. The Giants offense is currently out of whack, with the passing game leading the league in yards per game at 390.5, partially due to the ineffectiveness of the running game. The Giants have always tried to achieve balance in their offense and Coughlin wants to get back to that.
"We're going to work towards it, for sure," Coughlin said. "It's something that we have to have. That's critical to the ability to be in position where we can at least hold the defense at bay in terms of what we're going to do."
This, however, might be a week where the Giants are tempted to simply air it out against a struggling, injured Carolina secondary. The Panthers placed starting safety Charles Godfrey on injured reserve this week and with several members of the secondary also nursing injuries rookie Robert Lester, just elevated from the practice squad, might start Sunday.
Carolina coach Ron Rivera said this week he "most certainly" expects the Giants to attack his depleted secondary.
Giants' offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said this week he doesn't care how the Giants move the ball.
"We're definitely going to make an effort to run," Gilbride said. "We're definitely going to do whatever we can to be as balanced as we can, but most importantly of all, we'll try to win the game."
Victor Cruz has 13 catches for 236 yards (18.2 yards per catch) and three touchdowns for the Giants. Brandon Myers has 13 catches for 140 yards, and only two tight ends, Clevelands's Jordan Cameron and New Orleans' Jimmy Graham, have more catches. They each have 14. Hakeem Nicks has nine catches and Rueben Randle eight thus far.
When The Panthers Have The Ball
The Giants spent much of the offseason preparing for running quarterbacks. Coughlin said Thursday that the Giants "studied the heck out of" defending running quarterbacks. Sunday when they face Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers they get their first taste of whether or not all of the studying they put in has paid off.
Newton is a piece of the Carolina running attack, but the primary weapon is DeAngelo Williams, who has 39 carries for 171 yards (4.4 yards per carry) in two games.
"We'll be focused in on him (Williams) and we have to do a good job again in stopping the run," defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said.
The Giants also will look to get their struggling pass rush untracked against a Carolina team that has given up seven sacks in two games. Right tackle Byron Bell has already surrendered three sacks and five quarterbacks hurries.
"There are guys out there working their butts off," defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said this week. "The point of the matter is that we’ve got to do enough to win the game. We pride ourselves up front as being that group that can take over a game. We haven’t done that."
Jason Pierre-Paul, who missed the entire preseason after undergoing back surgery, has not played up to his usual standards.
Tight end Greg Olsen leads Carolina receivers with 12 catches. The most dangerous threat on the outside remains Steve Smith (11 catches, 103 yards). Smith had 73 catches for 1,174 yards last season.
New York Giants' punter Steve Weatherford had a horrid, uncharacteristic game last Sunday against the Denver Broncos. He hit several line-drive punts and could not keep the ball out of the middle of the field, resulting in Denver's Trindon Holliday returning one punt 81 yards for a touchdown and another one more than 20 yards. Tom Coughlin is wary of Carolina's Ted Ginn, who he called "an outstanding returner, punt returner and kickoff returner." Ginn is averaging 26.7 yards on kickoff returns and 10.0 yards on punt returns thus far in 2013. The Giants need Weatherford, one of the game's best directional punters, to return to form.
The Giants are averaging only 4.7 yards on punt returns this season, with Rueben Randle having averaged 5.5 yards on six returns. David Wilson returned five kickoffs against Denver, averaging 24.2 yards per return. The Giants will hope to get an explosive play from their return game against Carolina rather than surrendering one to Ginn.