Its Jets week!
Of course, it would probably be easier to get excited for this match-up if the Giants weren't coming of a deflating loss to the Washington Redskins on the back of a woeful offensive performance. However, Jets Week it is, so that means that we need to take a look at the potential match-ups and get an idea of what to expect.
Stats At A Glance
|Rushing Yards||Passing Yards||Total Yards||Points|
|New York Giants Offense||89.5 (28th)||265.3 (9th)||354.6 (15th)||26.1 (5th)|
|New York Jets Defense||84.4 (1st)||239.5 (12th)||323.9 (3rd)||20.7 (9th)|
It always starts up front, however this game in particular is likely to be won -- or lost -- in the trenches. A scant three weeks ago, I would have said that this would have been a match-up of strength on strength, as the Giants boasted one of the elite interior offensive lines in the league, while the Jets have arguably the most talented collection of defensive linemen in the NFL..
But oh how things have changed.
The Jets' defensive front is still formidable, having a trio of high first-round draft picks in Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, and Leonard Williams, surrounded by a very stout supporting cast.
But as of this writing, the Giants' offensive line is down a quartet of starters, with the current line sporting two rookies and three journeymen.
The Giants have the talent at quarterback and the skill positions to test any defense in the league. What they might not have on Sunday is the time to fully utilize those skill positions.
Or a running game.
Even without the injuries to the interior of the offensive line the Giants would likely struggle to generate much of a rushing attack into the teeth of of the Jets' defense. With a makeshift line, the Giants might be best served to ape the Patriots' game plan and abandon the pretense of a rushing attack all together.
Eli Manning is coming off the worst performance of the year. While Eli certainly shares culpability for what was ultimately a team loss, the Giants' offensive woes aren't solely on their quarterback -- as much as he will fall on the sword in public.
But that is all in the past now.
The Giants' should be heartened by the Eli's tendency to rebound from poor performances with electric ones. They have to hope he does so again, because Eli will need to be at the top of his game this week. Not just on Sunday, but throughout the process of practicing and studying for this game. Todd Bowles is known for his relentlessly aggressive defenses, to the point where he had an injury plagued Cardinals defense blitzing on every other snap.
To keep the Giants' offense functional -- and his own hide intact -- Eli will need to be at his most diligent in his film study, effective in preparing his teammates for what to expect and how he will respond to what he sees, and accurate as he orchestrates the offense at the line of scrimmage.
This summer, one of the most anticipated match-ups on the Giants' schedule was second year (sorta) phenom Odell Beckham Jr. matching up against cover corner extraordinaire Darrell Revis. Thanks to injuries, this showdown might have to wait until the 2016 pre-season. Like the Giants' Pugh, Revis is still with a concussion, so it will likely be Antonio Cromartie who covers the Giants' No. 1 receiver.
But against the Jets' pass rush, the Giants' injury-ravaged offensive line might not be able to give Manning the option of using the full playbook. If the Giants are forced to limit their aerial attack to quick "catch & release" passes in order to keep Eli upright, that might just take the premier match-up right out of the game. Moreover, if Eli isn't afforded the time, the Jets' secondary can simply sit on the short passes.
The Giants have other match-ups they can exploit. Shane Vereen is very familiar with the Jets, having played them twice a year from 2011 through 2014 as a Patriot, his ability as a receiver can help mitigate the Giants' (likely) absence of a run game. Likewise, rookie tight end Will Tye's athleticism and ability to create mismatches as an H-Back are helping him to emerge as a weapon in the passing game. The Giants will also have to hope that Rueben Randle, Hakeem Nicks, or Dwayne Harris will be able to provide another credible receiving threat apart from Beckham
But the Giants need Beckham, as their premier play-makers, to be able to do what he does best and be a spark-plug for the offense. Beckham is emerging as one of the Giants' young leaders, but he can't do it all by himself. It's a sentiment that the receiver, who was denounced as a diva in preseason, readily recognizes.
"We need to come out with more fight," Beckham said after the game Sunday. "It's a team thing. We win as a team and we lose as a team. I'm going to come into work [Monday], Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and for the rest of the week and this year and give it my all. Each and every single day. There is no time to slack off or to do anything like that. It's actually time to take it to another notch."
This could have been a titanic, and likely entertaining, match-up between one of the league's most dangerous offenses and best defenses.
Heck, it could still be.
But injuries may have created a talent deficit on the Giants' offensive line that even perfect play all around may not be able to overcome. There is some optimism that Justin Pugh and possibly Weston Richburg may be able to take the field, but until they do on Sunday, that's just hope. And even if they do, Pugh has been dealing with a concussion and Richburg with a high ankle sprain. They aren't likely to be at their best.
And while Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart have shown flashes, they are still rookies going up against a talented and athletic defense.
By no means am I saying "Abandon all hope ye who enter here", but the odds are stacked against the Giants' offense.