The Giants last faced the Chiefs in week four of the 2013 season, in the middle of an 0-6 start to the season. Four years later, it is an 1-8 Giants team that faces the Chiefs, who are coming in to Met Life stadium as double-digit favorites (as of this writing).
While the Giants have yet to field an offense of which they can really be proud, the defensive side of the ball has been a much bigger disappointment this year. Expected to be one of the league’s best, the Giants’ defense has collapsed in recent weeks.
Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s first job in the NFL came as a part of Andy Reid’s staff in Philadelphia. Will he be able to get his defense to play with some pride as he faces his old boss?
By the numbers
Passing Yards - 255.1 (7th)
Rushing Yards - 116.7 (12th)
Total Yards - 371.8 (5th)
Points - 28.1 (5th)
Passing Yards - 267.8 (30th)
Rushing Yards - 132.6 (30th)
Total Yards - 400.3 (31st)
Points - 26.4 (28th)
What will the secondary look like?
Probably the biggest disappointment of the New York Giants season has been the melt-down of their secondary, which was one of the league’s best just a year ago. Eli Apple has been benched, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins each suspended, and Landon Collins hasn’t played anywhere close to the lofty level he set for himself in 2016.
Our own Ed Valentine called for the benching, if not outright suspension of Janoris Jenkins over his effort against the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers. Will McAdoo or Spagnuolo use this game to make an example for the rest of the team and reduce Jenkins’ role?
Also, will there be any schematic changes in the secondary? Last week there was talk about simplifying the defense, but we still saw considerable effort given to disguising coverages, on top of far softer coverages than what the Giants succeeded with last season. Most of the Giants’ defensive backs’ strengths are in press coverage. Has Spagnuolo out-thought himself by taking the defense to “graduate school”? If so, will he employ more physical coverages?
Even if he does, whether or not the players execute will be the story to watch.
Can the Giants tackle on the edges?
Speaking of execution, the Giants’ inability to tackle on the edges of their defense has been a problem dating back to the pre-season. While the duo of Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson (as well as Jay Bromley and Robert Thomas) have been stout up the middle — particularly when backed by B.J. Goodson — offenses have found no problems running on the edges of the defense.
There have been a variety of issues, from defensive ends over-pursuing, to linebackers being out of position. However, the most obvious issue has been with tackling, or a lack thereof. It’s an issue which various Giants, such as ...
Will the defense even show up?
We could talk about Travis Kelce, one of the top tight ends in the league. I could mention Tyreek Hill, who looks as though he found a cheat code that lets him play at a different speed than everyone else. Or there’s Kareem Hunt, the rookie running back who is fourth in the league in yards per carry and looks to be a favorite to win Offensive Rookie Of The Year. There is also QB Alex Smith, who is having a phenomenal year, completing more passes for more yards per attempt, and the lowest interception percentage of his career
But really, none of that matters if the Giants’ defense doesn’t show up to play — beyond, of course, how many points the Chiefs will put up on them.
The defense has been utterly embarrassed the last two weeks, first getting blown off the field by the Rams, then giving up 31 points to the woeful 49ers’ offense. By the end of last week’s game, it was much quicker to count the defenders giving effort than the ones who weren’t. They were, rightly, roundly criticized for their play last Sunday, and making matters worse, it wouldn’t be surprising if Snacks Harrison misses time with the ankle injury which ended his evening.
The Giants are facing an excellent offense almost tailor made to exploit their weaknesses on defense, and could be doing so without one of their leaders and best players. They might not have a season to play for anymore, but who comes out and plays for pride, and their teammates’, sake will be instructive for the future.