All the discussion about the New York Giants has been with regards to their offense. And rightfully so — it failed to live up to expectations in Week 1, showing little improvement from the malfunctioning unit of 2016.
The Giants’ defense, by contrast, put up a valiant fight, putting the team in position to win the game. However, that defense will face another tough opponent Monday night in the Detroit Lions. That offense is significantly different from the one fielded by the Cowboys.
What does the defense have to look forward to?
By The Numbers
Rushing Yards: 82.0 (16th)
Passing Yards: 285.0 (7th)
Total Yards: 367.0 (9th)
Points Scored: 35.0 (3rd)
Rushing Yards: 129.0 (25th)
Passing Yards: 263.0 (22nd)
Total Yards: 392.0 (27th)
Points Allowed: 19.0 (13th)
A Healthy Lions’ Offense
The Giants played the Lions a season ago, and with their defense largely intact it would normally be instructive to look back at that game for clues to how this one may play out. The problem is that the Lions are not fielding the same offense as when the two teams last met.
Matthew Stafford won’t be dealing with an injured thumb on his throwing hand, and he will have Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah available. Not only is one of Stafford one of the best pure passers in the league, but giving him a pair of athletic running backs, who are dangerous receivers out of the backfield, will only make him more dangerous than what the Giants saw last season.
They have also added another receiving weapon in rookie wideout Kenny Golladay. Golladay burst on the scene during the draft process and commanded everyone’s attention in the preseason. So far he has only built on that momentum with two touchdowns on just four receptions against the Arizona Cardinals.
The Giants have the defense to get the job done, but they are facing a diverse and healthy offense that just put up 35 points on another good defense. They’ll have their work cut out for them Monday night.
Will The Defense Get Big Plays?
Despite the numbers, the Giants largely contained the Cowboys’ offense. Despite playing nearly a game’s worth of snaps in the first half alone and receiving no help in the form of points or much time to rest from their own offense, the Giants only gave up a single touchdown.
That is winning football on their part.
However, they made few big plays. There were opportunities for interceptions, but they couldn’t quite haul them in. Likewise, the Giants only got a single sack and few tackles for a loss.
With an offense that has shown little sign of improvement, and playing in a home opener in front of a fanbase that is quickly growing desperate for reasons to hope, a dynamic defense might be the Giants’ best offense.
Will the Lions give them that chance? Matt Stafford has been efficient since the end of 2013, throwing just 12, 13, and 10 interceptions over the last three years. However, he has been sacked a total of 126 times in those three seasons. The Giants will need to capitalize when opportunities to change the course of the game on defense present themselves.
Can They Get A Hand From The Offense?
One of the underrated parts of defensive football is the effect of the offense. As already noted, the Giants’ offense did their defense no favors Sunday night against the Cowboys. Their inability to sustain a drive in the first half exhausted the defense, which the Cowboys exploited. Those sustained drives would also help the defense in terms of field position.
Also, the offense can help out a defense by scoring touchdowns, putting pressure on the opposing offense to keep up. That can contribute to forcing offenses into passing situations, which the defense can exploit.
The Giants’ defense is capable of putting the team in position to win almost any game, even with modest offensive production.
But will the offense finally get going enough to help their defense? They would certainly welcome the change, and the team as a whole might need it to beat the Lions.