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Giants vs. Tampa Bay storylines: Tom Brady, JPP, blocking the Bucs, more

Here are a few things to pay attention to leading up to Monday’s game

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The 1-6 New York Giants host the 5-2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football, a game that looks like a huge mismatch for the 10.5-point underdog Giants. Here are some of the storylines to follow leading up to the game.

Ties to Tom

Giants head coach Joe Judge and quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski were part of three Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots teams quarterbacked by Tom Brady. Both have expressed respect for the 43-year-old Tampa Bay quarterback.

“Look, he’s a great player. I think the thing you have to always keep in mind with Tom is he’s as tough and fierce a competitor as there has ever been in any organized sport. This guy really is truly one of the great ones. Look, it’s going to be a little bit different being on an opposite sideline from him this time. But it’s a great challenge and look forward to seeing him on the field,” Judge said.

“I learned a lot of ball being around him. How he sees it through a player’s perspective. The things that come up in a game and how he handles it. Hearing the way he kind of picks receivers’ brains throughout a practice or things he may see pre-snap. I got a lot of knowledge just listening to him talk to other guys on the team. To me, one of the most beneficial things was you could go in during training camp and you put on the one on one period, receivers versus DB’s. A lot of times you run it as a coach, there would be other times where we would let the players go ahead and do it. You would let Tom go in there and talk to the receivers about what he’s seeing and what he expects on a certain route. To me, that made you a much better coach by listening to how the quarterback sees it and what he expects on each route. To me, there’s fine points in coaching but ultimately it matters how the players see it on the field. To be able to hear through the vision that Tom had, that was really an education in itself right there.”

Schuplinski’s first experience as a quarterbacks coach was with Brady.

“It was really cool to see him operate on a daily basis, the work that he put in not just studying, that’s certainly a part of it, but the way he took care of his body, the things that he did that nobody really saw to really hone in on his craft,” Schuplinski said. “It was awesome and it’s an experience that I’ll be forever grateful for.”

Can Giants’ OL hold up?

Offensive line coach Marc Colombo insists his struggling group took a “big leap” in Week 7 vs. the Philadelphia Eagles.

He had better be right, and that had better continue in Week 8, as the Buccaneers are bringing a terrific front seven to MetLife Stadium. The Bucs feature edge rushers Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and inside linebacker Devin White and Lavonte David.

Yet again, this is another difficult challenge for struggling tackles Andrew Thomas, Cam Fleming and the rest of the Giants’ offensive line.

“Their front seven’s really good,” Colombo said. “They’re fast, play fast, they stop the run tremendously well, they pass rush really well, they move, they bring pressure, the linebackers are extremely quick. They present a big challenge for every single offense.”

Green Bay Packers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

JPP is still going strong

When the Giants traded Jason Pierre-Paul to the Bucs in 2018, it was hard to believe that JPP would still be a dominant defensive end at age 31. But, he is.

A mangled hand, a 2019 broken neck from a car accident, plus back and shoulder injuries suffered during his Giants’ career have not derailed Pierre-Paul’s career.

The Giants believed Pierre-Paul, a classic 275-pound 4-3 defensive end with the Giants, didn’t fit James Bettcher’s 3-4 scheme and didn’t have enough left in the tank to justify the four-year, $62 million deal he had signed with the organization in 2017.

Pierre-Paul has proven the Giants wrong. Not only does he have 26.5 sacks in 33 games since leaving the Giants, but his versatility has been surprising. This season, JPP has played more than 170 of 396 defensive snaps as a stand-up outside linebacker. Per Pro Football focus, he has even lined up as a slot cornerback seven times.

Trade deadline

The Giants have already sent edge defender Markus Golden to the Arizona Cardinals for a sixth-round pick. The trade deadline is Tuesday. Will anyone else on the current roster be an ex-Giant by the time Monday Night Football kicks off?

Names that are always bandied about include tight end Evan Engram, wide receiver Golden Tate, offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler, defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson and safety Jabrill Peppers.