This Sunday we have a game between an undefeated team and a winless team when the New York Giants face off against NFC East rival Washington Redskins.
The Giants have seemingly turned the clock back about 30 years, getting their wins through a stout defense and an offense that does just enough to get the job done.
Stats At A Glance
NY Giants Offensive Rankings
Washington Redskins Defensive Rankings
It’s a bit jarring to see the Giants’ offense, which features one of the best quarterbacks and wide receivers in the NFL, ranked as middling at best. What can the Giants do against a bad Washington defense to get back to the expectations they set in 2014 and 2015?
Figure Out The Right Tackle Position
After leaving Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints with a strained calf, and being seen in a walking boot several times, it seems unlikely that Marshall Newhouse will be the Giants’ right tackle on Sunday. The options to replace him are second-year player Bobby Hart and Will Beatty, who has been inactive as he gets back up to speed after missing the 2015 season and all of the offseason.
The Giants’ offensive tackles have been a source of concern. Careful observation shows that Ereck Flowers is certainly improving at left tackle. His footwork is evening out and he is showing a punch that he lacked his rookie year. He needs to continue to improve and play more consistently, but his arrow is at least pointed up.
Newhouse, however, had a very tough game against the Saints. Against Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith, the Giants will need improved play from both tackles.
The Giants will start the best tackle between Hart and Beatty, but who that is, at this point, is a mystery. Hart has been the first man off the bench at both guard and tackle spots, while Beatty was considered a franchise left tackle in his first stint with the Giants. It might come down to whether or not Beatty is ready to go from inactive to a starter.
The Redskins have a porous defense, but if the Giants want to get anything done, it needs to start up front. Flowers is improving, the interior of Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, and John Jerry are playing very well. If they can finally get the right tackle position sorted out, they can have a solid foundation upon which to build their offense.
Protect The Duke
Put simply, the Giants have been entirely too sloppy when it comes to ball security. Going back to preseason, “The Duke” (as Ben McAdoo calls the football, which bears the brand “The Duke” in honor of the late Wellington Mara) has hit the turf entirely too often when the Giants have been on offense.
It is a testament to the team’s resiliency that they have managed to win their first two games despite posting a -4 turnover ratio. Against the Saints, the Giants’ fumbled the ball on three consecutive drives. That just cannot happen, and giving the ball away at the clip the Giants are makes winning unsustainable. More than any single matchup, the Giants need to win the turnover battle and cure their fumblitis. If they can play a clean game in that regard, it will put them in a good position to win.
Just Play Their Game
The conversation dominating the lead-up to Giants vs. Redskins has been Odell Beckham vs. Josh Norman.
The fires were stoked mid-week when it was leaked that Norman would be shadowing Beckham everywhere but the slot. Is it true? Did Washington really just leak their defensive game plan?
But does it even matter?
The Giants need to play their own game. They can’t get caught up in the chess match and mind games surrounding the Beckham/Norman matchup.
That’s what Eli Manning called for.
"Just go play football," Manning said. "That’s what the whole team is doing. We have a job to do out there. Everyone is trying to do their assignment and their job at a high level. That goes for him, Victor, me, offensive line. We all have to play at a high level and worry about doing our job.”
And Eli has the right of it. The matchup is the New York Giants’ offense vs. the Washington Redskins’ defense, and the Giants need to play their game.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if Norman sticks to Beckham like glue, or if they stick him on a side. The Giants can’t force the ball to Beckham, despite the fact that the a look at the Giants’ game against the Carolina Panthers showed that Beckham came within a dropped pass and an under-thrown ball from racking up 180 yards and 3 touchdowns despite Norman covering him on more than 70 percent of the offensive snaps. But neither can they avoid Norman, allowing his presence to neutralize the Giants’ most dangerous weapon.
Watching the Giants’ games against the Cowboys and the Saints, the offense doesn’t appear to be in sync or rhythm. Eli Manning is the most accurate QB in the league right now, but far too many of their drives have stalled. Right now the offense reminds me of a dragster running on seven cylinders. Still fast, still powerful, but out of balance and not performing to its full potential. It takes time in real game situations to get that chemistry perfected, and hopefully this is the week where the Giants get everything to ‘click’ and firing on all cylinders again.
They need it to happen soon, because the games only get tougher from here.