Game-planning for a 17th game is a novel experience for many on the New York Giants‘ roster.
There are many Giants, including Odell Beckham Jr. Damon Harrison, Janoris Jenkins, Olivier Vernon, Johnathan Hankins, Justin Pugh, and Rashad Jennings, who have never played post-season football in the NFL.
But here they are, studying tape and preparing to take on one of the hottest teams in the league, directed by the hottest quarterback in the league, Aaron Rodgers.
What can the Giants’ defense do to slow down the Packers in Lambeau?
Stats At A Glance
Rushing Yards - 106.3 (20th)
Passing Yards - 368.8 (8th)
Total Yards - 262.4 (7th)
Points - 27.0 (4th)
Rushing Yards - 88.6 (3rd)
Passing Yards - 251.1 (23rd)
Total Yards - 339.7 (10th)
Points - 17.8 (2nd)
There are a lot of things that make the Packers’ offense dangerous. Mike McCarthy’s play calling, the plethora of weapons in the receiving game, Rodgers’ intelligence and precision.
But of all of them, probably the most dangerous is Rodgers’ ability to move, scramble, and extend plays while still being accurate with the football. His receivers know it well, and they are well versed in working open, and back to their quarterback, when Rodgers takes the game to the school yard.
Every member of the Giants’ defense will need to be disciplined when defending Rodgers and the Packers.
Up front, the defensive line will need to be disciplined to stop the Green Bay rushing attack, which has been revitalized by the conversion of Ty Montgomery from slot receiver to running back. They will also need to be disciplined to pressure Rodgers without letting him escape the pocket, and when they have the opportunity to bring him down, not let him slip out of tackles.
In the secondary, the defensive backs will need to be disciplined enough to stay with their assignments, even if the play breaks down. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins said it best:
"Basically just stay with your man," Jenkins said. "Follow him everywhere you go. Even if he goes to the bathroom, follow him."
Mind The Secondary Options
The Giants’ defense simply can’t afford to disrespect the Packers’ primary receivers. Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Davante Adams are all capable of shredding an unwary secondary — even if Nelson has lost a step after his injury.
However, the Giants’ cornerback trio of Jackrabbit, Dominique Rodger-Cromartie, and Eli Apple are nothing to sneeze at. While they can’t be expected to win every matchup, they have held up all season long.
It’s Green Bay’s secondary receiving options, Jared Cook and Ty Montgomery, to whom the middle four or five on the Giants’ defense will need to pay attention.
Jared Cook is an eight-year NFL veteran, but the 6-foot-5 tight end has the size and speed to be a serious mismatch over the middle of the field. His emergence to solidify that position has been one of the biggest boosts to the Packers’ offense over the season.
Another is receiver-turned-running back Montgomery. While Eddie Lacy is a bulldozer out of the backfield, Montgomery is a surprisingly tough runner who can be hard to bring down. Pro Football Focus credits Montgomery with averaging 5.1 yards after contact and 18 broken tackles on his 77 rushing attempts. He is also Green Bay’s leading rusher since converting to the backfield while also being their fourth-leading receiver with 44 receptions.
For the Giants’ defense, locking down Green Bay’s wide receivers is only half the battle. They’ll have to be wary of Cook and Montgomery as well.