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New York Giants Vs. New Orleans Saints: Guide to Defending Drew Brees

December 7th, 2012 at 4:50 PM
By Paul Tierney

Today at Giants 101, we've already discussed how the New York Giants offense must clean up its act if the team wants to emerge from Week 14 with the NFC East divisional lead. Although the defense has not exactly shut down its opponents this season, the offense has had a chance to put the Giants ahead late in the fourth quarter in four of the Giants' five losses. The defense has kept this team in almost every game they have played, which is about all you can ask for in an offense friendly NFL. 

'Drew Brees, Jan. 7th, 2010' photo (c) 2010, Ian Ransley - license:

That said, the Giants may have to replicate their Week 12 effort against the Green Bay Packers if the team wants to win on Sunday. That's a lot easier said than done, because New Orleans is tied for eighth in the league in least sacks given up, with 22. The Giants pass rush is not going be getting into the backfield on every play. The secondary is going to need to hold up against the Saints lethal combination of size and speed at running back, tight end and wide receiver.

Let's take a look at three things the Giants must do to slow down the New Orleans Saints offense on Sunday.

Three Safety Look (Even if Kenny Phillips Can't Play)

The Giants three safety look allows the defense to throw a lot of different personnel groupings at an offense. This scheme may not be employed much this week, because Kenny Phillips has not practiced thus far and is doubtful to play on Sunday. However, with Antrel Rolle, Will Hill and Stevie Brown on the the field, the Giants still have enough talent to play three safeties at one time.

Besides the fact that the team played Phillips, Rolle, Brown and Hill on the field at the same time in Week 13 against the Green Bay Packers, the versatility that Hill provides will allow the Giants to change up their defensive fronts against the Saints. Although Antrel Rolle is accustomed to lining up as the slot corner when their are three safeties on the field, Hill also has experience at the nickel cornerback this season as well. With both on the field at the same time, it will take Drew Brees that much longer to get his pre-snap read on the Giants coverage. Perry Fewell recently praised this package and it's effectiveness.

“When you use that package, it gives you a lot of flexibility and it does cause some confusion for the offense: ‘Who is the safety? Who is the guy that’s dropping down?’,” Fewell said. “The way the safeties move around and the way they allow us to change them can be confusing and difficult for a quarterback.”

The three safety formation also allows the Giants to move around Mathias Kiwanuka more. For a linebacker, Kiwi is  slow in pass coverage and can be a liability against a quarterback of Brees' caliber. However, with three safeties on the field, the Giants only need two linebackers and can afford to have Kiwi play as a down linemen in the NASCAR package. We saw the Giants use this package to garner five sacks against the Green Bay Packers.

Consistent, Yet Timely Blitzes

The Giants pass rush has been wildly inconsistent this season. One week they are bringing down Tony Romo four times, the next they don't sack Andy Dalton once, then sack Aaron Rodgers five times, and then last Monday they failed to sack Robert Griffin III at all. Drew Brees' ability to get the ball out of his hands quickly can neutralize even the fiercest front-four. However, his team has lost seven games this season. The Saints offense is formidable, but not invincible.

The Giants can not afford to let Brees sit back in the pocket and pick apart the secondary. As we've seen in the past, Brees has no qualms about putting up monstrous numbers against an overwhelmed Giants secondary. Perry Fewell is going to need to bring some pressure to get Brees out of sync with his receiver corp.

However, it's imperative that the Giants bring pressure from all the right places. We've seen Chase Blackburn garner a few sacks this season by blitzing up the middle, and his ability to get to the quarterback may be an essential aspect to the Giants success on defense this week. Drew Brees is only 6'0" tall. If the Giants bring the pressure right up the middle, he's going to have trouble seeing his receivers down the field and making accurate throws. A few timely blitzes between the tackles could make for a much needed turnover or two in this game.

Make New Orleans Earn Their Points

The Giants are not going to shut down the Saints offense. Fortunately, this game is going to be played in a freezing, potentially wet environment at MetLife Stadium. However, Drew Brees is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and the Giants don't have the talent in the secondary to seriously hinder New Orleans offensive production. 

At the same time, it's imperative that the Giants don't allow any easy touchdowns or miss any opportunities for turnovers. There can be no blown coverages or bad penalties. Make the Saint establish a rushing attack and don't get beat on the deep ball. Given the complexity of the Saints offense, these tasks are easier said than done. However, the Giants are not good enough to spot this team any points and still emerge victorious. It has to be a near flawless effort on the defensive side of the football on Sunday, or else we could be looking at the third place team in the NFC East come Monday morning.


Tags: Aaron Rodgers, Antrel Rolle, Chase Blackburn, Drew Brees, Football, Green Bay Packers, Kenny Phillips, Mathias Kiwanuka, New Orleans Saints, New Orleans, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Perry Fewell, Will Hill

9 Responses to “New York Giants Vs. New Orleans Saints: Guide to Defending Drew Brees”

  1.  GOAT56 says:

    I agree with these points. I would also add the DL is a key. They must stop the run early an dmake NO one dimential like Atlanta did. Plus the DL must get pressure with or without blitzing. Lastly, if they do go to some quicker throws the DL must be aware and get their hands up. I thought we did a better job of deflecting passes last year.

    Also with henderson being their only true speed WR our DBs shouldn’t be giving easy completion cushion to this group of WRs.

    Williams returning also helps. I still wonder why on long distant 2nd and 3rd downs we don’t use less of Blackburn if Boley can call signals? That way we can play Boley with Wiliams or Rivers. I understand Blackburn is or defensive play caller but I think especially against Graham and Sproles we need to get as much LB speed on the field as possible on passing downs.

  2.  Krow says:

    One of the biggest enigmas for me is Jerrel Jernigan. I honestly don’t know WTF is happening with this guy. We’re depleted at WR … yet he gets hardly any snaps. Remember summer camp?

    He was tearing it up. Now after 12 games … 2 catches for 15 yards. WTF ?

    •  Paul Tierney says:

      I just don’t think he has the body to play in the NFL. The Giants already have a slot receiver in Cruz, and Jernigan can’t play on the outside. There’s just no way to get the guy on the field. He did have a catch against Washington, so Gilbride may be working him in now with the health of Nicks and Hixon in question. But there are 4 maybe even 5 better wideouts on the roster.

      •  Krow says:

        I think you’re right … that’s how they reason it. But why can’t he play on the outside? Because he’s 4 inches shorter than Cruz? It’s not like a ride at Disney. If he can get open who cares how tall he is? The Pats seems to work Edelman and Welker into the games. Why can’t we ever be creative?

        •  Dirt says:

          Because this coaching staff simply isn’t elite.

          I got a chuckle out of the “elite” debate here today. Some highlights:

          “The Patriots get 6 wins every year because their division foes have had 50 starting QBs”. As if every divisional broadcast featuring the Giants doesn’t automatically include the stock “Number of Starting Quarterbacks By Team In The NFC East Since Week 10 2004″ graphic.

          The Patriots are so elite that the Giants own them. As if the Giants 3-1 record over them over the last 4 games, all decided by less than 3 points, shows any kind of dominance. Kiike the Redskins currently hold a 3-1 advantage over their last four against NY.

          It’s not Eli’s fault, because his weapons are hurt. As if Brady has had legit wide receivers outside of a couple years of Moss (when they went undefeated by the way) and an effective slot receiver in Welker (kinda like Cruz). Krow asks “why can’t we ever be creative?” Like with no receivers Belichick built an offense around the TE position? Like the only TD the Giants scored this past week was a rare pass red zone down the middle to the TE against the worst pass defense in history, but god forbid they keep going to that well?

          Where I part ways with Nosh is that I got Eli at elite and Coughlin something far away from it. Coughlin hit the gd lottery in the NFL. Inherited the Jags as an expansion team when the rules were too favorable to stocking their roster. Inherited a true elite QB in Eli, but can’t find his way to the playoffs every year with him. Dude is Norv Turner with a great QB. Hall of Fame? GTFO Hell, he’s at the same place as Mike Shanahan – 2 rings on the back of a great QB.

          Except Shanahan was creative enough to ride a rookie running back to a Super Bowl. And won 3 of his last 4 against Coughlin too.

          •  Dirt says:

            *all decided by 4 or less points

          •  Dirt says:

            Let’s be fvk|ng honest people: XLII was one of the greatest nights of my life. Brings tears to my eyes to this day when I see highlights.

            But we’re a quick Mike Carey whistle or Rodney Harrison breakup, on ONE play, from having a completely different memory of Coughlin’s legacy.

            • Dan BentonDan Benton says:

              The Patriots are only a few plays away from being on the other end of history, too (see: non-Giants Super Bowls). But they aren’t. And neither is Coughlin.

  3.  Paul Tierney says:

    I don’t think he’s physical enough or has the ability to catch the ball in traffic. He has speed, but I feel like he would get jammed on the line to the point where he would take too long to get open. I’m not saying he can’t play on the outside, but I’d much rather have Barden out there than Jernigan.

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