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.
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.
Also…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