Three to Focus on – Giants @ Redskins
Three to Focus on – Giants @ Redskins
You could say it’s been a rough off season for the Giants. They’ve lost a starting wide receiver and starting defensive tackle to free agency, had Osi Umenyiora kick up a fuss over his contract, been forced to move on from two fifths of their offensive line because of injury, then watched helplessly as player after player goes down with a season ended injury.
Scrub that – rough is too soft a word. It’s been an absolutely brutal off season for Tom Coughlin’s boys.
In contrast Washington have been busy continuing their massive revamp, designed to take them from worst to first in the ultra competitive NFC East. It certainly seems like these two teams fortunes are heading in different directions right now, but have they crossed yet, or do the Giants, injuries and all, still have enough firepower to put the Redskins in their place?
Here’s three things to focus on that will be crucial in finding that out.
1) A familiar face
So often former players come back to haunt their former clubs, and Week 1 could be a case of that for the Giants. After a disappointing 2009, Barry Cofield responded with an excellent 2010, ranking 12th in our defensive tackles. He showed an ability to get to the quarterback (28 combined quarterback disruptions) and make plays in the running game, so much so the Redskins felt he could be the type of nose tackle they are looking for.
Now in Week 1 he can expect to spend a lot of his time lining up against Giants new boy Davis Baas. The former 49er can be a polarizing player at times. He struggled in pass protection, yet is smart enough to use a defensive lineman’s momentum against him to help in the run game. What this means for the game? Well he’s likely to prove too much for Baas to handle one on one, but if Cofield gets too aggressive it could help the Redskins get to the next level. What the Giants are able to do on offense could come down to how they manage Cofield.
2) The class of 2010 come head to head
It’s fair to say as a rookie, things didn’t exactly go well for Trent Williams. He looked far from NFL ready as he struggled to giving up 11 sacks, 11 hits and 24 hurries. He had particular difficulty against the Giants when Osi Umenyiora feasted on him to the tune of one sack, two hits and two pressures in the Week 17 meeting. So he’ll be glad that Umenyiora is out of Sunday’s match up, but he won’t be given an easy time against Giants 1st-round pick Jason Pierre-Paul.
Pierre-Paul was limited to a rotational and sub package role in 2010, and responded with a decent four sacks, four hour hits and 16 hurries on 305 pass rushes. He’ll be a lot happier with his rookie year, and he’ll be looking to carry his pre season momentum into this Week 1 encounter. We all know what can happen to Rex Grossman when he has to deal with pressure, so when the two sophomore players go head to head, the man who has come the furthest from his rookie year could play a big part in helping his team win.
3) Nicks and Manningham meet Hall and Wilson
The Giants may have lost a starting receiver in Steve Smith, but the combo of Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks is more than enough to concern defensive backs. Manningham, with his speed and ability to make defenders miss after the tackle (10 last year), is a constant home run threat that needs to be accounted for on every play. The bigger Nicks is a physical imposing receiver capable of putting a cornerback in his shadow and the two combined for a +10.7 receiving grade last year.
They’ll be going up against one Pro Bowler and a former Baltimore Raven who is better than most people (and his contract) would lead you to believe. While DeAngelo Hall may have gone to the Pro Bowl (on the back of Jay Cutler playing catch with him), Josh Wilson was far more impressive last year in finishing with our fifth highest grade in coverage. By contrast Hall allowed 965 yards – second most of all cornerbacks.
What you get with Hall is the possibility of a big play, but as you can tell from the yardage, he’s susceptible to getting beat. If the Giants can take advantage of this, they could find some solace from their injuries woes in the shape of some big plays of their own.
So there’s your three to focus on? Feel free to let us know what you’ll be focusing on in the comments section, or at our Official Twitter account.
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