The Giants were able to check off four of the five Giants360 keys to victory against the Houston Texans, and it resulted in their first victory of the season. If this resurgent group is able to accomplish all five items on the below list, the shock and awe achieved may overwhelm your senses.
Against Houston, running the ball and stopping the run were Keys 1 and 2. The Giants did both with style. Rashad Jennings not only turned in his best game as a professional, but showed he can handle being a workhorse running back in an offense that wants to run the ball. The Texans ground game was negligible if you factor out Alfred Blue’s 46 yards burst and Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 34 yards scrambling. J.J. Watt was a virtual non-factor, double and triple teamed to ensure that he would not disrupt the Giants offense. Yes, he made some plays, but one can’t expect to completely nullify a player of Watt’s talent. The wide receivers also stepped up, led by team captain Victor Cruz, and only recorded on drop, allowing Eli Manning, who enjoyed good pass protection against a strong Houston front seven, to complete 75% of his passes.
The lone Key that the team was unable to achieve was improving special teams. While Damontre Moore blocked a punt, there was no other contribution from any of these units and Zak DeOssie’s bad snap took 3 points off the board. Quintin Demps was signed largely for his kick return ability and his biggest contribution to date has been learning to take touchbacks on kickoffs deep in the end zone rather than return them short of the 20 yard line.
This team is improving and Giants360 presents for your consideration the keys to victory for a Thursday night clash with the Washington Redskins…
- Throw the Ball. Washington will be without cornerback DeAngelo Hall who suffered a torn Achilles tendon and was placed on injured reserve. Third safety Duke Ihenacho was also placed on injured reserve with a fractured heel, making the Redskins thin in the secondary. While Washington leads the NFL with 11 sacks, 10 of them came again the lowly Jaguars. Manning should have protection and be able to take advantage of the depleted Washington defensive backfield. To make matters worse for the Redskins, top pass rusher Brian Orakpo is wearing a hard cast on his left hand to protect a fractured middle finger. He was unable to get into a three point stance in their week 3 game against the Eagles.
- Improve Special Teams. This underrated third of the game will bite the Giants on the behind if it’s not straightened out. Don’t expect a miracle turnaround in just four days, but solid coverage units, elimination of sloppy holding penalties, and clean long snaps are not too much to ask for tonight. It would certainly be a bonus if Demps or Preston Parker broke off a long return to set up some field position for the offense, but it’s unlikely.
- Continue to Generate Turnovers. Washington has only turned the ball over three times in three games, however, Houston had only turned it over once before playing the Giants this past Sunday. A strong pass rush that forces Kirk Cousins to throw before he’s comfortable and off of his back foot will set up Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to intercept the ball. And eventually, a fumble has to bounce the Giants way.
- Contain the Quarterback. While it’s not Robert Griffin III under center for the Redskins, opposing quarterbacks have had a tendency to turn from statues in the pocket into mad scramblers against the Giants this season. Matthew Stafford tucked, ducked, and rolled away from the rush to complete pass after pass all night for the Lions, and of Fitzpatrick’s 44 season to date yards rushing, 34 came against the Giants, as did his only rushing touchdown. Cousins has had the benefit of watching Griffin in practice for his entire career, so the Giants best adjust their pass rushing style to ensure Cousins, and other escaping passers, are able to be run down before achieving first down yardage.
- Defend the Middle of the Field. In Tuesday’s statistical deep dive, Giants360 documented the astonishing success Houston had passing between the numbers against the Giants. The responsible party appears to be Stevie Brown, who will see his playing time decrease in favor of Demps and Nat Berhe. Expect Washington to test them early and often. Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson are both capable of getting deep and making game turning plays if safety help over the top is not on point. And let’s not forget tight ends Niles Paul and Jordan Reed who do their best work in the middle of the field.
The Redskins have one of the better run defenses in the league, surrendering just 65 yards per game, 3rd in the league, and 2.81 yard per carry, second in the NFL. While the Giants will try to build up on their ground dominance of Houston, running with ball will not come as easily on Thursday night. This game will be won through the air and with turnovers. Let’s hope the Giants aren’t in a giving mood.
Injuries are a factor for Washington in this short week, with 17 Redskins appearing on yesterday’s injury report, including 3 starting offensive linemen and 4 of their starting front 7 on defense. The Giants need to take advantage of their relative health in comparison and blow them off the line of scrimmage.
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