Pressuring Tony Romo was ironically listed as the final key to victory last week, and the Giants failure to do so at the bitter end of last week’s game allowed the Cowboys to march down the field and score the game winning touchdown with just one minute left in the game. Romo had 7 second to scan the field and wait for his receiving weapons to get open while Perry Fewell stood on the sideline unwilling or unable to adjust to the Dallas protection schemes. For those who said blitzing was ineffective, consider this, Jayron Hosley could have blitzed and, given his complete lack of coverage ability, the secondary would have improved by his subtraction. Maybe he would have forced Romo to throw the ball away.
Mired in a six game losing streak, the Giants travel to face the 1-10 Jaguars, having their best opportunity for a win in more than a month and a half. Here’s how they can snap the frustrating string of losses:
- Play with Intensity. Coming into this game following a disappointing last minute loss to the Cowboys, and having been eliminated mathematically from the playoffs three days earlier, the challenge for Tom Coughlin will be getting the team to maintain their level of intensity through the end of the season despite having nothing to play for but pride and a job in 2015. If they don’t, it’s a good bet that Coughlin won’t be returning next season.
- Stop the Run. Despite their 1-10 record, the Jaguars have averaged 4.16 yards per carry this season. Their paltry 99.2 yard per game is a function of spartan run game utilization, 30th in the NFL 37.44% rushing rate. Denard Robinson has had two 100 yard games in 5 starts and has caught 20 of 25 passes thrown his way. If the Jaguars are able to take advantage of the Giants 31st ranked rushing defense, the outcome of this game will be hotly contested.
- Force Turnovers. Jacksonville has a -10 turnover margin and rookie starter Blake Bortles has thrown 15 interceptions. The Giants defense needs to pressure Bortles, who has also been sacked 27 times, and force him into making errors. Then Eli Manning and the Giants offense needs to capitalize on them.
- Protect Eli Manning. The Jaguars have 33 sacks this season, good for 3rd in the NFL. Manning had shown repeatedly that he is prone to errors when under pressure. Last week, with Geoff Schwartz in the lineup, the Giants offensive line showed improvement. Weston Richburg also returns to left guard after a one week exile in favor of the unimpressive and now injured Adam Snyder. This second straight weekly new look line will get a big test right out of the box. If they fail, so will the Giants.
- Ground Control to Major Tom. Coughlin likes the running game. Jacksonville surrenders 130.6 yards per game and 4.38 yards per carry. It seems like a match made in heaven as Coughlin returns to the site where he cut his teeth as a NFL head coach. If the Giants establish ground superiority, they can control both the game and the clock and protect their vulnerable defense.
The Giants have been oh-so-close to beating San Francisco and Dallas in their past two games. While they are a better team than Jacksonville and have the better quarterback, this team is primed for a let down. Maintaining their intensity it the most important of the above priorities, without it, the boys in blue will suffer their most embarrassing loss to date. The past few games have been ones the Giants can win. This is one they should win.