The Giants were following all of our keys to victory, except forcing turnovers, in the first half of last week’s game, and were cruising along with a 21-3 lead going into half time. When James Brewer became the second right tackle to go down to injury early in the third quarter, everything unraveled and spun out of control. No more running, no pass protection, and Giants turnovers started. It resulted in a Jaguars victory, 25-24, and five more Giants being placed on injured reserve.
The losing streak stands at seven, with another opponent jockeying for a top 5 draft pick on the docket. The Giants can and should win this game, and here’s how they can do it:
- Protect the Football. Until the two fumbles were returned for touchdowns, the Giants were still in firmly in control of the game last week. Eli Manning’s strip sack and Larry Donnell’s flying trapeze fumble provided more thanhalf of the Jaguars point total. The Giants can’t provide Tennessee, and their struggling offense, with easy points.
- Stop the Run. Although averaging just 88.33 yards per game, Tennessee gains a respectable 4.05 yards per carry on the ground. The issue is utilization, as Tennessee averages just 22 carries per game, or 39% of their offense. With offensive tackles Taylor Lewan and Michael Oher banged up, expect the Titans to test the middle of the Giants 31st ranked rushing defense early and often.
- Pressure Zack Mettenberger. Both offensive tackles are injured and there is a good chance that one of both doesn’t play, giving Jason Pierre-Paul and Damontre Moore the opportunity to wreak havoc in the Titan’s backfield. They need to take advantage, create turnovers, and give the Giants offense the ball in good field position.
- Protect Eli Manning. The Giants will be starting the offensive line that has played the majority of games this season – Will Beatty, Weston Richburg, J.D. Walton, John Jerry, and Justin Pugh. Geoff Schwartz, seen as the second half savior of the unit, suffered another injury, possibly because he was compensating for the first, and is lost for the season, so this is the unit the Giants will roll with for the next 4 games. If Manning gets protection, he is solid. If not, he is rather questionable. Protecting him will allow the Giants to put up points in bunches against a defense that surrendered 43 and 45 in the past two weeks.
- Throw it to Beckham. Odell Beckham is the only real threat on this offense. Young, and brash, he makes plays and will continue to do so as long as Manning puts the ball where he can make a play on it. Mired in a 3-9 season with a seven game losing streak, the Giants and their fans need something to get excited about, and Beckham polarizes them all. Use him. Often.
Losers of the last three games by a combined 10 points, the Giants are playing hard and sending a message to team ownership that Tom Coughlin is not the issue. The best way to put an exclamation point on that statement is by winning a game and this is an opportunity to do so. The dominoes are lined up, but they have been for several weeks now, and the Giants not triggered the chain reaction. It should end today, but not if this team continues to find ways to lose games they should win.