Weekend Notes: Game planning the Giants
If you are game planning the Giants, what do you take away? That is the challenge facing New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams tomorrow in the Superdome. Giants QB Eli Manning has found a clear-cut No.1 wide receiver in Steve Smith, and the tandem of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw run behind the best offensive line in football.
Williams has shown some Cover 2 looks with his defense, but going into a game against the Giants with a seven-man front will force the Saints to stop the run without an extra defender, as well as put some pressure on the New Orleans corners to hold the edge versus the outside running game of the Giants. Knowing Williams’ scheme, I expect the Saints to use plenty of Cover 4 looks, with safety Darren Sharper aligning at seven to eight yards off the line of scrimmage, allowing him to flat-foot read any strong side run as well as turn and “cut” any inside breaking route by Smith.
But, I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Williams bring both of his safeties down to a depth of six yards and play a version of Cover 7—where both outside receivers are played with safety help underneath and to the inside, with the corners playing off-man over the top. Either way, to play and stop the Giants, you must put the emphasis on getting your safeties involved in the running game.
Defense wins tomorrow in New Orleans—I don’t see a shootout.
is publicly defending quarterback JaMarcus Russell. I have written here at the NFP for the last couple of weeks that this franchise has to make a change at quarterback. But at this point, can the Raiders put that much coin on the bench? With a likely loss coming again tomorrow against Philly—another defense that will pressure Russell and force him into some difficult situations—it should be interesting to see if the owner is still supporting his QB next week.
I like the trade Chicago made last night to bring in Tampa defensive end Gaines Adams for a couple of reasons. There is a lot of talk already that the Bears overpaid in terms of giving up a second-round draft pick for Adams, but from their perspective the likeliness of finding a player in the second round that has the athletic ability and talent of Adams—a former top five pick—isn’t high. Add in the fact that Adams has the ability to rush the passer in Lovie Smith’s third-down sub packages, and I don’t see too much of a risk from Chicago. Yes, Adams has underachieved thus far this season, but it is obvious that Chicago GM Jerry Angelo is doing one thing—and that is getting his roster ready to make a run for the NFC North title.
If Tennessee falls behind tomorrow at New England, does Jeff Fisher pull the plug on Kerry Collins? I still believe that Collins is the right quarterback for this team, but if the Titans are looking at 0-6, I can see Vince Young coming into the game just to give this offense some new life. But, once Fisher does that, he is stuck with Young. No matter what the record says, playing musical chairs with QBs in this league doesn’t help anyone.
Expect Lovie Smith to bring pressure in Atlanta tomorrow night against Matt Ryan and the Falcons. Going back to the Bears performance on defense against Detroit before the bye week, Matthew Stafford was able to dissect the Chicago Cover 2 scheme—especially on third downs. Ryan has the arm—and the weapons—to sit back in the pocket and beat the Bears coverage. I would fully expect the Falcons to use a vertical attacking scheme down the field, thus allowing TE Tony Gonzalez to sit down in the soft zone under the middle linebacker on any third-down situation. The Bears, however, can counter with zone pressure and force Ryan to get rid of the ball early. But, the bottom line is that Bears secondary does not match up to Atlanta, and when that happens you have to find a way to force the issue with the quarterback.
If I am the Ravens, I find a way to get both Ray Rice and Willis McGahee involved in the game plan up in Minnesota. In the Ravens last two games—both losses—they rushed for less than 20 attempts in each time. I do agree that Joe Flacco is a playmaker at the quarterback position, but his numbers are down on the road. Why not use Rice and McGahee to control the clock and set up the passing game? Minnesota is a Tampa 2 team, and if the Ravens can force them to bring an extra defender into the box, the outside lanes will be open for the likes of Derrick Mason to win one-on-one matchups.
Plus, Rice is just too dangerous when he has the ball in his hands. The Ravens need to ride him, because he does have game-breaking ability.
Why all the Josh Cribbs talk this week in the rumor mill? With Braylon Edwards gone and a major issue at the quarterback position, does Cleveland take a risk by shipping away their number one scoring option on special teams? I know that Cribbs hasn’t developed into a big offensive threat, but unloading him at this point in the season tells the fans of Cleveland that the white flag is being raised along the shores of Lake Erie.
Houston is going to have to rely on the big play once again to stay in the game with Cincy tomorrow. I don’t see the Texans having the ability to run the ball against the Bengals front seven, and that only leaves the playmaking ability of TE Owen Daniels and WR Andre Johnson to get down the field and score points. Physically, the Texans just don’t match up with the Bengals.
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