• The Packers play at home against the Bears tonight. That is a huge game for the Packers. They’re already 0-1 in the conference, and have a very good division rival coming to town in the Bears. If the Packers lose, they’ll be 0-2 in in the conference, 0-1 in the NFCN, and they’ll still have all 8 road games left on their schedule. The Giants are in a similar boat after losing the opener to the Cowboys. A loss puts them in the exact same situation: 0-2 in the conference, 0-1 in the division, all 8 road games remaining, and potentially two games down to as many as all three division rivals.
• The Buccaneers were atrocious against the run in 2011:
- They gave up 156.1 yards per game – Dead last in the NFL.
- They gave up 5.o yards per carry – Tied 2nd worst in the NFL.
- They gave up a staggering 26 rushing TDs. That was dead last in the NFL. The next closest teams to the were the Bills and Colts, who each gave up 19.
- They gave up 135 first downs on rushes. 2nd worst in the NFL, behind only the Colts (136).
- They gave up 28 rushes of over 20 yards. Dead last in the NFL.
- And just in general defense, they gave up 30.9 points per game. Dead last in the NFL, next closest team was the Vikings (28.1).
That was a team that had seemingly quit on head coach Raheem Morris. In the first week of the season, the Bucs faced the Panthers, who have one of the best rushing attacks in the league. And what do they gain against Tampa on the ground? 10 yards. 10. DeAngelo Williams had 6 rushes for -1 yards. Cam Newton had 6 rushes for 4 yards. Mike Tolbert had 1 for 2, and Kealoha Pilares, a WR, had 1 for 5. Oh NFL… I’ll never figure you out.
The Giants meanwhle, as I’ve pointed out on may an occasion here, had the following ineptitude in the run game last season:
- 89.2 rushing yards per game – Dead last in the NFL.
- 3.5 yard per carry – Dead last in the NFL.
- 4 rushes of 20 or more yards – Dead last in the NFL.
- 0 rushes of 40 or more yards – Dead last in the NFL.
I envision the Giants trying to run on the Buccaneers to look something like this (1:29 mark is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen):
• One reason for the Bucs’ success against the run last week was DT Gerald McCoy, who was an absolute beast last week against Carolina. He got penetration at will, both in the pass game and the run game. The Panthers’ interior OL simply couldn’t block him. McCoy will be a big test for Kevin Boothe and David Baas.
• The Bucs’ defense this year should actually look quite familiar to the Giants. It is coached by Giants fans’ punching bag and former defensive coordinator, Bill Sheridan. Like the Giants did last season, the Bucs are using a lot of 2 LB sets. Ahmad Black will come in as a 3rd safety at times, with Brandon McDonald being used as a slot CB. Quincy Black (12 snaps Week 1) and Dekoda Watson (13) split time as the SAM. Tiki’s brother is now the free safety.
• The Cleveland Browns’ brass includes Pat Shurmur (head coach), Brad Childress (OC), Dick Jauron (DC), Mike Holmgren (Pres), and Tom Heckert (GM). They know Andy Reid and the Eagles inside and out, and they gave Philly everything they could handle last Sunday. As noted above, Bill Sheridan was the Giants former defensive coordinator, and current Bucs’ DC. Mike Sullivan is the Bucs’ offensive coordinator. He is Eli Manning’s former QB coach, and was with the Giants since 2004 before joining the Bucs this offseason. It’s pretty safe to say they’ll have on beat on what the Giants like to do.
• WLB Lavonte David never came off the field Week 1, and he looked very fast, as did MLB Mason Foster. David was a player that I really liked at the Senior Bowl. Here’s what I wrote about him then:
Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska – David was only linebacker aside from Zach Brown that could stay with RB’s and TE’s in 1-on-1 drills. Unfortunately at 6’0, 225, he’s smaller than a nice handful of safeties in the league. However, he seemed to be able to diagnose plays quickly and got himself, by my count, at least 3 TFL’s in 11 on 11′s.
David has since bulked up a bit, as he is now listed at 233. Great rookie debut for him Week 1, and definitely a player to watch in coverage. The Giants love hitting Victor Cruz in those little short-intermediate zones. It’ll be interesting to see if David can affect any of those passing lanes this week.
• The Bucs’ passing game was checkdown city last week. Josh Freeman attempted 24 passes and completed 16, but only threw for 138 yards. They got an early lead, and could afford to be conservative. The Bucs ran the ball 36 times (although 7 of those rushes were by Freeman). They held the ball for 37:27, compared to 22:33 for the Panthers. The Giants cannot allow the Bucs to execute a conservative attack. They want Freeman to have to take shots down the field, so that they can get their pass rush untracked and make plays on D.
• The left side of the Bucs’ OL is very good. LT is manned by Donald Penn, and the LG is free agent acquisition Carl Nicks. Both played well last week. Jason Pierre-Paul dominated Tyron Smith last week, while Osi Umenyiora was invisible. This will be a good test for them.
Game prediction: I think that when the season started, when everyone does that thing where you predict a team’s record, this was a game you spent zero time giving any thought to, and just chalked up a W. I don’t think we’re there anymore. This game isn’t a gimme by any stretch, but I do think the Giants will win. The offense gets back on track to some degree: 27-20, G Men.