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After three straight weeks of lackadaisical effort and three losses, the Giants gear up this week to take on the some what inconsistent San Diego Chargers this Sunday at the Meadowlands. The last time New York took the field at home, Kurt Warner and the Cardinals were able to come in and post a 27-17 victory. Last week, Big Blue got their rear ends beat in every facet of the game on the road in Philadelphia. Can the Giants stop the bleeding this week against this west coast opponent that boasts two talented running backs?
First thing is first. The Giants need to start maximizing their efforts up front on the defensive line. Their lack of pass rush and pressure on the opposing quarterback is really exposing the young secondary of this team. Everyone in the world can watch the games and blame the secondary solely for the lack of coverage and being in the wrong spots. If you do that, then you are wrong. The secondary starts up front with the amount of confusion and pressure the defensive line causes. Quarterbacks will be out of rhythm and then begin to rush throws or attempt to make plays with their feet. With this in mind, the secondary gets that extra second or two to make that important adjustment to the ball and make a play. The Giants are playing with a secondary that is somewhat depleted. Aaron Ross has yet to see action this year in his corner back position due to a hamstring injury. In the second game of the season, stud safety Kenny Phillips went down with a knee injury that will have him sidelined for the year. The verdict; C.C. Brown, an average at best four year veteran and rookie Bruce Johnson trying to fill the void. Brown has been caught more than once out of place and that problem needs to be addressed immediately.
Up front, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck have been just a tad bit above average this season with an inconsistent pass rush being produced. For this team to win and stop the bleeding of this three game losing streak, they need to be great. In the middle, Barry Cofield and Fred Robbins will need to plug the gaps on running plays and funnel the line towards the ball. The exciting thing about this week is that former Cowboy Chris Canty and linebacker Michael Boley will be back in the line up. Boley will help even out the line backer core with Antonio Pierce to provide better speed in coverage situations. Canty should be able to put himself in position to make plays when called upon, as well as keep Tuck and Umenyiora healthy. The defenses job this week: pressure Phillip Rivers into bad situations and force a turnover or two. Stop the run often and early and do not allow either back, Tomlinson or Sproles to get into a rhythm.
Offensively, the Giants have been abysmal in this three game losing streak. Eli Manning has not been playing like the contact player he is deemed to be. Forcing throws and being a bit indecisive at times has been the theory these past three weeks. Manning and the offense need to start establishing the run and pounding the football. Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw need to get back to their punishing ways and run with authority. Shawn Merriman possesses good talent on the defensive side for the Chargers and the line and backs need to be aware of when he is blitzing in pass situations. Antonio Cromartie is a very talented defensive back, who's cousin intercepted a pass against the Giants when they hosted the Cardinals. So expect some ball hawking to be done on his part this weekend. Another key aspect to watch is the history behind these two quarterbacks taking the field. Manning was originally selected number one overall in the draft by San Diego, but did not feel that was where his heart was. Hence the move into the Big Blue picture and has led the Giants to a Superbowl in his six year career. Rivers was swapped for Manning after being picked fourth by Big Blue. There may be some tension and heat provided on the field between these two quarterbacks as both may have something to prove.
The Final Verdict: Defensively, play with tenacity and bring back that swagger that Giants football is all about. On the offensive side, establish an identity early with the run and let the pass open itself up after proving they can move the ball fluently down the field. This week is a huge game for the Giants as they head into their bye week in week 10. If they win, they can then possibly have a confidence build and finish the season strong. Losing four in a row may be tough to bounce back from morale wise. It all goes down at 4:15 this Sunday from the swamps of the Meadowlands.