New York Giants

Stadium: MetLife Stadium | Coach: Tom Coughlin
Team RankingOverallRushingPassing
Offense26th83.2 (27th)224.2 (17th)
Defense8th108.9 (11th)223.3 (11th)

Giants report: Strategy and personnel

The Sports Xchange
 
Inside slant · Notes, quotes · Strategy and personnel
 

PLAYER NOTES

--QB Eli Manning is currently ranked 14th out of 16 in NFC third-down passing. Last year, Manning finished as the second-best quarterback in this statistical category, behind Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers. Thus far, Manning's completion percentage on third down is 48.6 percent -- a significant drop from his 63.6 percent last season.

--RB Ahmad Bradshaw fell to third place, behind Minnesota's Adrian Peterson (776) and Tennessee's Chris Johnson (721) for the league lead in rushing yardage during the bye week. Bradshaw has 708 yards on 134 carries, and of the top three league rushers, his 5.3 yards per carry is the best.

--RB Brandon Jacobs is tied for first place league-wide (with 13 others) in the third-and-one rushing category. He has two first downs on two attempts.

--TE Kevin Boss has 12 receptions for 200 yards and no touchdowns through the first seven games (he was inactive for one game, and ended up missing most of the season opener with a concussion). Compared to where he was at this point last season, Boss, who last year also missed one of the first seven games due to an injury, had 14 receptions for 196 yards and no touchdowns.

--WR Hakeem Nicks has eight touchdown receptions this season, topping the six he recorded last year as a rookie. Nicks also currently has 45 receptions on the year, just two shy of his 2009 season total.

--WR Steve Smith, who last season led the NFC in third-down receptions with 38 catches for 457 yards and three touchdowns, is currently tied for 15th in that category with eight others (including teammate Mario Manningham) with nine catches for 68 yards and one score.

--P Matt Dodge said that the biggest difference for him these days is that he's been stressing less and having more fun when he goes out to punt. "I started having fun and really enjoying being out here, and I'm not looking at it as like a short term job," he said when reflecting on his early season struggles. "I've been getting confidence, and with each the next punt, I go in with the mindset that, 'OK, I have to get this out of bounds.' Then I have success with the next one and suddenly I'm like, 'OK, I can do this.'"

--FB Madison Hedgecock, who has been sidelined with a hamstring strain for three games, has begun working his way back into football shape following his forced time off. While he might not get his job back right away given how well TE Bear Pascoe has played at the fullback spot, when Hedgecock does get his opportunity, his position coach Jerald Ingram said that the sixth-year veteran needs to just relax and do what comes natural rather. "I think it's just him trying to get back to where he was before his injuries," Ingram said when asked what had been holding Hedgecock back prior to his hamstring strain. "There's a lot that Madison has rolled through. People don't realize how important Madison was and just what he contributed to our offense."

--TE Bear Pascoe, who continues to make a strong case to become the team's permanent fullback, doesn't appear to be likely to turn in his 86 jersey for a lower number normally assigned to a running back any time soon. "He stays in my meetings and (running backs coach) Jerald (Ingram) and I both advise him on the field," said tight ends position coach Mike Pope. "He goes into (running backs meetings) on Thursdays with quarterback protection, but most of the time he's in my meetings."

--C Shaun O'Hara, who suffered a Lisfranc sprain in his left foot, reportedly consulted with a foot specialist during the team's bye week, and was said to have been given a diagnosis of 2-4 weeks for the injury to heal. O'Hara will almost certainly not practice or play this weekend when the Giants visit Seattle, but since the injury happened two weeks ago against Dallas, there is hope that he could return to action when the Giants return home the following week to face Dallas.

--CB Bruce Johnson, whom head coach Tom Coughlin confirmed underwent a scope on his knee last week, was placed on season-ending injured reserve. Taking Johnson's roster spot is DE Alex Hall, whom the Giants claimed off waivers for the second time this year. Hall was originally claimed by the Giants off waivers from Philadelphia back at the end of July but didn't make it out of training camp. This time around, he was picked up after Arizona relinquished his rights.

REPORT CARD AFTER SEVEN GAMES

PASSING OFFENSE
B-plus -- There's something just a bit off with the Giants' passing offense this year, and that something is interceptions. QB Eli Manning has thrown 11 interceptions thus far, many of which have been the result of balls tipped by the receivers. Manning, who so far has completed 65.7 percent of his passes, also seems to be throwing higher than usual. On the plus side though, he's been Mr. Cool when under pressure -- unofficially Manning has completed 63.2 percent of his passes in the face of the blitz. His top three receivers, Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, and Mario Manningham, are all averaging 11.0 yards or better per reception, combining for 13 of the team's 22 offensive touchdowns this year.

RUSHING OFFENSE
A-minus -- The decision to move Ahmad Bradshaw ahead of Brandon Jacobs has paid huge dividends, as the shifty Bradshaw's ability to slash and dash leaves opposing defenses too tired to take on the downhill, forceful style of Jacobs when he comes into the game. Credit also has to go to the offensive line, which after a shaky start has been blocking like a bunch of young men again armed with the experience that comes with having played together for so long. Toss in the improved blocking by TE Kevin Boss and the insertion of Bear Pascoe at fullback, and the Giants have to be happy with the production they're getting from the running game. The one negative, however, has been ball security. Bradshaw is second on the team with four fumbles (all lost), while Jacobs lost a ball against Dallas.

PASS DEFENSE
A-minus -- When a team is up there among the league leaders in sacks, a large reason for that is often due to the outstanding job being done by the cover guys. That's exactly what the Giants have gotten, as the additions of safeties Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant have allowed defensive coordinator Perry Fewell to deploy a three-safety package that has significantly helped the team's coverage. Meanwhile CB Corey Webster, who had an off year last season, is playing at a Pro Bowl level. Unofficially through seven games, he has surrendered just 60 yards after the catch and has allowed just 41 percent of the passes thrown his way to go for completions. His partner, Terrell Thomas, hasn't been as fortunate, as he's unofficially allowed 57 percent of the passes thrown his way to be complete, has given up approximately 211 yards after the catch, and is responsible for five touchdowns.

RUSH DEFENSE
A -- When a run defense manages to hold opponents such as Houston's Arian Foster, Dallas' Felix Jones and Marion Barber, and Carolina's DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart in check, it must be doing something right. Want further proof of how dominating this run defense has been? In their last four games, the Giants have held opponents to 65 yards or less on the ground (3.5 yards per carry), a stat that by no accident coincides with the team's four-game winning streak. Outside of Tennessee RB Chris Johnson's 42-yard dash on Sept. 26, no opponent has run for more than 20 yards on any single rush, as New York has limited the total number of big runs (considered 10-plus yards) to 12 on the season. That's roughly 1.7 big running plays per game.

SPECIAL TEAMS
C -- While the unit has improved from its disastrous opening weekend performance, special teams still remain the weak link on this Giants team in that they have yet to establish any type of consistency in both the return game and in coverage. The coaches have quietly replaced some of the underperforming reserves and young players with starters such as LB Michael Boley, DE Justin Tuck and CB Terrell Thomas in order to send a message to the rest of the team and to make the units more physical. Meanwhile, a long-overdue change at punt returner appears to finally be coming into play, as New York signed free agent Will Blackmon to presumably replace Darius Reynaud as the punt returner. Reynaud had never quite adjusted to the Giants' preferred style to get upfield quickly, and by hesitating on his returns, he was averaging a pitiful 5.9 yards per return.

COACHING
A -- Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has been nothing short of masterful with his creativity and in optimizing the use of his personnel. Even after losing DE Mathias Kiwanuka's versatility, Fewell quickly worked around that setback to get his unit on the same page and having fun again. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride has stuck with the team's preseason commitment to return to a balanced attack that has resulted in the Giants' ability to outscore opponents 175-153. And who was it that suggested that head coach Tom Coughlin was on the verge of losing control of the team again? If anything, the messages preached by the Giants' leader have finally permeated the locker room -- and if there were any doubt about that, just look at how New York roared back from a 20-7 deficit against Dallas in its last game.

Copyright (C) 2010 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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