Being threaded for 28 points against a struggling Minnesota Vikings offense doesn’t provide any optimism for the New York Giants heading into a tantalizing matchup against the New England Patriots.
Big Blue will travel to Foxborough to take on the perennially great Pats, led by Tom Brady and his everlasting arm, but their real strength is the defense. The New England offense has been prolific this season, putting up 30 more or points in four of their five contests. The Giants’ defense is facing Goliath, and gaining back linebacker Alec Ogletree, and Tae Davis would go a long way in helping them overcome this challenge.
Losing starting inside linebacker Ryan Connelly for the year due to a torn ACL in his right knee severely damaged the quality of the defense, and that deficiency was on full display last weekend against the Vikings. Beating the Patriots, let alone competing with them on Thursday night football will be difficult, but here are a few ways the Giants can keep it close.
How the New York Giants can stay in the game:
1.) Convert on third downs
Daniel Jones has been far better at converting on third downs than Eli Manning this season, but facing off against a top-5 defense in Minnesota last week showed him a level of adversity he hasn’t experienced before at the NFL level. The Pats are arguably better, but the return of Saquon Barkley is imminent and would provide a considerable boost to the Giants’ chances.
The Giants on third down have been stellar the past three weeks. A success rate of nearly 53% shows why starting Jones was the right thing to do, especially since Manning was converting on a dismal 21% of third downs through the first two weeks. This will be a point of emphasis heading into New England.
2.) Put pressure on Tom Brady
Brady is the best quarterback in the league at surveying the field and finding targets quickly. His lack of athleticism limits him to the pocket, but he rarely makes a wrong decision throwing the ball. The Giants defensive front must get to Brady and force him to make mistakes, but his quick release and receiving running backs make their offense extremely competent in all categories. Good coverage is a must, but beating a solid New England offensive line is where it all starts.
Outside linebacker Markus Golden has been the Giants’ best pass rusher this season with 4.5 sacks and 10 QB hits. He must have an impact in this tough matchup.
3.) Daniel Jones must stay calm and productive
The Giants put up a lousy 10 points against the Vikings, as numerous drops plagued the team throughout the game. Jones stood tall and delivered in the face of pressure on multiple occasions, but his receivers must do more to get open and hold on to passes. Sterling Shepard dropped a potential touchdown pass that would’ve brought the Giants within one score in the fourth quarter, but instead, it forced a field goal attempt that Aldrick Rosas knocked through.
Bill Belichick will undoubtedly put Jones under pressure and expose him to new looks and blitzes. It will be a tough day in Prime Time for the rookie, but the experience is essential, nonetheless.