Weekend mailbag: Giants' interior rush

September, 29, 2012
9/29/12
10:53
AM ET
Let's see, let's see. What's in the mailbag this weekend?

Joe from NYC thinks the New York Giants should line up defensive tackle Linval Joseph over backup Philadelphia Eagles center Dallas Reynolds on Sunday night and "blow his doors off." Further, Joe's game plan would ask the Giants' defensive ends to key on the run.

Dan Graziano: Joe, I think this is an interesting idea for a couple of reasons. First, it likely would catch the Eagles by surprise and potentially limit LeSean McCoy if the Eagles decided to go to the run more. Second, the Cardinals had great success last week collapsing the pocket against Michael Vick with an interior pass rush. The Giants' interior defensive line is an underrated strength, as Joseph and Rocky Bernard have both played very well this year, and the Giants could succeed with this type of defensive game plan in their big divisional showdown. One thing I will say, though: Whatever they decide to do in the pass rush, it's got to work, because they're banged up in the secondary with Jayron Hosley out, Corey Webster playing with a broken hand and Antrel Rolle questionable due to his knee injury. The Giants can't let Vick have any time to throw downfield, because that's exactly what the Eagles want to do.




Andy from Manhattan Beach, Calif. and Todd in Kalaheo, Hawaii both wonder why the Washington Redskins didn't sign Tim Hightower instead of Ryan Grant when they were out looking for running backs this week.

DG: Mike Shanahan said they did reach out to Hightower and that he was their first choice after they realized Roy Helu would have to go on injured reserve. But the reason Hightower didn't make the team in the first place a month ago was because he wasn't fully recovered from last year's knee injury. Shanahan said this week that Hightower had re-injured the knee during his rehab and was likely to have arthroscopic surgery to clean some things up. So, since they still don't know when Hightower will be fully recovered and healthy, they moved onto their next choice, which was Grant. They still intend to use Alfred Morris as the starter, but they like to have several running backs on hand, and with Helu and Evan Royster hurt, they needed to bring in someone.




Carlos from Austin, Texas wonders if the switch from Tony Fiammetta to Lawrence Vickers at fullback might be responsible for the struggles the Dallas Cowboys are having in the run game.

DG: I guess it's possible, Carlos, but that's what I see. I think the issue is the offensive line, which is playing even worse than it did last year and is getting pushed back into the backfield on almost every play. Not sure exactly how much the fullback can do when there's no push up front. Now, part of the problem is that the last two teams the Cowboys played -- Tampa Bay and Seattle -- have been the two toughest defenses against the run this season. That doesn't get a lot easier anytime soon, with the Bears this week and the Ravens following next week's bye. But eventually it will, and there remains the chance that the offensive line will improve as the season goes along (mainly because it can't get any worse). So I'd hold off before blaming the fullback switch.




Nate from Montreal wonders why the Eagles don't seem to call as many designed run plays for Vick as they used to and thinks doing so would help balance out the offense.

DG: They stopped calling so many designed runs for Vick because he refused to learn how to slide properly and they didn't want to expose him to any more contact than they absolutely had to. I think a big part of the reason McCoy rushed for 17 touchdowns last year was because they seemingly took out all of the plays from the year before on which Vick would run it in. And in general, the Eagles prefer to pass the ball rather than run it if they can. So, for all of those reasons, I doubt you'll see a return to the type of running Vick did in his huge 2010 season. They'd like him to read the field better and throw the ball to his receivers.

Thanks for the questions. Catch you all next week.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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