Monday, September 9, 2013
Upon Further Review: Giants Week 1
By Dan Graziano ESPN.com
An examination of four hot issues from the Giants' 36-31 loss to the Cowboys:
Giants running back David Wilson lost two fumbles in Sunday's loss to the Cowboys.
David Wilson's fumbles. This isn't like last year, when the Giants could afford to stash Wilson on the bench after his Week 1 fumble against the Cowboys because he was a rookie and they had Ahmad Bradshaw and Andre Brown in the backfield. Bradshaw is gone and Brown is out until at least Week 10 with a broken leg. Wilson is supposed to be the guy who breaks out in the Giants' run game this year and emerges as the big-play threat they drafted him to be. Even if they sign a veteran back this week, the Giants know they need Wilson to recover from Sunday's two fumbles and earn his way back into the lineup as the starter and lead runner. He'll have to get another shot, and soon.
The secondary. The defense was on the field too much and playing with too short a field as a result of the turnovers, but I thought the Giants' secondary covered well. Had a plan and executed it. The Giants shaded a safety to Dez Bryant's side all night, whether he was lined up on Corey Webster, Prince Amukamara or Aaron Ross. They kept Terrell Thomas in the slot on Miles Austin, and he purposely played off of Austin so as not to let him get behind him for a big play. It was probably a blueprint for next week's game against the Broncos (watch for Thomas on Wes Welker in the slot), though if Amukamara's concussion keeps him out of next week's game, using Ross at corner for a whole game could cost them.
Linebacker as a weakness. The Cowboys' plan was clearly to attack the middle of the field with short-range passes against the Giants' linebackers, which is a position of weakness for the defense. Tight end Jason Witten didn't have 18 catches as he did in the previous matchup, but he had eight and Austin had 10 in that part of the field as Tony Romo made a point of getting rid of the ball as quickly as possible. The Giants' pass-rushers must find a way to force quarterbacks to take shots deeper down the field. It will increase the chances for opponents' mistakes and reduce the Giants' dependence on the linebackers to handle the middle of the field so much.
High-octane receivers. If the Giants can get the play blocked (and there were issues with that Sunday night as well), their passing offense will keep them in games. Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks both looked healthy, and Rueben Randle had a 100-yard game as well. With that many options to throw to, Eli Manning could pile up yards this year. The key now is to make it so he's not always playing from behind.