Commentary

Has Giants' nightmare just begun?

After losing to Romo, pass rush must prepare for more QBs with fancy footwork

Updated: September 11, 2012, 9:01 PM ET
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com

The New York Giants got plenty of rest over the weekend after their rare Wednesday night season opener.

But at least one Giant was suffering from Tony Romo-induced insomnia.

"I haven't slept well," defensive captain Justin Tuck said. "I think every guy in this locker room was disgusted with how we played."

[+] EnlargeJustin Tuck
AP Photos/David DrapkinJustin Tuck's Giants are the defending champions. They're also the only 0-1 team in the NFC East.

It has been about a week since the Giants dropped a 24-17 loss to the Cowboys, and the sour taste in their mouths has only worsened with the fact that the defending champs are already trailing every other team in the NFC East.

If Tuck had recurring nightmares of Romo consistently eluding the Giants' pass rush, the next three weeks could be restless ones for the Giants' defense.

On Sunday, the Giants will face Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman, who has the ability to move and strength to escape sacks. Then Perry Fewell's defense will have to find a way to contain Carolina's Cam Newton before opposing Michael Vick and the Eagles in Week 4.

The Giants' pass rush will have to be patient and disciplined.

"You always want to go against those quarterbacks that are kind of Statues of Liberty in the pocket," Tuck said. "That makes things a little easier. But that's not the way of today's quarterback.

"Most guys now are mobile and still are franchise-type quarterbacks. The Romos, the Vicks. ... Considering last week's games, the RG3s, the Cam Newtons.

"It's the way of the world, and us as D-linemen have to adjust."

Tuck said Romo's mobility didn't hurt the Giants' defense as much as the quarterback changing the snap count with an effective running game behind him.

Several players said that it was small technique things that allowed the Cowboys to hit for several big plays. Many repeated a common theme from last year by saying that players needed to stick to their roles and responsibilities, and not try to do too much while trusting that their teammates would handle their responsibilities to make the play.

Head coach Tom Coughlin, though, would like to see the Giants contain the quarterback better than they did against Dallas.

"Very important to not allow the quarterbacks to have access to an escape," Coughlin said. "We provided Dallas with the opportunity to extend plays the other night, which was not by design. We had some errors."

At 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds, Freeman is a big target for the pass rush, but he's strong and can move just enough to make defenders miss.

"I think he's more of a [Ben] Roethlisberger type, as far as just being a big-body guy that is hard to bring down," Tuck said. "I haven't seen much from him as far as eluding a rush with his speed, but he's still mobile enough to give guys fits and to step up in the pocket and prolong plays long enough to make something happen downfield."

Freeman also has offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, who was Eli Manning's quarterbacks coach before joining Greg Schiano in Tampa Bay. Sullivan knows the Giants' offense well after spending 2004 to 2011 with the team as wide receivers and then quarterbacks coach.

"Even though it is a similar offense, Sully is going to have some tricks to keep us off rhythm," Tuck said. "Give us some looks that we see from our offense every day and do something different. We know he will throw some wrinkles."

It's just another thing to keep Tuck from having a good night's rest. But if the Giants' defense can rediscover its championship form, Tuck likely will sleep like a baby Sunday night.

"We all are itching to get back on the field," Tuck said. "With everything riding on that [opening] game, first game of the season against a division foe, a team that you have a lot of history against, you want to come out and play your best game and say they beat us playing our best, but we didn't do that.

"That irks me. That really bothers me."

Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
Follow him on Twitter »  Ohm's chat archive »

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