Updated: Sep 18
The Giants will look to put last week’s 40-0 drubbing at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys in the rearview as they head to the desert to take on the Arizona Cardinals. Here are three things to watch for when they kick off at 4:05 pm EST today.
The offensive line desperately needs a bounce back performance
Anyone who watched last week’s Sunday night game - even those who aren’t fans of the Giants - noticed the glaringly bad play of the offensive line. Daniel Jones was consistently pressured, having to bail out of the pocket and run the ball a whopping 13 times. To put it into perspective, Saquon Barkley only had 12 rushing attempts.
Jones was sacked seven (7) times and was hit another twelve (12) times as the pocket collapsed almost immediately every time he dropped back. The right side of the line was a massive source of the pressure, as Mark Glowinski (RG) and Evan Neal (RT) had two of the worst performances of their respective careers. John Michael Schmitz, the rookie center out of Minnesota, struggled mightily and botched a few snaps during the game. Those three alone made up three of the bottom six Giants PFF grades from week 1.
PFF grades courtesy of Big Blue View
With Andrew Thomas’ injured hamstring most likely to affect him this week if he plays, the Giants will need a better showing from the rest of the line. They’ll need to fine tune their play if this team wants to compete with the big dogs, especially in a very strong NFC East that has the most wins (4) out of any other division in football in the early stages of the season. That could mean adjustments on the right side and maybe testing out Evan Neal at the right guard spot and using a swing tackle strategy with Joshua Ezeudu, Marcus McKethan or Matt Peart. The Cardinals’ defense is no pushover either, with the likes of Dennis Gardeck, Kyzir White, Zaven Collins, Budda Baker, Jalen Thompson all part of that side of the ball. This game will not be a breeze for the Giants’ offensive line and they have to come stout and ready to play.
Isaiah Simmons returns to Arizona after trade
It feels like a quick turnaround for Isaiah Simmons, after being traded to the Giants from the Cardinals just three weeks ago he will now have the opportunity to return to the place where he kicked off his NFL career and possibly craft the beginning of a new legacy with the Giants. When asked this week if he planned on stomping on the Cardinals logo, the way T.O. (Terrell Owens) did so over 20 years ago on the Cowboys’ star, his response was lighthearted and came with a laugh “No old school T.O.”
Listen, as I mentioned above, he was traded to the Giants in late August and was only given two weeks to ramp up before the season kicked off. That ramp up period included a handful of practices and one preseason game against the Jets where he played five snaps. He totaled 15 snaps on defense and 15 on special teams last week, numbers that are expected to increase as he continues to assimilate into the Giants’ scheme over the coming weeks.
Simmons’ value is imperative to a Giant defense that allowed 40 points last week and is still very much searching for their identity. His ability to line up at pretty much any spot on defense - defensive tackle might be the one exception - makes him the faberge egg of Wink Martindale’s defense. He’s big too, at 6’4” and 238 pounds and is fast as lightning. The former 1st round pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 2020 will look to continue to get his reps in with this Giant defense come 4 o’clock EST today.
Get the wide receiver room involved early and often
Last week’s showing from the wide receiver room was disastrous and one we would all like to forget. Part of the blame can be put on the offensive line for not holding up, or on the stout Cowboys’ secondary covering well, but the reality of it is that the skill players need to make plays this week to prove that last week was indeed a fluke.
Not counting Darren Waller, Lawrence Cager and Saquon Barkley who collectively tallied eight receptions and 65 yards receiving, Giant wide receivers were only able to muster five receptions on 41 yards receiving. The game got out of hand quickly, but it almost felt that guys like Isaiah Hodgins, Parris Campbell and Darius Slayton were nonexistent out there throughout the game. This can be put on the coaching staff too, Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka have to set the tone early in the passing game with the aforementioned trio to effectively take the pressure off of Saquon Barkley and Darren Waller. Those two alone garner a ton of attention, so having the other guys pick up some big plays this week will be a massive confidence boost for this offense.
The Cardinals are trotting out youth at their corner positions similar to what the Giants are doing with Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins III, as third year player Marco Wilson and rookie Kei’Trel Clark will be manning the outside boundaries today. I’d like to see the offense attack them and stay as far away from Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson as possible.
Plain and simple, the Giants need a win today. Last week’s loss to the Cowboys will go down as maybe one of the worst ever, but the Giants can silence the critics and get back on track with a hard fought win on the road this afternoon. In my opinion, it all starts with the offense. Points on the board takes pressure off of the Giant defense and puts more pressure on Josh Dobbs to make plays. Brian Daboll is a fantastic head coach and I hope, if the Giants win the coin toss, that he decides to put the ball in the hands of Daniel Jones and tries to set the tone early in this game. This should be a fun one to watch and here’s to hoping the Giants get back on track and head into next week’s Thursday night game in San Francisco with a chip on their collective shoulder.