Patriots 2015 Opponents, Five First Impressions of the Giants
The Patriots finished their three game home stand and head back out on the road to face a familiar nemesis, the New York Giants. The G-men under Tom Coughlin have had the Patriots number in the past few years, as the only team the Patriots haven’t beat since the 2008 season.
The streak includes two Super Bowls, one which ruined the perfect 18-0 run coming in 2007 and the other in 2011. The Patriots and Bill Belichick have a lot of respect for the Giants and their organization and will be looking to keep their undefeated streak going in what always promises to be a tough game.
The Giants won a solid, important game over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 32-18 on Sunday. The win keeps the G-Men a half game over the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East. Eli Manning completed 26 of 40 with two touchdowns and two interceptions on the day.
The Patriots beat Washington 27-10 but the big news was that the Pats RB Dion Lewis tore his ACL and will be lost for the season. Tom Brady completed 26-39 for 299 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
Here are our Five First Impressions of the Giants:
Defense Gains JPP but Loses Hankins: Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul made his season debut after losing his right index finger to a fireworks accident on July 4th. The two-time Pro Bowler made two tackles, playing in 47 of 62 defensive snaps. He gave the G-Men’s defense a much needed shot in the arm applying QB pressure, especially in the fourth quarter. JPP had six total QB pressures in 32 pass rushing snaps, a huge boost for a team that has struggled getting after opposing QBs.
But the bad news is that the team lost arguably their best defensive lineman Johnathan Hankins to a torn pectoral muscle during Sunday’s game and he’ll be lost for the rest of the 2015 season.
“John has been a guy that has anchored in the middle of that defensive line for a few years, and we will definitely miss his presence,” coach Tom Coughlin said on Monday.
“He’s the one that forced the first fumble, recovered by Jasper Brinkley. He will be missed. He’s a strong, strong player inside and a force against the pass as well as the run. We will miss him.”
Giants Enter Tough Part of their schedule: Winning on Sunday against a struggling Bucs team was a must; for the remaining part of the Giants schedule for 2015 is a very tough one. To remain ahead of Philly, the Giants will have to face some very tough games ahead.
The remaining slate of Giants opponents comes against teams that have a combined record of 37-19 and not only include the 8-0 Patriots but the 8-0 Panthers at home as well as tilts against the surprising 6-2 Vikings and the 5-3 Jets. The division may be decided with a regular season finale against the Eagles in the Meadowlands.
The Giants remaining opponent winning percentage of .661 is by far the toughest in the NFL. Atlanta’s remaining slate is next at .600. Tom Coughlin’s message to the troops has been one game at a time as they enter their toughest part of their schedule.
Beckham Will Be Primary Focus of Offense/Defense Sunday: Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is Manning’s favorite, go-to wide receiver, which is no surprise. Beckham contributed his fourth 100-yard game of the season on nine catches in Sunday’s win over the Bucs. But on a day where the Bucs tried to limit his deep play ability, Beckham contributed in a solid, team-first way of moving the chains and working underneath.
None was bigger than his fourth quarter grab with less than four and a half minutes remaining. The Giants were facing a 3rd and 6 from the 24-yard line and were trying to salt away the win. Former Patriots and Giants corner Sterling Moore was playing tight coverage but the standout WR made a big play that put the game in hand.
With fellow wide receiver Rueben Randle still less than 100 percent physically with a bad hamstring, Beckham and TE Larry Donnell are Manning’s favorite targets especially in the red zone. Randle did play in 65 of 75 offensive snaps but has been limited in going deep right now.
Beckham will be a key player along with former Patriots RB Shane Vereen for NE to try to slow down this week.
Giants, Like NE Using RB by Committee Approach: Unlike in previous years and much like their opponent this week, the Giants are using a running back by committee approach … and it is working.
Coughlin is playing to the strengths of all four of his backs as he plays Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams, Orleans Darkwa and Shane Vereen in the backfield. They each have a different skillset and they have helped keep the chains moving this season.
Jennings is still the guy that gets the most touches but both Williams and Darkwa have shown the ability and production to get a hot hand. It keeps all three with fresh legs especially for the time late in games when they need to move the ball and chains.
Vereen in his first season with the Giants after winning a Super Bowl with New England is a valuable, dangerous back coming out of the backfield.
Amukamara Still Unsure of Availability this week: The best Giants cornerback on the roster is still healing from a partially torn pectoral muscle. Prince Amukamara is healing and met with doctors on Monday to check his progress on returning soon from his injury.
His initial time table called for the 26 year old corner to miss 2-4 weeks after going down against the 49ers. He’s already missed four games but hasn’t been given the all-clear by doctors yet.
The Giants secondary currently ranks 31st against the pass and will be facing the third ranked passing offense as well as the league’s top scoring offense of the Patriots on Sunday. Amukamara’s replacement, Jayson Hosley has struggled in his absence. Part of the issue has to be their dearth of a pass rush, which received a boost in the return of Jason Pierre-Paul last week.
Tom Coughlin may decide to give the talented Amukamara one more week to heal which would lead into the Giants bye week. But there is no doubt that the Giants could use a healthy Amukamara when facing the Patriots this week. This will bear watching as the week unfolds.
Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]
Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 2015 NFL Season Andre Williams Eli Manning Jason Pierre-Paul Johnathan Hankins Julian Edelman Malcolm Butler New England Patriots New York Giants NFL Odell Beckham Jr. Patriots Rashad Jennings Rob Gronkowski Shane Vereen Tom Brady Tom Coughlin