I will say I am in no mood to really do this, so I will likely keep every key review short.
- Stop the running game: The Giants like to get as balanced as possible. If we stop their running game effectively, we can put them in 2nd and long, and even 3rd and long where they would have to pass eventually. The whole point of our defense is to stop the run, and protect the big play while if worst comes to worst we limit them to only field goals in the redzone. Lets face it, their passing attack is very dangerous boasting 3 very talented WRs. Our pass defense will have their hands full. However, if we stop their running game, we can make the Giants become predictable, and all of a sudden they are playing OUR game.
We did pretty well against their running game from what I remember. They got off a couple of big runs but for the most part we shut their running game down.
- Red Zone defense will be key: I want you guys to take a look at this, and notice the #10 and #11 spots on redzone defense: http://nflstatpages.com/statistics/defense/cat/red_zone_defense
Yep. Almost exact. But if you want to go down to specifics, we have allowed 6 less points (a TD difference), and 1 less rushing TD while giving up just 1 more field goal than the Giants. Otherwise, there is pretty much no difference. Both of our teams have our fair share of injuries on our defense, and now we are both as healthy as we can get, which is much better than most of our regular season this year. Both offense boast a very good passing game, so I'm guessing that's how each team will try and get their TDs. So in the redzone, that's where we must focus on. If I were to chose an offense to score most likely in the redzone, it's the pats no question. But in the redzone, the pass is where our defense should most focus on, and try to defend. According to teamstats.com: http://www.teamrankings.com/nfl/stat/red-zone-scoring-pct NE is 4th in scoring in the redzone at 65% while the Giants are 9th at about 54.5%.So NE's offense must take advantage of the redzone, while our defense must limit as much TDs as possible, particularly passing TDs.
It's clear who the winner is. The Giants. When they got in the redzone, they were able to score. The pats were close to the redzone a few times, but when they were in the redzone, they were able to score as well. However the giants got in the redzone more than the pats, and capitalized on it.
Seal the Edge: I'm not saying to seal the edge for the running game, although that would also be ideal. I want to seal the edge against Eli. He makes great throws while rolling out to either his left or right side, and extend plays to where most QBs cannot. Sealing the edge, while our inside rush collapses the pocket, will force Eli to get very uncomfortable, and will either get sacked or just throws it before he gets hit. But this will NOT be possible unless Anderson and Ninko and somewhat our Ends, seal the edge. They have average at best tackles, it have a pretty good interior line. If we can't seal the edge, we will see Eli roll out if he feels pressured, and he will most likely make the passes. Eli is #1 in completing passes while under pressure, and I am willing to bet that a lot of those completed passes are form him rolling out: http://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2011/10/07/signature-stats-snapshot-passing-under-pressure/. Our secondary can't cover 3 great receivers for an extended period of time, so this will be a huge disadvantage if we can't seal the edge, and force eli to think twice about rolling out.
We did well here. I hardly seen Eli roll out and pass the ball. He seemed antsy in the pocket and most of the time had no where to go, which is what we wanted.
Keep Brady clean: This is about as obvious as you can get this game, other than the turnover situation. We will be facing a strong front 4, who the Giants will more than likely just send out while everyone else covers. JPP is a strong, talented DE who will be lined up against Nate Solder, and Osi will be lining up against Light. Our OL has been pretty damn good this season at shutting down edge rushers completely, but that is still no reason to any lightly about this matchup. Light is having a great year, and perhaps Light can hold his own well against Osi. But Solder vs. JPP will be interesting to watch, and I don't know how good Solder can hold his own against him. We may need the help of a TE for that side to chip JPP and Light needs to play at a high level against Osi. Although we have not had any trouble from the edge all season, the most key factor is the middle. I'm not too sure how good the Giant's tackles are, but our interior line has been tremendous this season. Connely/Wendel have been fine at center, but Mankins and Waters have been playing lights out so far (Mankins took a bit of time to get up to speed...), and if all goes well Brady should be able to not worry TOO much about the inside. JPP and Osi are the guys on that DL we need to watch out for, and how we have been able to handle edge rushers so far this season, this matchup will be interesting to watch.
We did a very good job at this.
- Run the ball: We must run the ball effectively. This is what I expect. I expect the Giants to rush 4 a lot. If they want to do that, then what we must do is run the ball, and force the LBs to play closer to the line to open up the middle. I expect BJGE to have a big game. Mix in with some Herndo at RB, throw some screens (I think of screens as a passing running game. lol), and keep the defense guessing. We can't let Brady go too pass happy, or the defense will adjust, and eventually passing will not be effective, and we will have our outside OL pass protect more, which will eventually lead to Brady sacks and hurried throws.
We ran the ball, but not as effectively as I would have wanted. BJGE picked up yards, but the Giants were also stopping him for 1 or 2 yard gain, or a loss. Woody ran not very well. A couple of good runs, but he was more effective in the pass.
And the turnovers thing I mentioned.... yeah Giants capitalized on our mistakes, and we couldn't capitalize on theirs. Ball just didn't bounce our way unfortunately.
In any case, I will be evaluating players. Not just 1st or second rounders. I'll be looking at 4th and 5th rounders. I have a lot to do for school as well, so I'll try to do as much as possible. Combine is in a couple weeks, and I am excited. I can't wait to see what will happen this offseason.