1. The Giants look like they have some pretty serious injuries on both sides of the ball, with Donnell, Pugh, and Schwartz on offense, and Hankins and Amukamara on defense. How has the depth on the roster been able to step up?
It's interesting because good teams have players step up when other guys go down. The Giants have been inconsistent to the point of making you crazy this year, but they have had guys step up. MLB Jon Beason went to IR last week, and Jasper Brinkley came in, led the Giants in tackles, forced a fumble and had a fumble recovery.
The Giants have gotten contributions from a lot of unexpected guys. Undrafted TE Will Tye is an example. Nikita Whitlock, who plays fullback and sometimes pass rushes from defensive tackle, is another. They will miss Hankins and Amukamara. They don't have enough play makers on defense as it is.
2. The offense seems to focus on getting the ball out as quickly as possible. Have any defenses been asked to play tight man coverage and, if so, how did the Giants offense adjust?
That's correct, this isn't the downfield risk-reward offense of years gone by. It's more of a quick-throw, get first downs, create run after catch passing attack. Part of that is because you have a rookie left tackle (Ereck Flowers) and a journeyman right tackle (Marshall Newhouse).
Partially, though, this is just the way the offense is built. One thing is defenses have largely taken the deep ball away from Odell Beckham with a safety almost always over the top. Man or zone, I think teams are understanding that the Giants want the ball out quickly and are trying to challenge the short stuff.
3. Everyone knows Odell Beckham Jr. Who is Rueben Randle and what dimension does he add to the offense?
Interesting that you ask about Randle because it goes back to the previous question. Randle is the No. 2 receiver without Victor Cruz, and he's a really good player. The issue is really that he hasn't been completely healthy. He missed time in preseason with knee tendinitis, and has recently been playing through a hamstring issue.
In past years, the Giants have been able to get some big chunk plays down the field from him. While he's been a reliable underneath target this year, the injuries have limited his ability to stretch the field and he's averaging a career low in yards per reception. Stretching the field vertically has been a constant challenge for this offense, and a fully healthy Randle would help.
4. Jason Pierre-Paul is back and he's been active, while the Patriots have an iffy offensive line. How is the Giants threat of a pass rush?
Pass rush? Pass rush, you say? That's a legal thing in the NFL? The Giants have a league-worst nine sacks. The pass rush was "better" with Pierre-Paul last week, but that doesn't mean it was "good." Pierre-Paul is a threat, although I wish he hadn't gone and "promised" to get to Brady.
Robert Ayers can rush the passer. So can Damontre Moore, but he's committed roughing the passer penalties in three straight games and now barely sees the field. So, if the Patriots handle JPP then Tom Brady could be very comfortable all day.
5. Patriots fans will love Shane Vereen until the end of time. How's he doing?
Well, you know what kind of player Vereen is. He's been a fantastic addition to the Giants offense, and to their locker room. He already has 34 catches and should easily surpass the career-high 52 he had last season. The Giants have found out how quarterback-friendly he is, and he's a great fit for this quick-throw offense. He will almost always be on the field in passing situations.
As far as running the ball, the Giants are using running back by committee and all four of their guys are getting chances. Rashad Jennings, Vereen, Andre Williams and Orleans Darkwa will probably all get carries. It drives me a little crazy to see a back who has a few successful carries come off the field and not play in the next two or three series, but the rotation has been working the past couple of games for the Giants. Who am I to argue?