Behind Enemy Lines: Bucs-Giants Part II

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New York Giants square off on Sunday. Earlier this week, The Giant Insider's Ken Palmer took the time to answer five questions from Bucsblitz.com co-publisher Tyler Frazier. Get Palmer's answers on Eli Manning, Brandon Jacobs and Sunday's game keys in our exclusive "Behind Enemy Lines" series.

Tyler Frazier: With the Bucs early struggles at secondary, what are the chances the Giants let Eli Manning throw the ball downfield more?

Ken Palmer: Coming off a 330-yard game, you can bet that Eli Manning will be looking to get the ball downfield as much as possible. Even though New York finished with the top-ranked rushing unit last season, they have new young guns at Manning's disposal – especially Mario Manningham, who caught 10 passes for 150 yards in Dallas – and they want to show them off. New York's key to offensive success with Manning at the helm is to run the ball to set up the play-action pass, at which he excels.

Tyler Frazier: After seeing Fred Jackson rush for 163 yards against the Bucs, how likely is it that Brandon Jacobs will try and duplicate this?

Ken Palmer: Believe it or not, Brandon Jacobs has been the club's second-best back through the first two weeks. Ahmad Bradshaw had a superb rookie season in 2007 but was dealing with multiple injuries that he played through last season. He's now back to full health and has been running very, very hard. Bradshaw is the type of guy that you almost always expect to emerge from a pile of would-be tacklers, because of his strength and the fact that he never stops churning his legs. Now this isn't to say that Jacobs isn't dangerous, because he most certainly still is, but with Bradshaw standing out, it's safe to say that New York doesn't miss Derrick Ward in the least.

Tyler Frazier: What do the Giants need to do in order to show that losing Derrick Ward has not hurt the team's running game?

Ken Palmer: Obviously I was answering these questions in order. As long as Bradshaw stays healthy, they'll fine just fine with him replacing Ward. Also, the Giants are very excited about Danny Ware, who injured his elbow on the season-opening kickoff and is expected to miss another week or two. Some in the organization believe that Ware is the most complete back on the roster. Again, Derrick Ward had a tremendous career in New York, and made history last season by teaming with Jacobs to become only the fourth set of RB teammates to each top 1,000 yards. But much like Penn State is known as Linebacker U, the Giants are starting to make a name for themselves for producing stud RBs.

Tyler Frazier: How important is it for the Giants defense to get a pass rush especially with Byron Leftwich as the Bucs QB?

Ken Palmer: New York made it all the way to a Super Bowl title two years ago on the basis of their pass rush. Last year, the injury to Osi Umenyiora hurt them as much as did the absence of Plaxico Burress. Sunday, it looks like they'll be without both Justin Tuck, a Pro Bowler last season, and Chris Canty, a huge offseason signing. That'll test their depth a little earlier than expected. But with a guy like Mathias Kiwanuka stepping in for Tuck at LDE you really won't see much of a drop-off. While pass-rush pressure is essential to New York's defensive success, the sack numbers are down so far this year and they've been just fine. Last week, they never wrapped up Tony Romo all game long, but were able to force him into three interceptions.

Tyler Frazier: What three things need to happen in order for the Giants to win Sunday's game?

Ken Palmer: The plane needs to land in Tampa. Just joking, of course. The top three things the Giants always focus on are winning both of the line battles and the turnover margin. Last week, they were a plus-four in the turnover department, which basically allowed them to win a very tough road game in which they didn't exactly play their best football. Offensive line-wise, these five are as good as any unit in the league, but they haven't rushed the ball as well as they'd like so far. I'd expect an awful lot of between-the-tackles runs from Jacobs in an attempt to get him going and a lot of misdirection runs from Bradshaw so they can utilize his superb cutting ability and speed. The pass blocking has been fine so far, so that shouldn't be a worry. New York's biggest ‘concern' coming into this one is that they'll take a desperate Bucs team that probably isn't as bad as it's looked too lightly. But anyone who's been around Tom Coughlin for any amount of time knows that's a highly unlikely occurrence.


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