Behind Enemy Lines Part II: Giants at Cowboys

CowboysHQ.com publisher JD Drummond goes behind enemy lines to get intel from TheGiantsBeat.com publisher Rick Laughland as we turn our attention to the NFC East Showdown in Dallas.

Q: KD Drummond | CowboysHQ.com

1 - A few short days ago, the Giants appeared to be a team on the come, part of the surprise start for the NFC East, which entering the season was thought to be a mediocre-at-best division. e 2014 Then, Sunday night happened and opened up a series of questions of exactly what kind of team the 2014 Giants are. Cowboys fans are no strangers to new systems and mounting injuries derailing plans for success. Is that the nutshell overview of what is troubling the Giants right now?

A: Rick Laughland | TheGiantsBeat.com

The 2014 Giants are an enigma. After an 0-2 start, critics were shoveling dirt on them, but three straight wins against less than stellar squads breathed new life into an impatient fan base. While Eli Manning is still a top 10 quarterback, the inconsistent play of his offensive line, injuries to star Victor Cruz and running back Rashad Jennings have proven to be deadly blows to Big Blue early on this season. Ben McAdoo's West Coast system endured some bumps in the road early on, but as soon as the pieces of the puzzle started meshing together, the injury bug hit. Big Blue has seen tremendous roster turnover since its 2011 championship season with just Antrel Rolle, Prince Amukamara, Mathius Kiwanuka and Manning representing the only healthy starters from that spectacular season. Despite being active players in free agency and snatching up one of the 2014 draft class' most talented wideouts in Odell Beckham Jr., there has been no level of consistent play from Tom Coughlin's squad. The Giants lack a true pass-rushing threat, as Jason Pierre-Paul is not playing even close to his 2011 version and while the revamped secondary has forced its fair share of mistakes, the Giants inability to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks has been quite evident so far in 2014. The Giants prospects for the future are bright, but the way things are headed it doesn't appear as though they'll be in the playoff conversation this season.

Q: KD Drummond | CowboysHQ.com

2 - What did Philadelphia do differently in attacking the Giants offensive line that other teams haven't this year? New York has had success against other 3-4 defenses in Arizona Houston and Washington, but there was absolutely no time for Eli to throw on Sunday night.

A: Rick Laughland | TheGiantsBeat.com

The Giants offensive line was downright awful on Sunday night and you have to credit the Eagles defensive front for mixing in pressures and stunts to confuse New York's pass blockers. Philadelphia came at the Giants in waves as Connor Barwin and Trent Cole proved to be too much for Justin Pugh, Will Beatty and company to handle. New York's protection has been suspect all season long and the only thing covering up their mistakes is the new-look West Coast Offense which has Manning making quick drops and releasing the ball at a much faster rate. The Giants line play both offensively and defensively was their strength in 2007 and 2011 and now it appears to be a weak link this upcoming season. With Cruz out of the lineup, the Giants are lacking a true home run threat and receiver that can demand a double team. Rueben Randle does not get great separation on his routes, and while Odell Beckham Jr. is an intriguing player he's still learning the nuances of exploiting NFL caliber defenses. Expect the Giants line issues to steadily improve as the group develops chemistry and improves communication but top tier pass-rushing units will likely have marked success against New York's front.

Q: KD Drummond | CowboysHQ.com

3. - It would be hard to imagine two teams further apart as far as their confidence levels based on this past week's results, but we all know the NFL is a week-to-week league and things can change in an instant. What is the pulse of the Giants team currently?

A: Rick Laughland | TheGiantsBeat.com

To be perfectly honest this team seemed a bit rattled that their leader in Cruz is lost for the year. Not only will No. 80 be out for 6-9 months with the gruesome injury, but the pain and agony that he endured shook-up a lot of his teammates. The Giants seem to keep searching for leaders to help guide the locker room and lift their spirits. Cruz was one of those guys, but he's now injured. Jon Beason and Rashad Jennings have exemplary leadership, but both have been hobbled by injuries this year. If there's one thing the Giants have shown during the Manning and Coughlin era it's that you can never count them out, but you can't necessarily count on them either. Coughlin and Manning never waver in their confidence, but the supporting cast around them is either injured or not living up to expectations. Big Blue needs a win in the worst way this week as they face a murderous schedule after their Week 8 Bye featuring: Indianapolis, Seattle, San Francisco and another meeting with Dallas. I think that anything can happen in the NFL, but if I'm a betting man I don't see this Giants team turning their fortunes around this season.

Q: KD Drummond | CowboysHQ.com

4 - If you could identify the top three things that have been working for the Giants thus far for 2014, what would they be?

A: Rick Laughland | TheGiantsBeat.com

I. The Giants rushing attack was spectacular to start the year as Jennings was the NFL's third leading rusher before going down with an MCL sprain. Andre Williams has been a pleasant surprise as a rookie, but he's shown he's clearly not ready to take the full-time workload. Peyton Hillis is another big-bodied back, but his role has been somewhat limited this season. If the Giants are able to get Jennings back on the field healthy, their ground game could be something to be reckoned with.

II. New York's secondary has been as good as advertised with Amukamara and Rolle playing some of their best football. Dominique Rogers-Cromartie has been limited with hip and leg ailments, but he's provided a boost in pass coverage. The Giants haven't had this talent level in the secondary since Coughlin took over as head coach, but with a tepid pass-rush the defense is still a middle of the pack unit.

III. Despite suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 1, Steve Weatherford has been stellar in helping the Giants win the field position battle and placekicker Josh Brown has been perfect on all seven field goal attempts this year. The Giants kicking units have been rock solid this year, but in a stacked NFC East, field goals aren't good enough to win games.

Q: KD Drummond | CowboysHQ.com

5 - On the flip side, what three things have been a thorn in the side of the team? Things they have been susceptible to over the first six games?

A: Rick Laughland | TheGiantsBeat.com

I. The Giants have been susceptible to turnovers in big spots against top flight defenses. The Cowboys retooled unit may have opportunities to force mistakes and Manning has a tendency to try and make the big play even if it isn't there.

II. The pass-rush has been virtually non-existent and the defensive line has struggled to create pressure in the opponents backfield. Johnathan Hankins, Pierre-Paul and Cullen Jenkins have been somewhat ineffective and until they start clicking and taking pressure off the secondary, things could start to turn ugly for Big Blue.

III. There's no disputing that Coughlin is a two-time Super Bowl winner, but his gameplans this season have been real head scratchers. We haven't seen much imagination or ingenuity from the offense and defensively a ball hawking secondary has made up for the fact that the unit as a whole has given up significant yardage in each game this year. If things don't turn around in a hurry 2014 could be Coughlin's final season in New York.


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