Coming off a 32-18 victory of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the New York Giants and Head Coach Tom Coughlin are on to New England this week. The undefeated Patriots pose a daunting but familiar challenge to Manning and company so Coughlin sat down with Giants beat reporters to discuss the Giants keys to victory as well as commenting on his history against Bill Belichick and the Patriots.
Coughlin and Belichick were assistants under legendary coach Bill Parcells and were both instrumental in the 1990 Giants championship run. Coughlin served as wide receivers coach and Belichick the defensive coordinator who devised the brilliant gameplan for that Super Bowl XXV win.
Coughlin has enjoyed the upper hand in his head to head matchups with Belichick over the past few years, but nevertheless holds the Patriots mastermind in high regard.
Certainly I have great, great respect for Bill. But their team, and they are very-well coached, and as I study the tape and I see the various aspects of the way in which they play, it does get your motor running, no question about it.
The Giants will be working all week to be channeling that excitement into results as they are facing the league’s highest scoring offense. Coughlin knows that field position and time of possession will be essential components to a Giants’ victory.
“Field position and trying to keep the ball away, trying to do things with your offense, and it’s trying to find a way to control a team that’s a high-flying team that has scored an awful lot of points.”
A large portion of Patriots success has obviously been from the MVP-caliber half-season that Tom Brady has strung together.
The four-time Super Bowl champion has tossed 22 touchdowns compared to 2 interceptions, while also being third in the league in the passing yards. While it’s easy to give Brady all the credit, his favorite target, Rob Gronkowski, poses an equally large challenge to the Giants.
“He’s a rare athlete, let’s face it,” Coughlin said on Rob Gronkowski. “And they use him a lot of different ways and they try to get the isolation look and they try to use him among others, the running back, to determine whether it’s man or zone.”
The Patriots will often break down defensive coverages by seeing if a defender will follow Gronk across a formation. This can be a revealing method against a young Giants’ defense and disguising their coverages will certainly be an emphasis in preparation for Sunday afternoon.
“You have to mix [the coverage on Gronkowski]. You’ve got to mix because you have to have your entire defensive package available. If you start cutting down on that part of it, then it’s pretty obvious what you’re doing for the majority of the day.”
Coughlin also knows that similarly to how the Giants will be adapting their defense to cover the Patriots offense, the Patriots offense will be making weekly tweaks to their playbook as well. While Coughlin is proud of his previous achievements against the Patriots, he knows that they bare little weight (from a scheme standpoint) going in this matchup.
“It’s a new year, new scheme, it’s a new team, all of those things. We have some ideas that carry over, but by in large, as you said, that’s in the past.”
The Giants will also have the fortune of starting a recovering JPP for the second straight week. In his debut against the Buccaneers, Pierre-Paul saw a lot of action and displayed shades of his former dominance. Coughlin expects a more impactful game in JPP’s second game of the season.
“He was on the field for some 46 snaps and proved that he’s a highly-conditioned athlete and was at his best probably when his best was needed at the end of the game. So I expect that he’ll rev it up and be ready to go for even more.”
Coughlin is aware that JPP’s impact will need to be felt and will be an essential aspect of the Giants keys to victory, as disrupting Tom Brady has been the Giants formula to success in previous matchups. Given the Giants pass rush and Tom Brady’s fast release, Coughlin knows this will be an uphill battle.
“Oh, it’s difficult. He’s the quickest in the league getting rid of the ball, that’s a fact. But you have to try. Whether you try with four, five, six, whatever…at certain points of the game you got to try.”
The Giants will be looking to implement these strategies in order to knock off the undefeated Patriots this Sunday at 4:25PM in MetLife Stadium.