Keys to the Game: Panthers at Giants

The Giants Beat takes a look at the keys to how the Giants can hand the Panthers their first loss of the season.

The Giants face their second undefeated team of the season, taking on the 13-0 Carolina Panthers at home. Both offensive and defensive coordinator Ben McAdoo and Steve Spagnuolo spoke the Giants Beat about the upcoming matchup and their keys to the game.

The Panthers currently boast a top five defense in every major category (points, pass yards, rush yards and total yards allowed), and McAdoo knows that they are talented all across their defensive front. Josh Norman is arguably the best cornerback in football this year, and has an upcoming date with Odell Beckham Jr.

“He’s a young, athletic, hungry guy. He’ll be a great challenge,” McAdoo commented on Josh Norman. He did add, “we’re not going to shy away from anybody. We’ll pick our spots at times, but we’re not going to back down from any challenges.”

It’s possible that OBJ receives safety help all game long but McAdoo isn’t making the offensive game plan under those assumptions. The Giants also have to worry about the Panthers’ pass rush, which can actually largely be attributed their secondary.

“They’re a talented front and they have some depth, they have some big bodies, some wide bodies…they do a nice job in coverage, so you have to hold the ball a little longer than you would versus a normal opponent.”

The offensive line definitely has a formidable challenge ahead of them this week. However the Giants defense also has the daunting task of containing Cam Newton. The 2015 MVP candidate has multiple 5 touchdown games this season, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo had nothing but praise for the former Heisman trophy winner.

“He’s a big, strong guy. He makes all of the throws. And they do a really good job, I think, of protecting. They’ll keep however many guys they need in.”

This isn’t Spagnuolo’s first dance against Newton, and he fully believes that Newton has improved his play to another level compared to their previous meetings. His audible ability at the line of scrimmage have provided the largest improvement in his game.

“Where I think they’ve really progressed--because I’ve played against them, I can’t remember how many years—he sees things, he may change protection, he gets them in a favorable play.”

One of the reason these audible calls can be so catastrophic to defenses is that the Panthers have the courage to take shots where other teams typically wouldn’t. This is larger because of the cannon-arm that Newton possesses.

“I think they push the ball downfield more than most teams. Even in typically a third and four, third and five, teams are navigating to get the first down, you’ll see them push it downfield and usually it’s a positive play for them.”

The Giants will have to cultivate an offensive game plan that involves creative ways to get OBJ the ball, while the defense will focus on keeping Newton contained and keeping their ample amount of deep threats at bay. The Giants will look to play spoiler once again this Sunday at 1PM. 

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