Giants season one-quarter full

Heading into the bye week, the Giants are 3-1. You heard it right; with the first quarter of the season coming to a close, the Giants are 3-1. And, for some people, that's all that needs to be said. However, there's much more to the story than that.

Several of last year's weaknesses have now become strengths for the Giants. Like what? Like their recent red zone proficiency, for example. Through the season's first four games, New York possessed the league's highest scoring offense. In their fourth game against St. Louis, the Giants traveled into the red zone six times, and came away with points all six times.

While three of the scores went for touchdowns, you also have to take into account that New York also scored two other TDs on long passes from Eli Manning, and the fact that they totaled 44 points.

One of the reasons for the recent red zone success has to be the play of Plaxico Burress, who against the Rams became only the fourth-ever Giants receiver – and the first in three years – to eclipse 200 yards in a game. Through the first four games, he has caught four touchdowns, including two against St. Louis. But Plaxico thinks there's plenty of praise to go around in the red zone.

"You know, Tiki's scoring," Burress said. "Shock's catching TDs. I'm scoring. (Opposing) teams don't know what to do."

New York head coach Tom Coughlin thought his team's size and speed at several skill positions along with the play of Burress was directly responsible for the high octane scoring in the red zone, a far cry from last season's play there.

"You have Amani (Toomer), Plaxico, Shockey and (Visanthe) Shiancoe," Coughlin said. "Those are four guys that have some height. They have some range and they have some speed. It's hard to stop them."

Another guy that's been hard to stop has been New York's rookie running back Brandon Jacobs. The 6-4, 256-pound bull has been successful on all but one of his short-yardage attempts. In fact, with the Giants facing a second-and-one at midfield with a little over 11 minutes remaining in the first half against the Rams, Jacobs rumbled for 11 yards – 10 more than he needed.

Because of Jacobs' contribution, New York has completely improved its short-yardage offense from last season, and probably has the most dependable short-yardage back they've had since Charles Way.

"I (always feel confident with Brandon getting the ball in that situation)," New York's Pro Bowl running back Tiki Barber smiled. "He provides a great dose of excitement every time he steps on the field. He provides me with a chance to rest, while he uses his physical stature to pound the ball."

And, we haven't even mentioned the play of second-year quarterback Eli Manning yet. For the season, Manning currently has more TD passes (9) than his superstar brother Peyton (6). He's completed 66-of-123 passes for 985 yards with only two interceptions, certainly much improved from his limited role during his rookie season.

And then there's the small matter of run defense, where New York ranked 12th in the NFC and 24th in the NFL, heading into the Rams contest. The Giants ranked 14th and 28th, respectively, in those same categories last year. Take into account that New York has excelled against the run in every game, with the exception of the Chargers contest, where LaDainian Tomlinson ran roughshod over them.

However, their rating was all but assured of improving, heading into the bye. The Giants defense held Rams running back Steven Jackson to 17 yards on 10 attempts. As a team, St. Louis only rushed for 42 yards on 15 carries.

"I think (as a rushing defense), this year has been really incredible," said Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Strahan, whose presence has been a big reason for that. "As for (our performance against Tomlinson), I don't think there's anyone (else) like that in the league. Outside of that, I think we've done very well. It's great to make a great team like the Rams one-dimensional."

New York actually made the Cardinals, Saints and Rams one-dimensional by taking away the run. However, when asked if the run-defense had improved from last year, Coughlin simply offered this.

"We're three and one," Coughlin said before pausing for a moment to reflect. "We're three and one."

That's really all that needs to be said.

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