Inside Slant, Notes, Quotes, Personnel, Etc.

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin was venting in the days prior to hosting the Denver Broncos, and this is not a commonplace sight. He was actually animated, emotive openly agitated.

"We only ran 53 plays (last Sunday in Dallas)," he said, "so it makes no sense to try to figure out what kind of balance we were trying for, how many passes, how many rushing plays. We didn't have the ball long enough for much of anything. We need more plays and that means we need more first downs."

Coughlin, an offensive disciple of Bill Parcells (to whom he lost Sunday) wants to control the ball with the run and strike quickly and effectively with the pass and play strong defense. On the other hand, doesn't everybody?

"Up until the game in Dallas," he was saying, "we had made more than 40 percent of our third down conversions, and that's playoff caliber. But in Dallas we made one of 11 tries. To me, that is inexplicable, unexplainable. Going one for 11 just doesn't give you enough snaps, and without enough snaps you cannot put together the kind of offense you planned for all week."

The Giants had 30 passes and 19 running plays, and if you think that adds up to 49, four less than the 53 plays that were run, consider that quarterback Eli Manning was sacked four times. Sacks count as plays, however aborted, and they are neither passes nor runs.

"We must be more consistent, and frankly I am at a loss to explain what happened Sunday," Coughlin continued. "We played well defensively. We only lost by three points and that was in an overtime period. But we left too many great opportunities unanswered. We need to be better, lots better."

Coughlin foresees a little more work for rookie running back Brandon Jacobs, the 6-4, 265-pounder who can change the entire focus of the team's running concept. On the other hand, Jacobs was the guy who fumbled on a carry from the Cowboys' 3-yard line on second-and-two. He made the first down but coughed up the ball on the Dallas 1-yard line.

"He gave a great effort and I cannot fault him for that," Coughlin said. "He just isn't entirely ready to play yet, to play from scrimmage. He had a lot to learn (in the area of blitz pickups and non-carrying assignments), and besides, what would we do with number 21?"

That reference, of course, was to superstar Tiki Barber, and Coughlin envisions only a few more plays when he wants to give his starter a rest. On the other hand, he doesn't seem inclined to put both of them in the backfield, nor does he seem to think that putting Jacobs in as a decoy on short yardage would bring results.

"In time he'll get more work," Coughlin said. "Meanwhile, we just have to find a way to get more plays."

SERIES HISTORY: This is only the ninth meeting between the teams since 1972, and it is knotted at four victories apiece. There was a ninth meeting - also referred to as Super Bowl XXI - and the Giants won that, 39-20. Bill Parcells coached the Giants to their first SB success and he beat Dan Reeves, who later became the Giants' head coach (1993-1996).


--Rookie DE Justin Tuck, a third-round pick from Notre Dame, stopped a sportswriter strolling through the Giants' locker room. "Hey, is it legal in college football to push a guy over the end zone?" He was referring to the heart-breaking loss suffered by his Fighting Irish last weekend at the hands of USC, whose player did, indeed, push QB Matt Leinart into the end zone. "Yeah, you would think it is," the media guy answered. "It's just not right," Tuck said. "We should have won." It was decided in a split second not to add: "Yeah, and you should have won Sunday, too."

--LG David Diehl, who hasn't missed a start since becoming the team's fifth round draft pick in 2003, was upbeat about the Giants' chances. "You know, playing so close in such oppressive heat and making them go into overtime still shows how good we can be," he said. "It would have been nicer to win, of course, but we played hard and other teams are going to see that."

--DT Kendrick Clancy on the Denver O-line. "You know, they aren't at big as a lot of other lines, but I think they are the toughest and smartest. They're always bringing some unusual blocking scheme to the game. You have to be on your toes when you play the Broncos."

--Despite their 3-2 record, the Giants are an abysmal 31st in the NFL in total defense and defense against the pass. They are 12th in total offense.

--WLB Nick Greisen, who had his best game in a four-year career last Sunday (10 tackles, a fumble recovery and a near tackle-for-safety), will get another start regardless of the physical condition of Reggie Torbor (ankle sprain). "He played exceptionally well," said head coach Tom Coughlin. "He has been very consistent."

--QB Eli Manning leads the NFC (and is fourth in the NFL) in fourth quarter passing effectiveness, completing 20 of 38 passes for 373 yards and two TDs. Leading the league is his older brother, Peyton.

BY THE NUMBERS: 8 - The number of first downs rookie RB Brandon Jacobs has achieved in just 13 carries this season (he is 13 for 62 and a pair of TDs).

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Their offensive line blocking ain't that damned unique; they run it in Atlanta and a lot of teams do it several times during a game." - Reserve OLT Bob Whitfield, commenting on the thought that the Broncos' O-line uses zone blocking 100 percent of the time.


With the Giants listing three LBs as questionable, there might be a drain on depth during their game Sunday at home against Denver. WLB-SLB Carlos Emmons, SLB Reggie Torbor and WLB Barrett Green are all reported with ankle sprains, although head coach Tom Coughlin expected Torbor to practice Wednesday. SS Gibril Wilson (also an ankle sprain) was expected to practice.

WLB Nick Greisen, regardless of Emmons' condition, will start, which means that Emmons will go back to SLB if he is able to play. PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--RCB Will Peterson (transverse process, stress fracture) is definitely out for the game, almost certainly out for the next four to five weeks and probably out for the remainder of the season. Young Curtis Deloatch has filled in for him.

--LCB Will Allen failed to hold yet another certain interception in Dallas and his time appears to be drawing near in terms of being replaced. If that happens, he'll become the slot nickel back with rookie Corey Webster assuming starting duties.

--Players are alluding to the possibility that WR Tim Carter will get significantly more time at the expense of veteran Amani Toomer. Carter has only four catches this season for 75 yards.

--TE Jeremy Shockey caught five passes for 129 yards vs. Dallas, and seems to be neck-and-neck with WR Plaxico Burress as QB Eli Manning's "go to" receiver. Burress has 30 grabs for 451 yards and four TDs; Shockey 22 for 380 and three TDs. Oddly, Shockey's per-catch average of 17.3 yards is better than the 15.0 put up by Burress.

--Willie Ponder, the reigning NFL KO leader, is on top of the NFC with 18 returns for 500 yards and a 27.8 average. He has one TD, a 95-yarder.

GAME PLAN: Head coach Tom Coughlin spelled out the team's goals for the game against Denver. "We need to stop their running game and defend the passing game better than we have," he said. "We have to run into their complicated multiple defenses and force some turnovers."

Indeed, the Broncos haven't allowed a turnover in their last four games and rank fifth in the NFL with a plus-6 ratio. However, the Giants are second in the league with a plus-10.


Giants' LDE Michael Strahan will go against the Broncos' gargantuan ORT George Foster (6-5, 338), and Strahan usually out-plays the bigger, slower OTs. He lost weight in the preseason (intentionally) and is now 6-5 and 255. Last week, Strahan drew rookie ORT Rob Petitti (6-7, 330) and came up with six tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery.

The Giants will send WR Plaxico Burress (6-5, 225) deep downfield against a rookie CB, Darrent Williams (5-8, 188) and if that isn't a mismatch someone has to redefine the word. Williams is giving up nine inches in the "fade" pattern in which Burress simply leaps for an intentionally thrown high ball.

Giants' C Shaun O'Hara, who was somewhat porous last week, will have to deal with DTs Michael Myers and Gerard Warren, and while he'll get help from the guards, it will be first contact for O'Hara in the team's effort to protect QB Eli Manning.

INJURY IMPACT: The Giants have reported sprained ankles to three LBs - Carlos Emmons, Reggie Torbor and Barrett Green, as well as another suffered by SS Gibril Wilson. Torbor and Wilson are probable but Emmons is Emmons and Green were kept out of Wednesday practice, but even if Emmons plays there is a near-certainty that he will be less than 100 percent. Green is almost certain not to play. Also definitely out is RCB Will Peterson (stress fracture/transverse process).

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