"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,
"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
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
- 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
--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
--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.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
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
WLB Nick Greisen, regardless of Emmons' condition, will start, which
means that Emmons will go back to SLB if he is able to play.
--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
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.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
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
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