Behind Enemy Lines: Cardinals @ Giants, Pt. 2

The New York Giants take the cake defensively and their offense sure isn't bad either. But why were the Saints so effective in stopping the Giants last week? What's the deal with the Giants banged-up secondary? What should the Cardinals expect from this unit? Are Brandon Jacobs' frustrations grounded? GiantInsider.com publisher Ken Palmer fields these questions and more.

For part one, click here.

Amberly Dressler: The Giants secondary looked elementary against the Saints last week. Will the unit be able to bounce back against the Cardinals? Which players will need to step up to defend the Cardinals high-powered receiving unit led by Larry Fitzgerald?

Ken Palmer:
The Giants got by with an injury-depleted defensive backfield for the first five weeks against the likes of the Redskins, Bucs and Raiders. The Saints? Now that was obviously another whole level of competition. They're sorely missing two starters – free safety Kenny Phillips, who's out for the year with a knee injury, and CB Aaron Ross, who has yet to play in '09 due to a nagging hamstring injury. For as well as CB Corey Webster has played, the Giants like the physicality of second-year man Terrell Thomas, who will likely see plenty of Fitzgerald Sunday night. It's pretty safe to expect that this proud defensive unit will respond with a solid effort.

AD: Why were the Saints so effective in protecting Drew Brees from a usually menacing Giants' defensive front-seven? Were there any Giants players not pulling their weight?

KP:
Brees' quick release has hurt countless defenses, and you can add the Giants to that list. The fact that the secondary played so poorly just made Brees' afternoon that much easier. It'd be hard to pinpoint a player or two that didn't play well in New Orleans because basically they were all awful. However, it's fair to suggest that the Giants should be getting a lot more out of RDE Osi Umenyiora and MLB Antonio Pierce than they have so far this season.

AD: Which of the Giants' rookies has had the most success this season? Are there any rookies ready to explode on the scene?

KP:
Top pick Hakeem Nicks has really started to make an impact at receiver. He's shown a maturity both on the field and off. Eli Manning already has full confidence in Nicks, who has great hands and an ability to get open. He's also proven to be dangerous after the catch. The other rookie of note is second-round pick Will Beatty, who will get the start at right tackle if Kareem McKenzie is unable to play.

AD: RB Brandon Jacobs is frustrated with his "lack" of productivity this season. Are his frustrations grounded (please note: his team-leading 388 rushing yards is more than double the Cardinals team-leader Tim Hightower)?

KP:
Jacobs set the bar so high last season when he averaged a ridiculous 5.0 yards per carry that no matter what he did this season, it was likely not going to be enough. But what has Jacobs and his followers most concerned is the fact that Ahmad Bradshaw has clearly proven to be the better of the two backs and has started to receive more and more carries. Jacobs just hasn't shown the same aggressiveness and conviction that he did last year; Bradshaw just the opposite.

AD: The Giants have a swagger for a reason. Up until last week, they were undefeated, they hold the No. 1 defense in the league and hold a top-10 offense. But what are the team's weaknesses? Are there any factors that could prevent this team from taking the division title, the conference title and more?

KP:
The injuries have really started to pile up, especially like we noted in the secondary. If there is a certain position that warrants concern it's definitely the defensive backfield. They have an undrafted rookie free agent (Bruce Johnson) in the regular rotation due to all the assorted maladies. Not to nitpick or anything (hey Amberly, you asked!) but the coverage units on special teams could also use a little shaping up. Besides that, they're in pretty good shape. However, as the Giants have pretty much stayed the same from when they won the Super Bowl two years back, clubs like New Orleans and Minnesota have clearly improved and might just have passed them by.

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