With the highly anticipated “Manning Bowl” just days away, the Empire Writes Back gets you up to speed on what to watch for out of the New York Giants as they desperately try to avoid an 0-2 start to the regular season.
It’s funny how the NFL works. Just a week ago, many around the league were picking Giants second year back David Wilson as one of the seasons breakout stars. Yet, as we sit here today, two fumbles and a Twitter war later, the high praise on Wilson seems like it was a lifetime ago. The truth is Giants fans should not overreact to what we saw in Week 1, because David Wilson is going to get a chance to redeem himself, and that chance will probably come as soon as this week. It may sound strange to say this, but, in reality, I’m much more concerned about Wilson’s pass blocking abilities than I am with his fumbling woes, which seems to be the main reason the Giants decided to bring back old friend Brandon Jacobs into the fold.
Expect to see Jacobs play on most passing downs, since keeping Eli upright is by far the most important element for the Giants offense. In the running game, expect to see David Wilson thrown right back into the fire, with Da’rel Scott also getting a healthy workload out of the back field for Big Blue. If Wilson can prove that he can hold onto the football, the nightmare week for the talented Wilson may seem like a distant memory sooner rather than later.
Besides the nonexistent linebacking corp, the Giants secondary was the primary area of concern entering this season. Although, to the surprise of many, the Giants secondary performed well above expectations against a tough Cowboys passing game in Week 1. Now, as the defense prepares to face what may be the league’s most dynamic passing attack in Week 2, we are going to see exactly what this group is made of.
A key matchup this week will be watching how Terrell Thomas holds up in the slot against Wes Welker. Against the Cowboys Thomas looked good, especially considering the fact it had been over two years since the once Pro Bowl caliber corner had played in an NFL game. Despite not getting much help from the linebackers in coverage, Thomas stayed with Miles Austin most of the game, limiting the big plays, and generally keeping Austin in front of him—which is certainly going to be the blueprint this week against Wes Welker.
The other question in the secondary surrounds Prince Amukamara’s return from a concussion. If Prince can play, the Giants secondary should be in good shape. However, if the Giants are forced to start Aaron Ross, things could get a little dicey at Met Life stadium on Sunday.
It’s no secret that the Giants linebacking corp is a bit of a concern. In Week 1, the Cowboys strategy was clearly to attack the middle of the field with short-range passes against the Giants’ linebackers, and you can expect much of the same out of Peyton Manning and the Denver passing game in Week 2. With the emergence of Julius Thomas at the tight end position for the Broncos, look for Manning to try to exploit the linebacking corp early and often.
The key here will be if the Giants pass rush can create enough pressure on Manning to limit his time in the pocket, which will go a long way in helping the Giants linebackers hold on against the Broncos.