New York Giants: 5 Easy Improvements They Can Make
New York Giants: 5 Easy Improvements They Can Make
The New York Giants have actually played decently in their first two games. Decent, however, does not win games against good teams. It is surprising that the person who must improve most is their All-Star quarterback. After two games, he has thrown for the most yards, but also has thrown the most interceptions. The running game also must improve. In Week 1, it was the running backs that couldn’t hold onto the ball. In Week 2, it seemed to be more of an offensive line problem. To illustrate, Brandon Jacobs had merely four yards rushing, but 10 yards after contact. That statistic proves he was getting hit even before he was at the line. Yet, both the offensive line and Eli Manning have shown they are better than their play in the last two weeks. Both can improve with the right adjustments.
The defense also has been good, but not quite good enough. They have allowed big point totals, but the offense has continually put them in tough situations in both games. The special teams and offense gave up a touchdown in each of the last two weeks. Their poor play has probably been overstated, but they still need to progress. The secondary has been better than expected, with Ryan Mundy and Terrell Thomas exceeding expectations. The linebackers have not been great, but it is a young group that just lost its starting middle linebacker. The real group that needs to get better is the defensive line. It has shown flashes of brilliance as Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul and Cullen Jenkins have all made some great plays. None have been dominant, but all have the potential to be.
The question is how to fix these issues. Not all of the Giants ills can be easily solved, but many of their sores can be soothed with a few calculated moves. Here are five that would quickly make a difference.
5. Move Mathias Kiwanuka Back to Linebacker
Many were excited about Mathias Kiwanuka’s move back to defensive end, but it has not panned out. Kiwanuka has played poorly on the defensive line. Despite some nice pressure early on against the Denver Broncos, he failed to keep it up. Then, he lost contain on a Knowshon Moreno run that lead to an easy touchdown.
Furthermore, the Giants need him at linebacker. With Dan Connor out, Mark Herzlich or Jacquain Williams have to step up. The problem is that neither is a complete player yet. Williams struggles against the run and Herzlich against the pass. On Sunday, both got a fair amount of playing time, and while neither made major mistakes, they are not the player Kiwanuka is. Kiwanuka is no star, but he is a solid starter, and that is what the Giants currently need. His move also opens up more playing time for JPP and Tuck, who are both clearly more talented players at defensive end. The Giants were not wrong to experiment with moving Kiwanuka to his old position, but a move back is in order.
4. Blitz More Often
The next thing the defense should do is blitz more. The Giants will never be a heavy blitzing team. They lack the cover corners and talented linebackers to do it. However, they rarely attack the quarterback with more than four blitzers, and this lets the offense get too comfortable. One of the benefits of moving Kiwanuka to linebacker is that they could start blitzing him from the outside as a fifth pass rusher. Kiwanuka has struggled against opposing tackles, but should destroy any running back trying to slow him. Again, the Giants' defense need not turn to the Rex Ryan approach of constant blitzing, but some more flavor in their defense is necessary.
3. Use More Stunts
If the Giants are nervous about blitzing, some stunts on the defensive line could also help. Stunts can make defenses weak against the run, but the Giants have good tackling safeties that can make up for some problems which come from tricks upfront. Furthermore, the Giants simply have to get more pressure, and having some more diversity in their attack of the quarterback is necessary to do that.
A move the Giants like to do is put Tuck inside to the defensive tackle spot. They have done it some this year, but they could rely on it more as he has always excelled at playing from there. Whatever the Giants do, they need to stop being so bland with their defensive line. In the NFL, if you implement the same concepts year after year without changing, you are asking for trouble.
2. Give David Wilson the Lion's Share of Touches
I know, I know, this likely gives you nightmares. But here’s the thing: he’s the only good running back the Giants have. David Wilson has fumbling issues, but he has the speed and talent to be a great player. The only way the Giants can succeed is with a better run game. Right now, they are 32nd in the NFL in running. The Giants do not need to have a 50-50 balance of run and pass, but they must be able to run the ball to certain degree. Wilson is the player that can do that, not Jacobs.
He has been walking around the Giants facilities with a football in hand at all times to help improve his technique, and Wilson did a stellar job at holding football on Sunday. Not only that, but Wilson was also much better in pass protection and should keep improving. Look, Wilson is not ideal, but he’s the only running back the Giants have who can lead a good running game, so unfortunately they have no choice but to trust him.
1. Get Eli Manning More Short Throws
Manning’s constant deep throws needs to stop. Part of why Manning is throwing so many interceptions is that he constantly throws downfield. He needs some more easy throws, like slants or wide receiver screens. He has used Hakeem Nicks a few times in short slant routes, but many Giant fans would love to see some wide receiver screens to Victor Cruz as a way to get stress-free yards.
Manning is a very good quarterback, but many times what makes quarterbacks great is knowing how and when to make easy throws. A great example was in Week 1 where Peyton Manning audibled to a wide receiver screen for Demaryius Thomas. The throw was simple and clean, and Thomas did the rest, running 70 plus yards to give Manning his seventh touchdown of the day. Maybe Eli could learn a thing or two from his brother; after all, he is 0-3 against him.