On paper, Freeman’s name hardly jumps out from the page or gets a defense’s blood pumping. After all, Freeman went winless in three games with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season before being benched and then dealt to the Vikings. However, his ability to run the football may prove to be a crucial factor on Monday night.
Freeman doesn’t have the lethal mobility of a Cam Newton or Michael Vick, but he can extend plays and pick up some yards once he is flushed from the pocket. This could be a fatal dose for a Giants defense that caters to running quarterbacks. In less than one half of football, the Giants gave up 79 rushing yards to Vick on just seven carries, including a 34-yard scamper on third-and-20. New York’s defense looked slow and unprepared to contain Vick.
Back in Week 3 at the massacre in Carolina, the Giants allowed Newton to rush for 45 yards and a touchdown. Alex Smith rushed for 37 yards in Kansas City’s win over New York in Week 4 and last week, the Giants even gave up 20 yards to Jay Cutler. That’s right, Jay Cutler.
A major part of the problem is the defensive line’s inability to rush the quarterback. Even on all-out blitzes, the Giants simply cannot get to opposing quarterbacks. It puts an unfair amount pressure on the secondary and also allows the quarterback open space if the defensive ends get caught in over-pursuit.
A lack of talent at the linebacker position is the other part of the problem. Spencer Paysinger, Mark Herzlich and Keith Rivers are not fast enough or athletic enough to stop mobile quarterbacks before they can pick up a good chunk of yardage. Jon Beason looked decent in his first game in a New York uniform last week. If he can continue to progress, he should provide some much-needed relief.
If the Giants were any good this season, a game like this against the 1-4 Vikings, would be labelled a “trap game”. But, the Giants have done nothing but play themselves into irrelevance, so this becomes a game that New York hopes to win just to combat the overwhelming disappointment that has swallowed their season to this point.