GSTV weighs in on the Giants' 4-0 start.
The Giants completed the sweep of their 3-game road trip Sunday with a convincing 27-16 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, and improved to 4-0 on the season. The win makes the Giants only the seventh team in the last 19 years to sweep a 3-game road trip in the regular season. It is the second time a Tom Coughlin team has pulled off such a feat, and it brings to mind the 2007 Giants' impressive playoff run on the road to Super Bowl XLII (ahhh...still lovin' it).
In all honesty, after beating the Cowboys on the first leg of the trip, Big Blue had no business not going undefeated on their road swing. The real question in my mind was "How dominant can this team be against inferior competition?" After last week’s total annihilation of the Tampa Bay Bucs, my hope was Big Blue could put on a repeat performance against KC, that way I'd get to call this post “A KC Masterpiece.” But alas, while the win was impressive, it did not showcase the Giants' best football. That is okay right now, but when the competition picks up in a couple weeks, the Giants will have to elevate their game.
This week, we take a look at where the team can build and where they need to improve, as we go...duhn, duhn, duhn..."Under the Lens."
Under the Lens
"Under the Lens" is a hastily-named segment that assesses the pro's and con's of the Giants' performance each week. Against Kansas City, the G-men provided plenty to consider in each category:
Steve Smith – Another double-digit reception, 100+ yard performance has solidified the third-year receiver’s status as…well… as everything: Eli’s “go-to guy,” a reliable target in the clutch, a legitimate number one receiver, “the real Steve Smith,” you name it. After his 11 catch, 134 yard, 2 touchdown performance, Smith leads the NFL in receiving yards, receptions AND receiving TDs. He is averaging over 100 receiving yards a GAME.
Smith celebrates one of his two touchdown catches on the day with fellow WR Mario Manningham.
Michael Boley – This guy is looking like more of a play-maker every week, and that’s something the Giants have not had at linebacker in a long time. Boley is just beginning to find his rhythm after off-season hip surgery, which doesn’t appear to have slowed him down. He was all over the field Sunday, recording 5 tackles, 1 sack and 2 passes defensed. I expect we will be hearing a lot more from #52 as the season progresses.
The Pass Rush – After two games without a sack, and only 3 sacks through three games, I’m sure many of you were thinking the same thing as me: “Wha’ haaaappen?” Sunday, the Big Blue wave finally crashed down on the opposing QB, taking down Matt Cassel five times. The treacherous trio at DE recorded a sack apiece, as did free-agent acquisition Rocky Bernard and Boley. They say sacks come in bunches. I’m hoping to see a bunch more as the season goes on.
The Whole Defense – Don’t look now, but the Giants have the best overall defense (232.2 ypg) and top pass defense (115 ypg) in the league. The unit put in another strong effort in Kansas City, holding the Chiefs to under 200 yards of total offense, including only 88 yards through the air. It’s not perfect yet, but great job from the top down to a unit that will only get better as the year goes on.
Eli Injury – It’s always terrifying when the most important player on the team can’t finish the game. Eli’s injury could have been a lot worse at first glance. Thankfully, it is not a dreaded Achilles injury (Mike Garafolo has more on the Eli story) and the quarterback, hopefully, will not miss significant (if any) time. Eli’s a tough guy and has played through worse. With a little luck, he’ll be ready to go next week to continue his assault on opposing defenses.
Red zone offense – After seeming to address the issue last week in Tampa Bay, the Giants’ red zone offense took a step back this week against one of the worst red zone defenses in the league, going only 1 for 3 on trips inside the twenty. Moving the ball up and down the field at will is all well and good, but the G-men will need points to put stronger competition away.
Manning to Manningham – The explosive young receiver struggled to make plays on the field for the first time this season. He dropped three of the balls thrown his way, one of which resulted in an interception. Certainly, the onus is on Manningham to make the play if the ball is in his hands, but Manning also needs to acclimate to Super Mario’s quickness to get the ball out in front of the target so he can better make a play on the ball.
TYNES!! – Make your field goals, dude.
When you win the game, the positives will usually outweigh the negatives. This week was no exception. Let's give out the game balls.
Bryan Kehl –First play of the game, first game ball. Kehl is emerging as a force on Special Teams. He showed great reaction time recovering Jamaal Charles’ fumble on the opening kick-off, shades of his play on Tashard Choice against Dallas in Week 2.
Bryan Kehl recovers a Chiefs' fumble on the game's opening kick-off.
Steve Smith – A legit beast, as alluded to above.
Hakeem Nicks – Congrats on your first NFL touchdown! The first-round pick showed off his play-making ability with a magnificent juke n’ move touchdown reception, taking the ball 54 yards for the score. That’s a nice way to announce your return from injury… With Nicks, Smith and Manningham in the mix, this passing attack could be a force to be reckoned with.
Eli Manning – Another outstanding day for the QB, heel issue aside. Manning’s 3 TD’s on the day tie him for second in the league in TD’s with eight on the season. He also continues to deliver a QB rating of over 100. Hard to see the Giants not being successful if he can keep that up…
Brandon Jacobs – A solid game by the big man. Answered the critics, ran well, hit the holes with aggression and power.
Kevin Boss – Outstanding awareness on the final offensive play of the first half. He shook off his injury to line up for the snap allowing the Giants to put an extra three points on the board before the half.
Boley – Great game for the new guy…
Antonio Pierce – Great game for the old guy…Pierce has been outstanding through the first four games. His preparation and awareness on the field are second to no one in the league, and he translates that into great play on the field.
Always Room for Improvement
The Giants have been impressive through four games, but they know they can be better. More importantly, they know they have to be. Their success on this three game road trip is a testament to the coaching staff and the focus in the locker room. Now we will see how those attributes come into play as the level of competition goes up a notch in the coming weeks.
Oakland will provide one more "tune-up match" to prepare for the tough four game stretch leading into the bye week. If the players can continue to work their way back from injuries, and Eli can recover quickly from his heel injury, I am confident this team will address the issues holding them back from the next level.
With the number one defense in the league - a unit getting better with each passing week - and one of, if not the most dynamic offense in football, it's exciting to think what the "next level" will look like for this team.
Giants 4 - 0
Sack Count: 8
Take-away Count: 8
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