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NEWARK STAR LEDGER
GIANTS-PACKERS GAME PREVIEW: A LOOK AHEAD TO SUNDAY'S GUT CHECK FOR THE GIANTS
"A bit of a different format this week because I wrote a box for the paper in
which I broke down five big passes Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers had
against the Giants last year and what
could be done to fix them. It was supposed to run on Thursday along with a story
on the secondary.
But then, Michael
Strahan showed up. So we moved it to Friday.
And then, Perry
Fewell got "(angry)." So we bumped it to the weekend.
Now, I have something else I'm working on for Sunday's paper, so needless to
say I did the breakdown and can't find a spot for it. So I'm dumping it here.
It'll serve as my defensive matchups to watch.
In addition to the ones you should be watching up front, of course.
"Yeah, we’re going to get after (Rodgers)," end Jason Pierre-Paul said today,
joining Fewell in saying this defense is coming for Rodgers. "We’re tired of
losing. It’s frustrating so we have to go out and play as one."
So look to see if the pass rush can get home. And also watch the back end to
see if mistakes from last year (which are outlined below) can be cleaned up.
* * * *
SUNDAY'S GAME: vs. Packers, 4:15 p.m., Fox
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Offense: It sounds like the Giants might be planning some
double moves and other things to bait the Packers' DBs. All week long, I got the
impression they're seeing an opportunity to hit some big plays.
Read between the lines on this quote from QB Eli
"They’ll disguise a few things, but it’s more of their defensive backs and
safeties like to play aggressive. It’s a lot of man-technique where they’re just
playing the guys," Manning said. "They see something, they’re jumping. Their
outside guys will squat a little bit, trying to break up some of the routes.
"Charles Woodson is very aggressive. He’ll leave his zone
and go into another one when he sees something. And obviously if you can see
that and predict that, they’ll leave guys open. They leave areas open to hit
completions. It’s just a matter of having the time to see that and recognizing
Same question, WR Victor Cruz.
"You just have to stay kind of disciplined to your route," Cruz said. "and
understand we have certain things in place to take advantage of that and
understand they want to be ball hawks, be hungry and attack the ball."
Asked about Woodson being particularly aggressive and leaving zones, Cruz
said, "There are things on film where he would just leave a man by himself when
he sees another guy open the quarterback's going to potentially throw the ball
to. He'll just leave and attack that. Sometimes, he comes up with big plays,
interceptions and big hits. Other times, he gets beat. It's a gamble he likes to
take. Hopefully we can see that and react to it."
Defense: See above ... and below.
THE LINE: Packers by 7. Over-under 52. (You
know where I'm going on this one. Down with the ship, maybe? Hey, I'll stand
by that pick and actually have come to believe this team is confident and will
be ready to play. Will it be enough, though?
ONE MORE THING: I know a lot of people have been asking
about when Fewell rushes only three. He was asked about that on Thursday and
basically said you can't bring the house on every down.
"I change based on down and distance. I change based on some tendencies," he
said. "We try to give different looks. Basically, I think we didn’t play very
good technique on Monday and that lead to some of the problems that we had. But
we try to concentrate on all phases of that so that we’re not just vanilla in
certain areas and we’re not only pressuring certain areas. We try to give the
quarterback different looks as we prepare for different quarterbacks."
* * * *
And now those defensive plays I promised. Enjoy.
On Dec. 26 last year, the Giants were hammered by the Packers 45-17 in a game
they badly needed get into the postseason.
"We just executed really well," Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who threw
for 404 yards and four touchdowns, said yesterday. "We had tight windows and we
came up with the catches and throws we needed to make."
Considering only a few things have changed on both sides of the ball, the
Giants must fix the issues that led to six passes of 20 or more yards that day,
especially since they gave up five against the Saints on Monday. Here’s a look
at what went wrong on five long completions in Lambeau last year and how it can
THE PLAY: An 80-yard touchdown from Rodgers to WR Jordy Nelson. A little over 7 minutes into the game, it was
WHY IT HAPPENED: For starters, Matt Dodge’s first punt since
DeSean Jackson’s game-winning return the week prior went off the side of his
foot for only 25 yards to the 20. Then, S Antrel Rolle tried showing blitz to
confuse Rodgers. "I’d like to think he kind of bit on the play-action a little
bit," Rodgers said Wednesday. The combination of the poorly-timed fake, the fake
handoff and S Deon Grant’s cheating to the right gave Nelson a free run from the
line of scrimmage to the end zone.
HOW TO FIX IT: Stay disciplined. Rolle cheated forward.
Grant, who had the deep half, favored the outside receiver. Rodgers is good
enough; he doesn’t need help making it easy.
THE PLAY: A 26-yarder from Rodgers to WR Greg Jennings to
set up a touchdown run that made it 21-14 Packers after the Giants had fought
back from 14-0 down.
WHY IT HAPPENED: The Giants were in a Cover-3 defense, which
means both corners bailed at the snap. Grant had the short side of the field
underneath CB Corey Webster but was late getting into his drop. It seemed he was
waiting for the running back to emerge. After Jennings made the catch, he eluded
a slipping Webster to pick up the final 16 yards.
HOW TO FIX IT: Whether it was designed or worked out between
Grant and LB Michael Boley at the line, as they often do, covering the backs
shouldn’t be the main concern. The downfield threats are the ones that will kill
the Giants. And like on Saints
WR Marques Colston’s 50-yard catch-and-run on Monday, Webster has to tackle
or at least slow down the receiver after the catch.
THE PLAY: A 21-yard pass from Rodgers to TE Tom Crabtree to
put the Packers in field-goal range. Mason Crosby then hit a 31-yarder to make
it 24-14 Pack early in the third quarter.
WHY IT HAPPENED: The Giants appeared to be in a Cover-2 zone
and played good coverage here. But a possible mixup on the left side of the
D-line allowed Rodgers to escape to his right. Rolle had to choose whether to
cover Crabtree, come down on the running back or respect Rodgers’ ability to
run. While he was deciding, Rodgers hit Crabtree, who ran for an additional 15
HOW TO FIX IT: Don’t let Rodgers escape. Easier said than
done, we know. But when a guy who can throw like that also has a chance to
scramble and run, well, it’s just not fair to Rolle or anybody covering.
THE PLAY: A 33-yard completion from Rodgers to WR Donald
Driver on the first play after the Giants had trimmed the lead back to a
WHY IT HAPPENED: CB Terrell Thomas was to Driver’s outside
as he broke his pattern inside. Rodgers delivered inside and Driver made a
HOW TO FIX IT: This was good design and execution by the
Packers. Nelson ran a deep cross over the middle, drawing Grant forward. That
gave Driver and Rodgers the inside hole. Grant probably has to stay deep there,
but that’s easy to say while watching from afar. Like the Saints, the Packers
have multiple threats, so it’s often a matter of picking your poison.
THE PLAY: One play after Driver’s catch, Jennings got deep
for a 36-yarder to the 1-yard line. Two plays later, it was 31-17.
WHY IT HAPPENED: Jennings dipped his shoulder to get a clean
release outside of Webster. Still, it wasn’t bad coverage, Webster was even
(illegally) grabbing Jennings’ hand and the blitz almost got to Rodgers.
HOW TO FIX IT: Tip your cap to Rodgers for a fine, quick
throw and to Jennings for an outstanding grab. Then, line back up and try to
make a play the next time."GIANTS' MARIO MANNINGHAM LIKELY TO MISS GAME VS. PACKERS
Excerpt: "Wide receiver Mario Manningham will likely be out Sunday after missing
another practice today and is listed as doubtful on the Giants' injury report.
Manningham, who on Thursday said there are “things
floating” around in his knee but gave himself a 50-50 chance of playing,
tried to give it a go today, stretching with teammates and doing some light
jogging. But ultimately “it’s uncomfortable to run” for him, and he decided to
sit out the remainder of the session.
“I’m not at full speed, and that’s my strength,” he said.
Manningham said he isn’t nervous about the injury, and the best treatment for
the knee at this point is rest. He also acknowledged for the second time this
week that surgery is a possibility, though for after the season.
“We have to see after the season,” he said. “Whatever I need to do, that’s
what I need to do.”
Last week Manningham said he was going to play against the Saints, but after
a short warm-up routine a couple hours before the game, he was ruled out.
Manningham said there isn’t “a lot” of pain in his knee, but he’s not at 100
In the aftermath of a dismal showing against the New Orleans
Saints on Monday night, there wasn’t much good to take from the
49-24 blowout loss. One good thing, however, was Jason Pierre-Paul’s play —
particularly his intensity and effort. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and
coach Tom Coughlin noticed and spoke highly of the second-year defensive end —
going as far as to show a clip of a Pierre-Paul hustle play to the entire
Pierre-Paul, who leads the Giants with 10½ sacks this season, was happy with
the praise and thinks he was deserving.
“Yeah, it’s nice to hear it,” he said. “He gave me props when props were due,
so that’s good to hear.”
Earlier in the week, safety Kenny Phillips said he expected
to see a fine from the NFL for his hit on Saints TE Jimmy Graham, but it appears
the league won’t punish him for the hit, which drew a 15-yard unnecessary
“Christmas is coming, so maybe they’re taking it easy on me,” Phillips
joked." Read more...
AHMAD BRADSHAW PRACTICES FOR GIANTS; MARIO MANNINGHAM SITS OUT
Excerpt: "Ahmad Bradshaw, who has said he plans on playing this Sunday, practiced today
for the first time since fracturing his foot against the Dolphins in Week 8 the
day before Halloween. Though Bradshaw said he'd rather not have to practice, Tom
Coughlin said the running back would need to practice at some point this week in
order to play on Sunday so this, obviously, is a huge step in the right
direction -- though we'll find out later how much he participated.
During stretching Bradshaw got attention from trainers and tried on a couple
different cleats before settling on a pair. He then jogged some and participated
in drills during the media portion of the practice." Read more...GIANTS' PERRY FEWELL ANGERED BY DEFENSE AGAINST SAINTS, VOWS UNIT WILL IMPROVE AGAINST PACKERS
Excerpt: "Justin Tuck had a hand on Drew Brees. That was all he’d get. The New Orleans
Saints quarterback slipped out of Tuck’s grasp, rolled right, evaded Linval
Joseph and flipped a 15-yard pass to Pierre Thomas. Tuck said he wanted to pound
the ground in frustration but had to keep playing. Except he didn’t.
While Brees was making a play near the right sideline, Tuck was still between
the hash marks, slowly getting to two knees, then one, then both feet while he
bowed his head in disgust.
“I’ll be honest with you, you’re the first reporter to notice that, but I’ve
had two players say the same thing,” Tuck said Thursday, during a quiet moment
in the doorway of the Giants’ locker
room. “They asked me to sit down (for a chat).”
Perry Fewell noticed. He definitely noticed.
The Giants defensive coordinator, a player-friendly coach who rarely calls
out his guys in public, was fired up in his weekly session with reporters
Thursday after Monday’s
blowout loss to the Saints in which his unit gave up seven touchdowns.
Fewell was still hot about a lot of things, though the ones that angered him
most had little to do with X’s and O’s. It was effort, drive, determination and
fire — or a lack thereof — that got this usually mild-mannered coach worked
“I was (angry), okay?” Fewell said. “I was getting them going Monday night
and we’re getting going this week. So player-friendly or not, it’s all about
winning. … And I think they got the message and they understand what’s on the
line for us.”
What’s on the line is a chance to turn this potential freefall into a
turnaround by handing the Green Bay Packers their first defeat. The biggest key
to doing that is stopping Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay’s passing game, and the
best way is to hit him.
Teams realize that’s the Giants’ specialty, which is why they’ve been
throwing max protections at them and chipping their ends.
Fewell doesn’t care. He’s seen his linemen beat double- and triple-teams in
He wants to see that again. And he believes he will." Read more...
GIANTS' MARIO MANNINGHAM SAYS THERE'S "STUFF FLOATING" AROUND IN HIS KNEE
"Giants wide receiver Mario
Manningham’s knee isn’t improving much and his chances of missing a second
straight game increase with each day of practice missed.
“Not much,” Tom Coughlin said when asked if Manningham is making progress.
Coughlin added: “They’ve put some medicine in there, they’ve drained it, but
there is an injury there. They’re trying to manage it and he’s trying to manage
it but it’s not working to everybody’s favor.”
Manningham told reporters there are things “floating” in his knee and that
season-ending surgery is a possibility. On the other hand, he said he’s 50-50
for Sunday’s game against the Packers. So there’s that.
Sometimes pieces of meniscus cartilage can float around in a knee, but
Manningham said he's had the menisci* in both of his knees removed.
“I got some issues on the side and a little in the front (of the knee),”
Manningham said. “Eventually, I’ll be all right. Right now I’m not 100
Meanwhile, Hakeem Nicks isn’t worried about his head or his ribs and says
he’ll be back to work on Friday. The Giants’ wide receiver said doctors merely
told him to take it easy today to make sure he’s symptom-free after experiencing
headaches on Wednesday.
“They wanted to make sure because it’s the head,” Nicks said after sitting
out today’s practice. “But I knew initially it wasn’t a serious concussion. They
told me to just chill today.”
Nicks said he didn’t have a headache on Monday after getting hit by Saints
safety Isa Abdul-Quddus. He’s not sure why he experienced one on Wednesday.
As for his sore ribs, which were a result of that hit and another one
earlier, Nicks said, The ribs are bruised but they’re okay. … I probably won’t
even pad ‘em.”
* * * *
LB Michael Boley (hamstring) returned to practice and worked in a limited
capacity. That’s a huge development for the Giants if it means he’s playing on
Sunday. This defense badly needs him back on the field.
S Antrel Rolle (back) returned to practice and worked fully. He said he won’t
miss Sunday’s game. He also said of the Packers, “They can be beat.” (That’s
what I said! Sorta…)
WR Victor Cruz (hip), DE Justin Tuck (ankle) and S Derrick Martin (hamstring)
all practiced fully after being limited on Wednesday.
LB Mark Herzlich (ankle) is still in a boot. Coughlin said he likely won't
*Stay in school kids. I knew Latin class would pay off one day."GIANTS' PERRY FEWELL IRATE AFTER DEFENSE'S PERFORMANCE VS. SAINTS
Excerpt: "Perry Fewell has been known around these parts as a players’ coach.
Not this week.
Today, during his weekly session with the media, the Giants’ defensive coordinator was clearly
still steaming about Monday’s
blowout loss to the Saints in which his defense gave up seven touchdowns –
four from Drew Brees through the air and three on the ground – refused to
respond to New Orleans’ intensity level and even quit on a few plays.
Fewell never raised his voice, but he was stern in his message and critical
of the players’ effort and intensity level.
“I was (angry), okay?” Fewell said. “I was getting that going Monday night and
we’re getting going this week. So player-friendly or not, it’s all about
winning. It’s all about being successful on the football field. And I think they
got the message and they understand what’s on the line for us.”
Fewell would not divulge how he got his message across this week, except to
say he carried “a big stick” the past few days.
That was his plan for getting his players ready to face Aaron Rodgers and the
Packers this week, only six days after Brees picked them apart.
“We look forward to the opportunity to play these guys. That’s my confidence
level,” Fewell said. “We’re going to show up and we’re going to play on
And then, the big one on what this team must do to Rodgers.
“More so than discipline, we just have to get after his (butt), okay?” Fewell
said. “And if we do that and he scrambles then that’s the price he’s going to
have to pay because we’re going to hit him. We’re going to hit him.”
Fewell just wants to see his defense play aggressive football once again. He
didn’t see that in New Orleans and in fact witnessed the exact opposite a few
Some of his guys
flat-out quit on plays.
After missing a sack on Brees, Justin Tuck lay on the turf. Linval Joseph
then missed Brees, which could’ve given Tuck an opportunity to catch up if he
had continued with the play. Later, on Pierre Thomas’ touchdown run, Corey
Webster stopped and pivoted in frustration long before Thomas crossed the goal
Fewell saw both of those, and maybe even a few more.
“No doubt,” he said. “And that was disheartening. As a football coach, as me
being the coach and the leader of the defense, that was disheartening. … We
don’t coach pulling up short and we’re not going to accept pulling up short. So
we won’t pull up short again.”
Fewell isn’t buying any of the excuses for the lack of a pass rush. The
different schemes and max protections, yeah, they make it more difficult – but
not impossible. Fewell has seen his guys fight through double- and triple-teams
before. Tuck has made a habit of doing just that the past few years.
But not lately. The Giants have only three sacks in the past three games.
Regardless of what the offense is doing, Fewell wants to see his guys get to the
“Sometimes you have to will yourself to win,” he said. “You can’t always
scheme an opportunity for them to come free. … Sometimes you just have to beat
blockers, you have to beat a double-team. I’ve seen that many times. Some of our
guys are able to beat double-teams and we just haven’t been doing that.”
The will and desire simply haven’t been there.
“We need to play with more energy, we need to play with more passion,” Fewell
said. “That was a game against a playoff football team; we have aspirations of
being a playoff team. Sometimes it’s just the will to get it done. And we didn’t
will ourselves to get it done.
“That’s what I can’t explain: why we didn’t will ourselves to get it done
because we prepared well enough to get it done and we just didn’t do it.”
Fewell is trying to change that this week.
“We all have an internal drive. That’s why we play this game,” he said. “It’s
nothing that I do or that I say because these guys are professionals. They got
this level and they’re competing at the highest level of competition because
they have something within them.
“Sometimes you have to give them a kick in the (butt) to get that motor
going. Sometimes you’ve got to give them a good shake to remind them of what’s
at stake and what we’re playing for, but they all have that will. You’ve just
got to stoke that will up a little bit.”
Tom Coughlin tried doing that this week by pointing to the effort Jason
Pierre-Paul put up all game long.
“I think that spoke volumes,” Fewell said. “I didn’t have to say anything
because everybody knew.”
And now he hopes all of his guys know.
“That team was fresh, they were hot, they were in their home environment,
they got on us, they hit us in the mouth and we didn’t respond,” he said.
“That’s what I’m more disappointed about than anything else. We didn’t respond.
We have an opportunity to stand up and respond to a team that came out and was
on fire and we didn’t do that. And I expect us to do that this coming
GIANTS' MICHAEL BOLEY PRACTICES FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE INJURING HAMSTRING
For the first time since straining his hamstring late in the first half of
the Giants' loss against the 49ers almost three weeks ago, Michael Boley was on
the practice field Thursday.
NY DAILY NEWS
The middle linebacker was limited, participating in only a couple reps during
each period, but it was a significant step in the right direction for a team in
dire need of some help at linebacker especially with Mark Herzlich most likely
"It’s a big relief," Boley said. "I haven’t had to many hamstring problems,
but as I’ve heard, they’re tricky. They can be good one day and not so good the
next, but to come out today and get some good work was pretty good."
Although a hamstring injury can be unpredictable and he hasn't tested the
hamstring with full sprints, Boley said he's "on pace" to play this weekend,
though he won't be sure when he'll know one way or the other. Boley remains
cautious and said he isn't putting extra pressure on himself given the Giants'
three-game losing streak, which began when he got injured, and how good the
Packers offense is.
"With an injury like this you have to play it by ear," he said. "It’s kind of
like a gradual thing. Take it one step at a time and build it up.
"If I play Sunday, I’ll play the whole game."
BRADSHAW THINKS HE "SATISFIED" COUGHLIN'S PLAYING REQUIREMENTS
Excerpt: "Ahmad Bradshaw would do just about anything to play on Sunday against the Packers, even break his already broken right foot.
“Just cut it off,” he said on Friday.
Luckily, it doesn’t look like the Giants will have to take such extreme measures, because Bradshaw is finally showing progress. He practiced for the first time in a month on Friday, fulfilling one of coach Tom Coughlin’s requirements for returning to action. Coughlin has said multiple times over the last few weeks that Bradshaw would need to practice before he played, and now the tailback has done that.
“I think I satisfied him, and I satisfied myself,” Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw did individual drills during the portion of practice that was open to the media, and he said he felt little soreness. That was good news, especially since he removed most of the extra padding that had been protecting his foot in previous weeks just minutes before warming up.
He said that the multiple layers of tape, padding and special sneakers were “just squeezing on the bone,” which protected the injury but also hurt.
“I took all of it off,” he said, “and it felt perfect.”
Bradshaw is officially questionable on the Giants injury report, so there remains a chance he may not play. Coughlin indicated that the team would watch how Bradshaw recovered from his first practice time in nearly a month before making a decision
“He did OK,” Coughlin said. “He went out and worked. He’s telling me all the things I want to hear, but he did OK. He did all right. We’ll see how he is in the morning
“I saw what I saw, and that’s what I’ll go on. And what the trainers and doctors tell me in the morning. We’ll listen to that and then we’ll make a decision.” Read more...
AFTER PERRY FEWELL'S BLITZ, GIANTS "D" MAKES STAND FOR COACH
Excerpt: "With more passion, fire and purpose than his players have shown
recently, Perry Fewell ripped
into his defense on Thursday the way he once expected it to rip through
opponents. He hammered its hideous performance. He questioned its will to win.
He accused his players of quitting.HAKEEM NICKS TO RETURN TO PRACTICE FRIDAY, MARIO MANNINGHAM STILL NOT SURE
Excerpt: "Two Giants wide receivers spent Thursday's practice session on bikes. One
expects to be ready for Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers. The other
one isn't so sure.
Hakeem Nicks, who missed his second straight day of practice, plans to be
back on the practice field tomorrow. Mario Manningham, however, continues to
have knee troubles and may once again sit out another game.
Nicks sat out practice as a final precaution for any concussion symptoms. He
arrived at the facility on Wednesday complaining of headaches and was quickly
put through the concussion protocols. He was fine after that, coach Tom Coughlin
said, but the training staff still suggested he rest for one more day.
"The doctors said that he should rest for a day and make sure that there are
no headaches reoccuring," Coughlin said. "As far as I know there's no headache.
We should get him tomorrow."
Nicks agreed, and promised that "I'll be out at practice tomorrow."
The news wasn't nearly as good regarding Manningham. The fourth-year wideout
missed Monday's loss to the Saints, and he hasn't practiced yet this week. He
said he tried to run on Thursday, but his injured knee was "weak" and "a little
He is hoping to avoid that, and even gives himself 'a 50-50 chance' of
playing on Sunday. But asked about season-ending surgery, he said "I don't know.
We'll have to see. I'm not sure yet. I'm just trying to strengthen my knee and
do what I've got to do to get back as soon as possible." Read more...
MARIO MANNINGHAM AILING
GIANTS' AHMAD BRADSHAW "READY TO GO"
Excerpt: "Ahmad Bradshaw sat on the practice field at the Giants headquarters and had a
trainer peel layers of protective padding off his right foot before getting up
and bouncing around on his feet.
RANTING COORDINATOR VOWS HIS DEFENSE WILL POP BACK
Excerpt: "Perry Fewell sounded yesterday like Lawrence Taylor imploring Giants
everywhere to play like a bunch of crazed dogs. This was on the heels of a game
in which his defense simply played like dogs, in which he saw several
unconscionable instances of surrender from players beaten down and resigned to
Excerpt: "Mario Manningham’s right knee is not responding the way he hoped it
The Giants may have to play without one of their two starting wide receivers
for the foreseeable future if nothing changes, beginning Sunday against unbeaten
Manningham did not practice Thursday for the second straight day, admitting
his injured knee is "weak, not stable" and there’s "some stuff floating around"
Surgery is also a potential option on the swollen joint to help ease the
problem, but Manningham offered up a "50-50" proclamation about his availability
against the Packers.
Coach Tom Coughlin said there has not been much progress with Manningham.