Arizona Cardinals vs. New York Giants Q&A With SI Giant Maven Writer Patricia Traina
Tyler Jaggi: I'm sure Giants fans are excited for the Daniel Jones era. How do you think he's played since becoming the starting?
PT: All things considering, he’s played well with what they have asked him to do. Most of his snaps have been half-field reads and he’s done a nice job with those. With that said, there are still some things he does that reminds you he’s a rookie. He’s still learning how to interpret different defensive looks (see the Patriots game where he was fooled on two of his three interceptions). He needs to clean up his ball security and he also needs to do a better job with sensing the pressure and adjusting accordingly.
But I love that he’s mobile and that he gives the Giants offense an entirely different dimension that they didn’t have before. I love it that this role hasn’t been too big for him and that he hasn’t fallen apart when something bad has happened. And I love it that the Giants offense has become modernized with more designed rollouts and RPOs.
Patricia Traina: What has Kyler Murray brought to the offense at QB that they didn’t have with Josh Rosen?
TJ Patricia, I don't want to come out the wrong way, but Kyler has been world's better in than offense than what we had last season with Rosen. As you have probably have seen in some of the highlights, Murray has been special at times. These last two weeks, Kyler has really gotten into a groove and comfortable with this offense.
It also helps that the offense line has been protecting Murray much better of late. That's the key for this offense. If Kyler Murray is well protected, he can pick apart defenses with his decision making and accuracy.
TJ: Giants were without several of their biggest offensive playmakers last week vs the Patriots, what are the likelihood Barkley, Engram or Shepard return for this week's matchup?
PT: I think of the three, Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram will be back. I’m not convinced as of this writing we’ll see Sterling Shepard back this week, despite the fact that he’s been running around and has looked active.
This is his second concussion within a three-week period, and I think they’re going to be extra cautious with him this time around before giving him the green light. But I think we’ll definitely see Barkley and Engram back, though how much of a full load each will take remains to be seen.
PT: What kind of impact do you see Patrick Peterson making in his first game back from suspension?
TJ: I think his impact could be huge. If you seen the highlights from the that Cardinals Falcons game. Little defense was played on either side. Cardinals weren't even contesting catches allowing them free releases off the line of scrimmage and running open in zones.
Patrick Peterson has been one of the best cornerbacks in the league the last 5 of so years. It's unknown yet if Peterson will travel with a team's number one receiver like he has in the past, but the additional of Peterson should tremendously improve the Cardinals pass defense.
TJ: What should Cardinal fans be most worried about when facing the Giants?
PT: Tight end Evan Engram. I saw a statistic from ESPN that has the Cardinals defense allowing the most receiving yardage to opposing tight ends (599). The Giants leading receiver just so happens to be Engram so I would hope for their sake they have an answer on how to slow Engram down otherwise you could be looking at a long day. Engram is like a receiver in a tight end’s body and if they can get him up the seam, then look out.
PT: What do you believe is behind the Cardinals’ struggles to defend opposing tight ends?
TJ: It has been a combination of a few things. Early in the year, Cardinals asked D.J. Swearinger to cover the tight ends which was horrendous to say the least. Cardinals cut him a few weeks ago and have "improved" slightly in that department.
If Engram does play in this game, he will surely cause fits for Arizona's defense. Engram is unlike many other tight ends. He's close to a large fast WR like Mike Evans. Linebackers and safeties are too slow to stay coverage on him, and yet cornerbacks are too small. He really is a great mismatch player for Giants offense.
TJ: What about the Cardinals is going to be a problem for Giants?
PT: I’m probably most concerned about Larry Fitzgerald going in the slot against Grant Haley. Lately the Giants haven’t been giving Haley a lot of help over the top, but I certainly hope that this week that changes and the ageless Fitzgerald is still someone teams need to account for.
According to Pro Football Reference, Fitzgerald has 48 receptions for 583 yards and two scores against the Giants in seven games played and is averaging almost eight yards per pass target. And per Pro Football Focus, Fitzgerald is second among slot receivers in yardage (366) behind Cooper Kupp of the Rams.
On the other side, I’m concerned about Terrell Suggs and Chandler Jones against the Giants two tackles, Nate Solder and Mike Remmers. The Giants offensive tackles haven’t exactly kept the edges pristine thus far and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned about that matchup.
PT: Which Giants player (offense or defense) do you think the Cardinals are most concerned with stopping?
TJ: They are two keys to stopping the Giants and New York could be without both of them this Sunday. Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram as two of the more talented skilled players in the league and massive mismatch players to attack defenses.
It's well known that Arizona struggles to stop opposing tight ends, Engram could easily have 100+ yards and likely 1 score if he's able to play this game. Only way I could see Cardinals slowing him down is if Vance Joseph decides to Patrick Peterson shadow Engram in this contest.
Cardinals might not have any defensive strategy to slow down Barkley other than sound tackling and hustling to the ball carrier. Saquon can also been a weapon in the passing game. Cardinals haven't been great covering opposing RBs. Last week, Freeman had several big catches and 1 that went for that late game touchdown.
TJ: What's your game predictions for the Giants-Cardinals matchup?
PT: This is a very winnable game for the Giants, and I think after watching them play the Patriots so tough, despite what the final score indicated. I believe they’re going to use that game as a catapult to bigger and better things, starting this weekend with a win. Just don’t ask me for a score as I’ve yet to even get in the ballpark with guessing scores.
PT: What is the Cardinals biggest weakness position unit wise that you see potentially changing the outcome of the game? What are your predictions?
The Cardinals have two major achilles heels to their team. On offense, the offensive line has been a weakness for them, mainly their tackles. Murray has been sacked 21 times. The good news is only one sack in the last two games, which is a huge reason why Cardinals were able to get two victories in those matchups.
The other weakness I mentioned above, is Cardinals lack of ability to cover opposing tight ends. I'm not sure if the addition of Patrick Peterson will change that.
This will be an interesting matchup between the two rookie franchise QBs that were picked 6th and number 1 overall. I think this outcome will come down to which New York stars are able to return for this game. If Barkley and Engram are back, I'd have to give this game to the Giants. Both were able to practice in the opening practice in full which is usually a good sign they will be able to suit up on Sunday. Giants 27-Cardinals 24