Last season, in quarterback Daniel Jones's NFL debut as a starting quarterback, the Giants battled the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a narrow 32-31 victory that earned Jones NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors.
But that was a bit of a different Bucs team which at the time, didn't have defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (out with a neck injury), quarterback Tom Brady (with New England), tight end Rob Gronkowski (retired), and a lot of confidence thanks to some solid play on both sides of the ball.
So yeah, this 5-2 Bucs team is a much different group than the one that just barely lost to the Giants, currently 1-6, in that Week 3 meeting down in Tampa.
The Giants enter Monday night's game a 10.5-point underdog needing a big performance and as close to a mistake-free game as possible from everyone, especially these select players.
CB James Bradberry
For the most part, Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham has had cornerback James Bradberry travel with the opponent's top receiver.
Will that continue this week against Mike Evans, a receiver he knows very well from his time in Carolina where he regularly covered Evans when the Panthers and Bucs used to meet twice a year.
The battles between Evans and Bradberry were probably among the most entertaining he had. Evans was targeted 20 times with Bradberry in coverage, with the receiver catching 12 balls for 157 yards according to data compiled from PFF.
But the Giants can't forget about Scotty Miller, who has 196 yards on deep passes of 20+ yards, tying him for sixth with CeeDee Lamb of the Cowboys in that category.
Miller has caught five of 12 deep passes with one drop and one touchdown, so for s much as an Evans-Bradberry reunion might be likely, look for Bradberry to likely see some coverage snaps against Miller as well.
LT Andrew Thomas
Andrew Thomas' tough sledding continues this week when he is scheduled to face a fired up and highly motivated Jason Pierre-Paul, the former Giant who made it clear he' looking to inflict pain--and lots of it--on his former club.
In one game against the Giants--that in 2018--JPP recorded 1.5 sacks and two quarterback hits. This season, he already has 5.5 sacks, placing him fifth in the league.
“I think JPP is playing at a high level right now, obviously. He has a lot of production and numbers that match up to that,” head coach Joe Judge said.
“He’s done a good job of getting to the passer, both through sacks and pressures. But this guy right now to me is doing a good job. He has good length and good speed to get off on the line of scrimmage, and obviously, he’s a guy you have to deal with.”
Or, more specifically, a guy that Thomas, the inconsistent rookie left tackle, will have to deal with. Thomas is still very much in first place among all NFL tackles, with 37 total pressures allowed, six of which came in his last game against the Eagles.
Offensive line coach Marc Colombo spoke about the lack of consistency in Thomas' game being a significant issue. For the sake of his quarterback, let's hope Thomas does a better job with being consistent, or at the very least, the Giants have a plan to keep JPP out of Jones's face.
IOL Shane Lemieux
Giants head coach Joe Judge hasn't come right out and said that Lemieux would play Monday night against the Bucs, but it certainly does appear to be heading in that direction.
If he does indeed play, Lemieux figures to see a mix of William Gholston and Ndamukong Suh sprinkled in with nose tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches. That's a pretty solid defensive front with more than a few tricks up its collective sleeve.
But if there's one thing you don't have to worry about with Lemieux, it's his tenacity. But that same tenacity can also work against him if he doesn't play with control.
Something to keep an eye on is the communication between Lemieux (if he plays) and Thomas, especially on stunts. Stunts have, at least so far this year, mostly stumped the left side of the offensive line when they've been run,
RT Cameron Fleming
Thomas isn't the only offensive lineman who will have his hands full Monday night. Veteran Cam Fleming will probably be seeing a lot of Shaq Barrett, who has 35 pressures, including three sacks.
Last year, Barrett had himself a game against the Giants, recording four sacks, eight tackles, and three tackles for a loss in a losing effort.
Fleming has been a little more solid in protecting his edge, allowing just 20 total pressures, of which four are sacks, but dealing with Barrett is not going to be a walk in the park.
WR Darius Slayton
Slayton remains the Giants lone legitimate deep threat, and although he's not considered a No. 1 receiver yet--he's certainly making a case for such a distinction--his vertical speed cannot be ignored.
Meanwhile, logic would dictate that the Bucs' top cornerback, Carlton Davis III, draws Slayton in coverage.
But don't be stunned if Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles changes things up and has Jameel Dean follow Slayton, the Giants primary deep threat with four receptions on seven pass targets of 20 or more yards, around just as much as Davis.
That's the approach Bowles took last week against the Raiders, who have speedster Henry Ruggs III. Dean, who has allowed 19 receptions for 178 yards and one touchdown, drew Nelson Agholor for four coverage snaps and Ruggs for two. He held both receivers to three receptions for 59 yards and only seven yards after the catch.