The New York Giants are playing the Miami Dolphins in an important Week 13 matchup. The Giants will be without quarterback Daniel Jones, and backup Mike Glennon will start. Glennon hasn’t won a football game since 2017.
The Giants will also be without wide receivers Sterling Shepard and Kadarius Toney, tight end Kaden Smith (injured reserve), and cornerback Adoree' Jackson.
The Dolphins are on a four-game winning streak after starting the season 1-7. The Giants narrowly defeated the Philadelphia Eagles last week by 13-7. New York forced four turnovers and still almost lost the game. Without Daniel Jones, the Giants' new offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens will have to get creative.
Let's look at some of the keys to the game.
Key 1: Be Aggressive
This applies to both sides of the football, as the Miami Dolphins blitz at a rate higher than any other NFL team. On offense, when the opportunity presents itself, the Giants need to allow Mike Glennon to use his big arm.
However, Kitchens must be conscious of Brian Flores and his blitzing tendencies. Last week the Giants used timely screens to help defeat the Philadelphia Eagles. We expect kitchens to employ a similar tactic when the Dolphins show blitz, which will probably be often.
Last year when Kitchens was the play-caller and Daniel Jones did not dress for the Browns game, Kitchens called an aggressive game with Colt McCoy under center. A similar approach with Glennon, and his arm, might catch Miami off guard.
Patrick Graham wasn’t shy in terms of blitzing Jalen Hurts last week. He employed several well-timed blitzes at the most opportune times to force Hurts into mistakes or the offense into punt situations.
Being overly aggressive isn’t Graham’s DNA, but this can lead quarterback Tua Tagovailoa into mistakes with a bad offensive line, especially with Graham using trap coverages in the short, intermediate parts of the field. This game against Miami will not be easy, and the Giants may have to throw a curveball at them.
On offense, the Giants need to take shots down the field in one-on-one situations. On defense, pressure Tagovailoa and force turnovers. When teams have success and open the playbook when they're missing players, they allow themselves to win.
Key 2: Win the Turnover Battle
The Giants barely beat the Eagles last week, and they won the turnover margin by four. This key is similar to the first key, but the Giants will be risking turnovers to be aggressive on offense.
If Glennon turns the football over early, pulling back, the aggressive reigns are an option depending on the context of game flow.
New York’s defense was stellar last week, and they must be opportunistic again this week in Miami. Tagovailoa is playing good football at the moment, but that doesn’t mean he can be baited into mistakes which we’ve seen this season.
When the opportunity presents itself, the Giants defenders have to hold onto the football like they did last week. We’ve seen many situations where the Giants defenders dropped possible game-winning interceptions. This is not a game where they can have that happen.
Key 3 : Get Saquon Barkley Going
The Giants' run game hasn’t been great. Other than a 32-yard rush by Barkley last week, the Giants virtually did nothing on the ground. However, Kitchens attempted to get Barkley going in space.
The fast three-flare pass with two stalk blockers didn’t work, but it’s an attempt to get their star running back in space with blockers, so it's hard to argue the creativity there.
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Barkley has missed plenty of time this season, and we haven’t had a chance to see him be a consistent player since 2018, which was his rookie season. Confidence could be an issue.
Kitchens should attempt to utilize Barkley on more simple routes near the line of scrimmage--not just screens, but also routes that allow the running back to separate against man coverage, which is a coverage that Miami uses more than anyone else in the NFL.
Barkley is a mismatch nightmare for defenses that want to use man coverage. Kitchens has to have a few designed plays in his playbook to exploit the defense's willingness to play man.
Angle/Texas routes, reduced bunch sets moving in the opposite direction of Barkley, using Barkley split out wide--all of these efforts could help Barkley pick up yards in space.
This could lead to more confidence which may help the young running back get on track. The Giants offensive line isn’t great, but the second overall pick on 2018 isn’t playing his more decisive football.
Key 4: Be Creative
Kitchens now has had more than one week to prepare his offense. There will be no new offense, per se, but tweaks can happen with the offense that can make it less predictable and more effective.
New York isn’t going to rely on Glennon’s stellar athletic ability like they do with Daniel Jones, so there will have to be tweaks to an offense that’s already going through changes.
Last week, we saw an impressive Eagles rushing attack that featured many wham and trap blocks on block defenders. It’s one of the more creative rushing schemes used in the NFL.
We’ve seen Jason Garrett’s offense employ these blocks to spring down runs, but not often. We would like to see a little more creativity that may use Miami's aggressiveness against them while also not relying heavily on the offensive line.
This may sound unrealistic, but the Giants have successfully run against more aggressive teams. The Raiders and Panthers were two aggressive defenses the Giants could defeat.
Devontae Booker had good games through the air and on the ground, and Barkley is perfectly capable of performing at a higher level than Booker. By catching Miami off guard with different runs that haven’t been common for the Giants, they may be able to create a few one on one matchups with Barkley and a safety. All it takes is one big play to flip a game--and we all know Barkley is capable of providing big plays in the right context.
Key 5: Don’t Give Jaylen Waddle space
In the first round, Miami drafted Jaylen Waddle, one of the more dynamic receivers. He is a threat with the football in his hands. Waddle combines game-breaking speed with good route running, and he is starting to scratch the surface of his immense potential. New York may have to tweak their defense to contain a player like Waddle.
The Giants run a lot of concepts to mitigate explosive plays. It’s an excellent strategy and one they have to use in this game as well. With the football in his hands, we fear Waddle can make a Giants’ defenders miss and take a 5-yard pass to the house.
New York’s defense allows quick passes to the flat where their defenders can rally and tackle. This strategy is good against some of the best athletes in the world; but if the Giants don’t secure the tackle against an athlete like Waddle, who is even more athletic than some of the best athletes in the world, then the Giants could surrender a big play to the star rookie.
The Giants must be aware of his speed horizontally and not overlook the quick drag routes he is asked to run in Miami’s offense. His vertical ability may lose a problem for James Bradberry, who isn’t the best with speed if the Giants ask Bradberry to cover him.
We would feel a bit better if Jackson was available against Waddle, which would mean Bradberry could cover tight end Mike Gesicki, but injuries happen. The Giants defense could contain this offense, but they have to be more disciplined with their tackling.
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