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New York Giants: Three Keys to a Week 3 Win Over Atlanta Falcons

The New York Giants need to win Sunday--badly. Besides outscoring the Atlanta Falcons, here's a look at what they need to take care of to increase their chances of success.

The Giants offense played well enough to win last week against the Washington Football Team; the defense not so much so. Head coach Joe Judge speaks about the improvement seen in the team, and it has been there in drips and drabs, but just not enough to push the Giants over the hump.

They can right the ship against a reeling Atlanta Falcons team that is very beatable. So what do the Giants have to do to make it happen?

Here are our three keys to a victory.

Get More Aggressive on Defense

Earlier this week, Giants safety Logan Ryan said the defense's showing last week "wasn't good enough."

And defensive coordinator Patrick Graham followed that up by saying, "Obviously I’ve gotta do a better job.”

All factual statements, but what are they all going to do about it to make it better?

On the surface, there are multiple problems with the Giants defense. The coverage isn't as sharp as it was last year, the pass rush is virtually invisible, and the middle of the field is suddenly more wide open than the parting of the Red Sea.

So how does Graham get this fixed? He could start by being a little more aggressive with his schemes than he's been instead of being afraid of being beaten deep.

We'd start with the coverage. Often, the Giants have a deep safety 10-15 yards off the line of scrimmage, and they might as well be playing with just ten guys, given how much of a non-factor that deep safety has been. Couple that with the corners playing several yards off the receivers (thereby giving them free releases), and is it any wonder why the pass rush, which is looking to get into a rhythm, is struggling to convert pressures into sacks?

Here's the other thing to consider with the way the defense has been deployed. Playing the safety and corners so deep makes it look as though the underneath stuff is being trusted to the inside linebackers--Blake Martinez, Reggie Ragland, and Ta Crowder--to patrol the middle of the field. While all three are solid downhill types, they all have some athletic limitations in coverage that have led to huge holes being open in the middle of the field.

This week with tight end Kyle Pitts and receiver Calvin Ridley coming to town, the Giants have to get more physical with those guys and not let them roam free without any consequences. 

James Bradberry, who has struggled out of the gate, is much better when playing closer to his man and getting physical. Adoree' Jackson has the speed to keep up with most receivers, so what's the harm in having those guys play closer to the line instead of five to eight yards off?

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan isn't known as a running threat. The Giants defense can top this Falcons offense by simply playing it a bit more aggressively than they have the last couple of weeks.

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Better Play from the Receivers

The Falcons will be without their top cornerback, A.J. Terrell, declared out with a concussion this week. This would be a great opportunity for the Giants receiving targets who are averaging just 2.7 yards after the catch (118 YAC on 516 receiving yards) to pick up the pace.

"You’re always trying to refine things," offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said when asked why it's been a struggle for the receivers to gain YAC. "Certain defenses give you certain things with run after catch, so I think that might vary week to week. I think the other piece of that is just the precision you have with route-running, accuracy, catch on the run, all of that. You’re always trying to get better at that.

"(There were) good examples of that during the game where we did it the right way. Certainly, some areas where we can get better. It’s just part of the process you go through as you try to improve and build your offense."

The scheme might leave something to be desired, but the bottom line is the receivers need to make the most of their opportunities when they are there, and that hasn't been happening as consistently as it should be.

Don't Get Burned by the Unicorn

In two games, Falcons rookie tight end Kyle Pitts has nine receptions for 104 yards and no touchdowns.

But sooner or later, this amazing talent will have a breakout game, and the Giants, who have had some issues against opposing tight ends this season, need to make sure Pitts doesn't break out against them.

So what does Pitts bring to the Falcons offense?

"A big body tight end?" said safety Jabrill Peppers, adding, "It’s always good for an offense. (The) quarterbacks’ security blanket, a big target in the red zone, things of that nature."

Well, that, and a lot of sleepless nights for defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, as if he didn't already have enough to worry about.

"He’s big, he’s fast, he can catch the ball. Because it’s only a two-game sample size and some of the preseason, if you go back and watch his college tape it becomes really scary, because all those corners that get drafted in the first round, that’s who those guys had covering him," Graham said.

"All those teams in the SEC had guys covering him. He’s a pretty dynamic player. The combination of speed, size, catch radius and all those catchy terms like that makes him a dangerous player, and his willingness to block. He’ll be the point of attack in the run game, which is a bonus for him."

So how do the Giants stop Pitts? They don't have a linebacker athletics enough to keep up with the rookie, and they don't have a big-bodied safety--the closest they have is Xavier McKinney, who stands 6'0. But the best guess is that a safety--most likely McKinney--will be tasked with keeping Pitts from having his breakout game.


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