The Giants are back for the second half of the season after a week off. There is cautious optimism for the remaining eight games of the season, but they don't get to ease into their second stanza as they face the Buccaneers in primetime on Monday Night Football.
It is difficult to come off a bye week, especially with the Bucs coming off a loss. This will probably be the healthiest the offense has been since the first game of the season.
How New York competes in this game will go a long way in deciding how the rest of the season will look.
Here are the keys to victory for the G-Men this Monday at Tampa Bay.
Throw the ball all over the yard.
The Achilles heel of the Buccaneers' defense is their pass defense. They have one of the best run defenses in the NFL and the Giants' offensive line isn't exactly a group of maulers.
The clear advantage the Giants will be able to lean on is a bevy of receiving options. From outside to the slot, tight ends, and backs, the Giants have the diversity in receivers to exploit weaknesses in a Buccaneers secondary that has been banged up all season.
The Giants will need to challenge them deep to stretch them out. Then hit those intermediate targets and crosses to pick up chunk yards and keep that Tampa Bay offense on the bench.
Utilize the screen and quick game.
Because of the Bucs' stellar run defense, the Giants may need another way to manufacture yards. The screen game would give the offense a chance to get Saquon Barkley in space and allow him to make plays.
It is also another to get the ball into Evan Engram's hands as well. The tight end has such speed that keeping him in to block and releasing him on screens would work well out of their two tight end sets since that tends to be a more run dominant personnel.
Barkley, Engram, Sterling Shepard, and Kadarius Toney would all be great in the quick pass game. The type of catch-step-and-throw plays takes the sting out of a potent pass rush and doesn't allow the athletic linebackers for the Buccaneers to get momentum shadowing someone out of the backfield on a rush.
These types of passes can be substitutes for a rushing offense that may find it challenging to get yards via handoff.
Make Leonard Fournette beat you.
If someone asked who has a better chance of beating you in a football game, Leonard Fournette or Tom Brady, everybody would say Tom Brady.
That's not a diss on Fournette, but Brady comes with Evans, Godwin, Brown, and three tight ends capable of having a big game at any moment.
With Fournette, you know what you are getting. Brady will be motivated to have a bounce-back game after his worst performance of the season.
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The Giants need to flood the secondary and make the Bucs feel comfortable running the ball. That is where the diversity in personnel can disguise their true intentions.
Even without Logan Ryan, the Giants have plenty of defensive backs who are solid tacklers. Fournette is not making defenders miss, and the only way he runs away from them is if he finds himself in the open field without defenders in front of him.
That complacency in picking up yards on the ground could lull this offense to sleep but what it would do is eliminate the quick strike over the top that the Bucs have feasted on when the offense is clicking.
Get Tom Brady off his platform.
If the Giants cannot make the Bucs rely heavily on the run game, they need to disturb Tom Brady. The best way to disturb his peace in the pocket is to get pressure.
The difficult thing about pressuring someone who has seen everything is that he knows where to go with the ball if you are predictable. The Giants need to bring pressure from the outside and up the middle.
Brady deals well with outside pressure because he always knows where his hot route is. He can step up in the pocket and throw the ball before the pressure gets to him.
It is the pressure up the middle that rattles him because it makes him move laterally. Now the pressure from the outside becomes more effective. It also doesn't let him set his feet, and he can be inaccurate when that happens.
The Giants have pressured off the edge more effectively this season, but this is also a good time to show off some of the exotic blitz packages that Patrick Graham showed off in Miami, where he would routinely line up with one defensive lineman in the game.
He could use Williams as the sole defensive lineman in obvious passing downs. Graham could also use Williams and Lawrence as the sole defensive linemen and bring pressure from everywhere. Xavier McKinney could be utilized in blitzes along with Adoree Jackson from his cornerback position.
The key is to keep switching up the looks you give Brady, so he doesn't get comfortable or in a groove. Once he does, that's when he puts up four and five touchdowns. A Monday night, with the stage to himself, the Giants have to keep him under control.
Run RPO's that stress the inside linebackers.
Lavonte David is a very savvy veteran who has been good in this league for a long time. Devin White is the other full-time linebacker, and while he possesses intense physical gifts, he does not always diagnose plays correctly, he relies on his athleticism to make up for his mistakes.
This is an opportunity for Jason Garrett to exploit White's aggressiveness. He can have a Power RPO with a tight end running a sit route right behind David. If he sits, run it. If he vacates, pull and throw it.
This will help to slow White and make him less effective on blitzes and attacking in the run.
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