Giants head coach Joe Judge usually doesn’t believe in clinging too tightly to the past. Still, this week as they get ready for the Cincinnati Bengals, reaching back into the past just might help the Giants defense in their preparation to face quarterback Brandon Allen if he received the start Sunday in place of the injured Joe Burrow.
That past comes courtesy of senior defensive assistant and outside linebacker coach Bret Bielema, for whom Allen was a three-year starter at the University of Arkansas.
During their time together, Bielema no doubt got to know Allen not just on a football skill level but beyond, right down to what affects him, what he likes, and what he doesn’t like. And that kind of information could very well prove to be invaluable for the Giants defense as they go about their game-planning for Sunday.
“Yeah, I think so,” said Giants defensive back Logan Ryan when asked if Bielema’s familiarity with Allen is a plus this week. “I want to know what type of bubble gum he likes--I'm one of those guys. Tell me something to go out there and know what trash talk to go with that day—I definitely want to know as much as I can about the opponent.
“How does he handle pressure and adversity? Is he a fighter? How does he handle when things are going well when they're not going well? That might help the game plan a little bit.”
This season, backup quarterbacks have given the Giants defense fits, primarily because there is no detailed intelligence available to help with game planning to gain any kind of advantage.
Nick Mullens of the 49ers, with a B team of skill position players, destroyed the Giants in Week 3. Andy Dalton of the Cowboys led his team to a narrow win with a fourth-quarter game-winning drive.
And both Kyle Allen (in the first meeting), who replaced starter Dwayne Haskins, and later Alex Smith (in the second meeting), who replaced Allen, gave the Giants fits as well.
This is why the Bengals choice of Allen over Ryan Finley is so interesting. For the Bengals, it’s a case of Taylor being familiar with Allen from their time in Los Angeles when Taylor was Allen’s position coach on Sean McVay’s staff.
Giants head coach Joe Judge, who also agreed that the information to be gleaned has merit, has already made it a point to pick Bielema’s mind about what he remembers about Allen’s mindset.
“The tape really tells you what you need to know about the guy as a player,” Judge said.
“Knowing the guy’s mindset from his former head coach--that’s critical right there. Bret has a great tie with all of his players. He really understands what makes these guys tick and what kind guys these guys are in the huddle.”
But there’s also a drawback to placing too much reliance on information from Bielema that is now a few years old.
“You grow as a player,” Ryan said. “You self-evaluate, you self-scout and you might not have been so good at something in college and you worked on it or whatever it may be. So it is what it is.”
But don’t expect Ryan or the rest of his defensive teammates to shun whatever informationBielema can offer.
“I like to get it all and see what works,” he said. “There are some players I don't talk trash to because I know it turns them up. So, I'm going to take everything I can from it and try to give us the best game plan and the best opportunity to win.”
Bengals head coach Zac Taylor, on a conference call with reporters, denied an NFL Network report claiming that he has decided to go with Allen ahead of Ryan Finley, who last week finished the game after Burrow was injured. Taylor went out of his way to mention both Allen and Finley in any responses specific to the quarterback.
Judge, meanwhile, said that the Giants are preparing for both Allen and Finley.
"Both are very capable quarterbacks, both present a lot of challenges," Judge said. "We have to really make sure we’re working hard this week for both guys.”
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