Every week during the season, we’ll scout out the Giants' next opponent. This week, that opponent is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
There are few stereotypes with more wear and tear on them than the old folks from New York and New Jersey who move down to Florida for warmer weather in the twilight years.
Greg Schiano isn't old and he's got quite a while before he moves into his twilight years, but he made the same move your grandparents might have made this offseason. Schiano ditched Rutgers for the Bucs job that became available when they fired Raheem Morris after three years of diminishing returns.
Schiano got to work clearing out players who didn't fit what he wanted to do this season, signed a couple of big-ticket free agents in guard Carl Nicks and wide receiver Vincent Jackson and started preaching toughness like he was still in the NCAA. He also did one of the coolest things of the year when he signed former Rutgers player Eric LeGrand to be part of the 90-man roster.
LeGrand is, of course, the player who was paralyzed during a game and has become an inspirational figure because of his fight to walk again. He led the Rutgers team onto the field last year in a moving moment and Schiano's message to his players is a hard one to miss.
There isn't much tape on the Bucs yet, which means the Giants staff will be watching some Rutgers-South Florida battles, but the Giants are at least familiar with the guys calling the plays.
Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan was the Giants' quarterbacks coach in recent years before getting the Bucs offer and defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan was Steve Spagnuolo's replacement as defensive coordinator before getting axed as one of the scapegoats for an 8-8 season in 2009. Sullivan's too new to have a book, but Sullivan's system wasn't popular here because it wasn't aggressive enough although injuries gutted the defense over the course of that season.
It's a much different look than the last few Bucs teams, one that worked out well enough for them to win their opener 16-10 over the Panthers. Here's a few ways to recognize the changes:
Freeman-to-Jackson - This is not a phrase that the Giants want to hear much on Sunday. Jackson left San Diego after several productive seasons to team up with Freeman, who is Tampa's Mark Sanchez if Sanchez didn't have four road playoff wins under his belt.
Freeman needs to have a huge year and Jackson gives him the kind of elite receiver he can ride to such a season. The Giants have all kinds of cornerback issues, so this is going to be a key point of attack for the Bucs.
The Rookie Effect - The Bucs took safety Mark Barron with the seventh overall pick of the draft and then traded up to take running back Doug Martin later in the first round to remake two trouble spots from last season. Both started and played well against Carolina and figure to be cornerstone pieces, along with fellow rookie linebacker Lavonte David, for whatever the Schiano Era becomes.
Gerald McCoy - McCoy was a disappointment under Morris, but he was beastly enough in the opener to get a call from Bucs icon Warren Sapp. The Giants offensive line needs to be better across the board, but they are going to have to be particularly good right up the middle.
Ronde Barber - Barber moved to safety this year in time to start his 200th straight game and the move was terrifying enough that he won the NFC Defensive Player of the Week award for the first week of the season. Also, he looks just like Tiki so Giants fans will be able to vent some of that rage.