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Giants Must Stress Packers' Shaky Pass Defense

Eli Manning and company need to take some big play shots

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    during their game at MetLife Stadium on November 10, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

    In some ways, the Giants’ offense is a favorable matchup for the Packers' defense.

    Giants quarterback Eli Manning has been prone to big mistakes this season, throwing 16 interceptions in nine starts after just 15 in 2013. At present, Manning is on pace to throw 28 interceptions. Manning’s completion percentage has slipped, too, falling from 59.9 percent a season ago to 55.6 percent.

    However, even with the Giants’ passing game somewhat off-form, it will test the Packers’ secondary downfield. And the Giants must test the Green Bay pass defense after the Packers allowed three TD passes of more than 30 yards in a 27-13 loss to the Eagles on Sunday.

    According to NFL statistics, Manning’s average pass length is 9.81 yards, third-longest in the league. Only the Eagles’ Michael Vick (10.61) and the 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick (9.84) have higher averages. That said, Manning has attempted 188 more passes than Vick and 109 more passes than Kaepernick. Also, through nine games, the Giants have 33 completions of 20 yards or more. This puts them on pace for about 58 completions of 20-plus yards, compared to 50 a season ago.

    Manning’s three primary targets — Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle — all have field-stretching ability. The Giants should put that to good use on Sunday. It’s on the Giants’ offensive line to give Manning the time he needs, and it’s on Manning to give his receivers a chance to make a play on the ball.

    Then, it’s on the receivers to make a play, just like the Eagles’ Riley Cooper did Sunday on an underthrown Nick Foles pass deep in Green Bay territory. Cooper adjusted to the ball, cutting in front of Packers safety M.D. Jennings. The result was a 45-yard touchdown.

    The Giants can make these sorts of plays, too. The Packers, who are starting third-string quarterback Scott Tolzien on Sunday, probably don’t have that same sort of punch.

    “We’ve always been a throw-the-ball-down-the-field team,” Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said Wednesday when asked about the club’s passing game. That’s true in 2013, too; the numbers bear it out.The Giants are who they are. At 3-6, and with the Packers’ pass defense giving up some big plays of late, it’s time for Big Blue to stick to its blueprint. The Giants need to let Manning drop back, scan the field and take some shots. There is risk in this strategy, but there’s also risk in just dinking-and-dunking, too. When big-play chances present themselves, the Giants have to take them.