Fennelly’s Keys For the Giants Tonight in Washington

John Fennelly , Lead Writer

Stop Robert Griffin. Yeah, right.  Good luck with all of that. I see that many ‘experts’ have that listed as one of their three keys. It would be nice to see, but then again it would have been nice to win the Powerball, too.

The Giants can with this game without completely ‘stopping’ Griffin. They have to limit him, however, but there’s other ways they can tilt this game in their favor…

Offense

Be unpredictable. Eli Manning’s arm wasn’t tired. Kevin Gilbride’s play calling and the execution of those plays were the problem. The Giants were playing slow on offense and they needed to step things up and get crisper. Against Green Bay, they they looked like they shook off the rigor mortis. Tonight, they need to get more players out on the field and get the ball out to the open man. Go four-wide, use some hurry-up formations, throw in a little play action, yada, yada, yada, and keep the Skins off balance all night. Be imaginative.

Touchdowns, not FGs. When your kicker is at the top of the league in scoring it means one of several things. One of them is inefficiency in the red zone. The Giants were making their lives miserable by scoring more threes than sevens. Against Green Bay, they turned the tide on that bad trend and they need to continue that in DC.

Oh, Mr. Wilson…First round draft pick David Wilson will have to grow up tonight. Sorry for the short notice, David, but this is the NFL and if it’s unforgiving. You either produce or find something else to do. Hit the holes and keep going. Lesser players have done it. And, one more thing; hold on to the football!

Let’s get physical. When the Giants’ offensive line plays physical, they not only win, they dominate. For most of this season, they’ve stood around like a bunch of guys at a car wash on a rainy day. They have to start punching people in the mouth from the opening play to the final gun. It’s December. Play like it.

Defense

Bottle up the box. The Redskins have an NFL-best ten 100-yard and eight 150-yard rushing games. They bleed you with the run. They slap the will out of opposing defenses by ruling the trenches. Through 12 games, RB Alfred Morris needs only 18 yards to become only the second rookie in team history to rush for 1,000 yards and Griffin is only 65 yards short of Cam Newton’s record for yards rushing by a rookie QB (706). Gotta get a handle on this. Everything they do stems from the triple option and play action. Contain, contain, contain.

Centerfield. The Giants will probably be without S Kenny Phillips, so they won’t have three safety sets to play around with tonight. Perry Fewell has figure out who he can play over the top in centerfield. The Redskins are taking deep shots down the field and the Giants need to place a presence out there, or RGIII is going to have a big night. Shorten the Skins’ routes and clutter the passing lanes. Bend but don’t break.

Pressure. Easily said.  Griffin is as elusive and as quick as any QB who I have ever seen. His poise is impeccable and his confidence has yet to be broken. That doesn’t mean he can’t be frustrated. The Giants don’t necessarily have to get hits on Griffin, but they do need to force him to release the ball sooner than he desires. Flushing him out of the pocket does little. He’s just as accurate on the move as he is standing still and he’s been getting better:  his 146.1 passer rating in the last two weeks is the best among rookie passers with at least 40 attempts in NFL history. Griffin isn’t turning the ball over as much, either…..so…..get him to go to his least attractive option more often than not and consider that a victory.

Special Teams

The Giants may just have the most unimaginative and unproductive special teams in the history of the NFL. They rarely make the highlights, and when they do they’re usually the wrong end of the celebration.  Frankly, I’m just tired of these 22-yard kickoff returns and seven-yard punt returns. When are they ever going to break one off for a TD? How about tonight? Other teams around the league seem to be doing it. It’s not against the rules.

The last time the Giants ran back a kickoff for TD was Dec. 29, 2007 when Domenik Hixon took one 74 yards to the house vs the Patriots. The last punt return for a TD? You guessed it. Domenik Hixon – Dec 16, 2009 vs the Cowboys. And how about a blocked punt? Haven’t had one of those since 2005 and that was by David Tyree.  They have to get more aggressive and make some plays on specials.