The Giants are 0-2 and face another 0-2 team in the Carolina Panthers. Sure, the Giants can move the football through the air and beat the Panthers last season pretty handily last season down there, but they are not looking past this game by any stretch.
“Their front seven is very, very talented. They get a good rush on the quarterback,” said QB Eli Manning of the Panthers’ defense. “Their linebackers are good. Their secondary is a little banged up right now, but they have a good scheme and have good players and they’re playing good defense and they’ve been really good in the red zone so far.”
Eli has to eliminate his carelessness with the football first before he can begin showing mastery over other teams. The Giant are -8 in the takeaway category. No other other team has a ratio higher than -4.
The Panthers are just as desperate for a win as his Giants and their head coach, Ron Rivera will surely be on the hot seat with a loss on Sunday. Rivera has tried to keep his players focused, but he can’t divert their attention away from the urgency of the situation.
“It’s very urgent,” Rivera told reporters via a conference call today. “It’s like I told the players. The truth of the matter is that this is the most important game we’ll play because it’s the one we’re about to play. That’s been our mentality and focus for this week and that in a very important football game, you can’t win two until you’ve won one.”
“I expect a tough team,” said Eli. “They’ve played two very close games. It came to the fourth quarter. They had a lead last week at the very end and Buffalo had a last-second touchdown to win. I think they probably feel the same way. They can easily be 2-0 right now. We’ll be getting their best and we’ve got to expect to play our best to win….They’re a really good defense and the first two games, they’ve played outstanding. They held Seattle to 12 points and they did really well against Buffalo.
“The two-minute drive at the end and a penalty was a big part of Buffalo getting into the game in the first place. They’ve played very well. We’ve got to go out there and play our best football.”
Tom Coughlin breaks down the Panthers
Overall perception of the Panthers:
“The Carolina Panthers are an outstanding football team. They’ve lost two games by six points. Their defense has given up 36 points. Their offense has scored 30. Seattle scored 12 points on them. You all watched the game the other night, I’m sure. Their offensive team is sixth in rushing. They’re fourth in the league on third down. They’re doing an outstanding job of that. Over the past two seasons, they’ve had the most plays in the league over 20 yards, so they do have that capability as well.”
“They do not beat themselves. They only had seven penalties, two fumbles and an interception in their first two games, so they’re a solid football team. They’re obviously a very, very good defensive front and front seven. They’ve had some nicks in the secondary of late and we’ll have to see how that plays out in terms of who is available and who isn’t.”
“Of course, they hang their hat on rushing the ball. They do a great job of that. D’Angelo Williams is very powerful. Tolbert is very powerful. Their quarterback, as you know, has the ability to run the ball. He has a very, very strong arm. They do a lot of things off of play action and they have really improved their return game with Ted Ginn coming over in free agency. He’s an outstanding returner, punt returner and kickoff returner. You saw him in the preseason with his 74-yarder, so they do have the ability to do that as well.”
“Gano is an outstanding kicker. He had a nice… I believe it was a 54-yard field goal in the preseason. They’re a well-balanced, well-structured team. I think they’re a good team on special teams as well. They’re battling and scrambling just like we are, but I certainly do recognize the fact that they’re a good team.”
Why have the Panthers struggled?
“They’ve had a couple of things happen, as some of the teams that are in that predicament have. The Seattle game, for example, they’re driving, they fumble the ball inside the 10-yard line with a chance to take the lead with a score. The other day against Buffalo, Buffalo throws the ball down the middle of the field and it was intercepted, which would end the game. Whoops. Wait a minute. Defensive pass interference. Let’s do that again. Down they come to score and win. They’ve had a couple of things go against them and I’m sure they’re well aware of that, but as I said, not many. They haven’t made a whole lot of mistakes. When they have, it’s definitely hurt them. Their games have been very, very tight, very competitive and so they’ve had chances to win in both games, I’m sure they would say that.”
What do you see from their linebackers? Kuechly is having a good start.
“He’s not a rookie any more. He led the league in tackles a year ago. What do I see? I see two veteran players on the wings that are good football players in Davis and Beason. Kuechly is an outstanding player in the middle and has an interception. He had a bunch of tackles the other day. He had 11 tackles the other day. He’s a good, aggressive football player. Godfrey, as you know, just went on IR and he was a real force in the secondary.”