Giants (0-2) Tampa Bay (1-1)
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost in their first
game, but righted the ship next time out with a 20-14 win over the Carolina Panthers
in a Thursday night game.
Last Sunday, the Giants followed the same script
as they did the previous week. The offense scored on the first possession, and
then went into hiding until it was too late. This time it was a 28-14 loss to
the Buffalo Bills.
Tampa Bay hasn't been to the playoffs in 11 years, and they finished the last
two years with 5-11 records. The Bucs have been NFL punching bags on the road
going 1-7 during those years, including their loss to the Giants last season.
Bruce Arians, former head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, came out of his one
year retirement, and hopes to bring some life back into this team. Arians was
very successful with the Cardinals before taking that break to focus on other
matters in his life. Arizona still had the rights to his contract, and Tampa Bay
had to relinquish a 2019 sixth-round pick to Arizona in exchange for a seventh-round
Although they lost in the home opener, the Bucs did notch their first
road game win last week in Carolina. It's not an easy road game schedule for them
though. After this home game with the Giants, the team travels for two games,
heads off to London for the next, has a bye, and travels for two more games. It
won't be until Nov 10 that they once again get to settle down and play in front
of their home crowd, and they will be hosting - the Cardinals, Arians old team.
On another note, Giants coaches Pat Shurmur and James Bettcher were two of the
top candidates to replace Arians when he retired from the Cardinals.
year starting quarterbacks, Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick, excited the fan
base as they combined for a total of 36 touchdown passes. The Bucs were the top
team in passing yardage in the NFL. The bad news is that those quarterbacks also
combined for a total of 26 interceptions. Fitzpatrick is now with the Miami Dolphins
(1 TD - 4 INTs). Winston got off to a slow start in the Bucs first game loss to
San Francisco (1 TD - 3 INTs), but he played a turnover free game last week in
While the coaching staff works with Winston to improve his quarterback
skills, they have put more emphasis on the running game, which ranked near the
bottom in the NFL last year. Instead of passing on about 63 percent of their plays,
that number now stands at about 54 percent. Instead of Winston being the second
leading rusher on the team as he was last year behind running back Peyton Barber,
it's Ronald Jones who holds that spot. Critics are complaining that the passing
game is suffering (26th rank), but you have to trust that Bruce
Arians knows what he's doing as he works out a balance.
Former Jets head coach Todd Bowles
is running this unit now, and so far things are working out well. In the first
game of the season against San Francisco, the defense gave up one touchdown and
3 field goals. In the second with the Carolina Panthers, just 4 field goals, and
they even came up with an effective goal-line stand to seal the win. A defense
that finished next to last in the league last year allowing 29 points a game,
has so far allowed just one touchdown, and a total of 29 points over two games.
Pierre-Paul had 12.5 sacks for this defense last year, but in the offseason he
was injured in an auto accident. They are hoping he returns later this year. Shaquil
Barrett, a free agent pickup from Denver, is currently the team leader with four
sacks, and he was named the NFC defensive player of the week for his three-sack
performance against the Panthers. The rushing defense has also vastly improved.
Last game they held Christian McCaffrey to 37 yards on 16 carries, and in their
two games have given up a total of 137. They had been averaging 124 yards a game.
the first two games, the Giants started off with an opening drive touchdown. The
trouble is, nothing much happened after that. The offense added just 10 more points
in the first game, 7 in the second, and lost both times. The Giants have converted
on just 5 of their 23 third-down opportunities. Maybe head coach Pat Shurmur feels
that the team needs a spark on offense, and that's why Daniel Jones will be replacing
Eli Manning as the starter. Maybe he feels that Jones is more familiar with throwing
to the group of available receivers pushed into starting roles for various reasons.
The problem is, who will Jones have to work with? Cody Latimer is out, and Bennie
Fowler is questionable with a hamstring issue.
Rookie Darius Slayton will
play in his first game coming off a hamstring injury. Sterling Shepard, back from
a concussion, is the most experienced receiver, but he hasn't caught many passes
from Jones, having missed the preseason games while dealing with a broken thumb.
On the plus side, having a mobile quarterback like Jones handing
the ball off to Saquon Barkley, adds another
dimension to keep defenses off balance. The
run-pass option will be more of a threat now, as Manning was likely not going
to pull it and run on short yardage situations.
The defense has been sloppy this
year. In each of the two games they have given up three touchdowns before halftime.
That has limited the Giants offensive playcalling for the second half, as running
plays chew up more clock time. The defense is allowing an average of 6.8 yards
per play, and 31.5 points per game. They did get three sacks in that last game
with the Bills, and in the second half held them to just one touchdown. Does that
mean they turned a corner, or edged just a bit further away from the cliff they
seemed to be headed for?
This week the inexperienced group has to contain Pro
Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans, and slot receiver Chris Godwin. Running back Peyton
Barber gave the Giants a workout in the last game he played against them, rushing
for 106 yards and a touchdown. Defending against quarterback Jameis Winston can
go either way. Winston also had a good outing against the Giants last time, when
he came in the game to replace Ryan Fitzpatrick. Trying to mount a comeback, he
lead his team to 4 straight touchdown drives.
The Giants can't afford to lose this game. Since 1990 less than three percent
of teams that start 0-3 make the playoffs. Last year the Houston Texans managed
to do that, but that was the first time it's happened since 1998.
is on a learning curve with new coaches at nearly every position. The Giants are
lucky to catch them this early in the season. That possibly factored into head
coach Pat Shurmur making his quarterback switch now.
Sunday at 1:00pm Dolphins (0-2)
at Cowboys (2-0).
Sunday at 1:00pm Lions (1-0-1) at Eagles (1-1)
at 4:05pm Giants (0-2) at Tampa Bay (1-1).
Monday at 8:15pm Bears (1-1) at
The Cowboys and Eagles are the only NFC East teams favored
to win in these games.
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last week gave up 7 pass plays of at least 20 yards, tying for the most with three
Giants Saquon Barkley is
averaging 7.8 yards per carry.
have won six of their last seven games with Tampa Bay.
have lost 12 of their last 15 games against rookie quarterbacks.
defense has not allowed a touchdown in six red zone trips this season.
Sept 29 Redskins at Giants.
Giants Tickets - Buy
Oct 6 Vikings at Giants.