Giants (0-0) Titans (0-0)
The Titans finished on top of the AFC South
last season with a 12-5 record, and were in the playoffs. The Giants finished
last in the NFC East with a 4-13 record. In 2022 the Giants will face off with
only three other playoff teams, the Cowboys, the Packers, and the Eagles. That
said, the NFL didn't do them any favors here by having them start off the season
on the road against the Titans.
late January the Titans enjoyed a bye week before hosting a red hot Cincinnati
Bengals team in the Divisional Playoffs. It came down to the last play, and a
Bengals 52 yard field goal gave the Titans a 19-16 loss to end their season. Cincinnati
continued on the road to Kansas City, and after that 27-24 victory, met up with
the Rams in Super Bowl 56. The Bengals dream ended with a 23-20 loss.
have had a long offseason to reflect on things, and it certainly weighed on quarterback
Ryan Tannehill, who threw three interceptions during that playoff game. It was
noted that the Titans traded up in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft to select
a quarterback, Malik Willis, at No. 86 overall. Willis was a projected first-round
pick, and general manager Jon Robinson later indicated that Willis was the best
player on the Titans' board at that point in the draft.
In his last outing for the Titans Ryan Tannehill's performance did not inspire
confidence, and he'll be anxious to show he isn't slipping. Tannehill was 14-14
in touchdowns and interceptions in his first 14 games last year. That was nowhere
near his first two year numbers with the Titans (55-13), but in the last three
regular season games, things had clicked for Tannehill. In those games, he threw
7 touchdowns with zero interceptions. Tannehill's overall down year can be explained
in part by injuries to his available talent. A.J. Brown and Julio Jones both missed
time with injuries. Those two players are gone now, and Brown will be hard to
Brown led the team with 63 receptions for 869 yards, and 5 touchdowns.
The Titans acquired veteran receiver Robert Woods to help fill that spot. Woods
has recovered from a torn ACL in his left knee, suffered last November while playing
for the Rams. Also, the expectations are high for first round draft pick Treylon
Burks, who averaged 9.4 yards after the catch, in his last season at Arkansas.
The Titans didn't see much production from the tight end position last season.
They added veteran Austin Hooper, and fourth round pick Chigoziem Okonkwo, who's
looked very good in preseason. There will also be a bit less pressure on Tannehill
having Derrick Henry back on the field. Henry was on his way to be the first running
back to run for 2000 yards in back to back seasons. Henry had 937 yards and 10
touchdowns when he broke his foot playing against the Colts in the eighth game
of the season.
you think the Titans playoff game was a big letdown to the hometown fans, just
focus a minute on the Titans defensive unit players. They limited the opposition
to just one touchdown, and sacked Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow nine times,
tying an NFL playoff record, and still took a loss. The defense will now be missing
Pro Bowl edge rusher Harold Landry, who suffered a torn ACL in practice just about
a week ago. Landry led the team in sacks in each of the last three years, and
closed out last season with 12. Landry had also racked up 22 quarterback hits,
and 14 tackles for a loss.
The Giants and Daniel Jones will still have to contend
with Denico Autry (9 sacks), and Jeffery Simmons (8.5 sacks). Also, Rashad Weaver,
a fourth-round pick last season, was sidelined when he suffered a broken right
fibula in the Titans third game. Weaver has looked strong during the preseason.
The Titans secondary benefited last season from the pressure put up front on opposing
quarterbacks. Fourth year strong safety Amani Hooker, and veteran Pro bowler Kevin
Byard, play their positions very well. The Titans had the 2nd best run defense,
so the Giants might be forced to pass more than they would like, given the opportunity.
Finishing up last in the NFC East
division with a 4-13 record buys you a better shot at draft picks, and an easier
regular season schedule. The Giants got that, but they also have to deal with
what comes from making major coaching changes. Dave Gettleman is no longer the
Giants general manager. He was replaced by Joe Schoen, and Brian Daboll was chosen
to be the new head coach. The two first met in 2011 with the Miami Dolphins when
Schoen was a national scout, and Daboll an offensive coordinator. For the last
four years, both were with the Buffalo Bills, Schoen as an assistant GM, and Daboll
as offensive coordinator. It was felt that Schoen did well with the draft.
biggest problem with this Giants last year was the offense. They were ranked next
to last in the NFL in passing, rushing, points, and total offense (yards). That
put more than enough pressure on their defensive unit game after game. The Giants
worked to fix that. New head coach Brian Daboll, last year working as the offensive
coordinator of the Buffalo Bills, had his team finish third in the NFL in points
scored, and fifth in total yards. Offensive coordinator Mike Kafka spent the previous
five seasons as an assistant coach with Kansas City. The Chiefs had the league's
fourth-highest point total, and they were third in total yards.
Can these coaches
instill any of this on the Giants current roster of players? The offensive line
was ranked near the bottom of the league. GM Joe Schoen used a first round pick
on tackle Evan Neal, and acquired veteran center Jon Feliciano and guard Jamil
Douglas from Buffalo, players who know already what Daboll is looking for. The
Giants have added more depth as well, and in fact have replaced every starter
on the line except for left tackle Andrew Thomas.
All this should help quarterback
Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley achieve their objectives. Both young
players are at the stage of their careers where they need to show what they can
actually do, working with a reliable offensive line. Of course Jones needs his
receivers to do their part as well, and at very least, stay healthy enough to
be available targets for him on a consistent basis. Last season wide receivers
Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney each failed to score a touchdown, as they struggled
through injuries. Darius Slayton scored only two touchdowns playing in 14 games,
and Sterling Shepard scored just one while playing in only 7 games. Tight ends
Kaden Smith, Kyle Rudolph, and Evan Engram are all gone.
coordinator Patrick Graham has moved on to coach with the Raiders, and Don 'Wink'
Martindale was brought in to handle the job. To his credit, Graham's defense was
the best in the NFL in preventing teams from scoring a touchdown once they hit
the red-zone area. That was of major importance, as the Giants were next to last
in the league when it came to scoring points. The Giants' redzone touchdown percentage
on defense in 2021 was an NFL-best 48 percent. They did however, allow teams to
control the ball for long periods, and gave up a number of big plays.
thing that really changes with Martindale's scheme will be the aggressiveness
of the unit. Last year the Giants were 16th in the league, with a blitz percentage
of 25 percent. In his last four years as defensive coordinator with Baltimore,
Martindale's blitz percentage was at the top in the NFL for three years, 2018
- (39.6%) 2019 - (54.9%) 2020 - (44.1%). In 2021, as his players were hit with
numerous injuries, it dipped to 6th (31.1%).
The Giants are strong up front
with defensive linemen Lenard Williams and Dexter Lawrence, and they've added
first-round pick Kayvon Thibodeaux to go with Azeez Ojulari, the team leader in
sacks last year. Martindale's run defense in Baltimore was the best in the league,
allowing opponents just 85.5 yards a game. He'd like to transition some of that
over to the Giants, who gave up 129 - about 44 more rushing yards per game. That
area will be a big focus this week, as they will be challenged by running back
Of note, the Giants have moved on from starting safeties Logan
Ryan and Jabrill Peppers, and starting outside cornerback James Bradberry. If
the pass rush isn't working, a quarterback has time to pick on the Giants weakest
defensive area, the secondary. It doesn't help that up front for this game,
both Thibodeaux and Ojulari are currently listed as doubtful.
This game will be a real challenge for the
Giants, who finished up last season with a 4-13 record, and have had to make major
coaching changes during the offseason. General manager Joe Schoen and head coach
Brian Daboll are both first timers in their new roles. For the last three years
running, the Titans have been to the playoffs with a head coach who was named
the NFL Coach of the year.
Schoen's and Daboll's familiarity with each other
does help a bit, but the task of getting all the coaches and players on board,
understanding each others skills, and working together as a team will take time.
It certainly isn't something to be expected in the first game played on the road,
no less against a strong opponent. Still, things do happen in the first games
of the NFL season.
Sunday at 1:00pm Eagles (0-0) at
Sunday at 1:00pm Jaguars (0-0) at Commanders (0-0).
at 4:25pm Giants (0-0) at Titans (0-0).
Sunday at 8:20pm Buccaneers (0-0) at
The Eagles and Commanders are the NFC East teams favored to
win in these games.
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Sept 18 Panthers at Giants
26 Cowboys at Giants