Team Giants


Giants - Titans
Game 1 preview
Sunday Sept 11, 4:25 PM - Giants at Titans

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.

Tennessee Titans
In 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.
The Titans 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.

Tennessee Titans Offense
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 replace.
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.

Tennessee Titans Defense
If 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.

NY Giants
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.

NY Giants Offense
The 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.

Giants Defense
Defensive 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.
One 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 Derrick Henry.
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.

NFC East Games
Sunday at 1:00pm Eagles (0-0) at Lions (0-0).
Sunday at 1:00pm Jaguars (0-0) at Commanders (0-0).
Sunday at 4:25pm Giants (0-0) at Titans (0-0).
Sunday at 8:20pm Buccaneers (0-0) at Cowboys (0-0).
The Eagles and Commanders are the NFC East teams favored to win in these games.
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Next Games
Sept 18 Panthers at Giants

Sept 26 Cowboys at Giants

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