Giants (0-2) vs Panthers
Last week the Panthers fought hard
in Buffalo and ended up with a 24-23 loss. In the fourth quarter
they had just scored a field goal that put them up by six with
only 1:38 on the clock for the Bills who had no timeouts. The
Panthers defense allowed EJ Manuel, the Bills rookie quarterback,
to work a game-winning 80-yard touchdown drive to steal the game
away from them.
The Manning brothers faced off for the third time in their careers
last week. Each time Peyton Manning had won and this time was
no different and his Denver team left MetLife Stadium with a 41-23
win. Going in, the Giants fans may have enjoyed the spectacle
of seeing this matchup live, but the results now have the Giants
at 0-2, the same record they had in 2007 when they went on to
win the Super Bowl.
In 2011 Ron Rivera, in his
first year as Panthers head coach, took a team that was 2-14 to
6-10. He barely nudged that up to 7-9 in 2012, and in both those
years the Panthers got off to a slow 2-8 start. Now in 2013 they
are sitting at 0-2, and are looking for some kind of break. The
schedule had them starting against the Seahawks. Not great, but
at least it was a home game and not in Seattle so call that a
small break. The Panthers were winning in that game in the fourth
quarter 7-6 and had held Seattle without a touchdown up until
then. When that happened they couldn't come back and lost 12-7
Last week was another sad story as the Panthers had the Bills
on the ropes needing a touchdown to avoid a loss, which the Bills
did in the final seconds. And so it goes for the Panthers, 'close
but no cigar' as they say and it's a repeating factor under Rivera.
Now the team is 2-14 in games decided by a touchdown or less with
him as head coach. This week they face the Giants who are not
an easy out, and if they lose the Panthers find themselves sitting
on their hands at 0-3 and with an early season long bye week to
Cam Newton is a dual threat at quarterback or at least he used
to be. So far in two games he has rushed 9 times for 53 yards,
and as a passer has thrown 3 touchdowns against 1 interception,
averaging 5.8 yards per completion. Surprisingly that's actually
just a bit less than his running average, and it almost looks
like they are trying to develop Newton into being a short distance
Maybe they are just waiting to unveil the dual threat on the right
team at the right time. Last year Newton was the team leader in
rushing yards. Pro Bowl running back DeAngelo Williams came close
and was the next leading rusher and currently holds the team lead
with 171 yards. Williams is taking advantage of this new style
of offense and is fifth in the league in rushing yards.
Mike Shula was the quarterbacks coach and is now the offensive
coordinator and it seems Shula has changed things up a bit, maybe
to keep his quarterback intact for the longer run. Wide receiver
Steve Smith is 34 and in his 13th season. Last year Smith had
the most catches and yards per catch on the team. He is currently
second with his 11 catches to tight end Greg Olsen who has 12.
Former Giant Domenik Hixon might see some playing time but, Ted
Ginn has been doing just fine.
This defense gives up a lot
of yards, but is stingy in points being scored against them. They
are strong up front, but their secondary, which wasn't that good
last year, has sustained numerous injuries. Over the last two
games just about every three out of four passes has resulted in
a completion against this defense. Free safety Charles Godfrey
suffered a torn Achilles tendon and cornerback Josh Thomas suffered
a concussion last week, and he and three other cornerbacks missed
or were limited in practice this week. Last season Charles Johnson
had 12.5 sacks and middle linebacker Luke Kuechly was named the
AP Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott has yet to let former Giant
Chase Blackburn in the game for some defensive snaps. Three time
Pro Bowler, linebacker Jon Beason, is playing while trying to
recover from microfracture surgery on his right knee. Beason had
agreed to a pay cut this year, but can recoup some of it if he
is active for all 16 games. It would be great for the team if
he could return to form, but in the meantime it could hurt.
needs to turn things around after throwing seven interceptions
in the first two weeks. Some were 'desperation passes', but one
thing is for sure, Manning needs to throw less passes than he's
been asked to, or maybe feels he needs to. With an NFL low 73
rushing yards in two games, it's hard to do that. Last week the
offensive line run-blocking was so poor that on
eight carries, the Giants ran for zero or negative yardage. The
Giants need a running game to balance this offense.
It's going to be hard for Manning
to resist the temptation to throw the ball downfield as the Panthers
secondary has been decimated by injuries. This game might afford
them the right opportunity to take advantage of that and use it
to get the running game started. Rookie Justin Pugh has played
in only two NFL games and last week David Baas was playing in
his first game coming off a preseason MCL injury. It does take
time for an offensive line to gel and hopefully it will begin
to happen this week.
Last week Peyton Manning completed
69.7 percent of his passes to eight different receivers working
against a Giants defense that was back on it's heels. The Panthers
passing approach is far less encompassing, and if they want to
keep Cam Newton in the pocket, they'd better provide a better
version of it. Last Sunday Newton was sacked six times and had
numerous overthrows to receivers while dealing with the pressure
of a collapsing pocket.
The Giants are anxious to establish a good pass rush, but will
have to remember that Newton might start using his feet again
and that tight end Greg Olsen had 7 catches for 98 yards in last
years game against them. Run defense can't be an afterthought
as DeAngelo Williams is making the most out of his opportunities.
Cornerback Corey Webster is out for this game and Aaron Ross will
get the start.
The one thing that's interesting
is that former Giants Chase Blackburn and Domenik Hixon haven't
really been utilized by the Panthers at all except for special-teams
activity. Blackburn certainly would have seen action by now at
linebacker for the Giants and Hixon was brought to Carolina to
possibly fill the third receiver slot. Will they get a chance
to make an impact in this game against their former team? It will
be interesting to see how all this plays out.
The Giants are blessed that they are 0-2 and their competition
in the NFC East is no better than 1-1. By the end of this weekend,
there's a possibility they could be tied with a 1-2 record with
the others in the division. In any event, getting that first win
will take a bit of the pressure off as the Giants prepare to travel
to Kansas City. Andy Reid is waiting there with his new team and
has already beaten two NFC East teams. He, knows the Giants very
well, has new tools at his disposal, and has a few extra days
They Eagles (1-2) have already played
their game against Kansas City (3-0) on Thursday. Their old coach,
Andy Reid, was able to come out on top 26-16, and leave town with
the best record in football, since the other 2-0 teams have yet
to play three games.
The rest of the NFC East teams play their games at the same time
as the Giants, on Sunday at 1pm. The Cowboys (1-1) host the Rams
(1-1) and the Redskins (0-2) host the Lions (1-1). All of the
NFC East teams are favored to win their Sunday games.
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TeamGiants on Twitter.Notes.
Giants passing game leads the
NFL with 390.5 yards per game.
Giants running game is last in the
NFL with just 36 yards per game
Giants ran for only 23 yards on
19 carries last week, the franchise's lowest total in 24 years.
Giants opponents have scored 77 points
in two games.
Giants are 4-3 against Carolina in
Panthers under coach Rivera have
lost 10 games in which they've held a lead in the fourth quarter.
Panthers Domenik Hixon caught 39
passes for 567 yards and 2 touchdowns for the Giants last year.
Panthers Chase Blackburn and Domenik
Hixon were part of the Giants Super Bowl-winning teams in both
2007 and 2011.
Sept 22 - Giants at Panthers
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