On the Offense
While Manning the Younger is the big dog on this team and can be really good when he is on, even a Manning’s life is easier with a solid running game. Conjuring one of those of up, behind a rebuilding offensive line and using 6 different starting running backs through 12 games has been a problem this year. In a first for this weekly feature, meet the Giants primary Running Back, Andre Brown (#35), their Offensive Most Important Guy You Never Heard Of (MIGYNHO).
Why He Is Important
David Wilson (4), Da’Rel Scott (1), Michael Cox (1) are three of the six starters (and the number of games they have started) the Giants have used at running back this season. Things have been so desperate at times, that the Giants have dived into the league’s running back dumpster for Peyton Hillis and Brandon Jacobs for one start each. It was not supposed to be that way; going into training camp, Brown was tagged as The Man.
Given Brown’s injury history which included an Achilles rupture in 2009 (his rookie year), and a broken fibula in November 2012, this could not have been an option that allowed Kevin Gilbride peaceful sleep at night. Sure enough, Brown broke his leg again in the last pre-season game of 2013. The Giants placed him on the option to return IR list and then went through RB hell until after their bye week.
Brown returned in Week 10 and in a game that all true Bolts fans became Giants fans for that one Sunday, rushed for 115 yards and a TD in the Giants win over Oakland. In his four starts, Brown has rushed for 343 yards and 3 TD’s, with a 4.3 YPC average. Brown is a tough runner, weighing in at 224 pounds and is commonly spoken of as “rushing with anger”. He does not have “take it to the house from anywhere on the field” speed (his longest run this year is for 23 yards), but he is the most credible ball carrier on the New York roster. Look for Gilbride to see if Brown can have the same sort of success that the Bengals RB’s had last week, as part of the Giants game plan is to probably try and keep PR and the Bolts offense off the field.
Rueben Randle; WR (#82) – Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz have rings, as does Randle. But while those two receivers get most of the headlines, this year it has been Randle that has caught more TD passes than both of the two “starters” combined (6 to 4). Randle is the clear deep threat on the team, with a higher yard per reception average than his better known team mates. Look for Randle to try to burn the Bolts atrocious secondary for a quick strike or two on Sunday.
On the Defense
The Giants run a 4-3 and, as expected in that system, their biggest stars are the Defensive Ends. Linebackers are usually 2nd class citizens in a 4-3, with certain All-Pro exceptions, such as Patrick Willis and Luke Kuechly. Still, any defense needs run – stuffers, gap – fillers, and some all – around nasty thumpers that start plays standing up. It is even better when the guy that does the dirty work is smart enough to call defensive signals. All of those roles are filled for the Giants with a player that was another team’s roster at the start of the year; Jon Beason (#54), the Giants Mike LB and defensive MIGYNHO.
Why He Is Important
Beason was acquired from Carolina Panthers on October 4th for a 7th round pick. The fall from grace in Carolina for the former 1st round draft-pick (2007) and two-time Pro-Bowler is a peculiar story. Position changes, a $50 Million deal ($25 of it guaranteed), blowing out an Achilles 3 months after signing that contract, additional injuries (knee, shoulder) after the drafting of Luke Kuechly all contributed to Beason being offered up for a ham sandwich.
Since being acquired by the Giants, he has become the 3rd leading tackler on the team for the 2013 season, with 57 (41 solo). Very much a bit player in pass defense, with one pick and one pass defended in the last 6 games, his importance is not so much in the measurable, but in terms of credible veteran leadership. Giants’ observers derided the trade at first, suspecting that Beason was damaged goods and noting that he knew nothing about Perry Fewell’s system.
Within 2 weeks Beason was running the defense. The Giants have gone 5-2 since his first active roster appearance on October 10. The Giants game log shows that SOMETHING good happened to the defense on October 21st and the something is continuing. After allowing more than 30 points in 5 of the team’s first 6 games (and more than 20 in all of them), the Giants defense has allowed more than 20 points only once since then (the 24-21 loss to the Cowboys on the 24th). Those same observers give a lot of credit to Beason for the defensive improvement the Giants have enjoyed since mid-October.
Linval Joseph; DL(#97) - With one of the Giants biggest stars (Jason Pierre Paul) on the shelf for Sunday’s game, it will be up to Joseph to help supply some missing pass rush for the Giants. The teams 2010 2nd round pick out of East Carolina has spent most of his career at Left Defensive Tackle, but has played a lot of Left Defensive End this year, in an effort to keep Justin Tuck fresh. With JPP out, that leaves Tuck and an aging Mathias Kiwanuka as the ends, so look for Joseph to see an expanded role on the left side as part of a rotation.
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