I reviewed the Giants/Titans game to get an idea what the Giants look like with all the injuries and the poor play lately. Below is a brief scouting report.
Last time we played the Giants, they were running on the left side of their line behind Luke Pettigout. That was working for them earlier this season, but Pettigout is out and Bob Whitfield is his replacement. Whitfield fails to provide the explosive run blocking that Pettigout did and he's not as quick getting out on the stretch plays. The Giants found more success when they ran to their right and up the middle in the Titans game. Marcus Spears and Al Singleton/Bobby Carpenter are going to have to hold the line on Tiki Barber's runs and Bradie James/ Akin Ayodele will have to fill the holes. Tiki is a very crafty cut-back runner so Chris Canty and Jason Ferguson need to be aware of over-pursuing.
The Giants were very successful in the first three quarters of the game using a short passing game over the middle of the field and by using screens. They didn't challenge the Titans deep. Jeremy Shockey was effective over the middle in the intermediate game and Plaxico Burress also worked the underneath on slants. There was a revealing moment in the game in light of Burress' statements about Terrell Owens slipping to the turf instead of taking a hit in the first game, and calling him a coward. On a 3rd and 2 at the end of the 1st quarter, Eli Manning hit Burress on a quick slant for the first down. Burress caught the ball, turned his head upfield and saw a Titans' defensive back heading straight for him... and he slipped down to the turf without taking the hit. The guy's a punk. I hope Roy does knock his block off.
The Titans also handed the Giants a couple of gifts by fumbling the ball twice and creating a short field for the Giants which they turned into 14 points in the first half. The Giants offense was efficient in the first three quarters, but they weren't overpowering. They ran the ball pretty well, they relied on short passes and they screened a lot. But when I look at their offense they are missing Amani Toomer more than anybody is talking about. When Toomer was in the offense, the defense had to respect him along with Burress, so creeping a safety up to the line was dangerous proposition. Without him, Tim Carter and Daivd Tyree are not putting pressure on the secondary. Teams are paying more attention to Burress and they are using the absence of a true #2 WR to be more vigilant against the run. Shockey does his part, but he is most dangerous on the intermediate patterns and doesn't stretch the defense.
On defense, one guy who stood out in terms of disrupting the backfield was DT Barry Cofield. The Titans eventually had to double-team him fairly regularly because he was blowing up their runs. The Cowboys need to get him blocked. The Giants defensive line was pretty impressive without Umenyiora or Strahan for most of the game, but the lack of depth due to injuries caught up with them. By the fourth quarter, they were getting tired, and the pressure lessened on Young so he could complete passes plus they couldn't catch Young and he ran all over them in the 4th. If Umenyiora plays that should help them with their depth, but keep an eye out for them wearing down later in the game. Their defense was also guilty of some very shabby tackling in the second half.
As for Eli Manning, he looked good in the first part of the game, but they were not throwing deep. The one time they did, which made no sense at the time because they were leading 21-0 and they had just picked up 6 yards by running the ball on first down, Manning overthrew Burress and Burress quit on the play. Pac Man Jones picked it off and the Giants fell apart after that. But up until that point he was doing OK hitting the short passes and he was setting up the screens well. The Giants looked like they were moving him around a little more than usual on roll-outs and play-action fakes that moved the pocket to one side of the field.
Some thoughts on the upcoming game:
The Cowboys should use DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher to exploit LT Bob Whitfield. I don't think he can handle them without help, which could help to limit Shockey or Barber getting out in the pattern. They may want work that side on the limited occasions they actually blitz to get a pass rush.
The Giants don't have a second WR that scares you, so roll the safety over to Burress' side and walk the other safety up closer to the line. This will help in run support and gets you closer to Shockey coming off the line. Anytime the Cowboys can, they need to bump Shockey at the line of scrimmage.
On defense, the Giant's secondary is vulnerable. The Cowboys should come out passing because they don't have the manpower to handle all our receivers, especially if Sam Madison is limited or doesn't play. Last time, Bledsoe wasn't able to get out of the way of their rush and Romo was careless with the football. This time, the line is playing better and so is Romo. Umenyiora may play, but he will be getting into game-shape and we won't have Strahan to worry about this time. I think the Dallas passing game can beat the Giants pass defense.
If we can get a lead, we should be able to run on a tired Giants defense. The players they are getting back will help, but they won't be 100%. The Giants fell into some poor-tackling habits in the second half last week and the Cowboys like to pass first, and then run later in the game to grind down the clock.
Ware and Singleton/Carpenter have to keep outside contain against the run. Whenever Tiki can get the corner on their wide runs he is very dangerous. Anthony Henry and Terence Newman need to be ready to support the run.