Michael Strahan says he’s playing and the New York Giants moved him to the 53-man roster, so he’s playing.
The New York Giants on Saturday afternoon activated defensive end Michael Strahan to the 53-player roster, all but assuring that the 14-year veteran will play in Sunday night's season-opener against the Dallas Cowboys.
Giants officials stopped short of acknowledging that Strahan will play Sunday, but there would have been no reason to remove him from the NFL's exempt list if he was not ready to participate. New York had received a two-week exemption for Strahan when he reported on Monday, so that he would not immediately (sic) count against the team's roster.
I hate it when I have to take the unpopular view, but this week I do. I’ve said it a couple of times this week in other venues and have been universally renounced for my heresy, but I’m sticking to my guns. What is this controversial view? The Cowboys should run the ball Sunday night, even though the Giants secondary is a tempting target. At least Dallas should establish the run before they get to wild with slinging it around the field.
The Giants know their secondary is a weakness, even if they don’t admit it. But they can rush the passer, and haven’t we said all summer that the best help for your cornerbacks is getting pressure on the ball? We’ve said it about the Phillips 34, so I’ll say it about the Giants. And for an offense, one of the best ways to slow down a pass rush is to run effectively against it. Guys won’t be so quick to get upfield if you’re gashing them for five yards a pop. Draws and screens are also effective.
Plus, you know they want to keep their safeties back to help in coverage, which should leave seven in the box. You must run against seven in the box. Now, if they come out and throw the safety up towards the line for eight in the box, then by all means throw on them. But if they’re trying to protect their corners and they want to get their defensive line in our backfield on every play - run on them. Force them to commit a safety and force their line to slow down just a bit to protect the run.
For my final reason, if Terence Newman isn’t playing and with Greg Ellis out and Kevin Burnett gimpy, the more we control the clock the better I feel. Eat that clock by grinding it out on the ground. Limit the possibilities of putting the defense in bad positions, especially if Newman doesn’t play.
Given all that, once you’ve established the run, by all means crush them with T.O. and Co.
Unfortunately, Tim Cowlishaw agrees, leaving me somewhat unsure about my own strategy!
Forget, at least for a night, the notion of how much this aggressive defensive approach is going to upgrade the team. Go conservative and, for the defense's sake, run the ball all night.
There are reasons to think Julius Jones and Marion Barber can have a field day (or night) against the Giants defense.
One is that Jones and Barber, running behind what we think is a solid though not truly special line, and offset by some real passing weapons, should have big seasons. Both of them.
The other is that the Giants are not exactly great at the corners and will most probably need to keep their safeties involved in coverage. If the Cowboys can run against the front seven, they should be able to wear that out.
You can now commence bashing this strategy as others have this week. I’ve been accused of wanting to take us back to the Parcells Era. The horror! No, I assure you that is not the case. I just think it might be the wisest course of action for this week, until we get Anthony Spencer, Jacques Reeves, Nate Jones (if he has to play) acclimated and get Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd use to their new responsibilities. Punish the Giants on the ground, use the air for the big strikes, and end the game sitting on a big, fat lead.
But you know what? If the Cowboys come out and turn Tony Romo into a human rocket-launcher, I won’t complain as long as they win. I don’t care about being wrong; I care about going 1-0 and beating an NFC East rival.