New York vs. Green Bay: 5 Halftime Adjustments the Giants Must Make
In the 2007 NFC Championship game, Manning threw for 254 yards and outplayed Brett Favre to send the Giants to the Super Bowl. So far today, Manning has 228 yards, and he has another half to prove the Giants still have some magic left in their year.
The Giants are up 20-10. Here are five adjustments Tom Coughlin and Co. need to make to win this game and punch a ticket to San Francisco for the Championship game.
1. Stick with Jacobs and Bradshaw
New York probably can't win this game sharing the clock with the Packers, and it's been obvious from the very first drive that clock control is part of the game plan.
So the Giants simply have to get Jacobs and Bradshaw into the game. Straight running plays haven't been very effective so far.
One thing New York hasn't tried enough: throw the ball to the backs. Maybe on screens, shovels or short routes out of the backfield, the Giants can get the ball to their backs in the middle of the field in space and let them go to work.
2. Slow the Packers' Tempo
On their first drive, Green Bay killed New York with a fast tempo that didn't allow the Giants to get the defensive personnel they wanted on the field.
The best way New York can slow that tempo going forward is to bust up Green Bay's down-and-distance plan. If New York can make crucial stops on first and second down, they'll force Green Bay to huddle on third.
Perry Fewell will have to gamble early on in drives, guessing along with Rodgers. If he guesses right, he can get the Giants off the field; if not, you have to believe the Giants can live with giving up a few big plays to the best offense in the league.
3. Find the Guy the Packers Have Paid Off, and Offer Him More
Greg Jennings fumbled the ball at the end of the first quarter. It should have been Giants ball in Packers territory with a chance to go up 17-3. Instead, the officials screwed the pooch and ruled Jennings down. Even the normally diplomatic Joe Buck and Tory Aikman called the officials out.
Can John Mara find whatever league official the Packers have paid off and show him what New York money can do?
(I don't actually think the Packers are cheating, but the Giants do need to catch some breaks. A Hail Mary to end the half is a good start. Holy cow.)
4. Get Pressure on Rodgers
It's not going to be easy. Rodgers has been masterful so far slipping out of the pocket to get away from rushers, and his release is so quick they haven't really bothered him.
The first thing Perry Fewell should try is mixing his line up more. Confuse the Packers by lining up JPP, Osi and Justin Tuck in unfamiliar places. Second, dial up some blitzes from the secondary. Sure it's a gamble, but it only needs to work once to seriously rattle Rodgers.
The Giants will also have to alter their pursuit path, keeping the Packers QB within the tackles as often as possible. At this point, sacks are less of a priority than simply bothering Rodgers in the pocket and laying hands on him when they can.
5. Keep Targeting Cruz and Nicks
The Packers secondary is questionable when they actually have to cover WRs in space. Nicks' two long TD receptions are case-in-point. New York should keep feeding their most explosive receivers. This isn't the time to get too cute with Beckum or Ballard.
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