Super Bowl 2012: Why Deon Grant, Antrel Rolle Are Key for Giants on Defense
The Giants have one mission on the defensive side of the ball.
Get pressure on Tom Brady.
If they can do that, the chances for a New York victory will greatly increase, since the Patriots do not have nearly the run game to shoulder the load if needed, and will become truly one-dimensional.
In their Week Nine matchup, Brady was sacked twice, picked off once, and harassed the entire day. The Giants will have a fully healthy defense this Sunday, but Bill Belichick will assuredly have some new jumbo and max protection sets waiting for the beastly NY defensive front.
The Giants' safeties, Deon Grant and Antrel Rolle, will be the X-factors in the pursuit of Brady, as well as playing important roles in player match-ups, along with other aspects of the game.
Here are a few reasons why.
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Brady is one of the smartest quarterbacks in the game.
Getting pressure on him will surely be much easier though if he can't figure out where the next rusher is going to come from.
And that is where Grant and Rolle will come in.
It was in the Week Nine matchup where we first saw the new defensive packages from the Giants. Grant would come into the box, and either rush the passer or drop back, while Rolle would stay back as the "last line of defense" and vice versa.
Brady seemed to struggle with figuring out the new scheme, getting picked off in the game and now we'll likely see New York use variations of the same idea this coming Sunday.
Stopping the Run
The ground game will be a crucial factor that the Giants will have to bottle up.
The backfield of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Stevan Ridley, and Danny Woodhead will need to run the ball effectively to take some of the heat off of Brady.
The Patriots have had trouble getting enough push on their run plays this season. They'll probably try to solve this by bringing in an extra lineman to put on the edge and help out, by going outside, rather than inside.
This is an important area for the Giants safeties to handle.
Grant and Rolle will be counted on to help contain any runs while they're in the box.
Both play with enough physicality to create turnovers, and on Sunday that is exactly what they will need to do.
Covering the Tight Ends and Receivers
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Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Wes Welker and even Deion Branch will all wreak havoc in the Giants defense if they aren't blanketed consistently.
The best scenario for the Giants is to be proactive.
Constant pressure on Brady will force the tight ends to stay in more to help protect the quarterback, and the defensive ends and linebackers will need to be aggressive and physical on the line of scrimmage en-route to getting to Brady.
Both tight ends though, will definitely get opportunities in the open field, and that leaves it up to the safeties.
Deon Grant did a good job when matched up against Gronkowski in man coverage during the regular season. With the size to tackle him, it's safe to say that Grant will again be one-on-one with Gronk in the Super Bowl.
Leaving Welker one on one with a corner won't work, so the safeties will also have to help with containing the "hot read" receiver.
Potential Game Changers?
Victor Cruz, an X-factor on offense
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What other players do you think are X-factors for their teams?
Will their performances be the difference between victory and defeat?
Who do you think will have the better game plan: the Giants' coaching staff or the Patriots'?
Post your thoughts in the comments below.