In an attempt to get inside the heads of NFC East teams, we occasionally take a step back by looking at what each squad should be thinking at any given point. In light of Sunday's too-close-for-comfort victory against Tampa Bay, here's what should be going through the New York Giants' heads.
We have to start stronger
We realize that we've become famous for our fourth-quarter heroics, and we're proud of that. We are at our best when games are on the line and we have the most clutch quarterback in the NFL. But we realize that this isn't sustainable over the course of an entire season.
In the first halves of our first two games this year, we have just one touchdown and three field goals, and we've yet to find the end zone in the first quarter.
Against Dallas, we weren't able to find that fourth-quarter magic, and against Tampa we were. That's why we're 1-1. But the Buccaneers weren't supposed to be an especially stiff test. We didn't take full advantage of a vulnerable secondary until it was almost too late.
Based on last year's final regular-season standings, we have by far the most difficult schedule in the league this year. We simply can't afford to start slowly against teams like Philadelphia, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Green Bay, New Orleans, Atlanta and Baltimore.
Injuries can sometimes be blessings in disguise
Ahmad Bradshaw and David Diehl have both proven to be unreliable. Now both are injured. Bradshaw hurt his neck Sunday and Diehl suffered a knee injury. While injuries are never good, Diehl was doing more harm than good in the starting lineup, and Bradshaw's injury paved the way for Andre Brown to have a breakout performance.
Are the Giants better off with David Diehl out of the lineup?
We don't trust David Wilson to be the lead back right now, so the fact that Brown picked up 71 yards on only 13 carries against Tampa indicates that the 25-year-old former fourth-round pick could be an ideal temporary solution in the backfield.
At tackle, Sean Locklear has been better than anyone expected. If Diehl's out, the veteran gets to move back to his natural spot on the right while Will Beatty gets another crack at the starting left tackle spot. We're better off with Diehl healthy for depth purposes, but the guy has struggled far too much the last two years to be an everyday starter.
And who knows, maybe this will force the staff to finally see what it has in James Brewer.
The pass rush has to step it up
We know the depleted secondary is a problem, but that's nothing a lights-out pass rush can't compensate for. Problem is, Osi Umenyiora has been nowhere to be seen thus far and Justin Tuck has yet to register a sack. As a result, the only member of our big three with a sack is Jason Pierre-Paul.
After picking up 48 sacks one year ago, we're on pace to record only 32 this season. Life's been far too easy for Tony Romo and Josh Freeman, which, as a result, has meant bad things for our defensive backfield.
That has to change immediately, because if the pressure isn't there the next two weeks, Cam Newton and Michael Vick will destroy us.