Over the bye week, the New York Giants will have plenty of time to mull over the ailments that have caused the team to drop its past two games. Neither side of the ball has played particularly well as of late. In fact, the Giants’ current scoring drought is their worst since Eli Manning’s rookie campaign in 2004, according to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News.
Given the way his squad has performed recently, head coach Tom Coughlin will probably have his eyes glued to game film in the coming days. In retrospect, Coughlin may start to second-guess a few of his starters. The two-time Super Bowl-winning coach will need to address those inefficiencies before his team takes on the Green Bay Packers in Week 12.
This article points out three personnel changes that Coughlin and the Giants must make if they plan on making another Super Bowl run in 2012.
This is a tough call for me to make—I’m usually a staunch defender of Ahmad Bradshaw. However, he hasn’t provided the spark in the running game that the Giants are so desperately in search of.
Over the last four games, Bradshaw has averaged 3.8 yards per carry. While that average is not terrible, it’s certainly subpar. Brown, on the other hand, has averaged 5.6 yards per carry. It’s pretty typical for the change-of-pace back to have more yards per carry than the starter; however, the Giants can afford to utilize Brown’s explosiveness a bit more.
Perhaps Bradshaw, who has not scored since the Redskins game, is frustrated by Brown’s touchdown-vulturing in recent weeks. As the team’s designated goal-line back, Brown has recorded a touchdown in each of the past four weeks.
Brown’s ball security should catch Coughlin’s attention. He only has 60 carries on the season, but the North Carolina State product has not fumbled a single time. After fumbling only once a season ago, Bradshaw has three fumbles in 2012 and two in the past three weeks.
Brown has also excelled in the passing game, proving his reliability as both a receiver and a protector. He deserves to have his role expanded even further.
Since David Diehl reclaimed his starting job two weeks ago, the Giants have gone winless. Overall this season, New York is 1-3 when Diehl starts and 5-1 when he does not. The veteran’s liabilities have officially outweighed the value of his versatility.
Diehl has been with the Giants for a decade now, so it made sense for the team to give the mainstay another shot at the starting job after spraining his MCL in Week 2. After all, offensive line coach Pat Flaherty claims, “You don’t really lose your job because of an injury” (via Jorge Castillo of the Newark Star-Ledger).
Sean Locklear was the only Giants tackle to have started in each of the team’s first eight games. From the time he shifted from left tackle to right tackle midway through Week 2, Locklear did not give up a single sack, according to Ed Valentine of Big Blue View, until he was pulled for Diehl two weeks ago. Since then, things have gone drastically downhill.
Against the Bengals last Sunday, Manning was sacked four times and hit eight more (both season-highs). While those statistics cannot be exclusively pinned on Diehl, they are representative of the offensive line’s performance as a whole.
The O-line had chemistry with Locklear in the lineup. Coughlin should consider going back to what was working in the past.
Stevie Brown has been the man of the month in the Giants’ defensive backfield since Kenny Phillips went down with a knee injury. In the past six games, Brown has helped the Giants dominate the turnover margin, but against the Cincinnati Bengals, we saw how ugly it can get when the takeaways run dry.
Last week, Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green talked about exploiting some holes that he saw in New York’s secondary. On his team’s first drive of the game, Green caught a 56-yard bomb from quarterback Andy Dalton. The second-year receiver was so wide open that he was able to jog into the end zone untouched.
Many fans want to see Brown retain his starting job when Phillips is fully healthy due to his nose for the ball, but huge miscommunications like that can prove to be fatal down the stretch. Sure, Phillips doesn’t make as many plays on the ball as Brown, but that’s because opposing quarterbacks know not to test his ability.
Phillips is an established safety in the league, and his knowledge and understanding of the Giants' defensive scheme is right up there with a player like linebacker Chase Blackburn, whom the coaching staff consider the most knowledgeable player on the defensive side of the ball. He is more athletic than Brown, making him a better option for covering tight ends.
While no tight end has been able to replicate Jason Witten’s 18-catch performance during Phillips' absence, several other tight ends have had successful moments against New York’s secondary. For example, Washington’s Logan Paulsen led the Redskins receivers with four catches for 78 yards in Week 7, and Cincinnati’s Jermaine Gresham had a big touchdown grab in the Bengals’ victory last Sunday.
The Giants have given up an absurd 39 catches of 20 yards or more this season. They need their center fielder back to shut down some of those big plays.