1. Rush The Quarterback
It may sound like a broken record, but the No. 1 priority every week is rushing the QB.
Kurt Warner might not be what he once was, but he’s still as accurate as anyone, and is talented enough to pick any team apart if given the time.
The Giants defense should be mad, and I don’t expect another repeat of last week’s performance. But if they can’t generate a pass rush again, it’ll be another long game for the defense.
2. Step Up In Secondary
While covering the Saints’ receivers was challenging, covering the Cardinals’ receivers is a whole different ball game. The Cardinals receiving corps is arguably the best in the game, boasting two of the league's top receivers.
Larry Fitzgerald is maybe the best in the league, and Anquan Boldin is one of the toughest players in the game. Throw in Steve Breaston, who would be a starter on most teams, and you have a dynamic trio, all of whom recorded 1,000 receiving yards last season.
The Giants are going to need to fix whatever problems they had in the secondary, because the Cardinals’ offense runs through their passing game.
Their 280 passing yards per game is sixth in the NFL, while their 57.6 rushing yards per game is league-worst.
The Giants will also have to deal with running back Tim Hightower as a receiver. Through five games, he already has 29 receptions for 228 yards.
3. Play Disciplined
Last week, the Giants’ sloppy play victimized them to the tune of nine penalties for 110 yards, including two personal fouls on kick returns.
This is not characteristic of a Tom Coughlin-coached team, and I’m sure he has dealt with the embarrassment in practice this week.
Needless to say, the Giants cannot win games if they rack up 110 penalty yards each week.
4. Keep Pounding The Ball
Last week, the Giants were forced to get away from the run because they were down by so much. But the few times they did run the ball, they actually looked pretty good.
Ahmad Bradshaw had a nifty 10-yard touchdown run, and ended up gaining 48 yards on ten carries.
Brandon Jacobs, who has been maligned by the media and fans alike this season, had 33 yards on seven carries; good for a healthy 4.7 yards per carry. It may not look like much, but it’s a step in the right direction for Jacobs.
The only problem is that they are facing a Cardinals team that is No. 1 in the NFL against the run, allowing under 60 yards per game (and a ridiculous 2.8 yards per carry).
Still, the Giants shouldn’t let the opponent’s gaudy defensive stats scare them away from their game plan.
If the Giants do not fall behind early again, they will need to keep running the ball so they can establish their offense and eat away at the clock like they did so well last season.
5. Get Eli’s Mojo Going
Eli Manning had easily his worst game of the season, completing only 14 of his 31 passes for 178 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The interception was not all his fault, as Ahmad Bradshaw missed a blitz pickup.
But by the same token, Eli cannot be given all of the praise for his touchdown pass, which was thrown behind Mario Manningham and was almost intercepted by Darren Sharper. Eli also lost one fumble.
All day, something was just off about Manning’s performance. Perhaps the play most indicative of this was when he missed a wide open Steve Smith by about one inch on what would have been a long touchdown pass.
This week, Eli will face the second worst pass defense in the NFL, so the goings shouldn’t be quite so tough.
Arizona is allowing 265 yards per game through the air, which is only better than the Titans’ whopping 311 per game. Against a suspect pass defense, Eli will have every opportunity to get his groove back.