NFL Football: 5 Things the Giants Must Do to Beat the Saints
The Giants need a win against New Orleans to keep the race for the NFC East close, and although it is a tough matchup, there are several things the Giants can do that will help them conquer the powerhouse Saints.
This slideshow presents five things the Giants must do to beat the Saints.
Put Pressure on Drew Brees
The Giants' front four on defense have always been their key to defensive dominance. This week, players like Jason Pierre-Paul, Chris Canty and Osi Umenyiora will be the most important players on the field.
The Saints are led by their offense, namely Drew Brees, one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Brees has thrown for 3,326 yards and 23 touchdowns already this season. However, he is also 6'0 and 209 pounds.
I am not saying the Giants should play dirty and try to injure Drew Brees. What I am saying, however, is that he is tough but there are only so many hits he can take without it affecting his play. If the Giants can keep constant pressure on Brees, the Saints will have a hard time getting things going on offense seeing as their rushing attack is mediocre at best.
The Saints are first in the league in total yardage and passing yardage per game, and second in points averaged a game. However, if Jason Pierre-Paul, who is ranked third in the league in sacks, plays anything like he has been all year and gets help from the rest of the defensive line, it could be a long day for Brees.
Run Nickel and Dime Packages
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For those of you who don't know, nickel and dime packages are defenses that use five and six defensive backs respectively at the expense of linebackers. The Giants have run these formations frequently in the past, and they may be a big help in defeating the Saints on Monday night.
The Saints are a team that lives by the pass, which means the Giants will have to be ready. Luckily, they have a good amount of depth at defensive back even with Bruce Johnson and Terrell Thomas out for the season. Corey Webster, Deon Grant, Aaron Ross, Kenny Phillips and Antrel Rolle have all proven to be solid coverage backs in the past, and Prince Amukamara will have the opportunity to show his worth against New Orleans.
With players like Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston and Darren Sproles taking the field, the Giants will need to be ready. They are comfortable with nickel and dime packages, which are more effective against the pass than a normal 4-3 and will prove to be quite formidable against Drew Brees and the Saints.
If the Giants want to field a defense capable of stopping the NFL's best passing attack, they will need five to six defensive backs on the field for a lot of the game. Luckily, they have the depth to do so.
Defend the Checkdown Pass
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Drew Brees's nickname should be Captain Checkdown. The Saints have been thriving off of short passes to tight end Jimmy Graham and running back Darren Sproles, who are the team's leaders in receptions with 62 and 60 catches respectively.
Graham is a huge mismatch for defensive backs because of his 6'6", 260-pound frame, but he is also nearly undefendable by linebackers because of his 4.56 speed. The Giants will have to stop him somehow, and linebacker Jacquian Williams may be their best bet. He is decent in pass coverage, is 6'2" and runs a 4.6 40 yard dash. He will have to be a pretty big factor in this game for the Giants.
Sproles is quick, elusive and hard to keep track of, which means New York's defense will have to be on its toes to stop him. If they run nickel and dime packages, they would be able to keep a defensive back on him in most cases, which would be a much more favorable option than having a linebacker try and keep up with him. Someone like Prince Amukamara would have a lot easier time with Sproles than Michael Boley.
Both the scenarios above are for man coverage of Graham and Sproles, but the Giants could still run zone coverage. Either way, they will need to pay special attention to the checkdown pass, because it seems to be the staple of the New Orleans offense.
Get at Least 300 Yards Through the Air
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In years past, the Saints have had a dominant defense, but this year they leave a lot to be desired. They are ranked 20th in yards allowed per game against the pass and 19th in yards allowed per game against the run. If they want to win, the Giants will have to exploit that mediocre pass defense.
Drew Brees is sure to rack up several hundred passing yards on offense, and the Saints are averaging over 30 points a game. To keep up with them, the Giants will have to pass the ball. Of course, the current state of the running game means the Giants should be passing anyway, but against New Orleans it is vital that the Giants have a strong passing attack.
The Giants have an excellent young receiving core featuring the likes of Jake Ballard, Mario Manningham, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. The more the ball gets to these players, the more the Giants will be able to move the chains and stay on pace with Brees' high-flying Saints offense.
As a Giants fan, it is hard to not quietly groan every time the ball is handed off to a player like Brandon Jacobs when it could be thrown to someone like Victor Cruz, and if the Giants expect to go anywhere on offense and keep the score close, Eli Manning and the Giant receivers will have to have big games.
Convert on Third Down
The Giants are one of the worst teams in the league at converting on third down. They have converted 47 times on 131 attempts for a miserable completion percentage of 36 percent. They are currently ranked 20th in the NFL for completion percentage, while the New Orleans Saints are ranked first.
The Giants will have to step up their play on third down against the Saints, because if they can't convert on third down consistently then they won't be able to keep on pace with New Orleans' offense.
The Giants were destroyed last week by Philadelphia's game-winning, 18-play drive during which they converted on six third downs, something which the Giants struggle to do in a whole game. Statistics show that teams that can't convert on third down almost never end up having much success in the postseason, and it is something the Giants absolutely need to work on in order to prove that they are one of the NFL's better teams and help them beat the Saints.
New Orleans can convert on third down with ease, converting on 53 percent. The Giants, however, will have to convert on more than 36 percent in order to keep drives alive on offense and keep the score tight against the Saints.