Giants' Playbook: Rushing on Both Sides of the Ball

John SuttonContributor IMay 15, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 07:  Brandon Jacobs #27 of the New York Giants runs against the Philadelphia Eagles during their game on December 7, 2008 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

The New York Giants will look different on both sides of the ball in the 2009 season. The offensive changes come on the field, but the defense will change on the sidelines. Each will greatly influence the play calling for the Giants in the upcoming season.

When the Giants offense takes the field this season it will be missing someone it has not been without for the past 13 seasons, wide receiver Amani Toomer. The veteran is still without a team, but most likely will not be back in New York.

Toomer is not the only receiver to leave the Giants.

Plaxico Burress went through a much publicized incident last November when he accidentally shot himself in the leg in a New York City night club. Burress was suspended by the Giants to end the 2008 season and released by the team during the off-season.

This leaves Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith as the primary targets for Giants quarterback Eli Manning to begin the season.

The Giants attempted to improve the wide receiver position in the draft with Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden from North Carolina and Cal Poly, respectively, but the passing game will remain a question mark heading into the season.

This uncertainty will add more emphasis to the rushing game which thrived last season for the Giants.

That means fifth-year running back Brandon Jacobs will see more carries, especially with the departure of Derrick Ward to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Ahmad Bradshaw will also see more time after a reduction in his playing time due to the success of the Jacobs-Ward combination last season.

The question marks at wide receiver along with the success of the running game last season will allow offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride to call Jacobs number more and more during the 2009 season.

The Giants have been known to pound the football in the rushing game in the past, and there should be more of the same this season.

The Giants lost the key architect of their vastly successful defense which led them to a victory in Super Bowl XLII.

Steve Spagnuolo, former defensive coordinator for the Giants,  moved onto greener pastures when he took the head coaching job with the St. Louis Rams.

Spagnuolo's departure left a vacancy in the Giants coaching staff, but general manager Jerry Reese decided hire in-house when he promoted Bill Sheridan from linebackers coach to defensive coordinator. The move might ensure much of the same regarding the Giants' prowess in the blitzing game.

Sheridan has big shoes to fill in Spagnuolo's absence, but after two seasons learning under Spagnuolo he is ready to take over the Giants defense.

New York added four key components to the pass rush that Sheridan will look to utilize just as Spagnuolo did with a heavy reliance on the blitz.

Osi Unemyiora will return from a season-ending injury to a defensive line that began the season strong, but declined late in the season.

Defensive tackles Rocky Bernard and Chris Canty were also brought in during the off season via free agency from the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys respectively to bolster Sheridan's pass rush.

Linebacker Michael Boley, formerly of the Atlanta Falcons, was also brought in during free agency to bolster the defense's ability to rush the passer.

These key additions will ensure that the Giants defense will look very much the same as it did under Spagnuolo, striking fear in the heart of every quarterback in the NFC East.

There is no sure thing when looking into a team's playbook nearly four months prior to opening day, but the Giants will certainly be doing a fair amount of rushing during the 2009 season.

Whether it is Jacobs running up the gut for extra yardage or Justin Tuck running down a quarterback around the edge of an offensive line, the Giants will be rushing in 2009.


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