There is no way to sugarcoat how the New York Giants looked Monday night against the Detroit Lions. It was a putrid and discouraging performance to say the least and it left fans with more questions than answers.
However, the game has to be put in the rear-view mirror, as the Giants have a key game this week, as they come back to New York for their home opener against the Arizona Cardinals. While the Giants lost to the Lions 35-14 Monday night, the Cardinals just squeaked by the San Diego Chargers 18-17.
The Cardinals have some dangerous weapons and an under appreciated defense, and they will by no means be a pushover. Here then are four things to watch for on Sunday.
Will the offense look any better?
Well, it can’t get any worse. Can it?
Whether you like it or not, the Giants offense is a work in progress and the struggles seem like it could be a year-long process. Eli Manning is just not grasping Ben McAdoo’s version of the west coast offense, and with the offensive line in bad shape, this has disaster written all over it.
While the the Cardinals have stout front, the Giants would still be best served in trying to establish a well-rounded running game first and foremost.
Rashad Jennings was at least a semi-decent bright spot on Monday, rushing for 46 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Hopefully he and Andre Williams (if he is used more) can get the offense going, because the passing game looks like it’s broken at the moment.
Can Giants get Victor Cruz the ball, as he so desires?
Although you would prefer if Cruz kept his opinions to himself, he does have a point.
The Giants have decent receivers, but no real difference makers outside of Cruz. The thing is, with him being the best playmaker, teams will game plan to shut down Cruz and dare Manning to connect with other weapons like Rueben Randle, Jerrel Jernigan and emerging tight end Larry Donnell.
With the defense (and perhaps stud cornerback Patrick Peterson) paying special attention to Cruz, Manning would really have to force the issue to connect with Cruz, as if he’s not already. Until Manning can get into a groove in this offense and connect with his other receivers, Cruz may unfortunately continue to struggle.
Can the Giants defense keep them in the game?
Well, the health of several players (namely Jason Pierre-Paul and Jon Beason) is the first order of business. Given they’re healthy, the Giants could conceivably cause some havoc, considering the erratic play of the Cardinals’ so-so offensive line.
The Cardinals O-line allowed Carson Palmer to get sacked twice Monday and if the Pierre-Paul and the Giants can get some timely pressure, it could cause Palmer to panic. Given that the Cardinals have to travel halfway across the country for a 1 PM start, the Giants could catch Arizona napping.
Suffice to day, the play of the defense is critical to any success the Giants have in winning the game Sunday.
How do Giants cover Larry Fitzgerald?
Considering how Calvin Johnson tore apart the Giants secondary to the tune of 164 receiving yards and two touchdowns, the Giants have to make a concentrated effort to lock down the Cardinals perennial Pro Bowl receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
Although he only had one catch for 22 yards in last week’s game against the Chargers, Fitzgerald can go off at a moment’s notice; just like Johnson did last week. Expect the Cardinals to get him more involved this week.
The Giants are going to have to be ready to limit Fitzgerald, but it’s not just Fitzgerald the Giants have to worry about, as the Cardinals have emerging weapons in Michael Floyd, John Brown and running back Andre Ellington. Again, pass rush is vital in this contest, as it will effect Palmer’s timing and rhythm all day.
Follow me on Twitter @Stacdemon