For this week’s edition of our New York Jets match-up breakdown, we spoke with Art Stapleton who is the New York Giants beat writer and a NFL columnist for The Record. Make sure to give Art a follow! On to the breakdown…
JC: Do you feel the Giants 5-6 record is indicative of their talent level? Beyond that, what is the biggest strength and weakness for the 2015 team?
AS: As far as talent goes, that’s always a difficult read for me. The foundation of the roster has had to be rebuilt because of drafting issues in 2012 and 2013, so that process is ongoing. That’s where the talent deficiencies lie. All I know is that the Giants have held the lead with two minutes to go in four of their six losses. Their undoubted strength is Odell Beckham Jr. ‘s ability to make plays even when he is the focal point of the defense. The durability of Eli Manning is also something that can’t be overlooked. The cornerback tandem of Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has the capability of being one of the league’s best when healthy. I truly believe that. The weakness is the lack of consistency on the ground. In this case, with four running backs in a committee, the Giants still haven’t developed a sense of strength there. Defensively, Landon Collins’ growing pains have been magnified because of whom he is playing with in tandem at safety. Brandon Meriweather has struggled and Craig Dahl is a veteran journeyman.
My question for you would be whether you think the Jets have enough on the edge defensively to challenge the Giants’ tackles, Ereck Flowers and Marshall Newhouse? Would seem to me that’s their best way to get Manning out of rhythm.
JC: The Jets are built more to generate interior pressure led by Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson, however they have recently made a few strides with their edge rush. Third round pick Lorenzo Mauldin has been coming on strong and recently promoted practice squader Mike Catapano has also been given pass rush opportunities on third down. The Jets will also rush Richardson from the outside linebacker position at times (yes really) or bump Wilkerson out to end. I think one of the Jets biggest potential advantages in this game is their defensive line against the Giants offensive line. On the flip side, what would you say is the Giants biggest match-up advantage?
AS: I’m not sure the Giants have one, although they’ll lean plenty on Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. to cure whatever ills their offense might have up front against the Jets. Beckham has proven he can win any one on one battle in the league so far, which is why I wouldn’t expect the Jets to single him up. An interesting matchup for the Giants, in my opinion, will be their willingness to match up Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara up against Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. I would be comfortable in that if I were the Giants and do my best to force Ryan Fitzpatrick to beat my pass defense by using other weapons. Question I would have then: can the Jets resist the temptation to throw the ball against a Giants secondary that has given up plays in other spots by sticking with Chris Ivory on the ground. If I’m the Giants, that’s my greatest concern.
JC: Chris Ivory started off the season on a tear but slowed down a bit in the season’s second quarter. Fortunately for the Jets, he’s been over 85 yards in 2 of this last 3 games. I don’t think the Jets are going to be shy about attacking with the passing game if Marshall and particularly Decker is singled up in the slot but Ivory should be good for at least 16-18 touches, if not a bit more. On the other end, if the Jets double up Odell Beckham Jr like they should, who is the secondary target who can hurt them the most? I’m working under the assumption that the Giants won’t be doing much running of the football
AS: The Giants haven’t been consistent enough to think they can get anything done on the ground. I’m not sure they’ll completely abandon the threat of it, but whether they can muster enough to even threaten is another story. They rushed for 33 yards against a bad rush defense in Washington, just one yard in comeback mode. The Giants, when going well and not turning the ball over, usually spread it out. Rueben Randle will continue to get chances. Dwayne Harris has made plays. But if I’m the Jets, I’m concerned about Shane Vereen having an impact in the passing game, exploiting the Jets’ lack of speed at LB. Also, I think Hakeem Nicks will get more targets than the two he received in his debut. With the Jets so thin in secondary, if Revis and Marcus Williams don’t play, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see Giants go 3 and 4 wide, use the quick passing schemes they did against Buffalo earlier this season and try to protect Manning and the offensive line.
JC: I could definitely see that approach and Vereen could be a big problem for the Jets linebackers. Hopefully the Jets show more looks that flood the field with defensive backs and don’t allow the Giants to exploit their lack of speed there. Prediction time…what’s the score and who do you think has a big game on each side of the ball for the Giants?
AS: I was really surprised that the Giants laid an egg in Washington, considering what was at stake. But I do expect a big performance from them this weekend. DRC has had a Pro Bowl-caliber year, and I think this will be his opportunity against Marshall to show he deserved the big contract from the Giants when they signed him out from under the Idzik administration. Offensively, it’s hard to go against Beckham having another productive outing. He’s going to get the targets Revis or no Revis. I’ll also take a chance on saying Hakeem Nicks gets in the end zone this weekend matched up against the depth of the Jets secondary. 27-21 Giants.
JC: This feels like a high scoring game that is going to come down to whatever quarterback avoids a killer second half turnover. I’m going to say the Jets win it with a late Eric Decker touchdown, as he will pace the team with a big day from the slot: 30-28.
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