But that doesn’t mean that the offense can take a back seat and simply rely on the defense to get stops. The defense has been great in the Giants’ three-game winning streak, but now it’s time for the offense to do its share.
Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride met the media on Thursday to discuss the state of his offense. Of course, he was very pleased with Andre Brown’s performance against the Raiders.
“He (Brown) wound up playing exceptionally well,” Gilbride said. “The way the game was going, we wound up running the ball more than maybe we had anticipated doing going into the game. Usually what happens, which you hope is an outgrowth of running the ball well, now people have to respond to your run game and out of respect for that, it should open up some play action opportunities. That’s what you’re hoping for. In a perfect, idealistic world, you hope that’s going to take place.”
The Giants have been desperately trying to get Hakeem Nicks on track all season. Gilbride said Nicks has been working like crazy to return to his true form and that the team needs Nicks to be a focal point of the offense if they plan on making a run.
In his career though, Nicks has had much success against the Packers.
“He’s (Nicks) had some good games because he’s a good player,” Gilbride said. “Certainly some of the schemes, they’ve given him some opportunities, they’ve given him some of those one-on-ones, but where he’s been especially devastating is he’s been able to run the ball after the catch and he’s made some monster plays for us in the past. You hope that some of those plays will unveil themselves come Sunday.”
In order to involve Nicks in the offense to his maximum potential, the Giants’ offense will need to take some more shots downfield. We’ve witnessed a rather conservative scheme the past few weeks, which may be related to Eli Manning’s struggles with turnovers. It could also be related to the offensive line not being able to give Manning enough time to throw deep.
“I play every game with the same thought: ‘Hey, we’re going to be aggressive, we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that, but as the game’s unfolding I will adapt or modify what I’m doing based upon how’s our defense doing? How are we doing? How are we protecting? Can we go back long enough to hold and throw the deep ball?’ I kind of play it by ear based upon how the game’s played out,” Gilbride said.
Clay Mathews returned to the field last week after dealing with an injured thumb. He wore a rather large brace on his hand and still will wear one this week, albeit smaller.
Gilbride said that even playing through injury, Mathews is relentless.
“As a football coach, I wish he (Mathews) was on our team, but I certainly appreciate it seeing it from him,” Gilbride said. “Because of that, even on plays away, you have to be aware. If you let up, he thinks he’s making a tackle.”
As for the rest of the Packers’ defense, Gilbride said Green Bay’s defensive coordinator Don Capers employs a sophisticated blitz package, which involves outside linebackers – like Mathews – acting like defensive ends.
“You have to be on top of your game,” Gilbride said. “You have to have a good plan offensively, how to protect your quarterback, but also because of the things they’re able to do, you have to be sharp and play well to have a chance to neutralize all of the pressures that they bring. They’re going to blitz about 50 percent of the time and you have to be able to handle it. You get opportunities because of it, but if you don’t protect it, you’re going to be struggling, it’s going to be a long day.”
Let’s hope the “long day” will be had by the Packers’ defense trying to stop the revamped Giants’ running game and the potential of Big Blue’s aerial attack.
Follow Jim Mancari on Twitter @JMMancari.