Game Preview: Giants (0-3) at Chiefs (3-0)

“Just give me a reason,
Just a little bit’s enough
Just a second we’re not broken
Just bent…”

–Pink, “Learn to Love Again”

The Giants have done their best to give the public plenty of reasons to believe that this team is merely bent and not broken, They are hoping that the scores of fans who are clearly (and rightfully) disgusted with how the season has unfolded thus far, will learn to love them again.

The problem, though, is if you want someone to learn to love you again, you have to make amends and take a long, hard look in the mirror at what you’re doing wrong to create the strife that created the direction tin the first place.

While some of the Giants players were off earlier this week huffing and puffing about how they were not going to allow a repeat of what happened in Carolina to occur again, I think they were overlooking a key intangible that, thankfully, head coach Tom Coughlin reminded them of this week.

They need to work as one, not as 11 people. The need to stick together, on the field and in the locker room.

Can you imagine, for a moment, how it might look if say the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes were in a high-kick line and one or two of the dancers’ legs didn’t reach the height of the others, or if a dancer went to kick with her right leg when the choreography called for the left leg?

Yikes!

However, it extends beyond the performers being united. One has to give them material that they can execute that plays into their strengths, which is something that you can probably argue that the Giants assistant coaches haven’t really done well so far.

Will that change this week? The Giants like to remind everyone that the season is a marathon, not a sprint, but they also have to understand that every loss they put again their record puts them into a deeper hole that ultimately is going to be their grave.

So let’s look at whether the Giants are indeed offering us a reason (or two) to believe that they can fix this mess they have created.

GIANTS ON OFFENSE
How much worse can the Giants’ offensive line be from last week? Believe it or not, the injuries to Chris Snee (hip) and David Baas (neck) have made things even more precarious this week as the Giants must now turn to the bench and a) hope the talent is hungry enough to seize the moment and b) get through the game against a very physical Chiefs defensive front unscathed.

It sounds like David Diehl, who according to report on WFAN was to undergo tests to measure the strength of his surgically repaired right thumb sometime today or tomorrow morning, probably won’t be ready to go this week. However, it would not surprise me if Diehl makes the trip to Kansas City and dresses if things turn sour for the Giants offensive line.

It’s been difficult to get a read on how the interior of the offensive line is going to look, but if I had to take a guess, I would say the Giants make as few moves as possible to this line. That would mean Kevin Boothe stays at left guard, Jim Cordle moves in at center, and James Brewer plays right guard.

With that all said, here’s the key for the Giants offense: Given the youth on this line, the coaches MUST, repeat MUST devise a game plan that builds this unit’s confidence.

The best way to do that is to get them into a rhythm early with short and quick stuff that don’t require them to hold their blocks for more than three seconds. Let this unit realize that it can block the Chiefs’ defensive front, which is no easy task considering they show many looks and disguise what they’re doing very well.

I’d also make sure that I use a bit of max protection this week on those deeper passes. I think the Giants are going to need to make sure that whichever tackle Chiefs OLB Justin Houston lines up across from there are two blockers there to greet him on every passing play.

In the running game, the Giants no doubt are aware that the Chiefs’ linebackers play a disciplined game to where they’re not over committing and taking themselves out of many plays. It’s not yet known how much of an impact new fullback John Conner, signed this week, is going to have in the running game plan.

I think we could see a number of off-tackle runs by Wilson to where he doesn’t necessarily need a lead blocker all that much; this should allow the Giants to stay in their 12 personnel base which gives them maximum flexibility to adjust to the looks being shown by the defense.

GIANTS ON DEFENSE
In the past, Andy Reid, as head coach of the Eagles, was known for giving up on the run to pass the ball more.

Now, however, he has Jamaal Charles, through whom the Chiefs’ offense seems to begin and end.

Charles, the Chiefs’ leading rusher and receiver, is the type of player against whom a defensive player needs to be disciplined. Defenders cannot over commit against him in the running game as he’s shifty enough to exploit a hole that results from an overzealous defender vacating his area.

The other thing the Giants need to do is make sure their tackling is crisp. It might sound obvious, but according to ProFootballFocus.com, Charles is averaging 7.1 yards after the catch.

Charles is powerful enough to break tackles, and if the Giants don’t wrap him up, he will drag them along for the ride.

In the passing game, if the Giants can rattle quarterback Alex Smith, as they did the last time they faced him (when he was with the 49ers), Smith, who thus far has been error free, will make mistakes.

If the Giants coaches are intent on changing things up because what they were doing wasn’t working the first three weeks, one place that defensive coordinator Perry Fewell might want to start is by sending a few more blitzes than he has the last three weeks.

The Giants’ defensive tackles have done a good job of collapsing the pocket in front of them, but no one has come forward to finish the job. A few blitzes against a banged up Chiefs offensive line that will probably be missing starting left guard Jeff Allen, who is nursing a groin might be just what the doctor ordered to jump-start this sagging area.

INJURY REPORT

New York Giants
Out:  TE Adrien Robinson (foot), C David Baas (neck), RG Chris Snee (hip), and CB Corey Webster (hip)
Doubtful:  OL David Diehl (thumb)
Questionable: LB Jacquian Williams (knee) and S Cooper Taylor (shoulder)
Probable:  CB Terrell Thomas (knee), DE Justin Trattou (ankle), and LB Spencer Paysinger (hip)

Of the injured, Diehl could be key. If he is able to pass the strength tests for his hand that he’s reportedly to have before the team leaves for Kansas City, he’ll make the trip and will probably dress for the game as an emergency backup. If he can’t make it, then the Giants might very well be forced to bring up either Eric Herman from the practice squad, a move that could mean tight end Adrien Robinson, who has dealt with a foot injury, goes to injured reserve.

Kansas City Chiefs
Out: TE Travis Kelce (knee)
Questionable: G Jeff Allen (groin); TE Anthony Fasano (ankle/knee); CB Brandon Flowers (knee); S Kendrick Lewis (ankle)
Probable: DL Mike DeVito (neck); T Branden Albert (shoulder); FB Anthony Sherman (knee); LB Frank Zombo (elbow)

ODD FACT OF THE WEEK
The Giants  are breaking out their road white jerseys for the first time this season. The jersey colors were established before the start of the season, but hey, if you’re superstitious, maybe the change might do them good.

THE OUTLOOK
Many things concern me about this game. – the revamped offensive line, the missing pass rush, and the many mismatches I see on personnel across the board.

However, if there’s something I’ve always preached to readers who write in, it’s that you can’t fear the unknown, that at some point, you have to take a leap of faith.

Right now, there is a lot of concern about the unknown. We don’t know what the offensive line is going to look like o Sunday or if it is going to holdup. We don’t know if the running game is finally going to bounce back into shape. We don’t know if the pass rush is going to be more successful.

We won’t have answers until about 4 p.m. ET on Sunday to those questions.

However, there’s an intangible that I believe the Giants have on their side: the element of surprise.

Let’s start with the offensive line. The Giants have kept a tight lid on what the offensive line is going to look like, and perhaps I’m oversimplifying things, but I would think that this might work to their  advantage if they can get into a rhythm early and keep the notoriously loud Chiefs home crowd quiet.

The other X factor is that Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride admitted that what they have done so far hasn’t worked (like we needed him to admit that?). So they’re going to try something else to get the offense going – what that something else turns out to be remains to be seen (if they’re smart, they go with their 11 personnel package and run the no-huddle to open the game as that should keep the Chiefs’ offense off-balance.) it’s time to try something else

The Giants also aren’t strangers to Chiefs head coach Andy Reid’s philosophies. While Reid has much different personnel here than he did in Philadelphia, this isn’t a case where the Giants haven’t seen much from this head coach before.

It’s true that Reid has enjoyed success against the Giants in the past, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is 9-10 against Reid in head-to-head games played, which would indicate that Reid’s teams haven’t thoroughly dominated Coughlin’s teams.

While it’s true that I wasn’t a fan of their early week bravado, I understand why they did it – sometimes you have to talk yourself into thinking things are going to be okay, even if the circumstances indicate otherwise.

The bottom line is that the changes are scary because we’ve never seen them before and we don’t know what to expect. But take solace in knowing that the Chiefs probably haven’t seen many of these changes either and that if the Giants execute like they’re supposed to, maybe, just maybe, the game won’t be as bad as the pundits are forecasting.

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