Green Bay Packers vs. New York Giants: Sketching out a Game Plan for New York

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistNovember 23, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 04:  (L-R) Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants congratulates Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers after the Packers won 38-35 at MetLife Stadium on December 4, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

The New York Giants haven't been particularly good in any area lately, which is concerning with the Green Bay Packers coming to town. But the Giants have only lost three straight games once since 2009, so we're pretty sure Tom Coughlin, Kevin Gilbride and Perry Fewell will have a stellar game plan in place coming out of the bye week. 

Just in case they're open to suggestions, though, we have some.


Keep it on the ground

Here's what's tricky about the Packers: They don't do anything poorly, especially on defense.

Charles Woodson and Sam Shields are out, which is supposed to make the secondary vulnerable, but that hasn't been the case at all. They shut down Matthew Stafford and the Lions' top-notch passing attack last week, with Casey Hayward and Davon House performing very well and Tramon Williams hanging in against Calvin Johnson.

Hayward's been especially good in the slot. In fact, there are few corners in the league who have fared better in that spot than he has this season. Throw in that Dom Capers complicates things with plenty of zone looks and a steady amount of blitzes. This is a team that still got 16 hurries on Stafford last week despite not having Clay Matthews.

That'll again be the case this week, it seems, but the Giants really shouldn't expect to face less heat than they did when they gave up 15 hurries against this defense last season. The pass rush is much improved this year, with or without Matthews. 

That doesn't mean the Giants are screwed, but they'll need to have a balanced attack to give themselves their best chance to win. We don't know if the passing game is in sync again yet, regardless of how Eli Manning says he feels coming off the bye, so the Giants can't just assume things will suddenly be better.

The Packers haven't been dominated by anyone on the ground this year, but they haven't really dominated anyone either. Ahmad Bradshaw and Andre Brown didn't get enough work against the Bengals, but the Giants trailed all game. When they did get carries, though, they were solid, averaging 7.2 yards per run.

I know this is a pass-first team, but they should almost consider the opposite strategy early against Green Bay. This isn't a favorable matchup for New York, so the offense has to become creative. 


Play it safe defensively

The Giants aren't successful on defense unless they're getting takeaways. The problem is that only one NFL team has turned it over less often than the Packers have. They're extremely smart with the football, and they'll make you pay if you try to force things. Aaron Rodgers has a 120.9 passer rating against the blitz this season, according to Pro Football Focus.

But with Evan Dietrich-Smith forced into the starting lineup with Bryan Bulaga down, an offensive line that has already given up 32 sacks this season is a little shakier than usual. With that in mind, the Giants should be able to get lots of pressure on Rodgers by using their three top-notch defensive ends on passing downs while not making big sacrifices in run defense and pass coverage.

The Packers don't run the ball particularly well. James Starks and Alex Green have had their moments, but the Giants are better off adding reinforcements to the secondary and hoping that a four-man rush and two or three linebackers can get enough pressure while containing Starks and Green. If you're going to get beaten, get beaten by that running game. 

So I'd like to see a lot of defensive backs on the field often against Rodgers and his receiving corps, led by the extremely dangerous Randall Cobb. Stevie Brown has proven to be better in coverage than Antrel Rolle, so Brown should remain out there even if Kenny Phillips returns. It's doubtful they'll activate Will Hill if Phillips is healthy, but it'd be interesting to see him in the slot, rather than vulnerable rookie Jayron Hosley. 

Regardless, there should be an abundance of safety help. Don't get beaten deep.