As impressive as Big Blue’s 52-27 win over the Saints was last week, it wasn’t without its flaws.
The Giants allowed 487 yards of total offense and 27 points in the first
three quarters despite the lopsided final score. The Falcons (11-2)
possess an offense just as explosive as the Saints, especially on the
Georgia Dome turf.
“Hopefully we’re better than that. We certainly gave up a lot of yards
[versus the Saints], so we’re constantly trying to improve that area or
we’re constantly trying to maneuver our personnel around to match up,”
said head coach Tom Coughlin. “We’ve certainly been tested, [and] had
our back to the wall.”
Coughlin sounded a little defensive when trying to justify the performances of his defense, but he did perk up when asked about a quote from defensive tackle Chris Canty, who said the defense hasn’t had a “signature defensive performance” yet.
“I like what I hear if you’re telling me that the defensive players don’t think they’ve accomplished what they set out to and that they think their best games are in front of them. I would encourage that,” Coughlin said. “We have our work cut out for us. [The Falcons] have won 10 straight games at home. They’re plus-six [in turnover ratio]. They’re the least penalized team in the National Football League. They’re eighth on offense, averaging 25.9 points per game. And they have a lot of very talented people, which is why they’re 44.6 [percent conversion rate] on third down, and 58 percent in the green zone, which is seventh in the league.”
The Falcons’ offense is definitely on a mission this year, especially after not scoring a point in last year’s humiliating 24-2 loss to the Giants in the wild-card playoff round. Atlanta’s offense is a pick-your-poison outfit, as they’re on pace to have a 4,000-yard passer in Matt Ryan (3,932 yards), and three 1,000-yard receivers in wideouts Roddy White (1,140) and Julio Jones (997) and tight end Tony Gonzalez (831). The trio has accounted for 19 of Ryan’s 24 touchdown passes this season.
And thanks to new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, Coughlin believes the Falcons are no longer as predictable in their passing game as they were last season under Mike Mularkey.
Coughlin marveled at how balanced the Falcons’ offense is, because they also have two running backs — Michael Turner (675 yards) and Jacquizz Rodgers (274) — who can control the tempo.
“They had 13 snaps in the first half [last week in a loss to the Panthers], so that would be nice,” Coughlin said. “[Playing against] a high-powered offense, with us having the ball for an extended time, is a pretty good way to go.”
The Giants don’t possess the type of traditional offense that can bang away with the running game and eat up the clock, meaning it’s likely the game will be played with footballs filling the air. And if that happens, New York could be at a disadvantage because they’ll be one-dimensional.
Defensive end Justin Tuck said he and the defense take it as a personal challenge to not allow Ryan to engage in a shootout.
“If we don’t play our keys and don’t play the type of football I know we’re capable of, sure, absolutely,” Tuck said when asked if things could get out of hand if the Falcons get hot on offense. “Everyone knows about that wide receiver tandem, Matty Ice [Matt Ryan], [Tony] Gonzalez [and] those two running backs. They have a lot of weapons down there and they’re going to be behind that home crowd on that fast turf. … They’ll be very comfortable in that setting and we’ll have to play a great game to contain them.”
Safety Stevie Brown, who has made a name for himself this season after ascending from the end of the depth chart to a possible Pro Bowl selection, said it’s not about taking away just one aspect of the offense.
“You can’t just have one primary focus with all of that between Roddy White and Julio Jones. And then Gonzalez being the possession receiver that he is you’ve got to be aware of him at all times as well as the two running backs they have,” said Brown. “We just can’t just go in there with a simple focus. We have to protect everything and guard against everything. We’re just going to have to be road warriors, go in there as underdogs, and play as hard as we can.
Big Blue notes
» Running back Ahmad Bradshaw (sprained knee) didn’t practice again on Thursday, making it seem increasingly clear he may not suit up on Sunday. While Bradshaw has gone without practicing for most of — if not all — of a week’s practices before, only to still play on Sundays, this time it doesn’t seem like the case.
If Bradshaw can’t play, rookie David Wilson will get the start, followed by recent street free-agent signees Kregg Lumpkin and Ryan Torain as the only other running backs on the roster.
» Wideout Hakeem Nicks (knee) participated in the media portion of practice, as he was seen doing individual drills.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.