Despite going unbeaten in the preseason, the Giants have been under constant pressure. But Big Blue is hoping to exact its own version of it come Sunday.
Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said he’s ready to unleash fury, undoubtedly enduring some pent-up frustration from Monday’s toothless defensive performance.
“I’m not gonna lie, we’ve got to get to the quarterback,” Pierre-Paul said.
Matthew Stafford befuddled the Giants’ pass rush by expertly evading and sliding out of trouble despite not being known for his swift feet or agility. But Pierre-Paul knows that if the Giants are to knock off the Cardinals (1-0) in Sunday’s home opener, they’ll need to pressure — and bring down — Arizona’s Carson Palmer.
“We weren’t good enough [on Monday]. We need to be better. I need to be better,” said Pierre-Paul. “Everybody needs to do better on that defensive line and just get to the quarterback. I mean, we stopped the run all right, but we didn’t get to [Stafford].”
Palmer is the quintessential pocket passer, but even knowing that, Pierre-Paul was glowing of the veteran’s abilities to manipulate the pocket and deftly avoid the rush.
“He’s a good quarterback. You may not think that [he’s mobile] but he can definitely scramble some,” said Pierre-Paul. “He’s a good passer, and like any quarterback he can get hot. But we’re not worried about that if we get to him.”
Head coach Tom Coughlin noted just bringing pressure is not good enough with guys the size of Stafford (6-foot-3, 235 pounds) and Palmer (6-foot-5, 235). What was once a school of thought of merely harassing quarterbacks in the pocket and having them simply fall down via a “phantom sack,” today’s passers are too big for that, said Coughlin.
“The game has changed from the standpoint that you now have athletic quarterbacks and people that can move around, no matter what,” said Coughlin. “If you don’t get a good wrap on the quarterback these days, these guys are 230 [pounds] and so forth, so they just slide to an open area and make the play. So, yeah, we’ve been telling them they’ve got to wrap him up and bring him down like any other player.”
Palmer, like Stafford, has a plethora of talent to throw the ball downfield to if he’s able to avoid the Giants’ pass rush. The Cardinals are led by veteran stalwart Larry Fitzgerald, who may not be the game-breaker he was in his early years but is still a viable weapon in head coach’s Bruce Arian’s vertical attack. Fitzgerald may have been replaced as Palmer’s go-to guy by third-year wideout Michael Floyd. The former first-round pick had five catches for a game-high 119 yards in the Cardinals’ opening win.
The duo is complemented by electric rookie John Brown, who scored a touchdown last week. And that’s not even accounting for halfback Andre Ellington, who is a dual-threat in the mold of the Lions’ Reggie Bush.
However Big Blue corrals the high-powered Cardinals, Coughlin said he thinks it’s as much about scheme and execution as it is pride in defending their home turf in their season opener.
“There’s good resolve I’ve seen this week. I think early in the week they were all still disappointed, somewhat discouraged, and had to be brought back up,” said Coughlin. “But they’re mindful of the performance, not happy about it, and would like to do something about it. I’m hoping that’s the case.”
Big Blue notes …
»Punter Steve Weatherford (sprained left ankle) was out of his walking boot by Wednesday’s session and walking limp-free during Thursday’s workout. He said he’s “hopeful” to be in uniform ready to go on Sunday.
“I would like to think that I could play a game tomorrow, but maybe that’s just too much confidence,” Weatherford said. “I would like to see a lot more progress happen between now and Sunday. But I feel pretty confident that our training staff is going to be able to get me where I need to be.”
If Weatherford can’t go and the Giants don’t sign a fill-in, kicker Josh Brown would do double duty. And with just five career punts on his resume, it’s safe to say Big Blue is hoping for Weatherford’s speedy recovery.
»Weatherford’s absence would also compromise the Giants’ field goal and extra-point teams, as he’s also the primary holder. Backup quarterback Ryan Nassib would be the replacement.
»Linebacker Jon Beason (foot) was a no-go at practice Thursday as Coughlin noted the recovering veteran was “sore.” The coach added he “thinks” Beason will play on Sunday.
»Rookie linebacker Devon Kennard also didn’t practice on Thursday and Coughlin said he “doesn’t expect” him to practice on Friday either.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.