The Buffalo Bills present an interesting dilemma for the New York Giants, as they possess one of the most explosive and balanced offenses in the league.
Their head coach may be Rex Ryan – he of the “ground and pound” philosophy – but the Bills can also make big downfield plays in the passing game as well. Buffalo (2-1) possesses the 11th-ranked offense in total yards (373 yards per), the top-ranked rushing offense (152.7), and the third-most prolific offense (33.3 points per game).
Such a great balance makes life difficult for even the best defenses – especially when an offense is led by a great ball-handler like quarterback Tyrod Taylor, and an aggressive running game that makes the art of play-action a real chore to defend.
“They have a good play-action game off their running game, so you have to recognize run or pass quickly. And when we do, get pressure on the quarterback quickly and create pressure opportunities,” noted linebacker Devon Kennard. “We just need to get stops and get them into third-and-long situations. We’ll be OK as long as we study our keys and react.”
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The film study has been immense for the Giants (1-2), noted defensive end Robert Ayers Jr. Big Blue will have a 10-day gap between the time they lined up against Washington, last Thursday night, and Sunday’s tilt at Orchard Park.
Ayers said he’s spent a lot of time watching both the coach’s film, as well as the television broadcasts of Bills’ games to get a feel for play-calling and tendencies.
“I watched both tapes, just to get a feel for what they’re doing in certain situations,” said Ayers. "It was helpful to see how they develop plays, tendencies as far as certain situations, momentum swings, and things like that.”
Ayers was unable to complete Thursday’s practice, as head coach Tom Coughlin noted his defensive end “had a little problem about three-quarters of the way through,” but his knowledge of the Bills’ offense should serve his team well, whether he’s suited up or providing guidance from the sidelines.
If Ayers can’t go, look for Owa Odighizuwa (foot) to make his NFL debut. Coughlin said Odighizuwa “worked well” and is holding out hope that the rookie can continue to make strides, because Big Blue will need as many athletic rushers they can get to try and contain Taylor.
Stopping the running game will be the Giants’ top priority, regardless if star running back – and notorious Big Blue killer -- LeSean McCoy plays or not. McCoy is dealing with a hamstring issue that will likely keep him out of the lineup. But there won’t be any rest for New York, as McCoy’s backup, rookie Karlos Williams, has been on a tear to start his career. Williams, who scored a touchdown on his very first career carry in the team’s opener, has tallied a team-high 186 yards and three scores and has the size, speed, and agility to offset McCoy’s absence.
Coughlin marveled – and fretted – over the way the Bills can expose a defense in numerous ways.
“You all saw the young running back [in last week’s win] rush for a long touchdown run,” Coughlin said of Williams. “And he averages 7.8 [yards] per carry. And with a guy like Tyrod Taylor, the outstanding quarterback, he’s also a running threat. He has seven touchdown passes, a 74-percent completion percentage at this point in time, and does an outstanding job with the deep ball … They do a lot of play-action, a lot of movement, a lot of bootleg, a lot of great perimeter stuff —so he is a force to have to defend as well.”
Should Ayers play, it’ll be up to him to contain the edge and make sure Taylor and Williams don’t gash the defense on big gains – plays that can be avoid if he plays his assignment and trusts the other 10 men out there.
“I definitely pride myself in both [pass rushing and setting the edge against the run]. I want to be able to do everything that they ask me to do, whether it be dropping in coverage or rushing the passer, stopping the run, rushing inside—whatever it is, I want to be able to do it all,” said Ayers. “Being a complete player is key. We need to control what we can control and maximize opportunities on whatever play or role is called.”
Buffalo runs an average of 61 plays per game, so Ayers and Co. will get their fair share of chances of circling the wagon on the Bills.
Big Blue notes:
-The Giants made it official on wideout Victor Cruz’s status for Sunday, as he’s been ruled out, due to a setback in the recovery of his injured calf.
-Defensive tackle Markus Kuhn worked on the side with a trainer, while tight ends Daniel Fells and Jerome Cunningham engaged in stretching exercises on the side.
-Coughlin on Wes Welker, who worked out on Tuesday, but was not signed: “He was very quick, very active. He was healthy, and worked out well ... There’s always a chance [to be signed later]. There’s a chance for anybody that’s out there if a need comes around.”
-Rookie tackle Ereck Flowers (ankle) is still “gimpy,” according to Coughlin. Flowers practiced, but his status for Sunday is still up in the air.