While Tampa Bay is a young bunch on the rise, Big Blue said it helps this week’s preparation that there is some familiarity with the Buccaneers’ game plan.
Mike Sullivan, who was an assistant coach on the Giants last season, is Tampa’s new offensive coordinator. And while there appears to be some new wrinkles in their game plan, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said the Buccaneers’ scheme looks pretty familiar.
“It’s all about execution,” said Coughlin when asked if knowing Sullivan’s habits are an advantage. “We need to play better than the other guy, no matter what. Just need to execute better than the other guy. …Tampa executed well [against the Panthers] in all three phases, too. [But] there are quite a few similarities.”
Defensive end Justin Tuck said he thinks the shock of losing to the Cowboys took longer than usual to shake, simply because of the extended layoff. The defensive captain said he hasn’t “slept well” but is “itching to get back on the field.”
He added that the extra time off may actually help in the long run, since he and his teammates got extended time to really study Tampa’s tendencies.
“That team is fired up and is coming in here with a lot of confidence,” Tuck said. “Both of their coordinators (Sullivan and new defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan) know this football team very well, so we know they’re going to have some plans to counteract what we do and what we know of them. … It’s going to be another great test for us to see where we are.”
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The familiarity theme was a big topic throughout the locker room all week because of the ties with Sullivan and Sheridan. Despite not being divisional rivals, Tampa has become very familiar with just about everything the Giants do. Sheridan held the same title of defensive coordinator for the Giants in 2009.
Teams naturally tweak things in their playbook from week-to-week, let alone season-to-season, so the Giants’ offensive and defensive playbooks won’t be 100-percent replicas, but it’ll still help the Buccaneers.
The bottom line, according to Mathias Kiwanuka, isn’t about who knows whom better. Kiwanuka mimicked Coughlin’s mantra of saying whoever executes the game plan better, regardless if the Bucs know what’s coming, will win.
“I think the concepts are pretty similar in the way they attack, but in the end the principles of football stay the same — stop the run and force teams to be a one-dimensional passing unit,” said Kiwanuka. “When you look at some of the things that they do, we’re familiar from going up against it in practice but they’re going to be familiar with us, too. … We have to make sure to not overplay certain things just because we think something we’ve seen before is coming.”
Big Blue notes
»Wideout Hakeem Nicks (foot) returned to practice on Thursday following Wednesday’s schedule day of rest. Of all the players on the injury list, only defensive end Adewale Ojomo (hamstring) didn’t practice.
»Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said he was “very frustrated” with the lack of holding calls in the Cowboys game and hopes he’s allowed to play freer on Sunday: “I don’t complain, but I was frustrated on the part of the holding situation. Anybody knows, even the guys watching TV, you can clearly see holding, but that's the game. The ref’s not going to call holding and you got to find another way to get there. … It’s a part of football. With the replacement refs, you never know what calls you’re going to get, so you just go to go out there and handle your job.”
»Coughlin said there is “no change at all” with the starting left tackle position, meaning veteran Sean Locklear will get the nod over Will Beatty, who said he’s just about all the way back from his back ailment. Beatty, last year’s starter, will continue to be the “third tight end” in run-heavy formations.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.