The Giants began their weekly preparation Wednesday with hopes that for a third-straight week they could feast on a franchise with a bird moniker.
After clipping the hated Eagles two weeks ago and the Cardinals last week, Big Blue hopes the struggling Seahawks come in with wounded wings. But don’t tell head coach Tom Coughlin that, because this Seahawks team will be no easy prey.
“The Seattle Seahawks are an improving team. They’re a resilient team and a physical team that literally allows no yards against the run, so it looks to be a very physical and intense game,” Coughlin said, adding it’s up to the veterans to school the younger guys on the “any given Sunday” mantra. “They’re 1-3, but don't be fooled by that 1-3 record. The younger guys will follow their [veterans’] lead.”
The Seahawks are a true enigma in the NFL. They are capable of getting blown out early — as they did in their first two games by a total margin of defeat of 40 points — or hanging tough with an elite franchise — as they did last week against the Falcons. A microcosm of Seattle’s up-and-down play is the defensive front four that Coughlin is so weary about. The way he talked up Seattle’s foursome (Raheem Brock, 6-foot-4, 274 pounds; Red Bryant, 6-foot-4, 323; Alan Branch, 6-foot-6, 325; and Brandon Mebane, 6-foot-1, 311) he made them sound like immovable objects. But despite his assertion, the Seahawks can certainly be run on. They’re 14th in the league against the run.
The one thing that is true, however, is Coughlin’s declaration that tempo the of the game starts up front. He said his biggest concern is on his own defensive line, because that front has been pushed around in recent weeks. Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy hammered New York to the tune of 128 yards two weeks ago and last week Cardinals running back Beanie Wells gashed them for 138, including a career-high three rushing touchdowns.
The Giants are banged up, though, as defensive end Justin Tuck, who is nursing groin and neck maladies, did not practice Wednesday. Defensive tackle Rocky Bernard did practice despite ailing ribs. Fellow defensive end Osi Umenyiora returned last week after missing most of training camp and the first three games, but there’s always a concern with swelling.
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New York will have to be stout up front and force quarterback Tarvaris Jackson to beat them. Jackson doesn’t instill any confidence in the Seahawks faithful, which means Seattle will likely rely heavily on running back Marshawn Lynch. The 215-pounder is known around the league as one of the toughest running backs to bring down, so Coughlin said he’ll amp up the urgency to stop the run and make Seattle one-dimensional.
“It’s a good challenge for our team. We especially need to be stopping [the run],” said Coughlin. “The more you can have to contribute then the better off we’ll be. They have a power running game and their offensive line has improved on a week-to-week basis. We have to do a better job at blowing up their point of attack.”
Weakside linebacker Michael Boley agreed the best way to neutralize Seattle is to force Jackson to beat them. But added by simply watching recent films, he doesn’t blame the Seahawks if they try to attack their run defense.
“Obviously, the last two weeks, we haven’t done a good job of that. We have stepped up and made some big plays in other areas, but as far as stopping the run, that is something that we have to get corrected,” Boley said. “We don’t want to be a defense that is looked at week in and week out as if we got the ball run on us. That is something that we are going to come in this week and work extra hard at correcting … I have the utmost confidence that we will get that corrected. It is just a matter of will.”
?Big Blue notes
» Coughlin was sarcastically funny during Wednesday’s press conference, but his mood changed when the topic of cornerback Prince Amukamara’s foot came up: “Ask me again after the bye. I see what you see. He comes out some days and runs around and some days he lifts. I don’t look at the X-rays. I just listen to what [the team doctors] tell me. I don’t know his time frame. Prince is not ready to go. We’re not going to mess around with him. Until he’s ready … it’s off in the distance [but] there’s no setbacks.”
» The run defense hasn’t looked too good the past two weeks which is why Coughlin is taking an “all hands on deck” approach this week. He said he’s pleased to see key guys getting healthy, but noted how much he’ll need the backups to keep playing above their means, specifically pointing out the contributions made by reserve defensive end Dave Tollefson: “We need guys like Dave who can move around a bit. He started for Justin [Tuck] at defensive end last week, but he also lined up over the guard at times. Kiwi [Mathias Kiwanuka] is a linebacker but can also spend time on the line, too, so the more the better.”
The Giants’ run defense ranks 21st in the league, but Coughlin said it’s not all due to their penchant for playing more nickel defense (five defensive backs). When they go to that formation, the only linebackers on the field are the speedier linebackers like Boley and rookie Jacquian Williams. Coughlin said going nickel over their base 4-3 isn’t the main reason for their rush defense woes: “You can stop the run with a nickel. Ask the Packers about that.”
» Those not participating in Wednesday’s practice included Amukamara (foot), Tuck (neck/groin), Boley (knee), running back Brandon Jacobs (knee) and center David Baas (neck).
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.