AP Photo - Bill Kostroun
As the Giants get ready to open the season against the Redskins, here is a primer article. Included is the series history, notes, quotes, by the numbers, quote to note, personnel notes, game plan, matchups to watch and the injury situation.
The Giants have played no NFL team more times than they’ve faced the Redskins. New York leads the all-time series, 87-61-4, and has won the last two contests, including a 23-7 victory at Fed Ex Field last Nov. 30.
-- Led by Brandon Jacobs, New York led the entire NFL in rushing in 2008, averaging 157.4 yards per game.
-- The Giants will be playing their final season opener at Giants Stadium.
-- With 47 victories, the Giants have the third-most opening-day wins in NFL history.
-- Tom Coughlin is 8-5 in season-opening games, but only 2-3 with the Giants.
-- This will serve as the eighth time – and second in two seasons – that New York opens the season with Washington. The Giants have captured five of those seven contests, winning the last five meetings in a row.
-- Since 1970, the Giants’ largest margin of victory in an opening-day win came during a 42-19 pummeling of Arizona in 2005. The worst? A 35-0 shellacking at the hands of the Cowboys in 1995.
-- Perhaps the best-ever meeting between the Giants and Skins (from a Giants’ standpoint, of course) was the 1986 NFC Championship Game, when New York blanked Washington, 17-0, sending the Giants to their first-ever Super Bowl appearance.
BY THE NUMBERS:
20 – Number of opening-month victories by the Giants in the last 10 years. That ties them with New England for fourth-most in the NFL.
QUOTE TO NOTE:
“He’s a human being, he walks on two feet, and he bleeds. He puts his pants on one leg at a time. I mean he is a great player, don’t get me wrong. Probably one of the most dominant players in the NFL, but there is no reason to go in there and only think about him.” – RB Brandon Jacobs, when asked about Washington DT Albert Haynesworth
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
It sounds simple enough, but expect the Giants to use the age-old football strategy of running the ball to set up the pass. The Giants figure opposing defenses, especially those as talented and aggressive as Washington’s, are not going to respect New York’s passing game all that much. Not unless the Giants force them to. You can expect a steady diet of behemoth back Brandon Jacobs with a little of the quicker, shiftier Ahmad Bradshaw thrown in with the hopes that’ll open up the play-action passing game at which Eli Manning excels.
Defensively, the Redskins had better be ready to see all of New York’s defensive linemen lined up all over the place. Sure, the front four will start in their usual positions (LDE Justin Tuck, LDT Barry Cofield, RDT Fred Robbins, RDE Osi Umenyiora), but you can bet that those four and any of the key reserves like Mathias Kiwanuka, Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard will be moving and shifting all over that D-line.
PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES
-- DT Chris Canty, who missed all four preseason games with a hamstring injury, practiced on Wednesday and was not listed on New York’s injury report.
-- CB Aaron Ross did not practice on Wednesday due to the hamstring injury that’s plagued him practically all summer. He holds out hope that he can play, but it seems unlikely.
-- CB Kevin Dockery missed Wednesday’s workout with his own hamstring injury. The Giants are very hopeful that Dockery can go, especially since they’re counting on him to fill in for Ross if he’s unable to play.
-- LB Clint Sintim missed work on Wednesday with a groin injury. As impressive as Sintim’s been this summer, don’t expect them to force the promising rookie on the field unless he’s fully ready to go.
-- OL Adam Koets was unable to practice on Wednesday due to an ankle injury. Koets expects to be ready to play Sunday. Whether the Giants plan to activate him or not is the bigger issue.
All eyes are going to be on Eli Manning, the NFL’s new highest-paid player. Still in doubt is whether or not Manning can consistently win games for the Giants with his arm, which is a test the Redskins certainly seem up to taking. The Giants ground game is dominant, but Washington has never tried to stop Brandon Jacobs and Co. with Albert Haynesworth on their side. New York’s revamped, retooled defense has dealt with a slew of injuries this preseason and also will be without Michael Boley, who was suspended for the season opener for an incident that occurred when he was still a Falcon.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Giants C Shaun O’Hara/LG Rich Seubert vs. Redskins RDT Albert Haynesworth. With Haynesworth, who went to the Pro Bowl the last two seasons, coming off a 75-tackle, 8.5-sack season, you had better believe that all Giants offensive eyes will be focused on the enormous DT. O’Hara is noted for his quickness and smarts, Seubert his toughness, so it appears like the Giants might have a decent shot to slow Haynesworth, who also hasn’t always been known as the most consistent effort player in the league.
Giants RDE Osi Umenyiora vs. Redskins LT Chris Samuels. Two of the game’s best linemen face off in what is expected to be a mostly mano-on-mano dogfight. Umenyiora is coming off not only an entire missed season, but the embarrassment of bolting practice a little more than a week ago when he didn’t exactly agree with defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan. Samuels has shut down many of the game’s greats so this head-to-head matchup of multiple-time Pro Bowlers not only bears watching but could and should have a huge impact on the game’s outcome.
New York’s biggest injury concern heading into Sunday’s season opener is clearly starting CB Aaron Ross. The club is already paper thin at cornerback and starting the season sans one starter is certainly not ideal. The fact that Kevin Dockery was held out of practice Wednesday, albeit just as a precaution, can’t make new defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan all that happy. Needless to say, the Giants need starter Corey Webster and key second-year reserve Terrell Thomas to stay on the field against Washington. With the corner concerns, you can expect the already-aggressive Giants defense to blitz and dog even more so in an attempt to lessen the coverage times required by their CBs.