It’s possible that there are too many things to be watching for as the Giants get the 2013 season started. How is the offensive line going to perform? Can David Wilson carry the team for at least one week? Who will push the pile in short yardage? Is Hakeem Nicks back? Can the secondary handle an onslaught?
Here are a few keys for the Giants vs. the Cowboys I will be watching for in this game.
Third Down Defense
In 2012 the Giants were the 3rd worst team in the league at stopping the opponent on third down. 42.4% of the time, the other team converted. Only Buffalo (44%) and Washington (44.2%) were worse. The league average was 38%. The Broncos were the best at 30.6%. Related, the Giants were dead last in the league for opponent’s 3 and out drives. Only 23. Only the Titans came close to that pathetic number with 29. League average was 42.
If the Giants are going to become more consistent in 2013, they will have to be better at stopping third down conversions and they will have to force far more three and outs. It will require better work across the board, but notably on the line and in the secondary. The Cowboys are going to try and take advantage of the secondary and if we see a lot of long drives with lots of third conversions on Sunday night, I’ll be feeling more nervous for the season.
It’s easy to blame the secondary on the poor showing against the pass in 2012. The Giants were 5th to last in total yards allowed (4,068) and yards per game (254.3). They were 6th to last in completion percentage allowed at 63.9%. Secondary’s fault? Yes. But a limp pass rush didn’t help. The Giants were the 22nd worst team in the league with only 33 sacks. Little pressure and poor secondary play.
I will be watching to see if the Giants have improved on the line and are getting pressure and I will be watching to see if the secondary can limit the Cowboys completion percentage.
I’m not sure if there is anything worse than a false start or a holding call. You’re driving, clicking, marching… heading toward the redzone (which in and of itself is a problem) and you get knocked back by penalty. A third and short becomes a third and long and then it’s Steve Weatherford time. Don’t get me wrong, Steve’s great, but the less we see of him the better.
The Giants were the second least penalized team (72) in 2012 after Atlanta. So why am I worried about it? To me, those offensive line penalties are the killers. With a reconfigured line, with so many new bodies, with a loud stadium, it just seems like the Giants might have some issues.
On the road last year the Giants were the 6th worst Redzone TD scoring team at 41.4%. Nicks at full strength helps here and I will be looking for the Giants to be aggressive inside the 20.