Palladino: Rest Up, Giants! Tough Road Ahead
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By Ernie Palladino
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Ernie is the author of “Lombardi and Landry.” He’ll be covering football throughout the season.
We all know by now how Antrel Rolle is spending his bye week.
Chilling on the couch in his Miami home, just trying to get away from it all.
We all know how Justin Tuck, Chris Snee, Brandon Jacobs, Prince Amukamara and Ramses Barden are spending their bye weeks. Just trying to get better so they can either get back to work, or make their season’s debut when they’re needed most.
And we all know how Tom Coughlin is using his bye week — self-scouting a squad that continues to play up or down to their opponents.
If the 4-2 Giants indeed have a successful break, it’ll show next week against a Miami team that appears well on the road to winning the Andrew Luck sweepstakes at 0-16. But more than that, they’ll at least have most of their ammo for a post-Miami stretch that includes New England, San Francisco, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Green Bay, and Dallas.
Not an easy road there, and certainly one that may be impossible to navigate at anything but full strength. So it is important that players like Tuck, Snee, and Amukamara rest up well and get back in the lineup. Especially Tuck and Snee, who are mainstays on the two front lines.
But even the first-rounder Amukamara, who could return to practice next week, will be expected to contribute at least in the passing down defense despite an absence from the practice field since his second day of training camp.
“We’re very much aware and very optimistic that we’re going to get some players back,’’ Tom Coughlin said this week. “I think it will be a nice boost in the arm.”
It could create a headache or two positionally, but Coughlin would welcome such worries at this point. What to do with the versatile Mathias Kiwanuka will become the question once Tuck returns. Logic would dictate the Giants return Kiwi to linebacker, where he started the year before moving up to his more natural frontal spot as partial replacement for Tuck. But the advancement of rookie linebacker Jacquian Williams could reduce Kiwanuka’s snaps there.
That’s where all this self-analysis comes in. Coughlin and his crew need to take a good look not only at the flaws — faulty field goal blocking, vulnerability against the big play, an improving but hardly dominant running game — but project some of the good things. Can Williams, for instance, carry his strong-side position over the course of the next 10 games, or would the Giants be better served putting Kiwanuka in there full time?
And what about that ground game? Despite Ahmad Bradshaw’s big play, it still sputtered through most of the Buffalo game. Getting Jacobs back — though he said he won’t come back until his sprained left MCL is “100 percent — will certainly help, since DJ Ware doesn’t seem capable of offering the pounding-type change-up to Bradshaw’s cutting style.
All in all, the bye came at the right time. Now, the Giants have to capitalize on it. They’ve done a decent job under Coughlin with a 4-3 record in games immediately following the bye. They’re no longer the league’s easy out after the idle week.
A dominant, healthy outing against Miami certainly would put the Giants in good stead for the upcoming stretch. As timely as the bye week’s rest, it will come at a point where the power in the NFC East is about to shift. Philadelphia will come up from its 2-4 start, perhaps not to “Dream Team” status, but certainly to respectability. Washington, now in a quarterback controversy, will head downward. And, really, how long did you expect that prosperity to last behind Rex Grossman?
Dallas may continue to trade wins and losses through the next month before the Cowboys hit Miami and Arizona.
It will be up to the Giants, chillin’ and getting healthy during their bye week, to maintain an even-keel.
A full ammo belt will help. A strategic tweak or two will help. The mental rest won’t hurt.
Then, it’s back to work on Monday.
Do you think the Giants are ready for the rest of the season? Let Palladino know in the comments below…