Right about now, Tom Coughlin is wishing he was a bigger baseball fan. He's sitting in his office trying to figure out how he's going to stop the Cowboys' passing attack with three healthy defensive backs and second-guessing the decision to hire the Mets medical staff to look after the health of his players. Above all, he's wondering if maybe, just maybe, Jerry Manuel was having some fun with him when he said, "Yeah, Tom, I highly recommend our crack team of physicians. After all, it's been nice having such a healthy team of athletes to put on the field every day." He logs onto the internet to check out how the Mets have fared this season ...
The above is just for fun, obviously, but the Giants have an uncomfortable amount in common with New York's biggest disappointment at this early juncture in the season. Cornerbacks Kevin Dockery and Aaron Ross missed the season opener with hamstring injuries, and neither of the team's starting safeties, Michael Johnson and Kenny Phillips, were able to participate in practice on Wednesday.
Short of MacGyver (or MacGruber) jerry-rigging a last second secondary machine out of Chiclets, fishing line and urinal cakes from Giants Stadium men's rooms, the Giants are going to have to cross their fingers and hope for the best on Sunday night. Dockery might play, and the safeties probably will, but none will be 100 percent and all of them will be under attack from a Cowboys team that showed a penchant for big plays in Tampa last weekend.
The Giants's pass rush should be able to help close some of the gap, but the best way to avoid hanging the secondary out to dry actually comes when the Giants have the ball. Run early, run often and keep running until the clock is dwindling down to the final seconds. The Cowboys didn't look strong against the run against the Buccaneers, and the Giants should be able to control the ball, move the ball and avoid exposing their defensive shortcomings all at once by keeping the ball on the ground.
That's three reasons, and if they need a fourth they'll find it in tapes of last December's loss to the Cowboys. They'll be able to see pass rusher after pass rusher sacking Eli Manning, eight times in total, and they'll be able to see Manning throwing two interceptions. Or just remember last week's Manning interception and fumble if you need a more recent reason to keep the Giants from putting the ball in the air more than necessary on Sunday.
It sounds odd to say that running the ball on offense stops the pass on defense, but it's still the soundest strategy.