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The Giants Defense Feels Awfully Good About Itself

Osi Umenyiora's return is adding to the confidence

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    Kiwanuka has big plans for Sunday night.

    The Giants made it pretty clear on Saturday that they didn't much care for the way the Jets ran their mouths during the days leading up to their game.

    They took great delight in making those words sound stupid and the last thing you'd imagine is that the team would suddenly turn around and start sounding exactly like Rex Ryan while preparing to face the Cowboys. It's about time to start imagining something else.

    "If we play a complete game from beginning to end, we'll pitch a shutout, which is what our goal is," Mathias Kiwanuka said. "The issue about miscommunication for missed gaps, gaps assignments, that kind of stuff -- this is the most important game on the schedule, so those kind of things are being taken care of right now."

    So much for Tom Coughlin's belief that talk is cheap, huh? All of a sudden the Giants defense that's spent most of the season chasing opposing players on their way to the end zone is ready to turn into the 1985 Bears.

    It would seem that the team's gotten a bit ahead of itself thanks to knocking around an abysmal Jets offense. It was just two weeks ago that they couldn't stop Rex Grossman, after all, so it seems more than a little absurd to hear them talking about pitching a shutout against a team that lit them up for 34 points just a few weeks ago.

    What's different about this defense than the one from the first Dallas game? It looks like Osi Umenyiora is going to play, but that's the only thing that's actually different.

    That's not insignificant, although their earlier performances with Umenyiora in the lineup hardly make it certain that something magical is going to happen just because they've got the eternally unhappy one back rushing the passer.

    He does nothing to help the run defense -- which, it must be said, struggled against the Jets -- and his presence earlier this season often meant Jason Pierre-Paul was pushed inside where he was much less effective.

    Despite Kiwanuka's claim, all of the Giants' defensive problems this season hasn't been about miscommunication or confused assignments. They've been beaten straight up plenty of times, something that will be clear should he or anyone else like to watch a tape of that first Cowboys game.

    Beyond that, the gap control issues he references aren't simply up to members of the Giants. Players blow their gaps because of mental mistakes, to be sure, but they can also find themselves unable to get there because they can't separate from blocks or because Perry Fewell is making the wrong calls defensively.

    When the Giants last faced the Cowboys, they played a ton of Cover-2 to take away the outside receivers and that gave Dallas a lot of room to run the ball. The Giants can adjust to that, but not without offering up something else for the Cowboys.

    Such is life when you play a good offense with a less than perfect defense.

    All that said, it's certainly better for the Giants defense to feel confident about itself than the alternative. Beating the Jets isn't really anything to crow about, but if it makes for an aggressive approach come Sunday night then so be it.

    The fear is that the attitude Kiwanuka is expressing and the lovefest that ensued after the final whistle of the Jets game is going to lead to relaxation and overconfidence against the Cowboys.

    The Giants have talked about being all in and mentally focused in the past only to find themselves blown away when the game actually starts.

    Shutouts don't matter, just wins and the Giants learned last week that all the talking in the world doesn't guarantee you one of those.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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