In this new Pewter Insider feature, Pewter Report investigates opposing teams through the eyes of those who follow the Bucs’ opponents daily. In this week's installment, PR interviews Jorge Castillo who covers the New York Giants as the beat writer for the Newark Star Ledger and NJ.com.
Jorge Castillo covers the New York Giants as a beat writer for the Newark Star Ledger and NJ.com.What surprised you about the Giants’ opening game?
“I was surprised at the way the passing game didn’t get going. The Giants looked so good in the third preseason game against the Chicago Bears, but against Dallas, Eli Manning was never able to set his feet and get in synch with his receivers. Unfortunately, the receivers had four dropped passes. I was not as surprised, or concerned, about the running game.
“Defensively, a lot has been made about the Giants’ lack of a pass rush in the opener. However, despite what the stat sheet says, Jason Pierre Paul had a good game. The real problem was that Dallas’s running game and short passing game hampered the Giants’ pass rush. Even when they did get to Tony Romo, his athletic ability caused the Giants problems.”Over the years the Giants have had good success against Tampa Bay. Is New York thinking that this is a chance to take out frustration on a lesser squad, or do they think that the Buccaneers might just challenge them?
“The Giants definitely think that the Bucs will be a challenge. This is a different Buccaneers team than in years past. Tampa Bay brought in Greg Schiano, who in turn brought in Mike Sullivan, who was the QB coach with the Giants last year, as well as defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan, who was also with New York. The Giants saw on film how the Bucs run defense held Carolina in check for just ten yards. Head Coach Tom Coughlin said today [Wednesday] that they have been watching films of Schiano’s games at Rutgers to get some ideas about his game plans. No, the Giants are not taking the Bucs lightly after what they saw them do against the Panthers on Sunday.”
What effect do you think the long layoff between the opening Wednesday night game and this one might have on the Giants?
“It can go either way. Right after the game, the players were saying how they wanted to get the bitter taste out of their mouth. For ten days they’ll dwell on it. But they also say that the last game is behind them. I think they’re itching to get on the field. Coach Coughlin said today [Wednesday] that he expects renewed vigor from the team this week. I think that the guys are sick of hearing that last year was a fluke.” The Giants’ secondary is banged up, and Tampa Bay now has a solid group of receivers. Do you see any concerns for New York’s defense against the pass?
“If Prince Amukamara gets back healthy and proves he can be a strong corner, that will be important for New York. He can play as of now. His backup at corner, Michael Coe, is also banged up but plans on playing Sunday. But even if they do play, they’re coming off injury and aren’t proven corners. At the other corner, last week Corey Webster got beat by double moves by Dez Bryant. I’m not concerned with the Giants’ safeties, but there are lots of questions at cornerback.”The Giants are known for their pass rush, but last week they allowed over 5 yards per carry on the ground. With Bucs’ Coach Schiano wanting to emphasize the running game, what are the strengths and weaknesses of the Giants run defense?
“Chris Canty is on the PUP list, so they’re down one important player on the defensive line. Marvin Austin expects to play at defensive tackle, but he hasn’t played in an NFL game yet. One of the things the Giants do is to use Jason Pierre-Paul to help on the inside. But basically, the guys just have to stay in their gaps and keep disciplined. Coach Coughlin is preaching discipline and not to get over anxious.”Are there any new wrinkles in the New York offense or defense this year?
“Rookie running back David Wilson, who was the next player taken after the Bucs drafted Doug Martin, was supposed to be a new wrinkle for the offense. In the offseason, the coaches marveled at Wilson’s ability, quickness, and shiftiness out of the backfield. After he fumbled in the opener, he didn’t get back in the game. They are hoping that Wilson gives a dimension that the Giants haven’t had for several years.
“Defensively, linebacker was a weakness last year. But now that position is more of a strength. Keith Rivers was an underrated offseason pickup for the Giants. Although last week he had a few “off” plays where he overcommitted, allowing Tony Romo to take advantage, Rivers has great pursuit and provides extra depth at linebacker.”What do you expect to see at the Giants/Bucs game this Sunday?
“That’s the big question. People are still wondering if the Giants are the team that was bad in the middle of last year or strong at the end. I don’t think the Giants will be able to run the ball against the Bucs’ front seven. New York will have to rely on Eli’s arm. On the other side of the ball, the film shows that the Bucs played conservatively on offense in second half last week, so the Giants will have to be prepared for that.” Tell us something about the Giants that most fans don’t know.
“Tight end Martellus Bennett is the brother of Bucs defensive end Michael Bennett. He’s a big personality and a great athlete. He’s 6'6" and 265 pounds, is a former basketball player, and adds another dimension to the offense that the Giants will try to utilize this year. The folks in Dallas were not that impressed when Martellus played with the Cowboys, but the Giants don’t share that opinion. I think he’s going to be very productive. You might consider him to be a guy who’s under the radar.”–Bob Levine contributed to this report
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