Giants need to start playing run defense again
If there is any area where the New York Giants have improved in this dismal season, it is run defense.
NFL leading rusher LeSean McCoy of the Eagles gained 94 yards in two games. Adrian Peterson of the Vikings got 28. Jamaal Charles of the Chiefs gained 65. Matt Forte of the Bears rushed for 67 and Alfred Morris of the Redskins had 26.
That's five of the NFL's top six rushers this season.
However, the Giants (5-8) face questions about their run defense after Ryan Mathews rushed for 103 yards in the Chargers' 37-14 win Sunday, a game that eliminated New York from playoff contention.
On tap Sunday is Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson and Seattle's No. 3-ranked run offense.
''We look at this as an opportunity,'' linebacker Spencer Paysinger said. ''What better way to show the league that we are a premiere run-stopping defense than to have Marshawn Lynch come here.''
Fellow linebacker Jon Beason said the defense, which is ranked 11th in the league against the run after being last a year ago, just didn't execute against the Chargers. Players didn't fill the right gaps. There were missed tackles. There also were a couple of plays where the Chargers used a good scheme to a break a few plays on a day they gained 144 yards rushing.
Beason believes the defense can fix the problem.
''We've done it, so there's no reason why we can't do it this week, but it's going to take a special effort,'' Beason said. ''Guys have to prepare harder, especially when you're coming off a disappointing loss in terms of your performance. It's on the individual, but you have to do it for the man next to you, too. Everyone has to buy in and say: `OK, let's get back to the basics and just do what we're supposed to do.' Whatever the call is, know your job and do it.''
Giants safety Antrel Rolle wants the defense to be more physical. It's particularly important against Lynch, who comes into the week with 1,042 yards rushing, fifth best in the league.
''He's a hard-nosed runner who runs with great vision and great power,'' said Rolle, the Giants' leading tackler. ''He can cut off either foot and more importantly, he's a guy who is looking for contact, and Marshawn Lynch has pretty good speed.''
What makes the Seahawks' running game so effective is having Wilson to balance Lynch. The quarterback has rushed for 458 yards, which is 39th in the league and 34 yards more than Giants' leading rusher Andre Brown, who missed the first eight games of the season with a broken leg.
The Giants have had problems with mobile quarterbacks. Michael Vick of Philadelphia gained 79 yards in the first game against the Eagles and Robert Griffin III of the Redskins recently picked up 88 yards.
The added option makes Lynch that much more dangerous.
''We have played a lot of great backs this year and hopefully that will help, because he is a load,'' defensive end Justin Tuck said.
The Giants have allowed two running backs to gain 100 yards this season. Besides Mathews last week, DeAngelo Williams gained 120 yards in Week 3 for Carolina, a team that also has a mobile quarterback in Cam Newton.
Defensive tackle Mike Patterson said the Giants aren't looking to show the league they are a good run defense. They know they are. They just want to play better than they did last week.
''We could care less about what is going on outside of this building,'' he said. ''We just want to go out there as a defense and stop somebody really good. We're excited for this week. It's going to be a challenge and we are looking forward to it.''
NOTES: DE Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder) did not practice. ...CB Prince Amukamara practiced despite the team saying he would not because of an illness. ...Coach Tom Coughlin said RB Brandon Jacobs (knee) would have gone on injured reserve this week regardless of the Giants postseason situation. ...DT Cullen Jenkins missed practice because of soreness in his leg.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org