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5. No Landry No Problem

On Friday night I was lucky enough to be invited to appear on Brian Mitchell’s Friday night Tailgate Show with Darrell Young and the guys from Hogs Haven and The Hogs.net on www.bmitchlive.tv. During one of the segments, B Mitch asked me how the team would fair without Landry, considering the Defense really dropped off without him late last year. I stated that the additions of guys like Kerrigan, Cofield and Bowen not to mention OJ and Dejon Gomes would help mask him not playing.

Last year losing Landry really hurt the team because we had so many guys out of position. Adding all the pieces to solidify the 3-4 really helps hide the fact that you’re missing a guy like Landry.

Gladly I was right and last night, the defense survived.

Not only survived but really played a heck of a game. Make no bones about it, this Giants offense is a good one (you have to be to get ten wins). Leading up to Sundays’ matchup Eli and the G Men had pretty much owned the Skins nine of the last ten times they have met, and let’s be real here we have not been able to stop the Giants running attack since Gibb’s running the show.

In the first half it looked like same old same old. Watching Nicks torch Doughty for 68 yards was enough to send me into a pillow throwing tirade. Following that with the Giants marching down the field brutalizing the front seven with the run in the second quarter was enough to push me over the edge.

I spoke to Fullback Darrell Young Friday night regarding how they were going to attack the Giants, and what they needed to do to be successful. He said that they had to limit their turnovers and stop the power run, noting that the power game killed them in the season finally last year. They knew the Giants were going to run right at them early and often. Apparently knowing its coming and stopping it is two different things, but still to see them struggle when they knew it was coming was a pretty difficult pill to swallow.

You won’t will a whole lot of games giving up 14 points in the first half, unless you can make adjustments and correct mistakes. Thank God that the Redskins did just that allowing zero points over the next two quarters with pressure that absolutely suffocated Eli Manning.

Look I’m not saying it’s a good thing Landry is out. In fact it’s pretty lame. Reed Daughty (bless his little heart) is just not close to being the player Laron is. He get’s torched in coverage consistently, and really does not bring the ability to make the big plays…ever.

The fact is last night the defense played as a unit. They had each other’s back and did everything they could to minimize the impact of not having a big play guy like Laron.

That’s really all you can ask for.

4. Strong Showing by Rookie Class

One reason the defense pitched a shutout in the 2nd half was because of the play of rookie OLB Ryan Kerrigan and seventh round pick NT Chris Neild. I had been tweeting with some of you guys back and forth throughout the game when twitter follower @rypien1191 tweeted “one turnover might win this game”, I responded that was a scary thought with Rex at QB. Literally seconds after my tweet Ryan Kerrigan came through with an absolutely beautiful tip pick six leading @rypien1191 to tweet “and there it is”.

Kerrigan is the kind of guy who just gets at it the whole game and never ever takes a snap off. Sure he is a little rough around the edges with the switch to LB from DE. Last night he showed that more importantly than playing a position he plays football. It has helped that Haslett has put him in a position to be successful while making the transition leading to Kerrigan getting a few sacks in preseason and now stealing the show in the opener.

Last night was exactly the type of performance you would hope to get out of your first round pick, and Kerrigan did not disappoint.

Neild on the other hand, is a totally different story.

Does anyone know how many players were drafted after Neild in April? Anyone? I will tell you… just one. Chris Neild was the next to last player taken in the seventh round of the 2011 NFL draft. The nose tackle from West Virginia was expected to be sort of a project. Most fans and experts thought he would be a practice squad guy. In fact Just about everyone was pretty shocked last Saturday to see him survive cut day and actually make the team.

Thankfully Shanahan and Haslett know a little more about their players than we do.

Neild said he expected to get around 10 snaps last night, but man did he make those snaps count. He was consistently adding pressure and collapsing the pocket getting two sacks on the night. Barry Cofield joked last night that Neild was already on his way to the Hall of Fame.

Joking aside Chris made serious impact on the game last night. If he can continue to make contributions like that it will allow Jim Haslett the same type of flexibility we hoped to have when Jarvis Jenkins was healthy. We should see a lot of rotation along the D Line with Bowen, Carriker, Cofield and Neild allowing Haz to attack offensive lines from every angle and keeping them guessing. In any case we should definitely be expecting a few more snaps for Neild as the season progresses.

3. Keep Loose Mr. Beck

How awful was the pass protection last night?

I really feel bad for Rex he got hit early and often against a Giant’s defense that was missing both of their pass rushers. I could understand it a little more if Osi and Tuck had played but really Trent Williams? To borrow a line “Come on Man!”

You cannot go against backup guys and get pushed around like that. Rex should have had it made last night, but the New York defenders just flat beat our big guys up front. I understand it’s the first game and all but if we don’t get some better protection John Beck is going to get his chance to play while the training staff tries to sow Grossman’s head back on.

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