Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Some Thoughts Going into the Bye Week...

by: Mike Parker

Though it didn't come as any huge surprise, the jumbo-sized can of whoop-ass we opened against the Rams this weekend made me breathe a huge sigh of relief when the smoke cleared. Josh Brown was sent home from the city that once worshiped the ground he walked on with his tail between his legs, no doubt looking at Olindo Mare with a renewed sense of envy.

Meanwhile, the rest of us were relishing victory and saying hello to the Seahawks team that had been lying dormant for the past two weeks. We knew they were in there somewhere, it was just a question of when and how they'd show themselves. I was very glad to see it turned out to be the defensive line doing the familiar sight of tap dancing (or Tapp dancing?!) on Marc Bulger's face while the Qwest crowd brought enough noise to get the attention of nearby seismologists.

To continue....

But I digress. While watching the Giants-Bengals game earlier that morning, I was looking for weaknesses in the Giants' weaponry. I was damn near scrutinizing at the level of some defensive coordinator in the film room on a Monday morning, using my DVR setup repeatedly to the point of making my girlfriend look away from the TV to avoid going insane.

It was then that I realized if Carson Palmer can show only mere glimpses of his glory days and still force the Giants into overtime on their own turf, the Seahawks can sure as hell make them sweat and probably even leave the Meadowlands in two weeks with a 2-2 record.

A few things to think about:

-Since the Seahawks' running game has re-emerged as a solid pillar of the offense (not counting the Buffalo encounter of which we won't speak), Julius Jones and TJ Duckett have combined for 5 rushing touchdowns.

-The Giants scored a total of 1 rushing TD at home Sunday against the lowly Bengals, whose defense couldn't blitz if their lives depended on it. The only other TD scored by Eli & the gang was a 4-yard pass to TE Kevin Boss, his first of the year. The rest of the Giants' points? Thank John Carney, whose 4 field goals showed the old guy still has some gas left in the tank.

-Meanwhile, Palmer came back to life and managed to hook up with TJ Housyourmamma for 146 yards and a touchdown, exploiting the Giants' weaknesses in the secondary.

What this means for us in Week 5:

-On the run, the Seahawks have developed into a solid unit, not only when running the ball but also stuffing opposing backs very effectively. They held Steven Jackson to an average of 2.9 yards per carry on Sunday, and for the most part stopping Frank Gore last week. If the Hawks can pull off the same performance against the unit that calls themselves "Earth, Wind and Fire" in Week 5 (Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw) then we've got ourselves a ballgame, folks.

-Stopping the run attack would force Eli into throwing it a lot, which should lead to mistakes so long as the front 7 can overcome their road-phobia and provide the menacing pressure that Marc Bulger is still having nightmares about.

-The Hawks' secondary played up to par this weekend, limiting Torry Holt to just four catches for 37 yards, and forcing Steven Jackson to become the Rams' leading receiver. He caught five balls for 62 yards out of the backfield, which is an odd statistic, but it was probably the only thing that worked for them. As one announcer put it on the highlight reels later, "Nothing is working for the Rams. And I'm not exaggerating there. Nothing at all is working for them this season."

If the Hawks keep up their solid play, which included a Deon Grant interception and 7 tackles from the previously questionable Josh Wilson, there's no reason why they can't handle a stud receiver like Plaxico Burress. Remember, Torry Holt used to burn this team to no end, especially in 2006 in St. Louis with that insane bobbling catch that looked like something out of The Matrix.

Even with all this already said (and probably covered in Michael's posts from earlier), I still haven't mentioned the fact that Branch and Engram will be back, along with the extra firepower of Mo Morris and Koren Robinson. These are all things to be excited about, especially since everyone gets an extra week of rest with the bye coming up on Sunday. Granted, the Giants are also on their bye this week, so it'll be a true test in many ways for both teams.

For Matt, this has to feel something like getting the keys back to the Ferrari that's now back in the garage after having it sit in the body shop for the past two months.

This team has already proven itself in situations like this before. Every season is about overcoming adversity, and this past Sunday was the first rung on the ladder that the Hawks needed to climb. I'm not saying it's all smooth sailing from here, because the remaining schedule isn't exactly a cakewalk. (Who the hell saw that one coming, anyway?! I'd sit here yelling "conspiracy" but that's old hat in this town.)

But on that same note, the weapons are soon to be back in the arsenal. In the end, it's going to come down to what shape they're in and how well they're used. -END-