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Giants' defense on edge

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Sep 24, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a href="http://www.northjersey.com/page.php?qstr=eXJpcnk3ZjczN2Y3dnFlZUVFeXkxMDYmZmdiZWw3Zjd2cWVlRUV5eTY3NzU5ODImeXJpcnk3ZjcxN2Y3dnFlZUVFeXk2" target="_blank">NorthJersey.com</a>

    EAST RUTHERFORD - Push the play button on the San Diego Chargers' film vault, watch through the eyes of a Giants' defender and feel your stomach begin to churn.

    "He's here, and the next second he's over there," defensive tackle Kendrick Clancy said. "He sees the hole so quickly. He's got great speed to break out or make a play."

    "It's scary," defensive end Michael Strahan said. "I've never seen anyone who's so quick, and fast, and powerful, and is such a smart football player. In my opinion, and I know he's gotten a lot of accolades, but he's probably the best all-around football player in the league."

    Anyone who pays attention to the NFL knows the man the Giants are talking about: Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson.

    Though off to a tepid start and mired with his teammates in an 0-2 funk, Tomlinson remains the primary objective for shut-down duty by the Giants' defense. When the teams meet Sunday night on national television, something's got to give.

    Tomlinson needs to break out just as much as the Giants' revamped rushing defense needs to keep him contained. Whoever tips the scales in their favor likely wins the game.

    "Rushing the ball is all about ball control," Giants running back Tiki Barber said. "If you run the ball, you control the clock. If you control the clock, you usually control the game."

    The Giants didn't do that job well last season, when injuries decimated the defensive line so much that a franchise priding itself on defense surrendered its most rushing yards per game since 1980 (134.8).

    Second-year coach Tom Coughlin couldn't stomach the thought of again using six different defensive tackles, as he was forced to do last season in an effort to find any combination able to consistently plug holes. The solution came via free agency and a former first-round draft pick.

    Three new starters - linebacker Antonio Pierce and defensive tackles William Joseph and Clancy - represent a huge upgrade over their predecessors. Pierce signed as a free agent, an immediate improvement over Kevin Lewis. Joseph's work in training camp finally earned the starting spot that could have been his since the Giants made him their top draft pick in 2003.

    And Clancy, also an off-season addition, turned 2004 starter Fred Robbins into quality depth and allowed the Giants to release the oft-injured and oversized Norman Hand.

    "That's probably one of our biggest spikes on our team, that whole combination of the three guys inside, one who is an aggressive linebacker who can run like the wind and two tackles who are athletic and strong," Strahan said. "That's why people can't run on us - the middle has been pretty stout."

    Throw in run-stopping linebackers Reggie Torbor and Carlos Emmons and quality defensive ends Strahan and Osi Umenyiora, and the result is a unit that held the Cardinals to 1.5 yards per carry in Week 1 and contained the slippery Deuce McAllister to 47 yards on 15 carries in Week 2.

    "I guess we're going to try to keep on doing what we've been doing," Umenyiora said. "They said it about Deuce last week, but we did a pretty good job on him. Hopefully we can do it again."

    Yet everyone is aware that Tomlinson is a different, and greater, challenge. A two-time Pro Bowler, he is looking to extend his NFL record with a touchdown in a 15th consecutive game. He heads into his fifth season having rushed for at least 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in each of the first four, numbers only Hall of Famers Earl Campbell and Eric Dickerson can match.

    But in two games, Tomlinson has gained just 124 yards on 38 carries. He has not had a reception, averaging only 19 touches compared to 26 at this time last year. He's made it clear he needs to get the ball more if he's going to help the Chargers resemble the playoff team they were a year ago.

    "I played for [coach] Marty Schottenheimer [in Washington] and he knows who his workhorse is," Pierce said. "I know him. When a player goes to the media with that frustration, he's going to make sure he is so tired after the next game. He'll have 30 or 40 touches."

    That's precisely what the Giants fear.
     

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