New Redskins present new problems for NY Giants Print
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Wednesday, 03 September 2008 21:20
NFL Headline News

 EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -Despite having played Washington at least twice a year since 1970, the Super Bowl champion New York Giants are going to be playing somewhat of a guessing game against the Redskins in the kickoff game to the NFL season.
It's one of the advantages that Jim Zorn brings to the Redskins as their new coach.
Zorn installed the West Coast offense, hired two new coordinators and has been so vanilla in the preseason that the Giants are going to have be very flexible in the nationally televised game Thursday night at Giants Stadium.
``We haven't gone out to try and reinvent ourselves and all of a sudden come up with a magic potion,'' Zorn said. ``We've been trying to work hard and prepare ourselves so we can battle.''
The Giants aren't totally in the dark.
Zorn has been a quarterbacks' coach for 10 seasons with Detroit and Seattle, so New York has an idea what he likes to use. The West Coast offense isn't new either, but Zorn will have his own wrinkles.
``They didn't show all their cards in the preseason,'' Giants middle linebacker Antonio Pierce said. ``They showed a little bit, but they are working on other things and probably game planning against us a little, just like we've been doing against them.
``After the first 15 plays we'll know what their game plan is and what their state of mind is,'' he added.
Zorn has kept the majority of running plays that Joe Gibbs had in his playbook, but he also has offered quarterback Jason Campbell more options.
``Before it was, 'This is what we are going to do no matter what they do. They have to stop us,''' Redskins halfback Clinton Portis said in describing Gibbs' offense.
More often than not, defenses stopped the Redskins, Portis said.
``We didn't have audibles before,'' Portis added. ``Right now if we are in a bad play, we can get out of that play. Jason has the opportunity to put up the audibles and change things around and get us points. So I think everybody is just excited.''
Offensively, the Giants might not have as much trouble against the Redskins defense. Greg Blache has replaced his old boss, Gregg Williams, as the Redskins' defensive coordinator. He is running a similar system that might be more player friendly.
Giants guard Chris Snee noted that Blache was the Redskins' defensive line coach last season, so the technique that the Washington linemen use is not going to change.
``When you look at your personnel and your one-on-one matchups, that's what you use to base your tape study, so that won't be very different,'' Snee said.
The Giants offense also is a veteran unit.
Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning will lead the same 11 players on offense who took the field against the Patriots in February in the stunning 17-14 win. The one change this season is receiver Plaxico Burress, who had the winning reception in the title game, is healthy and looking to build on a career-best 12 touchdown receptions.
``The good thing is they are conscientious, our guys, they work hard, they are attentive,'' Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said. ``They can solve most problems. It certainly is an uncomfortable position for me to be in because you just don't know what they are going to do.''
The coaching change won't be the only reason the Giants are wary.
New York had to rally in the second half to win the first game in Washington, and then did little against the Redskins in a 22-10 loss in East Rutherford in December - the third of four straight losses at Giants Stadium to end the regular season.
``Every time we have played them it has always been a tight game,'' Manning said. ``Last year, they jumped out to leads pretty early in the first half both times. We have to come out there and be smart with the ball, protect the ball and try to establish a running game. They are talented on their front four. They do a good job of getting a pass rush.''
The Giants come into the season as somewhat overlooked defending champions.
A lot of people don't like their chances of repeating after the retirement of seven-time Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Strahan; the season-ending knee injury to fellow Pro Bowl DE Osi Umenyiora; and the trade of former Pro Bowl tight end Jeremy Shockey to New Orleans.
Their current odds of repeating are 25-1, according to John Avello, director of race and sports operations at Wynn Las Vegas.
``There is not a lot of respect for this team out of the box,'' Avello, a New York native, Giants fan and oddsmaker for 21 years said in a telephone interview Tuesday night. ``This is not your normal Super Bowl winner. Normally people are jacked up on the Super Bowl winner, looking at them to make another run, and that's not the feeling I am getting from the team and the customers that bet these games.''
Most bettors wagering on whether the Giants will win more or less than nine games this season are taking the under, Avello said.
In addition to the Giants' personnel losses, many feel that everything aligned right for the team last season and that every club in the NFC East has improved, making their job that much more difficult, Avello said.
The last time a Super Bowl champion was this overlooked was Tampa Bay in 2003, he said. The Bucs went 7-9 and missed the playoffs.
``We love it, we love it,'' Pierce said with some deep sarcasm. ``We ask for more. Honestly, it's not enough yet. Please add on.''

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