Rivalry Week?

The offensive and defensive coordinators of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers both have recent and long tenured ties to the Giants organization. OC Mike Sullivan served as our wide receiver coach from 2004 – ’09, then as quarterback coach in the past two seasons. DC Bill Sheridan was our linebacker coach from 2005 – ’08, then had a (tragically unsuccessful) campaign as our own defensive coordinator in ’09. As with any case of having familiar coaches across the field, they know us and we know them. In fact, with Sullivan having departed so recently, Giants players and personnel recognized their own hand signals and terminology when the Bucs offense was checking at the line week 1. David Carr even went so far as to call them “identical” to ours. The Giants are prepared for this, as I’m sure the Buccaneers are, with a whole separate system of language and nuances for Eli to employ at the line. It is not uncommon for such changes to take place, but it usually isn’t necessary until a team has to face a division rival for the second time in a season. Having to make the swap in week 2 is certainly something to be aware of, as players new to an offense may have to think a little bit harder to make sure they know what is going on/what their responsibility is. That being said, there are plenty more new pieces in Tampa’s offense (at almost every position in fact) than in New York’s. Advantage Giants? Let’s hope so.

The comparison of running backs Doug Martin and David Wilson is flying a bit under the radar, if you ask me. Martin is a powerful back who can take it up the gut and is tough to knock off his feet. Wilson, on the other hand, is an explosive back who is at his best and hard to catch when he gets outside. On draft day, Tampa Bay traded up to the pick before us (#31) in the first round to take Martin, and we took Wilson with the very next pick. When asked about it, general manager Jerry Reese promised that Wilson was our guy, and had Martin still been on the board it wouldn’t have made a difference. Reese deserves every ounce of trust from the Giants faithful when it comes to drafting, but honestly, there are only three things to do when a team trades up to the pick before you and steals your guy: deny, deny, deny. Not to take anything away from Wilson, who has gigantic upside and I’m sure a bright future with the G-Men even this season (despite playing second fiddle to Bradshaw)… but let’s end with a look at the stats from week 1 for these two players:

  • Doug Martin — 24 carries, 95 yards; 4 catches, 23 yards
  • David Wilson — 2 carries, 4 yards; 1 fumble (lost)

Another running back worth mentioning is D.J. Ware, who didn’t make the final cut for the Giants this season after 5 years with the team and was signed by the Buccaneers shortly after. He saw snaps as the third down back in week 1 (which we know he does effectively), and has been talking about how anxious he is to prove to the Giants that they made a mistake. Can he really hurt us? Unlikely, but this doesn’t help us.

Another rivalry going on this week is of a different brand… a sibling rivalry! Giants starting tight end Martellus Bennett and Buccaneers starting defensive end Michael Bennett are indeed brothers, with Michael being older by a little over a year. This isn’t the first time Martellus has been tasked with blocking big bro, but when he was with Dallas he actually requested that Jason Witten switch sides with him on 2TE packages so he wouldn’t have to take Michael on head to head. There will be no such hiding on Sunday as Martellus is our starting tight end, so keep an eye on the Bennett vs. Bennett battle in the trenches.

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