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Giants remain dangerous for Redskins, even at 0-2

After watching game film, talking to players and doing a little reading, here are three things I learned about the New York Giants:

The Giants missed linebacker Jon Beason: The Washington Redskins coaches say it; other coaches in the NFL say it as well after watching the Giants. But it’s likely that he will play Thursday. Beason is excellent vs. the run but is only OK in coverage. However, what he provides the Giants is someone who can organize the defense on the field, anticipate plays, etc... Just having someone like that on the field will be a positive for New York. His presence is huge. The Giants have had issues in coverage, though they have also faced two good passing teams in Dallas and Atlanta. Of the NFL-high 66 receptions they have allowed, 32 have gone to backs and tight ends (second most in the NFL). Again, I’ll stress: They’ve played two good quarterbacks in the first two games and that has made a difference. It’s a good time for Beason to return with cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie sidelined by a concussion. He played well in the first two games and, without him, the Giants have just one good cornerback (Prince Amukamara). They will blitz quite a bit (27 percent of the time through two games) and love to send the slot corner. They force quarterbacks to get rid of the ball in a hurry by trying to overload sides (the Redskins' right side will be tested again). At times Atlanta hurt the Giants with its outside zone -- and Dallas attacked them to the outside as well in the run game. The Giants' safeties, Landon Collins and Brandon Meriweather (yes, he’s starting), have done a nice job, though both will get a little aggressive at times on fakes or when a back presses the hole. They lack a strong pass-rusher and only have two sacks this season. Lineman Cullen Jenkins leads a solid group vs. the run, however (third in the NFL at 3.02 yards per carry against).

They are 0-2, but ...: The Giants have definitely played poorly at times and quarterback Eli Manning has had some classic blunders in the fourth quarter of both losses. They are not getting production from receivers not named Odell Beckham Jr., and their run game, despite working with double-digit fourth-quarter leads, has done little. However, in last week’s loss to Atlanta, for example, the Giants were hurt by some terrific play from Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and receiver Julio Jones, who made one circus catch and drew a long interference penalty to set up the winning points. The Redskins don’t have Ryan or Jones. New York is highly beatable, but the Giants have been beaten by two teams with excellent quarterbacks. They are still dangerous.

The offense has issues: Manning picked the Redskins apart last season with short passes, and that’s what he’s focused on again this season. Yes, tight end Larry Donnell remains a part of their attack (seven catches). Manning has connected with receivers on only 22 of his 47 completions with 12 of those going to Beckham. He’s tied with running back Shane Vereen for the team high. Manning has completed only five-of-20 passes on throws 10 yards or more downfield, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The line has not been much help and now it’s likely that left tackle Ereck Flowers will miss Thursday’s game with an ankle injury. That means guard Justin Pugh must shift over to tackle and that means backup John Jerry will take over Pugh’s spot. It’s not ideal. Pugh’s footwork was inconsistent at tackle, as you would imagine. At times his arms would get too wide as well, especially when facing speed rushers. The quick passes help this group, but they’re also not opening up many holes in the run game. But don’t dismiss Manning just yet: His passer rating in the first three quarters thus far is 100.1. He just needs to solve the fourth quarter where his rating is 63.3.