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Mailbag: Pass rush potential, red zone success


Frankie @Franks_Famous What do you think is the ceiling of the pass rush when all are healthy?

John Schmeelk: If the Giants can roll out Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Azeez Ojulari and Kayvon Thibodeau as pass rushers on third downs, I think that's a very dangerous group. All four can win one-on-one with both Ojulari and Thibodeaux still ascending as young players. There's potential for all four to hit double digits at some point in their careers. The future is bright – and so is the present.

Stephen Sperry @SLS2721 What are your observations on why the Giants can score touchdowns in the Red Zone and also close games this year?

John Schmeelk: The red zone is all about the running game. They have run it very effectively inside the 20-yard line with both Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones. The offensive line's improved run blocking this season is one of the under-reported stories of the 5-1 start. As for closing games, the team is sticking to their gameplan and remaining balanced despite being down double digits to the Titans, Packers and Ravens. They have avoided critical mistakes late in games like interceptions, fumbles, and penalties. They are continuing to play solid football and outlasting teams on a week-to-week basis.

Kevin in New York: It seemed to me Packers receivers were blocking downfield before the ball was thrown on some of those wide receiver screens. Can you address that?

John Schmeelk: Timing and field placement on plays like these are critical. If players are within a yard of the line of scrimmage, they can block whether the ball is in the air or not. Once they are beyond a yard from the line of scrimmage, they can only block once the ball is caught. It takes a lot of precision to avoid offensive pass interference penalties in those situations.

Dave in North Carolina: I listen to BBKL every day, even when I lived in Ecuador , a great show. I do have a question that maybe you can shed a little light on. In the Packers game it seemed to me that Barkley was the target either by running the ball or on a pass play the first 8 or 9 plays. With it well know Barkley was the most dangerous weapon on the team, why not mix it up and confuse the opposition? The only time I didn't like what they did. It confused no one.

John Schmeelk: Looking back at the play-by-play, you are right that Barkley either ran it or was targeted in the passing game on the Giants' first six plays and eight of their first 10. The Packers had struggled stopping the run leading into that game, which made running the football an obvious early option. The other two plays were a screen pass and a target down the field, which are more unique ways to get him the ball. Barkley is always going to be a focus of opposing defenses, but the Giants are going to have to figure out a way to get him the ball regardless since he is their most explosive playmaker.


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