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Mailbag: Beating the blitz; keys to red zone success


Luke in New York: What do the Giants need to do on offense to get better at beating heavy blitz packages? When there is a miscommunication on the O-line and pass rushers get free lanes to the quarterback, how much pre-snap onus do you put on the quarterback and center to call the right pass protection?

John Schmeelk: Only the players and coaches in the meeting rooms know for sure what happened if a particular protection breaks down and there are unblocked defenders. There can be blizters designated as "hot players" in some cases, which means the quarterback knows they will be unblocked and he has to get rid of the ball quickly.

The quarterback and center are in charge of making sure the pre-snaps calls and protections are correct, which includes identifying the middle linebacker and setting protection off of him. It is an essential part of the process, but there could be a post-snap execution problem at the line of scrimmage or a failure of a player to understand their assignment.

Joe Judge was happy with the way Daniel Jones navigated the Ravens' pressure, explaining it this way:

"You always want to know about is Daniel our guy? Are we going forward with Daniel? The answer is absolutely. What gives us that confidence is even in games like yesterday where it didn't come out perfectly, you can turn the tape on and you can say, 'hey listen, in games one through whatever, that wasn't the guy we were looking at.' You watch the tape yesterday and you see that guy in there operating, executing, understanding the pressure and not just standing in there with courage like he's done all along and taken a hit but understanding how to take the hit and deliver an accurate pass and move the sticks down the field. These are things that as he grows in this league and develops in his craft, he's going to be able to do. As we get going and we build more into this scheme, he'll be able to handle it different ways as well and take some hits off himself. You see a lot of growth in these guys. I thought Daniel yesterday played well."

Rich in South Carolina: Do teams study others that are the best in the red zone, looking for plays that can be adapted and used by their personnel or do they stick with the plays they have been running all season?

John Schmeelk: Generally speaking, this is more of an off-season project. But if a team sees a play design they like while watching tape, it is very possible they would incorporate it if the play applies to their own situation.

Kenny in New York: What is the Giants' biggest need in the 2021 NFL Draft?

John Schmeelk: There's an entire off-season of draft talk coming and free agency can change plenty. In no particular order, they'd likely need an edge rusher, a big-play wide receiver, and an outside cornerback.

Matthew in Connecticut: In the past few weeks, I've noticed that Darius Slayton hasn't been getting nearly the amount of targets that he was getting at the beginning of the season. Why?

John Schmeelk: Perhaps teams have started prioritizing Slayton – the Giants' primary deep threat - in their game plans and are making sure he does not get behind their defense. Slayton has also been battling some minor bumps and bruises throughout the season. In addition, having Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram consistently available is also going to naturally take away some of Slayton's targets.



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