Washington Football

Brees aside, Giants prepare for Saints RBs, too

Brees aside, Giants prepare for Saints RBs, too

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) There's more to the New Orleans Saints offense than Drew Brees these days, and the New York Giants know it.

While ranked 27th in the league in rushing, the Saints have a four-headed run attack that has averaged nearly 120 yards in the last five games.

If Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles, Chris Ivory and Mark Ingram get going on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, Brees is going to have another big game and the Giants (7-5) may not find themselves alone in first place in the NFC East afterward.

The Giants have been shaky against the run of late. Washington gained 207 yards rushing last week with running back Alfred Morris and quarterback Robert Griffin III combining for 196. The Redskins gained 151 in the second half.

In four of New York's losses, the opposition has rushed for at least 100.

``A lot of people talk about their pass game and that's what a lot of people focus on,'' Giants linebacker Michael Boley said. ``But they run the ball very well. They have four backs that can run it and they do a good job of putting those guys in good situations.''

Coach Tom Coughlin said the Saints also have a big offensive line that can open holes as well as protect Brees.

``We've been victimized by that before,'' Coughlin said. ``They rush the ball very well and the fullback (Jed Collins) is a good player.''

Linebacker-defensive lineman Mathias Kiwanuka said some of the pre-play responsibility in defending opponents falls to veteran cornerback Corey Webster. It's his job to see who is coming on and off the field and to call it out to the defense. If Sproles is in the game, for example, there's a good chance he'd be an option for a pass out of the backfield.

``I don't want to repeat myself, but it's the same thing: You have to stop the run. You have to defend the pass and you have to get to the quarterback,'' Kiwanuka said. ``If you don't stop the run, no team is going to throw the ball. But they are very effective at both. It all comes back to us as a defensive squad. If we play the way we can and everybody plays with the intensity we had a few weeks ago, we'll be fine.''

The Saints, who likely need to win out to have a postseason chance, have had their way offensively with the Giants recently. They posted a 48-27 win in 2009 and ripped New York 49-24 last season. Brees threw eight touchdowns and no interceptions in those wins.

``I wanted to forget about that game because they kicked the (stuffing) out of us,'' Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said of last year's contest. ``We have a chance to defend them this time and we're doing everything that we possibly can, watching as much tape, getting as many tips as we can in order to be able to compete with these guys this year.

``They have a very good football team.''

Fewell said the game was so bad that he didn't even want to watch the tape. But Webster did.

``I use that film to get better, move forward and see what we can use to help us be a better team this time around,'' he said. ``Many mistakes that we made last year, hopefully we can correct and don't make those same mistakes. Any tip or tendency we can get from what they're doing that will help us in this game, I'm going to use that.''

Make no mistake, the Saints still rely on the pass. Brees has thrown for a league-high 31 touchdowns to go along with 16 interceptions. But Boley said no matter what Brees has done, the principles of defense do not change.

``You have to read run first,'' he said. ``That's with any team. If you are thinking pass first, you are going to be back on your heels and they are going to pound the ball at you.''

Defensive tackle Chris Canty said if the Saints can run the ball, it will slow down the Giants pass rush. Webster concurs.

``We have to stop the run,'' he said. ``It all starts up front. If you don't stop the run, it makes the pass game a lot easier. That will be a big challenge this week.''

---

NOTES: LB Jacquian Williams seems ready to play for the first time since a knee injury vs. San Francisco on Oct. 14. ...S Tyler Sash (hamstring) and TE Travis Beckum (knee) won't play Sunday. ... S Kenny Phillips (knee) is doubtful, while WR Hakeem Nicks (knee) is questionable after being limited in practice on Friday.

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Burning Questions: Which Washington Football Team player should we be talking more about?

Burning Questions: Which Washington Football Team player should we be talking more about?

As training camp continues to build, JP Finlay and Pete Hailey will answer burning questions related to the Washington Football Team.

Up next: Which player should we be talking more about as the season nears?

JP's pick: Landon Collins

This might seem odd, but one of Washington’s most expensive players is flying under the radar during the transition to the Ron Rivera era. 

That would be Landon Collins. 

An All Pro in 2016 with the Giants, Washington signed him to a long-term deal last year that included $45 million guaranteed. He was good last season, but not great, and he’s being paid to be great. 

When Rivera or Jack Del Rio get questions about their defense this fall, most center around a stocked defensive front or questions about cornerback depth. 

To break through and be a dominant defensive unit, Washington needs more out of Collins, too.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TALK PODCAST

Pete's pick: Montez Sweat

Thanks to being drafted alongside a prolific college quarterback, Montez Sweat was overlooked heading into his debut season. Now, because of Chase Young's presence, he's similarly sneaking into Year 2.

That doesn't lessen his importance to the defense, however.

For Washington's unit to be as ferocious as many hope it will be, all three of their pass rushers — Young, Ryan Kerrigan and Sweat — need to do damage.

Despite not having taken an NFL snap yet, it's almost expected that Young will feast right away. Kerrigan, meanwhile, is aging and coming off of his first experience with injuries as a pro, but his track record speaks for itself. Sweat is the one who feels like the X-factor in that trio.

He's very quiet, he's amongst the organization's deepest position and he's got a ways to go before justifying his 2019 draft position. But Sweat came on in the second half of the schedule as a rookie and if he keeps that up, he'll start drawing more attention  — both from fans and opponents.

MORE WASHINGTON FOOTBALL NEWS

Quick Links

Giannis Antetokounmpo says he has no problem with Moe Wagner after headbutt

Giannis Antetokounmpo says he has no problem with Moe Wagner after headbutt

Despite seeking him out after the whistle and headbutting him with force to earn an ejection from Tuesday night's game, Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo says he has no problem with Wizards big man Moe Wagner. He explained the move as general frustration boiling over.

"I don’t have nothing against Wagner, it wasn’t just him. It was just, like, in my mind all these games I’ve played guys hitting me so I lost it for a second," Antetokounmpo told reporters. 

He went on to express regret over the incident, which is certain to result in a fine and possibly a suspension. His explanation, though, runs a bit counter to how the Wizards saw it all.

Wagner was not made available to the media, but his teammates weighed in and all seemed to believe it stemmed from something that happened between them earlier this season.

"They have something in the past, I don't even know," Rui Hachimura said.

"That was just some blood from back then," Ish Smith said. 

They seemed to be referencing the Feb. 24 meeting between the teams when Antetokounmpo fouled out in only 25 minutes, and with some help from Wagner. That night, Wagner gave a quote that could also have been said after this game: "He’s a really good player. I want him out of the game, obviously."

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE WIZARDS TALK PODCAST

On Tuesday, Antetokounmpo again exited early against the Wizards, and again the Bucks held on for the win, just like they did in February. Still, him leaving gave the Wizards a bit of a break. 

The reigning MVP had been dominating with 12 points and nine rebounds in 10 minutes.

"I'm not saying he's a dirty player, but he's good at those little things," Hachimura said of Wagner. "Giannis was actually out for the game. It was really big [for] us. He changed the whole game, actually. Moe's a great guy."

RELATED: GIANNIS EJECTED FOR HEADBUTTING MOE WAGNER

Wagner has a tendency to get under the skin of his opponents. He has had run-ins with other big men, most notably Joel Embiid.

He did his part, but the Bucks still had enough to beat the Wizards. Now the question is whether it was a pyrrhic victory with a potential suspension for Antetokounmpo coming next.

"There's no place for that. It's unfortunate," head coach Scott Brooks said. "It's unfortunate that it happened. I'm sure the league is going to look at it and make a decision. Fortunately for [the Bucks], it's not a playoff game [up next]. I'm sure he's probably going to miss a couple of games."

Stay connected to the Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: