From Derrick Henry to Christian McCaffrey, Giants’ defense set to face another explosive back

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Giants Christian McCaffrey
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey celebrates after scoring with quarterback Baker Mayfield during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C.
AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman

After facing one of the most explosive running backs in the NFL in Week 1, the New York Giants defense will need to try and replicate their effort in their second game of the season when the Carolina Panthers come to East Rutherford. 

The Giants managed to hold Derrick Henry to just 82 yards in Sunday’s 21-20 upset of the Tennessee Titans, which included a highlight reel-worthy hit by Tae Crowder on Henry that knocked him clear off his feet. New York’s ability to limit Henry’s impact was an impressive feat that it will have to do again with the talented and equally as explosive Christian McCaffrey lining up opposite them this weekend. 

“I thought obviously part of the plan was to go in there and to try to eliminate the big, big runs,” Giants head coach Brian Daboll said.  “The runs that I thought what the defense did was they did a really good job of stopping the run against a very talented player and good scheme. And then, they were hitting on a couple of those play-action passes, but there weren’t any that went 60, 70 over our head, easy ones.” 

The Giants’ plan of attack against Henry and McCaffrey will likely look a bit different, with the former being a bigger guy that is known to put his shoulder down and run over defenders while McCaffrey can b a bit shiftier. And New York is sure to try and replicate the gameplan that the Cleveland Browns utilized in Week 1 when they beat Carolina 26-24. 

McCaffrey was held to just 33 yards on the ground and one touchdown with an additional 24 yards coming through the air. It was one of his worst games as a pro and it wasn’t a great reflection for new offensive coordinator — and former Giants coach — Ben McAdoo who underutilized McCaffrey in Week 1. 

Even with Cleveland keeping McCaffrey relatively quiet in the first game, he still managed to show off his talent during the Browns’ second-half comeback. However, the Giants remained unphased by the idea of facing another elite back. 

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Crowder said the gameplan for McCaffrey “Probably” will look a bit different than against Henry, but it was ultimately about what the Giants do on defense. 

“Obviously, it’ll be a difference, but it’s not really about what they’re going to do. It’s about what we’re going to do,” Crowder said. 

Sunday will mark the Giants’ first game of the year at home and they’ll be looking to keep the positivity going after such a big win over the Titans to open the season. Containing McCaffrey will be a big determination if they can make it two wins in a row.