The New York Giants came into Week 15 on the shoulders of their worse defeat of the season and four straight weeks without a victory. An inability to stop the run had been the team’s biggest problem.
That changed Sunday night thanks to one key defensive adjustment that tilted the tide and helped the Giants knock off the Commanders 20-12.
On paper, the Giants’ defense wasn’t anything special. They gave up over 150 yards on the ground for over six yards a carry. The defense committed key penalties and was even a couple of missed calls away from going into overtime against a Commanders roster that moved up and down the field.
But their one defensive adjustment not only changed the game but arguably saved the season.
Landon Collins has familiarity as both a Commander and Giant. The former second-round pick has struggled to find the field for both teams over the last two seasons as a hard-hitting safety with poor cover skills. Yet New York found a way to use him effectively Sunday night to help tilt the score in the Giants’ favor.
Collins totaled just three tackles in Sunday night’s win. More than that, he played in a season-high 43% of snaps in the win and was as stout as ever against the run as an inside linebacker. He made key stops on third and short that ended up contributing to the Giants’ next offensive drive – a touchdown for the lead.
In Wink Martindale’s scheme, the inside linebacker is under a lot of pressure to be instinctive and make plays on the football against the run. Collins plays the sort of downhill game that fits perfectly at linebacker for the Giants. While he’s still a part of the practice squad, the decision should be a no-brainer to bring Collins to the active roster.
“That’s something (general manager) Joe (Schoen) and I will talk about, not just about Landon but with all the individuals like we do each week. We haven’t had a chance to sit down and discuss those things, but certainly, that topic – We’ll talk about it.” head coach Brian Daboll said Monday.
New York’s playoff hopes improved to over 90% with the win on Sunday night. With upcoming games against the Vikings, Colts, and Eagles, just one more win could be enough to put them over the hump for their first playoff appearance in over seven years.
Stopping the run will be the Giants’ top priority. And they might have found a long-term solution to their problems at linebacker.