James Bettcher, Markus Golden
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

With 10 days to prepare we should see better results from the New York Giants defense when they take on the Arizona Cardinals at MetLife Stadium.

Jason Leach

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—James Bettcher and his New York Giants defense have come under much scrutiny over the first six games of the season. The defense is currently ranked 28, giving up an average of 412.3 yards per game.

The biggest issue for the defense has been their inability to cover receivers downfield. Oftentimes, receivers have roamed free in the secondary. As a result they’ve allowed four quarterbacks to throw for over 300 yards this season.

Against the Patriots, despite giving up 427 yards, the defense showed some signs of improvement. But against the (2-3-1) Arizona Cardinals this Sunday at MetLife Stadium, Bettcher is expecting a much better effort from his defensive unit, especially with his familiarity with Cardinals.

From 2013 to 2017, Bettcher served as the Cardinals outside linebackers coach and defensive coordinator. Although the coaching staff and personnel have gone through significant changes since Bettcher’s time in Arizona, he is very familiar with two key Cardinals playmakers, running back David Johnson and future Hall of Fame wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

In addition, two of Bettcher’s current players, Markus Golden and safety Antoine Bethea, spent the previous few seasons with the Cardinals.

Facing Johnson and Fitzgerald numerous times in practice should help the Giants devise a scheme to help contain Johnson and Fitzgerald.

But Bettcher, Golden and Bethea have no familiarity with the Cardinals best playmaker, No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray.

The dual-threat Murray is beginning to set the league on fire. Through six games, he has completed 153 of 238 passes for 1,664 yards and seven touchdowns to four interceptions. He’s also rushed for 238 yards on 39 carries with two rushing touchdowns.

Against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, Murray completed 27 of 37 passes for 340 yards and a career-high three touchdowns.

It’s imperative that Bettcher finds a way to come up with a scheme to slow down Murray and the Cardinals offense, or Sunday’s game could turn into a shootout.

One huge factor that bodes well in the Giants’ favor is that they’ve had 10 days to prepare. The extra days of preparation should factor in on Sunday.

On Monday, safety Jabrill Peppers was asked how confident the defense is that they can shut down the Cardinals offense.

“We’re confident in the matter of if we do what we do and communicate effectively, no mental mistakes, no shooting ourselves in the foot,” Peppers said. “We think we can be as good as anybody and play with anybody. It’s just executing for four quarters, playing complementary football and I think that’ll get the job done.”

The best way for the defense to get the job done on Sunday would be to exploit the Cardinals subpar offensive line. Through six games, Murray has been sacked 21 times. Golden has recorded at least half a sack in the past five games and that streak should continue on Sunday.

This is a huge game for the Giants and for Bettcher, especially if his unit doesn’t start containing opposing offenses. If the defense can shut down Murray and the Cardinals offense, it could give them a confidence boost that will help them in the second half of the season.

If the defense gets lit up again, then Bettcher will find himself firmly on the hot seat rather quickly.

Jason's first love was football while growing up in northern New Jersey. For the past three years, he has covered the New York Giants, as well as several boxing events along the East Coast.