Backup QB David Carr has seen Bucs' offense before
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This might be the easiest week of the year for David Carr.
The backup quarterback usually is in charge of running the scout team, giving the Giants' defenders a good idea of what an opponent will be trying to accomplish and the plays it likely will be running. It sometimes requires quite a bit of extensive study and preparation. But this week, it's been very simple.
He's running the Giants' offense.
Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan spent the last eight years of his career on the Giants' staff, first as wide receivers coach and then as quarterbacks coach. When he went to the Bucs to run their offense during the offseason, the one he installed was the one he'd been teaching all those years.
It's so similar, Carr said, that he hasn't even had to change the language or terminology of his calls.
"There are some defensive guys in there so you have to tell them what to do," Carr said of the scout-team huddle, "but for the most part, we're just running our own plays."
And Sullivan brought more than just the playbook with him. After nearly a decade of helping to mold Eli Manning into a two-time Super Bowl winner, he knows all of his strengths . . . and weaknesses. Sullivan knows what Manning tries to avoid, what defenses he has difficulty against and what looks will prompt changes in play-calling at the line of scrimmage. New Bucs head coach Greg Schiano was sure to take advantage of that knowledge.
"It would be foolish not to," Schiano said. "He's been a big help."
Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride -- Sullivan's immediate boss for most of his Giants tenure -- knows that. He also knows that it will take just one wrinkle to have both sides abandon what they think they know.
"All you have to do is fake it one time and have them jump on something, and that's the end of them [knowing] your calls," Gilbride said. "They think you're running a curl, I run a curl, you jump on it and I [run a double-move and] go 70 yards for a touchdown, that's the end of that one. It's not hard to overcome that."
The Giants' defense will be on the lookout for similar deceits.
"I'll play everything honest," safety Antrel Rolle said. "You can't go out there and try to get into a guessing game and think you know this and you know that. Of course they're going to throw wrinkles in."
So in this shadow boxing match, who has the advantage?
The team that performs better, naturally.
"It's always going to come down to execution," Manning said. "Will he give them some advice on a few wrinkles that they're going to try to do? Probably so, but it's still going to be a matter of if they call it at the exact right time that we're in a certain coverage. So we've got to go out there and play our game and play smart."
Sullivan isn't the only former Giants coach now with Tampa Bay. Former defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan is running the Bucs' defense. But Sheridan was not with the Giants when they ran the defense they currently are using, the one Perry Fewell installed.
Sullivan is really the one who knows all of the Giants' offensive secrets.
"It's a pretty unique deal," Carr said. "It would be like if one of us walked out of here and went over to Tampa Bay."
Then Carr paused for a moment.
"In fact," he said, "that's exactly what happened."