It wasn't long ago that a quarterback like Cam Newton was an anomaly. You mean to say there's a guy who can throw the football or run with it? How absurd!
Nowadays, of course, such dynamic players are commonplace and NFL defensive coordinators like the Giants' Perry Fewell spent a good chunk of their offseason preparing for them.
"It's become more of a focus of the defenses now because of what's happening in Washington, what's happening in Philadelphia, what's happening around the league, Kansas City, etc.," Fewell said Thursday. "It's become more of an emphasis."
The Giants spent time working on defending that type of offense, whether it be a read-option or just a guy who can make plays happen with his feet. Eight of their remaining 14 opponents have quarterbacks who would qualify as a dual threat -- the Giants have two games each against Michael Vick and Robert Griffin III, and also get first looks at Russell Wilson (Seattle) and Terrelle Pryor (Oakland). That doesn't include your run-of-the-mill athletic quarterbacks like Tony Romo and Aaron Rodgers who can get out of trouble but seldom run for running's sake.
On Sunday, the Giants get to see if their preparations worked.
"It'll be a good test run for us for the weeks coming up, no doubt about it," Fewell said.
The key will be very basic. Assignment football. Eleven defenders matching up against 11 offensive players. That wasn't always the math coordinators in the NFL used, though.
"In the old pro football style you didn't account for the quarterback who was going to stand in the pocket," Fewell said. "Now you have to account for the quarterback. It changes your thinking, it changes your mentality a little bit because he becomes a viable part of the run game as well as the pass game."
That doesn't mean it's impossible to contain. The Giants had a very good game against Newton last year, sacking him twice and forcing three interceptions while holding him to 6 rushing yards. In the games immediately before and after he faced the Giants, Newton ran for a combined 157 yards.
This time Newton is coming off a game in which he was sacked six times by the Bills.
"He's a good quarterback, but I think our defense, we should be able to stop him," Jason Pierre-Paul said. "I think that we play those types of quarterbacks very well."
Mathias Kiwanuka said that because of the preparations for running quarterbacks in general this offseason, the Giants may be in even better position to face Newton this year.
"We're definitely more prepared," he said. "We have a great group of veteran guys who have been here through the years and seen the development and the change in that kind of offense. I think we have the ability to recognize it when we're on the field and go out and get the job done."
Tom Coughlin said that the Giants "studied the heck out of" the new wave of offenses in the NFL over the last few months.
"We have a plan," he said. "We haven't really been tested in that area, but we have worked in training camp on responsibilities. I'm confident we'll have a guy in the right place, hopefully at the right time."