Most coaches watch film to prepare for an opponent. The all-22 view, the overhead view. It gives them a perspective most fans do not get and allows them to analyze all aspects of a player’s attributes.
This week, though, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo turned to a more common vehicle for his scouting of the Raiders’ Marshawn Lynch: YouTube.
“There was a lot of Marshawn Lynch’s videos,” Spagnuolo said. “He scares me, you know? But I got a lot of respect for him as a football player. Loves playing ball. The way he runs, we’ve been talking about it all week. That’s going to be target No. 1 because he’s a good football player. We can’t let them get the run game going.”
More important, the Giants don’t want to end up on another of Lynch’s online montages.
“You never want to be on anybody’s highlight,” Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon said. “He’s just a great back and sometimes, it’s not by choice, you might just end up on there. But it’s just the type of player that he is and we’re just going to try to do our best. Do our best to contain him and stop the run.”
The last time the Giants faced Lynch, they did not do that. He had a career-high four touchdowns and 140 rushing yards while playing for Seattle on Nov. 9, 2014.
Not many Giants players have experience facing Lynch. Vernon hasn’t done it since he was a rookie in Miami in 2012, and back then he was mostly a special-teams player. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said he remembers playing against Lynch when the running back was still with the Bills.
“That ain’t fun at all,” Rodgers-Cromartie said of having to tackle him. “That’s a grown man. He’s a tough tackle. I think it’s gonna take two or three bodies to bring him down.”
It’s not just the 5-11, 215-pound Lynch’s size and strength that make him a difficult opponent. Spagnuolo called him a “mean runner.” He has 457 yards on 123 carries and five TDs this season after taking a year off in retirement. That respite did not, apparently, alter his on-field disposition.
“He’s an angry dude,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “He just runs angry. He’s always fighting for the extra yard, so we have to rally to the ball . . . You better bring somebody to the party. You go in there alone, you don’t want to play that game.”
Eli Apple said the key to tackling players like Lynch, particularly in the open field, is to go low and stop his legs from churning. Rodgers-Cromartie said the key is commitment.
“You go in there halfway, he’s going to embarrass you,” he said. “You have to go in there and give him everything you’ve got. If not, it’s not gonna look good on your end.”
And it may just wind up on YouTube for the coach of the next Raiders opponent to see.