By Paul Schwartz
An inside look at Sunday’s Giants-Panthers Week 2 matchup at MetLife Stadium.
Panthers WR D.J. Moore vs. Giants CB Adoree’ Jackson
Yes, we know Robbie Anderson had a big day in the season-opener — a 75-yard touchdown reception doesn’t hurt — but Moore is the main threat here. He had a career-high 93 receptions in 2021, and in 2020 he averaged 18.1 yards per catch.
Will Jackson shadow Moore all game? This will be a battle of former first-round draft picks.
Jackson is coming off a fine opening game, showing physical play as a tackler that is not always a part of his approach.
The Giants did a great job containing Derrick Henry in Week 1, but Christian McCaffrey is much more of a receiving threat and the Titans did score two touchdowns when a running back broke free in the secondary. How long can this defense get by without injured pass rushers Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari? Maybe Saquon Barkley will be the difference, again.
Giants 24, Panthers 22
Bully pulpit: Teammates were pumped seeing LB Tae Crowder send Derrick Henry to the ground with a punishing hit last week. “Hit a bully, you know what I’m saying?’’ defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence told The Post. Next up: Christian McCaffrey. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale likened Henry to Jim Brown and McCaffrey to Barry Sanders.
“He’s slippery,’’ Lawrence said of McCaffrey. “He avoids the bully. For me, a running back is a running back. McCaffery is just a little more shifty in how he does it, he can get out and catch the ball also. It’s the same plan, getting 11 to the ball, stopping him before he gets going and controlling the line of scrimmage. That’s how you kind of contain a running back.’’
New QB on the scene: Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield did not come out on top last week in an emotional game against the Browns, the team that made him the No. 1-overall pick in the 2018 draft — and traded him away earlier this year. Mayfield struggled early in his Panthers debut. He knows Martindale’s defense from their years together in the AFC North, when Martindale was with the Ravens.
“I said before when he first came out, playing against him, he’s a gunslinger,’’ Martindale said. “Who did they always call gunslinger? Brett Favre. Right? And what did Brett Favre do? He left Atlanta, went to Green Bay, and he took off. Might be the same thing here for Baker.’’
And now for the encore: An even heavier workload for Saquon Barkley? He embarked on his contract year with a brilliant performance, rushing for 164 yards and a touchdown, catching a team-high six passes and scoring the winning points on a 2-point conversion shovel pass. The Panthers were shredded on the ground in the season-opening loss to the Browns, allowing 217 rushing yards — 141 by Nick Chubb. The Titans last week did not load up the box on defense to stop Barkley. The Panthers might.
“I think you plan for it,’’ offensive coordinator Mike Kafka said. “I don’t know exactly what they are going to do. I think you plan for those things and you’ve got to have answers within the scheme and within the game plan.’’
Cornering the market: Cornerback Aaron Robinson was one of the biggest question marks in the Giants’ starting lineup heading into this season. He held up fine against the Titans, but is out after having his appendix removed. That makes an already thin position darn-near emaciated. Rookie Cor’Dale Flott is one option. Justin Layne, who spent three years with the Steelers, is another. The most experienced option is Fabian Moreau, 28. He started 16 games for the Falcons in 2021 and could go from the practice squad to a starting spot.
“He knows this league and the receivers in this league and how to play,’’ defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson said. “He’s a good add for us.’’