NFL Swamp Guess

Neither Team May Be Giants

SLOWEST UNIT: Donnie Abraham and crew. Give these defensive backs oven mitts. Abraham and fellow newcomer Aaron Beasley got burned 57 percent of the time by opposing receivers, according to numbers crunched by STATS Inc. And holdover free safety Damien Robinson gave up almost 15 yards per reception allowed. Edwards recruited his new defensive backfield (including Giants castoff Sam Garnes at strong safety) based more on their familiarity with his zone-coverage schemes than on physical talent. The new final line of defense is a noticeably slower bunch than last year's model and will need plenty of help from the defensive line—which may very well be up to that task.

BEST UNIT: Defensive line.In 1982 Mark Gastineau led the New York Sack Exchange to the AFC title game. This year's group bristles with an aggressiveness not seen since then and is even deeper. Defensive end John Abraham (13 sacks in 2001) is the anchor, and the Jets drafted a clone named Bryan Thomas who will soon be the other bookend. Run-stuffing nose tackle Jason Ferguson returns, and so does Shaun Ellis. "They have an attacking scheme with great athletes on the outside," says Todd McShay, an analyst for the War Room, a football think tank.

But what about that offense? Last season's post-season appearance calmed the feud between Testaverde and Hackett, but Edwards maintained his counseling sessions during the summer, sitting in on numerous offensive meetings. "This offense can be successful," says the War Room's McShay, "but if things do not start well, it has the potential to become an explosive situation." Keep the couch warm, Dr. Herm.

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