Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Giants: More Cowboys stuff

A few more notes about the Cowboys game....

The Giants were gashed by the Cowboys running game and gave up 251 yards rushing. It's hard to imagine a team giving up that many rushing yards and still winning the game, but the Giants did it. Of course, Romo sharing the ball so nicely with the visitors wearing the blue uniforms was very hospitable of him and was one of the reasons that the Giants won. To tell you the truth, that other Manning had a similar experience on Monday night football, when his Colts gave up 239 yards rushing and 45 minutes of possession time to the Dolphins and still won the game. Another similarity is that the Colts won on a 4th quarter drive led by their QB.

When I was watching the game live and when I reviewed the game initially, it looked to me like there were several plays where the Giants were just physically dominated by a bigger Cowboy OL. But I heard Carl Banks say that the Giants were very undisciplined in their gap and lane control. They overpursued, each player trying to do too much by themselves and that is what allowed the Cowboys to make their big plays. After I heard that, I went back to the game and watched it again and I think Banks is absolutely right. Osi was the biggest culprit, constantly overcommitting and charging too hard to the ball, leaving wide cutback lanes open. If Sheridan and Waufle are good coaches, they will address this and correct it in the coming weeks. Bucs are not a good team, but have a good running attack, so this week will be a good indicator.

One more thing about the run defense - we know the Giants are good run stoppers; that has been a core of their defense for the last 2 years (at least). The DTs are strong and the DEs are quick enough to avoid the blockers and make plays. The DTs may have slowed down a bit, but the Cowboys ran on the outside, not over the DTs. I am hopeful that the coaches will get this fixed.

There's another way to look at the poor run defense against the Cowboys and forgive me in advance for boring you with some statistics, but in this case they may be instructive. When you think of a defense that gets beaten badly on the ground, you assume that the opponents were constantly ripping off gains of 5-6-7 yards; that the defense was constantly crushed by an overpowering OL; that they rarely stopped any plays for no gain. This past weekend, the Cowboys gained 251 yards on 29 rush attempts for an average of 8.7 yards and you would certainly think that fits the profile of Giants not stopping any running plays. However, that was certainly not the case. The fact is that the Cowboys hit on a few huge plays in the running game which greatly inflated their running yards, but the Giants did a decent job on many other running plays. Here's the data that supports that claim:

The Cowboys had 5 rushing attempts that were greater than 20 yards, one of them the big 56 yard run by Felix Jones. Of these 5 rushing plays, the Cowboys gained a total of 162 of their rushing yards. That is really impressive, but it means that on the other 24 rushing attempts, the Cowboys gained 89 yards for an average of 3.7 yards per carry. Furthermore, the Cowboys had 9 rushing attempts of 3 yards or less including 6 for no gain or a loss. So 17% of the Cowboys rushing attempts yielded 64% of their yards and the other 83% of their rushing attempts were kept at a very manageable number by the Giants defense. I am not trying to revise history and say that the Giants run defense was great Sunday night except for a few lucky plays by the Cowboys. The Giants definitely have some work to do in order to improve the run defense. I am just saying that the statistics reveal that the Giants made some good plays in the rush defense and have the raw materials to be a good defense against the run.

Here's a question for all Giants fans and Cowboys haters. (I know that last identification was redundant... all Giants fans are Cowboys haters.) What would you rather see happen to the Cowboys this year, the year that Jerry Jones opens up his new stadium? The reflex non-thinking man's answer would be to see the Cowboys suffer ignominy this year, finish 7-9 and not come near making the playoffs. I tend to disagree, as that would bring only momentary satisfaction for Giants fans. I am more interested in seeing the Cowboys descend into a slow long decline covering several years of losing football. The best way to accomplish this is to see the Cowboys finish about 10-6, sneak into the playoffs as a wildcard, maybe even win a playoff game and then lose before they get to the NFC conference championship game. The reason this is a better scenario for the Giants is that with a playoff victory under his (extremely large) belt, Wade Phillips would probably get rehired by Jerry Jones. My contention is that nothing is better for the Giants than having old Wade Phillips stay in Dallas for a few years. He may be a decent coordinator, but he is a terrible HC and it says here that the Cowboys never reach the promised land with him as coach. If the Cowboys go 7-9 or 6-10 this year, Jerry Jones hires Mike Shanhan or Mike Holmgren as coach next year and maybe they turn things around. Go Wade. Go 'Boys.

I posted this last year, but it's worthwhile to remind everyone of the Giants-Phillips connection in NFL history. Wade Phillips' father Bum, was the coach of the New Orleans Saints who drafted George Rogers, South Carolina RB as the first pick in the 1981 draft. This let LT fall to the Giants with the second pick in the first round. BTW - Bum's QB at the time was Archie Manning, another curious connection. I am telling you people - we want Wade Phillips to stay as coach of the Cowboys as long as possible.


Ray said...

Your analysis of the Cowboy running game reminds me of the Giant-Baltimore game last year. In it, Giants ran for lots of yardage (especially early) and got lots of credit for running effectively against the great Baltimore defense, but, on close analysis, most of the yardage was made on some long runs and the Giants did not really run consistently in that game.

wolfman said...

I was thnking of that Ravens game when I looked at the stats from this Cowboys game. Depending on HOW the defense lines up, the raw stats can be a bit misleading at times. For example, suppose the defense is selling out to stop the run, run-bliting, gambling and committing 8-9 guys to the line of scrimmage. The offense will get a lot of short gains but then if they find a crease, and break through the first level, there's nobody at the second level to stop the runner and it goes for a big gain. However, such was NOT the case last year when Giants played the Ravens and it wasn't the case Sunday night in the way the Giants played defense against the Cowboys.

BTW - one more point... as good as Terrell Thomas is in pass defense, I see him whiffing often on tackles in run support. This is one area where Ross excelled and the Giants miss him.