Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Giants: Redskins game review

What can you say. I thought this was going to be a tough game for the Giants, I really did. The Redskins have an excellent defense and have been playing very well the past several weeks. Specifically, the last 5 weeks, they went 2-3 with wins against the Broncos and Raiders and their three losses, by a total of 7 points, were against very good teams: the Cowboys, Eagles and Saints. Their defense is one of the best in the league and the way the Giants defense had been playing, I thought any offense would be elevated and be able to put up some points.

Everyone is saying simply that the Redskins did not show up and we should not read too much into the results of the game last night. I disagree. I saw the Redskins playing very hard. They hit very hard on defense, worked hard (though ineffectively) on offense. The Giants just beat them up with a superior game plan and a dominant physical presence. If the Redskins had mailed it in and had not been trying, they would not have played better in the 2nd half than they did in the first. I am not going to make too much out of the game and predict that the Giants are all the way back and are going to return to playing at a very high level. But I can say that the Giants beat the Skins last night because they severely outplayed them, not because the Redskins were not trying.

The OL continued its revival with another excellent game. Beatty is a keeper at T and will be a 10 year starter for this team at that position. He hadn't even practiced much at RT this year, he is a natural LT, but he was excellent last night. Beatty has to put on a little more muscle mass in the off-season and I would seriously consider moving him in at LT next year and moving Diehl to RG or RT next year. The run blocking was very good even after Seubert went out of the game. Boothe is a very good substitute at G (not as good at T). The Giants got back to the plays that were part of the power running game that they were built on the last few years. They had the interior OL-men pulling and leading the outside stretch play, with Hedgecock blocking right behind them. The pass blocking was even better and Eli had a very clean pocket to throw from. Giants have morphed into a passing team supported by the run, rather than the other way around, but teams still have to respect that running game. I like the balance of this team offensively more than the past few years. Redskins have an excellent defense and Giants OL handled them well.

Giants knew that the Redskins front plays very aggressively and comes upfield after the passer. They have a very good run support MLB in Fletcher, but he is not good in pass coverage The Redskins safeties, while fast and physically talented, are not well coached and are often caught out of position. Giants offensive game plan was to run a lot of screens to attack the pass coverage weakness of the LBs and to attack the S in the short middle, mostly in the first half. This tested the LBs and the S in pass coverage and it worked perfectly. It also neutralized the hard charge and pass rush of the Redskins front. In the 2nd half, the Giants threw the ball down field more and everything was opening up with Eli making great reads, finding every blown coverage by the Redskins and making them pay. It was a great overall offensive performance and it was done against a very strong Redskins defense.

On defense, we should probably be a little more conservative in our praise and consider the opposition. The defense played well, but it was mostly based on the weak Redskins OL and the Giants taking advantage of it with a big pass rush. The good news is that even though the Redskins OL was weakened by injury, at least the Giants took advantage of it. A few important changes that Sheridan put in for the game last night: (1) Giants finally used some line stunts and twists. If you've been following this blog, you know that I have been whining for weeks that all they ever did was straight ahead bull rushes. These stunts were very effective. (2) While many of the blitzes were bringing an extra man up the middle, they combined it with bringing extra guys off the edge and confusing the Redskins with slightly more exotic blitzes. (3) Giants knew that the Redskins throw a lot of short passes in their west coast style and the Giants therefore played a lot more man to man to take away the quick slants and screens. This was also very effective.

Terrell Thomas played very well and could be the starting CB for a long time. His tackling and run support, which has always been spotty, was better last night. He got his first INT/TD, which was an absolute gift from Jason Campbell. I guess they're exchanging presents this year. Too bad this was his first INT/TD and not his second. You recall that he made an INT in 4th qtr against the Chargers and was tackled on the 4 yard line. Giants were stopped and held to a FG. If he had gotten 4 extra yards and scored a TD, Giants would have won the game. Instead the Chargers scored a TD to win the game and it is that loss that is keeping the Giants out of the playoffs right now. Sigh. Having 3 CBs like Ross, Thomas and Webster and deciding which should play is a good problem to have. My friend Ray thinks that Ross could be a starting S in this league, especially if Phillips injury is slow to heal.

Goff is starting to play very well. He is very fast and a really fierce hitter. He is built in the mode of the new age LB, who has to have lots of speed to play in space against the passing game. Pierce may have played his last game as NY Giant.

Even last night with a dominant performance by the entire team, we still saw some missed plays by the S. Rouse missed several tackles, one on the first Redskins TD and he made a brutal holding penalty that led to the Redskins second TD.

Best play of the evening: surprise fake FG followed by the second surprise fake FG. I won't even bother analyzing it. I will only repeat one quote from Zorn , discussing the play after the game. He said: "They didn't know what we were going to do and I thought the play would work. If they didn't have a time out left, I think it would've worked". Great, Jim. Except they did have a time out left.

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