Monday, August 30, 2010
Giants: Ravens game
Take a look at the buttons on the left and click away on the button that captures your current stance on the Giants and their 2010 season. Which camp are you in? Is it: time to wave the red flags, time to send out the SOS signal hoping that the Carpathia gets here in time, time to panic, time to try to sell those expensive PSLs that you invested in while they're still worth something, time to sell the season tickets while people are still interested in buying them and there's still a market for them? Or is it time to take a deep breath, realize that this is just the preseason, that the Giants have had a load of injuries in camp so far which is preventing them from developing any continuity or cohesiveness and that as soon as the players get a little healthier and get to practice together for a few weeks in a row, the Giants considerable talent will show out and they will have a season reflective of this talent. (By now I hope you realize that clicking on the buttons above doesn't really do anything, they are a simulation of "real" buttons.)
Frankly, I am somewhere in the middle. I recognize that the Giants have some talent, but there are definitely some worrying signs and there are some problems and holes on the team from last year that we simply won't be able to judge if they have been closed until they get on the field and start playing. For the past few years, the Giants defense has been open to medium range pass plays in the middle of the field attacking the LBs. Mostly, they have been vulnerable to good pass receiving TEs, but really, anytime they played zone defense, the middle of the field was exposed. The Giants brought in Bulluck, seem to like the athleticism of Goff in the middle and brought in Bolley last year because he is so quick. Bolley did not have an impact last year because he was injured and missed a lot of time and when he came back, the season had already started to slip away. But - on paper at least - the Giants have 3 very quick LBs who should be able to play in space and secure the middle of the field. In addition, last year's performance at the S position was very weak and the deep middle was also exposed making matters even worse for the defense. Here too, the Giants imported two new S players in Grant and Rolle; and they are getting Phillips back from injury, so that part of the defense also seems like it will be better. Last year the DL was injured and did not have a good year, looking like they were beat physically at the point of attack by every OL they played. With many players coming back from injury and the drafting of two new young players, in Joseph and JPP, the defensive front seems like it should be strong. All of that sounds good on paper, but the performance against the Ravens was horrible. There was an occasional pass rush, but for the most part the DL looked like they were handled easily by the Ravens OL. The pass defense in the middle of the field was very weak. It seems like Fewell's strategy is to play a lot more zone this year, give the DBs a chance to play the qb's eyes and make some plays on the ball. But against Baltimore, the holes in the zone were evident and the Ravens took advantage. On the outside, the Giants were evaluating some CBs because of injuries to starters and played a little more man to man, with less S help than might happen in the regular season. These young CBs, particularly Johnson and Courtney Brown did not exactly shine. Flacco threw 34 times in the half (and one series in the 3rd qtr) and completed about 2/3 of his passes for 260+ yards. That was not exactly the type of performance that gives strength, courage and hope to the fans that the defense will step up and have a good year. The young CBs did not seize the moment and did not show that they are ready. Two of the three starting CBs, Ross and Thomas are out; Thomas will probably be back, but Ross IMO will miss some time. This means that the young CBs that had a tryout on Saturday night and played poorly will probably see some time as the 3rd and fourth CBs on the field. Frankly, I would rather use another S and get Phillips more involved in coverage, based on what I saw Saturday night. On the "just calm down" side of the equation, the Giants played a very vanilla defensive scheme and the Ravens came out with a very aggressive offensive game plan - throw all over the field and they even ran a lot of no huddle to keep the Giants defense off balance. Nothing illegal or improper about that, but it is something else that argues for a little patience for the team.
On offense I really don't know what to think. The OL was not very good in pass protection and was mediocre opening running lanes. Particularly embarrassing was the 2nd and 1 that the Giants failed to convert in three tries. Or course, this was a Kevin Killdrive special. Giants ran the exact same play 3 times in a row, straight dive right up the middle, with no player split away from the line, no deception and a virtual advertisement of what play they were going to run. On top of that - I understand that they like Bradshaw in short yardage situations because he is elusive and can make a tackler miss and make that yard. But if you're using Bradshaw, don't run a straight dive. If you're going up the middle, use Jacobs. It seems like the Giants are leaning to Bradhsaw and I think they should not take away too many carries from Jacobs, because he looks ready for a good season to me.
What's the problem with the OL? Are they just not getting the time together and therefore not playing well? Or do they have some key players all getting old at the same time and they will not have a good year? I am sure that is why Reese drafted Beatty and why they signed Andrews, to guard against that possibility. Unfortunately, Beatty has looked a little unsteady and blowing assignments when blitzes are coming, though he has shown some ability. Andrews looked very good in his half of football, admittedly against the 2nd team. If he continues to progress, and doesn't have a relapse because of injury, he may force his way into the lineup.
Eli looked a little jumpy and did not throw the ball strongly, partly because of lack of time to throw.
Overall, the Giants looked much less athletic and less prepared than the Ravens. Is this because of the injuries and because of the lack of game planning in the preseason? Or are we in for a weaker season than we had hoped. We'll see.