Giants offense moved the ball very effectively, especially in the first half of the game and the really good thing to take away form the game is that they pushed the ball into the end zone instead of settling for FGs. Perhaps more important, they took advantage of the field position they got on Corey Webster's INT and turned that into a TD also. Unlike the Bears game, where the Giants twice wasted short fields from turnovers, in this game, they cashed in. In the 3rd QTR the Giants offense regressed a little bit and did not respond quickly enough to the Texans half time adjustments. But they caught on in the 4th QTR, restored order and put the game away.
In the first half, the Texans played primarily zone in their DB-field and gave very soft coverage on Hakeem Nicks, figuring that the inexperienced second year player would not figure out the zone coverage and therefore would not hurt them. Not the best scouting and coaching job by the Texans, because, as you all saw, Nicks toasted the Texans DBs especially in the first half. The reason I say that this was bad scouting and coaching is that it might be fair to say that Nicks strength is his football IQ, his route running and his running after the catch, which certainly allows him to attack a zone. He is not a pure burner but relies on understanding the defense to make his plays. It is true that in one-on-one match ups, he is able to use his physical skills, his body control and great ability to make adjustments on the balls in flight to pluck the ball away from the defender. Notwithstanding these skills, he is also a zone killer as he showed in the first half. In the second half, the Texans played more man underneath with zone coverage on top from the safeties and this resulted in Eli's two picks. When OC Gilbride figured out what the Texans were doing (it shouldn't have taken him a whole quarter to do so) he got the offense back in rhythm by calling different routes and the Giants offense closed out the game well.
I see the Giants OL continuing to improve game by game. Frankly I was concerned about the Mario Williams-David Diehl matchup, but Diehl did a decent job on him. Williams may have been a little nicked up and did not play with as much force as he could have, but Diehl, nevertheless did a good job.
It is interesting that the Giants are slowly morphing into a pass first offense and I think there are several reasons for this. For one thing, the Giants have really talented WRs and a smart QB. For another thing, more and more teams are playing 8-in-the-box against the Giants and in fact, it is a league-wide trend for all teams to load up against the run in early downs. It was also nice to see that Gilbride is working some slants, crossing routes and out patterns instead of the restricted diet of hooks and seam routes that used to be the staple of the offense. Nicks and Mannigham are both really good after the catch and getting them to catch the ball on the move in space enhances their ability to make plays. I can't wait until Gilbride throws in a double move off of an out pattern to Nicks. The defense would bite hard because the only way to break up one of thos eplays, especially with Eli's accuracy at hitting the back shoulder, is for the DB to really commi and drive very ahrd on the ball. A little pump fake by Eli and an out-and-up go route would be perfect.
One interesting thing about the Giants running plays is the cut back ability of Bradshaw and the nature of his running style. Some people see this as a weakness in the Giants OL and running game. The play is designed to go to the left, there is no hole there, Bradshaw reverses field, cuts back and makes yards back on the right side. Is this an indication that the OL did not do its job because there was no hole where the play was originally designed to go? I think not, for two reasons. First of all, the RBs do not cut back on every play, they are hitting the holes where they are supposed to be more often than it seems. Bradshaw's cut back runs are pretty and therefore memorable, but he sticks with the primary hole more often than it seems. Second, and perhaps most important, the Giants blocking patterns and OL work to enable these cut backs and they can almost be considered designed cut backs. For example, here's the anatomy of one play that I saw the Giants run when Bradshaw cut back and made good yardage on it. LT Diehl and LG Seubert fired out to their left, pushing the RDE and RDT back and further to the left of the offense trying to create a hole in this area, between the LT and the LG. Meanwhile, the right side of the OL was considered the back side of the play and instead of blocking their man straight ahead, they moved slightly forward and diagonally to their left, trying to create a vertical wall sealing the backside of the defense and creating a second hole up the middle, between the C and the LG. Bradshaw started out to his left going towards the hole between the LG and LT and there was a small hole there. The Texans LBs flowed in this direction, reading their keys of the left side of the OL and seeing Bradshaw heading towards this hole. But when Bradshaw got near the hole, he cut back up the middle and used the seal created by the right side of the OL on the back side of the defense to scoot up the middle and gain about 15 yards. Because of that back side seal, it was almost a designed cut back. the Giants are designing their blocking and run plays to suit the skill and style of Bradshaw, which actually is not dissimilar to what they did when Tiki was the featured RB and had similar cut back abilities to what Bradshaw is showing.
Eli has to stop the INTs. I know that 4 or 5 of the INTs were happenstance because of tipped balls. But the left handed pass against the Bears and the 2 INTs Sunday against the Texans were bad decisions and bad throws. He just has to cut that out and the Giants need to cut down on turnovers.
Despite the slowness to re-adjust to the Texans half time adjustments, Gilbride called a good game. He saw the weakness in the Texans pass defense and attacked it. There was enough running to keep things in balance, but Giants won this game through the air.