Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Giants: Packers game review II

Defense was really overwhelmed on Sunday, but it was definitely a team effort. The offense didn't help by turning the ball over and giving a short field to defend. Furthermore, the offense scored two TDs in the first half on two long pass plays and the time of possession was really short. The offense did not get the running game going consistently, gaining only 90 yards rushing on the day. The few times that the offense seemed like it was going or got an attempt for a big running play, the RBs put the ball on the turf.

Turnovers hurt for two reasons, 1-you lose an opportunity to score and give the other team an extra opportunity to score. Perhaps more importantly, 2- you flip the field position of the game. In this context there are two kinds of turnovers - some interceptions that come at the end of a long attempt down field with no runback, give the opponents an extra possession, but in terms of field position are not much worse than a punt. However a fumble, is always at the spot of the turnover and gives away whatever field position your offense has established until then and takes away the opportunity, at the very least, to punt and push the opposing offense's starting field position back.

What was so upsetting about the two fumbles by Jacobs and Bradshaw Sunday is that they were so sloppy and were completely avoidable. Sometimes the defense makes a great play, and hits the ball with their helmet, or has a great strip with one or two people unexpectedly knocking the ball loose and there is little the RB could have done to prevent it. However, on Bradshaw's fumble, he was facing the defense, could see where the defender's were coming from and should have secured the ball. The defender, from a few feet away, reached out and slapped the ball knocking it loose. The fact that he was a few feet away indicates that it was not a hard swat and he barely reached the ball. Bradshaw was carrying the ball low and loose in one hand, not high and tight. When his starting job was taken away, he was ticked off, but he did not change his method or style of carrying the ball. He always carries it one in arm, always away from his body where it is unprotected and sometimes carries it loosely, not tight and secure even in the one hand he uses. It is pure fortune that he didn't fumble more often since being demoted. Either the coaches didn't coach him well or he's not coachable, but there were no consequences to his fumbles. He may not have gotten the honor of starting, but after a game, his carries were up as high as they had been when he was not starting. He should have been out of the lineup save for a pass play here or there and DJ Ware should have taken his carries.

Jacobs fumble was not quite as bad, but also was very avoidable and inexcusable. He was behind the defense and Matthews caught up to him from behind, slightly to Jacobs' rear left. Matthew reached forward with his let arm and grabbed Jacobs by his left shoulder pad. When a RB sees or feels contact, he's got to increase security on the ball. Jacobs should have wrapped up the ball with both hands as soon as he felt Matthews, but he didn't and Matthews swung his right arm around and punched the ball out. The RBs have not exhibited even the slightest notions of ball security, even after all the fumbles. If you keep doing the same things, you'll get the same results; it is pure luck that the RBs didn't continue to fumble for those few games after Jacobs replaced Bradshaw. BTW - great move by Boss trying to pick up the fumble with his hands instead of falling on it.

Eli's INTs were pretty bad, but I don't even care about the last few - he was desperate and was taking chances hoping for a play. Of course, it wouldn't be a Giants game if one INT didn't bounce of the intended receiver's hands and went to the defender on yet another tipped ball INT. Of course the game was well over by that time.

I have been one of Eli's biggest proponents and supporters, but it is certainly legitimate to ask - how good is he? Last two weeks, two QBs completely took away the game from the Giants, one with his feet and one with his arm. Eli has played well at times this year, and in fact played brilliantly on occasion, but we haven't seen him really dominate a game and win it all by himself. Maybe that's just the type of player he is. We know he is good enough to win a championship - he's got that on his resume already - but I would have liked to see him play at a high level more often this year. And those INT's..... ugh.

We were all feeling good and confident that the starting OL had been restored the last few games, but I will ask now, with admitted hindsight - was that really such a good thing? O'Hara did not play well at all in these last two games, getting beaten often on running plays and passing plays right up the middle. He simply whiffed on several blocks giving the DT penetration up the middle which ruins passing and running plays. One could validly ask whether it was such a good idea to move O'Hara back at C and Seubert out of that slot, back to G replacing Boothe who had been playing well. It was probably worth a try; it would be a complete second guess to say they should have left O'Hara on the bench. But once you saw the OL blocking ineffectively, they should have tried a different alignment and reverted back to what had worked when O'Hara was out.

The second point about the OL is this: I understand that it is good to get your starters back, but this is the same OL that started for us in the Super Bowl year of 2007. In fact they were together on the team for a year or two before then, although not in that exact configuration. (2007 was Diehl's first year starting at LT from the beginning of the year.) My point is - while stability in the OL is good, how many other teams in the NFL have the exact same starters this year that they did four years ago. The OL is getting a little long in the tooth, with O'Hara, Seubert, Diehl and MacKenzie getting on in years. When that happens, either performance goes down or injuries start to pile up. To be fair, the Giants did add a few OL-men through FA and the draft in Andrews, Beatty and Petrus. Andrews showed some ability before his back issue, but the other two have not started or gotten any playing time other than to replace an injured player. Giants have to get better and younger in the OL. It was inconsistent this year.

In the middle of the year when the defense looked perky, I was worried that some other team would swoop in and steal Fewell from the Giants, making him their HC and the Giants would have him for only one year. Now I am worried that some other team will NOT swoop in to steal him from the Giants and we will have him for more than one year.

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