Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Eagles game review I

This was one of the most exciting, significant regular season wins I can remember. I had fears of the Giants going down to Philly, getting waxed by two TDs, coming back home with their tail between their legs, no confidence in themselves, disharmony in the locker room and disillusionment with the coaches and the season suddenly slipping away. Instead, the Giants played a gritty game, showed great heart and may have reversed the tone and tenor of the entire season. It kind of reminds me of game 3 in the 2007 season down in Washington. Giants were 0-2, having given up 80 points in the first two games of the season to the Cowboys and the Packers and were facing a hopeful, improved Redskins team. You all remember what happened - Giants were down 17-0 at half time, but the defense awoke in the second half, got 5 conseuctive 3 and-outs giving the ball to the Giants offense, which scored 24 unanswered points. Defense clinched it with a goal line stand in the last minute.

On to the Eagles game.... I spend a fair amount of time on the blog toasting the Giants coaches, but we have to give them their props this weekend. They completely outcoached the Eagles in every phase of the game. Let's start with the offense - Gilbride (the coordinator formerly known as Killdrive) must have been reading my previous blog posts where I said that the way to beat the Eagles is to attack their LBs with passes to the RBs. I hate to say I told you so (actually, not true, I love to say I told you so), but Jacobs hit the first big play of the game on the wheel route beating an Eagle LB for the TD and Bradshaw scored the TD that put the game on ice on a sceen pass. In between, there were more passes than usual to the RBs. Giants even threw a few to the TE just for balance. I'm not giving up on Beckum, even though he made a stupid play - he has speed and could make some plays for the Giants before the year is up.

On defense, Fewell did a number of really smart things. First of all, somehow between game 2 and game 3 he taught the Giants LBs and DBs how to play a zone. The drops by the LBs were good, Boley got his hands on another pass (more about Boley later) and Jacquian Williams was all over the field in the psssing game. Giants played a lot nickel, hoping to combat the Eagles speed and it worked very well - the Eagles ran the ball effectively, but held the passing game in check with no big plays. They also kept Vick in the pocket, not letting him get out on any big runs.

One other smart thing Fewell did was in his LB rotation. The starting LBs in the base defense are Boley, Kiwanuka and R Greg Jones. Because the Giants played a lot of nickel, Jones did not see much playing time. But here's the smart thing Fewell did - Jacquian Williams, who has tremndous speed, was the nickel LB. They don't just take off one of the LBs and replace him with a DB, they put in a speedy LB to replace Kiwanuka because he will be mroe effective in the passing game. Williams played great making several very good solo tackles. Reese may have hit the jackpot with this year's LBs. Jones and Williams are already getting a lot of playing time and are playing extremely well. Herzlich is a future starter and even Paysinger will be a contributor.

Boley is having an excellent season so far having played an excellent game Sunday. He made the big stop on McCoy on 4th down, knocked down a pass in the zone defense and he made several of the stops on the goal line stands.

Back to the coaching - even the ST coaches should get some respect. When the Giants lined up for the FG in the 4th qtr that would have given them a 9 point lead, they drew the Eagles offside which gave them a  first down. That was not a random, lucky play. Giants ST coach Quinn noticed that the Eagles end gets a very fast start rushing the place kicker and listens carefully to the snap count by the holder to get his fast start. Giants called for a double snap count there which drew the penalty and the clinching TD.

Eli palyed a great game, throwing the ball accurately, making great decisions and eating the ball to take a sack a few times instead of putting the ball in harms way and risking a turnover. Even the second TD to Cruz, which looked like it was thrown into double coverage, was actually a great pass. Cruz was right in the seam of the zone and the ball was thrown with great timing before the Eagle defenders could close and make a play on the ball.

I was very unimpressed with Asomugha. He didn't shut anyone down in coverage and his tackling skills are nonexistent. I also talked about how weak the Eagles LBs were, but after watching the game I can also add that their safeties stink too. Reid is a great offensive coach, but not good defensively. He prospered when he had Jim Johnson and Spagnuolo on his defensive staff, but has hired a few terrible DCs in the past few years and it will be the achilles heel of this team all year long.

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