Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bills game review

Nice win against a good Bills team. Bills offense is particularly well suited to go against the Giants, which made it tough. Bills offense is all short throws off 3-step drops, which doesn't allow the Giants defense to go to their strength, which is their pass rush. It seemed like whenever Fitzpatrick did try to hold the ball a little longer and look for a slightly longer throw, the Giants pass rush put good pressure on him. I particularly liked the sack that took them out of FG range. The only two really deep throws that Fitzpatrick attempted were both picked off by the Webster.

Giants defense is not as bad as it sometimes looks. They are forced into playing much more zone than they prefer and being very predictable on defense, largely because the defense has only two legitimate CBs in Ross and Webster. Remember of course that Terrel Thomas, Bruce Johnson and promising rookie Witherspoon are gone for the season and Amukamara has not stepped onto the field yet. Giants are forced into using Rolle as the nickel back and while he is doing a good job, he is simply not a natural cover DB. If you play too much zone, and if the pass rush can't get home, you are exposed. As stupid as it sounds, improvement in the Giants defense may depend on how fast Amukamara recovers and develops. If he is as good as advertised and can contribute significantly down the stretch, it could make the defense much better. If Giants play a predictable zone against the Patriots, Brady will carve it up.

The 3-safety look was a nice gimmick last year, but teams are getting used to it and burning it with running game, especially because Grant seems to have lost a step from last year and is not playing well. On Bills long TD run in first half, RB Jackson lined up as WR, forcing the Giants to spread their defense. Then pre-snap, Jackson shifted into the backfield, and while Phillips slid over also from his S position, the 7 defenders the Giants had in the box included S Phillips and light-ish LB Jacquian Williams. The middle of the Bills OL made a little crease, Phillips didn't fill the hole well, Grant missed a tackle and just like that Jackson was gone for 80.

Eli had one of his best days throwing the ball. Every pass was perfect and his reading of the defense was excellent. The OL did a very nice job pass blocking and was decent in the running game. Boothe did a good job filling in for Snee, but he missed blocks on two running plays, that if he had made them, would have gone for big yards. More on that in future posts.

Ballard is a real find at TE. He's not fast as Boss was, but he catches everything, runs very precise routes and knows how to find the dead seams in the zone. He uses his big body well to shield the ball from smaller DBs. If his blocking improves, he will be very productive.

The main problem with the running game remains the poor blocking from the TE and FB position. Pascoe got called for two holding penalties this week. Ballard was a little better.

Anatomy of the winning run: the 30 yard run by Bradshaw that set up the winning FG by Tynes, was an excellent call and perfect execution. Giants OL all pushed out to the right influencing the Bills defense to flow to that side. Pascoe also ran to the right, apparently leading a run to that side of the field. On the left side of the offense, the Bills DE rushed up field and Ballard easily got in front of him and prevented him from making a play. Manningham was the WR on the left and he made a crushing block on the DB, pushing him 10 yards across the field away from the play. Bradshaw took one step to the right, continuing the deception and then ran a counter back to the left where there was only one defender in his way. He juked him, made him miss and he was gone for 30. Great call and perfect execution.

Giants are starting to get close in getting their running game going. OL needs to continue to improve, get the defense a little better and we can be a little optimistic about this season.

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