Thursday, October 6, 2011

Focus of Giants improvement: the running game

On both sides of the ball, the Giants focus is to improve the running game. On offense, they've got to run it better and on defense they have to do a better job stopping it.

On offense, I see a few things that are causing the decline in quality runs. As I have said a few times on this blog, a problem lies with the blocking from the TE and FB positions. Ballard has not been doing a good job blocking, missing some blocks entirely, getting defeated 1-on-1 when he engages the defender he's supposed to block and occasionally getting the wrong guy. Pascoe's blocking has been similarly weak, a little worse than Ballard's because he occasionally gets completely knocked back because he is smaller than Ballard. (It's just physics: F=ma.) Hynoski has been mediocre at FB, not as bad as Pascoe. My take on Hynoski is that he is not quick enough (or decisive enough?) to get out and run downhill at the defender he is supposed to block. As a result, even though he has decent size, he is occasionally absorbing the blow from the defensive player and just taking up space, not leading and creating a crease or a running lane for the runner. (There's Newton's pesky second law of motion again: F=ma.)  I don't know if he will get better when he learns the offense better, gets used to life in the NFL more and adjusts to the speed of the game. Perhaps he becomes more decisive then and will play better. Of course, it is also possible that he is simply not fast or powerful enough and he will always be an average FB.

The other aspect of the running game on offense that needs improvement appears to me to be the G play from Diehl. At times he gets his man and does well. But I have seen several times, especially when he has to leave his slot at LG and run counter to the line to seal a DT on the other side or pull to block someone on the right side of the offense, he seems to miss his block. He doesn't get out there quickly enough and his man eludes him and blows up the running play. It's something to keep an eye on as the season progresses.

Giants have had some successful running plays when they ran to their right behind MacKenzie, Snee and an extra TE or when Snee has pulled back to the left. Diehl is capable, he just has to get sharper. A shift to G after playing T for a few years may take a little adjustment. I am confident that the OL will play better as the year goes along. The TEs and FB - I'm hopeful but not sure about.

On defense - I am somehow less worried about the run defense. Once Tuck gets back to playing in the regular rotation, as the season moves along and the DBs get more practice time and miss fewer tackles; as Osi gets his sea legs under him and plays the run a little better, I think this part of the defense will come back to form.

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