Monday, November 21, 2011

Giants - Eagles game review

I'll give you some facts of a hypothetical game between two random NFL teams. Game was tied in the 4th quarter and the victorious team scored the winning TD with 2:45 left in the game after an improbable drive where they converted 6 third downs in a row. ( Note: Here's why I say it's improbable - Eagles have converted 44% of their 3rd downs this year. With a 44% success rate, the probability of converting six in a row is about .7%, 7/10 of 1%) Back to the hypothetical game - after scoring that go ahead TD with 2:45 left, the losing team drove down the field, got the ball to the opponent's 21 yard line was in position to tie the game when they fumbled with just over a minute left. You would say that this hypothetical game was close, hard fought, evenly matched, and either team could have won the game.

You could say that, but you would be wrong about this Eagles-Giants game. Eagles completely dominated the game and the Giants were close only because of some bad turnovers by the Eagles and a stupid taunting penalty by DeSean Jackson which took about 50 yards of offense off the board for the Eagles. Giants OL was completely dominated at the line of scrimmage on nearly every play. It's hard to fathom that, and I hope you catch the significance of what I am emphasizing. Usually when you talk about one team dominating at the line of scrimmage, there are a good number of plays that they completely break down the blocking, a number where the opponent's kind of play at a standstill and several where the offense actually gets the better of the defense. Not last night - there were a mere handful of plays that the Giants offense was able to run successfully because the OL did its job successfully and a few others where the OL kind of held the Eagles DL at a standstill, without really moving them out. But these plays were at an extreme minimum and for the most part of the game, on nearly every play, some Eagle DL-man beat cleanly and badly some OL-man on the Giants to completely destroy the play. Even on the Giants TD "drive" (can hardly call it a drive, it was really just two big plays) the successful plays were improvised when Eli was flushed out of the pocket because the blocking broke down. Eli managed to get away from the rush and signaled to the WRs, Nicks on one play and Cruz on the other to modify their route and go deep. It was like street ball - even the good plays were ugly. Of course the running game was even more ridiculous: 29 yards rushing. Eagles LBs were running down hill at the Giants all night. Even when the OL engaged the Eagles DL-men, there was a LB filling the gap, because the Giants OL was never able to get to the second level, occupied as they were by the Eagles DL. Pascoe and Ballard got thrown around trying to block LBs, so they didn't help much either. Of course with Jacobs running the ball, who hits those fast opening and closing holes at glacier like speeds, it's also hard for the running game to be successful. Of course, when you're getting hammered like that at the line of scrimmage, it doesn't help when you have 5 or 6 easy dropped passes on plays that had a chance to work. But that's not the point - Giants were controlled entirely by the Eagles defense at the line of scrimmage. I am concentrating on the OL here, but the DL was not much better; more about the defense in another post.

The best part of Jacobs game is his pass blocking and chip blocking. Unfortunately, he is not a 3rd TE who is there for a little extra pass protection. He is a starting RB, who complains about not getting the playing time. He looks completely done to me. Apparently after the game, he made some idiotic comments denigrating the Giants fans saying something like: all they know how to do is boo. A message from the fans to Brandon: if you paid a PSL fee and 100+ face value per ticket and saw incompetence and lack of passion like we saw from the Giants last night, you would boo also.

Maybe we're overrating the players - I kept saying that I saw talent on the OL and that the reason it was not getting a running game going is because of lack of cohesiveness and communication. Therefore when they had some more game experience they would be better. That has not happened. Giants have run the ball ineffectively the entire year, so I may have been overrating the OL.

The DL has not gotten a consistent pass rush the last few games, and last night it was completely invisible. JPP seems to have hit a sophomore wall, Tuck has been invisible and Osi has been a non-factor, despite what his sack total may be.

Having said that, while there may be some personnel weaknesses, the particularly annoying / disturbing thing is that there have been some consistent failures by the team, some repeated weak spots which have not gotten better all year, in fact for the last two years. While I may have overrated the personnel and that may be an  issue, I think this points more towards a coaching weakness. Giants DB-field has not learned how to play a zone defense under Fewell. The middle of the field has been picked on by opposing offenses, with WR crossing routes, and TE throws with complete freedom. Running QBs continue to hamper the Giants defense. When there is a consistent and predictable failure and when the players have shown athletic ability in other circumstances, you have to say that the problem might be with coaching. The coaches are simply not teaching the players well enough. 

BTW - the DeSean Jackson taunting play brings up a ridiculous rule and the NFL has to change it. If the Giants had not gotten called for a holding penalty, the taunting would have been considered a dead ball foul and would not have nullified the play. Instead, the 15 yard penalty would have been assessed after the play, making it essentially a 35 yard pass play instead of 50. But because the Giants were guilty of a hold, the taunting penalty and  the defensive holding penalties were deemed to be offsetting and cancelled each other  out putting the ball back at the 3. Giants benefited  by committing a defensive penalty.

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