Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Giants: Saints game review II

Looking at the two teams, the difference is so patently obvious: the Saints have way more speed on offense than the Giants do and are much more talented athletically. The Giants don't have a single player on offense like the Saints TE Graham, a player that just doesn't seem like he can be defended. I like the Giants WRs - Nicks is very talented. Manningham and Cruz are both dangerous and productive, but none of them has that aura of invincibility about them. None of them can just blow by a DB and be more or less guaranteed to get open every time they are not double covered. And most of all, none of them are a real threat to take a simple out pattern, beat the DB to the corner and go for 40. They all rely on running excellent pass routes and having a perfect read, throw and timing from the QB to be productive.

Saints don't have a single player on offense (possibly including OL-men) that are as slow as Jake Ballard and Giants have three other players in their regular offensive rotation that are just as slow - Jacobs, Pascoe and Hynoski. Speed kills on offense and Giants just don't have it. The great season that Eli has been having has been masking in great measure the average nature of the Giants skill position players. Individually they have some very good skill position players, but when you trot out 3 players on offense who started last night's game: Pascoe, Ballard and Jacobs, that the defense simply does not have to worry about getting behind it, it makes it too hard to make plays on offense. The defense can cover those 3 with virtually any player on the defense - LB, CB, S or even a DL-man, if he gets matched up in some exotic zone blitz package, making it further difficult to move on offense because of the deception and disguise that the defense can then use. If the defense blows the coverage on one of these players and lets him get open, there is no worry that they can't be run down in the open field. It's not about denigrating the Giants good skill position players, but it's about having over all team speed that threatens the defense.

An offense can probably manage with one slow skill position player, if he's real smart, can get open, never drops the ball, is a good blocker and brings other intangibles to the team. Maybe you can afford one player like that on offense, but you can't manage 3 or 4. And - the slow skill position players that the Giants have don't show all of the other attributes I mentioned. They do seem to be smart players, I will give them that. But they don't catch every ball and will occasionally drop some easy ones. They are not great blockers, in fact Pascoe and Hynoski are below average blockers, with Ballard only adequate; and they don't bring any of those intangibles, the sizzle and the swagger that can help the team.

I have realized this for the last several weeks, since Bradshaw went down, but watching the Saints last night and the wealth of talent, skill and speed they have on offense just brought it home more. The announcers were giving love to Brees all night and he certainly did play well. But his weapons are so far superior to Eli's and his offensive coaching and play calling is so creative compared to Gilbride, that the difference in the two teams has almost nothing to do with the QBs. Have the QBs switch teams last night and the rout would have been just as bad. Even the one INT Eli threw in the first half was a catchable ball by Ballard. Eli may have underthrown it a hair, but Ballard got his hands on it and at least should have prevented the INT.

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