Thursday, November 10, 2011

More Patriots review III

Did you notice that the Patriots came out with the clear intention to run the ball down the Giants throat. Their first several formations and plays that they ran off of those formations had 9 men tight at the line of scrimmage in addition to the QB and RB in the backfield. Giants shifted their defense and also had 8 or 9 guys at the line of scrimmage. The run defense was pretty good for the Giants on Sunday and it will have to be better against the 49ers this week, because Gore is an excellent runner and the 49ers move their offense on the ground.

JPP took a lot of snaps at DT on Sunday and did reasonably well. The idea was probably to get more pass rushers on the field in the base 4-3 defense, and moving JPP to DT allowed Osi to stay on the field at DE. I thought Osi did not have a very good game on Sunday. He used his wide speed pass rush nearly every time against Light and there were too many times where Light simply gave him a little nudge to push his path wide away from the pocket. Brady likes to step up in the pocket, so this is a very easy and comfortable technique for Light and the Patriots to blunt Osi's rush. The few times where Osi tried to fake outside and go inside, he was easily turned back. If they wanted to keep JPP on the field at DT, Kiwanuka might have been a better choice to play DE. However, Kiwanuka had such a strong game at LB, that they wanted to keep him there.

Speaking of Kiwanuka and Osi - Giants will have an interesting decision to make on these players. Both have two years left on their current deal, with contracts that expire after the 2012 season. Kiwanuka has showed that he has recovered from his neck problem and is playing the best football of his career. He is a more all-around player than Osi and is several years younger, meaning he has more runway left in his career. If it comes down to a salary cap crunch and they can only keep one of them, I would throw the money at Kiwanuka and extend his contract at the end of this year. To avoid another Osi hissy fit and to get some value from him instead of just letting him walk, I would trade him at the end of 2011 to a team that needs a pass rusher and would be interested in extending his contract. Giants saw that they could not get a number 1 pick for him last year, when he had 2 years left on his deal. This year, the team that trades for him is getting only 1 year of play, so they certainly would not get a number 1, even though he has showed that his knee is sound.

Against the Patriots, the Giants were in their nickel package nearly the entire game trying to defend the pass oriented Patriots offense. Grant was on the field a lot and they shifted how they used him. Instead of him playing deep with coverage responsibilities that emphasize speed (he seems to have slowed down since last year) they played him down low in the box and he had TE coverage assignment, something he is still fast enough to handle. He got his INT covering a TE and also knocked away a 3rd down pass to the end zone, right before Brady threw the TD to Hernandez that put them temporarily in the lead.

Despite being in the nickel, Giants did a fairly good job against the run, as I said earlier. Part of this was that they kept Kiwanuka on the field more in the nickel packages instead of the much lighter Jacquian Williams. Kiwanuka had a great game. Williams and Greg Jones still got some playing time and made some nice plays. Williams was the one that recovered Brady's fumble that Boley stripped. Boley also had a great game and has been very solid all year. I would not be surprised to see Kiwanuka on the field at LB often against the 49ers to counteract their running game. Biggest passing weapon 49ers have is their TE Vernon Davis. We'll see how Fewell defends him.

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