Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Giants: defense and prospects for Cowboys

Inexcusable for me not to post yesterday, in "Cowboys week"... sorry.

This has been such a crazy up and down year for the Giants, I just don't know what to expect against the Cowboys. Let's review the bidding: After beating the Patriots with a  rousing victory to finish the first half at 6-2, Giants lost 3 in a row to a very good 49ers team, a very flawed Eagles team and a strong Saints team. Then, they lost an exciting game to the Packers, beat the Cowboys and you figured they had turned things around. But then came a terrible loss to the Redskins followed by a win against the Jets which just continued the up and down cycle. If they were up last week, they could be down this week against the Cowboys. No telling.

Giants defense looked revived against the Jets, and everyone is giving props to the DC for changing the game plan, playing more man coverage and being a little more aggressive. But let's not get too optimistic about the defense and remember what the main reason was that the defense played well against the Jets: the Jets offense stinks. They don't have a down field threat, have a flawed OL, have an average QB and do not have a breakaway RB. By contrast, the Cowboys have good speed at WR with very good deep threats, have a QB that can make plays down field, a RB that has real good speed and a coach that knows how to analyze a defense and pick at its weaknesses. Remember the first game - Giants won but gave up a lot of big plays to the Cowboys and needed a missed open WR by Romo to get the ball back for Eli and the Giants offense.

The Giants defense may give up a lot of points and yards again this week and maybe the few close plays that went the Giants way in that first game go against them this Sunday and the Giants don't pull it out. The thing that the Giants may have going for them is that the Cowboys DB-field is really weak and there's reason to hope that Eli and his WRs can get back on track after two off games the last two weeks. Ballard will be a loss if he can't play this week - he had some big plays against the Cowboys in game 1. Then again, if Beckum plays it could mess up the Cowboys coverage further. Here's why: Ballard made two big catches on the final winning TD drive and on both plays, the Cowboys were covering him with a LB. If they try that with Beckum, he will hurt the Cowboys also.

The glass half empty analysis says the Giants defense has been bad all year and seeing them play one good game against a weak offense does not mean they have suddenly turned things around. The glass half full approach says that even though the Giants have played poorly on defense this entire year, they have talent well above where they played and they may be turning things around at just the right time. The turn around could be fueled by several things: Tuck seems healthy again; Jacquian Williams is stepping out of his rookie shell, has gained some experience and is playing very well; JPP continues to improve with every week of experience that he gains; leaning a bit more towards man coverage makes it easier for defense to know what to doa nd cuts down on miscommunications and blown coverages.

I wish I knew what to expect Sunday night.

One interesting thing to note - the Giants defense played better in the 2nd half than in the first half against the Jets. They stopped the run better and cut down on Sanchez passing effectiveness. Sanchez longest pass play of the game was 15 yards. On pass attempts over 15 yards, Sanchez was 0-5 with 2 INTs.

Jacquian Williams is really coming on. he played well in the game against the Jets and played very well in the first Cowboys game, doing a good job on Jason Witten.

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