After slamming the coaches for the better part of the year and a good part of last year, we have to give them credit when they do well. They did well this week. The defense resorted to a new style (DC Fowl must have been reading my blog) which is really a throwback of an old style. They were running much more straight man to man with S's varying between roaming deep and pressing up tighter, showing more tight press coverage. This was a change for the DC Fewell who had relied on a zone which the Giants defense simply did not play well. The results this week were really strong for the defense. There are several ways to look at the success of the defense against the Jets. After the initial drive, the Jets did not get into the end zone, except for a bad INT that gave them a short field on the Giants 15. Even then, they almost did not get in, needed two QB scrambles and a questionable holding penalty on Antrel Rolle to convert. You might say that the Jets were unlucky not to get into the end zone right before that, giving up the ball on a fumbled snap, so the return INT was just evening up a fumble that should not have happened. But I will counter that, by pointing out that the Giants gave up very few big plays (more on that in a moment) which forced the Jets to march down the field on slow painstaking drives, taking lots of snaps. This just gives the offense another chance to mess up - the modern day offense tries to score by gaining yardage in a big chunk or two to get in position to score, so it does not need to run the 15 play drives. Jets fumble was a result of Giants defense not giving up the big play, forcing the Jets to make play after play and giving them a chance for an error. Furthermore, the Jets were fortunate to get a ridiculously soft PI call on that drive to get them down there in the first place.
Another measure of the Giants defensive success, one that I like much more, is to examine the Jets passing performance. Sanchez passed for 258 yards, which is not a bad total for their offense. However, the 258 does not consider the 5 sacks Giants got, which takes 32 yards off of their total, leaving them with 226. This 226 came on 59 pass attempts, and if you add in the 5 sacks, Sanchez dropped back to pass 64 times. The best single statistic to measure a passing attack is yards per attempt and for the Jets, this total comes to a very meager 3.5 yards per pass attempt. The Jets ran the ball for an average of 4.2 yards per carry, which means that every time Sanchez raised up his arm to throw, the Jets had a lower expected gain than if they handed it off to one of their RBs. That is a remarkable statistic. Decent teams are in the 7 yard range, 8 or 9 being a very good number.; this 3.5 is embarrassingly low.
Another way to look at it is that Sanchez had more unsuccessful pass plays, 34 (29 incomplete throws + 5 sacks) than Eli had total passes in the game (27). Eli threw for 7 fewer net yards than the Jets on 9 completions compared to 30 for the Jets. It's no wonder Jets had many more snaps and time of possession, they didn't advance the ball down field at all. The few times they tried to go deep were either horribly off the mark passes, INTs or near INTs by the Giants DB field and one notable offensive PI on Plaxico.
JPP might be the best DE in football right now and IMHO, whoever is in second place isn't really that close. When Tuck is healthy, fresh and lively on the other side, like he was this week, the Giants DL is a force. The opposing OL can't slide their protection towards JPP or chip him with an extra blocker without leaving Tuck isolated or singled up on the other side and Tuck is a top DE also. Canty in the middle took advantage of being in JPP's neighborhood, also rarely seeing a double team. I don't want to get too excited, because I think the Jets OL is really a weak spot for the team, so we can't automatically translate Giants performance in this game to next week, or beyond if Giants make the playoffs. You know what they say - past results are not a guarantee of future performance. But still.... this was the best performance by the DL this year.
On offense, the Giants did not move the ball consistently, but still recognized that the Giants defense was doing a good job, so it did not put the ball in harm's way, with one notable exception. They took their shots down the field when they were there and hit on just enough of them to score some points. They ran slightly different runs in the 2nd half and were much more successful. In the first half, they were running more up the middle and had trouble against the good run stopping Jets LBs. In the second half they ran more outside and off tackle and were very successful. Again, Hynoski had a good game getting out on the LBs while the T and especially Snee at G hooked the DE and LB to whichever side they were running. Nice plan, good adjustments by the coaches and good execution. Giants only had 116 yards rushing, but more than 100 of those came in the second half.
I know Eli only completed 1/3 of his passes, but if it's possible to have a good game throwing such a low completion percentage, he did. He threw a great ball to Cruz on the 36 yard pass to set up the second score. His incompletions were the result of balls thrown away, excellent plays by Jets DBs or miscommunications between Eli and the WRs resulting in balls landing in open spaces on the field.
Giants had 2 INTs, dropped 2 other INTs and had 3 fumbles reversed on questionable calls. I am not one for conspiracy theories, so i don't suspect the league or the refs of wrongdoing, but the Jets got every imaginable break form the referees in this game. Three plays were ruled fumbnles on the field and were reversed on razor thin calls, all against the Giants. The worst reversal was the first, Aaron Ross recovery and TD, when the Jets runners hand carrying the ball hit Deon Grant's foot, not the ground, but the call was reversed as down by contact nonetheless.