Monday, December 26, 2011

Giants - Jets game review II

Slight correction on previous blog posts: I slammed Gilbride for a bad call - for calling the pass right after Giants recovered the Jets fumbled snap in the end zone, with about 8 minutes left in the game. The papers reported that Gilbride sent in a running play, but Eli saw that the Jets were in a run-stopping front and the play would not have succeeded. Consequently, he called an audible and switched to a pass. Eli said it was a "safe" pass that he threw low so that the only person that could catch it was Nicks and if he didn't get it, it would fall incomplete. Of course, he didn't count on Nicks tapping it up in the air for a LB to pick off. This was in today's papers, but initially I heard some other story, that the RB came into the game late and the call didn't get to Eli in time, so they ran a pass play. It all sounds suspicious to me and I would not be surprised if Eli decided to fall on his sword, watch the back of his OC and accept responsibility for the awful call. I think the most likely circumstance is that Gilbride sent in a play that had a run or pass option and Eli elected to pass. That still makes it Gilbride's fault. I think Eli is a great QB and a great decision maker, but that is one time the coaches should have taken the play call out of the hands of the QB and required a run, no option. I watched the play again and the Jets did not line up 9 guys at the line of scrimmage and Eli did not appear to be calling an audible, so I am not completely exculpating Gilbride on this call.

One time Eli did appear to call an audible (thanks to my friend Ray for catching this) was on Jacobs 28 yard run right after Cruz' big catch to set up Bradshaw's first TD run. Eli was barking signals at the line, pointing and gesturing and the Giants barely managed to get the play off with only 1 or 2 ticks left on the play clock, all suggesting that he changed the play call, or at least changed the direction that they were going to run it. Jacobs ran wide to the left side of the offense, where the Giants ran about 75% of their plays to their right that day and the play was wide open. Jets defenders did not touch Jacobs until he was a good 15 yards down field.

Another example of Rex Ryan's questionable coaching on Saturday, IMO was going for the onside kick towards the end of the game. Giants had just gotten a safety, led by 8 and the Jets were punting from their own 20. There were more than 2 minutes left in the game, the Jets still had 1 timeout left, so if Rex trusted his defense to get a quick stop, he could have kicked deep and gotten the ball back for his offense with about 1:20 left in the game (but no timeouts). That has a low but not impossible chance of success. An expected on side kick, from a punt no less, where the kicking team telegraphs which side of the field they're going to has a near zero chance of success. We all know that Mike Westhoff of the Jets is a fabled ST coach, but I doubt that even he practiced on side kicks off punts following safeties.

I think Coughlin is not a perfect coach, but he is a solid football man and decent coach. On the other sidelines, Ryan has done well in his first two years as Jets coach, getting the Jets in the conference championship in both years. Perhaps his bold style, his bragging trash talk and his brash predictions have even helped propel his team, given them great confidence a little sizzle to their step and allowed them to play a little bit over their heads these last couple of years. I think his conduct borders on the unprofessional and is a high wire act that may eventually run a little old and tiresome even with his own players. I really don't know - players may love it - I am just guessing here. Players can get tired of the grating military style of Coughlin; they may get tired of Rex also.

The Giants offense missed a number of really good chances to make the game much easier for themselves than it had to be on Saturday. I was really disappointed that they did not score after getting 1st and goal from the 2 yard line early in the 2nd quarter, but after reviewing the game again just now, it was not as bad as I thought when I saw the game at first. On that possession, the first play call was a play action pass where both Pascoe, who appeared to be the primary target and Beckum, slipped coming out of their set position which totally threw off the timing of the play and any chance for success. Pascoe was all alone, Jets LB bit on the fake and moved up to stop the run. By the time Pascoe had righted himself, the window had closed. Eli tried Beckum but it glanced off of his hands. Giants failed on a running play on second down with a real good push by the Jets DL. On 3rd down, Nicks ran a slant and had Revis beaten, but Revis knocked it away from behind. BTW - Revis is a great player but he holds on nearly every play. On this particular pass defense, Revis had his right arm around Nicks waist and had his left arm grabbing Nicks arm before the ball arrived. Every other CB in football would have gotten called for PI, but Revis gets protected like he was Michael Jordan.

In the 4th quarter after Phillips INT, Giants had first down on the 14, but Jets put pressure on Eli prevented him from hitting an open Beckum on first down. They got a sack on 2nd down and on 3rd down, Eli overthrew Cruz by about 6 inches when Cruz was open in the end zone.

Giants had 3 takeaways on defense - two INTs and the fumble recovery. But there were 5 or 6 other plays that could have / should have been turnovers. There was the fumble by Kerley which was improperly reversed by the refs, there was the tuck rule overrule, there was the Sanchez hand coming forward overrule, there was the dropped sure INT by Grant and there was the fumble by Santonio Holmes that was called an incomplete pass. This game could have had a much different look if one or two of those five plays had gone in the Giants favor. Maybe one more day of thinking about the Jets game and then it's on to looking ahead to the Cowboys.

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