It's really hard to believe that the offensive team that took the field against the Redskins and put up only 10 points, with 7 of them a meaningless garbage time TD, was the same team that played the week before and put up 500+ yards of offense and 37 points against the Cowboys. The NFL is so much of a week to week league - when you win, your team is great and you're figuring out possible playoff seedings and trying to figure out who they have to beat in order to make it to the Super Bowl. When they lose the very next week, you can't imagine how they're ever going to win another game, you're clamoring to fire the coach, fire the GM, and replace 42 of the 53 players on the roster. The truth, as always probably lies somewhere in between, and that's why you, the faithful readers, need this blog to explain to you the true state of affairs for the Giants.
Looking back at the Redskins game, as bad as the offense looked, it's funny that just a few plays that the Giants didn't execute on offense could have easily changed the tenor of the game. There were lots of dropped balls in the first half, the most obvious of which was the sure TD that Nicks dropped. Of the first 6 passes that Eli threw, he completed none, that's a .000 completion percentage if you're math is a little shaky. Of those 6, there were 2 bad drops, one by Nicks and one by Ballard. There were two passes where Eli threw the ball away on purpose to avoid an INT or a sack and 2 others where the coverage was very good by the Redskins. Nicks had a bad day for dropped balls, uncharacteristically, he dropped a big sideline pass that was thrown perfectly by Eli, grabbed by Nicks and then ripped out by the CB. Actually, you probably have to credit the Redskins CB even though it was a drop by Nicks.
Giants looked to me like they were running the ball fairly well and I thought Gilbride should have stuck with the run or switched to it earlier. Instead, not only did he stick with throwing the ball, but he was relying on a lot of deep balls, which required the shaky pass blocking to hold their blocks a little longer. Not a good strategy. It's going to be interesting to see what Gilbride does this week against the Jets and what Ryan plans in return. The Jets do not have a great pass rush from their front 7, and they have gotten away from the creative schemes and blitz packages that they did the first year or so under Ryan. Further the Jets have a very good DB-field, which allowed them to move away from the gambling blitzes and play more conventional. But after watching the Giants struggle against pass rushes the last two weeks and after watching his own defense get walloped by the Eagles playing the conventional schemes, I would not be at all surprised to see Ryan test the shaky pass-blocking OL with lots of blitzes this weekend. More on that when I look ahead to the Jets game later in the week.
Giants defense was really poor against the Redskins. They were not stopping the run well and left huge holes in the secondary virtually all the time. Redskins borrowed a page from other offenses book against the Giants. Giants have built their defense on the philosophy of a pass rush from the DL to equalize everything. Redskins often went with some type of additional pass protection, and sent fewer receivers into routes. Eventually someone came open, because the pass defense is so weak and Redskins were fairly successful through the air. Fewell just can't get the defense to play at a higher level and I absolutely hate how he seems to be trying to throw all the blame at the feet of the 1st round draft choice, Amukamara. He did not teach him the defenses well enough, or Amukamara has not internalized them perhaps because of not enough playing time or practice time, so he is constantly hesitating and not playing fast and confidently. There are lots of blown calls and missed coverages even without Amukamara, but I think there's something else going on. Fewell knows his job is in jeopardy and by throwing Amukamara under the bus, setting him up for failure and taking every chance to humiliate him, it is as if he is saying to GM Reese: look at the crap you gave me to coach in your 1st round draft choice. No coach could win with this. Did I mention that I wouldn't mind if Fewell is fired soon? If Giants lose to Jets and defense has a bad performance, I would think of firing him before the Cowboys game. That way, the Giants would be poised to hire Spagnuolo back as soon as the Rams let him go, which seems a near certainty to me.
On to the Jets