Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Giants: Cowboys final thoughts

It's not that I hate the Cowboys. I am a religious, sincere, kind, god fearing person and I don't hate anyone. It's just that I hate the Cowboys. Reminds me of the old Groucho Marx line - "I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception". As I've said many times before on this blog: only two things I root for every football Sunday, a Giants win and  a Cowboys loss. When both of these events come in the same game ..... very sweet. Or as my brother said it: when the Lions had their miserable season a few years ago and were losing game after consecutive game, even though we're not Lions fans, we identified and empathized with their fans and kind of were rooting for them to win a game so they wouldn't suffer through the indignity of 0-16 season. However, with the Cowboys, if they were to lose 1,000 games in a row, I would be rooting just as hard for them to lose number 1,001. It's very gratifying to see Jerry Jones cringe and squirm in disappointment on the sidelines. The hope here is that the Cowboys will do well enough and have just enough talent for them to be nearly competitive so that Jerry Jones keeps himself in the GM seat. A number of years ago, he realized that the wheels had come off and he hired Parcells to come in and fix things; gave him a big part in personnel decisions. The Big Tuna (aka Benedict Arnold) redirected the franchise and drafted some of the good players that are still the core of this team, DeMarcus Ware and Tony Romo among some others. Jerry Jones has drafted some decent players but doesn't have the NFL talent evaluation experience to remake the team or even recognize when it has to be remade. Even though Parcells did well for his boss, Jerry Jones did not like giving up the media spotlight and was happy when Parcells contract expired. Jerry Jones has a weekly radio interview, which is a remarkable and indicative statement of who he is and what he cares about.

I was sure Amukamara was going to have a prominent role against the Cowboys because of their depth at the WR position. When they send out Bryant, Austin and rising star Laurent Robinson, I thought there would be no way DB-field could cover without him on the field. But the Giants stuck with Rolle as the nickel CB, used Grant and Phillips at S and never went to a 6th DB, which meant that a LB was matched up on TE and RB if they went into pass routes. Boley and J Williams did very well in pass coverage and the Giants pass rush put enough pressure on Cowboys that they could not get the ball down field and would often keep an extra blocker or two in the backfield. Pass rush is the great equalizer. Rolle played a really good game in pass defense and tackled very surely. In fact, when Kenny Phillips went out for a play or two with a minor ankle injury, instead of bringing in Amukamara at CB and sliding Rolle back to S, Giants brought in Tyler Sash to play S in place of Phillips. He was in for only a play or two until Phillips returned. I know there is no opportunity for learning on the job now that the team is in the playoffs, but I would still like to see Prince get on the field. There may come a time in the playoffs where the Giants absolutely need him and it would be nice if he could get some more game experience.

BTW - when I saw Sash in preseason, he looked too slow to me to play S in the NFL, but he has looked a little quicker to me, if only on ST and he might be able to play and not expose the defense too much.

One of the reasons Giants may have a weak short yardage offense is that they are completely predictable in the play they run. This week, on the 4th and 1, as soon as Eli snapped the ball, the entire Cowboys defense slanted and swooped to the right giving the play no chance for success. The Giants stacked their team with the "big boys". They had an extra OL-man in the game, two TEs, the FB and RB Jacobs. No threat of a pass there, and the Giants ran directly to the strong side of the formation which is where the Cowboys flowed. It seems to me that when you line up with all 11 men withing a few yards of where the ball is snapped from, and all 11 defensive players are lined up tight, all it takes is for one defensive player ot beat his block and there is no where to go. However, if you spread things out and give a quick back the opportunity to move in one direction and find a hole, you might have a better chance. Instead of every player making his block to succeed, you may need only 1 or 2 players to make successful blocks and hope that the RB can pick and find his way to the hole.

I am starting to get disappointed with Beckum. He shows some flashes, but he should be doing better than catching the 4 and 5 yard drag routes. I want him to see him matched up against a slower LB and stretch the defense.

DT is often the most anonymous, though important position on the team and I thought the Giants would be hurt when solid DT Barry Cofield went to Washington as FA. Canty started off the year playing very well as  did Linval Jospeh, but they seemed to hit a slide in the middle of the year. Both have played very well the last few weeks. In fact, Giants gave up only 14 points the last two weeks, well below their seasonal average. While a lot of that has to do witht he revived pass rush and the improved play of Justin Tuck, it's also true that Joseph and especially Canty have played very well in the middle.

Boley has been playing very well as has Kiwanuka. Blackburn has been solid though unspectacular in the middle and that area of the defense is no longer a weakness.

Would be very useful if Ballard came back this week against the Falcons. They play a lot of zone, less man-to-man and Ballard is good at sitting down in those soft spots in the zone.

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