Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Giants: Cowboys Game 2 review I

This was one of the best regular season Giants wins I can remember. Eli was absolutely brilliant in this game and people had better start hitching their wagons to his star and realizing how great he is. Every game, it seems, he makes one of those "wow" throws and plays and yesterday was no exception. The throw to Cruz for 20 yards in the middle of the field and to Nicks setting up the final TD were exceptional throws requiring great ball speed and accuracy to deliver the ball in very tight windows, getting a few inches over the underneath defenders and right into the arms of the WR. I also loved the long throw Eli made to Cruz to set up the FG in the 4th qtr that gave the Giants a little breathing room. On that throw, he was under pressure, spun to avoid the rush doing a full 360 spin, came out of the spin and immediately planted and threw downfield, a perfect ball to Cruz, trusting him to go up and make a play on the ball. I don't know how he saw Cruz while he was spinning and had his eyes and his head turned. I don't know how he threw such a perfect ball while planting and throwing the second he came out of his spin. Romo played a really good game and he is a very good player, but he is not in Eli's class. I'll say it again, as I did a few weeks ago: Brees and Rodgers are great players, but they clearly have way more talent surrounding them than Eli has surrounding him on the offensive side of the ball. They both have much more talented skill position players, as evidenced by the fact that Rodgers back up, Flynn, threw for 480 yards Sunday against the Lions. That suggests that the Packers are pretty darned good without Rodgers in there. Eli has been nearly as productive as those players with not nearly the talent and the coaching system around him.

What a season Cruz is having and what a player he has become. It's not just that he is making lots of big plays, it's that so many of them are coming at crucial points in the game. In other words, they are not A-Rod type home runs, that seem to always come when the score is 9-0 (either team winning). Cruz big plays always seem to come at game-changing moments: this week against the Cowboys, it put the Giants on the board in a game they wanted to start fast; last week the 99 yard play against the Jets completely turned the game and as one more example - the 90 yard play in week 3 against the Eagles. The other thing in common about these plays is that they were all short throws that he turned into long runs with great individual moves and lots of YAC yards.

I know I have been whining all year about Kiwanuka playing DE, and I still think that is the only position he will achieve his true potential in the league. But, having said that, I have to admit that he is turning into a pretty decent LB.

I didn't have to tweet to Coughlin to fire Fewell at halftime, because he used Osi perfectly and did not start him over JPP. He used him as a situational pass rusher, at times as a standup LB, where he could blitz from different angles and to take some snaps from the starters to keep them fresh. Osi used in this role can be a very productive player and he did play very well, picking up a few sacks. JPP was a beast again and I am not budging from my forecast that he will be the best defensive player in football over the next 5 to 7 years.

Baas played a good game, even though it didn't really show up on the stat sheet in a big running game. Pascoe is playing and blocking a little better and Hynoski is really playing much better, including in the passing game. Pascoe and Hynoski both hurdled over Terence Newman - I have to give the coaching staff props for this - they must have seen that this would work on film. When Newman tries to tackle a bigger player, instead of wrapping him up and taking a hit, he makes a business decision and just goes down low rolling towards the knees and ankles of the ball carrier. You don't see that hurdle maneuver too often; the fact that you saw it twice in one game over the same player, means that it must have been by design.

How great is it that the Giants are 3-0 against Fat Rex/Rob Ryan defenses this year. Must be nice payback for Gilbride also.

It's obvious that the reason the Giants won the game is because of their pass rush and their superior offense. The game played out similar to how I predicted - both QBs played well. While Eli played a little better, it was more than that the Giants defense got after Romo. They made a few plays on a few drives and that gave the Giants offense all they needed to win the game.

Romo is a good player and played a very good game. Eli was better and is a better player, but the reason the Cowboys didn't win this year is less on Romo than it is the Cowboys OL, and their defense than it is that Romo is not a winning QB.

Dez Bryant is a great athlete, but he just doesn't seem to get open in the passing game. He runs his routes somewhat indifferently and he can be guarded. His production numbers don't match his physical skills - he is an underachiever.

I didn't mind the call going for it on 4th and 1 from the 35 late in the 3rd quarter, but my friend Ray didn't like the call at all. He thought that it would give the Cowboys momentum if we failed and we hadn't been running particularly well, so why try it there - the reward was not worth the risk. I disagreed - I don't like punting when you're at or inside the 35. You're not going to gain that much field position with a punt (might be only 15 yards if it's a touchback). Conversely, if you get the first down there, you're almost surely going to get a score. I will say that he's right that we were not running the ball consistently, despite what the numbers might indicate. Giants had one 30 yard run that skewed the averages, otherwise the number were modest. What's your opinion - please comment.

Here's two things to consider on that play: right before that play, Giants had a 3rd and 6, which Ware gained enough yardage for a first down; he fumbled the ball and it was recovered by the Cowboys. However, Cowboys were offside so Giants kept the ball, but had to accept the penalty and it was 3rd and 1 instead of 1st and 10. Ware's fumble was a kind of under the radar play.

Here's the other thing about the play (credit to my son for pointing this out while we were at the game). The HC Coughlin makes the decision whether to punt, kick a FG or go for it on 4th down, but the OC Gilbride makes the actual play call. Presumably the HC makes his decision immediately  before the 4th down play, but in this case, if the OC does not know what the HC is thinking on 3rd down, he might make a different play call. If he knew it was two-down territory, he might call two runs. But if he doesn't know that the HC will go for it on 4th, he might try a different play - for example Gilbride called a pass right before the Jacobs 4th down run.

Giants need to do something about the short yardage offense. They should make a higher percentage of conversions.

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