Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Giants: Falcons game review II

The collision between Aaron Ross and JPP did not seem so severe when it happened. It wasn't one of those direct helmet to helmet hits where you kind of cringe when watching it. Of course I am not a doctor, but my guess is that if it's possible to come back from a concussion in one week, Ross might be ready. This one did not look so severe.

Must have made Ross feel really good when both players were lying nearly motionless on the ground after the collision and the crowd started cheering JPP, JPP, JPP. Like Ross didn't exist.

Everyone is praising Coughlin for the timeout he took with 2:05 left in the half, but it was a bad call. Falcons had 3rd and 21 deep in their own territory, so you have to figure Giants had a good chance of getting the ball back and Coughlin was rightly thinking about preserving clock for his offense. Taking a time out there saves 5 seconds, but saving it instead for after the two minute warning would be more beneficial. Suppose for example the Giants were to get the ball back on offense and complete a 20 yard pass in the middle of the field. It takes much more than 5 seconds for all the OL-men to hustle down field, for the team to line up, for the play to get called, for Eli to make sure everyone is on side and to snap the ball. In that case, the TO would save much more than 5 seconds and it would be more valuable then. In other words, I'd rather spend those 5 seconds and save one extra timeout for after the 2 minute warning.

Fewell is moving around his DL-men a lot which probably makes it difficult for the opposing OL to prepare. JPP was lining up often at LDE with Osi at his natural RDE slot. I don't love that, because I want my best pass rusher in the RDE slot; kind of like having your best hitter in baseball always hitting 3rd. At least JPP is at end and not lost in the middle at DT. Tuck played a very good game and the LBs played by far their best game of the season. Kiwanuka is becoming a very good LB. When Osi leaves the team this off season, Kiwanuka will be back at DE, especially because the young LBs will be contributing next year.

I don't know how, but Brandon Jacobs seems to have found the step he lost earlier in the year. He seems quicker. Boothe is a much better G than Diehl is and Diehl is settling in at LT, though he's not great. Most of the good runs for the Giants have come on the right side of the line. Boothe is pretty athletic and pulls well to the opposite side of the field and Snee played well. The pass protection improved as the game moved on, it was really poor in the first quarter. Baas's play at C is really improving and is a big reason the running game is doing better.

One thing I like about the Giants is that there seems to be a healthy respect between the offensive and defensive units. Eli was throwing bouquets towards the defense saying it kept them in the game until the offense could get going in the second half. Earlier in the year, you heard the defense praising the offense for holding the season together. You have to give Coughlin some of the credit for team unity and chemistry.

One of the reasons the Giants defense has played well last few weeks is that the LBs are playing man-to-man coverage often against the TEs which frees the safeties to concentrate on helping the WRs. Neither Witten of the Cowboys, Keller of the Jets nor Gonzalez of the Falcons did anything to hurt the Giants in their team's passing game. However, that is going to change this week against Green Bay. Witten, Keller  and Gonzalez are all good pass catchers but they don't have the speed to burn a LB. However, Jermichael Finley of the Packers is more like a WR in a TE body and Giants will have to commit a S to guard him. Maybe Prince Amukamara gets on the field more this week in passing downs to give the Giants extra DBs to account for Finley. Of course, this assumes that Ross gets over his concussion and will play. If not, the Giants may be really shorthanded when the Packers go to 3 WR + Finley at TE.

The DB-field played well last week, but the Packers have so many weapons and Rodgers is so far superior to Matt Ryan, that the performance of the defense will be even more dependent on a big time pass rush to at least slow down the Packers a little. Giants can't expect to hold the Packers down and dominate them like they did the Falcons. You know... you can't stop him, you can only hope to contain him. But they need to at least hold their score to a reasonable number so that Eli and the offense have a chance.

I am still ticked off about the terrible refereeing at the end of the half of the Falcons game, that probably took points off the board for the Giants. On 2nd and 10, Eli completed a pass of 11 yards to Nicks. The spot was completely wrong on the catch by Nicks, it was moved back 1 full yard. It may have been a first down even with the bad spot, the referee should have called for a measurement. Because it was such a bad spot and because the referee signaled no-first-down without a measurement, the replay official should have buzzed to challenge the actions on the field. It was a complete failure of the refereeing and what particularly bothers me is that it was not just the initial ruling that was wrong. The backup processes that are in place to prevent such egregious errors - the call for a measurement and the use of replay official both failed. It was even worse, because of the actions by the officials that I am about to describe. As you know there are officials who work the sticks and first down markers, often referred to as the chain gang. The equipment they work with are two sticks and a ten yard chain connecting them as well as a small mat with a big red arrow on it that they place on the ground right by the first down marker. The purpose this serves is, for a  player who is running and looking for the first down marker, it allows him to pick it up easily by this bright red mat on the floor. When the offense gets a first down, the chain gang picks up all the equipment - the sticks, the chain and the bright arrow and moves it to the new line of scrimmage. What you may not have seen at home on TV, but what I saw happen at the game was that the chain gang, which has to act quickly and decisively in the two minute drill, saw that Nicks made the first down and immediately picked up the arrow getting ready to move it. When they saw the referee signal 3rd down and not 1st down, they immediately placed the arrow right back down where it originally was. Eli probably saw this action by the chain gang and may have processed the information, if only viscerally, to indicate that the Giants in fact made the first down and he proceeded on that assumption. So - it's bad enough that the referees made a bad call and the backup systems to prevent bad calls failed. The actions by the officials managing the first down markers actually contributed to deceiving the Giants into proceeding with bad information. Ridiculous.

Hynoski's blocking continues to be really solid, but Ballard, especially for a guy who is 285, is really mediocre as is his TE partner, Bear Pascoe. I guess TEs don't only need to be big to block effectively. because they are running and blocking in space, they need to be fairly athletic. Perhaps Ballard and Pascoe just aren't.

I look for Cruz to have a return to putting up good numbers against Green bay. The Packers no doubt saw what happens when the defense shades their pass protection towards Cruz and leaves Nicks 1 on 1. Look for them to pay attention to Nicks again. If they double Nicks and Cruz, Manningham has to come up big.


Anonymous said...

I agree with your comment about the time out before the 2 minute warning but I think even more importantly, Coughlin could have used the timeout after 3rd down if necessary, lost 5 seconds and had the benefit of knowing what happened on 3rd down. Let the clock run down to the 2 minute warning after second down. Now it is 3rd down and 21 with 2:00.
First of all, this forces Atlanta's hand a little more into running the ball, and not taking the chance of an incomplete pass and the clock stopping automatically. Perhaps the Giants could stop the run for 5 yards and pick up 15 yards of field position.

If Atlanta throws and completes the pass or runs it and does not pick up the first down, then the Giants use their timeout there and the clock is down to 1:53 (losing 5 seconds).

In the low likelihood event that Atlanta picks up the first down on 3rd down, then Atlanta would have to use one of their timeouts (as opposed to saving their timeout because of the 2 minute warning).

If Atlanta throws incomplete, play stops at 1:53 and Giants have all 3 timeouts (the case you refer to above).

wolfman said...

Perfect analysis of the clock management - I completely agree with you.