Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Giants: Packers odds and ends

Have you noticed the Giants players suddenly spouting great love, admiration and strong belief in Coughlin as a tough, smart leader of men? What a change from the last several years. Everybody knows about the well advertised change Coughlin made in 2007 where he became a little softer, got to know the players better and did not live only by the motto of firm, fair and demanding. The players accepted him a little bit more but still did not show love and admiration. I can't help thinking that part of what has changed was the sharp contrast the players see from the coach on the other side of town. Rex Ryan took the town by storm his first two years. Players talked about how he's a player's coach; how they love him and love to play for him. But his brash style, his empty promises, failed guarantees and his immature juvenile behavior (giving the finger to people at some event in Miami, cursing at fans, getting into trash talking in the media with opposing players and not knowing what is going on in his own locker room) is simply beneath the dignity of a man who is supposed to lead other men. The foot fetish thing may not have helped him too much either. The strong contrast between someone who is so low class like Ryan and Coughlin, who exudes professionalism, preparation and treats his players like professionals, not like beer buddies at a bar, may have finally opened some players eyes. This is the persona that they want their coach to portray.

The OL play has still been somewhat spotty, with the Giants running game very inconsistent. Don't look at the total number of yards that the Giants gained on the day; look instead at the number of running plays that went for less than 2 yards or negative yards. Giants broke a few big running plays that made the number look better but still did not have a good looking ground game. As my brother likes to say - don't look at the average yards per carry, look also at the standard deviation. (Statistics class will start in 15 minutes). While the run game was not so good, the pass blocking was very good, especially this past Sunday against an average Packers DL.  Having said that, I finished reviewing the DVR of the Packers game (for about the 4th time) and have to say the following to limit the bashing of the OL. Giants RBs missed several holes and several easy cutback runs that could have gone for very nice yardage. They did not have good vision for finding those holes on Sunday and I don't know why. There were also a few plays where Matthews guessed where the running play was going and jumped across the line before the play could develop making it difficult to block even for a great OL. I would like to see Gilbride next year get a "run coordinator" to improve the effectiveness and deception of the running game. A new, fast  RB might not hurt either.

I loved the aggressive play call by Gilbride in the 4th quarter to seal the game. Giants had the ball with 4 + minutes left after recovering the onside kick. Two runs to Bradshaw for no gain forced the Packers to spend their timeouts leaving Giants with a 3rd and 11. Instead of playing conservative, running on third down and punting, Eli threw a dart to Cruz in the middle of the field  for a first down that closed the game. Packers must have sensed it was over, because Giants tacked on 2 long runs, one by Bradshaw for about 25 and then the 10 yard TD run by Jacobs for Giants last score.

Rodgers has a cannon for an arm and is a very accurate passer. He is a great runner and throws well on the run, but I did not really see him show great touch on any of his throws Sunday like Eli seems to have. All Rodgers throws were lasers and when the timing of the play is slightly off, those rockets can be hard to catch. Eli knows when to take some juice off the ball and when to float a feathery throw over the LBs and in front of the DBs.  I am not saying Eli is better than Rodgers, I am just saying that I am very happy with our QB.

Speaking about Rodgers, he seems like a real arrogant, front running jerk. In his press conference after the game he talked about how disappointed he was, what a great season he (not the team?) had and did not give any credit to the Giants. He just said - when you turn it over and drop passes (i.e. all everybody else's fault on the team) that's when you lose. I also did not see him be professional and congratulate the opposing QB after the game ended. Eli was wandering around by himself.

Aside form the bad calls the refs did make, there were some terrible penalties that they ignored. Particularly, there were two late hits on Eli, one when he was smacked in the face mask and another when he was hit late AND thrown violently to the ground.

I know I expect Osi off the team next year and I was nervous about him coming back and disrupting the flow of the JPP and the other DEs, but I have to admit he is playing very well and Fewell is using him perfectly. Notwithstanding, this Sunday against the run oriented 49ers, he should play a slightly lesser role, especialyl if it is bad weather. We should see a slightly heavier does of Tuck at DE with Canty, Joseph and Bernard playing DT.

MacKenzie played a very good game against the fast disruptive Packers OLB, Matthews. He made a few plays, but was kept under control most of the day.

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