Thursday, January 12, 2012

Giants: Packers preview II

 People always talk about stopping a great offense by playing ball control, running the ball and keeping the other QB off the field. Giants have to be smart enough to NOT subscribe to that as a game plan. Giants are a big play offense and even though the running game has had a little revival recently, they are not built to pound the ball, convert 3rd down after 3rd down and move the ball in 15 play drives down the field. They led the league in plays greater than 30 yards and the Packers defense gave up the most big plays. Seems to me the convergence of those two revealing statistics is where the offensive game plan should be headed (he said somewhat sarcastically and definitely in understated fashion). The Giants ran for 170 yards against the Falcons and for over 100 against the Cowboys the week before, but they still failed to convert several short yardage situations on 3rd and 4th downs. Even the one 4th down they made at the goal line against the Falcons was not blocked very well and required a spin move by Jacobs, who was initially hit behind the line, to convert the 4th and 1. Giants running yardage came on a few long runs that they broke, not on consistent 3-4-5 yard pops, especially in the 1st quarter. The mantra for this week is one I have always embraced: throw early, run late. That goes in two ways.... throw early in the downs, so the defense is less likely to dial up a blitz and the pass blocking will be better. But more importantly this week - throw early in the game and get a lead, then run the ball late in the game to hold on to the ball and move the clock. Maybe the Packers will be a little stale early, because of their bye and resting their starters in week 17. If Giants attack from the outset, they might be able to get an early lead and get the Packers to play from behind. Rodgers will still make his throws and get his points, but maybe a little pressure on them, when they have had virtually none all year can help the Giants play a little looser and the Packers a little tighter. I am not saying that Eli should be hoisting up 50 yard throws on every play, but they need to take their shots down the field and attack the Packers DBs. Packers DBs and LBs like to gamble and jump routes, one of the reasons they lead the NFL in INTs. Eli has to be aggressive, but still careful with the ball and anticipate when the Packers might be looking for a pick. With this pass first mentality, I am not saying that time of possession is completely immaterial. But it is secondary in importance and does not need to be achieved by a pounding running game. Modest prediction: Manningham will make a big play on a double move at some point in the game.

KC Chiefs beat the Packers by putting on a big pass rush and by playing aggressive man-to-man with their talented CBs. Giants don't have great CBs, so they will need to rely on even better play from the DL to get after Rodgers. It could be that simple - if the Packers OL can block the Giants DL, then Rodgers will be hard to slow down and will put up lots of points. If Giants DL can beat up the Packers OL and get to Rodgers, then Giants have a chance.

The interesting defensive game plan questions is whether the Giants can survive with just a 4 man pass rush or whether they need to blitz often to get pressure. Another big question is how to handle Jermichael Finley, the Packers talented TE. Can Giants handle him with a LB, most likely Williams or do they need to play and extra DB. Packers don't run the ball very well - in fact in the game earlier this year in Met Life Stadium, Rodgers was the Packers leading rusher. What that says to me is that the Giants will be playing a lot of nickel coverage all the time, but the risk is that if the Giants play man-to-man exclusively, it could open running lanes for Rodgers. Giants may need to have a LB keep an eye on Rodgers, but that is risky because it takes someone out of coverage. Giants need a huge game from their DL and from their defense overall. Duh.

 When did the Giants players forget that they were members of the NY Giants and start thinking they were the NY Jets? JPP guaranteeing... WRs talking about making big plays on the vulnerable Packers DBs.... defense very confident. What happened to "Talk is cheap, play the game".

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