Some random thoughts from yesterday's 9ers game
1. Kiwanuka is playing LB, but might actually be the most complete DE on the team. Fewell moved him into several plays on the DL and used Tracy in his slot at LB, no doubt to keep the bulk on the field to deal with the 9ers power runners. JPP is a freak athlete and keeps making plays, so I'm not knocking him ( btw he might actually be better defending the running game than rushing the passer). But Kiwanuka is more polished, more professional, makes plays and doesn't freelance, therefore rarely out of position. Osi should start checking out life in other NFL cities, because Kiwanuka is taking his spot next year. Giants coaches always liked Tracy - you can tell when the coaches like someone when he hangs around on the practice squad for 2-3 years. Same with Andre Brown who they grabbed as soon as he became available again.
2. When one team whomps another, do you say the winning team is great or the loser is weak. I think Giants are a strong team, but the 49ers are just not that good. They have a really good OL and front 7 on defense, so if they can run it down their opponents throat, stop the run and get after them with their front 7 on defense, they can look dominant. But their skill position players on offense and defense are below average (I'm calling DBs and pass coverage by LBs skill position on defense in this context.) Therefore if your team can stand up to their OL/DL, you expose them. If it had not been a rainy day out there last year in the playoffs, making it difficult to close drives, Giants would have won by 2 TDs
3. Amukamara is a stud, and another another big plus for the defense was the presence of Hosley. All of a sudden, the QB's first read is not there, he has to hesitate for just a second more and the pass rush can get home. This is particulalry true with someone like Smith who is just an average QB. The great step up he made last year was because Harbaugh told him he didn't want to do too much. He has two reads on every play: (1) the primary target and (2) the checkdown to the undeneath guy. If the primary isn't there, he goes safe and if that's not there he throws it away. Works great when you're running game is getting 180 per game and you have 5 seconds to sit in the pocket. But when you're playing an upper echelon defense..... doesn't work out as well. Don't forget one other thing - 9ers were 13-3 last year and had 6 eeeeasy games in their division. This year NFC West has improved; let's see how he does. My current view of QBs is that there are a few who are "elite" who can raise the level of their game and of their team and there are a few that really stink. Then there are a whole bunch in the middle that have some ability and will do well if the team around them is great. Is there really such a great difference between Mark Sanchez and Alex Smith.... I don't think so.
4. OL is playing reaaalllly well. I said coming into the season that the only thing that could kill Giants season was weak OL play and injuries / poor play in the db-field. I was hoping for decent OL play, but it looks like this OL is giving the team much more than that. I am not saying this is best OL in football - but right now they're playing very, very well. Beatty is playing at a near all pro level. Boothe is playing much better than last year and Baas has improved. As far as the db-field - Prince was the question mark and he's answering the call. And...... I said before - Hosley has a real high upside also. Giants haven't missed Phillips at S yet, but they haven't played any decent QBs since he went down. RGIII scares me this week
5. Wilson looks scary good and Giants have to expand his role. He reminds (not in style or ability, but just in demeanor) of Gale Sayers. I remembering watching Sayers and feeling he was going to score every time he touched the ball and remembered exhaling and being relieved when he didn't. Wilson will make plays before the season is over as he's starting to already.
6. 49ers laid down and quit in 2nd half. The risk of having a high volume coach, who constantly gets his team amped up and makes himself the center of attention is that when he lets down, the whole team lets down. When they stumble and realize that they might not have a first class ticket to the Super Bowl; when they see his bluster is not substantial, they turn off and let down. Coughlin is more middle of the road. Keeps them pumped up without college style nonsense; Harbaugh is a college coach. And - what was that nonsense about playing the substitute QB for long stretches in 2nd half? Was he trying to mess with Alex Smith's fragile psyche? Is he trying to see what he's got in Kaepernick and work towards replacing Smith later in the season?
7. What will Giants defense look like when Bernard and Canty come back at DT? Have to look at the game again, but not sure how Austin is doing. Kuhn was OK.
8. Speaking of defense - I got to give Fewell credit for several things: they had a great game plan to take away TE Davis. It was simple, but it worked - he was always hammered at the line and rerouted, then picked up by different players - sometimes DB, sometimes S or LB. Giants played great mix of zone and man and confused Smith, especially when he fell behind and had to throw more. I was very pleased that Amukamara got his INT in a zone, when he fooled the QB and made the pick. Rolle, obviously was great.
9. I love the comment Aikman made - 49ers defense was dominant last two weeks but Bills QB and Jets QB are not exactly the same as playing Eli.
10. It would be nice if the Giants could play as well at home as they do on the road. With Giants carrying 0-2 record in the division next two games against the Redskins (home) and Cowboys (road) are critical. There are 3 teams in the NFC West with 4 wins, 2 in the NFC North with 4 wins and a rising Green Bay team with 3 wins. My point is that it will be difficult to win the wild card, so winning the division is safest way into the playoffs. That's what makes these next two divisional games really important.