Giants coaches will say that the players didn't execute on defense, committed too many penalties both on offense and special teams. This may be true, but the real truth is that the game plan was weak on both sides of the ball. Coughlin went into the game apparently feeling that the Redskins offense was so explosive that they had to try to keep RG III off the field. Giants went into the game with a plan to dominate time of possession and hold the ball on long time consuming drives, taking only a few shots down the field. I don't like that strategy as a general rule, but it certainly does not make sense against a team that is run centric. As dynamic a player as RG III is, as exciting and dangerous as he is, the Redskins ran for 240 yards against the Giants in the first game and the Giants strategy should have been to take them out of their running game and force them to pass. The best way to do that is to make the game a shootout and make it high scoring. In the first half, the Giants had more yards, nearly double the time of possession, their offense did not have to punt at all and still needed an amazing 35 second drive at the end of the half to come out leading by a FG. I understand the need for balance - you can't throw on every down, but with no pass rush against them and Eli throwing the ball well, Giants were too conservative on offense in that first half. Eli missed Cruz and Nicks when they were behind the defense and open for TDs on the drive that resulted in the first half missed FG. That drive killed the Giants - they should have had 7, could have had 3 and ended up with 0. But those were the only two deep shots Giants attempted in the first half and the Giants should have been more aggressive offensively in the first half. In the second half, when the Redskins played a little better on defense and the Giants made a few mistakes and penalties to kill drives, they managed only 3 points. If the game had been more up tempo, Giants would have gotten more possession in the whole game and might have scored more than 16 points. They had only 4 possession in each half, including that 35 second FG at the end of the half....not a good strategic plan. Giants defense could not stop the run in the second half and would have been much better off to play with a bigger lead that put pressure on the Redskins offense to throw.
Defensively is where I am really disappointed about the game plan. Fewell gave them absolutely nothing new to combat the Redskins running game. It was hard to see on TV how often the Giants played their 3-S combination, but that is more vulnerable to the running game, especially the power running game that the Redskins use. The Giants DL was fooled on nearly every play: on the run option, the Giants got beaten every time. The DEs either over-committed to the RB or under-committed and let him run up the middle. Didn't the coach work on that during the week? Didn't he teach them and show them how to play it? Redskins have not been doing this every week against every opponent.... Steelers stopped them a few weeks ago. On pass plays, every play action fake, every play that had some deception in it worked 100% of the time and Griffen did not have to squeeze any balls into tight places - WRs were wide open on every play. The entire defense was just looking at RG III and not watching their man and taking care of their coverage responsibility. Playing zones, which the Giants seemed to play a lot of last night, you can't just look at the QB - you have to (borrowing a line from Red Holzman) see the man and the ball. Giants were just looking at the ball in the hands of the QB. If you have the game on DVR, look at the TD pass to Garcon that put the Redskins ahead 17-16. RG III is rolling to his right and Boley is looking into the backfield, has his eyes fixed on RG III, has no idea that Garcon is a few steps in front of him and only makes a move into the passing lane after the ball is safely in Garcon's hands.
Maybe I am overrating the talent on the Giants defense and they are not as good as I think they are, but the defensive coach did nothing to help the Giants. Redskins did absolutely nothing different on offense than they did the first time Giants played them, yet the Giants had no different defensive plan to stop them. Execution and talent is one part of winning the game. The second part is the coaching, scheming, play calling and deception that the coaches put into the game to help the team win. Every fake, every deception, every ruse that the Redskins used worked against the Giants. Conversely, the Giants had no deception that gave them an advantage against the Redskins - everything was based on pure execution.