Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Broncos game review

There's no weekend in any sport that exaggerates the fans emotions in both directions like the first week of the NFL season. Call it overreaction weekend. If your team wins, no matter how sloppy or ugly, dreams of trips to the Super Bowl dance in your head like so many sugar plum fairies. If your team wins big in a clean relatively error free game, they look unbeatable and have answered all the off season questions with the right personnel and coaching moves. If they win ugly, you count them as resourceful and imagine how great they'll be when they address the little problems you noticed. Conversely, if your team loses, whether by a big score or in a squeaker, you are downright depressed and see it an omen of a miserable losing season, where your team may not win more than 2 or 3 games. Week 2 seems like it is 6 months down the road and if your team gets its first victory somehow you can take a deep breath, and recover some sanity. However, if your team should lose its second game also, the depression and worry is magnified tenfold and it's time to increase the dosage of the Prozac. Unfortunately, this is the situation where we fans find our Giants team in. If you just look at the scores, it seems really bleak. In the first week the Giants lost to a flawed Cowboys team that in turn lost the next week to a Chiefs team that, while they may be improved from last year, is still coming off a 2 win season. Furthermore, if you wanted to chalk up the first loss to a bunch of turnovers, some of which were somewhat unlucky, you could see a sobering trend in another 4 turnovers in week 2 loss against the Broncos. Eli has thrown for 800+ yards in the two games but has 7 INTs. Not good.

In retrospect, with some chance to reflect on the loss, there are certainly some easily identifiable problem areas for this Giants team, but the Broncos loss wasn't as bad as the final score indicated. It was a 1 point game at half time and a 1 point game with 5 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. Denver scored a TD to go up by 8 going into the 4th quarter, but Giants had the ball and Eli was ready to get the offense moving. Then in the space of about 3 minutes, Broncos got a fluke INT on a ball that should have fallen harmlessly incomplete but hits the defender's foot and caromed up in the air giving Peyton field position at the Giants 35. Broncos easily punched it in for a TD. Then, next sequence was a Giants 3 and out, bad punt returned for TD, game out of reach. Eli picked up 2 INTs late in the game because he doesn't care about his own personal statistics and at that point, down by 22, the only way to get his team back in the game was to try to take extreme chances.

That's the Father Flannigan perspective of the game, but in truth there were several troubling things about the game that need to get fixed.

OL was terrible run blocking, though they were a little better pass blocking and were certainly improved defending Eli compared to the Dallas game. There is absolutely no running game. Every inside run gets blown up by a DT or LB coming through the middle and nobody on the interior OL picks up a charging defender. If Giants try to run outside to get away from that, the penetration from the inside is so sudden that the RBs can't even make it to the outside before the play gets blown up. I heard Eli in an interview on radio say that the OL play is getting close and it's not a total breakdown on every play. Rather, Eli said that on each play there is one breakdown somewhere while everyone else is doing their job. I think Eli was trying to be charitable and not throw his OL under the bus, because I didn't really see it quite that way. Snee made a few good blocks switching on blitz and stunt pickups, but wasn't consistently good. Baas got beat several times and Boothe was average at best. The Ts played pretty well and Pugh looks like he will be a good OL-man. If you want to be optimistic, you can say that Snee will get healthier as he recovers from the off season hip surgery and Baas will improve as his knee gets better, since this was really his first game in 3 weeks. Diehl is due to come back in a few weeks and maybe that helps a bit. But the truth is, some of the responsibility has to go on Reese. I am not saying he's not a good GM, but Giants added a whole lot of FA talent this off season in the DL, but did nothing on the OL. They did draft Pugh but the problem is on the interior.

Weatherford had a great season last year, in fact was great in Super Bowl season also, but he has been mediocre in first two games and was really awful Sunday against the Broncos. He shanked one at beginning of 2nd half giving Broncos great field position and then really hit a bad one on the punt return for a TD.

The defense has been good though there are some areas for improvement. Giants have not been getting many sacks and their defensive strategy depends on it. The DBs are really a strong group greatly improved from last year. Webster has had a resurgence. Amukamara has really stepped up and looks great. Thomas coming back from his knee surgery and playing very well gives them three strong defenders back there. Aaron Ross has played very well in preseason and in the Cowboys game when Prince went out with the concussion, but the guys ahead of him are playing so well that he can't get on the field.

The big problem on defense is the predictability and the weakness of the base LBs to play pass defense. The opposing offense can get the macthups they want just by changing personnel groups and lining up in certain formations, knowing exactly what the Giants will do. Let me give an example: in the first half the Broncos played almost exclusively 3 WR which forced the Giants into their nickel defense. Because they went to a hurry up offense and kept those players on the field, Giants kept their nickel package on the field exclusively. This meant that Paysinger and Jacquian Williams stayed on the field the entire 1st half and they played very well. Paysinger is really developing and Williams is the most athletic LB the Giants have. He can run with nearly any TE in the league and the defense is just flat better with him on the field. Giants gave up only 10 points in the first half and forced 4  Denver punts including several 3-and-outs. But in the 2nd half, seeing that this was not as effective as they would have liked, Denver put in an extra TE in place of a 3rd WR and the Giants reverted to their base defense which included Herzlich at MLB with Rivers and Paysinger on the outside. The Broncos scored every time they touched the ball, running and passing effectively against this defense. Broncos finally punted once in 2nd half, but only in garbage time when the game was safely secured and they wanted to run some clock.

Fewell's defensive schemes are just too predictable. Not many blitzes or stunts and when they do blitz, you can see it coming from a mile away.

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