Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Week 1 v Cowboys

This was probably the most perfect week one win you could hope for. It's not that it was a thoroughly dominating win - it wasn't. It wasn't even a solid convincing victory, where your team can coast the last few minutes and be comfortable as the clock ticks down for victory. In fact, a play or two, a catch where the Cowboys could have advanced the ball 10 yards further or had 30 seconds more left on the clock and they easily could have won the game. Not only that, but when you play a game against a rookie QB making his first NFL start, you should beat him easily. Why then do I say that this was a perfect game one victory? First of all when you bring a new team together and they win big in their first game, there's a risk that they may get overconfident and think that it may come too easy. In fact if they even win comfortably, they may subconsciously feel that they can win just by showing up. A close win against a team they should have beaten perhaps a little more easily is perfect for the team psyche. They can be confident in the win, but realize there are still things to fix.

Much more important than the psyche factor however is the answers to the questions we had coming into the season. There were a few major questions coming into this first game and in fact coming into the season. First - would the OL improve over its pitiful preseason showing and its mediocre performance last year. As a corollary issue, would the TEs emerge from a season long malaise of blocking ineffectiveness. Second - would the S play improve with the two young bucks back there - a 2nd year player in Collins and a rookie in Darian Thompson. Third, would the new defensive FA additions along the DL and in the DB-field show themselves as worth the investment. More generally, how would the rookie class, particularly Shepperd and 1st rounder Eli Apple play. Fourth, would injury returnees Victor Cruz and JPP demonstrate that they might regain their form and be productive players once again. And finally and perhaps most important, how would coach McAdoo handle things in his first stint as HC at any level. 

Remarkably, every one of these questions was answered in the positive. The OL was far from dominating but was very effective in setting up the run and providing decent protection for the passing game. Even the TEs got into the action and did a decent job blocking. Tye had a real good, key block on one insie run by Jennngs and Donnell also did a decent job blocking, despite one late game play where he was totally dominated by the man he was supposed to block. This play almost cost NYG the game, but more on that later. In summary the blocking was OK.

The S play was just fabulous. Collins made plays in the running game last year but needed help in the passing game. THis year he seems sleeker and faster and has emerged as an excellent pass defender also. Berhe, who started the game at S and Thompson who came in and played the remainder of the game after the first 2 or 3 defensive series, was just great. He made several stops right at the line of scrimmage for no gain and was always in position to give help on deep passes. He looks like an excellent player. 

Third, Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison and Janoris Jenkins were superb. Jenkins brought his A game and did a great job on Dez Bryant. Vernon and Harrison were excellent at the line of scrimmage in both the passing game and the running game. Shepperd looks like a keeper and a rising star. Eli Apple got off to a slow start, but contributed to shutting down Cowboys offense in 2nd half. 

Victor Cruz made several key plays, one demonstrating that his athleticism had returned making a catch where he had to contort his body and land awkwardly on one foot bringing in a pass for a 20 yard gain setting up Shepperd's TD. Another key play was the winning TD where he demonstrated his experience and instincts by finding the open spot in the end zone. JPP was ll over the backfield in the 2nd half, once almost getting a strip sack of Prescott that would have ended the game and generally creating lots of pressure.

McAdoo made several very wise, considered coaching decisions that shows that even though he is still calling the offensive plays, he is able to manage the clock and make the strategic game management decisions. More on some of his good coaching in future posts. 

This was a perfect win --- we answered all the  questions facing the team coming into the season. NYG won but not by too much that they will get overconfident. And.... they beat Dallas!

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