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Unpacking The Win: Kansas City

Giants Chiefs
Final Score 27 Final Score 16*
Time of Possession 30:47 Time of Possession 29:13

* Score was 27-3 until 9:31 left in the 4th quarter

You know… while I love the way the Giants have been playing this year there always seems to be an excuse as to why the Giants are successful. Aren’t you as Giants fans sick of hearing: “Ohh, but the Giants haven’t played anybody.” Really?  How did they get to 4-0 if they haven’t played anybody? The fact is the Giants started off with a huge bang by playing 2 divisional rivals and won. And in case you didn’t get the memo, the NFC East is the most heated division in football – the games are absolute bloodbaths and the simple fact is that any NFC East win is coveted by the victor due to the passion, intensity, and effort exhibited in those games. To come out and beat 2 divisional foes the way the Giants did and ultimately win 3 straight games on the road — I would hardly consider it something to gloss over.

I think what these “folk” are trying to say is that for the majority of the 2009 football season, the Giants have completely dominated their opposition.  That was the case with Washington, Tampa Bay, and certainly with this most recent blowout against Kansas City. And the closest game came against the Cowboys who were at home in Dallas, but even with the unveiling of Jerry’s World and all the distractions the Giants STILL came away with an impressive win, even with every kind of advantage you could have residing with the Cowboys. So instead of thinking the Giants have played NObody… think about it this way, the Giants have thus far played EVERYbody and won. That’s how I prefer to think about it anyway because as we bitterly learned last season — ANY GIVEN SUNDAY — the most unlikely team can show up and beat you down (ehem, Cleveland).

This week, however, the Giants were the ones who showed up in KC, and they beat the Chiefs down, hard.

As always, let’s start with recapping the defense. Perhaps the most meaningful stat to sum up the Giants defensive effort is simply the score early in the 4th quarter: 27-3… enough said?

DEFENSE

Frankly I was upset the Chiefs got on the board at all…. but you can’t shut ’em all out I guess. In all seriousness though, the Giants Defense had pressure all over KC – they amassed 5 sacks, held KC to 3 points until garbage time in the 4th quarter, and the Giants Defense collectively made life miserable for everyone wearing a KC jersey Sunday.

Giants
Defense T-A SCK INT FF
C. Brown 6-0 0.0 0 1
A. Pierce 6-1 0.0 0 1
M. Boley 5-0 1.0 0 0
M. Johnson 4-0 0.0 0 0
J. Tuck 4-1 1.0 0 1
D. Clark 3-2 0.0 0 0
C. Webster 3-1 0.0 0 0
M. Kiwanuka 2-0 1.0 0 0
F. Robbins 2-0 0.0 0 0
A. Rouse 2-0 0.0 0 0
T. Thomas 2-0 0.0 0 0
O. Umenyiora 2-0 1.0 0 0
R. Bernard 1-0 1.0 0 0
D. Tollefson 1-0 0.0 0 0

Look, I’m a visual guy. I realize that if everything is highlighted — in effect nothing is. But with that said, the real story Sunday for the defense as a whole was the pass rush and getting sacks on the board for basically everyone. Every defensive lineman had a sack, and Michael Boley turned in another stellar performance and was seemingly everywhere on the field making tackles – whether it was stopping the run or disrupting pass plays in coverage. I’m really glad the Giants picked him up, he’s got serious wheels and is making his presence felt. Antonio Pierce was brilliant as usual, plugging up the gaps when needed and getting the defense set up in proper coverage, switching things up, creating confusion at the last minute – particularly on third downs when it really mattered. Consequently the Chiefs only converted 2 of 15 on 3rd down… and you just can’t expect to compete with that kind of stat. Football games are won and lost on 3rd downs over 60 minutes. If you stop a team on third downs 90% of the time (as the Giants basically did in KC) that is just a stellar defensive unit playing unbelievably cohesive football – impressive all the way around.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Because I’ve been hard on CC Brown the past several weeks, credit is certainly due to his performance this week. One of his bone crunching tackles forced the fumble on the first kickoff return of the game, and Bryan Kehl recovered it putting the Giants immediately in the Red Zone and giving them an eventual score. Great play by both on that particular play, and with CC Brown stepping it up and co-leading the team with tackles it shows a huge improvement this week that deserves some respect. So like Michelle Tanner used to say: “You got it dude!”

Bryan Kehl’s special teams efforts were top notch as well, I think his immediate reaction to the Chiefs surprise on-side kick was most impressive. Kehl locked it up so fast the play hardly seemed out of the ordinary. His focus and preparation on containing that play made a big impact, not only on the outcome of the game but my impression of what he brings to the table. Tremendous focus and preparation – the kinds of things Tom Coughlin likes to acknowledge and reward if, for example, Michael Boley happens to miss a couple of games due to a knee injury.

Kicking
Kickoffs (Number-In End Zone-Touchbacks) 5 – 3 – 0
Extra Points (Made-Attempted) 3 – 3
Field Goals (Made-Attempted) 2 – 3

Lawrence Tynes – how exactly does one miss a 20 yard field goal one week, make a 44 yarder, and then miss a 38 yard field goal in your line of work? Beyond the 50 yard line, of course I can understand only making a few. Beyond the 40 yard line… fine I can accept it but let’s not let too many get away. Where I have the most trouble understanding is the 20’s and 30’s… those are mandatory points on the board as far as I’m concerned. MANDATORY. So forgive me for being so brash but there HAS TO BE another kicker that will make these kicks for the Giants, end of story.

OFFENSE

How much do you think Eli Manning is worth now a quarter into the season… every penny of that $100 million? Me too.

Passing

Eli Manning is irreplaceable, and David Carr is slowly proving that to those few left who were doubtful in Eli’s abilities. Hopefully his Plantar Fasciitis will not keep him out of any of the upcoming games, the Raiders are going to be coming into NY this upcoming weekend wanting to prove they can hang with the big dogs. And after that New Orleans will be a true test of character for both teams… so while we can’t afford to lose Eli to an injury, the Giants can’t afford to lose a very winnable homecoming game without Manning at the helm.

Passing CP/AT YDS TD INT
E. Manning 20/34 292 3 1
D. Carr 0/2 0 0 0

To quickly recap the passing game – Eli Manning and the Giants receivers overcame some early obstacles and turnovers, in the end though they looked quite sharp right up until Manning limped off to the sidelines after dropping off a screen pass for Hakeem Nicks that was taken 50 yards for a touchdown. At which point, David Carr came in and got sacked for a huge loss, and that was basically it.

Receiving REC YDS TD LG
S. Smith 11 134 2 25
H. Nicks 1 54 1 54
M. Manningham 1 43 0 43
K. Boss 4 41 0 24
T. Beckum 1 15 0 15
M. Hedgecock 1 9 0 9
B. Jacobs 1 -4 0 -4

Yes, much to my disbelief Hedge caught a pass. Luckily, I didn’t actually see the reception because I was in the bathroom right at that moment as fate would have it… and I say lucky because I probably would have spilled my PBR and made a real scene had I witnessed the play call. Let’s just say catching one pass is an improvement, and leave it at that.

Mario Manningham had somewhat of an off day… the bobbles made for nice suspense but in the end I’m reminded of Tom Coughlin’s wretched screaming during training camp — “CATCH THE BALL!!” Eli Manning threw a catchable pass that should have been caught, and it would have greatly improved the Giants opportunity for a score. Instead, the bobble led to an interception and points going the other way. Ooff. Super Mario redeemed himself on his 40+ yard reception but even that catch was bobbled. Not bad, not good.

Fantastic wherewithal from Travis Beckum to make a difficult catch for a first down and keep the drive alive. Nice eyes, nice hands, nice concentration on that one.

Good to see Kevin Boss get in on the action and come up with some receptions. I hope his ankle injury isn’t all that serious and he will be able to practice and play this weekend. Playing through pain sounds easier than it is, and Kevin Boss showed he’s a team first kinda guy on Sunday. I can appreciate that… but if the injury was serious, I would hope the Giants Medical staff would yank him out of there instead of letting him aggravate it further in a game like that where maybe Boss could have been replaced without cataclysmic effect.

Now to the meat and potatoes of this section: obviously Steve Smith is having a fantastic year. Not only is he Mr. Third Down, Mr. Dependable, Mr. GTG, and clearly Mr. Burress’ replacement …. he’s making the NFL analysts question who the REAL Steve Smith should be. Wow… it only took 4 games but the mainstream sports media have finally admitted that the #1 receiver questions surrounding the NY Giants were completely moot.

Steve Smith
Year Team G Rec Yds Avg Yds/G Lng TD 20+ 40+ 1st FUM
2009 New York Giants

4 34 411 12.1 102.8 32 4 6 0 22 0
2009 Carolina Panthers

3 15 190 12.7 63.3 28 0 4 0 8 1

The #1 receiver for the Giants is the #1 receiver in the NFL right now – and even though Steve Smith should be just as familiar to analysts as he was in 2007 and in 2008…. he’s only JUST starting to get the recognition he deserves. Only 2 weeks ago for example, Chris Collinsworth repeatedly prefaced every Steve Smith highlight with a disparaging comment like:

“You know Steve Smith is certainly not among the top tier receivers in the league….but”

or

“These Giants receivers are clearly not the best in the league… but”

At the time I thought to myself – it’s only a matter of time before guys like Collinsworth pull their heads out of their collective butts and realize that the Giants have the youngest, hungriest, and most talented offensive weapons in the league. If you had paid attention during camp, you would have realized that. If you watched and analyzed the preseason games, you knew about the potential the Giants were working with. If you watched the 2008 season – you already knew Steve Smith was a go-to-guy…. and if you remember the 2007 playoffs, you should certainly remember Steve Smith’s heroics, on 3rd downs especially right up into the Superbowl.

Mr. Smith has been doin’ it, and doin’ it well. Need more proof? Here is your top 10 receiver list for 2009 where #12 leads the league in receptions, yards and yards per game, touchdowns, and first downs:

Rk Player Team Pos Rec Yds Avg Yds/G Lng TD 20+ 40+ 1st 1st% FUM
1 Steve Smith NYG

WR

34

411

12.1

102.8

32

4

6

0

22

64.7

0

2 Randy Moss

NE

WR

29

331

11.4

82.8

31

1

4

0

19

65.5

0

3 Dallas Clark

IND

TE

26

364

14.0

91.0

80T

2

4

2

16

61.5

0

3 Hines Ward

PIT

WR

26

355

13.7

88.8

41

0

6

1

15

57.7

1

3 Reggie Wayne IND

WR

26

399

15.3

99.8

39

3

6

0

21

80.8

0

6 Nate Burleson

SEA

WR

24

260

10.8

65.0

24

1

2

0

14

58.3

1

6 Antonio Gates SD

TE

24

349

14.5

87.2

37

2

6

0

19

79.2

1

6 Heath Miller

PIT

TE

24

181

7.5

45.2

18

2

0

0

10

41.7

1

9 Jerricho Cotchery NYJ

WR

23

356

15.5

89.0

46

1

6

2

20

87.0

0

9 Jason Witten

DAL

TE

23

212

9.2

53.0

22

1

2

0

10

43.5

0

Rushing

Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw led a punishing ground attack combining for 156 yards. Jacobs improved his performance to a 4.4 YPA benchmark, and Bradshaw was even more potent with a 5.3 YPA. No run was longer than Jacobs 17 yards, and there were no rushing touchdowns this week, perhaps due to some costly turnovers in the red zone but I would say the rushing attack did a fine job moving the chains this week.

Rushing ATT YDS TD LG
B. Jacobs 21 92 0 17
A. Bradshaw 12 64 0 11

Jacobs and Bradshaw both ran hard this past week, and it got me to thinking that any criticism of the Giants rushing attack this year is only heightened because they had the #1 attack last year. In 2007, however, Jacobs and Bradshaw ran under the radar with stats more akin to the numbers they are currently putting up, the Giants benefited from a more balanced scheme with an efficient passing attack, and that’s the year they won all their games when it mattered. Last year by contrast they had a heavily touted #1 rushing attack that collapsed in the playoffs, and there was no passing game to fall back on perhaps due to the over-reliance on a run first scheme. We do not see that trend continuing this year, and Tom Coughlin has repeatedly stated his mission on offense is to achieve balance — and that’s when the Giants are performing at their best.

It’s in this regard that I don’t miss Derrick Ward one bit. Ahmad Bradshaw is quicker, he can catch out of the backfield just as well, and he can turn upfield with the best of them. That direct snap for 9 yards is a great example — you tell me who you think that play was better designed for, Bradshaw or Ward? That’s why I expect to see Bradshaw routinely make significant yardage out of hardly anything to work with, because he’s been doing it the last two seasons already when given the opportunity. I can’t wait to see some more.

RED ZONE OFFENSE

Kevin Gilbride has largely improved his play calling, even in the red zone. Unfortunately there were two first half turnovers in the red zone that tarnish this weeks stats.

Red Zone Efficiency 1/4 – 25%
Goal To Go Efficiency 1/2 – 50%

One strip sack and one pass bobbled for an interception account for two missed opportunities, but as long as Gilbride keeps mixing it up and deceiving the defense like we’ve been clamoring about so that the play calls are not telegraphed and there is no perceived bias, I am happy with the effort.

And as long as Eli Manning stays comfortable with throwing 25-yard touchdown passes, I have no complaints.

And as long as screen passes keep working, I REALLY have no complaints….

That’s the magic of short passes after all, and why I love them.

Hope you all have a wonderful week, see you soon in the next installment of the Giants Gab Roundtable Discussion.

cheers

-ai


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2 Responses to “Unpacking The Win: Kansas City”

  1. Jesse Cassel says:

    steve smith number one in recieving yards

    1. Steve Smith NYG 411
    2. Reggie Wayne IND 399
    3. Vincent Jackson SD 373
    4. Dallas Clark IND 364
    5. Jerricho Cotchery NYJ 356

  2. Steve Smith is apparently a “new breed” that they didn’t know existed until this year. Yeah he’s a playmaker, but he’s not a rookie…. so where does that leave your analysis?

    http://www.nfl.com/news/story?id=09000d5d81333aa9&template=with-video-with-comments&confirm=true

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