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Unpacking The Loss: San Diego

Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? Penalties, sacks, poor coaching decisions, and poor defensive effort when the game was on the line is what cost the Giants the game yesterday.

Telling stats

Here are the key stats that illustrate why the Giants should have won:

Chargers Giants
Time of Possession 22:13 Time of Possession 37:47
Net Yards Rushing 34 Net Yards Rushing 116
Third Down Efficiency 3/10 – 30% Third Down Efficiency 5/14 – 35%
Interception Returns (Number-Yards) 0 – 0 Interception Returns (Number-Yards) 2 – 33
Gross Yards Passing 209 Gross Yards Passing 215
Pass Comp-Att-Int 24 – 36 – 2 Pass Comp-Att-Int 25 – 33 – 0

And of course why they lost:

Red Zone Efficiency 3/3 – 100% Red Zone Efficiency 2/4 – 50%
Goal To Go Efficiency 2/2 – 100% Goal To Go Efficiency 1/2 – 50%
Penalties (Number-Yards) 3 – 20 Penalties (Number-Yards) 9 – 104
Times Sacked (Number-Yards) 2 – 17 Times Sacked (Number-Yards) 5 – 27

In general, penalties and turnovers are the kinds of stats that lose close games. And while the Giants were able to create 2 takeaways by way of interception, it was copious penalties that ended up strangling the Giants in the end. Earlier in the game, Eli Manning was able to overcome several 3rd and long situations due to penalties (inspirational I might add) but Michael Boley’s holding call on an otherwise tipped passing play advanced the ball and gave San Diego a new set of downs to further their game winning touchdown drive.

While redzone and special teams woes continue to be an issue, this loss was highlighted by defensive ineptidude, not offense. Eli looked like the Manning of old, employing smart short passing plays that controlled the clock and wore down the opposition for long chunks of time… methodical drives with a nice balance of pass and run. Giants football as it were. But in the end, decisions to settle for field goals even on as little as 4th and inches decided the Giants fate. Am I the only one who feels the need to check for a pulse on the Giants coaching staff?

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Offense: Running

Giants: Rushing Car Yds Avg TDs
B. Jacobs 11 67 6.1 0
A. Bradshaw 14 39 2.8 0

Brandon Jacobs has been running well the past few weeks — and the ground game in general has been adequate but not great. Bradshaw is getting what I consider to be the wrong kind of touches. Gilbride likes to over-think things and use Bradshaw to run up the gut when he should be trying to get him to cut back, get outside, and utilize his speed on dump off passes. Think about this… Bradshaw basically picked up 9 yards a catch but was only given 3 opportunities on those short passes, yet Eli was sacked 5 times when he could have easily unloaded to Bradshaw in a designed safety valve screen, which is something teams like San Diego and Philadelphia do very well. I admit, it’s easy to OVER rely on that play but when you’re looking at a sack VS a little drop off to Bradshaw who can turn nothing into a 10 yard gain and a new set of downs, you go with the latter. This is the final piece in the running game that needs to come together in my mind, Bradshaw getting the kind of dump off action that Derrick Ward got. I like seeing Jacobs get a few of those from time to time, but there’s no doubt that Bradshaw is the more dangerous back in terms of run after the catch. I say, give it to Jacobs a bit more on the ground and get it to Bradshaw a bit more through the air if you want to maximize the potential of these two backs.

Chargers: Rushing Car Yds Avg TDs
L. Tomlinson 12 22 1.8 0

The Giants defense did a great job of shutting down the other LT all game long, by the way… completely eliminating that facet of the game for the Chargers.

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Offense: Passing

Giants Cmp Att Yds TDs
E. Manning 25 33 215 2

Like I said early, Eli had an efficient day of short passes and clock control that should have been enough to win the game. I thought it was a wise decision to only use the deep ball as an accent to the game plan, not a staple. And I think Eli had the type of game that warranted some passing attempts on the Giants last trip inside the redzone. A draw play on 3rd and 9 on the goal line is not what I call playing to win the game… and it came back to bite Coughlin and Gilbride, whoever had the last word on that bright idea.

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Offense: Receiving

Giants: Receiving REC YDS TD LG
S. Smith 8 57 1 19
M. Manningham 6 52 0 16
H. Nicks 3 39 0 29
A. Bradshaw 3 27 0 10
K. Boss 2 17 1 9

What more can be said about the value of “Mr. Third Down” Steve Smith? He leads the league in 3rd down receptions for first down conversions, in case you didn’t know. He’s a great route runner, has Eli’s attention in tight spots, he comes through in the clutch. I hate to imagine what might have been if smith had been thrown the ball on 3rd and 9 late in the fourth quarter, instead of that ridiculous draw play.

Manningham had a good day overall, no drops to speak of which is always a good thing.

Hakeem Nicks’ touchdown streak comes to an end, but I expect him to continue to impress after the bye week.

I already mentioned my opinion about Ahmad Bradshaw getting more dump offs and screens — I think thats a facet that he really shines in and isn’t getting enough opportunities there.

Kevin Boss is the man. Why does he not have a larger role in this offense again? This guy is not a sleeper, he’s a bona fide play maker. GET. HIM. THE. BALL.

(yes – Hedge had a catch to my “delight” but lets not acknowledge it further than necesary)

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Defense

Giants: Defense T-A SCK INT FF
M. Boley 7-0 0.0 0 0
T. Thomas 7-2 0.0 1 0
M. Kiwanuka 4-1 0.0 0 0
C. Webster 4-1 0.0 0 0
A. Pierce 3-0 0.0 0 0
J. Tuck 3-0 0.0 0 0
B. Johnson 2-1 0.0 0 0
M. Johnson 2-1 0.0 1 0
O. Umenyiora 2-0 1.0 0 1
F. Robbins 1-2 1.0 0 0
C. Sintim 1-2 0.0 0 0
A. Rouse 0-1 0.0 0 0

Corey Webster had one of the worst days of his career — he got burnt repeatedly and was responsible for the coverage on Vincent Jackon who hauled in 2 key recpetions, one being the game winner. Pitiful. I hope Aaron Ross can get healthy over the off week and give CWebb some help for the rest of the season… he looks gassed.

The front four did not get pressure on Phil Rivers on the Chargers game winning drive, but I question the packages engineered by Bill Sheridan that final drive, not the players. Justin Tuck went out with a “lower extremety” injury, whatever that means — but there’s no excuse to not send 6-7 guys after Rivers on that final drive. The Giants defense thrives on pressure, not the prevent defense. Bill Sheridan better get up to speed on the fundamentals of success for the Giants D, and quickly.

I love seeing Boley back out there, but I could’ve done without that holding penalty late in the game on a tipped pass. And the Sproles catch and run for 21 yards into scoring opportunity, but other than that, I liked seeing him back out there. Hopefully the next 2 weeks of practiced are used to brush the rest of the rust off him.

Clint Sintim – another guy I love seeing out there. Very limited production but I liked seeing him stuff LT back into his own jersey a couple times. Made for good TV I guess.

Aaron Rouse, way to not screw it up for the Giants secondary this week like your predecesor. Keep it up and you may make the pro bowl by general principle.

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Special Teams

Tynes sucks. Feagles is also starting to wear on my nerves… get it together fellas!

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Coaching

I thought Kevin Gilbride called a great game for 58 minutes, including a methodical and gratifying 10+ minute touchdown drive, Eli going 9 for 9 and 80 yards, a beautiful drive culminated by a long overdue TD catch by Kevin Boss. Great god in heaven you know I loved it.

But my main gripe is the redzone play calling… so I’m going to throw both Coughlin and Gilbride under the bus there. If you want to send a message that you are going to rely on defense — GO FOR THE FOURTH AND INCHES NEXT TIME. That set the tone of the day for me in overly conservative decisions being made at crucial points in the game, it came back to bite them in the form of Tynes forgetting to kick the ball on the botched field goal attempt on drive #1.

And in the fourth quarter, by running the ball 3 times in a row from 1st and goal, you deflated you teams confidence and gave all the momentum back to San Diego. Way to not play to win guys.

The other side of the ball was just as bad in clutch situations — you had a fired up defense that made a huge stop on the second to last drive, all kinds of pressure. And then on the last drive you enter into the “prevent us from winning” defense. Have you learned nothing while watching Spags win a Superbowl by DOMINATING Tom Brady for 5 sacks with pressure on top of pressure? Get a clue this bye week, for your sake as well as ours.

…..

Thats all folks, hope you didn’t lose sleep over this one. The Giants still have a shot to play like themselves and get hot down the stretch. One team, one goal.

It can still happen, believe that.

cheers

-ai


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11 Responses to “Unpacking The Loss: San Diego”

  1. Russo says:

    great stuff. Especially the Coaching rating. Other than the red zone calls and not calling one PA (if he did I missed it) I liked the play calling. The direct snap to Jacobs and the reversal (or end around..I forget) was nice change of pace. It wasnt the same old predictable playcalling.

  2. Cactus Jack says:

    Bear with me on this one, fellas but as a Giant fan dating back to the days of Tuffy Leemans, Ward Cuff and Mel Hein, I have a pet gripe. I’ve tried to decipher what it is about the game that makes it so appealing. Above all, the answer has to be watching the excellence of play. What turns me off is watching unskilled players, coaches and bad refereeing. To a somewhat lesser extent, I hate it when pure luck or chance turns a game around.
    The sign of a good team is dominance over one’s opponent…the ability to impose your will on a weaker team. The antithesis of this is the adage of a “win is a win”. Sure…we play to win but a win without dominance, depends upon a fair amount of good luck. When the bounce of the ball determines the outcome, I’m left dissatisfied, even if my team wins. Luck plays an insignificant role in basketball…in track and field…in tennis, boxing and in soccer. Not so in football.
    Teams do not go into the training season trying to get luckier. They try to get better. I can understand that while some luck may be the by-product of skill, it doesn’t make the enjoyment of the game better.
    Now, to get to my point. To a great extent, the Giant’s success or lack of same, over the past few years under Eli’s quarterbacking and Coughlin’s managing has been characterized by luck and chance, not by dominance. They have had some winning seasons and superbowl victories but luck and chance have combined to create the wins…and the losses. The dominance exhibited by Belichek’s Patriots and Cowher’s Steelers and the ability to impose their will on opponents has been missing in Coughlin’s Giants.. The domination by Peyton, Brees, Rothlisberger and a handful of others is missing in Eli. The coaching of Spags is nowhere to be found in Sheridan and Gilbride.. When they win, it’s by Tyree’s lucky catch and when they lose it’s by Tyne’s aborted chip-shot field goal.
    Rarely, if ever, do they dictate or dominate a top rated opponent.
    Yes…it’s football. It’s just not very satisfying. Yes…a win is a win…it’s just that if we were all endowed with luck, we’d wind up in Las Vegas. I follow the Giants because I’m looking for skill…and dominance.
    When will we see it ?
    Cactus Jack

    • I’m reminded of the famous phrase “I’d rather be lucky than good”… but in any case…

      It’s interesting to point out that from a Giants fan’s perspective, you seem to indicate that these other teams you mention are for the most part immune to lucky bounces, or are completely devoid of intangibles because the tangible evidence of dominance suffices. That these other players are so good that they cannot be negated by other factors. I simply disagree.

      Wasn’t it a lucky break that Tom Brady become a starter to begin with? Wasn’t it luck that gave the Patriots a win over their bitter rival Bills this very season? The Bills had that game sewn up until the famous kickoff fumble… if that doesn’t happen Brady loses a tough one, who knows how the Bills and Patriots respond to that outcome.

      Isn’t it misfortune that Snee got called for a hold on the Giants final offensive drive? Can’t a holding penalty be called on any given down in the NFL? If that holding penalty is not called, we’re having a different discussion today.

      Isn’t it not a lack of talent but a confluence of misfortune that led to the Giants first missed field goal Sunday? When you say something is uncharacteristic, are you referring to stats or anecdotal evidence supporting a persons reputation? I think you’ll find the myth of Jeff Feagles is more impressive than his actual resume.

      Here’s what I’m saying in response to this very interesting topic…

      If anything — intangibles like momentum, chemistry, rythem, luck, heart, and will to win make these players and teams winners, not the paper stats that can be used to prove or disprove anything. It’s in this vain that your argument takes a turn for the worse — because any fan of any respectable team can make a case why their guys should be cruising through to the playoffs. Some of us happened to be right the past couple of years, because we see our teams in the best light possible, and given all the circumstances the Giants performed at their best 2 years ago. And last year they continued to DOMINATE their opposition by playing their game on their terms. I don’t care what the stats were on Eli — he became an elite quarterback in his own right over the past 24 months.

      The Giants organization is not the Colts, Saints, Steelers, etc — and Eli is not their QB obviously.

      What has been clear is that the Giants stay true to their game plan, and Eli executes very specific tactics from within that game plan. Last game he did his job well, and offensively the Giants played well enough to win. And the way he played Sunday was verbatim the same kind of game plan used to take out Tampa Bay, Dallas, Green Bay, and ultimately Tom Brady and the Patriots.

      Methodical, deliberate, dynamic, high percentage, ruthless power football. That is Giants football. For some reason they strayed from that formula perhaps due to the red zone issues they were having — I feel now as I did then though that is was a matter of telegraphing the play call and not due to a lack of talent. They have gotten slightly better but from what I can tell they are still working out the playbook inside the 20.

      I will tell you every week that the Giants have the talent on their team to come out and pound every single opponent they face when they stick to that plan and play their game… it’s been proven they can absolutely destroy a team thats capable of beating teams like the Chargers, the Eagles, Cowboys, and the Redskins.

      IF it all comes down to paper talent and logic — you will find that it doesn’t add up. It is the INTANGIBLES that matter most over the course of the season. These intangibles are involved all along the process — for every team. To eschew that notion is silly. To compare team methodologies can be done but in the end it is equally as foolish.

      The fact is that the Giants have an incredibly talented team, and they are capable of playing football with the best, and winning. Putting it all together on time — like your best ever tee shots in golf — would involve a bit of luck along with the right mechanics, timing, tempo, and trust.

      Hopefully the Giants are fortunate enough to find themselves getting hot and winning some games later this season. The fundamentals are there, time to see a cohesive unit with tangibles and intangibles working together.

  3. cactus two words for you: Salary Cap. it takes away gratness from the sport. some are good most are medicoire a few terrible

  4. Jeremy says:

    The play calling is fine. You can’t just keep doing the same plays repeatedly, you have to mix it up. I will conceed one thing, once we gained no yards on that WR screen in the redzone those two draws plays set us up perfectly to go for it on 4th down. We kicked a FG which did apsolutely nothing but prevent OT. AT home with our offense we need to be more agressive in key situations. That was one of them, the other one was on the first drive when tynes forgot he was a kicker.
    –any thoughts on the subject?

    • i agree — but they certainly should have made that kick attempt moot on fourth and inches. you go for that pickup these days…. how many times are we going to learn about field goals loosing games in the end.

      that was another very winable game they let slip through their fingers.

    • Jeremy — that screen NEVER WORKS IN THE RED ZONE.

      And it’s not a personnel issue either, it never worked for Plax down there either.

      And besides the point, that screen should be used sparingly like I’ve always said… its a great option around midfield when there’s an all out blitz. The screen keeps them honest. Use it once or twice, any more than that and you’ve gone to the well too many times and they’re waiting for you.

      Something is still wrong with the play calling in the redzone, outside the 20’s I was a big fan last game.

      But FINALLY seeing a pass to Kevin Boss gives me hope heading into crunch time.

  5. Jeremy says:

    Oh and Eli’s foot is definitely hurt we are always in the shotgun on passing downs, that hurts us a lot because Eli does so well with playaction. The bye week hopefully will help.

  6. Cactus Jack says:

    Let me put it another way. Every football game is determined by two factors…skill and luck. You can substitute “chance”, “mistake”,”the way the ball bounces” for the word “luck” …but it is the factor other than skill which determines the outcome of games.
    To a great extent, you can minimize the luck a team has by the quality of its skill. The better a team plays, up to its level of competence, the less chance “luck” will play.
    For example, the more on target a passer is, the less chance of an interception. The more balance a runner has will lessen his chance of stepping out of bounds. A coordinator who calls the right play, will score a touchdown rather than a field goal. A referee who calls a questionable pass interference penalty can give the other team the ball on your one yard line. The more skilled the player, the less chance of error or chance or “luck” affecting the outcome.
    The goal then becomes to develop or obtain the most skilled players…not the luckiest. The further goal then requires that they be coached into playing up to their maximum level within their sphere of competence. When everyone is playing within their sphere of competence, there is less room for “luck” to take hold. It is skill which is the desired result in watching and playing the game…not an outcome based upon “luck”. While it is nice to win, the pleasure is so much greater when you can win decisively and regularly by dominating the field. A real fan can’t be satisfied with an ugly win. He’s always worried about the next game.
    Cactus Jack

    • cactus — i agree with you that as a giants fan, i want to see them DOMINATE. not get a lucky win.

      but you’re comparing a myth of a great quarterback to a great quarterback.

      what i mean is — everyone talks about how great drew breez is, but his receivers more often than not have to go up and grab the ball from the defender just like a pass from Eli.

      Same thing from Warner.

      Same thing from Rivers.

      If you watch those game objectively you’ll see that the reason they have 300+ yard games all the time is that they have pass first offenses with more reps, but also they air the ball out all the time and over the course of 60 minutes they end up connecting on some long pass plays where the throw may not have been anything special, but the receivers are operating in a scheme where they know they have to go up and get the ball. And that happens a few times juxtaposed against a more status quo type of short pass offense… there’s your 300 yards and the myth that the quarterback had a stellar day.

      The reality is the Giants balanced offense with Eli utilizing short passes and running the football effectively will beat the best of them…. of course luck is involved at various times but that is true for every team and every player.

      And more to the spirit of the game, it’s so often the lucky breaks that make the game great. Tyree’s catch will go down as one of the greatest…. but that one catch does not wash away the precision football that the Giants expertly played against Tampa, Dallas, and Green Bay… and the Patriots for 59 minutes of the game.

      Take luck as part of the game, don’t eschew it. Try to get the best guys on your team that want it the most and have the group dynamics to lift each other up and inspire the will to win in eachother.

      Intangibles are what’s more important and harder to manufacture, even though talent is everywhere.

  7. […] takes me to the point I tried to make earlier in the week in Unpacking the Loss… Ahmad Bradshaw is a dangerous weapon that seems to be getting the wrong kind of touches. […]

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