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Unpacking The Loss: Philly

Here is the long and short of it: our Giants had a shot to win that game. Sunday night, I was as fired up about the Giants playing a game as I have been in a long time. Although they got off to a horrible start – this is a team that showed resolve, focus, and determination to fight back and take the lead from a very dangerous team. That in and of itself should give us reason to believe heading into the final 3 games of the season.

As always:
Red is bad. Yellow is good. Orange is key.

Telling stats

Eagles Giants
Final Score 45 Final Score 38
Total Net Yards 374 Total Net Yards 512
Fourth Down Efficiency 0/0 – 0% Fourth Down Efficiency 3/3 – 100%
Red Zone Efficiency 3/5 – 60% Red Zone Efficiency 3/4 – 75%
Fumbles (Number-Lost) 1 – 0 Fumbles (Number-Lost) 5 – 4
Interception Returns (Number-Yards) 0 – 0 Interception Returns (Number-Yards) 1 – 5
Net Punting Average 37.0 Net Punting Average 10.7

Poor special teams coverage and turnovers certainly were key to this game. It’s abundantly clear that the offense played well enough to win most games – assuming the Giants Defense doesn’t let the other team score every time they touch the ball.

Time of possession, running the football, and controlling the clock had nothing to do with with this game — even though the Giants won all those battles. The Eagles scoring in under 3.5 minutes on the first drive, Jacobs’ fumble taken to the house, Desean Jackson’s punt return for the touchdown, and McNabb’s touchdown pass to Jackson on the first play from scrimmage after the Giants took the lead all tolled took approximately 4 minutes.

That’s 4 touchdowns in 4 minutes.

Either the Eagles are that good or the Giants had one of those days… and depending which fan you ask you’re going to get polarizing answers. The truth as always is a bit of both. Let’s start with the former.

Eagles Offense

Passing CP/AT YDS TD INT
D. McNabb 17/26 275 2 1
M. Vick 1/2 32 0 0
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
D. Jackson 6 178 1 60
B. Celek 5 64 1 23
R. Brown 2 31 0 19
L. McCoy 4 26 0 10

The Giants limited the Eagles rushing attack between the 20’s but gave up 2 rushing touchdowns from Michael Vick and Leonard Weaver at the goal line. Understandable I suppose. That much is reasonable let’s just say.

And largely — the Giants did well to contain plays underneath and over the middle to guys like Brent Celek and screen plays to the Eagles other favorite receivers, their backs.

But the big plays to DeSean Jackson were expected, discussed, strategized and game planned for, reviewed and now they must be debriefed — because any way you slice it DeSean Jackson killed the Giants. So long Westbrook, hello DeSean Jackson — the newly annointed Giants slayer.

~30 yards per catch.
260 total yards.
2 all-purpose touchdowns.

And the worst part about it was that the Giants Defense KNEW HE WAS DANGEROUS!

Tom Coughlin on how Jackson got so wide open on his 60 yard touchdown catch where he jerked backward into the endzone:

Believe it or not, we were in a two-deep coverage. But the depth of the receiver crossing gets behind one of the safeties. The other safety is chasing and they end up with the big play….They had hit the deep ball against two-deep coverage, as well. It is something that you don’t expect to happen in that circumstance but it did.

So how did it happen, Coach? Was it more poor play from Michael Johnson…. dya think?

[Johnson] was so concerned with the receiver releasing in front of him, the (*backup) tight end in front of him, that he really didn’t have an awareness. So I think everybody wants answers to… I think awareness is one, I think down and distance, I think recognition of what the potential issues may very well be with the formations presented. I think there is lot of those things.

The moral of the story here is not that Bill Sheridan screwed up, but that Michael Johnson did. There was total lack of execution and communication among the defensive unit while on the field. I agree with Coughlin here, the right play was called and the Giants secondary in particular let DeSean Jackson get behind them in what was supposed to be 2 deep coverage. Obviously the safety’s weren’t deep enough. But what Coughlin also indicates is that the Eagles were able to hit deep passes even while the safety’s WERE deep and the play was kept in front of them. The fact of the matter is Michael Johnson played so badly that he doesn’t even have an attempted tackle to report on the stat sheet. Oooff.

Folks — this is not a scheme issue in the secondary, it’s lack of execution. While I have my issues with Sheridan’s play calling in some other areas (more on that later) it’s clear to me from watching and rewatching the tape that the PLAYERS did not execute the call effectively, and the Eagles took full advantage. Explosive passing offense meets ailing defensive secondary. That’s that. Stop blaming Sheridan for that one.

The other issue is the Giants front 7 and the lack of pressure and sacks on the QB…. this is where the scheme is bothersome to me and although I see some different things being tried by Sheridan, it IS week 14 and these issues should have been worked out by now.

Giants Defensive Line

Defense T-A SCK INT FF
J. Tuck 5-1 0.0 0 0
C. Canty 3-1 0.0 0 0
M. Kiwanuka 2-1 0.0 0 0
B. Cofield 1-3 0.0 0 0
C. Sintim 1-0 0.0 0 0
O. Umenyiora 1-2 1.0 0 1

Like I’ve already gone over here, even though the Giants front 4 has been extremely inconsistent in getting pressure they HAVE had some success. It’s a small percentage of snaps, but it’s there. And while it pains me to say the Giants may never be able to get sustained pressure over 60 minutes the way they used to with LDE Michael Strahan, I think one specific personnel group needs to start living together from now on… because only 4 guys were able to get pressure in McNabb’s face on 3rd downs, bat balls, and force a fumble.

From right to left facing the QB, the default line needs to be: (in this order)

RDE Osi Umenyiora
RDT Justin Tuck
LDT Mathias Kiwanuka
LDE Clint Sintim

Again, the ONLY pressure gotten all day was when this group was in. Third and out’s were made possible, forced fumbles, and generally a more encouraging spark was evident when these specific players comprised the line. Osi, Tuck, and Kiwi — not having great years individually but when these guys are all out there together, somehow good things seem to happen. And its great to see Sintim in there too — I know the Coaches have gone back and forth on exactly how to use this beast out of VA, but its only a matter of time before he gets around the edge consistently and causes some big problems for the QB. That is a nice blend from Sheridan with some creativity, and a classic 1-2 punch in Osi and Tuck off on the blind side… the way it used to be.

Chris Canty and Barry Cofield, while pretty good at maintaining their gaps in stopping the run — cannot get pressure on the QB. The 60 yard bomb to DeSean Jackson that erased all Giants momentum, Canty could not penetrate or get any push up the middle…. McNabb had all day to sit, pump, and throw.

Now I sent around a question via email to other Giants analysts and Ed Valentine over at Big Blue View got back to me right away. On this specific personnel grouping, he said:

The thing about Tuck & Osi on the same side is you can be 100% certain it is something the Giants have wanted to do all season long. Problem is, Tuck’s torn labrum has made the Giants very hesitant to expose him to the hits he has to absorb inside. He can’t protect that shoulder playing DT. The Giants know Tuck/Osi is a good combo. You saw it a lot against Philly, though it really didn’t help.

I think people have to face the fact that Osi, especially, is no longer a great player. Maybe not even a ‘very good’ player. He is a pass-rush specialist good for — maybe — one flashy play per game. Other than that, he is pretty much invisible. And he gets killed against the run. Can’t hold up at all.

While Ed makes a good point about Osi struggling against the run this year, I still think he is a great DE and pass-rush specialist particularly when there is a push up the middle. That for me has been the missing ingredient. Osi likes to come out wide and get behind the QB and go in for the strip sack — the most coveted of all hits on the QB. But it cannot happen without teamwork, and what I mean is Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard have not had the central push up towards the middle that Tuck used to get from that position. In fact, unless Tuck gets doubled up on the inside, he will penetrate and at the very least get his arms up to bat a ball… even with the injury.

There’s something about Tuck and Osi placed next to eachother though that instills a sense of confidence in them and the overall front 7 in general. I tend to notice the LB’s get sent on a blitz more when those guys are lined up as well. There’s something to this group I think, and it may come down to that ever-so ellusive notion of intangibles, or simply group dynamics.

Ed’s right though — I can’t be sure that they’ve not wanted to get back to that alignment all season and Tuck’s injury in week 2 simply has prevented it. But I do see Tuck move around a bit more than I did last year or even earlier this year… this last game he lined up left inside next to Sintim for a play and got free to bat the ball. But it brings me back to what seems to be the right combination of guys: Osi, Tuck, Kiwi, Sintim. These guys together represent the only time a play was made all game.

So let’s see some more of them together from now on, perhaps make that the default line unless there clearly beyond any shadow of a doubt there is going to be a run up the gut. Obviously a crystal ball would be nice to have too.

Giants Offense: Passing

Passing CP/AT YDS TD INT
E. Manning 27/38 391 3 0

Let’s face it — that may have been Eli Manning’s finest performance as a passer that we have seen.

EVERY
SINGLE
PASS…

Every one was on point. Not on target — on the friggin money. He led his team to an astounding comeback against all odds, he made great decisions throwing the football, he committed to the deep ball and his receivers were in position to make big time plays. Even under pressure he found away to get the ball out, I’m thinking of the Bradshaw pitch that went for 30+ yards on a busted play.

It was mentioned by Chris Collinsworth several times, Eli has learned this offense and this game. Kevin Gilbride called a tremendous game for 99% of the time, they had the right game plan, and Eli executed brilliantly.

As a runner — Eli would love to have that fumble back. And I don’t really count that final strip sack with mere seconds left because it was more or less moot at that point.

Now to the receivers… who if they had executed just a handful more plays the outcome may have been very different.

Giants Offense: Receiving

Receiving REC YDS TD LG
H. Nicks 4 110 1 68
S. Smith 7 74 0 19
K. Boss 7 70 1 23
D. Hixon 1 61 1 61
A. Bradshaw 4 46 0 31
M. Manningham 2 16 0 9

Mario Manningham — who got enough seperation to be dangerous ended up costing the Giants a timely offensive surge they needed, and frankly deserved. Not once, but TWICE Manningham had the opportunity to come away with a touchdown and failed. BOTH FEET need to be in bounds, Mario. BOTH of em. Please work on your awareness to the boundaries of the field both in term of route running and being in position going to the endzone. The upside of this episode? Manningham should be dangerous going forward if he commits to practicing the finer points of his play and eradicating mental errors like this.

Hakeem Nicks got me laughing (inside, not outside) after his third dropped pass and I caught Domenik Hixon giving him a little coaching on the sideline. If ANYONE knows about dropping sure touchdown passes agains the Eagles, it’s Hixon. But nevertheless, Nicks came back and made a great leaping catch and spun his way to a beautiful touchdown catch and run. Way to stay with it, way to focus, way to make a play! Outstanding resolve.

Kevin Boss — got a lot of action and nearly stole the game with a fingertip catch he made, then dropped as he tried to adjust and haul it in. SO CLOSE…. but in the end it was a heartbreaking drop that seemed to sum up the day for the Giants. Big plays that just missed, by a fraction of an inch or less. Boss of course eventually caught the final touchdown for the Giants which was ultimately out of desperation. But he still had a good day for the Giants and I was excited to see him utilized more with 7 catches.

Ahmad Bradshaw worked his magic on two bloody stumps, ripped off a 30+ yard flip pass from Eli who otherwise would have been sacked for -7. More on Bradshaw later.

Domenik Hixon, again with the heroics. Way to take a first down catch and make something more happen with it — that 60+ yard touchdown run got this guy up and breakdancing on the wood floors.

Steve Smith, not suprising you had another great day especially on 3rd down. And this is something the Giants have this year that we always wished they could do in the past but perhaps didn’t have the right personnel to get it done. We had the run and playaction pass. Now we have the slant, and the slant-and-go.

This offense really is beautiful when working correctly, when the runners are running and the pass routes are humming. The Giants now have several ways they can make plays, not just one. This is what we’ve been bitching about for year — and it has arrived. A fully dynamic offense comprised of running the football, short passes, and deep threats… and perhaps most importantly… the balanced play calling to support all those weapons in a creative and effective manner.

Kevin Gilbride, you nailed it. You got everything right EXCEPT that draw play on 3rd and 5…. which I hope you know by now isn’t fooling anyone…. but the rest of the game Coach called a brilliant portfoio of plays. Unfortunately that draw play came at the worst time possible for the Giants, and for that you’re leaving the fans with a sour taste in their mouths about crunch time conservative play calling, yet again. Granted, Manningham and Boss had their shots before the 2 minute warning to change the outcome of the game, but it didn’t work out. But the right plays were called, and I think Coach Gilbride has come a long way from last year to help build this offense into a multi-mulit-threat offense, not just a 3-headed rushing attack.

Time for us fans to be happy with the progress, because it’s been huge.

Giants Offense: Rushing

Rushing ATT YDS TD LG
B. Jacobs 15 60 1 13
A. Bradshaw 14 55 1 17

The Giants ran the ball well, amassing 133 total rushing yards which is above average this season. Between Jacobs and Bradshaw I thought there was good physical effort, Jacobs especially bulling and grinding his way for extra yards both at mid field and around the goal line. If they can keep that head of steam going for the last 3 games, the balanced attack of pass and run should work extremely well and win some games assuming the Defense pulls it together.

All season I’ve asked for more interplay between Bradshaw and Jacobs from series to series — and this game they really showed that type of strategy and I think it was largely effective. Bradshaw missed a block or two but he also picked some good ones up — he even drove Trent Cole backwards to free up Manning with more time to hit Hixon on his lone reception and touchdown run of the day. I only wish Bradshaw wasn’t running on two busted ankles…. that extra gear you could clearly see was lacking, but he still got some moves working, making guys miss to gain extra yards in the open field.

Good to see Jacobs plow into the line with force – although Chris Collinsworth made an excellent point during the game that I think gets overlooked often by Giants fans. It’s as though the team expects Jacobs to plow over the entire defensive line consistently… which is just unrealistic thinking. It’s one thing to hit a hole hard, its another to just smash into the center of the line and hope for a miracle. Getting between the tackles is the most important thing obviously.

///////

That’s all for this week folks – I tried to end with things that can be looked positively upon heading into next weeks matchup with the Redskins. Obviously a complete game will be needed from the Giants in order to keep our hopes alive for a chance at a playoff birth, the Skins have been playing extremely well since their play calling process has changed, and their defense looks as punishing as I’ve seen them in recent years.

I fully expect Dallas to lose to the Saints, and I doubt they win 1 of 3 for the rest of the way, just so you know.

Keep the faith, hope is alive and well.

-ai


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3 Responses to “Unpacking The Loss: Philly”

  1. Russo says:

    Ill be at FedEx reppin big blue monday night. we need that win!

    • andrew ilnicki says:

      the red hook is where its at… and stay away from the pulled pork if you want to sleep that night.

      for realsies

  2. andrew ilnicki says:

    I was there 3 times last year with a fellow Giants fan and we got some serious trash talk thrown our way due to the Giants helmet sticker on the back of his car.

    That said its not like philly, we made it out alive.

    Russo, pound an extra beer for me and keep me posted next year on those tickets!

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