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Simple Moves, Big Stops on Defense

You know we’ve been talking a lot about Bill Sheridan here the last several weeks — what he is or isn’t doing and why nothing is working to get pressure on the QB… or largely why the pressure has been inconsistent and therefore the effectiveness of the Defense as a whole has suffered.

The Giants Defense is built on pressure, not coverage. It’s that simple.

If the Giants front 4 cannot get pressure on the Quarterback then everything else does not fall into place correctly. Granted, last week against the Cowboys, Sheridan and his unit threw out a major curve ball by employing the same stand up style defense that Denver used to clobber the Giants… and it worked, and worked well. Last night we didn’t see that tactic used quite so much, but the pressure that we did see was inconsistent at best.

And so that takes me to my point…. around here at Giants Gab we’ve been tossing out ideas over the past several weeks as to how Bill Sheridan can employ some tactics made familiar to us by Steve Spagnolo that DO work and use them EVERY week to create confusion and get some consistent pass rush. One of my ideas that I’ve been talking about for a while now is staying with the 4-man rush but find a way to reinvigorate it by moving around your personnel a bit… more like what was happening in 2007 under Spags. There was one particular drive in the first half that I noticed where our advice was taken — and it worked like a charm. This is not about saying “told you so” — it’s to indicate that the following tactic is not a mainstay for the Giants this season like it once was, and in 2009 under Bill Sheridan it basically amounts to an act of desperation. It needn’t be this way. And if the Giants want to get back to playing defense the way they are capable of, it shouldn’t be this way.

The idea is elegant in its simplicity: Move Justin Tuck back over next to Osi Umenyiora on the blind side and bring in another big time pass rusher to the left where Tuck (and Strahan in 2007) used to be. Something about Tuck and Osi not having the types of years they used to under Spags got me thinking how the D-line rotation has changed, and due to Strahan’s departure Osi and Tuck are most often found on opposite sides of the field now and they rarely move from that assignment. My suggestion has been to simply reinstate the default position of Osi and Tuck on the right side of the line where they arguably were the best tandem pass rushers in 2007, particularly against the Eagles. Make no mistake about it, they draw a lot of notice off on the QB’s blind side, together. Osi and Tuck together… THAT is a deadly 1-2 punch.

I have some screenshots for you to see how effective this strategy was to pressure Donovan McNabb to falter and force a punt on a crucial series of downs with the Eagles up 14-3. And realize this is not a new tactic, it’s something the Giants used to send at teams all the time and for whatever reason, it was changed last year to the decline of the Giants pressure defense and hasn’t been reinstated since Osi has been healthy this year.

Here we go:

Picture 22

Notice at the far end of the line, we see Osi and Tuck side by side…. it should give you a warm fuzzy feeling just seeing it here and now. Then comes the creativity — Kiwi and Clint Sintim make up the final two slots, with Terrel Thomas in the box closest to us. Right now — with 5 guys up on the line, the Eagles don’t know who is going to blitz and who drops back into coverage… or who they have to double up on. CONFUSION in its essence with young and hungry pass rushers at your doorstep.

Picture 23

The ball is snapped, Thomas drops back into coverage. Sintim, the beast that he is, gets doubled up… and there is some confusion as to who is supposed to pickup Kiwi now that Thomas bailed on the rush. That frees Kiwi up to drive up the middle and fluster McNabb who avoided the straight on sack. Notice Tuck and Osi both get doubled up.

Picture 24

Even though Kiwi missed the tackle, Sintim keeps up his end of the deal and breaks out of his bunch and forces McNabb back into the middle. Tuck and Osi both break out of the double team and regroup — McNabb is forced to get rid of the ball immediately.

Picture 25

All thats there for the Eagles is a little dump off pass which happens to fall incomplete, but even it it’s caught Michael Boley is coming to truck the receiver. That’s how you force a 4th down and long with a 4-man rush. Granted, the Eagles had only 2 receivers out wide but they like to use those 2 back sets and use them as receivers, and they do it well.

Picture 26

But it all started with personnel and alignment, the Giants returned to the roots of their success in a front 4 pressure system and it paid off big time.

Picture 27

It forced the punt and the Giants, whose offense was heating up — capitalized immediately with a score.

So it may seem like I’m cherry picking a bit here, but don’t misunderstand that there were not a lot of defensive stops against the Eagles last night. I’m showing you a CRUCIAL 3rd down situation that was stopped by a Giants defense who created confusion at the line of scrimmage with a traditional pressure package in a 4 man rush. The only difference that should be observed is that Osi and Tuck are on the same side of the field and both break out of doubleteams. Sintim is a hungry young player ready to make a play, and Kiwi already is a playmaker.

So the larger point is this — the Giants used to employ these packages all the time under Spagnolo, and it was effective as hell. Sheridan ran this package scarcely last night that I’ve found since I started reviewing the tape, and the one time he did use something out of 2007 it resulted in a successful stop.

You may call it call it coincidence, I say it isn’t. I think there is something about Osi and Tuck lined up next to eachother that just works for them, and it works for the Giants.

Need more proof that I’m not full of it? OK, OK…. remember that “forward fumble” that Osi caused by sacking McNabb and it was not covered up by Sintim? Yup…. THAT play.

It was from the exact same pressure package as described above, verbatim… Osi, Tuck, Kiwi, Sintim, Thomas, Boley.

Here’s the screenshot:

Picture 29

No one needs to be fired here folks. Sheridan just needs to play the right guys in the right places — and clearly Osi and Tuck are at their best when lined up next to eachother on the blind side. Let’s try making this the default pressure package from now on, ok coach?

They won games down the stretch when it mattered in 2007 using a similar alignment — let’s get back to what works and start playing consistently good defense, and win some games.

That’s my two cents anyways.



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8 Responses to “Simple Moves, Big Stops on Defense”

  1. Júlio César says:

    great job!

    should e-mail it to sheridan, maybe he wakes up!

  2. Terrible says:

    Two terrible teams in terrible cities with terrible fans

  3. Will says:

    Great analysis. The Giants are looking at the exact same thing on tape though (I would hope) – if Sheridan continues to fail to realize what does and does not work with his personnel, especially now having 13 weeks worth of tape to look at, doesn’t that warrant firing him?

    • andrew ilnicki says:

      I just don’t know about what they’re looking at on tape. And this is one of those things that might fall under the category of intangibles…

      To me it’s like putting Derek Jeter on first base for over a season and then not realizing your coverage over between 2nd and 3rd base is struggling. On paper — you’ve got Tex there now and he’s a good player, no reason to think there would be an issue. But yet there is.

      And the same goes for the Giants.

      I say move em back to where it was working previously. Who knows whether or not group dynamics plays into that at all and the system works better with Tuck and Umenyiora on the blind side right next to eachother, just like old times.

      Aren’t the good old days good for a reason? I’d like to see it explored more… and I liked Kiwi in the middle and Sintim off the other edge flanked by Thomas.

      It worked for me, and you can bring Rouse in the box instead of Thomas should it be needed, Sheridan was experimenting with that scheme as well and it seemed to work at getting pressure on the QB.


  4. […] I’ve already gone over here, even though the Giants front 4 has been extremely inconsistent in getting pressure they HAVE had […]

  5. […] I’ve already gone over here, even though the Giants front 4 has been extremely inconsistent in getting pressure they HAVE had […]

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