Overall- Look at the score above, that is the true score, the true story. The FG block at the end of H1 and garbage time TD at the end of the game should not cover up the fact that our offense scored ZERO points folks. 0.0 In the last few years this blog has made only a few predictions/point spread outcomes, but this morning’s was spot on.
Feel free to skip straight to The Ugly below, if you want to read anything that is significantly on the margin.
1) It is one loss, enables the team to get a wake up call and correct some things. No damage from this one loss in terms of getting the bye, in terms of still getting home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
2) Let’s remember that Dallas limped into the playoffs with homefield advantage in the playoffs last season, and a lot of good that did them. They were one and done, so there were lots of things that went wrong today that cannot continue…
3) The pass drops. These are the fundamentals, blocking and tackling, catching passes. If your receivers are going to drop balls it does not matter if you have the greatest OL or a passer putting it on the money. I lost track of all the guilty parties to this sin, and if I have the energy/time to go back this evening and watch the tape, I will come back here and edit in the names and numbers, but it was not pretty.
4) No pass rush on McNabb. See comments from NYG 36 Eagles 31 post.
5) POCKET CONTAIN ON McNABB was NOT THERE. Where have you gone Michael Strahan, our lack of pocket contain turns its lonely eyes to you.
6) Defensive coverage of Westbrook and the TE. Our linebackers are not our strong suit, and this is where they can get exposed. Westbrook 1 on 1 vs any LBer when healthy? It is going to be a field day for him. He is one of the best players in the entire NFL when healthy.. we forget (well, to be fair, not this blog, who mentions a healthy/Westbrook whenever we face the Eagles) this because we have not gotten a 100% Westbrook in quite a while. Believe it or not, as Andrew (see one of the very last comments in the prev post) states, the defense overall played okay enough for us to still have a chance despite all of the transgressions mentioned. It gave up many third down conversions, but its play would normally keep the team in the game.
7) Gilbride made many mistakes this game and his largest one was not playing within the field conditions. THE WIND CHANGED THE ENTIRE COMPLEXION OF HOW AN OFFENSE COULD RUN ITS GAMEPLAN. So Gilbride’s playcalling was mostly weak. The Giants went against the wind in Q1 and Q4. Manning could not throw the ball downfield, yes, it was not an accident that Gilbride made a great playcall on the very first play he had the wind, airing it out for Hixon. And yes, it is not Gilbride’s fault for dropping the ball. But where Gilbride goes awry is precisely where the Eagles did well… THE SHORT PASSING GAME. Where were the screens to RBs? Where were the checkdowns to your RB? Where was the QB scramble? Where were the RB slip screens? Where were the 5-7 yard slants to WRs to give them a little more confidence in not dropping the ball? How many balls were thrown out of the backfield to Ward and Bradshaw?
A guy like Westbrook is great on a day like today because he is great in small ball. And when the wind is what it is, small ball is not a good idea, it is a NECESSITY. The closest thing to Westbrook that the Giants have is Ahmad Bradshaw. Yes, this NY giants football blog is home of the Bradshawlics, we are completely biased and we fully admit that. But this game CRIED OUT for his EXTENSIVE USE. You have a tool box loaded with tools, use them! When you look at how the Eagles got their yardage today, they:
a) dinked and dunked to their TE coming out of the backfield AFTER blocking (that is a checkdown, folks) for a chunk of those 44 yards
b) hit Westbrook on checkdowns for 72 yards
c) McNabb scrambled for 20 yards.
That is a total of ~120 yards on bs, which was is over 1/3rd of their yardage on the day. That moves the chains and makes them control the ball, especially in spots where the wind was against them. WE TOUCHED THE BALL FOR EXACTLY ONE TIME IN Q3 WHEN WE HAD THE WIND. So the Eagles did precisely what we did not do. (And please do not forget how it keeps the defense on the field and demoralizes them, they do everything they need to do except stop them.)
We have been the nitpickers when ripping Gilbride, when asking for Eli Manning to run ONCE per game to keep the defense honest, when asking for them to use Bradshaw’s speed in the short pass out of the backfield, when asking for Manning and the RBs to practice those plays more so that the ball does not end up at the player’s foot instead of in his chest. Maybe these things become more important when the weather gets tougher. Maybe these things become more important when Hixon replaces Burress on a full time basis. Better to have this wakeup call now and let necessity be the mother of invention for Gilbride in W14 instead of Jan 10th-11th.
Summary: The Eagles came to play, the Giants were flat, not as sharp, but there is a lot to improve on, a lot to learn from. Better now than the Patriots in the Super Bowl or the Cowboys in the Divisional playoff round. Plenty of time to correct mistakes. It was not our day, but we will come back much stronger, assuming the normal adjustments are made and they come back hugrier, which I fully expect.