1) We talk about how the difference between teams #1 thru #26 in the NFL is not very large. Intangibles like coaching and emotion can make a #26 play like a #1 and we have numerous examples of coaches who turn good teams into underachievers in crunch time (think Marty Schottenheimer, Wade Phillips). It is only Week 1, it does not mean anything YET long term, but they are playing for Rex Ryan so far.
2) Wonder and I discussed the red zone problems. Everyone knows this is not a new problem. Remember the Steelers game last season? 1 for 6 in the red zone, the lone success at the end of the game on.. PLAY ACTION?! The Giants were 0 for 3 on Sunday vs the Skins. SAME STORY.
So what is going on? When the Giants are down by the goal line in 3rd and 1 from the 1 or thereabouts, Wonder reminds us of Marino to Bruce Hardy. The Dolphins would play action OFTEN. Fake handoff into the line.. Marino would hit one of his plethora of putrid and slow Tight Ends in the back of the end zone for a (usually) wide open TD. The Dolphins LIVED on this. And it made their run attempts more effective because it created doubt in the minds of the opponent about what they were going to see.
Part of the problem here is (my apologies for being redundant) predictability. You are not making the job of the OL any easier by using play action infrequently. Wonder swings to the other side of the coin… USE IT OFTEN. PRACTICE IT OFTEN. PLAYERS LOVE ROUTINE. They get comfortable executing it and they want to do it. It should be a staple of your offense, not an exception. Use play action with Nicks, Smith and Boss. And you benefit Eli too, because he needs to be comfortable executing this OFTEN. Wonder is so right about this.. Eli gets very good when he is comfortable back there. You can see a player like him who is long on smarts being every bit as effective as any other QB with this kind of play.
Manning offered this on the topic of 3rd and short: “Coach talked a little bit about it today – we just assume that on third and short we are going to be able to run and be able to get it. We have to throw the ball a little bit more possibly in some of those situations. But down there, we’re a team that is going to be physical, we have a big back, and we should be able to get that surge and should get a first down in those situations.”
3) As for short yardage woes of the Giants to run for 1 yard, be it red zone or otherwise, Wonder suspects it is scheme. Where is the design trap? He puts half the blame on the OL and the other half on Gilbride. He does not put the blame on the RB.
3a) When I asked him about the (Rule #5) pitchout in the red zone, he completely agreed, but noted one minor exception which actually bolsters the rule even more. He said the one time it actually works is when you have a two back set, you fake handoff the ball to Jacobs going right and then very quickly pitchout to Bradshaw on the left side. Everyone including the safety are frozen on the right side and the other RB can usually walk into the end zone. Fwiw, the Giants do not have Jacobs and Bradshaw in a 2 back set.
4) I was ribbing Wonder on Manningham; he is not conceding that one so quickly. But he did tip his hat to Corey Webster. “Impressive” job on Moss.
5) Injury update: “Coughlin said rookie wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (foot) and running back Danny Ware (dislocated elbow) will probably be sidelined a minimum of two weeks and then be evaluated week-by- week.”
6) The Gatorade bath of Sheridan at the end of the game was good to see. Pierce: “He (Sheridan) was deserving of it. (He) called a great game and we went out and executed well.”
7) The fake FG that the Skins scored a TD was Coughlin’s fault. He called for an all-out block.