Box of Crayons

The Giants won convincingly.  Carl Banks shared his thoughts with WFAN yesterday morning.  His takeaways were not as positive as the 31-7 score might lead us to believe..  

Banks has a little different take from this team’s performance.  He openly admitted that he “may be the only person critical of the team.”  In the end he “was impressed with the win.. and the way their offensive line played was phenomenal.” But there are “some things that they really have to change.”  His outlook is based on the perspective of looking “at the team that has to be playoff ready.” 

On the defensive side of the ball “they still gotta’ button up” the run defense as “they got gouged a few times on cutbacks runs” against Washington but specifically “it showed (up more) last week against Jones-Drew.”  You also have to take into account that the “Redskins are playing with a rookie free agent and they ran the same types of plays” with “limited success albeit.”  Banks postulates that “when you are in a game against a better football team” and grinding it out “you might find yourself giving up one of those plays that goes the distance and you find yourself down.” 

Another area of concern Carl raised was the fact that Washington “had a few guys run free in the defensive backfield.”  Well it doesn’t get easier when you face “(Sydney) Rice and Percy Harvin coming up next week, who are a lot faster and a lot more skilled (pass) catchers.”  Going back to his point about being playoff ready, “the margin for error gets smaller when the competition gets better and having guys run free in the defensive backfield on a couple of occasions will lead to TDs against better football teams.”  Carl again blames the big gains on cutback runs by the likes of Jones-Drew and McCoy due to the fact that they find themselves “out of a gap” on those instances.  These issues will lead to runs “that go the distance” against a guy like “Adrian Peterson.”  Banks feels that  “opposing offenses are going to look at the plays that hurt the Giants over the last 4 weeks.”  They will ultimately try to “figure out how many different ways (they) can get to those type of plays.”

Banks brings up the interception by Eli in the red zone and Roberts interrupts to questions why Gilbride put Eli in that situation to throw.  Roberts adds that they were having success running the ball in the previous drive and Banks response was “that’s exactly my point.”  However, he points out that “the quarterback has to make better decisions.”  For instance “on the 1st possession a play wasn’t there and he threw one away.”  Bottom line “he’s got to be cognizant of that every single time.”  This is especially true “considering you are shorthanded at the receiver position and you cannot afford to get down in a game and be forced to throw the ball a lot.”  Banks goes on to question why “at a certain point in the game Kevin Gilbride decides to ‘play with all the crayons in the box’. “ Why mix in more pass plays when they were running the ball effectively with the tandem of Jacobs and Bradshaw in the first half.  In the 1st half the Giants ran the ball 20 times versus 11 passes while in the 2nd half it was a 13 run 14 pass ratio.  Banks adds that at some point in the 2nd half “all of a sudden he goes to a spread offense and it’s going backwards because of penalties.”  Why get away from plays that “insulated this patchwork Offensive Line from being exposed? There is no reason to open it up and put these kids on islands because that’s when you get the holding penalties and the offside penalties.”  As a result this caused the offense to get backed up and they began to lose the field position battle.  Banks hopes that the play calling will be a little different against a better team and get away from this “split personality.”

The last issue discussed was how Special Teams unit “has got to get the award for most improved.”  In the beginning of the season “they couldn’t find a returner, couldn’t cover anybody and they couldn’t block anybody.”  Now each week “you got guys stepping up and making plays.” Like “last week it was Clint Sintim and yesterday it was” Devin Thomas.  If Thomas keeps this up we will be talking about him and Hixon in the same light as the biggest waiver wire steals under Reese.

Finally, Banks weighed in on an apathetic Redskin team.  “Donovan had a pretty lose attitude going into it as he didn’t have a lot to work with,” said Banks.  The fact that you “had your best player“ in Albert Haynesworth “who didn’t feel well enough to play sends a very poor message to your team.”  In the end, Banks appears to question Shanahan’s communication style and approach with players. 

Editorial note: 

Let’s first look at some statistics for the Giants defense.  The Giants have given up a total of 38 plays for 20+ yards for 3.2 per game. Of those 38, 30 are attributed to pass plays and 8 are attributed to run plays.  Now let’s look at the last 4 games:

 

 Plays 20+ yards 

 Avg yards per pass 

 Avg yards per rush 

Dallas

       7

             14.9

             3.2

Eagles

       7

             6.0

             5.7

Jacksonville

       4

             3.1

             6.1

Redskins

       5

             5.5

             4.6

The Eagles and Dallas are the more explosive teams offensively of the teams listed above but what stands out is the number of big plays given up versus their season average of 3.2.  Even 2 teams that are not known for their offensive prowess yielded plays of 20+ yards above their average allowed.  Another concern is the the increase in yards per rush from a gaudy 6.1 by Jacksonville and 5.7 by the Eagles.  That’s got to change as we are in the midst of December as teams will put more emphasis on the run.

Banks appears to missing a key characteristic of this defense that results in “guys running free in the defensive backfield.”  The Tampa 2.  Matt Bowen of National Football Post discusses the Tampa 2 and the current teams that run it “Chicago, Indy, Minnesota and the New York Giants with new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, the Tampa 2 is the base defense that’s always taught first.”  The base of the defense is to “drop seven into coverage and let your four man rush force the ball to come out with pressure — allowing the defense to rally to the football, make a tackle and get off the field.”  Or in layman terms play soft zone, keep everything in front of you and react. Bowen specifically points out that the “Mike Backer is the key to this defense.”  When thinking of a MLB for this system “think of Chicago and Brian Urlacher — fast, athletic linebackers who can run. A necessity for this defense.”  This doesn’t really remind us of Goff does it?  Yet what we do know is the strength of this team is their athleticism on the defensive line and ability to terrorize the quarterback.  Just hope Fewell was again back in his comfort zone against the Redskins and playing conservative against an inferior opponent.  But wouldn’t it seem logical to mix a lot of press in coverage to delay receivers on their route and allow that extra time for the strength of your team to execute, the pass rush? 

Glenn brought up an historical perspective last week after discussing the article by Zach Berman of NJ Star Ledger titled “the Giants keep it simple in win.”  Fassel took over playcalling duties from Sean Payton in 2002 and simplified the offensive formations as “Fassel believed Payton’s offense had become too complicated.”  Payton, then and now, likes to implement a lot of different formations and looks.  Fassel had success simplifying it in 2002 as they went 7-2 in their remaining games.  The 2010 Giants had success against both Jacksonville in the 2nd half and Washington in the 1st half by simplifying their offense while eliminating their mistakes.  Again it may appear logical in sticking with simplicity until all hands are on deck.  Thereafter, integrating different “colored crayons” needs to be done sparingly.

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