Giants- Lions Game Rewind

A review of the game tape of the Giants-Lions game shows good things and some obvious needs for improvement.  Every single team in the NFL needs to improve their level of play- the one that elevates their execution the most will win the Super Bowl. 

The Giants have the raw talent to make a charge.  To the Giants’ credit, this was a game where the Giants could have mailed it in, not showed up, and expected an easy win.  So Coughlin gets the credit for making sure the Giants showed up. They played well enough to win. 

Glenn, Paul and Banks did a good job of recapping the game.  Here are a few more thoughts after reviewing the tape.

1) The Detroit penalties were insane. 

a) Suh gets called for hands to the face when he is totally out of the play, the Giants are going to be in a deep hole with 3rd and a million yds, the drive is about to be over.  Instead, we see the flag, 5 yds and automatic first down.  GREAT FOR THE GMEN!  No one is happier than all of us.  And the Giants continue to drive down the field with this new lease on life, to tie the score 7-7.  Importantly, the Giants did NOT have an offensive rhythm yet, and this penalty gave the team another bite at the apple, another oppty to get some traction.  They took advantage and got 7 pts, due in large part to the penalty.

b) The Lions are driving at the beginning of Q3, pick up 28 yards down to the 5 yard line, but get called for a 5 yd penalty on an illegal formation.  Instead of 1st and goal from the 5, it is 3rd and 8 from the 38… a clear passing play, and Osi sack strips the ball.  That easily costs the Lions anywhere from 3 to 7 points. 

c) The Giants are driving down to the Goal line, get a gift-wrapped present from Cliff Avril when he turns a 4th and goal into a fresh set of downs, 1st and Goal from the ~1.  The Giants end up scoring 7.  It only took the offense SEVEN PLAYS to get the ball in there!

So (1) is +7. (2) is +5.  (3) is +4.  That is 16 points of Detroit insanity/charity.  Mind you, there were oodles of other examples of Detroit stupidity.  At the end of the game, where time and field position were crucial, the Lions players hit Calhoun out of bounds for a 13 yard (half the distance) penalty. 

2) The Giants did plenty of good things, which were noted in the past two blog posts.  Great run defense, good consistent pressure on the Lions QBs, an offense that came alive enough times to gash the Lions with some pretty passes, and good consistent running by Bradshaw off the right side of the line.  These are the things we will need to see more of vs the Cowboys. 

3) What we cannot see vs the Cowboys?  The Dodge punt fumble,  the Antrel Rolle angle on Calvin Johnson (which, vs Dez Bryant, Roy Williams or Miles Austin will likewise) result in a quick 7, Diehl gtg beat by the speed rush, all of the 3rd down conversions vs the Giants defense, Manning missing wide open receivers for huge gains(Smith)/TDs((Nicks).

4) Gilbride comments

(a) Play action was used a grand total of 5 times.  It was an avalanche!  Of course I am joking, as 5 times is, while earth-shattering for Gilbride, still way too infrequently when you consider the Giants ran 28 times for an AVERAGE of 6 yards per carry.  When you have that much success running the ball, leverage that!  The 5X that Gilbride used play action, look at the results:

Q1 ~3:30 .. 20 yard pass completion to Steve Smith.  This drive produced a TD.

Q2 14:00 .. 3 yd completion. 

Q2 6:00 .. Pascoe key first down completion, moves sticks.  This drive produced a TD.

Q3 4:00 .. Bradshaw 10 yd gain above the line of scrimmage after the fake handoff earlier.  This is a great call by Gilbride, why don’t we see more of this, Bradshaw in space?!

Q3 1:00 .. Manning misses a wide open Smith.

You can see how incredibly successful these play action plays were, how much opportunity there was in each of them.  Gilbride thinks that that is because he is using them so infrequently.  What he does not realize is that it would AID his running game too.

b) Glenn alluded to Gilbride not salting the game away.  That RRPK in Q4 was pathetic.  Why?  Because everyone on the FREAKING PLANET KNEW IT WAS COMING, GILGARBAGE.  The Lions had 9 FREAKING MEN IN THE BOX, master of the obvious.  So the run gets nothing on first down.  Then second down. The Lions had 9 FREAKING MEN IN THE BOX AGAIN, master of the obvious, part II. Now it is 3rd and long, so we assume a pass is coming, but master of the obvious has an empty backfield and the prevent offense is in such glorious rhapsody that Eli is not even surveying anything before throwing the ball out to the sideline for a safe 2 yard gain so the clock can still run.  (Why don’t you just run it into the line by that point if all you want is the clock killed? .. at least it is safer than a pass into the flat?!) 

This is the anti-Bill Walsh.  You are giving the opponent the ball back with oodles of time and conceding a possession when your offense (dare I actually suggest it?) can win the game for you.  The best QBs and the best opponents will burn you when you pull sh*t like this.  Because it is the Lions and Stanton and a 13 yard penalty etc.. we get the win anyway, but this game was way closer than it had to be.  I’d like to think that if we were playing against Brady with 4 minutes left that Gilbride/Coughlin would take more responsibility for winning the game instead of putting it on the defense.  And before you defend this (just because it ‘seemingly’ worked), I ask you, if the situation is reversed, wouldn’t you love it for YOUR TEAM to be handed the ball back so effortlessly?  Gee, wouldn’t it be sooo nice if the Giants were down by 1 score for our opponent to meekly go down, content to merely take time off the clock?! 

c) Can we run more than 1-2 screens per game?  No, you do not count the RB or WR screen into the flat where they are lined up out there.  The 1-2 screens ran did not work particularly well on Sunday, but that just means you are not practicing them well enough AND not calling them enough. 

5) It was not mentioned in the broadcast, but we feel it is worth noting that Terrell Thomas was pushed just before the ball arrived on the 1st TD (Burleson), clearly offensive pass interference.  I just don’t want any half-baked ideas of Terrell Thomas being anything less than the gamer that he is.  The only reason why he is not having an even better season is because of the passive (off) coverage he is being sent out in.  He even noted before the Bears game how much he likes an aggressive press scheme.

6) Having a few starters on Specials is helping.  We got gashed on the penultimate 58 yard kick return to the Giants 40.  But it was Deon Grant who chased down Logan, or else he can easily score. 

7) It has been a little while, so another reminder: I DEPLORE ZONE COVERAGE.  Any good WR knows how to sit down in a zone, and watching Calvin Johnson do it should be a reminder that this Cover 2 stuff is passive and not what I call 21st Century defense.  Certainly not with the capable corners this Giants team has.  Fewell is playing less zone, but it is still too much for my liking.

8) The rewind looked good for Boley and Goff. As we have noted previously, the Lions have a good offense.  Yes, they played vs a 3rd string QB, but they played well.

9) Eli is still leaving points on the field at Week 6.  The good news is that if he ever gets into 5th gear, this offense will explode.

10) Kenny Phillips is working that physical intimidation factor on the over the top hits on the sideline (which are legal, not over the middle).  Good.  With this combination of Phillips, Grant and Rolle, it is possible for the weakness at LBer to be compensated for, as long as they are sure tacklers.  Which they have been to date.

11) Yes, Pete, Cofield and Umenyiora continue to impress.  They brought a lot of pressure vs the Lions.  As long as they contain the pocket vs Romo, the Giants can give him problems next Monday night.       

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