Takeaways from Monday night in Motown

A strange Monday night in Motown.   With the temperature at a frigid 12 degrees, thousands of people including myself waited on line in the pre-dawn hours for free tickets.  In the afternoon, Viking fans, Giants fans, and NFL fans littered downtown bars awaiting the gates of Ford Field to open at 5:30 p.m.  Throngs of people waited  impatiently wanting to get into the stadium. Once the gates opened, there was a mad dash to obtain optimal seats because it was a general admission event.  Only those hardcore fans who possessed Metrodome tickets were given premium seats.  In my opinion, the fans were schizophrenic. For Pete’s sake, the loudest it got was during the wave!

A few observations that stood out about Monday night’s game:

  1. Fewell’s pattern of implementing soft cover 2 at the start of games.
  2. The insertion of Beatty as an extra tackle and the big plays earned in the running game.
  3. The Special Teams reversion to their early season form.
  4. And yes, the Eli factor on this team’s 2010 destiny.

Over the last several games, there appears to be a trend with Fewell and his usage of cover 2.  Right from the start, Webster and Thomas were playing off coverage on Vikings’ receivers Rice and Berrian— giving them 5-10 yard cushions.  Both Thomas and Webster kept everything underneath; however, the Giants defense allowed the Vikings to convert easy short to intermediate passes for 4 of their game total 10 first downs.  Before we witnessed Webster and Thomas up on the line of scrimmage pressing, the Vikings accumulated 63 passing yards, which was 50% of their game total of  126 yards.   Much to my chagrin, it was not until midway through their 1st possession in the 2nd quarter that Webster and Thomas pressed. And as a result, we quickly got a sack of Jackson and a scramble by Jackson that resulted in a 4th down.  Look for this next week and whether this is a pattern with Fewell.  It makes sense to mix things up and insert cover 2 in certain situations but not in regular patterns for a good quarterback to exploit. 

The offensive line was dominant and have been playing exceptionally for most of the season.  The fact that the Giants ran for over 200+ yards versus a defensive line that is currently ranked 8th in the league in yards per attempt is very revealing (BTW they were 2nd in the league in 2009 and 1st in the league in 2008).  Glenn mentioned yesterday that with the insertion of Beatty as an extra tackle Jacobs ripped off a 73 yard run.  Beatty was actually in on the play prior for a 2 yard gain but it set up the next play.  When the Giants are in a bunch formation, with Boss in motion, it shifts the linebackers to favor whichever side Boss is directed.  On the 73 yard run by Jacobs, Boss originally is lined up next to McKenzie and fakes motion left but redirects back to off right tackle.  Using motion as deception, this draws the attention of the defense that a run play is coming off right tackle.  Pascoe also leads to the right side of the line which draws the safeties in a little to the right side as well.  Jacobs bursted off the left side with most of a Vikings defense in tight and caught inside to the right side of the Giants line.  When Beatty is in it draws the attention of the defense to play against the run to where he is lined up.  On Bradshaw’s 48 yard  touchdown scamper,  Beatty was in as an eligible tackle.  Again, they ran away from Beatty’s side with the Vikings again caught up close and inside.  With Beatty in as a tackle eligible, the Giants accumulated 50 yards for 2 TDs.  Going back to the game against the Jaguars, there were several instances in their 1st 2 possessions of the 2nd half where the left or right side of the line was open for a big gain.  Unfortunately, Bradshaw stuck to the play call.. he did not take advantage of these cutback lanes due to the over-pursuit of the Jaguar’s defense.  Look for the Giants to implement cutbacks and counters next week versus the Eagles. 

On another note,  Mitch made a provocative comment about a guy we don’t give much credit. 

“We could have one of the best unheralded coaches in the NFL. I’m talking about Pat Flaherty. This guy is nothing short of amazing. He has been here 7 years and it is no coincidence that we have had one of the best offensive lines under his tutelage. This season he has had to work with 60% of his line missing for a number of games and we have really not skipped a beat. We never seem to talk about him and probably take him for granted.”

Unfortunately, the special teams were up to their old tricks from earlier in the season.  There were many instances of poor tackling and over-pursuit.  This was on display on the Vikings Camarillo’s 52 yard punt return.  The Special Teams unit was caught over-pursuing toward the sideline, leaving the right side open for Camarillo.  It was compounded by Goff missing a tackle as well as Wilkinson looking foolish on a cutback by Camarillo.  Put ‘salt in the wound’ with Buck announcing, while the ball was in the air, on how “Camarillo is not known for his speed.”

There were quite a few comments yesterday regarding Eli’s performance, not only Monday night but all season.  From my vantage point, it appeared the Vikings were jumping routes, especially on the interceptions.  My assumption was incorrect as it was really attributed to Eli’s horrid throws into very tight coverage.  Both Frank Walker (remember him?) and Allen of the Vikings were locked in on Eli’s eyes prior to their interceptions, which yet again confirms Eli’s habit of telegraphing.  On the 1st interception intended for Nicks, he had Boss wide open over the middle across the 1st down marker.  Sect 122 commented: “three games in a row Eli has missed a deep throw that would have resulted in 6.”  Their 1st possession of the 2nd half Eli badly missed a wide open Nicks on a post route that was a sure 6 points. 

Just curious, what is everyone’s confidence level with having the Giant’s playoff success, much less life, in the hands of ‘Mr. Inconsistency’, Eli Manning?  Let’s look at all of Eli’s playoff games outside of 2007: 

Year    

 Opponent 

 Comp/Att 

 Yards 

 TDs 

 Ints 

2005

Carolina

10/18

113

0

3

2006

Eagles

10/27

161

2

1

2008*

Eagles

15/29

169

0

2

Totals

 

 

 

2

6

*Eli missed a wide open Smith on the first play of the 2008 game against the Eagles.  That could “have resulted in 6.”

In summary, we can now start to rely on the consistency of the running game given their performance over the last 3 games.  In the words of Bill Belichick,  ”the running game is very important, but the score can take you out of it. And we’ve seen that numerous times where a team falls behind and a great back isn’t getting those carries anymore. When you’re stuck in that situation, you’d better be able to throw it—or you’re going to lose. There are exceptions. If you can control the game with your defense and not turn the ball over, like the Ravens did back in 2000, then you might be okay. But overall, if you can’t throw from the pocket in this league, you can’t win.”

Where is Eli’s accountability for his league leading 19 interceptions? And he has coughed up the ball 7 times.  Two of his seven fumbles were recovered by the Giants.  Therefore, Eli is responsible/involved in 24 of the Giants’ 32 turnovers. This is unacceptable.  If the Giants plan on winning a Super Bowl Championship, this Sunday, Eli must clean up his act.

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