No will to fight

Last year, twas’ the nightmare before Christmas.  Banks was on WFAN yesterday to discuss yet another nightmare, but this time it was before a different holiday. 

According to Banks, in assessing what went wrong, “you have to start with the front line.  There were some telling things about this offense.  They were bad. I think they averaged 1.3 yards per carry.  Brandon Jacobs is 6’ 4” (and) there is 3 feet to a yard.  If they can give him enough room to fall forward he gets 3 yards per carry.  They were out muscled and outhustled period.  They didn’t protect their Quarterback, the opportunities they had they blew (and) I don’t think this offense has a will to fight.  Banks hinted at why they didn’t have a will to fight when they let their “Quarterback get cheap-shoted and (then) you just line up and do the same thing over and over again.  We have to scrap for the rest of the game.  You could tell that this offensive line played at one level and the Philadelphia Eagles played at another.”  An interesting side note, Banks pointed out during his interview on what the players stated to Coughlin after the San Francisco loss… “we’re going to fight.”

Banks also wondered… an Eagle team that “give(s) up an average of 120 yards per game and the Giants average 80 + yards game rushing, (but) not only did they not get close to what Philadelphia were allowing every other team they couldn’t get close to what they average.”  Since the beginning of the season we have heard Coughlin preaching finish on the sidelines and even the players have consistently brought this up.  Banks questioned their willingness to finish when “you see a defensive lineman go down the field and knocks your running back out” (alluding to Jenkins hit on Ware).  He adds, “okay there was a guy who was blocking him at one point (Jenkins) should not be running down the field if your in a fight that they are in.   You (have to) claw it, you clip it (and) you get him to the ground.  You can’t let guys do that to your players.  The last play of the game you don’t finish him (McKenzie on Babin) and he comes in and causes a fumble.”  Bottom line per Banks on finishing: “a tell tale sign of this offense and defense (is) you talk about it but you have to be about it.” Carl questions the running game when he stated, “I don’t know if the running schematics was right for a team like the Eagles.  If everybody else is having success running and you can’t find a play that’s working I think you’ve got to reassess it.”  He goes on the point out that the “Eagles are a 1 gap team, they shoot gaps (and) so any time you pull the Guards they were blowing your (running plays) up in the backfield.  Howard (Cross) and I talked about this after the game, just go hat on hat, just straight run plays, don’t pull anybody, put a man on a man and tell your running back you’ve got to break 1 arm tackle.”

Part of this next subject is becoming a broken record given we have addressed this ad naseum.  Banks pointed to two specific issues on defense- “missed tackles and blown coverage.”  Carl had a discussion with the Godfather of Tampa 2, Tony Dungy, this past Friday and Carl asked Dungy “what happened to teaching kids how to play zone defense.   These guys, they’re young players,  (but) their pattern recognition is horrendous.”  He looks back at  “one play where Steve Smith runs a crossing route and Mathias Kiwanuka is in zone locked in on the QB and the receiver just crosses his face.”  On another play on the Eagle’s first drive “they had Celek in the middle of the field and Paysinger is running away from him…that’s the guy you should be taking but he’s running into this TAMPA 2 defense.  In that 80 yard drive there were a lot of blown assignments.” On handling Vince Young, Banks “would have liked to have seen them play a little more aggressive.  They had some 3 man rush, they had some 4 man rush  (but) they never really brought pressure.  I think they should have changed the tempo a bit on Young because he was rusty (coming into the game).  You wanted to get his mind going and the only way to do that to a QB is to put him under duress.  I think they should have just put him under constant pressure.”

They kept McCoy under control most of the game until the last drive and that is inexcusable to Banks.  “You know what winning teams do, they close.  You finish the job.”

Banks has a precursor to next Monday in the Dome versus the Saints.  To Banks, “here is what’s going to happen (next) Monday, and you can write it down, because I have seen it a thousand times if they don’t get this zone defense fixed they will be dizzy by the time they leave the superdome.  Drew Brees and Payton are the masters of manipulating zone.  You’ve got to get these young guys to understand their (coverage) assignments (and get them) to know what they are doing.  It just seems to me that they’re in no-mans land a lot.”  Finally, a question from Evan Roberts on whether the youth and inexperience of the LBs contributed to the blown assignments.  Banks reply was, “they are way too athletic to be this bad in zone coverage; if you’ve got a bunch of stiffs out there that’s one thing but with the athletes that they have, they should be so much better.”  

Paul here. It’s easy to point fingers at the offensive line.  You can’t blame them for 7 dropped passes.  No one can deny their poor play and lack of physicality.  We have discussed in the past their inability to finish blocks, particularly in the run game.  But it is clearly more than that.  Banks alluded to Gilbride’s history of inability to adjust in game.  The run game was suffering not only because of Jacobs but, upon looking back, would Bradshaw have faired much better?  How many slants, flares, screens, quick outs or short passes were implemented after the OL was clearly struggling.  Gilbride went back to his old ways of 5-7 step drops and dialing up intermediate to long routes.  Look at how effective the no huddle offense was in their lone touchdown drive and H1 FG!  You just have too many receivers who have demonstrated the ability to create separation to not find ways to get the ball out of your quarterback’s hand more quickly.  You have a rookie back who averaged almost 7 yards every time he touched the ball.  If your offense lacks rhythm you need to ADJUST.

Enough has been said about Fewell and his penchant for zone coverage.  But this can be said about the defense when Banks alluded to “what happened to teaching kids how to play zone defense.”  These issues have been haunting them for 2 seasons, rookie and experienced veteran alike.  All teams need to implement zone coverage in given situations in addition to press and man coverage.  But there is clearly a disconnect between what their DC is teaching and what his players are communicating/seeing on the field.

This leads us to the final issue of where this team is currently.  Banks stated above that Coughlin related how the players communicated that they “we’re going to fight.”  That was clearly a different story this past Sunday versus what he was told, one week prior.  In addition, Coughlin called out his players after the game yet Michael Boley “said that the postgame tirade was pointless, hinting that Coughlin didn’t understand the action on the field.”  Boley added, “I mean it’s his assessment….I’ve always said coaches coach, players play, we are in the trenches.  We really know what goes on out there.”  Apparently there is someone who takes offense to Coughlin’s statement when he added, “I really don’t think there’s anyone who would take a real issue with what I said.”

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