Jarrett Schreck will handle the duties of grading the WRs in our Ultimate22 project. Jarrett is extremely knowledgeable about the game and has a strong football background. He was one of the best WRs in the state of NJ during his time at Delbarton. He went on to have a standout career for the Brown Bears and can be found all over his school's and conference's record books. Jarrett's 103.5 receiving YPG was good for 7th in NCAA 1-AA in 2004. His insight and evaluation will be a valuable resource to the Ultimate22 project. Below are his thoughts on the Giants' WR performance in Week 1.
As a unit the Wide Receivers played below average. This will not cut it if the Giants want to find themselves as a part of the NFL's upper echelon. There were only two explosive plays. One was made by Victor Cruz and the other was made by Domenic Hixon. This is not acceptable. In simple terms, there were just too many plays where the WRs did not beat man-to-man coverage. The net grade overall for the WRs for the game: Cruz was a -3, Nicks was a -1 and Hixon was 0.
For the majority of the game Dallas played man-to-man underneath with two high safeties. The WRs were frequently covered in this scheme. When a defense plays two high safeties with man-to-man underneath the offense needs to run picks or rub routes to lose the defenders.. Vertical pass routes aren't very successful because the corners play what is called "trail technique" where the corners play a step behind the WRs and jump intermediate and short routes, knowing they have safety help over the top.What beats cover 2 man is crossing patterns and horizontal stretches where the corners get picked. Need to see more rub routes.
1. From my count Gilbride called three rub routes for the WRs, all of which were successful. He called a rub route in the first quarter and Victor Cruz had a 26 yard gain. Dallas played cover 1- man to man single safety. Hixon picked Cruz's man, Cruz ran a fade up the sideline and was wide open for an easy gain.
2. On Domenix Hixon's 39 yard gain in the third quarter, Hixon ran a simple seam from the outside while Cruz appears to run a modified curl route from the slot. The route combination caused Cruz to attract two defenders leaving Hixon open and a 39 yard gain.
3. Later with 3:50 in the 4th quarter he called a similar rub combination where Hixon went inside of Cruz and was wide open as the safety went to Cruz. Manning just missed Hixon for the completion.
More of these pick/rub combinations needed to be called if defenses are going to play man with safety help over the top. The Giants should expect this type of look often considering how well our offense was able to get the ball down the field in 2011.
In the run game….As a unit Cruz and Nicks are at best adequate blockers. They do the minimum required and hope the run doesn’t crack the front seven and their man does not get involved in the play. This is not a terrible approach because it saves energy and enables them to be fresh all game. The downside is if a running back breaks the front seven their man may make the tackle. Fortunately that kind of effort did not burn them this week.
The poor play calling was a major factor in the WRs poor performance. When proper plays were called the WRs had opportunities and plays were made.
Odds and ends….Victor Cruz had two mental errors. He had a block in the back and an offsides penalty, as well as two or three drops. Six catches for 58 yards isn’t a terrible line, but the drops and the mental errors led to 5 negative plays. Nicks did not make plays and was not open for much of the game. This will surely change as he gets closer to 100% health, or closer to dealing with the pain he may face all season. Hixon played solid and made plays when given the opportunity. Well done..
Moving forward I would not panic as this is only week one. Nicks missed most of preseason and with Cruz you have to live with the bad as he is capable of the spectacular.Dallas appeared to have excellent corners and an outstanding scheme as they shut down what may be the best WR core in the NFL.
Look for the Giants passing attack to return closer to form in week two vs Tampa Bay.