THE NFL IS A COACH’S LEAGUE

Three Parts to this post.  Part One is a Wall Street Journal article which says the Giants Secondary May Deserve More Credit for the team’s recent surge.  Part Two is Phil Simms on WFAN‘s NFL Now, who discusses the Giants, Ravens, Texans and Niners.  Part Three is our color on the first two parts plus some last minute thoughts leading into Green Bay.  A reminder to follow us on Twitter during the game.  Hopefully we’ll get a few Tweets from Rich Conforti, who’ll be at the game.

Part One

Please click on the above link.  If you cannot get the link, google the exact words and you’ll get access.  Essentially what Michael Salfino did was examine the pass rush in these last three games vs the Jets/Boys/Falcons and then compare that to the rest of the season.  He added sacks, hurries and knockdowns, then divided that by the total number of passes to get a “disruption rate.”  The Giants had a disruption rate of 19.3% during the three game run, while they have had a rate of 20.6% during the whole season.  That number is close enough to essentially be identical.  The pressure, Osi, Tuck and all, has been the same.  What has been different is tighter coverage.  This NY Giants blog showed in the recap of the ATL win that 82% of the time the Giants were in man coverage and they gave up less to the WRs in those 82% of the times than the 18% of time they were in that passive zone.

Opponent Pass Plays Sacks Hurries Knockdowns Disruption Rate Net pass yds Yds/Pass Play
at NYJ 64 5 4 3 18.8% 226 3.53
v DAL 43 6 0 1 16.3% 251 5.84
v ATL 43 2 3 5 23.3% 183 4.26
Season 680 50 37 53 20.6% 4265 6.27

Part Two

NYG-GB.  Simms had to review the Packers-Giants game earlier this year because the following week he was covering the Packers game versus Oakland. He spent a few moments qualifying his leadoff remark, explaining that it is not related to the fact that he was a former Giant or that he lives in the NY area, but merely based on an objective observation:

I think the Giants are more talented than the Packers overall.”

When the Packers have the ball:

In terms of analyzing the outcome of the game, you can’t overlook homefield and Aaron Rodgers.  Simms studied the first game.  The Giants are a different team.  Rodgers is the best thrower in the NFL on the run.  Teams can cover the Green Bay offense.  Relatively simple, relies on the great thrower.  Make him stay in the pocket and you take away 8-10 plays per game.

When the Giants have the ball: 

GB needs to take away Victor Cruz.  Make them go to the side.  Take your chances vs Hakeem Nicks.   Packers were close to making big plays and the Giants answered them.  Giants were close to and could have made more mistakes.  They didn’t, but it was close.  Packers defense is not very good, don’t pressure the passer, Clay Matthews is the only one, Woodson is not overrated.  Blitzes, calculated risks to steal the ball.  The corners have been awful, have given up a lot of big plays. Inside the run defense is not doing it up front. When the Giants needed to drive the ball down the field to tie the game near the end, they had relatively little resistance.  Outside a few questionable calls by the Giants, it was easy to handle the Packers defense.

Simms did not make a prediction here, but earlier this week on Showtime he took the Packers.  Interesting that all three Showtime panelists took the underdog 49ers.  All took the Packers.

BAL-HOU.  Flacco is a “pretty damn good NFL QB” who unnecessarily takes too much heat and is a “whipping boy for the press.”  His WRs are flawed, as Boldin is good but not fast, and the rookie Smith is fast but inexperienced and not good.  Francesa believes that TJ Yates, who is a 3rd string QB, is not ready for this test.  Simms feels that Houston’s defense can force a turnover to keep it close.

SF.  Mike Francesa says that Jim Harbaugh has done “one the best coaching jobs I have ever seen.”  And Phil Simms immediately concurred.  Simms went on to explain that because Alex Smith was a #1 pick, that that worked to his advantage in that he has been afforded numerous opportunities to develop that would not normally be afforded to any other QB.  With time and hard work, Smith has gotten better.  If he was not afforded so many opportunities, he would not be where he is right now, an NFL QB.  He would be out of the league.

Part Three

Salfino’s statistics validate that the secondary’s coverages are making the difference.  It is beneficial to our understanding, because this blog has contended all year that coaching schemes were holding the defense back.  NOW THROW IN WHAT SIMMS SAID ABOUT THE 9-7 GIANTS HAVING MORE TALENT THAN THE 15-1 PACKERS.  And also throw in how one coach in SF can turn around a lost franchise in ONE year.  What does it add up to? What does it tell you?  It tells me that the NFL is a coach’s league, it is not a player’s league.  45 players need to be choreographed in an intricate ballet.  The Giants coaches have made necessary adjustments in the nick of time. 

Final thoughts on the game: 15 mph winds are expected.  This is not a plus for Eli.  But I will be happy when the Giants are in a lot of man coverage, because the 15 mph winds will make passing more difficult for Rodgers too.  His passes will have some error that only a wind gust can explain.  This is precisely why man coverage will make his job tougher too.  As was noted earlier this week, Rodgers is going to have plenty of success today.  Let’s just make his life a little harder than normal so that Eli and his offense can compete.  The Giants will need some breaks in this game to win.  As the 49ers showed us, make your own breaks.  I am not predicting a Giants win.  What I will predict is that the Giants have a credible shot.  GO GIANTS!  This Super Bowl XLVI Championship is up for grabs, and the Giants have as much of a credible shot as anyone else.  The Giants can play with the Packers, The Niners, the Ravens, the Patriots.  A title is there for the taking.  GO GET IT.

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