Updated 9/10/13 11:10 am
There is no way to sugar coat it—the Giants pass protection was awful for large chunks of the game in Week 1. Even though he put up “video game numbers,” the OL never allowed Eli to get comfortable in the pocket as he was hurried on 15 of his 52 drop backs.
For proof of the ineptitude up front look no further than Pro Football Focus’ weekly grades. Out of all offensive and defensive players for both teams, the four highest individual scores came from the Cowboys. More specifically they were DeMarcus Ware (5.4), Jason Hatcher (4.2), George Selvie (3.4) and Nick Hayden (2.7). What do these four have in common? That was the Cowboys’ front four on Sunday night. Keep in mind that Selvie and Hayden were replacements for the injured Anthony Spencer and Jay Ratliff. Selive, if you recall, got a spring workout with the Giants but never stuck. The impressive Dallas pass rush (all players) finished the game with a collective grade of 5.5.
The Giants pass protection? A forgettable -8.5. Each player recorded a negative grade in this area with the exception of Kevin Boothe (0.7) who barely broke the 0 threshold. Also this:
Will Beatty earned a career-low grade vs DAL. He allowed 6 QB pressures, after allowing 6 in the first 5 weeks of 2012 combined. #Giants
— Pete Damilatis (@PFF_Pete) September 10, 2013
The poor pass protection wasn’t just limited to the offensive line, as somewhere lost in his case of the fumbles (enough has been said about this) is a potentially even bigger roadblock for David Wilson. That roadblock is his lackluster pass blocking, an issue that many felt kept him off the field for much of 2012. Word throughout the summer was that Wilson had begun to take to his role as a crucial element of the Giants’ pass protection.
As Giants fans, we have learned that requirements one, two and three for the Giants’ starting RB position is the ability to protect Eli Manning and rightfully so. By earning the starting job many (myself included) assumed that Wilson had finally cleared this hurdle. If Sunday night was any indication, the second year RB may still have plenty of work yet to do. PFF gave Wilson a -1.4 grade in pass blocking; a number that could have been much worse had Wilson not sat for nearly all of the second half.
Two plays really stick out that highlight Wilson’s issues with “delivering the blow” to the defender on Sunday night. The first comes at the 3:25 mark of the 1st quarter with the Giants facing 2nd and goal from the 1 after Ryan Mundy’s long INT return. With the Giants running a PA pass, Wilson’s responsibility is to block up LDE George Selvie, at the very least get a piece of him. Deciding to fall (dive would be too strong of a word) at Selvie’s ankles, Wilson completely whiffs on the block and allows Eli to be sacked for a 10 yard loss. See below:
The second comes on the Giants’ first TD, Manning’s 70 yard strike to Cruz just before the two minute warning. DT Nick Hayden, who Snee either allowed in or was beat by, quickly breaks through the LOS up the middle. Wilson, looking for pressure from the outside (forgetting the golden rule of protect inside to out), is too late or unwilling to deliver the blow to Hayden. Eli is then forced to make a shifty escape before firing the ball downfield to Cruz. See below:
So while Wilson’s fumbles are certainly a major issue for the Giants, it is entirely possible that his lack of physicality in pass protection has led them to bring in our old friend Brandon Jacobs, Willis McGahee (keep in mind he fumbled five times in 10 games last year so he is not getting a look for his ability to hold onto the ball) and Jets castaway Joe McKnight for workouts today. The first two are excellent in protection and Jacobs' obviously is more than familar with the Giants pass protection schemes.
Much thanks to PFF for letting us use their premium stats in our analysis. The service is remarkable not only in the content that it provides but also in how quickly they are able to deliver. All grades for every Sunday game were posted on their site by late afternoon on Monday. Really impressive stuff. Their insight is a valuable tool not only for bloggers, but for all diehard NFL fans and even those of you who want that leg up in your fantasy football league. At $26.99 for the season the service is a steal.
More to come later this afternoon including highlights of Carl Banks’ and Antrel Rolle’s insightful weekly spots on the Joe and Evan Midday show on WFAN.