-8 of the 11 Giants offensive starters recorded a negative overall grade from PFF. In what has now become a weekly tradition in 2013, PFF highlighted the ineptitude of the offensive line in its weekly "Refocused Game Preview." Only Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Bear Pascoe (Pascoe only played 22 snaps in this one, many at the FB position) started the game and escaped it with a + grade. David Wilson, who was not a starter in this one, finished with a 0.4 grade and ran hard when his number was called.
-Also finishing below the zero mark were Rueben Randle and backup TE Larry Donnell (10 snaps). Donnell and starting TE Brandon Myers combined for a run block grade of -3.4 on the afternoon. They of course were not the only offenders as the starting offensive line combined for a -5.3 cumulative run blocking grade. The number would have been worse if not for the generous 1.3 grade for first-time NFL starter Jim Cordle. As was the issue in the preseason with Cordle, the center struggled in pass protection.
He seems to have trouble with the cohesive aspects of pass protection, such as having the awareness to understand that the guard may peel off to help the tackle. In the screen grab below, Boothe does just that as LT William Beatty is matched up with one of the league's premier pass rushers, Tamba Hali. Cordle looks right for a blitz pickup and when he looks back he has lost not only his help from Boothe but the defender as well.
Notice in the first screenshot that the Giants, as they should, have blocked up the four man rush. While it is possible that Beatty may be able to handle Hali on his own, Boothe decides to give help on the edge rusher. No qualms with that. Notice Cordle's head in the second photo as he searches for a stunt/blitz that never comes. When he looks back, it is far too late and DT Allen Bailey is on a collision course with Manning. Cordle is not alone in these failures but since this was his first NFL start it makes sense to look into him. You would hope that mental and communication issues such as these will be worked out if the C is afforded some more starts because of Baas' injury.
-Continuing a trend that Steve looked into last week, the Giants secondary was once against stout, particularly in pass coverage. One has to wonder how effective this defense could be if the pass rush ever gets going. Their efforts have not gone unnoticed amongst those at PFF:
The Giants DBs have been quietly solid this season. 10.2 Yds/Rec is the lowest mark in the NFL, and 3.5 YAC/Rec is 3rd-lowest.
— Pete Damilatis (@PFF_Pete) October 1, 2013
Prince once again led the way and was arguably the best player on the field for either team. While it doesn't take a PFF grade to know that he once again played outstanding, his efforts were validated with a 5.3 overall grade which was good for the best score out of all players. The 3rd year CB has shown the ability to "man up" any type of receiver, sometimes in press coverage. If there has been one consistent bright spot this season for the Giants, it is the continued maturation and development by Amukamura into one of the league's best cover corners. Too bad the Giants' haven't been in a position to take advantage of the outstanding play.
With Webster once again sidelined, Aaron Ross turned in another strong effort with a 0.6 pass coverage score and turned in a few solid plays in coverage. Ross has proven to be a player that is not afraid to take a chance or make a mistake and there is something to be said about that.
Perhaps most eye opening however was the small yet very impressive sample size from Trumaine McBride, who filled in when Ross went down. Despite playing just 19 snaps, McBride registered a 2.3 pass coverage grade and showed that he has the confidence in himself to play an aggressive brand of coverage. While it was a minimal sample, the results were very promising and I fully expect McBride to get another shot in Week 5 no matter who is healthy.
-With the return of Will Hill and possibly Corey Webster in Week 5, the secondary will have great depth to go with their early success through four weeks. Perhaps this is the game that we see Fewell dial up some more pressure from the back seven to help the stagnant pass rush. The time to do so is now. The secondary continues to show that they are a strength of this team and any extra pressure on the QB will ideally allow the group to turn solid coverage into more turnovers for the offense. With the pass rush failing week after week, the adjustments need to be made.
-One week after facing the NFL's best pass rush, the Giants offensive line and Manning have a great opportunity in front of them as the Eagles have graded out as the league's worst pass rushing unit through 4 weeks with a score of -16.9. Equally as bad is the team's 31st ranked pass coverage with a cumulative total of -24.7. If there was ever a moment to instill confidence in what was once a feared passing attack, then this game is it.
Time for the playmakers to make plays.
But as we Giants fans have learned the hard way in this young season, there will be no plays made unless the offensive line manages to keep Eli upright for the majority of the game. Easier said than done.
Check back later this week as I take a look at a few key matchups for this game, particularly the showdown between the Giants stout run defense and the Eagles' top ranked run game.
(Once again a big thanks to the PFF for allowing UltimateNYG to use some of their awesome data to help us bring the best Giants analysis to you.)