…play #29 says it all. This play will go unnoticed by almost everyone watching, but Tom Coughlin probably can't sleep over it. It's just a simple inside zone – Blackburn stands up the running back and Boley cleans it up for a gain of 2. It seems harmless. But watch the video again and pause it as Leonard is going down. There's a
handful of Giants standing around, and none of them are trying to get involved or play through the whistle. Everyone should want to hit the ball carrier. The Giants need to get an attitude. Obviously they shouldn't play dirty, but there has to be some type of "punish" mentality on the defensive side of the ball that simply does not exist right now. Not singling them out but Rolle, Tuck and Webster were the three guilty parties on this particular play. A small part in a game full of issues, but the play highlights a problem that has been hanging over the Giants defense pretty much all season now.
…with all of the injuries and positional adjustments, the Giants have to get back to basics: get aligned properly, know your assignment, and tackle the ball carrier. There were too many mistakes on these fundamental tasks, and it showed in the result of the game. I expect Coughlin to have the assignment and alignment down, but if guys don't do a better job wrapping up and tackling, the Giants will start looking more and more like the Saints in the secondary.
…despite the defensive line troubles, the goal for any defense – but especially this one – should be to force a third and long. With the depth of pass-rushers in the lineup, and the uncanny play-making ability of Stevie Brown – we've seen the Giants make game changing plays when the opponent has to throw. However, the Giants have been asleep on 1st and 2nd down, allowing an average of 5.1 and 4.9 yards respectively. I believe this is a result of poor post-snap reads. The one or two extra steps it takes to recognize the play can really add up, especially when you are 12 yards deep or outside the hash as the secondary is most often.
Rich C: Quick bone to pick—on Green's 56-yard TD we can all agree that Green got over the top as a result of Brown getting sucked in to the LOS. At the same time that doesn't give Corey Webster the green light to half ass it for the remainder of the play. It's almost as if Webster didn't chase down Green to steer clear of blame and saying "this one's not on me." Doesn't matter who was beat by who, that effort flat out SUCKS. Brown made a mistake, Webster quit. I'll take the first of those two options any day. Similar view from Perry Fewell, who was quoted in Jenny Vrentas' game review on NJ.com. Here it is: "S Stevie Brown was supposed to be over the top and instead bit on the run fake, but defensive coordinator Perry Fewell also explained that veteran CB Corey Webster should have recognized that Brown was not in position and not have let Green go." I have a feeling that is Fewell's PC answer on the subject.
…Prince has proven he can be very good in coverage. His size may hinders him against big bodies, but as his hands get more violent as the ball comes in (he really under-utilizes his hands at the moment), he should have tremendous success in coverage.
…Brown continues to be a bit of a wild card on defense in that you don't really know what you are going to get. But the kid simply has a nose for the football. He almost had another 3rd down turnover this week, and I suspect that more are on the way.
…Rolle continues to play solid, fundamental football. His injury last week didn't seem to slow him down.
…bye week – Time to get healthy, rest, and clean up the mistakes before the playoff push.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
…outside of Nicks, the wide receivers had a quite day (more on Nicks in a bit). Hixon was hurt on the third play of the game and Cruz was a non-factor. On the one play where Cruz got separation he dropped a sure touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. Randle and Barden were decent in the limited snaps they saw but they did nothing much of note.
...Nicks had his best game since he went off against Tampa Bay. He was great in the short passing game, especially over the middle. On the drives where the Giants did move the ball Nicks was instrumental. He and Eli were on the same page for the first time since Nicks came back from injury and it is no surprise that he recorded a 6, his highest total of the season. One thing we'd like to see, in addition to him and Eli working the post and dig
routes once again is for the Giants to take advantage of off coverage on Nicks with a quick throw to him at the LOS. We saw it on two occasions in this one and hopefully is something the Giants will begin to take advantage of as his health progresses. A screen grab of the play is on the right. Nicks in space vs a CB—three yards a pop, at least. A healthy Nicks is an essential part of any Giants playoff run this season. An encouraging performance in a game with very few of them.
…the Giants were horrible in the red zone once again and this was a driving factor in the loss. Field goal, field goal, fumble. That is absolutely inexcusable. On two of those drives sacks hurt the Giants (although this could also be on the WRs) but the Giants playmakers need to step up when they have a chance to put points on the board..
…the tight end play was mediocre at best. All three players that saw time at the position were only average in blocking situations and failed to have a big impact on the passing game. They are a crucial part of the running game and their struggles have been highlighted both in this section and in the OL section on several occasions. When the Giants were playing well earlier this year the tight ends were a part of it. They need to do so again for the G-Men to get back on track
…an uninspiring performance for this unit and clearly their worst collective effort of the season, as the unit failed to record a player with an overall + grade. Somehow David Baas recorded a 0 but be sure to not misinterpret this. Here’s why—Baas was (for the most part) spared the task of dealing with Geno Atkins up front. Atkins is a terror and is far and away the best interior lineman (at least when it comes to penetrating) and showed it as he often was lined up in a 3 technique across from Boothe or Snee. The two guards were not as fortunate as Baas as they recorded grades of -2 and -5 respectively. Consider Baas spared from the wrath of Atkins in this one.
…while Boothe struggled in pass pro against the Bengals he continued to show signs of being a very valuable asset in the run game, particularly blocking on the move and in space. This is something that I have been harping on now for a few weeks now—well here is some video evidence. Boothe needs to be the guy pulling, lead blocking, getting out in front on screens. Snee is the far superior drive blocker (assuming he can get back to full health) but does not stack up to Boothe in this regard. Need to play to their strengths. Sorry to have to use Bradshaw’s fumble as the example but just before he coughed it up, Boothe delivered a crushing, athletic pull block on Malaluga and just cleans his clock. The play had me out of my seat and before I could finish applauding Boothe, the Bengals had possession. Worth a look.
…David Diehl, who somehow has become the hot button issue for Giants fans, regressed a bit from last week (along with everyone else in this unit) and once again was responsible for several sacks. He graded out at a -4. As I mentioned last week (and as some commenters have pointed out) Diehl is and grades out much better in run blocking than Locklear. I have no worries that the passing game will rebound after the bye week. As for the running game… well we are going on nearly two seasons now of these struggles. While priority one is and always is protecting Eli, they need to get the run game fixed. The RT debate will be one of the things we look at as we start to filter, sort and present some of our Ultimate22 data next week so stay tuned. One thing to keep in mind about this game though—the majority of the pressure in this one (sacks not withstanding) from right up the middle.
…Chris Snee once again received the low grade for the offensive line coming in at a –5, which to me is no surprise considering how bad Snee's injury has looked on film for two games. Not to mention that he was matched up with Atkins for a good portion of this one. The back-to-back poor grades are really the only blemishes on what was an all-pro campaign through the first eight games. Snee is a true drive blocker and normally is able to stand in there and battle at the LOS with ANYONE. Clearly the injury has stripped him of that for the time being. The bye week couldn't come at a more opportune moment for Snee (not that he'd ever look for an excuse) and the Giants need his ankle back at full health for the ENTIRE offensive line, and in turn the offense, to suceeed.
…obviously not responsible for grading the RBs but I wanted to show a screenshot of David Wilson's one carry in this game. Why? To show just how small the difference is between "struggling rookie who has yet to pick up the
offense" vs "big play threat who can take it to the house on any play." On the play in the photo, a cutback run, Wilson does a great job of pressing the run to the front side and bending it back to the left, where there ideally would be plenty of open field. This should be an easy block for Will Beatty with his only job to wash away the DL deep into the backfield. Instead, both he and Pascoe fail to hold their blocks and a would be exlposive play became a one-yard gain.
…come back for Pt. 2 tomorrow with more Ultimate22 grades and analysis.
…and be sure to be here next week when we use each day to break down all of the Ultimate22 grades through the first 10 games. We will look at all of the hot-button issues for NYG and provide the relevant filtered data for them. If there's anything you'd like us to breakdown, put it in the comments.