Unpacking The Game: Giants / Redskins

Welcome to the first installment of my weekly segment dealing with statistical breakdown of each 2011 Giants game — Unpacking The Game.

It’s a little late this week due to my travelling back from the west coast, missing the game, having to re-watch it and being delayed a day — so just know that usually this post will come out Wednesdays after our initial gut checks have taken place, no matter if the Giants win or lose. The point is the NY Giants are always one of those teams that seem to be criticized by a stat line — with little to no analysis as to what’s going on behind the numbers. Here, we’ll always try to acknowledge that some stats speak for themselves, others have to be unpacked a bit more to tell the whole story. Here’s where we strive to get to the quantitative AND the qualitative meanings behind the stats for of each and every Giants game. So without further ado, here we go!

The Giants obviously struggled with offensive line issues, penalties, and it didn’t help matters by getting away from the run, everything we discussed Tuesday is still in play. Not scoring a single point in the second half is too much to ask of your defense, especially when you have a pick 6 going the other way. The Giants basically dug themselves a hole during the second half with mental mistakes and an overall lack of execution. Losing the 3rd and 4th quarter and scoring 14 total points is not going to get it done.

Now onto the team stats.

Starting with first downs. The Giants didn’t convert enough, the Redskins converted way too many especially on 1st and 2nd down. This stinks of unpreparedness and faulty execution by the Giants on both levels. One one hand, penalties and dropped passes dig your offense a hole. On the other hand, you’re defense isn’t within 5 yards of their man all game. How do you expect to stop the opposition?

I went over 3rd down in great detail earlier this week, and holding the Redskins to 33% is actually decent. The ultimate point you have to make is the defense cannot let first and second downs go uncontested, while at the same time the Giants offense cannot leave EVERYTHING up to third down. The Redskins did a good job of this, the Giants did not. Kevin Gilbride – take note. Run play action, get vertical early, use quick short passes to build report, be deceptive in your play calling. PLEASE.

Of course – you can have all the production in the world but penalties are never going to you win games. 8 penalties is a ridiculous number, not one more devastating than Antrel Rolle’s helmet into a defenseless receiver. That 15 yards and first down should have been a punt after a 4th and 2… the Giants had the Redskins stopped with time to tie the game. These mental mistakes CAN NOT CONTINUE, especially from veterans who should know better. And by the way, is it safe to assume that on 2nd and 20 the Giants are getting the ball to a running back? Just checking if I’m the only one that has that play call penciled in for 100% of the time.

I thought the Giants defense did a good job to limit Tim Hightower and the Redskins to just 2.8 yards per carry. He broke a couple of runs, but between 3 runs for first downs and 2.8 yards per — I think that’s something the Giants can hang their hat on. They can still buckle down on the run game defensively.

3.8 yard per carry for the Giants — we talked at length this preseason how the Giants needed to establish their running game early in this game. They did with success in the first half, then got away from it. I think the mix of snaps between Bradshaw and Jacobs was good, the overall numbers need to be increased next week though. 20 carries for Bradshaw, 10 for Jacobs. 0 from Ware until further notice, and maybe look at Da’Rel Scott as a screen option. I don’t want his legs getting banged up in the return game, but a finesse call like that bubble screen they sometimes run is perfect for Scott, who other teams will not have game planned for just yet. Hixon is the other guy I like there on the catch and run out of the screen.

Sacks — defense did well to get 4, offensive line did poorly to allow 4. The rookie DT shooting the A gap on David Baas was downright ugly. That cannot happen on a consistent basis. If Baas really is a liability in pass coverage and getting confused on his assignments, Eli is going to have to work on that 3 step drop a lot more.

That missed field goal, obviously it was a horribly low kick. That’s all on Tynes. I wonder if anyone is rethinking the Lloyd cut.

The touchdowns for the Giants, again too few on offense and too few on defense. I don’t mind Eli scrambling for the 1 TD, but I’m still nervous about that goose egg in the passing TD column. When the Giants are 25-30 yards out from the endzone in a game changing situation, that is a strength of the team. They’ve shown it since 2009, the Giants are more effective from the 25 yard line than they are from the 18. The Giants need to get Manningham and Nicks vertical in a hurry and take some shots over the top. Of course, it was good to see my polish brother Henry Hynoski get a shot to take it upfield, but he didn’t get the first down. Bungling the ensuing 3rd and short and field goal attempt is of course not how I wanted that “drive” to end up. A first down back shoulder throw down the sideline with Nicks or Manningham targeted is the kind aggressiveness I want to see there… if not a TD taking it to the 5 yard line and letting AB44 or BJ27 pound it in from there — that’s the Giants football I was looking for. Didn’t see it.

With that, onto the other offensive rankings.

I had predicted that Eli Manning would end with 200+ yards, 1 TD, 1 INT. And that’s essentially what happened. I would have liked more consistency from Eli, but week 1 I expected to see a lot more running game from the Giants to sustain drives. But the offense overall sputtered due to penalties and offensive line miscues, so aside from a couple of big plays and one sustained drive the offense really had minimal impact last Sunday.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs needed more carries on better sustained drives, simple as that. Penalties and mistakes by the offensive line kept them under productive. As for catching out of the backfield, good to see Hynoski get a rep. Bradshaw needs more looks, and a 10 yard gain on a 2nd and 20 doesn’t really count as I mentioned about. Still leaves a long first down bid and everyone knows where the ball is going. More deception will lead to better execution and bigger runs broken out of the backfield.

As for receivers, Hakeem Nicks as usual was the star, TE Jake Ballard was the surprise. Other than that I have a couple of of nit picks about the rest of the receivers. Why does Mario Manningham always seem to come up a yard short on his receptions for first downs? This is why we need a legitimate slot receiver to rely on to move the chains consistently. Without Steve Smith, Domenik Hixon needs to be that guy. The newly signed Brandon Stokley needs to be that guy. Mario Manningham and Victor Cruz are not that guy. Manningham is a wideout, period. End of story. If he goes down with an injury, then and only then do I want the Victor Cruz project entering the game. (I feel the exact same way about Danny Ware by the way taking snaps away from our proven starters, btw)

Now onto the defensive rankings. Obviously JPP was the star of the show — and it was good to see Tolly get in there for a sack filling in for Justin Tuck. I have a feeling if Osi Umenyiora and Tuck were playing, this would have been a different game up front. Still, 4 sacks on opening day isn’t a bad thing.

My issues, as I mentioned the other day have more to do with the secondary not making plays and at times trailing their man 5 yards off the ball. Absurd to think the Giants would have any chance to stop the Redskins with that kind of coverage.

Corey Webster played like a first year rookie, not a veteran and former league leading shut down corner like he was in 2008 and the start of 2009 before he was injured. The first half, I counted 3 passing plays in a row that exploited his slow play, and the Giants paid for it dearly.

Aaron Ross was worse – I counted 3 consecutive plays where he was burned in the second half and setup a Redskins scoring opportunity. Let’s seriously consider Ross as a bust and relegate him to the 5th pass rusher, honestly. That’s all he can handle I think, and his quickness is truly an asset there.

I’ve said enough about Rolle already. I appreciate him making tackles and bailing our corners out, but the penalty in the 4th quarter killed the Giants.

Kenny Phillips had a good day however as he made plays all over the field and broke up a pass that would have setup a sure Redskins TD. In fact he made Pro Football Focus’ All-Pro team for week 1. Check it out here.

I felt Greg Jones had a decent outing, in his first NFL start he made some tackles and left a couple out on the field to work on. The Hightower TD where Coughlin went ballistic on the no-call for holding, Jones was in position to bust that play up in the backfield and simply didn’t get there in time. He’s got potential for sure, and these kinds of bad plays early will help him get prepared when it’s really on the line later this season.

Chris Canty threw his team under the bus for playing so poorly, and rightly so. But he barely did anything of note himself. Yeah he had a sack, he made a few tackles, but he wasn’t dominant. He’s the biggest guy on the field by a longshot and yet, he barely registered a central push to collapse the pocket.

Assuming the Giants get Tuck and Osi back by week 3, the front 7 will be looking much better from a pass rushing standpoint. As for LB pass coverage — pretty bad. Kiwi and Boley got repeatedly burned. Fred Davis for example had a career day going over 100 yards, most of those receptions came on the OLB’s watch.

Part of the problem may simply be that EVERYONE downfield was out of place when playing zone — it certainly seemed that way. 10 yards of free space around a receiver running a skinny post is way too much space for an NFL QB to operate in. It’s no wonder Grossman repeatedly hit his mark for 20 yards along the edges of the Giants zone, the Giants refused to close the gap all game. When the Giants rewatched this game film, I hope they saw how easy it was for the Redskins to sustain their drives through the air.

That about does it for this week folks, onto the next chapter in the 2011 regular season saga. Hopefully we’ll be talking about a win against the Rams Monday night.

[stats via National Football Post]

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