Unpacking The Game: Rams / Giants


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

Some stats speak for themselves, others need to be expanded upon because they speak volumes. This is the place where we get behind the numbers and show what’s really going on with the New York Giants.

Let’s begin after the jump

First up — let’s take a look at where the Giants got the most of their advantage over the Rams. The Final Score

The Giants started out sputtering on offense, while the goal line defense held the Rams to to two field goals inside the red zone. We’ll talk about this later, but the real advantage for the Giants came in the second quarter where they blew out St. Louis by 14 points while giving up none. That’s Giants football we can all appreciate there, and it’s the type of progress you want to see from Big Blue as we go forward.

Onto the QB stats.

The Giants defense obviously helped Sam Bradford complete only 47% of his passes, but they simply gave up too many big plays through the air.  Eli Manning on the other hand resembled his 2007 early season numbers not generating enough big plays through the air, but got into the endzone enough to help the Giants to victory. The first quarter INT is something that has to vanish. I’m not sure if it’s unsettling before the game, poor vision, why he feels he doesn’t need to look off the Safety, if he just didn’t see the Safety closing from across the field, why he felt he didn’t need to lead a wide open Manningham in stride to the endzone — whatever it was it was a big mistake to start the game on a drive that actually looked really good otherwise.  A nice mix of pass and run, good execution all around, and then the pick.  It needs to stop now before these mistakes compound and spiral out of control.

 

Team Stats.

 

The Giants improved overall this week, whether the Rams helped them with penalties and mistakes or not, the Giants did improve over the Week 1-2 practice week. So that’s a good thing, atleast there was progress however little.

More first downs from the run and passing attack while forcing the opposition to be one dimensional — that is a great comparative stat any week of the NFL season.  And for the Giants it was not lopsided… split right down the middle.  Tom Coughlin ought to be pleased with that.

Third down conversions are still subpar, but 33% effectiveness on third down is three times more conversions than they had last week.  That coupled with picking up first downs throughout their drives and not just on 3rd down, I’ll take it.

How good has punter Steve Weatherford been?  The memory of Matt Dodge will linger forever, but who cares how big of a leg he had when the veteran is putting kicks routinely across the field and inside the 10 as well as he has shown this year.

The Giants still have a Special Teams coverage problem, and kicker Lawrence Tynes is obviously not healthy enough to make it deep into the endzone consistently. So the Rams had that advantage big time.  The Giants defense did well to not let it bother them though.

Penalties — still more than I’m sure Coughlin would like to see. Over the coming weeks I expect that number to be cut in half.

No fumbles — yay!  For the second straight week the Giants have recovered fumbles but haven’t lost any to the defense…. a tremendous accomplishment over last year’s track record. Let’s keep that alive shall we into Week 3 where the Eagle defense is going to be ruthless in trying to strip the ball from Giants players.  It’s how they roll.

The Giants had enough yardage gained this week, penalties by the Rams certainly cut into these numbers, but I look for more efficiency from the GMEN as weeks go on.  Both rushing and passing, netting only 4.3 yards per offensive gain is not an efficient number whatsoever.  On over 60 attempts from this offense, that number needs to be more like 6.3 yards per before we get excited about production. The blocking for the run game needs to improve in getting to the second level of the defense.  When that starts happening, you’re going to see some real numbers.  120 yards total still isn’t bad though — they stayed with it and it paid off. That’s what matters.

3 sacks with JPP and Tuck on the outside?  I want to see a lot more sacks – call me greedy. When Osi gets back and the Giants feel like they can get that NASCAR package back at full throttle.  It may happen next week,  it may not.  When it does, the QB Killers are back, mark my words.  Progress is nice, we want domination though.

4 TD’s on the day should quell any criticism that the Giants cannot score points this year.  That was a big concern over the preseason, I said it would happen and it’s starting to.

Now. Moving the ball inside the 20 was still an issue for the Giants. They had 7 punts and a few too many 3-and-outs.  That has got to be addressed and I think the more reps they take and the more the Giants settles in together as an offensive unit — it will.  It will just take time.  The penalties and turnovers for Special Teams certainly helped the Giants get into scoring opportunities, but the thing to highlight here is execution in the “green zone” as Coughlin likes to say. On defense – it’s red zone.  On offense, it’s green zone.  So the Giants went 100% in TD territory and that’s something to be proud of.  Domenik Hixon’s catch was from just outside the 20 where I always have felt the Giants produce more points then within it.  And what a great throw and catch it was.  It will be hard to replace Hixon yet again for the season, he is one of the best weapons they had. So although it was great to see him utilized… it came with a heavy price.  Cruz will likely take his receptions, Ross will likely return his punts.

The goal line defense holding the Rams to 25% in the red zone, you can see why Deon Grant did what he did when they produce that kind of brick wall with the proper package in the game.

 

Onto the Run Game.

 

 

While the defense shut down the Rams attack, the Giants did well enough to not only split carries, but stay deceptive as well.   AB44 and BJ27 both had similar performances, and if it was one running back in total 29 carries for 109 yards and a TD would have been a monster fantasy game for any one player.  Couple that with their reception numbers, you’re looking at a Marshall Faulk kind of day for the Giants ground attack.  But more on the receptions later…

Deception came in the form of Danny Ware who only had 3 carries, but he picked up som critical yardage particularly on third downs.  Now I won’t admit I was wrong about Ware until I see more, but clearly defenses do not know what’s coming just yet when Ware gets in the game.  I have argued in the past that Bradshaw could just as well be that 3rd down back as he’s the more natural fit between he and Jacobs, but Ware has shown some drive here in the early goings of his 2011 campaign.  I don’t necessarily want to see more, but I’ll just say I like the balance of touches the Giants backfield is getting right now.  Hell, if Da’Rel Scott was active one of these days, that 12 yard gain Ware got on a pitch might turn into a 70 yard TD instead.  THAT would be something to see, no offense to Ware… just a dream of mine.

Receivers.

 

The defense simply gave up too many big plays once again.  The 68 yard reception was bologna, he should have been touched down and wasn’t.  Inexcusable, lazy, poor fundamental defense on that play.  Alexander had two other gashes for 30 yards a pop as well.  Aaron Ross and Michael Coe — how do you expect to cover premier receivers in the league with that kind of performance?  The Giants need an answer and haven’t found it yet with their cornerback situation.

Mario Manningham should have had a significan day with at least double the yardage and 2 TDs — the ball he bobbled, dove, and caught for 31 yards (and concussed himself by doing) should have been a TD caught in stride for a decisive score from a perfectly thrown ball by Eli.  The same should have been said for the INT Eli threw which was underthrown because he must not have seen the safety coming across like I said earlier, but Manningham was well behind the defense and he should have been connected with a TD pass.

Hixon had a very important catch, a TD that cost him a season. Still if you didn’t jump out of your seat in that moment with a roar when he caught that ball you missed out on one of the best plays you will see all year for the Giants.

But the bigger story for Giants receptions is highlighted in Blue, for a reason, the Giants running backs were targeted for passes 6 times and they caught the ball 100% of the time for a combined total of 63 yards.  That is what we need to see this year from the RBs more than any other year, this is one way Eli is going to move the ball with high % passes and give the player a chance to break a big run for a game changing play.  I think an over reliance on these plays can be bad, but when Hakeem Nicks and Domenik Hixon are only catching a couple passes here and there, you’ve got to hit your RBs out of the backfield.  Eli did, and the results are clearly there.

With Hixon out and Manningham questionable – you are going to see more of these plays.  The Giants will also look for Brandon Stokley to be more involved, Victor Cruz and Devin Thomas would slide up in the depth chart and they are going to pick up the slack where necessary.

 

Now the Defense.

2 total sacks is not nearly enough.  Give Tuck credit for coming back and changing the complexion of the defense up front — because the front 7 was lights out this week. But 2 sacks is not going to be enough from this group going forward.  The Giants need to be getting more pressure, more turnovers on downs, and ultimately more sacks.  Easier said than done, but Mathias Kiwanuka needs to be utilized here and Osi Umenyiora needs to get back in the game and start rushing that passer, right now.

 

Michael Boley is playing at a very good level right now… one of the bright spots for sure.  Aaron Ross is not and we’ve been over this before several times, we don’t need to go over it again here.  Antrel Rolle is doing his part with Kenny Phillips flying all over the field and bailing everyone one.

I will say with more pressure, there will be less timing patterns for deep gashes in the Cover-2 zone, it is one of the ways you cut down on that.  But I look for communication and performance to increase this week in practice.  I want Perry Fewell to say they’ve made significant progress ahead of this Eagles game Sunday, I would welcome another CB signing like Bryan McCann out of Dallas…. if nothing more than to give the current players a dose of reality like they did with Victor Cruz / Brandon Stokley last week.

Nothing is set in stone when you don’t perform at a high level, time for this defense to turn the corner and step it up a few notches.

 

[stats via National Football Post]

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