OK, this will be my last post about the Eagles game but I think it’s time to revisit some of the things we’ve been talking about here at GMENHQ.
What we knew and what the Giants proved Sunday in their win over the Eagles.
• The Eagles are overrated. Not just overhyped, but overrated as well. We went over all the wonderful details here. Needless to say, individual talent does not win your games for you.
• Eli has bought into the value of check downs. We’ve talked about this so many times over the course of the year it’s ridiculous. Eli Manning has now proven over the past 3 weeks that the key to minimizing his turnovers for him this year is going to be in the short passing game, specifically utilizing his RBs out of the backfield more than he ever has. The result — an NFC Player of the Week award. And it’s not only about Eli, it’s about Kevin Gilbride, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Brandon Jacobs as well…
On the screen passes. Did you know Ahmad Bradshaw has caught 100% of his targeted passes this year? Everyone was looking for that third down back but as I’ve long held – AB44 IS the third down back. He’s quick, elusive, and has good hands and he can get upfield in a hurry. Plus, the defense loses track of him in traffic because he can make himself small the way BJ27 cannot… great use of my man AB44 out of the backfield on both designed dump offs and safety valve check downs. Eli’s TD numbers have been good, while his INT numbers are way down from last year. He’s backing it up folks — keep up the great work Eli!
Now onto deceptive tactics in short yardage. The playaction pass on 2nd and 5 was by far the most intelligent play call of the game from Kevin Gilbride… it summarizes EVERYTHING we’ve been talking about here in terms of identity, under utilized talents in the run game, being deceptive, and getting creative. I cannot tell you the joy that erupted from my body when I saw that play develop — I knew it was a TD. It was one of those slow-motion moments in your mind where it seemed so surreal you wondered if it was actually happening. But it did happen and Kevin Gilbride had the perfect play called there, and Eli Manning executed a great fake and pass to BJ27 who did the rest. Absolutely 100% brilliant all the way around. THAT is out thinking your opening, utilizing your run first identity and adding in a bit of deception, followed by execution at the highest levels for a momentum building TD. Tremendous call, play, and result with the same weapons we’ve had for years.
• Victor Cruz is better as a wideout than a slot receiver. Sure, Vic made some great adjustments in the slot the past two weeks but arguably the biggest plays of the game were made by Cruz lining up out wide. We went over this before the Eagles game, we went over it yesterday after the Eagles game. Cruz has big play ability on the outside more so than the inside. He and the Giants proved that Sunday and I would like to see more of Cruz on the outside where he has game changing potential over seeing him relegated to the slot just because Manningham is coming back from a concussion. And I don’t want them to switch places either, Cruz has shown great sight adjustment progress and has picked up more first downs than Manningham has with the short passing attack. All in all, Cruz has proven his abilities as a big play wideout just like we hoped and he’s actually giving Super Mario some competition for his starting spot.
• It’s how you finish that matters most. The Giants won the 4th quarter… perhaps more important than any other aspect of the game. Eli Manning said it after the game that it was a huge priority for this team, Tom Coughlin has mentioned it a shed load of times since Sunday. We knew before hand the Giants had to play all 60 minutes, and while they let the Eagles rack up some yards and points in the middle of the game the Giants started and finished well. This aspect of finishing is going to be a recurring theme for this team this year, and it’s fitting because the Giants got off to such a slow start this year and just seem to be hitting their stride heading into week 4. I’m not complaining about that at all — and neither are fans that were waiting for the Giants to ease out of the sputtering and start firing on all cylinders. Finishing their games is one thing, but now finishing the season strong and making the playoffs is what the Giants need to keep perspective on. It’s not how you start but how you finish that matters most. Nothing about the perception of the team will change unless the Giants make the playoffs this year… and it doesn’t matter how impressive they were in all facets against the “Dream Team” Sunday. Finishing the SEASON is the ultimate challenge, and they have a tough road ahead by all accounts. Can they prove the pundits wrong and make the playoffs is the collective challenge for the Giants now.