Welcome to the fiftth installment of my weekly segment dealing with statistical breakdowns of each 2011 Giants matchup — 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
The score of the game as always says a lot — and the Giants did not finish this one as well as they could/should have.
Despite a strong first drive, the Giants could not get into scoring position throughout the game — in large part due to penalties, turnovers, and just bad play from the offensive line. Eli Manning was under duress constantly, had no running game to rely on, and although he led the Giants to the goal line inside 2 minutes in the 4th quarter of the game, the Giants did not punch the ball in. Instead, 6 points went the other way off a tipped INT from Victor Cruz who slipped on a critical timing route and the Seahawks took it 94 yards for a TD, and that was basically all she wrote.
Let’s look at the QB comparison to see exactly how the captains faired.
Eli Manning without any Giants running game to lean on basically put this game on his shoulders and nearly came out victorious. Still, a career high of 420 yards and 3 TDs on 24 completions is a sure sign of where the Giants offense is right now. Big plays through the air. And make no mistake, 1 of the INTs was all on him… not to mention the 2 fumbles he put on the ground. But the other 2 were not indicative — the one was a tipped ball thrown perfectly by Manning, Cruz slipped and got 1 hand on it and tipped it into the air and that sealed the deal. The other INT came in garbage time and basically is just a meaningless stat line. So for Eli — the pundits will jump all over that 3 INT stat line because it fits their template for how they want to cover the Giants to begin with.
But the really concerning thing I point to here is Charlie Whitehurst coming in and looking like Joe Montana. Where was the defensive game plan to shut this backup QB down the way the Giants handled their business last year? Where was the pressure? Where was the coverage? Whitehurst basically came in and blew it up with over 100 passer rating and could not be stopped after his first failed drive. Say what you want about the run defense, and we’ll get there, but this is a passing league and if you can’t stop Tavaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst how the hell are you going to stop Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees? Awful to think about…
Now to the most concerning part of the Giants offense – the run game. Where do you start? Lets start in the trenches and work our way out.
The Giants offensive line has not come together nicely, in fact it’s never looked worse at any time during the Tom Coughlin regime. The reality is the power run game is Tom’s baby. The Giants at their core offensively NEED to run the ball well. A lot of what Kevin Gilbride and Eli Manning try to do based off that run game will not work unless defenses respect the run. And aside from poor run blocking, the line is also responsible for pass blocking and they can’t seem to do that well this year either. The Giants offense likes to bring a lot of extra lineman like Stacy Andrews to help run the ball — that hasn’t really helped either. In fact the best runs have been away from those players.
The periphery of the line is also not top notch this year. The TE’s aren’t consistently blocking well, Henry Hynoski the rookie FB isn’t consistent either, and when you boil it right down there are only a couple times each game where things go right for this group. The best usage of the TE and FB I’ve seen has been chipping defenders and then getting out into routes.
In seemingly every case, deception is the only thing that’s been working this year on account of poor execution. It’s not like Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs, and Danny Ware have forgotten how to run — nothing has been there for them. The only thing that has worked out of the backfield has been cutbacks, stretch plays to the opposite side of the overload, and passes. That’s it. There has been no power run game, there has barely been finesse. And of course the finesse game resulted in a safety that was poorly handled in every respect.
To compound the issue, the Giants defense cannot stop the run. Tom Coughlin said they would take extraordinary lengths last week to ensure they could stop the run — they still can’t. Justin Tuck must be the best run stopper in the league because the last time he played is the last time the Giants stopped anyone on the ground.
Cruz, Nicks, Ballard, Manningham — not sure it’s going to get any better than that for the Giants.
Victor Cruz had another stellar game and at this point you almost have to think he wills the ball into his hands. This makes the umpteenth big circus catch he’s made since becoming a NY Giant last preseason, and if Steve Smith was the guy holding him back from playing before he got injured I must say the Giants made the right decision by letting him go to Philadelphia. The only blemmish on his day was slipping at the goal line on a very, very important pass – could have happened to anybody. The Giants left that win out of the field and unfortunately for Cruz it was on his and Eli’s watch that the door closed on their comeback. Still, a tremendous day for Cruz.
As far as Nicks and Manningham go — I’d venture to say the trio of receivers the Giants have in their stable once again comprise the best young WR’s I’ve ever seen play in NY. When you add Ballard into the equation you soon realize that the Boss/Smith free agency bitterness quickly dissipates. The Giants have as potent a pass offense as they had in 2009-2010 and I’d even go as far as saying they have more big play ability with these guys on the team right now then they’ve ever had. Give the staff credit — they sought their guys that were priorities and they’ve proven themselves through the first 5 games. I can’t wait to see more from this group.
Notice Travis Beckum is not in that group – and frankly he’ll have to catch an NFC Championship game winning TD to make me a believer. Eli Manning and Kevin Gilbride obviously have the least amount of work in the 2011 offense penciled in for him, and I doubt that will change. Bear Pascoe emerging as a receiving threat will happen before Beckum does anything of note. And I’m fine with it. Don’t even waste an incomplete pass with him out there — the H-Back experiment is over. Give me Pascoe in a 2 TE set, PLEASE.
Bradshaw out of the backfield got his 5 passes thrown his way — only could haul in two of them. Bradshaw was also wide open next to Eli Manning on the Victor Cruz INT to end all hope, the Giants must have thought the Seahawks would have been all over that dump off pass because of the way they closed out Philadelphia and Arizona. I don’t know — all I know is Eli needs to make it more of a priority to hit AB44 out of the backfield especially in scoring situations. (Especially now that I traded to get Bradshaw on my keeper league fantasy team!)
Lets look at the overall team stats for a bit.
The Giants and Seahawks were pretty evenly matched as you might expect, the game was knotted at 14 to end the half and the game came almost down to the wire… so as far as moving the ball is concerned both teams got their share of first downs. I’d like to spend some time later in the week going over why the Giants should use the hurry up style no-huddle offense more throughout the game to keep defenses back on their heels, but thats a topic for another post.
Obviously the return game was severely in Seattle’s favor. 251 yards — that includes INT return yards as well. Still 69 yards on 6 punts is not nearly good enough for the Giants. Every time they punt the ball there is still a return being made, I want to see more fair catches more directional kicking, and far better coverage.
17 total penalties, this game was sloppy as can be. Combined with 6 total fumbles and 4 INTS — it’s amazing this game wasn’t decided by a coin flip.
The Giants had more big plays, while the Seahawks broke consistent and decent yardage every time they were on offense. Obviously 145 yards rushing is going to lend to that consistency, and 69 yards for the Giants in total rushing yardage is about half of where they want and NEED to be. Relying on Eli’s arm isn’t going to be as easy if he can no longer stand upright from taking all these sacks.
Eli got sacked 6 times while the Giants only recorded 3 sacks… just absurd. The Giants are playing absolutely backwards football right now.
For the first time this year the “Green Zone” efficiency and goal to go efficiency has been awful. That is something the Giants have improved dramatically with the past 3 seasons and every now and then you’re going to see a backslide. This game was that backslide in the Green Zone.
Obviously the safety was catastrophic from call to execution.
Onto the defense. Hardly enough run stopping. Hardly enough pressure on the QB. We’ve already discussed that.
JPP continues to lead the team in sacks while Osi Umenyiora is proving that playing defensive end is more like riding a bike than anything. The story I want to focus on is not with these two studs, but with Mathias Kiwanuka.
How great was it to see this pass rusher extraordinare get his first sack of the season. HIS FIRST SACK! With Justin Tuck out I’m surprised it took this long for Kiwi to be inserted back at DE. He’s easily the most versatile defensive player the Giants have, and playing DE is probably more natural for him at this point than LB. The coaches will continue to shift things around, but I think Kiwi could stand a promotion in the front 7 back to DE as long as Tuck is going to be out. I have nothing against Dave Tollefson, I just happen to think the Giants don’t have enough pressure in the front 4 right now and they have ample young LBs to utilize every down. If the zone is not going to clamp down on the 20 yard pass up the seam, the pressure needs to get ramped up. Kiwi may be the key to success there.
That’s all for this week folks. I know its hard after a loss like this that should and could have been a win, but STAY BLUE!
[stats via National Football Post]