NEW YORK GIANTS
Some Desert in the Southwest
NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL: Beware the Mysterious Phoenix Night.
GAME FOUR PRESENTS A GREAT CHANCE TO TAKE CONTROL OF THE NFC EAST.
Coach Gilbride must stay in Offensive Control of the clock as he returns to the scene of his, and the team's greatest game together.
The offensive side of the ball is continually criticized for being predictable, and that falls squarely on Coach. He devised a rather good game plan against the Eagles; a plan good on creativity; and maybe born of a little desperation too. Now, he needs to continue staying away from being his own worst enemy, and that of the Giants' Defense, for the time he causes them to spend on the field, especially being compromised as they are.
We all know Coach's master plan revolves around setting up the run with the pass; not the other more conventional way around. Put much blame for lack of third down conversions on that. No first downs means loss of possession too.
So in his never ending search for the perfect pass play, Coach Gilbride disregards this little detail; clock management. Using Victor Cruz' TD as an example; - What we need to understand about last week is, A) - Victor Cruz' YAC numbers were largely gifted to him due to poor Philly tackling, and B) - the Defense was rushed back on the field after the score. After leading 14-0, we saw the consequences of gifting minutes reflected in the score at halftime. Having and executing quick strike capability is not at issue in the increasingly pass heavy NFL for me right now. We can pass; just smartly, which isn't always The Gilbride way; and of course, a Victor Cruz touchdown aside that is.
By the way, on their way to Phoenix in 2007, the Cruz play against the Eagles was the same play Amani Toomer broke for a touchdown against the Cowboys' poor tackling in their playoff game in Dallas, which earned the Giants a ticket to Green Bay. And there's a point; both TD's resulted from poor tackling/busted plays, so to say, and not by design or brute force. We can't rely on other team's folly over our own execution.
Why, when Eli played behind the best offensive line in Football, who for years opened up gaping holes for the running game, and routinely kept Eli among the least sacked QB's in the League, did his interceptions remain high? And now, how is it that he plays behind a rebuilding offensive line with a wounded Center, and is getting sacked at an alarming rate while his INT's remain low so far compared to last season? I will point to the correlation with last week's game in which Eli only attempted 26 passes and seven of those went to the backfield on top of the Giants rushing the ball 22 times. The correlation says that a lot of times, Coach "Mr. Hyde" Gilbride calls for something highly susceptible to being intercepted. Period. And many times to our frustration, they come when passing the ball is very unnecessary.
I complained last year, as I will argue this year; what Coach does or does not do with the running game early in the season, will greatly affect their ability to impact games late in the season. If we get one first down, The Debacle against Philly never happens last season. Last week's tangible offensive production against the Eagles came through the back field. The story of Eli's four TD passes starts there.
Last week, Coach Jekyll planned it right. With combined catches and rushing, the Giants' Backs accounted for more plays than Eli's attempted passes to his traditional Receivers. Seven of Eli Manning's sixteen completions went to his backs resulting in 95 yards. Then the backfield duo rushed another 22 times for 105 yards. Two hundred yards of Offense came out of the backfield. Eli merely needed to compliment that. So with the Offense flowing through the backfield, Eli simply took his compromised Receiver Corp., and threw four touchdown passes with no interceptions; no problems.
But that only happens when Dr. Jekyll allows the game to flow through the backfield. When he starts forcing his self-believed genius down ours and the opposition's throats is when we get ourselves into trouble. And the other snag in all this is, in a League that is absolutely drunk with passing the ball, teams still routinely attempt more rushes than we do. What does that say? We still aren't running the ball enough and aren't nearly as patient with it as other teams. Some how, Gilbride always reverts to including balance into the game plan as a rule.
But we're not keeping possession of the ball long enough, and that is the part of Mr Hyde we need locked up. The Giants only possessed the ball for 23:09 against the Eagles. That's a preposterous number considering we picked off Philly three times. The Eagles reeled off 72 offensive plays to our 51 offensive plays.
Thank Eli all you want for last week's win. But this much is true; of Victor Cruz' two TD catches, one came on Philly's gaffe. And the other two touchdown passes thrown by Eli Manning went to Jacobs and Bradshaw. The Giant backfield carried the offense. Eli rode their backs.
But the true underlying reasons why we won last week lie on the other side of the ball however. Perry Fewell's Defense forced Philly into kicking three field goals; picked off Philly QB's three times; knocked Michael Vick out of the game; and had three sacks to offset the woeful gap in time of possession.
It's all tied in. That's why Kevin Gilbride must continue to do better. He did well last week. It was a start. In creativity, Coach got better. In clock management, the minutes speak for themselves.
But while we're at it, applaud Perry Fewell's job against Philly last week. The Offense is relatively healthy when compared to what the Defense has suffered through, and to all three layers of the unit.
Last week Philly ran the ball right through us. We need that shored up by Sunday afternoon. But the biggest test will be Arizona's Kevin Kolb and Larry Fitzgerald against our Secondary. Missing Terrell Thomas and Prince Amukamara, they are the most battered unit of Big Blue's defense. The last thing we need is for Kolb and Fitzgerald lighting up the Arizona sky, not to mention Aaron Ross and company.
Consistency remains the Secondary's challenge. And if they can follow up last week's performance with another stingy day, the Giants Defense can then outlast another week of injuries, and get a week closer to health.
Perry Fewell must design another scheme of packages to keep what they're doing a mystery. We already know well he likes to bring the blitz from the outside. If I know it, imagine what the Cardinals know. Coach needs to figure out a new way to keep Fitzgerald from finding open space and giving Kolb little time to find him. Fitzgerald is one of those singular factor types of receivers; like Steve Smith of the Panthers. No matter what you do, they are factoring in big-time against you.
When the Giants were 0-1, Fans were pushing each other out of the way trying to get to the nearest ledge, or, calling for Tom Coughlin's and Jerry Reese's head. Then we got by the Rams and beat the Eagles. Entering Sunday's game against the Cardinals, the papers have the Giants listed first in the NFC East.
The Giants can seize a pretty big early season moment by gaining a measure of control on the division this week. There can be no let downs. There can be no giving away this game. This game and next week against the Seahawks are games the Giants need to execute wisely and play smartly in. In order to make December matter, these are the games you have to win in order to keep any measure of control in your own hands. They still have everything they need to get by these next two weeks on the field already. Injuries are no excuse.
In relation to our season, we can't let this game get all alien on us and turn into a case of a Mysterious Phoenix Night. Kevin Gilbride must keep things Big and Blue. Perry Fewell can bail him out only so many times.