Friday, December 16, 2011

N.Y. Giants ~ Answers on Defense are Few or Injured

From the desk of:   DO IT FOR THE DUKE

NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL:  What's a Defensive Coordinator to Do?

There was a certain would-be pick-six early in the game against Eli but was dropped by Dallas.  And then there was a Tony Romo pass that got lost in the lights that would have went for another certain touchdownBut luckily in the end, Jason Pierre Paul rose up just in the nick of time to block a potential game winning field goal against the Cowboys.  Otherwise, the Giants were seconds away from having to deal with a fifth straight defeat and kissing this year's playoff aspirations good-bye, as well as having another log thrown on the fire of successive late season failures.

The Giants have Eli Manning; Jason Pierre Paul; Hakeem Nicks; Victor Cruz; Tom Coughlin; Mathias Kiwanuka; Jake Ballard; and Steve Weatherford - the punter! - in that order, to thank for putting the team in the position they are in today.  In the absence of an effective running game and a wholly unresolved situation on the Offensive Line, the fact of the matter is Coach Gilbride, Eli, Nicks, Cruz, and Ballard have supplied the Giants with enough points to have won more games than they have this season.  Eli has managed to outplay the deficiencies with the running game.  And furthermore, problems on the Offensive Line weren't the root cause for huge gaffes on Defense. 

Before I get to that - to my utter dismay, not once did I mention Kevin Gilbride as being a problem.  I even stupefied myself on that one after I put his rump squarely on the hot seat to begin the season.  But as things progressed since Week One up to the present time, it is his counter-part; Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell; who's posterior is getting toasty on the hot seat instead.

Blame a veteran Secondary for that; then a slew of injuries; no depth at Linebacker; a dormant pass-rush; and a sudden fear of blitzing on the part of the Defensive Coordinator as the reasons why the Giants aren't better.  With a mere 7-6 record this season, they're lucky to still be flirting with first place.  And sadly, in the face of great Giant Tradition, it's fair to pin the blame for another troublesome season on the Defense.  But along with some extenuating circumstances of course.

The Secondary was supposed to be featuring Terrell Thomas, Prince Amukamara, and Kenny Phillips in prominent roles by now.  That clearly has not happened largely due to injuries.  And Michael Coe was recently added to the list of injured players as well.  So what they have been left with are the old guard Secondary veterans - Corey Webster; Aaron Ross; Antrel Rolle; and Deon Grant.  The fact that the four players are indeed veterans; unlike rookie Tyler Sash; is the most startling affront regarding their collective failure.  You would think that these four players, who are no strangers to each other after having played together for some time, just might be on the same page of music by now.

The woes of the Failing Foursome started in Week One against Washington and have continued consistently throughout the season, and all the way through last week's game against the Cowboys.  If I've characterized the Secondary before, add the word INEPT to the lexicon.  Why, for two consecutive seasons has the Secondary either lost, or never had the ability to communicate on the field?  The lapses in coverage have been getting ghastlier by the week and the craters being left behind by opposing quarter-backs continually throwing bombs against us is skyrocketing towards near catastrophic proportions.  I say near catastrophic, because near every team's secondary is getting lit up for insane yardage and points this season.

Corey Webster and Aaron Ross were never this bad under Coach Spags.  Then again, back then they were twenty-four and twenty-three years old respectively.  Today, Webster is 29 years old and Ross is 28 years old.  Is Father Time speeding past them into the end zone already?  They are seven and five year veterans now with both having had three common Defensive Coordinators in their time with the Giants.  The constants for both players have been Corners Coach Peter Giunta; since 2006; and Safety Coach, David Merritt; also since the 2006 season.  So the point is, the four individuals have all been together for some time now.  So I'll reference Coach Spags again.  Was he the difference between the Secondary being good, then after his departure becoming horrifically bad?  Maybe.  But that's all theoretical/hypothetical.  Because right now, the Secondary looks like a bunch of fifth graders trying to play zone coverage.  That's real and now and something Perry Fewell, not Coach Spags, needs to figure out over these next three weeks..

Getting beat on man-coverage is one thing.  How miscommunication in zone coverage between the Safety and Corners are leaving receivers literally ALL ALONE is another.  And yet, that's not all.  Slot receivers have been playing our coverage like a veritable nickelodeon.  And frankly, the five cent game films have been appalling.  If you gave Antrel Rolle the other team's playbook and a scooter, he still couldn't keep the slot receiver close.

The situation at Linebacker only exasperates the Defensive situation.  Let's face it, Chase Blackburn was asked to come back out of desperation.  Jonathan Goff and Clint Sintim were lost for the season.  Rookies Spencer Paysinger and Mark Herzlich did not play against Dallas.  And the defensive QB; Michael Boley; has played infrequently, and apparently will be compromised the rest of the way.  That leaves the Giants with their other two rookies; Greg Jones, and Jacquian Williams; to hold down the fort along with Mathias Kiwanuka, who thank goodness, has been a season long force.

There's all the reason we need to know why Perry Fewell has been so hesitant to blitz and why he's been throwing seven and eight men in coverage lately.

Up front, Justin Tuck hasn't been the same Tuck we're accustomed to seeing all season long.  He's never been right since suffering a neck stinger.  And at present, he now has a toe injury to contend with.  Osi Umenyiora was been of little use to us as well.  With those two players missing alone, the three and four man rush Coach Fewell has been employing just hasn't been getting it done; save Jason Pierre Paul who has been nothing short of an absolute beast.  Jason Pierre Paul and Mathias Kiwanuka have teamed up to very literally carry this Defense all season.

But with two of our three best pass rushers out of this week's game; a paper thin and inexperienced Linebacking Corp., and a Secondary suffering through a fundamental breakdown, what is a Defensive Coordinator to do? 

Injuries and the Secondary have conspired to limit our pass rush.  The latest scheme allows receivers to shake loose in spite of seven and eight men in coverage.  The quarterback is getting way too much time in or out of the pocket allowing a receiver to eventually break free.  And as we witnessed with Aaron Rogers, gaping holes will appear in the middle of the field for the QB to run through should he decide to.

The Offense has given us plenty of reason to not be overly concerned about their ability to put up points.  And Eli has proven he can dial it up when the team needs it most.  But the Defense isn't being so kind to us.  They've been down right scary, and have Fans terrified.


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