NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
East Division Title Game
NEW YORK GIANTS
NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL: Kevin Gilbride is the Key to Powering Up a GIANT Win and Limiting Romo's Chances of Exploiting Our Secondary.
When Center David Baas missed time to injury and Kevin Boothe moved to Center and Mitch Petrus filled in at Left Guard, running holes suddenly opened up the middle that previously were not there before with Baas playing. Prior to Baas being sidelined, the Line assignments were breaking down causing Jacobs to get met at, or behind the line of scrimmage. Not even Bradshaw broke through. The Offensive Line's push/surge forward never....pushed. They got pushed instead. But the fans chose to focus their ire on Jacobs forgetting Shaun O'Hara and Rich Suebert were longer opening up holes for him (them) and because he generally has a big mouth. But everyone likes the way he dealt with Rex Ryan last week right?! Don't be a hypocrite! I digress.
But since the most recent in-season O-Line shake-up, yes, the running game improved substantially with 100+ yards games to show for it. However, regardless of the situation at Center, the Giants have run their best football outside the Guards, and off-Tackle in particular. Yet for the longest, Kevin Gilbride kept insisting on running off Center. Last week's game against the Jets was no different. Gilbride tried going off Center with Baas reinserted into the line-up. And once again there was very little to be had there with only Bradshaw managing to bust a run up the gut on the play he destroyed the Jets' Brodney Pool on.
Gilbride seemingly may be catching on now. Last week, Bradshaw's; Jacobs', and Ware's biggest gains, and most important rushes of the day all game outside the Guards and off-Tackle. But they didn't come till the second half. For after several games of 100+ yard results , Kevin Gilbride started the Redskins game with seventeen passes and only five rushing attempts in the first half. And against the Jets? He did the same thing. For a majority of the first half, the score remained 10-3 Giants. So why on Earth was Gilbride calling for 17+ passes and rushing the ball a mere seven times? After prior success, for two consecutive first halves, the answer is he ignored what worked. Last week Eli completed seven passes all game. Yet for too long Coach persisted until turning to the run in the second half more. The week prior against the Skins, he very literally waisted the entire third quarter trying to establish (not re-establish!) the run after a mere five first half rushes.
Let's assume Tony Romo's hand will be fine Sunday. The best way to beat the Cowboys is still to keep the ball out of his hands. The best way to do that is by possessing the ball ourselves. Look..., clearly Eli, Nicks, Cruz, and even Ballard are not who they are today ( I say that loosely) without Gilbride dialing up a lion's share of plays for them. And quite frankly I get this is an uber-passing League now. But with so many quick strike touchdowns, we're giving the opposition too many opportunities with ample time left to make life very unpleasant.
I'm just saying the name of the game against Dallas should be first downs. Third down conversions have been a big, big problem. The growing number of three-down-and-out possessions borders on alarming now. The Offense is making Steve Weatherford look like a star. And many of those possessions have been pass intensive; or worst, Gilbride chooses to run on second and long. But that's neither here nor there. The Offense needs first downs, because even though the Giants are capable of scoring in the high-twenties or even breaking thirty points Sunday night, the fact remains, Gilbride's pass happy offense leaves the other team entirely too much time with which to work with. Then the game becomes a battle of who has the ball last. And for the most part this season, Eli has nearly mastered that aspect; albeit needlessly. And I say needlessly because of all the time the Defense is made to spend on the field. The Giants have been losing the time-of-possession battles. That's a fact.
All I'm asking for is a little ball control and better clock management coach. I don't mind Gilbride taking chances early in the game; or late; or whenever. It's nice to work with a lead; especially against the Cowboys. But at some point during the first quarter, Gilbride needs to show a willingness to run the ball with meaningful power. This time, he can not afford to blow an entire half and wait until the second half to run to daylight. No; not this game. Because this game is most definitely the last game if we don't get things churning forward and making sure the clock is our ally.
Because here's the deal. Tony Romo can do exactly what Aaron Rogers, Drew Brees, Alex Smith, and what Rex Grossman did twice to the Giants this season; and that is absolutely destroy our Secondary. We are not playing Marc Sanchez this week who made our Secondary seem buttoned up and tight as a clam. The Jets never really tried going down field on us. Romo will no doubt go vertical and over the top on us. He'll definitely be putting up rainbows for Dez Bryant and company hoping to catch that little pot-o-pigskin worth six points a pop. And whether I hate the Cowboys or not the fact remains, they can score in a hurry when they need to.
Even as Giant fans hear that Justin Tuck, JPP, Tollefson, and a returning Osi may all wind up on the Line across from Romo together for the first time in a long time, the fact is Romo can shake and bake long enough to make even the best downfield coverage fall apart. And like I said in my last posting, Tony Romo throws the ball with his body contorted in all kinds of crazy positions while on the run no less, and still gets off passes with strength and accuracy. It drives me crazy! And here's problem number two I see about that. If Jason Witten takes Michael Boley along for a trot down field, Romo will have the entire middle of the field all to himself.
So you see, of all people I thought the Giants would have to rely on this season to be the smartest guy on the field this Sunday, I honestly didn't think it would have been Coach Gilbride. After all, I put him on my Hot Seat back in September. Here we are none the less. And we need him to come up with an effective plan to run the ball behind our best Offensive Linemen, and then set Coach free to do what he and Eli work out together. But make the running game matter. Three-and-outs that take all of 1:08 off the clock and are like torpedoes into the bow of the best laid plans; at least against the good QB's of the League. So if by holding on to the ball by making a concerted effort to get ourselves in third-and-short situations, then execute and ride first downs...., cool.
The more Kevin Gilbride; not Perry Fewell; can limit the opportunities Tony Romo gets to attack our Secondary the better our chances are of winning. That's right, I'm saying Marc Sanchez is not the right QB to gaining false confidence from. He was simply not up to the task. And Perry Fewell's new-fangless- twilight zone coverage-New Jersey devil's trap-....or what ever it is, clearly isn't something Aaron Ross, Corey Webster; the Safeties; Coach Peter Giunta; and Coach David Merritt are understanding very well. And against Tony Romo, it can easily turn nto - here we go again. Don't forget..., last game was won because of the stadium lights...riiiight, and because of JPP's giant hand.
So now the cat is out of the bag. Help us Kevin Gilbride. You're the only one who can save the Giants from our Secondary getting burnt like breakfast toast in Hell's kitchen. Get first downs. Keep the Offense on the field for 38:00 minutes and score some points. Of course we are going to pass the ball. It's what has delivered us to this very game and moment. Of course I don't want to muzzle Kevin Gilbride's passing game. Just trust the run and keep Dallas having to stop it. We know which components of our Offensive Line work best and how. So be smart, creative, and throw hell at them. But don't get too cocky like is your want, and Run With Power Man.
C'mon Dude, you need to bail your fellow coordinator out this week. The NFC East Title or nothing, depends on it.
A defensive point of view and more about Perry Fewell is coming in my next post. Check it out.
POST SCRIPT ~ Stuff that wasn't supposed to make it, but I left in anyway:
Perhaps this is the game I've been waiting all season for. No; I hope this is the game. You know, the one where Tony Romo breaks Dallas' heart and that of greater Texas in the only way they know how out there - In a BIG way with a total fail effort, then goes on TV wearing that taxi cab's hat and recounts how he blew the game and takes total responsibility. I love that part. Anyway, I've been waiting patiently. But, perchance to dream; - it hasn't come yet. Today, a buddy of mine said Romo already had that game. He said it came against the Jets. In Week One I asked? Yeah, he said. I pondered that for the rest of the day. And here I am.
Did he really get that out of his system in Week One? Is this the season Tony Romo finally comes through for the Cowboys and their fans? If it that happens against us, you know what's going to happen around here...don't you?