Tuesday, January 10, 2012

N.Y. Giants ~ A Big Line of Contention

From the desk of:   DO IT FOR THE DUKE

NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL:   Big Blue Thinks Running Game is "All Right" by Them.

POST:  Victory Over Atlanta; a N. Y. Reintroduction to Giants Football

Hark!  What romp through yonder gridiron breaks?  It is the rush, as Chris Snee and Kareem McKenzie continue to be the sun.  For there is an abundant supply of Daylight on the right side of the Giants' Offensive Line.


For whatever consecutive weeks now (excuse me..., all season long), the Giants have done their best running behind the right side of the Line.  Between Right Guard Chris Snee and on either side of Right Tackle Kareem McKenzie,  Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw continue to find big holes and proceed to rush through them with power.  It's the other side of the O-Line that has slowed the running game down, and the quagmire started at Center, not with Left Tackle Will Beatty.

If you've been following DO IT FOR THE DUKE - You know the following things:

*  Ever Since David Baas lost time due to concussion symptoms, and the Offensive Line was reconfigured with Mitch Petrus at Left Guard, and Kevin Boothe sliding over to center, I have begged, if not screamed to keep that combination together.

*  You know I've been harping about the Giants' inability to run the ball off-Center when David Baas plays.  Problem is, he's the free-agent big money import.  He's going to play.

*  And you also know I've long been saying the Giants have had their most success running the ball this season behind Chris Snee, and Kareem McKenzie, who incidentally is having a phenomenal season run blocking.

While David Baas continues to get a free pass by the real people who cover the team, or others who just write about Football professionally, they've finally stumbled upon the fact the Giants run the ball very well behind Snee and Big Mac.  As if.

For starters, these are the same experts who long ago pronounced Brandon Jacobs a has-been.  They mocked his supposedly depleted ability to run a football, and continually pointed to the fact the Giants owned the worst running game in the League without knowing why, other than to wildly blame Jacobs; harp on the dicier aspects of his personality; and to simply say the O-Line has been horrible.  I swear, if some people on the radio didn't read the papers as show prep, they'd have less than a clue as to what they were talking about.  But I guess it's playoff time now and so they actually have to take their ride off cruise control as Giants football is the only talk in town right now (...along with the Rangers that is!).  And low and behold, they saw how well the Giants ran behind the right side of the Line.

I think to myself sometimes  -  I do this for fun?  And I have to remind myself  -  Yes, I do.  Never-the-less, it's time to kick this conversation up a notch being as the locusts will be looking for more to much on.  You like apples guys?  Try these apples.

Here's the proof in the pudding that validates everything I've railed about this season regarding the running game and about who should be, or not be playing on the Offensive Line:

Versus Atlanta....

*  The Giants rushed LEFT nine times for thirty-one yards.   3.4 average gain.

*  The Giants rushed UP THE MIDDLE eight times for thirty-one yards.   3.4 average gain.

*  The Giants rushed RIGHT thirteen times for one hundred-one yards.   7.8 average gain.

On the Left, David Diehl was up against John Abraham.  Remember he slid over from Guard to play Left Tackle again, due to the original injury to Will Beatty that necessitated adjustments to the line.  Diehl had his hands full Sunday.  He was called for two uncharacteristic holding penalties that are occurring a little more frequently lately.  Diehl allowed Abraham to record the only Atlanta sack of the game but only let him touch Eli one other time. 

Run Blocking however, the Left side of Diehl and Kevin Boothe at Guard was the only portion of the Line to give up plays for negative yardage; - Minus two yards a pop, twice.  Then tack on two more plays that went for No Gain.

Up the Middle, David Baas' pass protection was solid.  But four more rushing plays went for No Gain!  And one holding penalty highlighted David Baas' day.  However the math speaks for itself.  To the Left of Center there were six plays that went for No Gain and two more plays went for negative yardage.  While to the Right, there was only one play that resulted in No Gain.  When Mitch Petrus played Guard and Boothe was at Center, that tar pit in the middle solidified and became firm running ground again.  Very simply, Boothe and Petrus are both bigger than Baas.  And Diehl, Petrus, and Boothe played much more cohesively together in Baas' absence than with him.

The Right side needed no such help from Center.  First a quick mention that Chris Snee was also called for a penalty.  That made four of the seven Giants' penalties against the O-Line.  But back to run blocking, the only play that went for No Gain occurred during the Giants' very first possession of the game.  And of course, this side of the Line was where all the Daylight was.

Of the Giants' running plays that went for fives yards or more, here is your break down:

*  LEFT - Three Plays ~ eight yards; eight yards; fourteen yards.

* MIDDLE - Two Plays ~ ten yards; fifteen yards.

* RIGHT - Four Plays ~ thirty four yards; thirty yards; seven yards; nine yards.  And they didn't need any help from Center.

The Giants pulled the Guard and Tackle on many plays which was another nice wrinkle by Kevin Gilbride.  Coach pulled them from Left to Right knowing where his bread was getting buttered.  And I'll also credit him for the creativity.  But none of that would have been necessary if the free agent Center was watching on the sidelines.  I'm not calling him a scrub.  He's not.  Maybe he needed a season to acclimate, and deal with injury.  I'm just saying there was an O-Line combination that over three games showed themselves to be more effective at running the ball.

Don't let last game fool you.  Don't you think the Packers figured this out about the Giants by now?  And that they'll be planning for it?  Granted, I think we'll be able to run the ball effectively against them regardless, just as we've been able to for a few weeks now.  But I'd like the Giants to take the step towards strengthening that Left side.  A large part of Smash Mouth is not necessarily about play selection and schemes, so much it's about being stronger than the guy in front of you.

Looking back with an eye on next Sunday, maybe..., if we're running the ball well, Eli throws one less pass against Green Bay the last time we played and doesn't get an interception returned for a touchdown.  Maybe if we were running the ball better and letting a pounding running game have an accumulative effect and getting first downs in the fourth quarter, we don't kick the ball back to Green Bay with too much time on the clock.  Then they don't return said kick to midfield and set themselves up for an easy field goal and the win.

Eli's Big Blue Ariel Crew has already demonstrated they can score against Green Bay.  The Giants can not only score against Green Bay's defense, they can perhaps score often against them.  But without a sound and powerful running game, we will never be able to gain a measure of control.  An effective running game will reduce the number of times we put the football in Aaron Rodgers' hands.  Then the plan is to let the Defense do the rest.  But if you noticed against the Falcons, the Giants' running game ultimately had them quit on the field.

Solidify the Left, and let's continue to run for daylight with power in Green Bay.


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