Saturday, December 31, 2011

N.Y. Giants ~ Defense; There's Beauty in Simplicity

From the desk of:   DO IT FOR THE DUKE

NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL:  Yes; There is Beauty in Simplicity.   But There's an NFC East Title to be Won With Defensive Agression.

POST:  N.Y. Giants - Romo's Hand?  Victory May Rest in Kevin Gilbride's Hands

Let's make something perfectly clear.  The Jets did much to make the Giants Defense look good last week.  They employed a bizarre game plan that didn't involve exploiting the Giants' Secondary.  Rather, the Jets did everything to highlight their own flaws and put them on full display.  The few times Marc Sanchez attempted to go down field, he heaved-up up several dying quails that were easily intercepted.  The old guy from the Benny Hill Show could have intercepted those passes.  And interspersed among thirty other in-completed pass attempts, Sanchez was busy taxing his compromised Offensive Line and giving the Giants pass rush plenty of time to get their hands on him. 

So as you'd now expect, I caution my fellow Giant Fan - last week was not a game from which to draw false hope.  This Defense still has the problems it's had for two years running.  And if they're not careful, Tony Romo and the Cowboys can make the Giants look silly on so many levels. 

That's precisely the way the Giants don't want to end their season.  As I stated last week before the Jets game, - I am pretty much through with logistics.  That stuff is strategy and plotting through the season.  Those are weekly issues with full knowledge another game awaits the following week.  The Giants have no such reassurances this week.  This is the end of the regular season.  If they don't win, while on the one hand going home to their families for the Winter sounds wholesome and Americana'ish, the other hand is some players and even coaches will be asked to stay there and not return.  Such as life in the NFL.  Such as life for a NY team. 

In losing seven games this season; at least three of them very inexplicably; the Giants have chummed their own waters off the Hudson.  There will be a Media feeding frenzy awaiting the Giants just beyond some curtain in a room within the bowels of Blue Life-or-Death Stadium; for then it will have been three straight seasons Big Blue misses the playoffs.  That's a nice chunk of meat to start sinking their teeth into and probably only the beginning.  People need to be held accountable for some of the things we saw this season.  And the not so funny thing is that organizations, the Media, and Fans all have a different way of going about that.

I said such as life in the NFL?  Then a win changes everything it seems.  It always does.  A win not only saves the season, it will most likely save jobs also.  And even then, I'd have to do an awful lot of combing over the deficiencies of this team of which there are many.  The short list of who to blame has already been drawn up.  At this point, the only question is if names will get added to it.

But low and behold, the Giants have one more game.  Sunday night we all get to find out if the New York Football Giants are a playoff team.  No one really cares much how you get there, just as long as you're there.  The late great Wellington "The Duke" Mara once stood upon a hastily constructed TV podium at the fifty yard line on a field of green painted mud..., and sarcastically chided the Media, and proudly hailed his 2000 team as the worst team ever to win the NFC Championship...!  That was the late Mr. Mara's last truly great moment as owner of the team his dad founded back in the 1920's.

The era that ended on the night Scott Norwood missed wide right has since ushered in four head coaches.  The Giants tried the in-house thing with Ray Handley.  They then tried the established NFL coach approach with Dan Reeves.  The Giants moved on with an off-campus - thinking out of the box type hire in Jim Fassel. 

Then with the hiring of Tom Coughlin, the Giants made a return to their roots.  Wellington Mara liked Coach Coughlin very much.  Tom Coughlin was part of the old regime here when they won Super Bowls under Bill Parcells.  Today there are three of them; -  three Vince Lombardi Trophies won via the Bill Parcells/Tom Coughlin Laws of Football.  That is not a coincidence.

In that spirit,  It's time to DO IT FOR THE DUKE.

The reputation this organization has long maintained was built on the defensive side of the ball.  It was true of the 1986 and 1990 teams.  It was the Defense which shut-out the Vikings on that field of green painted mud back in the 2000 NFC Championship.  Then the return to defensive dominance  culminated in the organization's third trophy in 2007.

In 2007, Kevin Gilbride was the Offensive Coordinator.  And since he's been to the mountain top with us, it's with a heavy heart I turn to him this week and plead for clock management and ball control through the run.  Of course Eli will throw his share of passes.  That's not only a given, it's needed indeed.  But I beg for the smash-mouth aspects of the Giants' attack to make a mark on this game in order to minimize Tony Romo's and Dallas' big play ability to overly affect the game.

Perry Fewell's defense is still suspect.  And as a long time Giants fan with several decades worth of mental reference to draw from, no Giants' team in my recollection ever accomplished much when the Offense was the more dominant unit of the team.  For all my lifetime, Giants' success has been solidly built on Defense.  Less offensively talented Giants teams have outscored the likes of the mighty 49ers; Broncos; Bills; Green Bay; and the Patriots; in the biggest games in the organization's history.  But they were able to do so, because the Defense put them in positions to do so.

There is no such dynamic at work between the Giants' Offense and the Defense this season.  They are an inharmonious, and an uncomplimentary team.  One unit is usually forced into bailing out the other -  Or worse yet, logistically speaking, conspiring against each other.

Number one, the Offense is too slow to the line.  Too many time-outs have been used because the play clock ran out.  The play needs to get in and the players need to be ready.  That comes from the coach.  Second, the three-and-outs are putting the Defense in harms way.  Too many needless pass attempts and questionable play calling inevitably result in not spending enough time on the field.  The Offense is losing the time-of-possession game.  In my last post, I explained how I think Kevin Gilbride needs to win this game for the Giants, because Perry Fewell's unit is as of right now, unreliable.

The Defense has mostly suffered from mass confusion in the Secondary.  We know.  Untold points have been scored against the Giants as a result of busted coverage; and worse yet, no coverage at all.  Over two season under Perry Fewell, what's become evident is that Aaron Ross, Corey Webster; Antrel Rolle, and Deon Grant; those four in particular; and include their coaches Peter Giunta and David Merrit; clearly do no grasp what Coach Fewell is teaching.  Those four players and their subordinate coaches have been together for a time exceeding Perry Fewell's tenure as Giants  Defensive Coordinator.  So, isn't it safe to deduce that which ails the unit is the leader himself?

All I'm going to say about that is:  SIMPLICITY.  There's beauty in simplicity.  There's another saying for that - Keep it simple stupid!  At some point you have to give up on what hasn't worked, and go back to what you do best.  I'd say the last game of the season, - a do or die game for the NFC East title is a good time. 

In the Secondary's case, Tony Romo will no doubt try to exploit them.  And he has the arm for it.  So  let the guys play man and just let them be Football players.  And bump them off the line please?  Yes, physicality plays a large part in this too...thank you.  But just let them play without too much to think about.  Just let them run around and keep an eye on their man.  We can not have two defenders looking at each other again and have them both claim to be in the correct spot; not when twenty five yards away there's a guy in the end zone with the ball and doing a little dance with his team mates.  Not in this game.  Play it that way because clearly, no one understands the new zone coverages and all it's built in options and I have no reason to believe they'll learn by Sunday.

Otherwise, everything else is elementary Watson.  Make sure we have the right linebacker covering Jason Witten.  Then let the other linebackers do what they've done since high school, which is plugging holes against the run, covering backs out of the back field, and help rush the passer. 

No!  Better yet... Here's an idea, make the backfield engage the Linebackers in their back field when we blitz!  C'mon Coach.  You have to unleash a blitz at some point.  The Cowboys have a quarterback with a compromised wrist.  He's going to be very protective of it.  And just because Romo's wrist might feel fine Sunday morning, with one shot, he's right back at square one, if not worse off.  So they have to get after him.

Perry Fewell has done very little however in the way of disguising anything really.  There have been no Safety blitzes; Linebackers; none of that.  He's been overly concerned with coverages and relying on his four man front to supply all the pass rushing.  It's not a terribly wrong way to compensate for a flawed Secondary, but when you play a team twice in a season, so close together like the Cowboys and Giants are playing, you have to change things up.  And what Perry Fewell hasn't been lately, or much at all this season, is aggressive.  Maybe that's exactly the kind of change needed for this particular game.  If you remember, we barely escaped Dallas with a victory, thanks in part to a ball lost in the lights.

Osi might play, and if he can spell Justin Tuck and JJP at times, and is healthy enough to get inserted together with them from time to time, the Giants will have a distinct advantage.  And if Chris Canty and Dave Tollefson continue to raise their games like they've been, even better for the G-Men.

I'd rather lose this game and rest easier knowing I went all out trying to get at Tony Romo than if we adhere to a much more conservative plan.  We know Tuck, Osi, and JPP and others like Kiwanuka can bring pressure upon quarterbacks.  That's a given.  But my question is how well will Coach Fewell enhance their abilities to rush the passer.  How well will he compliment their effort?  How confident is Coach Fewell if he throws numbers at Romo, that we can get to him before he gets off a pass or breaks the pocket?  All I can say is nothing ventured - nothing gained.  If we were meant to die because of the Secondary...let's die with the Secondary then.  But all I know is that we need to make the pocket, and the Box, a dangerous place for him to be.

In keeping things simple, Perry Fewell is also going to have to take chances.  In football, aggression shouldn't be considered taking risks at all.  In football, it's a way of life.  And Giants' History by the way, is based on it.

I've asked Coach Gilbride to really put on his thinking cap for this one.  I think his unit can play a larger role towards securing a win.  Perry Fewell's unit however has repeatedly shown they can do little to prevent a loss.  See Eli manning on that one.  So, if your back is up against the wall, you damn well better go down swinging.  No?

And if the Giants Defense rises to the occasion with a superlative effort, well then, they'll look like heroes.



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