Monday, September 16, 2013

N.Y. Giants: No Running Game Is Kevin Gilbride's Happy Zone

From the desk of:   DO IT FOR THE DUKE

NEW YORK FOOTBALL GIANTS: Offensively Speaking, Everything Is Relative.  This Sunday However, Will Test Coach Kevin Gilbride's Creativity.

I'm not going to jump all over Eli for seven interceptions in two weeks, not when he, Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz have been a virtual three man wrecking crew.  Over the last two weeks, the three have been largely responsible for 804 yards of total offense.  Granted, interceptions are just another way of saying the Giants shot themselves in the foot - twice.  But they clearly have major issues that are affecting their greater game.

The more you ask Eli to throw the ball, the greater risk interceptions become.  Why is he being asked the throw this much?  Start with the backfield, of course.  An injury to Andre Brown left the Giants depleted while David Wilson took a major step backwards instead of rushing forward.  And if Brandon Jacobs was woefully ineffective in 2011, there was no reason to expect anything from him in Week Two. 

I spoke about balance heading into Week One.  Although Coach Coughlin imposed the situation after David Wilson's two fumbles, the offensive scales are all off.  In Game One, Eli threw forty-two passes, while the Giants only ran the ball twelve times.  In game Two, Eli threw the ball forty-nine times, while they ran the ball nineteen times.

The foot bone is connected to the ankle bone.  Right?  The running game can't get going because the offensive line has been pedestrian, if not unremarkable.  Due to their performance, or lack there of, the rushing game has been stopped at the point of attack.  I was surprised when the Giants started James Brewer in Week One over Jim Cordle.  As a unit, they allowed Dallas to sack Eli three times, and hit him another five.  On the ground, the O-Line opened up few holes for the beleaguered backfield, which resulted (minus Eli's eight yards)  in only forty-two yards rushing.  In Game Two, center David Baas returned to action, and the running game did even worse.  The running game barely averaged one yard per carry.  They gained twenty-three yards all game.  While pass protecting, Eli was sacked one time, but was hit an additional seven times throughout the game by Denver.

While I still feel David Baas is too small at center, he has good stretches.  Sunday wasn't one of them.  Otherwise, the Giants did manage add some size to the line this season, and can now potentially throw five guys out there who all weigh over 300 pounds.  Overall experience, health and technique are other matters.  Jim Cordle and James Brewer were never starters before.  Veteran David Diehl missed his second week.  Will Beatty is a better pass protector than run blocker.  I have no individual beefs with Chris Snee's or Kevin Boothe's play, and for now, Justin Pugh seems to be going about his business.  Perhaps there is hope for this very average bunch yet, as they have one of the best offensive line coaches in all the NFL - Pat Flaherty.  Once they improve, David Wilson's game will improve as well.

You know me, I love to blame Kevin Gilbride...for anything.  But he currently deserves none of it.  When he has the personnel to get back in offensive balance, I'll get back to criticizing play selection.  Right now, we happen to need Coach Gilbride's aggressive style.  Remember what Bill Parcells once told Phil Simms before a big game, and I paraphrase - If you don't throw two interceptions today, it's because you weren't being aggressive enough.  No one attempts more yardage per pass play than Simon Bar Sinister himself, Kevin Gilbride.  He must feel like a kid in Disney World right now with full run of the place.  The bottom line is, he still needs a viable running game, and after a decade together with Eli, Coach better insure his playbook stays creative enough to keep the league honest.

Moving forward, two people need to relax - David Wilson and Tom Coughlin.  David Wilson went to an extreme against Denver in trying to hold on to the ball.  He just needs to ease-up a bit, and get back to being an athlete instead of a robot.  Coach needs to work with Wilson, not against him, because very simply, Wilson is the only plan the Giants have.  It's fine for Coach to drill him in ball security, but he also needs to keep his inexperienced running back in a positive frame of mind too.  The hope here is three weeks will be all it takes for them to finally find common ground.


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