This Sunday night, the Gmen face off vs the Eagles.
Up until now, Big Blue faced the first seminal moment in 2010 ~7 weeks ago. Antrel Rolle stirred the pot and it worked. We all know that the Giant brass was not happy that Rolle went public with his anger and frustration. I was surprised and relieved at the way the situation was handled.
The Giants, instead of disintegrating, came together. We noted that Eli, Tuck, Rolle and the rest of the team seemed to take the shackles off and begin to have some fun. Rolle complained that playing for the Giants was without joy. He complained that the atmosphere around this team was comparable to prison. How did the organization respond?
The defense under Fewell began to play with abandon within a system. The coach seemed to listen to his players and instead of being punitive he let them “have some fun.”
The result was an aggressive slant using pressure, some creative scheming (Grant as a quasi linebacker,Tuck dropping off the line, db blitz packages, and Osi set free to do what he does best).
The Giants responded. The offense was not leading this renewal.. it was a pressure defense along with consistent intensity that took the Giants out. Osi got eight sacks (/7 sack strips) in 5 weeks. Grant spent more time in the opposition's backfield than defending against the pass. Cofield was playing his most consistent, effective football in his career. Goff began to play like the player we hoped he would be. Boley played very well. Tuck is not having his best season but is still effective and with the pressure game the “cover two” worked. The team not only beat teams, they dismembered the opposing quarterbacks.
The Giants went from a bad team into a team many experts called the best in the NFC. As recently as a few days before the Dallas game Fewell had risen to “the next head coach” of several teams. The Giants went into Seattle and blew them up, although the score did not reflect a “no sack-little pressure" game.
The gmen played the Cowboys again at home last week and got beat. The Cowboys had a new head coach and intensity but that is not what upset this observer. The Giants were flat, made numerous errors and blew a bunch of scoring chances. But of most concern was the lack of pressure (no sacks) for the second week in a row. The end game was that the “cover two” was exposed for the flawed defense it is. Without pressure a 38 year old 2nd string quarterback threw for 350 yards and three touchdowns. Terrell Thomas played arguably his worst game as a Giant, Webster was abused and Rolle forgot his job. A Tampa two defense requires that the safeties take coverage on certain routes and ours just didn’t.
One could argue that if Rolle was guilty of anything, it was for being”too” aggressive. I suppose if you are going to play an awful game, being overly aggressive is the 'least worst' thing you can do. We wasted a very good game from Eli, who played well enough to win. We were definitively hurt by the injury bug, as Diehl, O’Hara and Koets were out. Of course the loss of Steve Smith was huge. That being said, we still should have won this game and we would be in a good place despite what ails us.
We get to play the Eagles in Philly on Sunday, and as was conjectured a long time ago this is a big game. The Giants need to win this game or the Eagles will leapfrog us into first place. To do that the defense must stop Michael Vick, who is arguably playing the best football of his career. Vick presents a myriad of problems, and as he showed on Monday, he is capable of beating a team by himself. I live in Atlanta and have watched Vick often. He is a better player now, a more mature player who beats you with his feet AND his arm.
The most important thing now is how we play, how our coaches and players respond, how Fewell plans to contain Vick and for the second time this year how passionate and hungry our players are when the hit the field.
Being down 20-7 in Dallas was a test. The Giants passed that test with resolve. This IS the next test, when we face another good QB. This game will finally give us a better idea of who we are. Did Mr. Fewell catch a few teams by surprise and become an open book, OR is he a top notch defensive coach who is capable of making ADJUSTMENTS? Yes, these are real questions, honest questions that need to be answered. This Giant team is a lot better than it had been. Fewell's ability to make adjustments, not only now, but when the next wrinkle appears, will determine how far the Giants go this year.
I want to make a special shout out to Shawn Andrews, who has been an effective, inspirational miracle man for us. He injured his back. This is a big blow to his comeback, the Giants and the fans. I don’t know how we scheme for this. It is a big blow.
We win this game with a good Eli putting up some points and an over the top effort by the whole team. We have to “contain” Vick and keep him in the pocket. This will require a “spy” and a defense playing with passion and intensity. This will require some real smart scheming from Fewell. The Eagles cannot run the ball and they have a tendency to give up a lot of points. Vick beat the “Skins”. The defense did not.