This week has been particularly interesting and rewarding for us as fans. Working with the other members of the staff at UltimateNYG has been valuable to getting more information about the developments of the Giants on and off the field. An exclusive interview with Justin Tuck here at the site plus another with Antrel Rolle courtesy of WFAN have been important pieces to put together a better understanding in where this team is and where it is going.
The Giants won a game away from home and at times looked like a playoff team. There were some outstanding individual efforts, but the word for today is TEAM.
I am still in the camp that wonders how the Giant defense has become dominant after the year of punishment we all watched.
Andy did an interview with Justin Tuck which was excellent. John Fennelly of SNY NY Giants Blog managed to tape it. Beyond the background noise a theme has developed. Tuck was intelligent, a little evasive but he stressed the Team concept. Andy asked about Goff and it was nice to get some insight into our middle linebacker. Tuck mentioned that Goff is a loner of sorts but he is extremely hard working. He said that Goff was intelligent and took the game to heart. He said that Goff watches more film than anyone and he calls a good game. One has to sort through the bravado and read between the lines.
Andy asked Tuck whether the Giants had a “tell.” A tell is when you have picked up something a team does basically tipping off what they are going to do. Tuck was evasive at first, but obviously the Giants knew what was coming throughout the first half. Who discovered the “tell,” what it was and whether it came from the films or another source is something we will never know.
The Giants, for the second week in a row, shut down the running game. This exposed Schaub for the middling Quarterback that he is. Andre Johnson got a few receptions amounting to 95 yard, but outside of that the Texans were manhandled. We talk a lot about the need for a running game for most teams to be competitive. The Colts, with Manning, are the exception that comes to mind. This year’s edition of BIG Blue has a lot of similarities. Eli had a great first half, as did the defense, so the game was essentially won by half time.
We have harped about the Receiver’s being the strength of this football team. Manning for the first time seemed to be reading this website, lol. The Giants were throwing short and into the flat. Nicks had a breakout game which was fun to watch. When the running game was impotent, Eli’s use of the short pass (5-15 yards) was a capable substitute. Not only does this control the ball and the clock, but it also allows Nicks more opportunities for the longer passes once the CBs are playing back in.
It is ironic that in an interview with ESPN, Eli said that he went off on his own, calling some of his own plays. Eli mentioned that he too had picked up a “tell” or two from film and exploited it. He noticed that the Texans would inch forward on pass defense, which he could take advantage of. The Texans have one of the worst defenses against the pass in the NFL. No one seems to have mentioned that anywhere that I noticed, but the Giants “GOT IT” and Eli exploited it.
The Giants threw about 65% to 70% in the third quarter. While we revel in the win one has to wonder why? Why throw it so much when you have a 21-3 lead? The incredible display of mindless strategy resulted in two interceptions, which thankfully did not hurt. I still ask who was calling those plays and why our “brain” trust let it happen.
I am still very concerned about the running game. We ran for just over a hundred yards and 23 of them came from Bradshaw on a broken play. I was surprised that Ahmad even played given that he was supposedly suffering from a severe ankle sprain. If he was hurt he did a masterful job of playing with pain. Jacobs played his best game so far but is hardly the player he was. Funny how we get excited when a man runs for 60 yards as opposed to the 100+ he gave us a couple of years ago.
The defense was outstanding. Tuesday was Rolle interview day and it was enlightening. Rolle was certainly a different guy than just two weeks ago but his explanation and Tuck’s response to the Subway crew was the same. They both said they were now having fun!! Rolle talked up his teammates and was particularly impressed with Goff. He said he knew very little about Goff coming in other than he was a big hitter. He complimented Goff on his evolution into a solid, smart MLB. He had praise for the D-line and his mates at DB but the part I found most interesting was his mention that they are using the “Press.” How many times have we said that pressure is the key? To his credit, Fewell is listening to his players. A better offensive output and a solid, sometimes spectacular pass rush made Schaub break rhythm and move outside his comfort zone.
It is my opinion that Osi is the guy most responsible for this change in attitude and intensity. I am surprised that few if any have pointed out his 5 sacks in two games, his constant pressure on the quarterback and his “strip” sacks that are so damaging. This is the same guy who most wanted to be traded or cut only a little while ago and who the coaches gave a “no confidence” vote to right up until now. I would argue that the play of Osi and the unheralded but very good Barry Cofield along with the play of Goff and Fewell’s ability to go away from the Tampa Two are the difference. I would argue that Osi has taken Strahan’s role as leader with his effort and intensity and I would not be surprised to hear he was now a presence in the locker room.
The last two weeks were a big change and Tennessee was a lot closer than the score. I am NOT however, ready to endorse these guys other than to say that the defense has been outstanding. Let's see what the Giants bring vs Detroit. In the Giants favor is the fact that Detroit hasn’t won on the road since Eisenhower was President.
The negatives are that we are so thin on OL and LB, our lack of depth at RB and tight end and our Special teams. Can Tynes deliver when the game is on the line? Will our rookie punter kick with consistency? Can we play a game with less than 9 or 10 penalties against us? Let's see the Giants play consistently and aggressive against Dallas, Washington and Philly. I cannot just forget last year’s 5-0 start and 8-8 season.
The big difference so far this year is on defense and the negative until proven wrong is the lack of offense, the special teams and the coaching staff. Fewell has impressed but I need to see more. Rolle said "I take back nothing from what I said three weeks ago.” Andy said after the Texans game that "there is reason to be excited." I will withhold judgment, believing it takes more than 2 games to change a year of bad play. Two guys saying”we are having fun?" That in and of itself is important. I also thought it curious that both praised Fewell but not a word about T.C.