Several weeks ago we were asking what happened to the Giants’ trademark. The tradition of Giant’s football is a stingy physical defense that stops the run and relies on a power running game to dictate the tempo of the game.
This past Sunday the 2011 Giants brought this back. They were physical against Turner, made a statement on 3rd and 4th and 1 both on defense and offense. They made receivers pay when crossing the middle of the field. We have seen signs of life with Fewell’s adjustments on defense but not a complete statement like they made this past Sunday in the run game.
A team that averaged 89 yards per game finished with 172 yards for a 5.5 yards per carry average. The last 3 games they have averaged over 100 yards per game. All season they never came anywhere near as dominating a performance in the run game like this past Sunday. It appeared that they were going to revert to their season average, or worse, in the beginning stages of the game. In their first 4 possessions they had 4 carries for 6 yards for a pitiful 1.5 yards per carry. Below are a few highlights of all running plays in their first 4 possessions:
2 and 10 on 1st possession: Pascoe in motion to off right tackle. Bradshaw runs off tackle for no gain. Atlanta LBs shade to the side where Pascoe is in motion.
1st and 10 on 3rd possession: Hynoski leads to left end with Baas pulling. Jacobs gains 2 yards. Again, Atlanta LBs shade toward Hynoski lead and Baas does not get out quick enough to block MLB.
It was not until their 5th possession where they took the lead 7-2 that they begin showing signs of progression in the run game. Below are some highlights of that drive:
1st and 10 on NYG 15: Hynoski leads off right tackle and Jacobs follows for 2 yards. Once again the Atlanta LBs shade toward Hynsoki lead and fill the gaps.
1st and 10 on NYG 37: Jacobs runs off left tackle but this time there is no lead FB or TE in motion just a hat on a hat for 8 yards.
2nd and 11 at ATL 49: Hynoski leads off left tackle but Jacobs fakes left and counters to right tackle for a gain of 34 yards. Here, the Atlanta SLB was drawn in towards left tackle by Hynoski and their MLB hesitated long enough for Boothe to pull out and make his assigned block on the MLB. Snee finished it off by blocking the WLB.
The Falcons run defense revolves around their LB play as evident with their gaudy tackling statistics. In the first 4 possessions the Atlanta LBs were tipped off by motion and FB lead. Thus allowing them to fill their gaps or beat the Giants pulling guards. Gilbride made some adjustments to this by either a) going hat on a hat with no FB lead or TE in motion and b) using misdirection or counters off the FB.
To confirm these points below are a few more highlights from the 2nd half (where they accumulated 111 of their 172 yards).
1st and 10 at NYG 45: Bradshaw runs a misdirection/cutback starting at right tackle and cuts back toward left guard. This draws their LBs inside toward right tackle and allows Bradshaw room for an 8 yard gain.
1st and 10 at ATL 35: Bradshaw runs off right tackle with no pulling guards, lead or TE in motion. Bradshaw gains 30 with just hat on a hat straight ahead blocking.
What can we take from this past Sunday? Continue to mix in FB leads and TE motion but Gilbride needs to utilize more mis-directions and counters to neutralize the LBs. Force the Green Bay LBs to shade to one side of the formation or the other, and allow his pulling guards more time to position themselves versus quicker/faster LBs. Much like what Andy has stated, that small ball makes the LBs account for the RB and TE dump offs, flares and short passes instead of allowing them to drop deep into coverage. These run plays with misdirection also spread the LBer responsibility further.
Finally, a very interesting article by Pompei of National Football Post on Victor Cruz. Lots of credit has been given to Jerry Reese for his find in Cruz but “you get stupid lucky sometimes,” is what Reese said about it.
"Giants general manager Jerry Reese once told me the team ranked him as a “local” free agent, meaning if he would have been from California they would not have been interested in paying his airline ticket. The fact that Cruz was a Jersey kid got his foot in the door."