Many of the national media pundits and analysts continue to point to the Giants’ pass rush as the key to their turnaround. Stories galore have been written about the comparisons of 2007 and 2011 and the effect the Giants pass rush should have on this game. Even Bill Parcells, on his Super Bowl confidential last night on ESPN, pointed to the Giants DL as the clear strength of their team.
The DL’s battle “will be fought, and possibly won, with a heavy dose of trickery. Not only will the Giants mix up their sets and vary their points of pressure, they'll try to cross up Brady's bodyguards with moves known as "games" or "stunts." But the real enemy of the stunt is smart offensive linemen who sees them coming. Several members of New England's line have said they're not susceptible to games.”
This leads us to how effective as a group the Patriots Offensive Line has performed as a group this past season. Per Football Focus, the Patriots are the “sixth-ranked offensive line in terms of Pass Blocking Efficiency. Th(is) is at least four spots ahead of every other offensive line that the Giants have faced in their playoff run,” including the 49ers who ranked “27th in Pass Blocking efficiency.” Even in week 9 “the Patriots’ offensive line had the better of the game in comparison to their season average as their offensive linemen (not team total) gave up only 10 total pressures on 52 pass plays compared to their season average of 10 on 42. Across the way, the Giants’ defensive linemen (opposed to the whole defense) registered only 10 total pressures on 52 pass plays compared to a season average of 15 on 43.” The only favorable matchup the Giants may have is IF Solder starts over Vollmer. Solder had one of the weakest scores (-5.5) in terms of pass protection. We should hope that Fewell will be eyeing a matchup of JPP versus Solder if Solder starts. But then again, this may not work in the Giants favor after all per some comments from Greg Cosell of NFL.com below:
Gronkowski and Hernandez provide greater versatility to align closer to the formation. They will be utilized to chip or nudge the Giants defensive ends, or any outside blitzers. Then they will release into their pass routes. In the AFC Championship, Gronkowski drilled Terrell Suggs, eliminated him as a pass rusher and then ran his route.
Cosell touched on the adjustment that the Patriots made in the 2nd half of XLII to slow down the Giants’ pass rush. In the 2nd half the Patriots changed “base personnel from 3 wide receivers to 2 wide receivers and 2 tight ends. New England’s offense was much more efficient and productive in the second half. It calmed down the Giants pass rush.” Let’s just hope Gronkowski will not be effective but either way BB will use his TE formation to slow the Giants’ pass rush.
By the way, Cosell picks the Giants as he did in 2007 due to the matchup advantage of the Giants' WRs unit. Long time Giant fans are always nervous when they are picked to win but these guys on "Tangled up in Blue" make us, at UltimateNYG, seem like we see things through neon rose colored glasses.