GREAT WIN! The Giants undressed Atlanta and played outstanding football. The NY Giants are playing their best football of the season right now. That is what matters. That makes this team 'live' to go as far as they want. On Saturday we gave 9 concrete reasons for why the Giants can go far in the playoffs, and the performance the Giants gave on Sunday does everything to confirm that view.
We have been begging for Fewell to abandon his Tampa 2 passive scheme for the past two seasons. In the first 50 minutes of the game, when it mattered, when the Giants put away the Falcons, we were able to tally a total of 45 defensive plays. Multiple Choice: Out of 45 plays, how many of them of them were zone coverage?
D) More than 28
In this playoff game, Fewell called a grand total of 8 zone playcalls out of 45 total plays, or 18%. FANTASTIC!!! In those 8 plays, the Giants got roughed up for 20 yards, 18 yards and 21 yards, but we are not advocating playing man coverage 100% of the time either. Because the Giants played predominantly (82%) man coverage, Julio Jones and Roddy White had a miserable day at the office. Combined they went for 12 catches for 116 yards. LOL!! 59 of those yards came from the passive zone! And one of those 3 catches was in a 3rd and 21 situation where they only got 18 underneath. Subtract 5 yards in garbage time. So essentially the man coverage allowed the two wideouts to get a grand total of 55 yards on ~8 catches. That's a zero, folks. As in- a shutout. And when you add a great effort in run defense with some tremendous short yardage stops, Atlanta shot a zero on offense. BRAVO PERRY FEWELL. Because this is now the 3rd consecutive strong defensive showing, kudos to Tom Coughlin for getting them ready to play when it matters most.
It is not who you play, but when you play them. The Giants are now a very dangerous team to be playing against because they have tremendous confidence. All three phases of their game are coming together at the same time.
The last rule we have, the final word, is that Defense Wins Championships. So when Gilbride couldn't get the offense out of Park in Q1, it was the defense that stymied Matt Ryan and kept the game close. The defense bought the offense enough possessions so that by the time they got their fourth touch, they drove the ball down the field for a TD. Do you remember how this drive began? It began with small ball. It was a boring pass over the middle to Victor Cruz for 6 yards which set up 3rd and 2. Eli scampered for 14 yards and the floodgates opened. Thereafter, the running game loosened up with runs of 8, 0, SMALL PASS TO MOVE CHAINS FOR 7 yds to Bradshaw, 34, 9, 6, 6, and 4 yards. The final pass was a 4 yard slant to Nicks in the end zone.
Usually we do the Good, Bad and the Ugly. Today it is the Great, the Good and the Bad.
1) Perry Fewell. We called for the DC to be fired. After almost 2 years of failure, getting stuck repeatedly like a pinata, it was frankly obvious to us that if he could not change by this point, when was he ever going to change? Maybe after the Washington horror show, maybe he knew he was in grave danger of losing his job and abandoned his Tampa 2 base. That's a guess. Maybe it was Coughlin who urged him to change. But however it happened, it has happened. In the last three games, the Giants have given up 14 to the Jets, 14 to Dallas and now 0 to Atlanta. Is it a coincidence that those three games are the fewest points allowed of ANY games this season? I for one do not think so, given the increased usage of man coverage. The Giants should use more press too, but at least it is simplifying the defense and making Romo, Sanchez and Ryan earn it. None of them did. We'll have all week to discuss Aaron Rodgers, but make no mistake- the Giants defensive effort has been resurrected by man coverage.
2) Gilbride Small Ball. Eli had 11 completions to RBs and TEs. Ballard moves the sticks, Beckum moves the sticks, Bradshaw moves the sticks on the first TD drive. Let's see more of it earlier, but the strobe light seems to be on.
3) Those 3rd and 4th down stops were electric. Mike Smith's decision to go for it and the sneak playcalling were a little charitable, but the Giants did a great job of stopping it.
1) Nicks. Notice how Cruz is getting more attention?!! And how Nicks now has the single coverage? The slant was there all day for the X receiver. This is the exact opposite of the Plax, so this bodes very well for Manning, Nicks, Cruz, Gilbride, the offense and the entire team. Translated: as long as our guys stay healthy, it is hard for Gilbride to screw this up. He's simply got a lot of weapons.
2) Run Defense. They doubled/chipped JPP often, but that couldn't stop him from racking up 8 total tackles. Chase Blackburn is having fun out there, putting up 9 tackles.
3) The crowd noise. It really made Matt Ryan a weak QB. He had trouble audibling or running the no-huddle.
4) Corey Webster and Aaron Ross shut down White and Jones.
5) LBers and Safeties minimized Tony Gonzalez.
6) Brandon Jacobs! He's got some playoff mojo going, and this team thrives off the big fella having that mojo. 14 carries for 92 yards. The job that Boothe and Snee did pulling on the big run was terrific. Remember that it is Brandon Jacobs leading the scrum before kickoff. They feed off of his confidence.
7) Eli Manning. Yawn. 23/32 for 277 yards, 3 TDs and 0 INTs. He is playing at a consistently high level and his poise/escapability in the pocket is becoming Peyton-esque.
8) Weatherford. His great punting in Q1 helped control field position when the Giants offense was in quicksand.
1) The foul-up at the end of H1 where they needed to ask for a (3rd down) measurement was obvious to everyone except Gilbride and Manning.
2) The Aaron Ross injury. How serious? Coughlin hopes it is minor. We need him. Amukamara was in the dark on the playcalls and will get victimized by Rodgers if he has to start this Sunday.
3) Lawrence Tynes missed chippy.
4) Penalties. 7 for 73 yards. Let's remember it was the Snee holding call which set up the Safety. That holding call also negated a 13 yard small ball reception by Bradshaw. GB will make the Giants pay for these mistakes.
When the Giants play man coverage, they make the opponent's offense earn their yards. Aaron Rodgers will rack up plenty of success vs man coverage this coming Sunday. No bother. It will be twice as bad in zone, so make them earn it. Between an effective pass rush and man coverage, maybe Rodgers hits us for 20something points instead of 30something points. Then the game becomes winnable. Eli can put up 30 vs GB's defense, so if the Giants play their 'A game' they can be 'live' in this game. The list of reasons why the Giants can be competitive in the playoffs had the very last reason:
"9) The Green Bay Offensive Line. Yes, let them beat the Falcons first. But if you'll permit us to get ahead of ourselves, the Giants DL can get matched up vs a 15-1 Packers team with an injured OL. Shock the world. Dream. RT Bulaga is hurt, RG Sitton is hurt, LT Clifton was banged up. C Wells is hurt too. Sitton is their best OL in terms of consistency and there are question marks about whether he can suit up."
Anything is possible. Man coverage. Small Ball. Eli Manning.