My trip to Lambeau was a success. I must say Green Bay is a top-notch football town and nine out of ten Packers fans were gracious in defeat to the HUGE Giants contingency in attendance at the game. There could have been as many as 10-15 thousand there, and from what I saw and it must have been evident on TV. One definitely feels something special when you’re in that place. Watching that Hail Mary come in right towards me from 25 rows up was something that was pretty unforgettable.
-The downfield coverage was great. I tried to tweet this during the game, but the coverage was flat out great. Downfield especially. While its frustrating that Rodgers was able to run so much in the game, that is a testament to THE BEST GAME OUR SECONDARY HAS PLAYED ALL YEAR. We frustrated Rodgers with that and disrupted their timing. As Dilfer said on ESPN Sunday night: the Packers passing game is SO dependent on timing, whether it be in the three step or the play action game. Plant that foot into the ground and get rid of it.
-The Giants disrupted that timing with their downfield coverage and by getting in his passing lanes. Rodgers was forced to take off or throw on the run. That means the timing is off. Although the Packers had six drops, two or three of those (haven’t seen the game on TV yet) looked to be on broken plays such as those. The bottom line is that the Giants got to Rodgers. And when we needed the pass rush it was there. I cannot see how this unit doesn't show up every week now.
-Did anyone else have a flashback to Pierce’s huge screen stop in the last playoff run when Williams nearly took down Starks on that screen play? Just missed it. To me--he’s someone who is getting better every week.
-I know nothing needs to be said about No. 10, but things are starting to get interesting with him when we compare him to his contemporaries—he’s played as well as anybody in the league for a good chunk of weeks now. I didn’t even blink twice at his performance yesterday. He has been that good on third down too, reinvigorating many drives that seemed set for a three and out. I know this is looking ahead (my apologies as some of you worry about the jinx) but he's 120 minutes from being a serious hall of fame candidate. Man oh man.
I was hoping for this from McCarthy after the game.
Early quick thoughts for next week:
-SF is a tougher matchup for us right now than Green Bay was, make no mistake about it. The Giants need to continue to be hitting on our passing game, in spite of the conditions. The Niners will give us a much tougher look when we have the ball and we have to be THAT much more crisp next Sunday. Can’t make like the Saints and give up on the run. Keep at it even if it isn’t producing. Can’t win without it.
-I know we hear a lot about it with the Niners but the specialists will be big. They are obviously the class of the league in that area and we need to match that—across the board—kicking, punting, coverage, returning game. Could come down to the special teams (in potentially bad conditions).
-HOWEVER. I just don’t think they are better than the Giants right now. I just can’t see them bringing anything but their A game to San Francisco. And when it comes down to it our best is better than theirs. Quick question- throw the regular season out the window, now tell me who the best team left in the playoffs is. For me the answer is easy.
In Coughlin We Trust. In Eli We Trust. ALL IN.
the following, all of which i agree with 100%, is part of an email this morning from my oldest friend in the world and the single smartest sports fan, and lifelong giants fan, i know -
"if I have to listen to one more knee jerk tv and radio bloviator tell me that the key to the Giants winning this coming Sunday is the offenses's ability to move the ball effectively against the vaunted Niners' defense, I will throw up....didn't they see what the Saints did in the fourth quarter to that defense, and how easily they did it with the game on the line? What should be the focus is the Niners' offenses's chances of moving the ball against the Giants' defense - what the Niners were able to do against the Saints will not happen (I trust) against the Giants. The Saints literally had to prevent one (ONE PLAYER!!!) from beating them and yet they gave up three critical completions to Davis on the two final drives. That won't happen Sunday. The other Niner receivers can't beat you and the Giants can bottle up Gore...the conventional "wisdom" is all backwards."
I am also concerned about how our offense matches up against their D. It's hard to see how we'll be able to run the ball with much effectiveness. With few exceptions, the holes just haven't been there this year, even against teams that aren't so stout against the run. It used to be that Bradshaw's vision and cutback ability were so outstanding that he could gain plus yardage even when the blocking fell apart. But this year--I hope simply because of his injury--he's seemed a step slow. It often seems like he just misses getting out of trouble. And Jacobs is just so inconsistent. One game, even one series he puts his head down and runs with authority, the next he's tiptoeing and moving too must east-west. And I'm worried that if Eli has to throw too much it will allow the SF pass rush to tee off on him and either knock loose the ball or bait him into turnovers.
To me, the keys of this game are as follows:
(1) We have played outstanding defense the past three weeks against teams far more prolific on offense than the 49ers. Yes, the Niners definitely showed something with their two late drives, but if we commit ourselves to stopping the run, play press coverage to disrupt their timing patterns, rush the passer with authority, and TACKLE IN THE OPEN FIELD we have the ability to give them a lot of problems.
(2) We are a big-play offense. When you've had four games in a row of TDs over 60 yards (and a Hail Mary thrown in), well, that's what you are. And we can't go suddenly risk averse on Sunday. But because of my confidence in our defense, and because of what may be very adverse weather conditions, I think a major emphasis has to be put on avoiding turnovers. Don't emulate the Saints by making things any easier for the Niners. So more small ball, more three-step drops to avoid the rush (unless, for whatever reason, SF decides to imitate the Pack by sending 3 rushers way too often). More emphasis on securing the ball and not taking unnecessary risks--especially on special teams. On a kickoff, I'm fine taking the ball at the 20. On punts, just catch the ball above all else. On INTs, don't necessarily try to hit the home run in terms of a pick six (a la RW McQuarters) unless it's a slam dunk. (Sorry for the mixed metaphors.) On runs, yes, try to eke out additional yards, but be smart about it.
The turnover battle is just so key in my mind. Look at the Saints game. Look at our game not only against GB on Sunday but against SF earlier in the year. We had more yards than them that day, more time of possession, more first downs--but they won the turnover battle, and they outplayed us on specials. We have to do everything we can this time to make sure that doesn't happen.
@vblasi67 I don't know if the SF defense is well adapted to stopping our offense more than another.
What I do know is that they have great pass rushers and we have a porous OL and that's a major issue. They may not be edge pass rushers but looking at Manning play it may not be a good thing. Pressure right in his face ? That's the way his only INT came vs GB ...
The big thing with this D is their grit. They fight, they hit, they get to that ball, they're 100% on every play.
We can't run against GB, we won't against them. If we're forced into 3rd 1 long it's either a deep ball where you face the Smithes or a short where you face those LBs.
I would be interested in what others think about whether the SF defense (dominating MLBs and nose, solid everywhere else, good but not great edge rushers) is especially well adapted to stopping an offense like the Giants with its particular strengths (QB good at reads, pocket poise, and the long throw; three quick receivers good at getting yeards after the catch) and weaknesses (OL that can't open running lanes, mediocre use of screens and TE)? Is a 3-4 like SF's (great strength and discipline, average speed) the kind of defense that is most likely to give the Giants fits?
It must have been a pretty amazing experience up there in Lambeau. I'm way behind you as this was actually the first Giants game that I watched with other Giants fans !
Nice title to this piece by the way.
About the drops, according to PFF stats, the Packers had 5+ drop games in the regular season (including 7 against our very own Gmen in W13). So, yes, those 8 are a season high but it's not like they've been perfect the rest of the way.
Not directed at you Rich, more like a general reminder.
I would add to this that the physical defense we played and the hits we layed *may* have had something to do with the receivers dropping. Just saying ...
I agree on most points. But the confidence is bordering on overconfidence, as guys like Boley mouth off and many like Rich start thinking about HOF instead of one game at a time. I prefer the Tuck confidence. Boley is going to have a HUGE job this weekend, as will Eli and the OL.
Plektor made a comment which I appreciate late yesterday- that when the Pack sent pressure it meant Eli was under duress. This was one reason why I did not feature the OL in the "good." Yes, they were excellent on 3rd down. But Eli got roughed up pretty good as well. You can count on the 49ers seeing that on film and doing that. As I said, the player I am most worried about is Justin Smith. He was the reason why the last drive failed (Baas cannot runblock him) and Eli must be kept clean.
@DavidCastro I don't agree completely.
The Saints have one of the best OL in the business. We have one of the worst. That makes the matchup different I believe.
I agree 100% on Davis thought.
No need to call people jerks because they have different opinions btw ;)
@DavidCastro First, tell you friend to get his ass on the blog.
Second, thanks for sharing and I agree 100%.
Third, this does not count as you doing a good job and further winning me back. Get him to comment and then maybe. LOL
+1 for the extreme extreme importance of the turnover margin above all else, and +1 for the defensive strategy (run stopping + man/press on the outside).
We moved the ball against SF no problem last time around. Since then we have Bradshaw back and 100% healthy WRs. Conditions may be sloppy, but I see no reason why we can't move the bail this time as well. Just need to avoid the big mistakes.
@JonathanMoy We don't need to resign just yet, he has another year on his contract.
We just have to make him feel "needed and respected" (that's "pay him" in player's lingo).
Our OL is not nearly as bad a you keep going on about. Especially in pass coverage which is one of their strengths. Running on the other hand they're not the best but if we continue to pass how we are and use the run as a means of keeping sf honest we will be just fine. San Fran keeps getting hyped up because of what they did to the saints. The Saints suck outside they're dome. Tennessee almost beat them and held them to 22 points outdoors. And that was without the Saints giving them 4 turnovers. As long as the against play how they've played and the coordinators game plan how they have the past weeks we will win.
@vblasi67 The way you're framing the question the answer is no. 49ers D is well rounded and good at traditional tough D stopping the run. Right now the giants are a longball team - weak run and de-emphasis short passing game. The problem is when SF adjusts to stop the downfield pass, as they will. Will Gilbride adjust and dial up more small ball, and will they be successful against the SF LBs. I hope Beckum is eating his Wheaties
Agreed about the drops. My point about the drops was basically my reaction to rumblings from Packers fans and others who said, great game....BUT the Packers had a lot of drops. 1. As you said, it has been a problem all year 2. As I said, plenty of them came as Rodgers was under pressure after the play had broken down long ago. @Arthuro
@ultimatenygOn a different note, do you know of any tailgates that will be going on at SF? I wil be making the trip. Thanks.
And in response to "But the confidence is bordering on overconfidence, as guys like Boley mouth off and many like Rich start thinking about HOF instead of one game at a time".... WE ARE FANS!!!! It is our job and if you don't agree with that, it is our right, to talk about things like this. The mental preparation and the need to focus belongs to the players and team. The best part about winning the SB is the journey along the way and discussions and big dreams like #10 in the Hall of Fame are all a part of the journey.@ultimatenyg
@ultimatenyg I agree about the over confidence but I'm not sure we're right.
There was a lot of hype around the Giants coming in : Rodgers had been "out" 3 weeks, our pass rush was resurgent, Manning, 2007, road warriors, you name it.
Yet the boys went out there with everything to prove and never looked like they were overly confident, playing serious football.
@capt george this is the friend, who, back in the day, went with me, long before ESPN existed, TO THE NFL DRAFT at the carlyle or the essex house with our lists of draft picks by team and position the year THAT PLUNKETT WAS THE #1 OVERALL PICK!!! we were the only 2 civilians there and talked with gifford and cosell and had a blast and went back the next year as well. as a child his dad took him to the '56 championship game. his giants pedigree is almost unmatched.
Good point to draw the distinction between fan overconfidence and player overconfidence. Fans can "look ahead" and not harm the team. I don't have a problem with what the players have been saying so far. The Giants' A game is most likely better than SF's A game; it's just up to our guys to bring it.
@xtian PFF have them last in Pass Blocking Efficiency.
Anyone Premium at CHFF ? They rank OL as well.
@DavidCastro I don't understand what you mean.
@xtian Which one, there are 2 :)