In the past we would provide a detailed recap of the game. The effort to provide Ultimate22, a comprehensive and objective recap of player performance, seeks to replace the coverage in large part. Still, there are MACRO THEMES that need to be summarized here. This recap is not trying to catch ALL the points. Please add more in the comments that I did not mention here.
1) The latest CBA signed a little over a year ago continues to water down the quality of the NFL. To see grown men, athletes in the prime of health, AT NIGHT WITHOUT LATE SUMMER HEAT, gassed in the second half... it is what you get at the beginning of the season in the NFL in 2012. Sad but true. The Giants defensive performance eroded as the night wore on. Was part of this the injuries at CB? Yes. But the pass rush dwindled due to fatigue, and we hope the data will bear that out. This is the kind of information that can quantitatively assist us and put some meat on those bones, supporting what we qualitatively witnessed.
2) How many times have we laid out the blueprint here on this NY Giants blog of how to gameplan Tony Romo? The edge rushers need to be particularly mindful of pocket contain, because the entire world knows that Romo is much better OUT OF THE POCKET, on the run, than inside the pocket. Pressure up the middle makes it harder for him to see the field, and that (in part) led to his lone INT vs Boley.
3) We said yesterday that the replacement refs would change the dynamic. They called much less offensive holding. I believe that Offensive Line holding was called much less, as compared to WR/TE holds etc.. One person at the game reported that members of the Giants DL were getting mugged out there with no calls. We saw a few. Did you notice the mock cheers for the refs late in the game when holding was finally called against Dallas?! The Ultimate22 will hopefully catch more of this. It is what it is, as this by itself was not the reason why the Giants lost. It didn't help, but you better not blame the refs for the loss. (And yes, the Cruz hold at the goal line was nasty, but this is what we talked about yday with the 25% variable of luck.)
4) The Giants beat themselves, as usual. The Wilson fumble, 3 Victor Cruz drops, 2 penalties on Cruz, 1 or 2 Bennett transgressions (not diving for a makeable catch is a big pet peeve of mine), Kiwi and Tuck not making a critical tackle, many CB mistakes, fill in your favorite here.
5) Everyone loves the overachieving Chase Blackburn, including me. But the time has come to put this guy back on the couch. He is a liability out there. Who would you rather have on Ogletree in the red zone in a zone passing scheme, Blackburn or Williams?!
6) DISGUISE YOUR BLITZES. This is poker, fellas. Romo would get a read on blitz and then adjust. The way to foil this and get him off his "tell" is to do what the Giants did last season vs Brady in the regular season win vs the Patriots- you show a blitz and then drop out of it ON OCCASION. This makes it harder for the QB and the protections to know ANYTHING about what is truly coming. It worked tremendously against NE and its absence vs Dallas was a killer.
7) It's Groundhog Day. Must be another complaint about Gilbride not using enough small ball. When the Giants began using it, they rattled off an 89 yard drive. Long pass plays to Hixon happen because they are set up by dinks and dunks. If this was used a great deal more in the first half, the Giants would not have had to struggle offensively nearly as much...
8) Because the running game is horrid. The short yardage running game is even worse. Success came a little more in H2 because the Giants passed the ball, used more small ball passing AND THEN ran it selectively with draws and outside stuff which kept the Cowboys a little more off balance. But on 1st and 10 between the tackles? Ugh. Once again, these are things that we look forward to tracking with Ultimate22. The data will be accumulated in coming days.
9) There are many positives. The Defensive Line, the Linebackers, the short yardage stops, TE contributions... if this were a lengthier recap we would highlight more of the good (and the bad), but suffice it to say that the Giants have more than enough to be very competitive this season. Coughlin is good at pointing out mistakes and giving players the opportunity to play better. THE DL WON'T GET GASSED and the team will be able to improve from this. It wouldn't "hurt" to get healthier at DL and CB, not to mention OL etc..
10) I really like Keith Rivers. Yes, he whiffed on Romo, but he covers ground like Giants LBers haven't covered ground in MANY YEARS. Refreshing.
11) Wilson's fumble is one reason why I don't like drafting RBs high. You can't get these guys enough playing time early on. (The coaches were 100% correct to bench him after the fumble.) The Giants have done a fabulous job over the years of drafting late and finding undrafted RBs that are fine. It is a passing league. The best thing about Wilson should be for small ball underneath IN THE PASSING game.
12) Nicks looked like a decoy out there. He will get back to 100% and will help the team out much more than he did last night.
13) David Diehl needs to get moved back to Guard. Unfortunately this is what happens when you don't have enough Offensive Tackles. Who warned about the problems on the Offensive Line?
14) I am sure I left out stuff. Please feel free to add more.