...Blackburn was maneuvering as well as I have ever seen him in the box. More and more, he has begun to use his hand to pop offensive linemen and create space to react to the play rather than burying his should into them. When he does this, yes you do maintain your gap responsibility, but give yourself very little opportunity to make plays elsewhere. As I noted in the play sheet, if he continues to improve on this, we are going to see him show up even more in the stat sheet.
...in coverage, we got beat twice (once Boley and once Williams) not resisting the urge to jump on short routes. This is the NFL and especially against an offense like the Saints, they are not looking to complete 4 yard ins. Almost every time we saw a route of this nature, there was something being run behind it, and both times we failed to recognize it, Brees hit the deeper route for a nice gain.
...it seems that Rivers, barring any more setbacks, will be counted on for significant snaps on the defense going forward. I want to be careful here because this has not been a trend throughout the season, and it is a point based on a fairly limited number of snaps due to injuries and what not, but I like Rivers much better in the 7 technique lined up on a tight end, then I do on the second level in a traditional LB alignment. He is very aggressive setting the edge when he is on the line, but when coming from depth, he appeared to have some issues in this game finding the correct run fits and missed one or two tackles when left in space. There is an example below which occurred twice on the film, which makes me hesitant to point out because they may be coached this way, but if that is the case, it is very unusual.
The Saints are going to motion the “H-Back” inside to double our tackle with the right guard as is drawn up below. The fullback is going to be responsible for Rivers.
My belief is that Rivers should be meeting this block with his inside shoulder to force the play to Blackburn and all others who are flowing from the inside.
Instead, he uses his outside shoulder, which is not how the technique typically taught, and the running back can break this outside, where all we have is a safety coming from 12 yards. This essentially takes Blackburn and everyone inside of Rivers out of the play, because the RB will bounce this outside when seeing the leverage that the FB has.
In this case, the safety makes the play, but you can see how we have already given up 5 yards, and with this much space, how easily it can turn into a big play.
Interesting to see how something as small as shoulder positoning when taking on a blocker can have such an impact on any given play.
...the grades make is seem like the secondary played worse than they actually did. Collectively the group came in at -4 overall (+1 S, -5 CB) with Prince receiving a -3, Webster a -2, Rolle a +1, Brown -1 and Hill +1 Considering the Saints prolific passing attack, the defensive backs played a very solid all-around game. The Giants are becoming a team that can rely on the defense generating a turnover or two, so the yardage along the way becomes less of an issue. Especially when playing with a lead, the "bend-don't-break" mentality is perfect for a team who has been shaky against the pass. Early on, when the defense was at its best, coverage down the field great, and the Giants were doing a good job of rallying to the ball and tackling when Brees found an underneath receiver.
...the big concern, and the root cause of most of the bad marks, was the play late in the third and early in the fourth quarter. With a lead, the focus has to be on protecting against big plays down the field. Beyond that, if you lines up correctly, know your assignment and tackle, you are in pretty good shape. The Giants got a little too complacent against a high-powered offense and although no harm was done, it's not the way you want to see your secondary playing. Missing tackles and letting receivers behind you is the best way to give a team like the Saints momentum and blow a big lead. I hope that Rolle, along with the veterans on the DL, can keep the focus and intensity up in the future.
...again, all around great job keeping Brees and the Saints in check - a few big plays along with (generally) solid defense otherwise is going to be enough for Eli and the offense to get it done on most Sundays.
...like the defensive backs, the DE's graded out at a fairly unimpressive combined total of +1-- +1 for Osi and Tuck, 0 for Kiwanuka and -1 for JPP. This is in large part due to their inability to do anything that would resemble stopping the run. They have been poor in this area nearly all season and this one was no different. Whether this is a physical issue or an assignment issue, it is something that needs to be sured up FAST. And how about this--suring up the run defense will ultimately lead the opponent to pass more, with the opponent passing more the group will have increased opportunity to get at the quarterback.
...although they failed to get a sack until the 4th quarter the Giants DEs did a much better job of getting to the QB in recent weeks. According to PFF, the Giants were able to pressure Brees on 18 of his 44 drop backs in this one, an acceptable but not outstanding total. And although it sounds like an excuse for not compiling sacks, Perry Fewell swears that the plan in this one wasn't so much to get at the QB with reckless abandon, but rather, attack with a purpose and alter the dangerously-accurate QB's launch point:
"It's kind of the strategy that I put them in last week," Fewell said. "Our guys are very cooperative. It took a lot for them to do what I asked them to do last week. It wasn't the most sack-friendly game for them, but it was the way that we felt we had to win that football game."