I noted in my look back at the Green Bay game that it seems like recently every time we have had a 3rd and 10 that Easy Eli has been there to keep the drive alive with a huge completion. If it seems that way to anyone else too, there is good reason. Eli has been lights out on 3rd/medium-3rd/long. Not good, not great-LIGHTS OUT. Nearly perfect.
Here's the thing, the chart below contains all twenty of the Giants 3rd/5-3rd/15 snaps (3rd and medium-3rd and long) since the Dallas game. I decided to leave out anything 3rd and 15+, which as we all know is nearly impossible to convert and teams make their calls on those plays with that in mind.
As we all have seen, Eli has played some of his best football over this stretch. Pretty impressive to say, especially in a season that was filled with plenty of that for him. A short note about each of the unbelievable completions that Eli has made on third down is also included in the table below.
If you're someone who is interested in this stuff then feel free to read the chart. It's pretty remarkable stuff. If you're someone who a) doesn't care about these things or b) doesn't understand them then head to the bottom where the stats I will give gets the message across just as well.
That message is this: EVEN ON A MICRO LEVEL (3rd down, where QBs make their money), ELI MANNING IS CLUTCH. We all have heard it in regards to his play in the 4th quarter or in the playoffs, but these stats should add another layer to that clutch reputation on an even more detailed level.
|GAME||Time||3rd and ?, Ball on?
|GB||Q1 13:45||8, NY 22
||yes||19 yd completion 10-82||
corner route; 82 busted up zone and found spot on sideline
|GB||Q1 12:15||10, GB 42
||yes||11 yd completion 10-80||
great route, great throw, beat 21 in man!
|GB||Q1 4:47||11, NY 19||yes||11 yd completion 10-88||
3 man rush, get real! 88 comes way back underneath zone from deep for catch
|GB||Q2 7:07||8, GB 44||yes||17 yd completion 10-85||
let Dilfer take this one to describe 10’s perfect lead to 85.
@TDESPN: #filmstudy G-men:Eli throwing rec open as good as anybody, shows tremendous trust in his guys. pause tape=covered, play tape=completion
|GB||Q2 5:42||5, GB 34||no||INT (10-88)||
pressure, no one open, like a punt. 88 needs to get him down when he makes the catch.
|GB||Q4 10:19||5, GB 28||yes||17 yd completion 10-80||
80 patient in zone-d like ten-year vet...one of best in league at that... 10 has so much trust in him!!!
|GB||Q4 8:28||5, GB 12||no||sack||
66 and 67 whiff on their blocks on edge, 10 has no chance.
|GB||Q4 4:31||11, NY 49||yes||17 yd completion 10-80||
pass on 3rd/long late, late in Q4 w/ 10 point lead? Welcome to 2012 Giants fans. No rush..see above comment about 80
|ATL||Q3 12:01||8, NY 26||yes||19 yd completion 10-88||
88 burns soft cb on dig route who was begging for inside release and got it and paid the price.
|ATL||Q3 10:16||12, NY 43||yes||22 yd completion 10-80||wow! Great example of underrated quick feet of 10, dances in pocket and then finds 80 coming across|
|ATL||Q4 13:33||7, NY 33||yes||18 yd completion 10-44||
RB in flat by Giants? WOW! 10 hits 44 immediately who as we all know is unreal in open field
|ATL||Q4 6:34||6, NY 48||yes||13 yd completion 10-82||Big Blue shows unreal trust in 10 to throw here. 10 returns the favor with trust in 82 who makes catch and then some!|
|ATL||Q4 4:55||8, ATL 37||yes||17 yd completion 10-82||See above for comment on Giants throwing late in 4th....82 so athletic on tip toe sideline catch|
|DAL||Q1 7:08||9, NY 5||yes||12 yd completion 10-86||
10 goes to all on 3rd, does not play favorites! dump to 86 and let him make play
|DAL||Q1 1:22||8, DAL 48||yes||14 yd completion 10-15||see above ^. 10's pocket presence so underrated|
|DAL||Q2 12:16||7, DAL 47||no||5 yd rush 10||10 sees pressure, gets some back for Giants|
|DAL||Q2 6:01||6, DAL 35||no||SACK||pressure too much, this one isn't on 10 at all.|
|DAL||Q4 12:35||6, NY 14||no||5 yd completion 10-88||88 needs to run that route past marker, otherwise great play|
|DAL||Q4 9:27||7, NY 27||yes||44 yd completion 10-80||10 great in pocket, trusts 80 to make a play and does..will be one of those people look back on in 10 years
|DAL||Q4 4:04||5, DAL 40||yes||36 yd completion 10-88||
Giants throwing with lead late? Heard this before in this article.
If you're still with me then here is the important stuff from all of that.
Eli Manning last three games on 3rd/5-3rd-15 (3rd/medium-3rd/long):
20 plays-15/16, 287 yards, 17.9 ypa, 14 first downs, 1 INT, 2 sacks, 1 rush
15/16!!! Are you kidding me. Just incredible stuff. This guy is playing some of his best football of the season, one that has been the best of his career. Is it possible he is getting better? Sure is. Seems like Eli is getting more and more efficent with each game.
Let's not forget, all three of these games were outdoors (that's right, I'm talking to you Drew Brees) and while it didn't feel like winter in the Dallas or Atlanta games, it is still not a dome.
GB: 5/6 92 yds
ATL: 5/5 89 yds
DAL: 5/5 111 yds
Cruz: 5 catches for 111 yards
Nicks: 5 for 71
Manningham: 3 for 49
Ballard: 1 for 17
Pascoe: 1 for 12
Bradshaw: 1 for 18
Thomas: 1 for 14
Some closing thoughts....
-The consistencey with which Eli has played on these plays is pretty remarkable and if the Giants can figure out a way to start converting the short ones out in SF and possibly beyond, then this will be a close to unstoppable offense.
-Another thing to take away from this is that whille sure, Eli tends to favor his stars a bit in the clutch, he has no biases as to who he will throw to. Get open and the ball is yours. It's that simple with Eli.
In conclusion, just another angle to analyze quarterback who has proven time and time again that he plays his best when it matters most. Truly impressive. I have no doubt that he will bring that level of play to Candlestick Park on Sunday.
follow Rich Conforti on Twitter: @richconforti
Factoid provided by Bob Christ:
Since 1970, teams eliminating the defending world champs in the conference playoffs are 0-13 in their next game if it's not the Super Bowl. All 13 losses were by at least 7 points.
There are some players that you can see who are ready to letdown. I'm not worried about guys like Manning and Tuck. The ones who went to Super Bowl XLII know how each game gets tougher. I'm thinking about guys like Victor Cruz, Mario Manningham, Michael Boley, Linval Joseph and Jaquian Williams, to name just a few. It doesn't have to be a full game, all it has to be is a half. A drop or two on offense. A missed tackle on defense.
This is the week of the possible letdown. This is the week where Coughlin earns his money for having the team continue to play at a super high level. If this score is tied at the end of Q1 and Q2, that will be a huge battle won.
Let's take an example of a team we all know and love, the Philadelphia Eagles. They played a wild card game in the 2008 playoffs, then they played the defending champion NY Giants in the NFC Divisional Round. They upset them and then went on the road vs the Arizona Cardinals. And they letdown. They were flat and by the time they reached the half, they were down 24-6. They had to climb out of an 18 point hole, which they did, but they still lost in the end. This is a perfect example of what it looks like to be part of an 0-13 statistic. I believe the Giants are the better team. But will they also be the better team this Sunday?! It's up to the Giants to be a statistic or to be at Super Bowl XLVI.
1-13!! Play the game!!
Reminder on Sunday to follow us on Twitter during the game.
Two Parts today. Part 1 has a few more comments on the Giants-Packers. Part 2 has a Preview of the Giants- Niners.
PART ONE: Giants-Packers Review
1) I can't believe I didn't put this one in the recap: the Giants only had three penalties! Great stuff. That stat alone is so big. If you tell us that the Gmen will only have 3 penalties this coming weekend, you'll know this team is in great shape to win it because it means they are all concentrating and focused.
1a) Considering one penalty was a jobber on Snee and another was on Osi's phantom, that really means only ONE penalty all game! Thanks again Bill Leavy, with friends like you, who needs enemies?! (The only legit penalty was an offsides on Bernard in Q1.)
2) As PaddlePedal noted, the Giants used JPP to slow down the receiving TE (Finley). The Giants would be wise to change the timing SOME of the time by using this scheme a little bit to confuse Smith even more. Of course, rest assured that the well-coached Niners will dissect that tape and bring it to Davis's and Smith's attention.
3) Given how the Packers had such trouble with timing and dropped balls, do ANY of you think if we had to play them again this Sunday that we'd win? After rewatching some of the game and all the misses, I'd say no. But you only get 1 chance to win, TFB.
4) This is a link which traces the first elements of the defensive turnaround in the Giants' season. Fits fine with the concrete evidence of much more use of man coverage.
5) The Giants increased their use of press coverage to 28% of the time versus the Packers. In previous games it looked pretty low. It was not tracked after Manningham scored (30-13), because at that point the Giants went to a softer coverage.
PART TWO: Giants-Niners Preview
I went back and rewatched the first game these teams played at Week 10.
1) First off, Bradshaw was out of the game. Second, Boley and Ross both had to leave with injuries.
2) Braylon Edwards is no longer on the SF 49ers. This is big imo because he was able to create problems for Aaron Ross. (Webster drew Crabtree most of the time.)
3) The defense gave up the typical big 21 yarder to Crabtree in zone. And Vernon Davis rumbled for a big TD on a blown coverage. I'd like to think these things are going to happen with less frequency, and the Giants defense is playing with far more certainty and confidence now.
4) 75% of the time Alex Smith went to his first read. He telegraphs. He went off his second read the other 25%, when he had time and not because he was looking off a safety. Smith used his checkdowns when he ran out of time. How many times did Smith go to his 3rd read? NONE. Zero.
5) I noticed something on the tape and Wonder said the same thing- Gore is not 100%, so believe it or not, Hunter is more of a threat.
6) Wonder: "Ball security and non-stupidity take the place of last week's agression. If the Giants do that, I think they'll win."
7) The 49ers pulled a successful on-sides kick in Q2. The Giants were ready for it vs GB. I would highly doubt that Harbaugh would call one this game.
8) Between a Cruz drop and an uncharacteristic miss by Manning on an open Nicks, the Giants will have their opportunities.
9) PLAY SF WITH A LEAD. Make them uncomfortable, take them out of their rhythm and comfort zone. And don't be a putz Gilbride, attack them and respect Smith (and the SF ability to score) just as much as Rodgers.
10) I know we need to respect the Niners, because they won 13 games and got their business done this season. But when I look at this schedule they played against, I am honestly underwhelmed.
11) The Giants were 1 for 4 in the red zone. Yes, this Niner defense is stingy in the red zone. The lone TD in the red zone was a perfect pass and catch by MM in the back of the end zone. You cannot waste plays down there, Gilbride. When you have second and 6, you can't lollygag around, hand off the ball for no gain and think that's ok. At the 50 yard line that is football. In the red zone, it is near certain death. If Ballard (hobbled) is ineffective and unable to get any separation, use Pascoe and/or Beckum down there. Don't think I am kidding- line up Jacobs in the slot as a TE and use that 6'4" beast to help you. 1 for 4 will not cut it.
12) Give Smith different looks at the line of scrimmage. Smith has improved, but he's still no Tom Brady. Remember the NE game? The Giants showed Brady blitz. Sometimes they blitzed and sometimes they backed away. Even Brady had some difficulty with that. Smith will too.
13) Eli threw 2 picks. There were three games this season where Eli threw more than 1 INT, and the Giants lost all three games. SF, SEA, and WAS. Get the picture?! Eli is playing at a very high level and I am expecting the exact opposite- his poise, focus and confidence will elevate the team.
The 49ers are known for their top ranked defense and an offense that minimizes mistakes. The one unit that has stood out over the season is their top ranked Special Teams unit.
The 49ers led the league in kickoff return yards with a 27.2 yard average. They were 5th in punt returns with a 12.4 average yards per return. Their kickoff coverage team was tied for 2nd in the league with 47 touchbacks and held their opponents to 23.1 yards per return. Finally, they showed why their punt coverage team is formidable, forcing Sproles to cough it up twice. That makes many Giant fans nervous, based on a fumble and some near flubs by Blackmon in a few games this past month.
UltimateNYG's Glenn Warciski wrote back in March of 2010 about Bill Parcells’ theory on hidden yardage. The theory equates for every “100 yards in hidden yardage -- through penalties, interceptions, punt and kickoff returns and field position following kickoffs -- is worth 7 points.” Given the statistics above, three of the five are areas where the 49ers excel.
Billick of NFL.com believes Special Teams “is the often-overlooked third phase of the game, but special-teams play can be just as important as any offensive or defensive series. These plays determine the hidden yardage of a game that has a major impact on the strategy of the entire game. In addition to the areas mentioned above “the 49ers have benefited from the booming punts of Andy Lee. Even if their offense is backed up deep in their own territory, they can rely on Lee to gain back that hidden yardage by hitting one of his 70-yarders that gives the defense much more room.” Even when you’re “punting from your own end zone, any time you can get it out past the 50-yard line, it is considered a win, but with Lee, the 49ers can literally push the opposition back to their own 30-yard line consistently. Those are yards you don’t find on the box score, and they can be the deciding factor for a team that wins mainly by running the ball and playing good defense.”
Finally as it relates to Special Teams, we cannot ignore the blocked field goal. A stumbling Tony Ugoh missed his block. The 49ers take pride in their Special Teams. Quinn and Izzo need to have the Giants ready. Overall, the Special Teams matchup is an area of concern going into Sunday.
Ian O’Connor, of ESPN-NY, interviewed Bill Parcells about the 1991 NFC Championship game the other day. In that game Parcells “saw Ottis stiff-arm Ronnie Lott five yards downfield," and he said to himself 'you know, we are really trying to win this game.” Parcells saw a lot of the 1991 Giants in the 2011 Giants versus Green Bay. Parcells goes on to add, "It was like watching the first 'Rocky' movie," Parcells said of Giants 37, Packers 20, "where Apollo Creed gets knocked down early and his corner man says, 'You see that SOB over there, he doesn't know it's a show; he thinks it's a fight.”
We read about how Coughlin took the ‘kinder and gentler’ approach after their embarrassment versus the Redskins. Instead “he reminded the Giants that at 7-7, they were fortunate still to be in control of their destiny. His message was simple, yet clear. Forget the past. Seize the moment.” But did he take a page from Bill Parcells? Parcells reminisced about the fact that “no one had ever gone to a Super Bowl with a backup quarterback. We were such an underdog, and everything was about them three-peating, and I wanted my players to know that I had confidence in them, which I did." Back in ’91 they played the Super Bowl 1 week after the NFC Championship game and Parcells told his team “you can either pack for two days, or pack for 10. I'm packing for 10.” They were a confident team in 1991 beating the long odds versus the supposed 3-peat 49ers and then as underdogs against the high- powered offense of the Bills. Will this confident 2011 Giants achieve the same?