Some thoughts to finish up this past weekend..
1) The Sunday night win was sweet, but let's remember that Dallas was very generous to our team's cause. Is the NFC East making us better or simply camouflaging our own shortcomings? Here is a recommended read back from 2008 that the NY Times picked up.
2) That was dizzying, how many games went wild down to the end this past weekend. One game was wackier than the next. The Denver comeback was truly remarkable- Marion Barber went insane not once but twice.
3) I think it was George Young (or was it Parcells?) who said that he preferred drafting big guys over fast guys... by the time you get to Q4, the fast guys have slowed down but the big guys are still big. Tebow and the Broncos coaches have taken that meaning to a different place, waiting until Q4 to start running.
4a) Lots of good comments the past few days on some interesting topics, ranging from Bradshaw's punishment to Gilbride's inability to run a successful screen. What is interesting to note on the topic of the screen pass is that Gilbride has the right idea, often calling them in the right spot against defensive pressure. The problem is that the execution is poor because they simply do not practice it enough. How do I know this? That answer is easy- because we see poor execution on Sunday! Who taught me this? Bill Walsh. Walsh was relentless during the week, practicing a play over and over again until it worked:
"Passing routes were designed down to the inch and then practiced until receivers learned to be at that exact inch at the exact moment the ball arrived. On paper my diagrams of plays resembled detailed architectural drawings. And they required the same exactness in construction- execution- that a good contractor brings to build a skyscraper. If he's sloppy in following the architectural schematic, the building falls down during the first stiff wind."
4b) Another topic we have been talking about in recent days has been penalties, or the lack of talk thereof. One commenter noted that one of the positive things about this NY Giants blog is that we don't waste a lot of time talking about or obsessing over bad calls by the refs. Why? Another quote from Walsh:
"The final score of a football game is decided, on average, according to the following percentages: 20 percent is due to luck, such as a referee's bad call, a tricky bounce of the ball, or some other happenstance. I accepted the fact that I couldn't control that 20 percent of each game. However, the rest of it- 80 percent- could be under my control with comprehensive planning and preparation."
Bill Walsh wasn't a genius. He just knew where to place his attention.
5) Yesterday's post quoted the tweets of Michael Strahan and Antonio Pierce. Do you think the same defensive players with Spags running the schemes would be more effective? I do.
6) Wonder: "How does Haley get fired when his QB is Palko? That was a mistake." Pete: "The NFL is not fair. This is an opportunity for another team to pick this guy up."
7) Pete: "The Giants are vastly improved at receiving. The league is really weak. Dallas is not a good football team. I was wrong on JPP. I did not think he would be coachable, and he obviously is. If he continues to play this way, he is going to be a superstar. The Giants played well all things considered. 6 come-from-behind 4th Quarter victories is unprecedented. Who do you give credit to? Not Gilbride, it is Eli. Eli in 2011 is Roger Staubach."
Some thoughts to finish up this past weekend..
The Giants have the tiebreaker advantage over the Cowboys and truly control their own destiny as it relates to winning the NFC East. Many writers in local NY area media and even fellow bloggers on other sites have the Giants as the clear frontrunner to win the NFC East division. But some former Giants Pro Bowlers have observations shared by the bloggers and commenters on this site.no comments
In a game in which the Giants had to win, they defeated Dallas at Cowboys Stadium. Snapping a FOUR game losing streak, the Giants are 7-6 and in first place in the NFC East. If it was not for the stellar play of Eli Manning and JPP, the Giants would have not won this game.
Eli Manning: Eli Manning has been amazing this season. Last night, once again, Eli put up gaudy numbers. Eli was 27 for 47 for 400 yards 2 touchdowns and one interception. All night long, Eli was hitting receivers in stride. Even with pressure in his face, Eli made big time stick throws. In my opinion, this was his finest regular season game. With the Giants trailing by 12 points late in the fourth quarter, he led the Giants on two touchdown drives. Think about how good he has been. The Giants have only one star skilled player. And that is Hakeem Nicks. Nicks had SEVEN catches for 154 yards. Yes, WR Victor Cruz has been a huge surprise. But he is not playing at Nicks' level. Eli does not have a quality TE. Indeed, like Cruz, Ballard has been impressive. But teams do not game plan for Ballard. Factor this with the Giants woeful rushing attack (worst in the NFL) and quite frankly, Eli has been remarkable. If the Giants win the NFC East, a strong case could be made for Eli as the MVP of the league.
JPP: America saw a star in the making. DE Jason Pierre-Paul was our defense. His outstanding performance reminded all of us of how Lawrence Taylor played the game. JPP was dominant. He was all over the field making plays. He led all Giants' defenders with 6 solo and 2 assisted tackles. He had two sacks. One of the sacks resulted in a safety. A forced fumble led to 3 points. And most importantly, with six seconds left in the contest, he blocked the game-tying field goal. With DE Osi Umenyiora out of this game with an injury and DE Justin Tuck playing limited snaps because of a plethora of injuries, JPP was our one-man wrecking crew. Like Manning, if JPP has three more superb games and the Giants win the NFC East, JPP very well could be the NFL's defensive player of the year.
Giants offensive line and Brandon Jacobs: This is a huge uptick. The Giants makeshift offensive line was able to open holes for Brandon Jacobs and pass protect well. In recent weeks, Jacobs erratic play appeared to be an indicator that his career was going downhill. With last night's performance against Dallas, Jacobs quelled his critics. Jacobs had 19 carries for 101 yards and two touchdowns. The tiptoeing was gone and the North-South running was back. Jacobs also had his longest run of the year, a 19 yard gain. Speaking of making gains, the Giants offensive line has been so much better. With William Beatty and David Baas out of the starting lineup, the Giants have made strides. Is it a coincidence? Time will tell. But with Diehl moving back to tackle, Mitch Petrus at left guard, and Kevin Boothe at center, the Giants have had two consecutive games in which they rushed for over 100 yards. Furthermore, the pass protection was excellent. The Cowboys had some pressures but ended with zero sacks. Eli's pocket presence in feeling the rush has been fantastic.
Take away the play of JPP, and this Giants defense is the worst in the league. How many times do they give up big plays? How many blown coverages? How many times are guys wide open in the middle of the field? Time and again it is the same thing. It is the same thing over and over again. Under Coughlin without Steve Spagnuolo, the Giants' defenses have been putrid. When Tim Lewis was defensive coordinator his defenses could not get big stops. Same thing with Bill Sheridan. And now Perry Fewell is an abomination too. After Bill Sheridan was dispatched after the miserable 2009 season, Fewell was hired as his replacement. When hired, Fewell said this about his expectations about his defense. “Disciplined, attacking, aggressive, eleven hats to the football." Since he has been the coordinator, I have not seen a Fewell defense play with intensity for an entire game. Our credo here at UltimateNYG is Defense wins championships. Despite Eli Manning's heroics and JPP's emergence as a play maker, this Giants team is not going anywhere unless they get their defensive problems fixed. But at this point in the season, it is highly unlikely Fewell will get things corrected.
Kevin Gilbride. Early in this game, the Giants had an opportunity to take over this game. But what got in the way? Kevin Gilbride. The Giants red zone offense was horrible. After Hakeem Nicks made a spectacular 64 yard catch, the Giants had the ball on the Cowboys four yard line. What does Gilbride call? A fade to Nicks. Incomplete. Then he calls a fade to Beckum. Same result. And on 3rd and goal, a draw play gained NEGATIVE one yard. The Giants had to settle for a FG. On their next red zone possession, the Giants had the ball on the Dallas TWELVE yard line. On first down, Gilbride called a run. Jacobs fights for 3 yards. On second down, he called another run. Jacobs is stoned at the line of scrimmage. No gain. Then on third down, the Giants get a gift from the referees. On a pass which was uncatchable, one of the officials flagged Cowboys defender Gerald Sensabaugh for pass interference. Without question, Gilbride was bailed out by the officials. It was a borderline call. Thankfully with an assist by the refs, the Giants scored a TD. Then on their third red zone offensive possession of the first half, the Giants had to settle for a FG. For whatever reason, Gilbride does not use deception as a weapon. And we have talked about this ad nauseum. In these three red zone possessions, Gilbride did not use any kind of misdirection. Recall our Rules for Winning in the NFL- Number EIGHT: Do the unpredictable. Once you are predictable you are dead. Because of his feeble-mindedness, the Giants scored one touchdown and two field goals.
Two crucial plays:
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo's errant incomplete pass to Miles Austin. On this third down play, if Romo throws an accurate pass, the Cowboys win the game and end the Giants season.
Mario Manningham's dropped touchdown pass. Yes. Why was this crucial? Because, ironically, if he held onto the ball, more time would have been left on the play clock. Certainly, the way this game was going, if Romo had more time, Dallas could of scored a game winning touchdown. Or they could have gotten into closer FG range.
With this win, the Giants improve to 2-2 against NFC East opponents, 4-6 in the NFC conference, and in first place in NFC East with a 7-6 record. Now, the Giants control their own destiny. If they win their remaining three games, they will make the playoffs.
We are going to break up the usual Sunday morning routine of Phil Simms and start with a piece done by the Star Ledger on Linval Joseph. When you read stories like these you begin to understand why some special players can make it to the NFL w/o getting to play for top Division 1 college programs. Brandon Jacobs was stuck behind Carnell (Cadillac) Williams and Ronnie Brown at Auburn. So he transferred to Southern Illinois to get snaps. Joseph lost an opportunity to play for the Florida Gators, so he went to East Carolina. And if you think it is an exact science, then there are still going to be players like Tom Brady who fall to the 6th round and others like Victor Cruz who aren't even drafted. So the lesson for all of us is that there is plenty of opportunity to sift through the talent to find the players that are worth getting on your roster. (Click Read more to continue with Joseph and who Simms takes in the Dallas- NY Giants game).
In order to get a better sense of where the Cowboys are, I watched the rewind of the AZ-DAL game from last Sunday. Everyone has seen the "icing" of the kicker by HC Jason Garrett at the end of regulation. That move was preceded by the biggest story of the game: the 3rd and 11 reception by Dez Bryant. The Cowboys are at midfield, Romo rifles the ball into Bryant, who makes a great grab in between two defenders. The story begins AFTER the reception. With 27 seconds remaining and the Boys on the edge of FG position, Romo hurries his team up to the line of scrimmage to spike the ball. If you had one timeout, wouldn't you use it after the reception? Instead, 20 seconds of the clock run down, and the Boys only have 7 seconds left. Now here is the insanity- the Cowboys didn't have one timeout left. THEY HAD TWO TIMEOUTS! If this manure maneuver were performed by the Giants Head Coach or their experienced QB, I would want BOTH of their heads. Everyone was ripping Garrett for being the Princeton dunce on the icing, and that was irrelevant penny ante material compared to blowing 20 seconds of clock with two timeouts in his pocket. As for Romo, could you imagine Rodgers, Brady, etc... wasting 20 seconds? Never.
Why is it important to discuss the 20 seconds of evaporated time in this Cowboys-Giants preview? Because the Cowboys played a lot of good football last weekend and they underachieved. They went into AZ territory ~8 times and came away with 13 points. There was one penalty which brought back a great Dez Bryant punt return. Delay of game penalties. False starts. Throw in some good AZ defense and you get the idea. If things had gone just a little differently, Dallas would have scored plenty more. So expect them to be much more trouble vs the Giants on Sunday night as long as they are able to execute just a little bit better than last week.
Dallas has plenty of weapons on defense and offense. I am having a hard time figuring out which monster scares more, DeMarcus Ware or Dez Bryant. When Romo is not self-destructing, he's got a lot to work with. Murray is a good RB. Everyone knows Witten at TE, the position where the Giants always enjoy getting roasted. On Defense, Rob Ryan keeps the opposition off-balance with good schemes. The Giants OL must keep Eli clean, because the Dallas pass rush can cause havoc.
Petrus got a lot of props last weekend for helping the run game. Going up against the likes of Jay Ratliff, I'd say it is a must to have Petrus start.
Summary: Dallas played hard last weekend, and the score/result vs Arizona covers up the fact that Dallas is dangerous. They are like an engine without a transmission. If they get into any gear at all, the Giants will have their hands full. When you think about how this Dallas team blew games to NE, NYJ and DET earlier this season on top of the AZ loss, you can understand why the NFC East is where it is. Andy Reid has an OL coach as a Defensive Coordinator, who puts Nmandi Asomugha in zone coverage. Garrett chokes the AZ game. Coughlin the irate steward who watches as his coordinators underachieve. Washington Snydersville. It's the NFC East, the land of blind organizations, and someone's gotta win this division.