Yesterday we discussed the keys to defending the spread offense. Today we will discuss adjustments made which could be a sign of DC evolving to combat the instillation of the spread offense schematics into today’s NFL. Also, we'll recap some of the Giants news leading up to SF on Sunday.
Two weeks ago we linked an article on the integration of the spread offense into the NFL by Dan Pompei of National Football Post.
To summarize, Pompei quoted Belichick, Rodgers and Brees on the advantages of the spread offense. Belichick even admitted to reaching out to the college master of the spread, Urban Meyer. Only problem for BB is he lacks a legitimate downfield receiving threat at the wide receiver position and relies more on both Welker and his TEs.
The key attraction to the spread for an offense who posses the talent at specific positions is that it leverages match up issues. They desire to get a Darren Sproiles out in space against a linebacker or even safety. It gets a freak of nature like a Jermichael Finley out on a cornerback or safety who have the speed to keep him but not the strength or height to defend. Since the spread involves 4 wideouts, which may include an RB or TE, the issue is most all teams don’t have 4 good corners they have to have a linebacker and safety that can run in coverage.
Before even going into the specifics of what the keys are to defending the spread let’s look at traits that are critical to running the spread. In the article by Pompei guys like Rodgers, Brees and Belichick (for Brady) discussed some of the attributes of the spread for them. What do all three quarterbacks have in common? Accuracy. Not only accuracy but they can read the defense proficiently and get rid of the ball quickly for slants, hitches and quick outs.
Wonder was asked what was required to defend the spread before seeing the video below by Sean Salisbury. Wonder’s response was it “takes a good edge rush and single/man press coverage.” In the video below Salisbury discussed how he was seeing the Colts and Patriots starting to implement some of the spread schemes into their offenses. His first key is “you better have really good corners” and “you better have more than 2. You got to have corners who can be physical and you cannot play off coverage. If you are going to continue to play off coverage against a spread offense great quarterbacks and offenses will continue to thrown the slants, the hitch, quick out and kill you…if you are going to play off coverage (they'll) eat you alive. You want to disrupt the rhythm and timing off the offense. Must have a DC who has the stones of a burglar to be willing to step up and press you on a regular basis.”
Guess what the other key is? Per Salisbury “you’ve got to have edge pass rushing. If you hit a QB enough times in the mouth the ball comes out a little quicker than usual and you become less accurate.”
The Gmen have truly have one of the key ingredients to containing the spread without question. Back in May I wrote a post titled Tampa 2 versus Rodgers. In that post we directed your attention to scouting reports on Webster and even Rolle:
The scouting report on Corey Webster coming out of LSU was that “his strength allows him to redirect the opponent through press coverage.” In addition, he “uses his long arms to get a good push in attempts to reroute and press receivers at the line of scrimmage” while being “disruptive with his hands” in coverage.
The report on Antrel Rolle is that he “excels in press coverage, showing the strength to jam and reroute receivers at the line of scrimmage.” Yet the negatives in his scouting report prior to the 2005 draft had the following:
Better when playing in the short area, as he does not have the sustained speed playing off the receivers in man coverage...When the quicker receivers defeat his press, he is a little too stiff in his hips to immediately recover and give chase...Needs to use his hands better to prevent the receiver from using double moves to gain separation.
Both clearly thrive and excel in a more physical/press scheme. Rolle can contribute but, as indicated in the scouting report above, he struggled the most in coverage versus a guy like Welker this past Sunday. Bottom line, Rolle needs to be werw he fits naturally, in center field. This leads us to hope that Prince Amakumara can contribute on a regular basis and be effective once they hit the field against teams who posses more receiver speed such as GB and NO.
The positive’s for Prince is Man Coverage:
Most of Nebraska’s defense is man coverage based because they get constant pressure with their front 7. Prince excels in man-man and is great at sticking with his guy as the play develops. This is possibly Prince’s greatest attribute and will really help his transition to the NFL.
Give credit to Fewell for his approach to the Patriots this past Sunday. But the personnel of the Patriots versus the other elite offenses/quarterbacks on their schedule have their differences. Both the Packs and Saints have more WR speed while the Saints have a shifty RB out of the backfield.
Let’s hope that Fewell realizes this and uses press even more while matching up his personnel accordingly. In the end, in order to be the best you need to match up and beat the best.
Reserve offensive lineman Adam Koets has been waived.
The Cold Hard Football Facts' Patrick Imig discusses the Eli Manning "elite" hysteria.
Pro Football Weekly believes Eli is MVP candidate.
Sports Illustrated's Peter King is loving Eli too. King thinks Eli is better in the clutch than Peyton.
Statistics proving Eli is the BEST 4th quarter QB in the NFL.
Unproven players getting it done for the Giants.
Things are looking up for the Giants. They sit at 6-2 and lead the NFC East by two games. Currently, their arch rival the Dream Team Philadelphia Eagles are in the basement. In two weeks, the Giants will have an opportunity to bury the birds. Recall, three years ago, the Giants had a chance to put the Eagles away. And they did not. Hopefully, this time around, the Giants will not let this happen again. While Giants fans should be excited about their team, DE Justin Tuck had sobering words. “We’ve been down this road before, man,” said defensive end Justin Tuck, less than an hour after the game was over. “We started 6-2 so many times, had a good start to the season and kind of collapsed. That’s getting old for me. We’d put some games together, then we’d fall apart. Whatever that reason is, we don’t know.
“Our history has been start the season fast and kind of slump off at the end. So I think we’re all aware of the fact that no one remembers what you do in November or December. Nobody’s going to remember that when whoever is playing in the Super Bowl is playing. So we’re not going to get so caught up in the fact that we’re 6-2 and we just beat the Patriots.”
In eight seasons as Giants head coach, Coughlin has guided the Giants to a 6-2 record FIVE times. As Tuck pointed out, for whatever reason, the Giants have not finished strong. With a stellar win against the Patriots, the Giants cleared their first hurdle. And there is many tough hurdles ahead. This week they face a 7-1 San Francisco team. If they play 60 minutes of football, limit boneheaded mistakes, and eliminate turnovers, amazing things can happen for the Giants in this mediocre NFL.
There are games that can change the fate of an entire season. This was one of them. This was one of the guttiest wins we have witnessed as Giants fans. This team came into Foxboro against a Hall of Fame QB + Hall of Fame Coach, without their starting Center, WR and RB. They played 60 tough minutes and won on a 2 minute drive that will define this team's belief in themselves. This was a tremendous win for a team that put it all together. How about that kid Ballard?!!!!! How 'bout them Giants?!!!!! Fantastic win!!!!!
1) Eli was fantastic again. No sooner have we remarked that in 7 years he has not been able to carry his team, and then he loses his starting RB, WR and C, and proceeds to ... CARRY THE TEAM! God Bless! Did he have a few blemishes with the backfoot throws, the delay of game in the red zone, and the killer INT in the endzone? Yes. And if we lose, those sins will haunt us. But he gutted it out and finished with a drive that would have made Joe Montana proud. More importantly, there are 52 other players in that lockerroom who can look to this guy and know that he is the deliverer. That is what days like yesterday are like, when you take your team down the field to win a lost game.
2) Ballard. The superlatives cannot go high enough for this player. Wonder talked him up during the week, saying he wanted to see and believed that Ballard could have a big game. But this was not big. It was GI-NORMOUS. Clutch and stellar do not do it justice. Fill in your adjectives here. Hope springs eternal, and this rookie 2nd year (TWICE waived) UFA bridges the gap to a successful season. There is simply no way the Giants can win today without his contributions. You need these types of new players to come on the scene and put you over the top in today's NFL.
3) Fewell. Did you notice how the Giants would bring 7 men up to the line of scrimmage and then pull back 3 into coverage and leave a 4 man rush? Those kind of adjustments and schemes by Fewell were a HUGE difference in the defensive effort. They kept Brady off-balance with that. They were NOT predictable. They still used more zone than to my liking, but there was plenty of man, and plenty of press. Fewell delivered. And the Giants delivered. Did the last Patriots drive s*ck? Yep, but Gronkowski pushed off Boley too on 4th down, so how can we fault Fewell for that?! Fewell coached his best game as a Giant yesterday.
4) Cruz. This guy is the real deal. We were all excited about him vs the Jets last year in preseason, but he is growing before our very eyes. He gets separation vs EVERYBODY he plays against. He has darting moves, catches the ball when it comes to him, and protects it now when he is getting tackled. His future is very bright. VERY bright.
5) Boley. Do you think it was an accident that the Giants played terrific defense and their Linebacker was a playmaking machine out there? I don't. Boley deflected the ball that Kiwi intercepted. He stripped Brady and caused a (second) Fumble/Turnover. Impact plays. Heck, on the play that the Pats take the lead 20-17, Gronkowski pushes off Boley for offensive pass interference (which they just aren't going to call that late in that situation).
6) Weatherford. His punting has been critical in stabilizing the specials.
7) Postgame Lockerroom. How many of you saw the Giants players throwing the old man up in the air with a rousing postgame celebration? That told me volumes about Tom's relationship with the players. Did you see who lifted up Coughlin? It was ... Brandon Jacobs! You can't make this stuff up. The players are rallying around Coughlin and they showed him a lotta love. Those intangibles are not necessary- they are CRITICAL for winning a title. You have to have players that are willing to walk through a wall for you, and to see 15+ players circliing around their head coach like that was a special sign.
1) Yep, the 3rd down conversions were awful, the muffed punt, Eli throwing off his back foot, the delay of game in the red zone, yada yada yada. What needs to be appreciated here is that if the Giants had lost this game, which was certainly possible, we would have been EXTREMELY POSITIVE about the team and their effort, acknowledging how the Giants can build off a loss. So while we know that any of those things could have easily cost the team a win, it just means there is some low hanging fruit that can make the team even better.
1) Manningham's taunting personal foul. You give Brady 15 yards after a TD? F you. Eli's throw was letter perfect into the end of the end zone for a stellar TD and you take the lead 17-13... only to give them a 15 yard gift while celebrating?!??? There is simply no room for that insanity. It is selfish and completely unnecessary.
Wake up and smell the Nicks-Bradshaw-Baas. The Giants went into NE and pulled out a win without their best WR! If Eli has Nicks, this game is a weenie roast. Jacobs and Ware filled in well for Bradshaw, with Jacobs getting better as the game progressed. Boothe's snaps are erratic at best and Eli can do without that excitement.
The Gmen get a tremendous confidence boost from this win. Now they go into SF and they think know they can win. It is another test. But as long as the Gmen play 60 minutes and their coaches put them in a position to win, they'll be competitive. Let's see the Giants get these 3 players back so that they can compete at full strength. Wins like last night in NE don't come often, but they are special because they bond the team together in ways that a box score or the standings cannot possibly describe.