I liked a lot of things I saw in this win. I did not like a few things as well, and we will discuss them all. Any time you eliminate a Divisional Rival and head into the playoffs with a win, it is a great thing. That is foremost above all else. I am happiest with the fact that McAdoo came into the game without laying down to the Redskins. The Giants could not afford to go into the playoffs with 2 consecutive losses. They needed some momentum and gained additional confidence as they head into the postseason.
The NY Giants have a Championship Defense. This will be the reason why they have a shot to go very far in the playoffs. In the first half, when Jenkins was playing, the Defense was suffocating. Spags was mixing up pressures and the Giants were getting sacks. The Redskins had 49 yards of total offense before the end of the half when they went into a mini-prevent and allowed the setup of a very long FG which missed badly. That 49 yards was dominating. That effort was against a very good NFL Offense. It is this part of the game that needs to be the big blue blueprint for a title.
The Offense was a mixed bag of all kinds of good and bad things wrapped into one game. What was good was how in the first half, the Giants were able to run the ball effectively. Paul Perkins started the game… Hail hail Fredonia! … signs of intelligent life. It is like 2007 when we were begging for more lightning Bradshaw and instead got the Jacobs plowhorse. Similarly, Jennings is a half step too slow and it makes a huge difference in the holes that are/not there. Perkins also breaks tackles and blows open big gains. The difference is tangible.
Eli was a problem again. He missed some important passes that could have moved the chains. He threw some balls that could have (and against other opponents, would have) been picked off. For his part, he did not turn over the ball, which is huge. If he can avoid turning over the ball in the postseason along with this Defense, the Giants can go very far. And yet, some of the problems for Eli became more visible in the 2nd half without OBJ in the game, so Eli is naturally going to look weaker without his star on the field. But he still needs to throw the ball with more zip on those flat routes, and the telegraphing needs to get removed completely. He would have had a Delay of Game penalty had timeout not been called- this is a larger problem with the ‘no huddle’ on the road. Considering that the Giants will be on the Road the next 3 games (God willing!), this is precisely why the Offense needed to play hard with its Offensive starters today. Eli made another boner mistake, taking a grounding penalty by not making the throw back to the line of the scrimmage. While I believe in Eli to get it done in the playoffs, I admit that he is still showing many signs of shoddy play that will cost the team. He alone needs to clean it up. He can be such a huge difference for the Giants with slightly improved play going forward. We got a glimpse of that, when he hit Tavares King for a gain of 44 yards on a deep sideline route. If you would have told me before the season began that it would be in Eli’s hands for how far the Giants go in the playoffs, I would have had no problem with that. I still have to accept that as a pretty good deal. It is really up to Eli now on how far the Giants go. He is the biggest single variable factor.
The Offensive Line still shows its problems. When the Giants needed to pass in 2nd and 3rd down predictably long positions in the 2nd half, Flowers and Newhouse were once again liabilities. That McAdoo and Sullivan cannot make these adjustments and help the OL is poor. Rolling out the pocket? TE chip on the pass rushing end? Max protect? There are things you can do to mix it up on 3rd and long without exposing Flowers (and Eli). This will help Eli. This will help everyone.
I do not know what McAdoo was thinking when he chose to go for it on 4th down in Q3 at the Redskin 16 yd line. He is up 10-0 and a FG is huge. The Redskins are digging their own grave and a FG puts another nail in the coffin. In a contest that has seen a grand total of 2 scores in 35 minutes of football, a FG is added suffocation. You can call me for being a Monday Morning QB on this, but my track record on this blog is generally not to question these decisions often. I will here on this one. It was simply unnecessary and therefore a bad decision.
When Janoris Jenkins was taken out in the 2nd half (wisely), it was dominoes. We saw this vs Philadelphia as well. The Secondary becomes a little bit weaker, and it all flows out of the aggressiveness/coverages. Facts are facts. Janoris Jenkins is a shutdown corner. In 2008, Webster was a shutdown corner and it similarly allowed Spagnuolo the ability to take more chances with (some mixed in) blitzes.
Problems surfaced in the 2nd half when all of these things came together. You pull your shutdown corner and your star WR. Add that McAdoo goes into the Prevent Offense and it is a recipe for a comeback. Of all of the things I was most disappointed in, it was the McAdoo Prevent Offense. Joe Buck is heralding the Washington Defense for doing such a great job in H2 but anyone with eyes saw the Giants playcalling get far more conservative, with predictable running. On one series, after an end around run for 7 yards, two more runs yield a RRRK 3&Out special. The same playcalling tendencies we chronicled early in the same season, namely conservative Prevent Offense with a(ny) lead in Q4 (and even bleeding into Q3), showed up again today. If they show up with a few minutes left, that is one thing. The problem is they show up way too early and the Defense has its tongue hanging out from exhaustion once the Offense starts its 3&Outs. In this game, the Giants went 3&Out on 4 consecutive drives. While I cannot point directly to every drive being RRPK, it was clearly clock-killing mode. And all it generated was a lot of bites of the apple by the Washington Offense. Play 60 minutes. Don’t have the Offense play 45 so that the Defense has to play 75. It is not fair. And not so surprisingly, when the score gets tied, the urgency starts again and we start to see more sane playcalling, like a deep sideline throw which generates a FG. The humorous part of the big play was that as soon as the Giants had regained tempo with the ball at the Washington 25, what did McAdoo call? Back to the RRPK. It is really amazing how McAdoo’s playcalling from when he was Offensive Coordinator to now with him both HC/OC has become so conservative. Do not let the 4th down decisions about going for it fool you. McAdoo is coaching not to lose rather than to win when he gets a lead in the second half. And he simply does it way too early.
Let’s celebrate some incredible play by the Defense today. DRC had two INTs that bailed McAdoo out. Jenkins consistently delivers silence. Collins is an animal. And Damon Harrison is a force. He got pissed for not getting into the Pro Bowl. He should be All-Pro. But since he does not have the sacks, he gets overlooked. It is horse manure. Giants fans know that so much of the great play of the Defense comes from him. He minimizes the deficiencies of our LBers in run coverage. He consistently clogs up the line of scrimmage. Remember, there has been absolutely zero drop off in run defense since JPP went out with the sports hernia.
As we head into the playoffs, there are opportunities to target the Giants. Remember the blueprint of Haley and the Steelers. They did not go after the DL and Secondary as much as they targeted underneath vs the Linebackers. Watching the WR screen to Garcon on 3rd and 17 from the 24 was nauseating. LB Keenan Robinson is floating and useless on the play. He drifts behind and does nothing except watch as Garcon rumbles down the field. Maybe he thought his teammates had the tackle but all I saw was a poor LBer who loafed. That is the soft underbelly that a good Offensive Coordinator is going to target. Spags can only do so much with his DL and DBs. Those 2 LBers are still on the field.
When we understand the limitations of the Defense via weak LBers in coverage, we recognize the need for the Offense to do its part in scoring more than 10-13 points per game. It will not be enough to get through 4 playoff games. The Defense will not pitch shutouts every game. Not against playoff teams. Not when their Offenses keep getting more and more H2 touches because of 3&Outs. Eli Manning and Ben McAdoo have a great hand to play. Use the benefits of this special defense and win it all. It is literally in their hands.