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Game Rewind: Defensive Analysis

This week we’ll take a different tack by analyzing one side of the ball- the defense on game rewind vs the Texans.  By breaking down what took place on Sunday, let’s see what happened and see how repeatable all of this is.

First things first.  My big deal is (the secondary’s) press coverage.  My apologies for sounding like a broken record, but the more press I see, the happier I am. 

1) Ross was in a lot of press coverage.  GOOD.  There is a reason why Thomas and Webster are starters and Ross is a nickel backup.  Ross cannot play off coverage nearly as well.  So to see him at the line bumping his assignment with greater regularity than CWeb and Thomas is a good sign.  It means that Fewell is making adjustments.

2) Terrell Thomas was almost always playing WAY off coverage, often as many as 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage.  The Giants used a little mini zone, where the Safety would be responsible for the quick out or slant AND more importantly would be the 8th man in the box for run support.

3) At one point the Fox announcers accurately pointed out how the Giants had a lot of Rolle in the box to seal the edge and stop the Foster cutbacks.  This was big.  We saw this on at least 3 plays, two of which where Rolle was very important.

4) Yes, there was a Sintim sighting!  He made an unabated blitz to the QB and forced a rushed throw by Schaub.  But the exclamation mark is a little sarcasm, because this guy so far has been mostly a non-factor.

5) Another note on the benefits of press coverage… Andre Johnson’s two biggest catches of the day (the 48 yard bomb and the ~20 yarder to the 1 yard line) were both done off of a free release at the line of scrimmage.  On the 20  to the 1 yd line that sets up the lone TD, Michael Boley is blitzing and comes within a whisker of sack-stripping the ball from Schaub.  Spags got more sacks out of his DL because of plays like this, where Schaub did not have the extra fraction of a second to get the ball away.

6) In tallying up the amount of press coverage, it came out to roughly 30% of the time.  It was hard to break it all down, because often the camera is only showing one of the two or two of the three receivers, not the entire story.  There was enough data though to get a good sense that it was somewhere in the 25%-35% zone, 1/4 or 1/3 of the time.  The good news is that I believe this is better than the beginning of the year, when it looked like less.  More good news is that it was very uneven, very unpredictable, so that makes it harder to know exactly what is coming.  Sometimes the Giants were up at the line and faded away in the middle of the snap count.  In the grand scheme, BE UNPREDICTABLE.  I’d rather be unpredictable with more press, but at least it was mixed.

7) Yes, it did look like there was ‘a tell’ sometimes because Thomas was playing off coverage and then before the snap I’d see him up on his guy because the ball was about to be handed off.  This happened at least twice to my count.  Thomas was not there at the line because of the WR bump, he was there for the run.  See tomorrow’s blog for confirmation that this indeed the case.

8) As Simms noted, the copycat NFL is at it again, as the Giants took a page out of the Rex Ryan playbook and had one of those overloaded blitzes.

9) JPP and Joseph both looked solid in limited snaps.

10)  A question I have is- was Goff faster in the run and pass because he had “the tell?” That would tend to make sense.  We’ll have to watch him the next few weeks.  All I know is that this week he was very fast all over the place and looked terrific.  If a MLBer knows whether or not it is pass or run, it is a stacked deck.  For now we have to give him great credit.  Let’s see if he continues to play with good ‘reads’ and is a step ahead of the offense.  AP was never a swift LBer but he made his bacon by studying so much film that he could tell if it is was pass or run.  (And from the viewpoint of having an effective offense, vis a vis the Safety and the LBers, this is why an effective and more liberal use of play action is so crucial to opening up your receivers as an offense.)

11) We noted the batted ball of JPP in the recap.  The Fox guys saw 4 of them.  I saw three: Canty, JPP and Cofield.  Yesterday, Motown pointed out that Romo has problems with these as well.  This will be BIG against Dallas.  Push the pocket, don’t give him vision.  FYI, Cofield is 6’4″, JPP is 6’5″ and Canty is 6’7″. (Bernard is 6’3″, Osi 6’3″, Tuck 6’5″) 

Summary- The Giants defense was seemingly everywhere.  The Texans had ~ 4 plays of any real significance all game and the rest were incredibly well contested.  There were few plays where the Giants were not prepared, flat-footed, broken assignments, otherwise.  There was crisp tackling, great gap control, the edge was manned, the pass rush was consistent, the secondary was very solid, the LBers were anything but leaky.  This was the second week in a row of dominating football.  It is noteworthy.  Let’s keep watching for signs that it is real.  As Goff goes, so goes this defense.  Right now Goff is going good.