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Game Rewind: Giants Pass Defense

On Sunday in the review of the victory of the Giants over the Washington Redskins, we had 9 good’s and 3 bad’s.  So the gmen got the job done.  It is in this context that we did a Game Rewind and examined one of those 3 bad’s, the pass defense, to get some understanding of what exactly took place.

Two games ago, the Giants record stood at 6-4.  And we discussed the subsequent games against Jacksonville and Washington were winnable.  Despite having a depleted receiving corps and makeshift offensive line,  the Giants have collected two crucial wins.    So what’s the problem?  The answer is that all of the injuries were on the offensive side of the ball, so seeing defensive lapses is an issue which is not going to go away without adjustments. 

Simple reasoning is that when you win 31-7, the Giants could not have done too ‘bad’ly.  Think again. 

We are going to list 13 plays that took place.  See if you notice a common denominator.

1) Anthony Armstrong wide open for 22 yd completion.  Tripping penalty makes it 32 yards.
2) Anthony Armstrong wide open but McNabb throws it to Williams.  Armstrong was on the adjacent route and should have been hit for the easy 1st down.
3) Wide open Anthony Armstrong completed for 18 yards after Thomas releases and does a delayed blitz on play action.
4) Fred Davis found in the middle of zone coverage for a wide open completion of 18 yards.
5) Off coverage allows for easy complete pass into flat for first down.  Armstrong fumbles away the ball on the tackle and all is forgotten.
6) Cooley goes to work and gets some bread and butter 8 and 9 yard receptions underneath.
7) Armstrong gets behind Thomas and there is daylight but he cannot make the catch.  A better thrown ball or a better WR and that is 7 points.
8) Cooley has Ross beat.  “That is where the ball should have gone,” says the Fox analyst.  The ball goes elsewhere for an incompletion.
9) Sellers is wide open but he drops the ball.  He had half the field to run with if he makes the grab.
10) 28 yard screen pass, well executed.
11) Armstrong wide open with great separation in zone, but by the time McNabb finds him the ball has to be thrown back into the 1st down area and it is only a 9 yard completion.
12) Armstrong gets behind the secondary on the very next play, wide open for a TD.
13) Santana Moss missed catching the ball after getting past the entire secondary.  Rolle was sucked in by play action (in Q4?) and was too late to get back and help the CB.

The Redskins had LOADS of opportunities.  The penalties and turnovers were not listed here.  Instead, we noted the items that won’t show up in a box score: the missed chances to make big plays.  The Giants defense gave the Redskins lots of openings to get gashed.  That the Skins were not good enough to capitalize is the message for when the Giants play against REAL teams with REAL QBs.  McNabb has lost a step and he is clearly not comfortable yet in this new offense.  

To Perry Fewell’s credit, his schemes seem to be evolving.  He adjusts better and utilizes different defenses against different teams.  I’d like to think that the passive coverage we saw vs Washington would not be used nearly as much vs Aaron Rodgers or Michael Vick.  And to be fair, vs Vick, the defense did play tighter and had less lapses.  But let’s not forget all of those Eagles drops either.  The takeaway from the Game Rewind is that the Redskins did next to nothing to help themselves, and that the Giants defense better have tighter schemes in the final 4 games.  There is room for improvement.  There is need for improvement.