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Game Rewind week 12

In this week’s segment of Game Rewind we will look at some of the chilling analysis made by our humble Peter Furman as well as Glenn Warciski on the linebacker unit.

First Pete’s comments about the Banks post yesterday: 

Was Banks watching the same game I was? Did he notice that in the first half the Jaguars were consistently manhandling Goff?

I have my own system in analyzing the defensive side of the ball. Look at the leading tacklers stats and you will see that Grant led the team with 8.  On top of the list was mostly defensive backs with Osi, Tuck, Cofield and Canty who all combined for ten or less.  This is telling, as your linebackers are supposedly there to make stops and in the Tampa Two the DL has to get a push and make some stops. As you saw the Giants DL didn’t do their job and Maurice Drew-Jones was breaking free on runs of 10-15 yards. Once he got past the line and did not get confronted by a linebacker it was 10-15 yards.

The Jaguars dominated Blue and we were lucky to only trail by 11.

I don’t know about speeches but Fewell changing to an all out pressure defense won the game.  I think it is apparent that when the Giants play the press and come with several blitz schemes they are a dominating defense. There were few out and out sacks but the pressure from Osi, Cofield, Tuck, Rolle,Thomas and Phillips left Garrard ineffective.  Jones-Drew was unable to get anything going and Garrard was hit so many times in a row that he was a few moments from becoming the 6th Giants KO of the year. 

Eli Manning played a solid game, not a great game, but enough to win. Manningham and Boss were excellent.  If Eli could have mustered some accuracy Mario could have had a career game.  He consistently gets open and with another year to learn to run better routes and molds with Eli, the sky’s the limit.   As I mentioned in my post game article, the game ball goes to the OL. With Boothe and Beatty having to play and O’Hara/Diehl/Koets/Andrews out and Seubert forced to play center they did an incredible job of holding up.  Eli had time, Jacobs got sprung as did Bradshaw for one 27 yard run. The fact that Ahmad carried just 9 times was puzzling but take away the one run and he averaged less than 3 yards per carry. The fact that Bradshaw had 4 receptions means that at least for one game Gilbride did something right.

I have to mention that I read today that the Eagles knew exactly what we were going to do by studying our personnel changes and positioning. In other words, Gilbride’s ‘always the same always predictable offense’ was used as a tell against us.  We talk about that all the time. This is the first time we got credible information that indeed by following substitutions, personnel and watching the formation the opponent can detect exactly what’s coming and stop it. A good offensive coordinator changes things up on a game by game basis. Incredibly, Gilbride doesn’t, and the league has caught on. 

Let’s go back to a post written by Glenn in June

Glenn discussed how the lack of speed at the linebacker position was used against them last year.  In reminiscing the Chargers OT loss Glenn points out that since “the Giants did not put any pressure on Rivers.  Rivers threw quick short passes to his  receivers in middle of the field.  Nonetheless, Rivers exposed the weakness of this defense which is the linebacker unit.  Easily, the Chargers were able to march down the field.”  Glenn summarizes from this example that “more importantly, they will have to be able to guard receivers in space and limit  pass catchers yards after the catch (YAC).   If the Giants cannot get improved play from their linebackers,  once again offenses will be able to exploit the soft belly of this defense- the linebacker unit.”

The first half of the Jaguars game had numerous occasions confirming both Pete’s points as well as Glenn’s.  But first let’s look at some important and telling statistics.  Pete mentioned Grant as the leading tackler with 8.  In order, here are the other leading tacklers: Boley 6 (2 assist), Rolle 6 (1 assist), Goff 5 (2 assist), JPP 5 (1 assist), TT 5 (1 assist), Webster 5 (1 assist) and Bulluck 4 (1 assist).  In the 1st half Boley had 2 tackles and 2 assist while Goff had his 2 assist.  In the 1st half the Jaguars ran 17 times for 144 yards equating to a 20.5 yards per carry for running backs only (yikes!).  On short routes they completed 8 passes for 57 yards which is almost 50% of their game total of 121.

Pete was 100% correct on how the Jaguars manhandled Goff in the 1st half.  On their very first possession which accounted for 64 yards rushing they assigned a guard on Goff on almost every play and he was taken out of each and every play.  When he wasn’t blocked he was caught inside and unable to recover fast enough.  Goff was not the only linebacker abused on this drive and ensuing drives as Bulluck showed his age and lack of agility to shed blocks specifically on Jennings run for 19 yards to the NYG 5 in the Jaguars first TD drive. Pete questioned Banks indirectly about gap control and from reviewing the tape it appears that Pete is correct.  The DL was clearly being pushed off the line in a lot of 1 on 1 matchups thus allowing the offensive line to attack the linebackers in soft 5-7 yard coverage. What was also interesting was Fewell utilizing more linebackers in his formation.  On the play noted above, Jennings 19 yard run, the Giants had Sintim, Boley, Goff and Bulluck in.  A majority of plays they had a 3 linebacker formation versus what you saw in the 2nd half with Goff, Boley and the quasi-linebacker, Grant.

In the 2nd half there was a discernible difference in how the linebackers were approaching the running attack.  In the 1st half Goff and Bulluck were set 5-7 yards of the line of scrimmage versus attacking the gaps which occurred in the 2nd half.  The very first running play on the Jaguars 2nd possession both Goff and Boley attacked the line of scrimmage that resulted in a 1 yard gain for the Jaguars.  The fact that the Jaguars ran 10 times for 37 yards for a 3.7 yards per carry running back average is enough said.  The fact that they 8 passes completed for 56 yards again does not really need to be analyzed further. The defensive line was significantly more physical in their play as Canty was night and day from the 1st half to the 2nd half.  Bottom line, Fewell came out with more aggression in his schemes with blitz packages, more press coverage and his linebackers attacking the line of scrimmage.

Let’s also look at season statistics to tell a complete story of the linebackers in comparison to the rest of the league.  Of the top 100 tacklers in the league 32 are middle/inside linebackers.  The only MLBs not in the top 100 are full time starters are Goff with 50, Connor with 47 (missed 1 game) and Ashlee Palmer from Detroit with 46.  The Giants team leaders in tackles are Terrell Thomas with 65, Rolle with 61, Boley with 61, Phillips with 53, Goff with 50, Grant with 46, Tuck with 56 and Webster with 39. 

We have dissected the weakness of the Giants defense going back to pre-draft and it will continue to be exposed like the Jaguars did in the 1st half until Fewell detracts himself from his comfort zone, the Tampa 2.  Without an aggressive style, which includes attacking the line of scrimmage and pressing their receivers at the line of scrimmage more often, offenses will attack the lack of speed and physicality of their linebackers.

Final note, Osi played an outstanding game.  The stats don’t tell the true story of his contribution.  He accounted for 3 running plays in the 1st half that were for no gain or negative yards.  He was constantly disrupting their passing game and disrupting Garrard’s timing.