Oct 162002
 
Atlanta Falcons 17 – New York Giants 10

Game Overview: The Giants are blowing it. Picked by many to finish last place in the NFC East and by some to be one of the worst teams in football this year, they have surpassed the expectations of many thus far. They almost knocked off the 49ers in the season opener; beat the Rams in St. Louis when Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, and Orlando Pace were all healthy; squeaked by a Seattle team that many thought would be a decent team this year; and beat the Cowboys in Dallas (always a tough task for the G-Men).

However, the Giants could have won the game against the 49ers had they simply not wasted scoring opportunities in the first half of that game. They were embarrassed in Arizona when they gave new life to a Cardinals’ team due to a stupid coaching decision at the end of the first half. Then came the depressing affair against the Falcons this past Sunday.

The Giants are now 3-3 and a half game behind 3-2 Philadelphia. But they should be 5-1 or 4-2.

I don’t detect a sense of urgency with this team – something that is lacking from most of the teams in the NFL – particularly in the NFC. Only a few teams in the AFC seem to be playing inspired football. If the Giants’ players, coaches, and team executives don’t want to be mediocre, talking about it is not going to do any good. The team needs to go out on the field each and every week and win the football game. These games that they should have won will come back to haunt them, be it missing a Wild Card spot, a division title, or home field. The players don’t seem to understand that. “It’s like going against the Chicago Bulls when they didn’t have Jordan,” MLB Mike Barrow says. “When we play somebody great, we play hard, but when it’s somebody we’re supposed to beat, we’re playing at their level.”

“We have to break this win-lose, win-lose cycle, otherwise we’re gonna finish 8-8,” HB Tiki Barber says. Well duh Tiki…now do something about it!

Now injuries are starting to become a factor. DT Keith Hamilton (Achilles’) is gone. CB Will Peterson (toe), TE Jeremy Shockey (toe), DE Kenny Holmes (elbow), and RG Jason Whittle (back) all missed the game against the Falcons. How limited the rest of the season is still a question.

This is what needs to be done:

  1. On offense, he Giants must put more points up on the board. 14.3 points-per-game is not going to cut it. I know the Giants want to run the ball more, but this is a better passing team than rushing team. And points come out of the passing game. The Giants need start picking up big chunks of yardage and putting touchdowns on the board early in games via the passing attack. Forget the balance-attacked early on in a game. I fully realize this is a riskier approach, but with greater risk comes greater rewards. Shockey, Toomer, Hilliard, Dixon, Carter, Jones, Barber….throw the damn ball.
  2. Also offensively, continue to pare down the number of plays in the play book. 150 is still too many. Execution over tactical surprise. Football has some chess-like characteristics, but games are still won and lost by running your bread-and-butter players and executing those plays. You don’t have to out-think your opponent on every down.
  3. On defense, the Giants are going to have to take more chances now with DT Keith Hamilton out. That doesn’t mean blitz on every down and it certainly doesn’t mean being predictable. On Sunday, the Giants blitzed some but Atlanta seemed to always know that it was coming and had the right play called against it. The Giants need to juice up their pass rush with some unpredictable schemes.
  4. Also defensively, start creating turnovers. One of the problems the Giants’ offense is having is that it always seems to have to march the length of the field. Turnovers create a short field and lead to easy points. The Giants blew two golden opportunities on Sunday by failing to recover two fumbles. They have also been dropping interceptions this year.
  5. On special teams, related to the previous point, Tim Carter and Delvin Joyce need better blocking from the guys in front of them on kick and punt returns in order to provide the offense with a shorter field as well.

New York’s drive against Atlanta started at their own 27, 26, 2, 30, 13, and 30.

As for the Atlanta game, this was a strange, strange contest. The Giants only had the ball SIX times the ENTIRE game. SIX!!! I don’t think I’ve ever seen that as long as I’ve been watching football. Out of those six drives, the Giants had two that ended in points (a touchdown and a field goal), two that drove inside the red zone but ended with turnovers, and two non-productive drives. The Giants didn’t have problems moving the ball on Sunday, their problem was they never had it enough and Atlanta made two excellent defensive plays on the turnovers. Sunday’s game was completed in 2 hours, 38 minutes – the shortest Giants game since 1994 and the shortest game in the NFL this season.

Why was the game so short and why were there so few possessions? It was the story of two halves of football. In the first half, the Giants’ defense couldn’t get Atlanta off the field, particularly on the 17-play, 9 minute and 34 second drive in the first quarter. On that drive, Atlanta converted FIVE third downs, including a 3rd-and-9, a 3rd-and-1, a 3rd-and-8, a 3rd-and-11, and a 3rd-and-5 (the latter being a touchdown). The Giants only had the ball once in the first quarter.

In the second half, it was the Giants who dominated the time of possession. They scored on their first drive. Their other two drives got inside the red zone, but the ball was turned over. It sounds strange, but the Giants’ held onto the ball too long. In other words, there weren’t enough big plays for big yardage (and quick scores) by the offense. The Giants moved the ball well, but eventually shot themselves in the foot.

Giants on Offense: I’m going to write my review a bit differently this week due to the small number of offensive possessions and the completely different tone of both halves of football.

First Drive: 6 plays (3 passes, 3 runs) that picked up 21 yards. The first play was a Tiki run up the middle that picked up 2 yards. The nose tackle for Atlanta was able to make the tackle after he fought off the block of OC Chris Bober. The second play was a 5-WR set and a short pass completed to Amani Toomer for 5 yards. Fortunately for the Giants, Atlanta was also flagged with defensive pass interference and a first down resulted. On the next play, Collins was afforded superb pass protection and had all day to find Toomer on a crossing route for 12 yards. It was an excellent throw to Toomer who was in the middle of three defenders. On the 4th play, Ron Dayne ran with good authority off left tackle for 3-yards behind good blocks from Dan Campbell and Marcellus Rivers. The 2nd-and-7 play was a 1-yard loss by Barber. The Giants tried to surprise Atlanta with a running play after spreading out the defense with a passing formation. The defense wasn’t fooled (Ike Hilliard’s block on the linebacker was also ineffective). On 3rd-and-8, LG Rich Seubert gave up a pressure that forced Collins to scramble up into the pocket. Collins then decided to try to run for it by was “sacked” at the line of scrimmage. Bad play by Seubert and Collins.

Second Drive: 3 plays (1 pass, 2 runs) that only picked up 6 yards. This was New York’s worst drive of the game and it’s only 3-and-out. This is an example of the problem I have with the play-calling in terms of a pass versus run approach. Atlanta just scored on their marathon drive. I would have liked to have seen the Giants come out aggressively here with the pass. The first play was a 4-yard run by Barber off right guard. However, if RT Mike Rosenthal sustains better on his block, Barber picks up more yardage. On 2nd-and-6, Barber runs around right end. He makes one guy miss, but Sean Bennett makes a horrible effort on his block and his man tackles Tiki. On 3rd-and-4, Barber didn’t hit the blitzing linebacker coming up the gut face-up. The linebacker flipped over Tiki and this seemed to fluster Collins who threw a deep pass to Toomer off his back foot. The ball was nearly intercepted.

Third Drive: 13-plays (6 passes, 7 runs) that picked up 78 yards and resulted in a field goal. This was the Giants’ last possession in the first half. The Giants drove the ball from their own 2-yard line to the Falcon 20 (a classic example of having to drive a long field). Ron Dayne got the Giants some breathing room with a decent power run for 3-yards on first down. On 2nd-and-7, Collins passed to a wide open Dan Campbell over the middle for 19-yards (it was a good twisting catch as Collins’ pass was behind Dan). On 1st-and-10, Collins was given good protection after a play-action fake, but he took too long and was forced to unload the ball. At this point of the contest, Collins is obviously not real sharp. On 2nd-and-10, Tiki picks up 11-yards off right tackle behind good blocks from Rosenthal, RG Dusty Zeigler, and Campbell (Charles Stackhouse whiffs badly on his block on this run). On 1st-and-10, Barber runs in the wrong direction and Collins is forced to eat the ball for a 2-yard loss. This is another example of Tiki not being real mentally sharp this year. On 2nd-and-12, Collins delivers a strike to Toomer over the middle, but Toomer drops the ball. On 3rd-and-12, Collins throws a beautiful touch pass to Hilliard despite pressure in his face (Bober was bull-rushed by the nose tackle). Hilliard made an excellent cut after the reception and I think he had a shot to score on this play if his footing didn’t give out under the piece of crap playing field the Giants play on. On 1st-and-10 from the Atlanta 41, Tim Carter got his first touch on a 9-yard end around. Marcellus Rivers missed his block on this run but it didn’t matter as Carter out-ran the Atlanta defenders who had the angle on him. Incidentally, Zeigler looked pretty damn fast on his pull on this play. On 2nd-and-1, Dayne picked up 18-yards on a run around left end where Stackhouse took out two defenders – an awesome play on his part (Campbell and Hilliard also got good blocks). Two tough runs by Barber and Dayne picked up 6 yards. On 3rd-and-4, Hilliard again slipped – this time coming off of the line of scrimmage. This seemed to affect his route (which was short of the first down) and Collins seemed a tad late with his delivery on the dash rollout. This play normally works darn well for the Giants but came up short here. Giants kick the field goal.

Fourth Drive: 12-plays (7 passes, 5 runs) that picked up 70-yards resulting in a touchdown. This was a long drive where the Giants converted on three 3rd downs. The drive started off with two short passes to Stackhouse. On both plays, Dayne did a poor job of picking up an oncoming rusher, but Kerry got the ball out quickly and Stackhouse broke a tackle and showed fine balance on the first catch. On 3rd-and-1, Tiki was hit right at the line of scrimmage, but great second effort got him 3-yards and the first down. After a short Dayne pick-up, Barber failed to pick-up the blitzing linebacker and Collins was sacked for a 6-yard loss. In the past Tiki has been very good with blitz pick-ups, but this year he has not. After an Atlanta penalty, on 3rd-and-9, Collins hit Hilliard for 16 yards and a first down over the middle. On this play, Petitgout allowed the end to pressure Collins, but Kerry stood in there tough. On the next play, Rosenthal was pushed back into Collins and Kerry’s deep pass to Ron Dixon deep was off-the-mark. A screen pass to Barber picked up 13 yards and a first down (incidentally, “Moose” Johnston made an interesting comment in that LB Keith Brookings of the Falcons said the Giants were the best screen team they faced). A double reverse to Hilliard picked up 7 yards (good looking play). On the next play, Dayne picked up two yards as LB Chris Draft broke through the trash to hit Dayne in the hole. On 3rd-and-1, Tiki barely picked up the first down on a left-side sweep. Then Collins hit Hilliard from 18 yards out for the touchdown with a nice pump fake off of post-corner route (a double-move route where the receiver feigns a post route and then takes it to the corner). It was a nice touch pass by Collins. Score tied 10-10.

Fifth Drive: 13-plays (6 passes, 7 runs). This was another long drive that ended with an interception at the Atlanta 7-yard line. Momentum was completely with the Giants until the turnover at the end of this drive and subsequent poor play by the Giants’ pass defense. On 2nd-and-8, the Collins hit Tim Carter for 10 yards on a slant pass. If this pass had been higher, it would have allowed Carter to pick up significant yardage after the catch (and with his speed, you never know if he could have broken it). On the subsequent 1st-and-10, both Barber and Zeigler failed to pick up a rusher who forced Collins to throw the ball away prematurely. On 2nd-and-10, the Giants created a huge hole for Barber to run through behind excellent blocks by Campbell, Petitgout, Seubert, Bober, and Stackhouse; Barber picked up 11-yards on the play. Dayne then picked up 6 yards behind good blocks from Stackhouse and Campbell; if Rosenthal had been able to sustain his block longer, Dayne would have picked up even more yardage. On 2nd-and-4, Collins threw behind Toomer, but Toomer caught the ball for 8 yards and a first down (a lot of Collins’ passes were behind the mark on Sunday). Dayne then picked up 3 yards on his own up the middle as the entire offensive line didn’t get much of a push on the play. On 2nd-and-7, Barber was smashed in the hole as Zeigler completely whiffed on the LB on his pull. On 3rd-and-8, Collins again converted by finding Hilliard over the middle for 11-yards and a first down (Hilliard was obviously Collins’ go-to receiver on Sunday; this may have been the result of double-teams on Amani Toomer – whatever the case, Hilliard was very active on Sunday and Toomer very quiet). Barber then picked up 12 yards on a cutback run to the right behind good blocks from Rosenthal and Zeigler. Dayne picked up 3 yards behind Petitgout, but would have picked up more had Seubert sustained his block longer. A 5-WR set pass play to Daryl Jones only picked up 2-yards. On 3rd-and-5, disaster struck as Collins’ pass to Hilliard was intercepted at the 7-yard line. The Atlanta corner made a hell of a play by knocking Hilliard off his route and then sticking to Ike like glue on the play. “That play still has me sick,” said Hilliard. “(The corner) squatted on me. He made contact as I was going up the field and threw me off balance, and instead of me straightening and giving a corner move and going in, I went straight in and he made a play underneath and picked the ball off.”

Sixth Drive: 12-plays (10 passes, 2 runs). Drive ended at Atlanta 17-yard line with a fumble. This was New York’s last chance. Atlanta had just taken the lead 17-10 after their 94-yard drive after the Collins’ interception on the previous series. After a short Barber run, pass pressure given up by Rosenthal and Zeigler forced Collins to throw incomplete. On 3rd-and-7, Ron Dixon made a marvelous diving catch on the sideline to pick up 10-yards and the first down. It was an outstanding play. Barber picked up 12-yards around left end behind good blocks from Stackhouse and Campbell, but Hilliard was flagged for holding down field. A short pass to Stackhouse picked up 7 yards. On 2nd-and-8, Atlanta blitzed two linebackers against the Giants’ 5-WR set. In other words, there were more rushers than blockers and Collins was sacked by the free linebacker. On 3rd-and-16, Barber picked up 15 on pass out of the backfield. On 4th-and-1, Collins again found Hilliard over the middle in a clutch situation for 5-yards and a first down. A pass to Barber fell incomplete as Seubert was beat and his man hit Collins. On 2nd-and-10, the Giants used the 5-WR set again and threw a quick wide receiver screen to Hilliard for 7 yards (I love this play because it enables the Giants to get Hilliard in the open field and use his moves). On 3rd-and-3, the Giants went for the home run to Toomer, but Toomer was well-covered. On 4th-and-3, Bober must have missed the snap count as he snapped the ball and no other offensive linemen moved. Fortunately for the Giants, Collins and Dixon continued with the play and Collins quickly hit Dixon over the middle for the first down and a lot more yardage. However, as Dixon was being tackled, a second defender poked the ball out of his hands. Personally, I don’t think Dixon was being sloppy (he had both hands on the ball), I just think the Atlanta defender made an excellent play. The bad news for the Giants is that Dixon slipped on that crap field as he was running with the ball after the catch. “There was no question if I don’t (slip), that’s a touchdown,” Dixon said. “There’s no way the dude would have touched me, at all, but by me stumbling that gave them time to gather up on me.”

Run Defense: Hamilton and Strahan left the game near the end of the first quarter. Hamilton obviously did not return and Strahan only played a few snaps the rest of the way. The Giants were left with only four defensive linemen – Dwight Johnson at left end, Griffin and Lance Legree at tackle (flip-flopping on occasion), and Ferrara at right end. This four held up surprising well against the run and actually played as well in this department as the first unit did.

I do want to make one comment. While the loss of Keith Hamilton is going to hurt the Giants, Hamilton in my opinion has not been playing all that well this year. He was still a presence in run defense, but I did see him getting handled at the point-of-attack more than I have been used to. And he has not been a factor rushing the passer this year (though he does receive occasional double-teams). I think the thing that bothered me the most about Keith’s play this year was that he did not seem to be hustling on plays. That won’t be a problem with Lance Legree. Lance is one of my favorite players on the Giants because he is a smart, hard-working, effort player who gives it is all. I love watching his effort even when the ball is away from him. Lance is not a good pass rusher. And sometimes he will get clobbered by the double-teams. But I don’t think the Giants are in “trouble” with him in there.

On Atlanta’s first series, FB Bob Christian was able to pick up 8-yards off left tackle as Hamilton, Ferrara, and Barrow were all effectively blocked. However, on the very next play, Ferrara, Hamilton, and Griffin nailed T.J. Duckett and limited him to a 1-yard gain. On 3rd-and-1, Hamilton got good penetration and when Warrick Dunn cut back to the middle of the field, Barrow tackled him for no gain in the hole.

The second series by Atlanta was the killer 17-play drive. However, most of the damage on this drive came thru the air (11 pass plays). Dunn picked up 4 yards when Hamilton was effectively blocked. Dunn was held to two yards with Ferrara and Barrow combining on the tackle. Duckett only picked up 2 yards when Strahan could not be moved out of the way. Duckett lost a yard when Brandon Short slammed him in the hole – two big boys making a huge collision. Duckett only picked up 3-yard when Barrow filled the hole again. Lastly, Short did a great job of sniffing out a halfback draw and limiting Dunn to 3-yards.

On Atlanta’s third series, a Duckett run around left end was disrupted by Short (who missed the tackle); Lance Legree and Dwight Johnson cleaned up on the play – holding Duckett to 1-yard. Two plays later, Griffin disrupted an inside run that Legree cleaned up on, limiting Duckett to another 1-yard gain. On Atlanta’s next and final offensive possession of the first half, Duckett picked up 4-yards despite Legree holding his ground well. A few plays later, Barrow blitzed up the gut and nailed Dunn for a 4-yard loss. On 2nd-and-14, Dunn picked up 4-yards on a run to the left out of passing formation. Johnson got killed on the play, but Jason Sehorn made a nice tackle.

In the second half, the stingy run defense continued. On Atlanta’s first play, however, Duckett did pick up 8 yards as Ferrara, Legree, and Barrow were all successfully occupied. A 4-yard run at Griffin and Short then picked up the first down. Atlanta did not run again on that drive. On the next series – the 94-yard drive – Duckett was stuffed by Ferrara as he charged down the line from his right end spot. Barrow then fought through the trash on the next play to tackle Duckett for a 1-yard loss. All the damage on this drive was done through the air. Atlanta’s next (and last drive) was their successful attempt to “run out” the clock. However, it wasn’t the run defense that disappointed here, but again the pass defense. On 1st down, Ferrara and Legree held Duckett to a 3-yard carry. Duckett only managed 1 yard on the next play as Griffin and Legree held their ground. Atlanta then converted on 3rd-and-6 through the air. They ran the ball three more times and then punted, but there was on 18 seconds left on the clock.

Pass Defense: The run defense was fine on Sunday; the pass defense was terrible. Part of the problem is a lack of consistent pass rush. Strahan and Hamilton were too quiet – even before they got hurt. So was Griffin. Frank Ferrara made some noise against a quality opponent. Dwight Johnson and Lance Legree simply are not very good pass rushers. When the Giants did blitz, Atlanta seemed to know it was coming and ran some nifty screens that burned the Giants badly.

On top of that, Atlanta kept running a nifty play to great effect. Whichever linebacker was spying Warrick Dunn out of the backfield, the Falcons assigned an offensive linemen to. Thus when the linebacker went to cover Dunn, the lineman prevented him from doing so and Dunn had a lot of open field to play with. To make matters worse, there were some very costly mental breakdowns in coverage. Finally, let’s give Atlanta QB Doug Johnson some credit too. He made some excellent throws in clutch situations against the Giants. He was very poised and efficient.

Atlanta did not attempt a pass on its first possession. On the second possession, they passed eleven times. WR Brian Finneran caught a 6-yard pass against the Giants’ zone coverage on first down, beating Barrow and Jones. On 2nd-and-4, Strahan and Ferrara sacked Johnson and Ferrara forced a fumble that Brandon Short couldn’t recover. On 3rd-and-9, WR Willie Jackson got wide open in the Giants’ zone coverage for a 14-yard pass (Omar Stoutmire and Short were the closest defenders). After a 12-men on the field penalty against the Giants and a short run by Dunn, SS Shaun Williams made a picture-perfect pass defense play against TE Alge Crumpler and knocked the ball away (Griffin also got a good pass rush here). On 3rd-and-1, Short got beat by the other tight end for 7-yards and a first down. This was a tough play for Short because he had to honor the run fake here. On the very next play, there was a huge breakdown in the coverage as somehow Short was been called upon to defend against Finneran deep down the field and only an overthrow prevented a touchdown. On 3rd-and-8, Short had good coverage on Dunn, but Johnson threw a perfect pass for 8-yards and the first down. An offsides by Griffen, a short run, and a 7-yard screen pass gave the Falcons another first down. Two plays later, a pressure by Ferrara forced an incompletion on 2nd-and-11. On 3rd-and-11, Barrow got blocked out of the play on a screen to Dunn (the man he was trying to cover) and Dunn picked up 14 yards. Three players later, on 3rd-and-5, Strahan lost contain on his pass rush. Doug Johnson scrambled around him, faked a pass which caused Sehorn to jump into the air, and then sprinted into the end zone from 15 yards out. It was a terrible play by Sehorn. They teach you in Pop Warner never to leave your feet like that. The Giants pass defense on this drive was terrible – allowing five 3rd-down conversions. Meanwhile, the Giants’ offense is sitting on the sidelines.

On Atlanta’s next possession, the field position war again shifted Atlanta’s way when the Falcons beat a blitz by Barrow by running a perfectly executed screen pass to Dunn for 27-yards. Atlanta was confusing the hell out of the Giants’ linebackers all day by feigning a short throw to one side and then coming back underneath in the other direction. On Atlanta’s final drive of the first half, the Johnson saw the blitz coming from Sehorn and threw to his hot receiver for 10-yards and a first down. On the very next play, one of the linebackers or Shaun Williams really screwed the pooch when Crumpler was left wide open down the field for a 30-yard gain. This set up the field goal at the end of the first half.

The pass defense continued to disappoint in the second half as Atlanta made just enough plays to put another touchdown on the board and keep the ball out of the hands of the Giants’ offense. On the first drive, after two runs picked up a first down, Ferrara deflected a screen pass intended for Duckett (this was another one-man screen – this time to Duckett). Then Ferrara made a heck of a hustle play by coming off his pass rush to nail Dunn from behind after a short 3-yard dump-off over the middle. On 3rd-and-8, the Giants blitzed, but Doug Johnson made a heck of a throw to the tight end for 9-yards and a first down despite tight coverage from Barrow. Sehorn then made a superb play by deflecting away a pass to Trevor Gaylor over the middle of the field. On 2nd-and-10, Ferrara put a nice spin move on Bob Whitfield and sacked Johnson again (as well as forcing his second fumble; unfortunately, Atlanta recovered it again). On 3rd-and-16, Ferrara disrupted the timing of the screen to Dunn which enabled Strahan to come over and make the tackle. Atlanta was forced to punt.

The next drive was the killer 94-yarder. Sure Collins had just thrown an interception, but the score was still tied at 10-10 and Atlanta was backed up to their 6-yard line. The Giants’ pass defense let them off the hook, and worse, allowed them to score the game-winning points. If the Giants’ defense holds here, New York probably wins the football game. On 1st-and-10, the Giants’ linebackers made yet another big mental mistake as somebody left Dunn wide open in the flat for a 6-yard gain. On 2nd-and-4, the Giants blitzed SS Shaun Williams as Doug Johnson passed deep to Shawn Jefferson. Will Allen (who played a great game other than this play) was all over Jefferson, but missed the ball while going for the interception. Jefferson came down with the catch as Stoutmire overran the play and thereby contributed to significant yards-after-the-catch. (Incidentally, Sehorn showed great speed on the play by tracking down Jefferson from behind). After two runs were stuffed, for some reason the Giants decided to rush only 3-men. Johnson hit Finneran on a slant against Sehorn for 11-yards and a first down (Sehorn gave up far too much room on this play). On the very next play, Johnson looked off Stoutmire and the latter was burned for a touchdown pass to Finneran in the center of the end zone (this was not one of Stoutmire’s better games).

On Atlanta’s last drive, they passed only once, but it was a killer. Facing a 3rd-and-6 with 3:09 left in the game, Johnson hit Jefferson for 11-yards and a first down against CB Ralph Brown. Brown had decent coverage on the play, but this hurt. It’s too bad as Brown played a very good game otherwise.

Special Teams: PK Matt Bryant remained perfect, nailing his 38-yarder. His kick-offs landed at the 3 (good high kick), 23 (an awful, low kick), and 5 (decent). Atlanta has an outstanding return game, yet Allen Rossum was limited to returns of 20 (excellent tackle by Marcellus Rivers), 10 (nice play by Tim Carter), and 25 (Rivers and Charles Stackhouse).

Matt Bryant only punted twice. The first went for 40 yards and was a good high punt. Tim Carter and Damon Washington were both down in a hurry on this too (finally, the Giants have two speedy gunners). The second punt was high but short (32 yards).

I think the Giants have found their returners too. Tim Carter and Delvin Joyce look explosive on kick returns and Joyce is slippery as a punt returner. The problem for both is that they still are not getting much help in the form of blocking. Joyce never had a chance on his one punt return that he attempted to return (-2 yards). The only other one he fielded, he had to fair catch. On the punt that was downed at the Giants’ 2-yard line, Will Allen didn’t even try to block the opposing gunner who made the play. Terrible effort on his part.

The kick returns picked up 19 yards (Joyce), 22 yards (Carter – but there was a holding penalty on Kevin Lewis here), 20 yards (Carter), and 21 yards (Joyce). That’s not good enough. In fact, it’s pretty darn bad when you consider how much speed both Joyce and Carter have.


Offensive Line Review – O-Line Does a Good Job in Bad Loss

by Chris Jacobs

All in all I have to say this was a pretty good effort. The Giants are lucky that Zeigler was healthy and experienced enough to make the quick switch to guard. The linemen were asked to do plenty of pulling for sweeps and traps this week, as opposed to the previous week when they felt they could be successful running right at Dallas. They did a pretty good job, I noticed that they are doing a lot more cut blocking this year than the last two seasons. I don’t know if it has something to do with inexperience or the fact that they are younger and more athletic. But it seems to bite them in the ass every now and then when an athletic defender either hurdles the attempt, or pops up and makes the tackle.

Some quick points before I get to the lineman, Dayne ran hard, but he really has no knack to find soft spots in the line. Part of it may be from when he was at Wisconsin and the hole was actually where it was suppose to be, and part of it may be his inability to accelerate after making a cut but either way he could be getting more yards. Charles Stackhouse played an excellent game, there was one play where he completely whiffed on a backer that would have sprung Tiki for a big gain but besides that he played a close to perfect game. I was also very impressed with Hilliard’s blocking, the holding call was iffy, but besides that play I thought he did a good job in that department. He was actually asked to block a DE on one play when he motioned down the line and did a good job considering he was outweighed by about 100 pounds. In contrast Tiki did a terrible job blocking this week, particularly picking up blitzing LB’s.

Mike Rosenthal: (B-) The only thing that bothers me still with him is that little hesitation off the snap on his drive blocking, I didn’t see it last week but it was there once or twice against Atlanta. The only thing he needs to work on is sustaining his blocks while run blocking. It seems like sometimes at the point of attack he stops driving his legs and gives the defender a chance to scrape off and disrupt the play. Just a little passive, might be a confidence issue, he just needs to lay into a guy and drive him downfield. Pass blocking was great, was a little slow picking up a stunt that resulted in pressure but besides that he was solid.

Dusty Zeigler: (C) Huge difference between Ziegler and Whittle when it comes to pulling on sweeps and traps. Ziegler is very quick and really does a good job of laying into his man and sustaining a block in space. That being said he was very inconsistent, he would make a good block follow that up by a bad play and so on. There were times when he looked a little lost and I had a couple of notes where it appeared he blocked the wrong guy but it was hard for me to tell. One really obvious bad play was where he missed a block on a backer who then leveled Tiki but to his credit they were bringing good pressure with a run blitz. Did a fine job in the pass blocking department, was fooled once by a twist stunt that resulted in pressure but didn’t give up a sack.

Chris Bober: (B) Solid game, the nose guard he was lined up against was one strong SOB. He did a good job against him but there were moments during the game where this guy was literally throwing him around. First play of the game the guy picked him up with one arm and threw him on the ground. The guy didn’t really make a lot of plays and Bober was able to occupy him long enough to let the back run by or to let Collins throw. Did a nice job pass blocking, was beat by a swim move here and there but stayed with it and didn’t give up a sack. The only thing that really bothered me was on a sweep and on a screen where he tried to cut the backer who leaped over him and made the play. I don’t know if they coach him to do that or if they just give the linemen the choice, but if he just gets in the guys way for a split second it seems like it would be more effective that trying to cut him.

Rich Seubert: (B-) Did a great job in the run blocking department this week, he’s coming down the line flat and getting up field when he’s pulling on sweeps. Doing a real nice job drive blocking. One thing that’s becoming a problem, something I noticed also in the Seattle game. When pass blocking, once there is a space created on either side of him he gets beat. I can’t figure out if he thinks he’ll be getting help by the center or tackle or if he’s just playing with cement feet but it’s becoming a bad habit of his. Granted he didn’t give up a sack but there were a few occasions where it resulted in pressure, he needs to try and improve in that area moving forward.

Luke Petitgout: (A-) There was one occasion where he was fooled by a twist stunt that resulted in a pressure on Collins, but besides that he played a real solid game. I did see two plays that I thought he could have been called for holding but it wasn’t called for whatever reason. Did an outstanding job on the Dayne sweep in the second quarter where Campbell crashed the DE and he pulled outside to get on a backer and stayed with him. I wouldn’t say he’s the most dominant tackle in the league but he gets the job done and he really is excellent at sustaining his blocks.

(Box Score – Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants, October 13, 2002)
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Eric Kennedy

Eric Kennedy is Editor-in-Chief of BigBlueInteractive.com, a publication of Big Blue Interactive, LLC. Follow @BigBlueInteract on Twitter.

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