New York Giants 17 – Kansas City Chiefs 0
Game Overview: One shouldn’t get too excited about the preseason, but this game was an extremely positive performance by the Giants. The first-team offense and defense dominated the Chiefs and the second-team and third-team defense was very impressive as well.
How badly did the Giants rough up Kansas City? The Giants out-gained the Chiefs in first downs (22 to 7), total offensive plays (71 to 44), total net yards (309 to 111), total net rushing yards (154 to 40), and time of possession (37 to 23 minutes).
The biggest positives were that the Giants stuffed the run and ran the ball well. They played aggressively and physically – everything they did not do last week against the Ravens.
Quarterbacks: Eli Manning was very sharp – almost perfect. He was 11-of-14, but there were also two dropped balls. His throws were all of the quick set-up and get-rid-of-the-ball variety – there were no long shots down the field. But he set up quickly, made his read, and got rid of the ball in a very accurate fashion. At the beginning of last year, he focused almost exclusively on WR Plaxico Burress and TE Jeremy Shockey, but now he is spreading the ball around to guys like WR Tim Carter and TE Visanthe Shiancoe. He radiated calmness in the game and made a number of audibles/adjustments at the line of scrimmage that all appeared to be the correct decisions. He’s becoming a master of the play-action fake.
Rob Johnson (7-of-14 for 62 yards) wasn’t bad, but we all would have had a much worse impression if the Chiefs’ right corner had held onto his quick sideline toss at the start of the third quarter. That pass should have been picked off and returned for a touchdown. The other thing that bothered me about Johnson’s play is that he scrambled around in and outside the pocket a bit much for my taste. While that may work against second- and third-teamers, I doubt a first-team NFL defense will allow him that kind of time. Now to be fair to Johnson, there were a couple of defensive back blitzes where the blitzer gave Johnson no chance – and he made a heck of a play in one of these instances by spinning away from the defensive back and making a nice throw down the field. And there were other plays where he did get rid of the ball fairly quickly, such as his 8-yard slant to WR Triandos Luke on 3rd-and-3 and his impressive 4th-and-10 conversion to WR Willie Ponder. The 4th down play came on Johnson’s best drive of the night as he found TE Wade Fletcher for 14 yards on 3rd-and-5 and dumped a screen to HB Mike Jemison for 13 yards.
Jared Lorenzen (3-of-4 for 24 yards) played well. I thought WR Harry Williams should have caught Lorenzen’s last pass, making him a perfect 4-for-4. This drop ended an excellent drive where the Giant moved the ball from their own 8-yard line to the Chiefs’ 30-yard line. On this possession, Lorenzen threw a quick WR screen to WR Michael Jennings, hit Jennings again for 14 yards, and then found the fullback out of the backfield for another six yards. All of these throws were strong and accurate.
Wide Receivers: Manning spread the ball around to Burress (2 catches for 22 yards), Amani Toomer (2 catches for 14 yards including a touchdown), and Carter (2 catches for 14 yards). Toomer and Burress each dropped one pass however, as did Carter later in the game when Rob Johnson was playing. I was impressed with the blocking of Burress and Carter (the holding call on Carter was complete crap). Carter also looked very quick on a 20-yard end around on the Giants’ first offensive play of the game. The first-team offense continued to move the ball on the Giants’ third possession with Carter in the game for Toomer. Just when I was getting all warm and fuzzy about Carter, he made me wonder about him all over again when he dropped Rob Johnson’s deep sideline pass on a play where Johnson was forced to scramble for his life yet still managed to deliver an accurate throw. Nevertheless, it was another positive overall performance for Carter.
Triandos Luke made a nice catch on a 3rd-and-3 slant for a first down and Willie Ponder came down with a clutch first down on 4th-and-10. Michael Jennings looked nifty as a receiver after the catch, finishing with three receptions for 24 yards. Harry Williams didn’t help his cause with a drop.
Running Backs: Tiki Barber (5 carries for 22 yards, 1 catch for 9 yards) looked ready to go in limited action. He’s become one of the most instinctive runners in the NFL.
Brandon Jacobs played well. He gained 40 yards on 9 carries and had another 21 yards erased due to two very questionable holding penalties. I like the attitude he brings to the offense – he has a defensive player’s temperament.
Of the other backs in camp, minus the injured Derrick Ward, I am not sure that I am enamored with any of them. The best of the bunch is probably Mike Jemison (10 carries for 37 yards, 1 catch for 13 yards). James Sims rushed for 22 yards on five carries and Little John Flowers gained nine yards on four carries. Sims was unable to make an effective block on one blitz that caused immediate pressure on Johnson. Jemison picked up a blitz, but probably should have been flagged for holding on the play.
FB Jim Finn is rarely out-of-position and fulfills most of his assignments, but there are times when he physically is unable to clobber his man in the hole, like on one play where Tiki was forced to bounce outside when Finn was knocked backwards. Even though he has been the third-team fullback in the preseason, I’ve been somewhat impressed with FB Greg Hanoian’s lead blocking.
Tight Ends: I was very impressed with TE Jeremy Shockey’s run blocking, both on defensive ends and linebackers at the second level. He got flagged for a somewhat questionable holding call on a play where he physically mauled his man, but let his right hand slip outside the frame of the defender. I think the flag was thrown because Shockey rag-dolled the guy. Shockey caught one pass for 10 yards.
Visanthe Shiancoe played much better as a blocker and receiver (3 catches for 18 yards). The Giants’ first-team offense continued to move the football with Shiancoe in the line-up for Shockey.
It’s pretty clear that right now Wade Fletcher is ahead of Boo Williams and Darcy Johnson given the amount of playing time he is seeing. However, Fletcher had a bit of a rough night with two holding penalties. On the first, he also gave up a pass pressure that caused Johnson to scramble; the second helped to stall an impressive drive in the 4th quarter just as the Giants were moving into scoring position. Fletcher doesn’t look to me that he has the build to be an effective blocker and he struggled somewhat with defensive ends both at the point-of-attack and on the backside of plays. For example, he couldn’t make his block on the backside of the failed 3rd-and-1 run by Jemison in the 3rd quarter. On the other hand, Fletcher does look natural catching the football and had one catch of 14 yards on 3rd-and-5 to keep the field goal drive alive. As I mentioned last week, the fact that Boo Williams is playing so late in the preseason games does not bode well for him.
Offensive Line: The first-team offensive line thoroughly controlled the line of scrimmage, both in terms of running the football and pass protection. The guy who really stood out to me with his run-blocking was RG Chris Snee who simply destroyed people. RT Kareem McKenzie also pushes his opponent around with ease. Ironically, LT Luke Petitgout got a very good run block on the play where he tweaked his back and was forced to leave the game. OC Shaun O’Hara also was hurt on a play where he got out and successfully engaged a defender at the second level. LG David Diehl was very solid – I love our guard combo.
Interestingly, when much of the first-team offense was still on the field in the third possession, the Giants had Bob Whitfield at left tackle (for Petitgout), Grey Ruegamer at center (for O’Hara), and rookie Matt Lentz at right guard (for Snee) and the offense did not miss a beat. Lentz played much, much better than last week and the fact that he is playing so much in the preseason means the coaching staff likes him.
Strangely, Lentz struggled more later in the second quarter when teamed with the second unit. He was pushed back on one bull rush and then cleanly beat on a pass rush where Johnson was under heavy heat. This second-team unit had Whitfield at left tackle, Na’Shan Goddard at left guard, Ruegamer at center, Lentz at right guard, and Guy Whimper at right tackle. On one play in the second quarter, Whimper was beat to the outside and Goddard was bull-rushed, leading to a sack. However, that said, I thought the young guys (Whimper, Lentz, Goddard) improved as the game wore on. Whimper ended up playing both tackle spots and Goddard played both guard and tackle. I think Lentz and Goddard need more strength, and obviously, better technique. Goddard is a big man yet he got bull-rushed a couple of times. I could see the Giants trying to keep both on the Practice Squad. Whitfield didn’t look very inspired with the second teamers and it showed in his run blocking.
The third-team line had Whimper at left tackle, Ben Herrell at left guard, Todd Londot at center, Lentz at right guard, and Goddard at right tackle. This group played well together as the Giants were able to run the ball effectively with gains of 7, 2, 3, 2, 5, 13, 6, and no gain. Lorenzen also had time to throw the football on his four chances.
Defensive Line: The first-team defensive line also thoroughly controlled the line of scrimmage. Defensive tackles William Joseph and Fred Robbins played very well, making a number of plays both against the run and on the pass rush. For example, on the first defensive snap, Joseph played down the line and blocked HB Larry Johnson’s path (LB LaVar Arrington and DE Osi Umenyiora played disciplined football and guarded against the cutback). On the next play, Robbins blew into the backfield and nailed Johnson for a 4-yard loss. On the third play, Umenyiora hit QB Trent Green’s arm just as he released the ball, helping to cause a three-and-out.
On the next Chiefs’ possession, Joseph played off a block and made the tackle. Then Joseph and DE Michael Strahan leveled Green as he released the football. A few plays later, Strahan and Joseph got more heat on Green, forcing him out of the pocket. On the very next play, Robbins’ quickness forced a holding penalty that was instrumental in stopping the Chiefs’ drive.
On the first-team defense’s third and final series (with some second-team defenders in the game), Robbins disrupted a running play for no gain after a play where he and Joseph were effectively run-blocked. A stunting DT Barry Cofield then put heat on the Chiefs’ back-up quarterback to help force another three-and-out.
Midway through the second quarter, the entire second-team defense was on the field. Like last week’s game, tackles Jonas Seawright and Cofield had some problems at first defending the inside running game. Interestingly, DE Mathias Kiwanuka is already starting to draw double-team attention. There was one pass rush formation that had Adrian Awasom at right end, Justin Tuck at left end, and Kiwanuka rushing from the left linebacker spot off of Tuck’s shoulder. Awasom forced the quarterback into the direction of the onrushing Tuck, and Kiwanuka stripped the ball from behind, being credited with the sack. This is impressive depth.
Tuck completely dominated the next series as he first cleaned up on a sack when Cofield and LB Gerris Wilkinson couldn’t quite bring the quarterback down (Cofield looks sharp when stunting on the pass rush – but he wasn’t blocked on this play). Cofield got good pressure on the next down, but the pass was completed for a first down. Then Tuck got three straight pass pressures in a row to kill the drive. Unfortunate for him, he whiffed on the quarterback on the last pass rush or he would have picked up a second sack. (On this last play, Kiwanuka was playing linebacker again and rushing the passer from a standup position).
In the third quarter, the Chiefs’ third-string quarterback was forced to unload the ball quickly on 3rd-and-6 as Cofield and Tuck pressured him, helping to force a punt. On the next series, another three-and-out by the Chiefs, Cofield played off a block to make a tackle. Then Seawright made a very nice play by pursuing far down the line to tackle the back for no gain on an outside running play. In the 4th quarter, Kiwanuka got good pressure on a stunt and then a couple of plays latter Seawright did as well on a bull-rush. Late in the game, with the third-teamers on the field, DT Marcus Green impressed me with a strong inside pass rush as did DE Eric Moore with a strong outside rush where he hit the quarterback as he threw. Some of these guys are going to make it in the NFL with other teams.
Linebackers: Brandon Short filled in for Carlos Emmons. Short and Arrington alternated on the strongside. Short looked pretty sharp against the run. Arrington wasn’t involved in much action, but he did a good job of staying with TE Tony Gonazalez on one quick out pattern and made former Giant Chris Bober jump when he charged the line on a potential blitz. The Giants sent Arrington and Antonio Pierce on the blitz a few times, with Pierce clobbering Green on one zone blitz where Strahan dropped into coverage.
On the third defensive series, the Giants had a mix of first- and second-team players still in the game. Chase Blackburn came in for Pierce and looked good, getting in on two tackles right away on running plays. Blackburn was aggressive and physical in playing off of blocks and getting into the action throughout the game. In the third quarter, he shot the gap to nail the back for a 2-yard loss and then followed that up with a sure open-field tackle to hold a receiver short of the first down and force a punt.
Gerris Wilkinson played a strong game. He got a strong pass rush by beating the back on a blitz and should have come up with the sack, but he couldn’t bring the quarterback down. He also looked instinctive against the run, such as his tackle against the back near the line of scrimmage at the start of the 4th quarter. Another linebacker who impressed was Nick McNeil who picked up one sack by fighting through the block of the halfback and then making a very nice play against the run late in the 4th quarter.
Defensive Backs: R.W. McQuarters started at right corner for the injured Sam Madison and the Chiefs never tested him. Green went after CB Corey Webster three times. Webster had decent coverage on the first attempt, but the receiver came down with a 13-yard gain. On the next snap, Green challenged Webster deep and Webster expertly defended the pass, knocking it away. This drive later ended when Webster had tight coverage on his man on another attempt on 3rd-and-16. The Chiefs’ backup quarterback went after Webster again deep in the second quarter, but Webster once again had perfect deep coverage and the pass fell incomplete.
I spotted Defensive Coordinator Tim Lewis sending SS Gibril Wilson on at least one blitz. The Giants mixed things up – they were not vanilla at all. Interestingly, on the second defensive series, CB E.J. Underwood was in the game in either the nickel or dime package. Unfortunately, he gave up an 11-yard completion, but the coaching staff must like him to have him in the game so early. Frank Walker was also on the field some on this series.
Charlie Peprah should have come down with a pick late in the second quarter, but the ball he tipped was completed for a first down (you fit right in with the Giants Charlie!). CB Kevin Dockery looked good providing tight coverage on a few plays.
Special Teams: DE Eric Moore made a nice tackle on the opening kickoff, but the Giants gave up a 28-yard return on their next kickoff. Willie Ponder made a tackle on one kickoff return that only gained 18 yards.
The special teams play of the night was a 42-yard punt by Jeff Feagles to the dangerous Dante Hall. Curtis Deloatch was down in a hurry and leveled Hall for no gain at the Chiefs’ 9-yard line. Frank Walker did a nice job getting down the field quickly on a punt late in the game to force a fair catch. Feagles punted twice, averaging 44 yards. Travis Dorsch was not as impressive this week, averaging 40.5 yards on four punts.
Chad Morton looked very quick and fast on an 18-yard return…he looks impressive. LB Tyson Smith made a hellacious block on another punt return, leveling a potential tackler.
Michael Jennings had a decent 27-yard kickoff return. But Jennings also made a couple of questionable decisions fielding punts when he fair caught one punt inside the 10-yard line and then let another hit the ground, leading to big bounce for the other team. Still Jennings looks fast and nifty with the ball in his hands.