Aug 282006
 
 August 28, 2006  Posted by  Game Previews and Reviews
New York Giants 13 – New York Jets 7

Game Overview: This game was a mixed bag for the Giants. On the positive side, the first- and second-team defenses continued to play very well. For the second week in a row, the opposition failed to score a single offensive point and was held to less than 10 first downs. That’s outstanding. The offensive line, minus two starters, also blocked pretty darn well and the running game was productive. The negative was that the passing game struggled and there were too many breakdowns on special teams.

Quarterbacks: I was unable to see the game live and followed it through The Corner Forum and the play-by-play at NFL.com. Because of that, I expected to really be down on Manning’s performance (10-of-20 for 107 yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception) after viewing the tape. That wasn’t the case. No, Manning didn’t play one of his better games, but he wasn’t bad either. There were extenuating circumstances to most of the five non-scoring drives of the first half.

For example, on the Giants’ first drive of the game, the possession started off well with a well-thrown 13-yard strike to WR Tim Carter. After a 5-yard run by HB Tiki Barber, WR Plaxico Burress dropped Manning’s pass that would have picked up a first down. On 3rd-and-5, RT Kareem McKenzie was beat by DE Shaun Ellis to the outside and Manning was forced to unload the ball too quickly over the middle for only a 3-yard gain. Manning was absolutely fine on this possession.

On the second drive, Barber picked up four yards and then Manning found Carter for four more. On 3rd-and-2, Manning made (in my opinion) his worst throw of the night as he badly overthrew an open Burress for what should have been a first down. The problem was that Manning didn’t set his feet on this throw – he moved in the pocket to his right and tried to throw in an unbalanced position. It’s these poor mechanics that Manning supposedly worked on all offseason. Worse was the fact that Manning could easily have run for the first down on this play as well.

On the third drive, Manning overthrew Toomer deep – it wasn’t a terribly accurate throw, but it was the kind of deep miss you see from every quarterback in the league. It’s not a high percentage throw but you have to take your shots. After Barber was stuffed for a 1-yard loss, Manning just missed hitting a well-covered Barber down the middle of the field for what would have been a first down.

On the fourth drive, Manning correctly decided to hit the open WR Amani Toomer over the middle on 2nd-and-5, but his pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage. On 3rd-and-5, McKenzie was beaten by Ellis to the inside and Manning’s throw was either tipped (I think it was tipped) or Ellis’ big hand forced a higher release point that caused the ball to sail and be intercepted. Burress was wide open on this play, but the fault was McKenzie’s, not Manning’s.

The Giants finally moved the ball well on the fifth drive of the game, moving from their own 20-yard line into Jets’ territory. Manning found TE Jeremy Shockey for 16 yards on 1st-and-15. After three running plays, the Jets dropped a bunch of people into coverage against only a couple of receivers – Manning couldn’t find anyone and threw the ball away (something Coughlin wants him to do). Barber was then stuffed and then on 3rd-and-11, with the Giants expecting blitz, the Jets dropped into coverage and the screen pass called did not have a chance.

The last drive of the first half was an 11-play scoring drive with passes of 14 yards to Shockey (Manning made a nice sidestep in the pocket to his left on this play), 10 yards to FB Jim Finn, and nine yards to Toomer on 3rd-and-8. On the play before the completed pass to Toomer, Eli made a heck of throw as he was under heavy pressure from a free blitzer yet somehow tossed a wonderfully accurate pass into the endzone that almost resulted in a touchdown to Toomer.

Manning’s last drive of the game was the first Giants’ possession of the second half. Manning hit Shiancoe for gains of 25 and 10 yards. On the latter, Manning once again made a nice throw under duress from a free blitzer. The drive ended on 3rd-and-6 when Eli was forced to scramble up into the pocket as Shiancoe got beat by the right defensive end and Manning tried to dump the ball off over the middle to HB Brandon Jacobs by throwing across his body. Now some may argue here that Manning once again used poor mechanics, but he didn’t have the luxury here to reset his feet as he had a bunch of Jet defenders closing in on him.

So the net effect off all of this is that the only throw that really left a bad taste in my mouth was the bad overthrow to Burress on the second offensive possession.

I was really impressed by Jared Lorenzen (7-of-12 for 60 yards, 0 touchdowns, 0 interceptions). He’s come a long way. What I like most about his development is that he no longer is just a strong-armed fat guy – he is starting to make good decisions and throw pretty darn accurately. And for such a big man, he really moves around quite well. When Lorenzen came into the game, the Jets’ first-team defense was still playing. He found WR David Tyree for a 16-yard gain by first looking to his left and then coming off that receiver to find Tyree over the middle. Lorenzen overthrew Tyree deep two plays later and this drive ended with a sack as LT Guy Whimper was overpowered.

On his next possession, still facing a mostly first-team defensive unit, the Giants’ second- and third-teamers embarrassingly (for the Jets) ran and passed the ball 51 yards down the field to get into easy field goal range. I thought Lorenzen’s 14-yard pass to Carter on 3rd-and-3 was a major league NFL-type throw. Lorenzen then found Tyree for six and five yards, and then Carter for seven yards. All of these throws helped to keep the chains moving. Lorenzen did just miss a wide-open TE Darcy Johnson in the end zone for what should have been an easy 18-yard touchdown pass. The drive ended when Lorenzen was sacked again.

The Giants mainly tried to run out the clock in Lorenzen’s last four drives. But he did manage to connect with WR Michael Jennings for 16 yards on a play where he stood tough in the pocket as a free blitzer on a delayed linebacker dog smashed into him as he threw. Later in the game, Lorenzen made a smart decision to dump the ball off quickly to a short receiver as another free blitzer came at him. Lorenzen made a nice throw late in the game on third down when the Giants were attempting to run out the clock, but WR Triandos Luke dropped the football.

Wide Receivers: It’s pretty obvious that Manning still loves throwing to Burress. But it wasn’t a stellar game for a variety of reasons for Burress. Most obviously, he had no receptions. When Burress did get open, the ball didn’t get to him (i.e., Manning’s bad overthrow and the play where Manning’s throw was picked off). There was also one drop that helped to stall a drive. The biggest problem was that Burress lost his cool twice by being flagged with two 15-yard personal foul penalties.

Toomer only caught one pass for nine yards, but it was a big one as it came on 3rd-and-8. He also just missed coming down with a touchdown reception on the play before this. Toomer did drop a pass on the play where he injured his hip.

Tim Carter (4 catches for 34 yard) continues to play well. He played with both the first- and second-teamers. He came down with a 10-yard reception on a pass from Lorenzen on 3rd-and-3. I also liked how he made the corner miss on a 7-yard gain after a quick sideline toss. David Tyree (3 catches for 27 yards) was involved more than usual. He broke a tackle en route to a 16-yard gain in the third quarter. He also made a wonderful catch – albeit after initially bobbling the ball – for six yards later in the game.

Michael Jennings looked fast and quick on his 16-yard reception. Triandos Luke didn’t help himself with a costly drop on 3rd-and-3 when the Giants were trying to run the clock out.

Running Backs: Tiki Barber (11 carries for 60 yards) was…well…Tiki. It’s become commonplace to see him cutback to an opening for good yardage such as his 20-yard gain on the first scoring drive. He’s ready to go and is still the Giants’ best offensive player.

Brandon Jacobs (11 carries for 29 yards, 1 touchdown) still needs to develop his instincts. He’s a bull of a rusher who will punish people. But one gets the sense that he is still not seeing or instinctively feeling the exact hole where he should be shooting through. For example, on a 3rd-and-1 play in the second quarter, Jacobs bounced the play outside despite there being a clear hole at the point-of-attack in front of him for the easy first down. Instead, he tried to make a bigger play by bouncing it outside and was fortunate he was still able to power and twist his way to the first. Still, it is a kick to see him run over people.

Both Jacobs and Jim Finn did very well on their blitz pickups. Jacobs even knocked back a defensive tackle with some force in pass protection. Finn also had a key 10-yard reception on the scoring drive, but was also flagged with a false start.

James Sims (12 carries for 45 yards) didn’t look bad at all. Sims was able to generate a lot of his yardage against the first-team defense of the Jets behind some solid run blocking. He also had a decent blitz pickup. Jemison (2 carries for 8 yards) looked decent when he held onto the ball, but he fumbled a pitch late in the game when the Giants were trying to run out the clock.

Tight Ends: Jeremy Shockey (2 catches for 30 yards) looked sharp catching the football and blocking. Shockey broke a tackle on his 16-yard gain in the second quarter. His 14-yard reception also started the touchdown-scoring drive off on a positive note. Visanthe Shiancoe (2 catches for 35 yards) was a major factor in the second scoring drive with both his 25-yard catch-and-run on the first play of the drive as well as his 10-yard catch on a low throw on 2nd-and-9. However, he did give up a pass pressure on Manning on 3rd down that led to an incompletion, resulting in a field goal attempt instead of keeping the drive alive.

Darcy Johnson made a diving attempt at Lorenzen’s endzone throw but couldn’t manage to pull the ball in.

Offensive Line: Minus LT Luke Petitgout and OC Shaun O’Hara, the first team-offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage and played very well except for a few breakdowns. RT Kareem McKenzie, who played well otherwise, did give up two costly pass pressures – one resulted in a hurried throw and a punt, the other in an interception. The running game worked well in both directions – behind both LT Bob Whitfield and LG David Diehl, and RG Chris Snee and McKenzie. Diehl did miss one block on a play where Barber lost a yard and Whitfield missed the linebacker on a screen pass that didn’t pick up much yardage (he should have been flagged for tripping on this play too). OC Grey Ruegamer was a pleasant surprise both run blocking and in pass protection. He plays with a bit of an attitude.

What was amazing was that a combo second- and third-team offensive line that had Guy Whimper at left tackle, Kevin McAlmont at left guard, Todd Londot at center, Matt Lentz at right guard, and Na’Shan Goddard at right tackle pushed around the Jets’ first-team defense. This was best demonstrated by the productive rushing attack featuring Sims at halfback. I still think Goddard needs work in the weight room, but he’s an interesting guy. Londot also could get stronger. Whimper really is a good athlete – he pulls very well. Whimper was overpowered for one sack and McAlmont gave up a pressure that led to another. Londot was flagged with a bogus holding penalty late in the game but RT Troy Reddick was illegally downfield on the same play.

Defensive Line: I was not impressed with the combination that had Barry Cofield at nose tackle and Fred Robbins at the 3-technique spot. Both got mauled regularly and neither made any plays. (Cofield did get a sack erased on a play where LB LaVar Arrington jumped offsides, but on this play, Cofield’s blocker left him alone for some inexplicable reason). Cofield is still young and will get better – what I really like about him is that he hustles. Simply put, Robbins remains far too inconsistent. He had one good run defense. The Giants need him to play better than this.

Midway through the third quarter, Jonas Seawright came in at nose tackle and William Joseph at 3-technique. I love Seawright’s size, but he got pushed around too much for my liking. He did bat down one ball. Joseph played tough at the point-of-attack on one running play – there was not enough of that from the defensive tackles. Damane Duckett and Marcus Green saw some action too and Duckett got a couple of late pass pressures – but couldn’t bring down the quarterback on one play that should have resulted in a sack.

Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora were pretty quiet, though Osi did flash on the pass rush on a couple of plays. The Giants also continued to demonstrate a pass rush formation with DE Justin Tuck, Cofield, and Umenyiora playing down, and DE Mathias Kiwanuka standing up from the linebacker spot and rushing from a variety of gaps. It wasn’t very successful against the Jets, but it is an interesting formation. Kiwanuka was quiet this week, though he did flash chasing the running back down from behind – the guy is super fast for a defensive end.

In the third quarter, the second-team defensive line of Tuck, Seawright, Joseph, and Kiwanuka faced the first-team offense of the Jets and more than held their own. The Giants really have impressive depth at defensive end. Late in the game, Adrian Awasom played left end and Eric Moore right end, with Duckett and Marcus Green at tackle. Awasom and Moore both flashed on the pass rush, with Awasom getting credit for a 12-yard sack.

Linebackers: The most interesting development was that Gerris Wilkinson started at weakside linebacker. I thought he played well. He has a nose for the football. LaVar Arrington played his longest stint of the preseason. He didn’t make a lot of noise (he impressively deflected one pass), but he’s a big guy and an imposing presence on the field. I also liked the fact that he quickly recognized a quick WR pass to Laveranues Coles and thereby disrupted the entire play. He did jump offsides, however, negating a sack by Cofield. Antonio Pierce looked in midseason form. He’s always around the football and he made a major impact in the game with his 3rd-and-1 stuff at the end of the first quarter. He also was credited with a sack late in the first half on a blitz, helping to keep the Jets out of field goal range.

I continue to be impressed with Chase Blackburn – he’s another linebacker who seems to be always around the football. Brandon Short looked quick on his two sacks – but it is important to note that he was not blocked on either. There was another blitz by him where he was blocked, but the back was forced to hold him, causing a penalty.

Defensive Backs: Except for one big play given up by CB Corey Webster, the starting secondary played well. This was the first extended action that FS Will Demps received and he made an impact. He is extremely physical and aggressive in run support and demonstrated good range in the passing game. Late in the second quarter, he nailed Coles on a sideline pass that caused an incompletion – there is no way Brent Alexander makes this play last year. Demps was around the ball a lot. Defensive Coordinator Tim Lewis really likes to send safeties Gibril Wilson and James Butler on the blitz and both are effective at it. On the sack that Pierce was credited with, it really was Butler who caused it – he simply ran through the back to get to QB Chad Pennington. And Wilson made an impressive effort by diving over the back to sack Pennington early in the game. In the second half, Butler made a great play when he quickly read a WR-screen and impressively attacked the ball, almost coming up with an interception.

CB Sam Madison continues to play well. He recovered a fumble and then tackled a much larger tight end one-yard short of the first down on a 3rd-and-3 pass. Later in the game, he expertly covered a stop-and-go pattern by Coles deep down the field. At the end of the second half, Madison did give up a 16-yard reception to Coles. Webster got beat to the inside on a 40-yard catch-and-run by WR Justin McCareins – Webster needs to tackle better. But he did have good coverage a few plays later on an incomplete 3rd-and-7 pass in his direction.

In the third quarter, CB Frank Walker gave up a 17-yard reception to Coles, but nailed Coles after the catch, forcing him to leave the game. A couple of plays later, CB R.W. McQuarters played perfect coverage on his man out of the slot and picked off a sideline pass. This really was an impressive play. CB Curtis Deloatch had solid coverage on a deep pass late in the game. And safety Charlie Peprah sealed the game with his interception of an overthrown pass.

Special Teams: Not a real impressive effort. The only points by the Jets came off a punt block where it appeared that either Ryan Kuehl or Eric Moore missed a guy rushing right up the middle. The Giants didn’t get much of a kick or punt return game going. Michael Jennings continues to make questionable decisions when it comes to fielding punts (this week he called fair catches when he should not have and visa versa). Meanwhile, P Jeff Feagles was somewhat inconsistent (with almost another punt block too). Curtis Deloatch continues to get down the field quickly as a gunner. The Giants gave up a big 39-yard kickoff return to start the second half. PK Jay Feely played well. His kickoffs were stronger than usual and he was a perfect 2-for-2 on field goal attempts.

(Box Score - New York Giants at New York Jets, August 25, 2006)
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Eric Kennedy

Founder and owner of BigBlueInteractive.com, which is now entering its 20th season.

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