Aug 262009
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Chicago Bears 17 (1-1) – New York Giants 3 (1-1)

by The Hack for

Game Summary: As pointed out by Eric in his preview, the second preseason game is probably the second most important of the four.  Unfortunately, the Giants did not come out with any defensive fire from the very beginning of the game.   The offense, though able to get drives started with positive yards, derailed on three straight first half drives due to penalties.  Eric’s word was ‘dreadful’, and that’s as good an adjective there is to describe the feeling most BBI’ers had after watching this game: Dread.

Despite every effort to shore up the defense this past offseason, there has been no continuity on any unit as injuries have kept out a bevy of regulars all through camp and now through the first two preseason games.  On offense, there is also a lack of continuity on the line.  Though they played well last week against Carolina, this week was a step back.  Additionally, the wide receiver corps is still a major question mark as either 1) the QBs simply don’t want to throw deep to them or 2) they can’t get open deep and therefore QBs can’t throw to them.

There were positives, as several key players, especially on defense, continued to show promise.  The offense indeed looks as though they have the makings for the return of the Three Headed Monster at running back.

As is the case every week, there are several objectives the Giants want to achieve, most importantly suffering no significant injuries.  That wasn’t met this week, as DT Jay Alford tore his MCL and partially tore his ACL.  His prognosis is not known at this time, however there is rumor that he will end up on IR at some point.  That is and will continue to be a huge blow to the much anticipated DL rotation.

Now that all that has been said, take the following into account.

The Giants had only four days between games this week.  Following the Monday Night win against Carolina in which both starting units looked sharp, they had Tuesday off, an abbreviated morning practice in shorts and shells followed by a short afternoon session in uppers on Wednesday, another abbreviated practice in shorts and shells on Thursday, and a walk through on Friday before traveling.  I don’t imagine much game planning went into this affair, either.

The Giants were missing two starting linebackers, a starting safety, and a starting corner.  That’s not even mentioning the large number of backups that were also held out or still haven’t played at all.
It’s preseason!!!  While there is never an excuse for the lack of emotion, attention to detail, and concentration the team showed on Saturday, it’s abundantly apparent that Head Coach Tom Coughlin got their attention from remarks made during his post game press conference in which he indicated the team was embarrassed by Chicago.  The reactions from several of the team leaders in the days afterwards echoed Coughlin’s sentiments, emphasizing that the message was received.

The Detroit Lions, who ended up 0-16 last season, beat the Giants in their preseason game last year.  Enough said.

Before getting into the detail of the review, I wanted to make a couple quick comments.  First, thanks for the feedback on the previous review.  I realize that the review was long and involved, but because this is preseason, there were 80 players to analyze and due to the fact that most people are not aware of all the position battles for backups, I felt it necessary to provide more information than less.  Obviously, as the roster is trimmed and decisions are made by the coaching staff as to who fills what roles, that will change and the reviews will get shorter.

Thanks to my trusty DVR, I was able to review the bubble screen to Hixon last week that I reported appeared ‘dysfunctional’ to me.  I could not have been more wrong, and I appreciate being called out on it.  In fact, the offensive line and in particular backup guards Boothe and Tuten made incredible blocks to spring Hixon.  The play, in all actuality, was a clinic on how to run it correctly.

Offense: For the second straight game, the Giants first string offense started the game with OL Kevin Boothe playing at RG and OL Tuten Reyes at LG.  WR Steve Smith returned to the starting lineup.  All other projected starters were on the field.

Unlike last week, the Giants starting offense showed a few more sets than the basic “I” and offset shotgun.  One set that was a little puzzling was the double TE with a single back with one WR wide and the other in close to the TE on the opposite side.  The Giants ran out of this formation twice on long down and distance situations, failing to gain more that 2 yards each time.  It seems counterproductive to shorten the field (bringing the defenders closer to the ball carrier) on 2nd and 3rd and long when you plan to run the ball.  There were also several occasions when the Giants first team offense sent five men into coverage from the basic 3-wide set, releasing the TE and the HB into the pattern.  The Giants played sloppily on offense, committing seven penalties of which five were accepted.

The Quarterbacks: Starter QB Eli Manning played four series, finishing 7-10 for just 62 yards.  Manning spread the ball around more so than he did last week against Carolina, targeting his WRs seven times, going twice to his halfbacks, and once to his TE.  Of the seven to the WRs, only one was a deep pass intended for Manningham that was broken up at the last second by the safety.  Manning, however, bird dogged Mario the entire route, and the safety just read his eyes over to defend it.  If Manning looks off or pumps right for a split second, or if he leads Manningham to the outside, that’s a touchdown pass.  One other intermediate pass went to Steve Smith for a 25 yard gain.  That was the first pass in either game where the receiver had complete separation down the field and was able to make an easy catch.  Manning was sacked twice and fumbled once.  The fumble was recovered by the Giants and neither sack was Manning’s fault.  Eli was also called for intentional grounding, which in preseason is fine, as he was about to be creamed on the play.

Backup QB David Carr had a bad night, finishing just 2-of-6 for 8 yards.  Tentative and seemingly harried, Carr never got into any sort of rhythm.  On his first series, taking over with four minutes to go in the first half after the Giants recovered a Bears fumble deep in their territory, Carr went three and out.  On his first play, he rolled to his right while Manningham ran a beautiful post down the left side.  Carr had his eyes on Manningham, and if he’d stopped, set, and thrown it could have been a touchdown.  Instead, he bolted to the sideline for an 8 yard gain.  On second down, under duress, Carr threw an ill advised deep ball to Boss who had no chance to make a play.  On third down, Carr badly under threw a back shoulder pass to Manningham, who was able to adjust and make the catch but Carr had led him out of bounds.

Carr again went three and out to start the third quarter, absorbing a sack and completing a pass to Bradshaw that went for a three yard loss.

Carr’s third series, however, was his worst if not most successful.  Thanks to the running game, Carr was moving the team until a 3rd and 6 play where he changed the play at the LOS, resulting in mass confusion and an illegal shift penalty that was declined by the Bears.  Walking off, Carr got an earful from OC Kevin Gilbride who was obviously disgusted with the effort.  That was the final play of David Carr’s night.

This is two lackluster and arguably poor showings in a row from Carr.  What appeared to be a strength at backup QB now has to be questioned.  To be fair, the offensive line he worked behind included Beatty, Thompson and Whimper, none of whom played well.

QB Andre Woodson entered the game with about three minutes left in the third quarter.  He completed 7-of-16 passes for 95 yards, but most came on one play, a 55 yarder to rookie Hakeem Nicks.  Woodson was on the run for most of the night, but when he had time he did get the ball out fairly quickly and on target.  His wind up was not quite as pronounced as last week, but he still seems to come from the hip rather than the shoulder.

QB Rhett Bomar did not get into this game.  If he doesn’t get significant playing time in the game against the Jets, it will become quite obvious that he’s not in the Giants’ long term plans.

The Running Backs: HB Brandon Jacobs started again and played well into the second quarter, finishing with 7 carries for 27 yards along with 1 catch for 16 yards.  It’s safe to say Jacobs is in midseason form.  On the first three Giants drives, he produced positive yards and on two of them he put the Giants in good down and distance situations following a first down carry.  Jacobs also had a 5 yard carry nullified by an illegal shift penalty that should not have been called.  Matthews had legally reset prior to Hedgecock going into motion, but the Referee felt differently.  Jacobs also added to his personal highlight reel by de-cleating All Pro MLB Brian Urlacher on two occasions.

HB Ahmad Bradshaw has solidified his slot as the primary backup to Jacobs, once again running with aggression and power while finishing with 6 carries for 55 yards to go with 2 receptions for -1 yard.  Bradshaw continues to show great patience by staying behind his blockers until the crease appears.  He has an uncanny way of knowing just the right moment to explode through the hole.

HB Danny Ware entered the game with about three minutes left in the 3rd quarter, and once again was relegated to running behind a very, very bad offensive line.  His line, however, was solid as he gained 34 yards off 8 carries and ended up leading the Giants with 4 receptions for 30 yards.  Ware also continues to play low and behind his pads, and has proven to be a reliable option out of the backfield.  His blitz recognition and pick up needs work, but he did nothing to put the QB in harm’s way on Saturday.

HB Allen Patrick did not get into the game on offense.

FB Madison Hedgecock once again played a solid half of football, leading Jacobs and Bradshaw in the running game.  HB/FB Dwayne Wright again looked solid from the FB position, although he was called for a ticky tack offensive holding penalty on a play where he led Bradshaw through the hole for a 10-15 yard gain.  Wright seems to be very active, enjoys contact, and is very demonstrative on the field.  It appears he relishes his role.

The Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: The WR corps continues to be a work in progress for the Giants.  Even with the return of Steve Smith, the first team receivers never really established themselves.  While watching away from the ball on several occasions, it was noticed that Smith, Hixon, and Manningham all had difficulty at times getting off the line and away from press coverage.  The WRs did catch eight balls, but only two were in an area beyond 15 yards.

WR Steve Smith caught 2 balls for 30 yards, one of which went for 25 yards where he was wide open on a square in as he settled down in front of the safety.  WR Domenik Hixon was again very quiet for a number 1 WR, catching just 1 ball for 7 yards.  Sinorice Moss was once again not targeted by Eli Manning, but did catch a short pass from David Carr and was thrown two on a few occasions.  WR Mario Manningham played a lot with the first team and seems to have won the #3 job.  Manning had him open on a deep out on the first series of the game but didn’t lead him far enough to the sidelines and the safety made up ground to break up the play.

WR Ramses Barden had two catches, the first was a nice in move at the sticks for a first down where he walled off the defender making it an easy pitch and catch with Woodson.  Barden looked good getting off the LOS, and seems to be getting more looks than any other receiver on the third team. WR Hakem Nicks had just one catch but it was one that all of BBI had been waiting for, a deep pass over the corner and in front of the safety that went for 55 yards.  Both Barden and Nicks need to see time with the first or second units, however, so it can be judged whether they are ready for regular season game day action.

WR David Tyree did not catch a pass, though he was targeted late in the game by Woodson.  WRs Derek Hagan, Taye Biddle, and Shaun Bodiford also failed to catch a pass in the game.

TE Kevin Boss once again was not used in the passing game at all.  He did have several good wall off blocks in the running game.  Darcy Johnson once again had a solid night as a blocking TE and did catch 1 pass for 11 yards in which he made a LB miss in space allowing him to gain another 5 or 6 yards.  TE Michael Matthews continues to be very good in the running game.  He is very good at coming off motion to get into the blocking scheme quickly and eliminating his man from the play.  H-Back Travis Beckum did not catch a pass though he was targeted a couple of times late in the game from Woodson.  TE Lee Vickers again did very little, and actually looked lost in the running game on several occasions late.

The Offensive Line: Overall, the offensive line had a subpar game, with the first team allowing two sacks and the unit surrendering five overall.  The run blocking was solid, and the unit didn’t have a penalty called against them all night until late in the fourth quarter.

The starting OL was the same as last week as guards Chris Snee and Rich Seubert were held out another week with injuries.  Guards Tutan Reyes and Kevin Boothe once again got the starts, and both played well.  The problems on Saturday night were with the tackles, as both David Diehl and Kareem McKenzie surrendered drive killing sacks.  McKenzie was also called for illegal formation for the second week in a row out of the shotgun formation.  Diehl continues to be victimized by the quick outside move by the DE.  On Saturday, the speed rush around him resulted in a fumble by Eli Manning.  This could be a very big problem in the NFC East.  Interestingly, both sacks given up by the starting line came against four man rushes by Chicago and on each occasion, the Giants sent five players out into the pattern.  Neither the TE nor the HB chipped anyone on the way out, either.  Finally, Bradshaw was also partially responsible for one of the sacks on Carr due to his weak attempt at picking up the blitz.  This is another problem that requires fixing.

Backup OL Guy Whimper again played at RT and on Saturday he was the one of the few people on the backup OL that played consistently well.  He lost his man on one or two occasions, but for the most part was stout.  Whimper plays, for the most part, from whistle to whistle and again I think he’d make a fine RT.

Backup C Adam Koets also played well until the last few minutes of the game when he made a double clutch move with the football, resulting in a false start penalty that pushed the Giants from 4th and 1 in which they were going to try to convert to a 4th and 6 which changed the strategy to a punt.  There were no other snap miscues and he looked good in pass protection.

Rookie LT William Beatty had a very rough night, constantly giving up pressures, two that lead to sacks after the QB escaped the man who beat him but moved into another player who got credit for the sack.

The Defense: The Giants didn’t have the same success they had against the Carolina Panthers.  Once again they had trouble stopping the run, but only forced two turnovers and generated only two sacks, neither when the game was competitive.  As they did last week, the Giants played a base defense and rushed just the four down linemen.  There were several zone and fire blitz packages, and the Giants did send the corners and safeties on a few occasions.

Front 7: The front 7 once again was missing several key players in Michael Boley, Chris Canty, and Rocky Bernard.  DT Fred Robbins was back starting, but later in the game the Giants lost DT Jay Alford to a serious knee injury.  DT Barry Cofield once again got the start at the other DT position.  MLB Antonio Pierce missed the game with an injury, with backup MLB Chase Blackburn taking his place on the first team with LBs Bryan Kehl and Danny Clark flanking him.

DEs Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck were quiet on this night, as neither registered a tackle in the game and generated little if any pressure in the passing game.

DTs Cofield and Robbins were fairly inactive as well, with only Cofield recording a tackle in the game.  Chicago HB Matt Forte ran for 58 yards in little more than a full quarter, and Kevin Jones combined with Garrett Wolf to add another 39 before the half was over.  Two games do not a trend make, but this is the second consecutive game in which the Giants’ top unit could not consistently stop the run.

DE Dave Tollefson, despite forcing a fumble that lead to the only Giants points, really didn’t do much else.  He was a complete nonfactor in the passing game.  Maurice Evans had two QB pressures and made two tackles, and for the second straight game outplayed Tollefson.

DE Mathias Kiwanuka had a better game than last week, helping to force a sack and making a nice tackle as he ran down the line to trap the HB in the backfield.  This all came against the second team OL from Chicago, however, and you’d expect Kiwi to have the advantage.  That really wasn’t the case, as he looked slow and at times disinterested.  The Giants are relying on Kiwi to be a third down pass rushing demon, and he’s not showing it yet.

With MLB Antonio Pierce out, Chase Blackburn filled in as the starter in the middle and played a good game overall.  On the 32 yard TD run by Forte, however, he was completely destroyed by OT/G Frank Omiyale who rode him 10 yards down the field and out of the play.

On the weak side, Danny Clark once again had a tough night.  He seemed to constantly take himself out of the play.  For instance, on the same Forte TD run, Clark inexplicably left his lane to engage OT Orlando Pace who influenced him away from the play.  Pace did NOT engage Clark, it was the other way around, and with Blackburn being completely blown out of the play, it left no one to fill and stop the play.  This was evident on other plays as well, and maybe it’s by design that he’s to attack the lineman to free someone else to get in on the play, but that seems farfetched.  Both OLBs Bryan Kehl and Jonathan Goff once again had solid games.  Goff has the makings of a fine MLB and on Saturday looked solid in coverage and against the run.  He was easily the bright spot on the defense.  Kehl had a very nice play where he induced a throw into the ground by Cutler as he sat on a screen.  Both played well on special teams kick coverage as well.

OLB Gerris Wilkinson registered a sack but was otherwise inconspicuous.

Clint Sintim did not have the same impact that he had against Carolina, but once again registered at least two pressures and had one nice tackle in the backfield.

Defensive Backs: Starting CB Aaron Ross was out again, allowing Terrell Thomas another start.  Thomas had a decent game, but dropped a sure interception that would have ended Chicago’s second TD drive.  CB Kevin Dockery saw most of his action in the nickel.

CB Bruce Johnson once again played the majority of the game, and got burned on one long pass where he received no safety help, but other than that looked pretty solid.

S C.C. Brown started in place of the injured Kenny Phillips and led the team with eight tackles.  Again, unheralded Travonti Johnson had a good game, registering four more tackles and seemingly having the instincts to be around the ball carrier at all times.  He’s really played well in the two preseason games.  Backup S Sha’reff Rashad missed filling the hole on an 11 yard run by RB Garrett Wolfe, whiffing badly at the point of impact.  To make it even worse, after whiffing on the play, he rolled into DT Jay Alford, injuring the key lineman.

For the second game in a row, FS Michael Johnson looked like he was lost out on the field.  He had a very bad pass interference penalty on a play where if he just waits for the ball to arrive, he easily breaks it up.  In run support, he continues to look timid and unwilling to stick his nose in the play.  He also failed to cover over the top on a long pass, leaving rookie Bruce Johnson alone on an island.  Hopefully Johnson gets his act together soon or Travonti Johnson just might replace him.

Special Teams: P Jeff Feagles continued to consistently place the ball inside the 20 on punts.  One should have been downed on the 2 yard line, but WR David Tyree missed downing the ball.  From his own goaline, Feagles kept the Bears on their side of the field in part thanks to a fantastic open field tackle by LB Jonathan Goff.  Of concern, however, is the amount of kicks that Feagles has been making during this camp and preseason, as there has been no other punter involved this year.

K Lawrence Tynes had a fairly easy day, only kicking off twice and attempting only one FG.  His lone attempt was good from 42 yards.  Neither of his kickoffs reached the end zone, but once again the hang time was solid.

The kickoff coverage team allowed one long return out to the Giants 47 yard line.

The punt team was solid all day long, with the only real issue being Tyree failing to down the ball inside the five when he had the opportunity.

The kickoff return game was solid, and it appears that Danny Ware has the inside track for the kick return duties after bringing one back for 34 yards nearly all on his own.  Moss returned another kick for 25 yards and Bodiford returned the third for 19.

On the punt return team, things still don’t seem to be settled as Moss returned 1 for 5 yards and Manningham muffed his opportunity but did recover the ball.

Coaching: It goes without saying that the Giants did not seem prepared to play this game, and that goes on the head coach and his staff.  Dumb penalties, repeated mistakes, and a lack of any continuity or focus doomed the Giants, especially on defense.  Tom Coughlin is a master at rallying the troops and circling the wagons.  It remains to be seen if a different Giants team shows up next week and how Coughlin’s comments affect them.  As for the offense, several odd formations were used in key times that didn’t seem to fit the down and distance situation.  It appeared that on a couple occasions, specifically second and third and long, the Giants did not put themselves in the best position to run successful plays.

Offensive Player of the Game: This week, Brandon Jacobs gets the nod after setting the tone with several awe inspiring and bruising runs.  Unfortunately, the rest of the offence never woke up to the task (with the exception of Bradshaw).

Defensive Player of the Game: The defense did not have a very good game, but Jonathan Goff stood out as the best playmaker on the field this past Saturday.  Not only did he contribute on defense, but he also had two nice plays on special teams.  Honorable mention goes to Travonti Johnson.

(Box Score – New York Giants at Chicago Bears, August 22, 2009)
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