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New York Jets 27 (1-2) – New York Giants 25 (1-2)

by The Hack for

Game Summary: For the third preseason game in a row, the New York Football Giants showed us everything we love about them and everything we hate about them within a 60 minute period.  To be sure, the New York Jets were fired up to play this game and, as is always the case in this annual clash, it was a physical game.

The vast majority of the Giants starters played well into the third quarter, and at times they looked like world beaters and at others they looked eerily like the mid 70’s teams that still haunt anyone over the age of 40.

The game stats suggest the Giants dominated the Jets.  The Giants offense rolled up nearly 400 yards on 68 plays.  They averaged 5.0 yards per rush on 27 carries.  The two QBs completed 55% of their passes for 245 yards and threw for three touchdowns.

The defensive unit also put up good numbers.  Turning around a problem from the last couple of weeks, they kept the Jets under 100 yards rushing and just over 215 yards passing.  They did a great job on third down, allowing the Jets to convert on only 1 of 11 opportunities, forcing the Jets to punt 7 times.  They allowed only 13 first downs total.  Although recording just one sack, the Giants did apply pressure and had the Jets’ QBs on the run for a lot of the game.

As dominating as these stats sound, if not for half a dozen easily preventable miscues on offense and another handful on defense, the Giants would have thoroughly trounced the Jets.  Dropped passes.  Poor blitz pickups.  Two unforgivable turnovers.  Missed tackles.  Dropped interceptions.  Breakdowns in coverage where the secondary seemed to be admiring the defensive line instead of covering their men.  Inexcusable mistakes, the kind this team hasn’t made in several years.

The third preseason game is known as the regular season’s dress rehearsal.  If that’s the case, the Giants are not quite ready to raise the curtain on opening night.  They must tighten up and eliminate the mistakes and the penalties.  The backs have got to sustain their blocks in the passing game when called upon to pick up the blitzers.  The defense must begin wrapping up and stop going for the ‘kill shot’ on the ball carriers.  Missed tackles have become problematic and now are a recurring pattern and not an anomaly.  To be fair, the Giants once again showed mostly very basic alignments on offense and defense with just a sprinkling of anything exotic.

So, they lost.  Frankly, if they blew a game like this during the regular season, the fans would be furious about all the missed opportunities and the mistakes.  Losing a game like this during the season could be the difference between making the playoffs and watching from home.  BUT…this is still preseason and perspective must be maintained.  Let’s hope that the next two weeks bring some more of the injured players back and that they begin to gel as a team.  After all the most important metric again this week was realized when no major injuries were reported after the game.

Offense: For the first time this preseason, all starters were on the field and most played well into the third quarter.  The starting offensive line played together as a unit for the first time this season until G Rich Seubert left towards the end of the 2nd quarter with a balky shoulder.

The Giants did have several successful drives, but two were thwarted by inexcusable turnovers and they still committed three penalties (two false starts accepted, one holding declined) on the day.  One of the false starts was erroneously charged to Darcy Johnson where the culprit was actually Steve Smith who never completely set and double hitched in the slot.  Johnson never moved.

Early on, the Giants went after the Jets with a kind of half speed no huddle offense.  Apparently, they’ve been working on this in practice for some time.

The Quarterbacks: Starter QB Eli Manning played the entire first half and most of the third quarter, finishing just 9 for 21 for a paltry 91 yards and 1 interception.  On the surface, those numbers are alarming.  When you look under the hood, however, Manning was not helped much by his receivers as at least four balls were flat out dropped by his receivers, one leading to the interception.  Another of the dropped balls was a sure 90 yard touchdown that would have put the Giants up 14-0 early in the first period.  Manning’s favorite target on the night seemed to be WR Mario Manningham, as he was targeted six times.  Manning also showed great awareness in finding HB Brandon Jacobs for an 8 yard TD on the games first drive.  The interception Manning threw was off a deflection and also should have been caught.   All in all, Manning looked fairly sharp and could easily have ended up with more than 200 yards passing with 2 TDs by the end of the first quarter.  Eli also induced to encroachment penalties on the Jets with his patented hard count.  Finally, Eli abused CB Lito Sheppard.  It appeared he was targeting his side the entire time out there.

Backup QB David Carr may have turned a corner, as he had a solid night, finishing 12 – 17 for 181 yards with 2 touchdowns.  Carr led an impressive 99 yard drive in which he hit on 5 of 9 passes and hooked up with rookie WR Hakeem Nicks for a 22 yard touchdown.  Though Carr looked much more poised and patient than last week, he also made another questionable scramble for 4 yards in which he gained a first down to keep a drive alive.  For the second time in two games Carr risked injury, which would critically hurt the Giants depth at quarterback, in a meaningless preseason game.  Carr also completed a 71 yard touchdown pass to Nicks late in the fourth quarter to make the game close.  If Carr can consistently play like he did on Saturday, the Giants will be able to stay competitive for a period of time if he needs to step in for Manning.

QBs Andre’ Woodson and Rhett Bomar did not play.  Both figure to get significant playing time Thursday night against the Patriots.

The Running Backs: HB Brandon Jacobs played well but not for very long after bruising his forearm early in the game.  X-rays were negative and Jacobs did return to the game briefly.  While he was in, he was his normally bruising self gaining 24 yards on 6 carries.  He also looked good on blitz pickups, and had an 8 yard touchdown reception in which he slipped out of the backfield alone and settled into the corner of the endzone, alone, where Manning found him for the easy touchdown.  Jacobs, however, fumbled the ball on a first down run fairly deep in Jets territory where he was stood up and had the ball ripped from his arms.  It was questionable as to whether his momentum had been stopped but he MUST hold on to the ball in that situation.

HB Ahmad Bradshaw continued a very, very good preseason with 8 carries for 47 yards and 2 receptions for 5 yards.  There is no denying Bradshaw’s running ability.  He’s quick, he’s powerful, he has tremendous instincts and shows good patience to wait for the holes to open for him.  He finds a crack and he’s gone.  The only problem with Bradshaw is that he cannot sustain his blocks on the blitz pickups.  He gets to his spot and has been able to engage his man briefly, but he is quickly shed leading to pressures and sacks.  It’s a good bet other teams are seeing this and will attack Bradshaw on obvious passing downs.  It’s puzzling, but Bradshaw seems unable to engage rushing defenders with the same intensity with which he engages them when he’s holding the ball.  Frankly, this has got to change.  The only way Bradshaw can be trusted full time on the field is to be able to engage and disrupt the blitz effectively.

HB Danny Ware continued his strong preseason as well, compiling 43 yards on 9 carries.  Ware has the makeup of a number 1 back, running with power and good vision.  It would be nice to see Ware get some carries with the top offensive line.

HB Allen Patrick had a quiet night, catching 1 pass for 1 yard and receiving 1 rushing attempt where he lost a yard.  Patrick carried on the second 2 point conversion attempt, but showed very poor vision and/or judgment by turning the ball inside, missing a wide open lane towards the right side of the end zone.  Patrick figures to get the lion’s share of the carries on Thursday night.

FB Madison Hedgecock and HB/FB Dwayne Wright both played well again.  It’s impossible to overstate how strong the position is on this team.  It still appears, however, that there’s no room for Wright, which is a shame because he’s really showed good promise.

The Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: Where to start, where to start.  Once again, this unit made some great plays and some horrible plays.  As stated last week, it appears that Mario Manningham has won the #3 job after being targeted 12 times by the top two quarterbacks through the first three quarters.  Manningham caught 4 of the passes for 41 yards, but was also interfered with twice and arguably a third.  Manningham dropped one pass, and the others really were not catchable.   Carl Banks pointed out that Manningham is a better route runner than either Burress or Toomer were, getting into and out of his breaks more quickly than the departed receivers.  Banks speculates that because of this, Manning has had a tough time getting his timing down with the quick receiver.

WR Steve Smith had a rough night.  On the first play of the second series, Smith dropped a perfectly thrown pass from Manning which would have resulted in a sure 90 yard touchdown.  Instead, the Giants would turn the ball over later in the drive on another missed ball that would lead the Jets to their first touchdown of the night.  So instead of a quick 14-0 lead, the game was tied at 7 and the entire complexion of the game had changed.  Smith only caught 1 pass for 12 yards on the night.

The culprit on the interception was WR Domenik Hixon, who had 1 catch for 10 yards, allowed a quick short pass from Manning go right through his hands and into the waiting arms of a Jets defender.

Giants fans were introduced to rookie WR Hakem Nicks on Saturday, as the young receiver caught 6 passes for 144 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Nicks’ heroics came against the dregs of the Jets secondary, but hey…he caught the passes.  Following the game, Head Coach Tom Coughlin praised Nicks, stating that he’d earned time with the top group.

WR Ramses Barden caught just 1 pass for 4 yards.  Once again, WR David Tyree did not catch a pass and now he’s not scheduled to play on Thursday.  It’s very possible we’ve seen Tyree for the last time in a Giants uniform.  WR Derek Hagan got into the action and caught two passes for 25 yards.  He showed good time clock awareness when he was bottled up late in the game on a bubble screen and managed to get out of bounds and stop the clock instead of trying to gain a couple more yards.  Taye Biddle and Shaun Bodiford once again failed to catch a pass in the game.

TE Kevin Boss was finally targeted by Manning, catching 1 pass for 18 yards.  Interestingly enough, on that play Manning had Steve Smith all alone down the slot for a sure touchdown but must not have seen him while electing to throw to Boss.  Manning also targeted Boss but over threw him badly twice, once in the end zone.  Backup TEs Michael Matthews and Darcy Johnson continued to be very good in the running game, and Johnson caught 1 pass.  He also dropped a seemingly catchable ball late in the game from Carr.

The Offensive Line: The first team offensive line had a bounce back game and played as a unit for the first time this summer as both guards Chris Snee and Rich Seubert returned to action.  Eli definitely seemed more comfortable with all his starters in the fold.  Tackles David Diehl and Kareem McKenzie both played much better, and the line as a whole did not surrender a sack.  None of the starting linemen were flagged for any accepted penalties, although C Shaun O’Hara was called for holding on the Jacobs fumble.  That penalty, naturally, was not accepted.

Backup OT Guy Whimper played well and had a great block downfield on a screen to Hagan.  Unfortunately, Hagan out ran the block and was stopped for a short gain that could have gone for much more.

Both backup guards Tutan Reyes and Kevin Boothe once again were solid.  Tutan is a player and has done a fantastic job in both the run and passing games.  Both will pay dividends if needed in the season.

Rookie LT William Beatty played much better than he did last week.

The Defense: The Giants finally did an admirable job against the run.  They also got consistent pressure on the QB for much of the game.  They forced three and outs on three of the first four possessions.  Several criticisms include allowing the Jets to use their speed against them with quick outs and screens to the wide receivers and backs.  Also, poor tackling is now a real problem that needs attention.  Finally, the secondary gave up a number of big plays that should not have happened.  Mistakes cost the unit two long touchdown passes.

Front 7: While still missing several members (Chris Canty, Jay Alford, Michael Boley), Rocky Bernard made his Giants debut.  MLB Antonio Pierce missed his second straight game with a mysterious foot injury, with backup MLB Chase Blackburn taking his place on the first team with LBs Bryan Kehl and Danny Clark flanking him.  Gerris Wilkinson split time with Kehl.

Once again, DEs Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck did very little, registering just one tackle apiece.  Umenyiora seems to be struggling in the pass rush, consistently going so wide that the QB has no problem stepping up and away from him, usually into his vacated lane.

DTs Barry Cofield and Fred Robbins again had quiet night, but they did engage their linemen and did not allow them to get to the second level and take on the linebackers.

DE Dave Tollefson once again demonstrated that he cannot maintain his lanes and other than a bull rush does not have very good moves.  For this night, however, DE  Maurice Evans did nothing to stand out from Tollefson.

DE Mathias Kiwanuka continues to improve, and recorded his first sack of the preseason.  Again, he’s played mainly against second teamers and more should be expected from him against seemingly inferior competition.

MLB Chase Blackburn had a very active and effective game, recording 6 tackles and generally stuffing the run the entire time he was in the game.

OLB Danny Clark played a much better game this week, maintaining gap discipline and also helping out quite a bit against the run.  OLB Bryan Kehl started and had a solid game, though he has shown a tendency to get caught in the wash at times and not be able to get to the play.  Jonathan Goff continued his impressive summer with 5 tackles.  OLB Gerris Wilkinson was once again the invisible man on defense, but he did miss an open field tackle on Washington, allowing the quick back to gain an extra 8 yards on one running play.

Clint Sintim looked like a rookie.

Defensive Backs: CB Kevin Dockery started in the absence of CB Aaron Ross.  Dockery allowed Jets WR Chansi Stuckey to streak by him and across the field for his 31 yard touchdown, but it’s hard to tell if it was his fault because on TV it appeared he was passing Stuckey off to the safety, who was nowhere to be found.

CB Terrell Thomas was in and out of the game with cramps, but played well against the pass, but not quite as well against the run where he missed several tackles when he had the opportunity to contain the back.  Also, on one screen pass, he was completely blown out of the play by Jets LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson.

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

S C.C. Brown had a rough game.  Brown seems lost in this defense, and is consistently missing tackles, and on the 31 yard touchdown play it appeared he should have picked up Stuckey coming across the field but didn’t, and compounded the error by missing the tackle at the 5 yard line.  SS Kenny Phillips looked pedestrian in his return to the lineup, and once again backup  Travonti Johnson played stout against the run, registering a couple tackles in limited play.

FS Michael Johnson had a better game this week, registering 3 tackles but he was around the ball often.  CB DeAndre Wright was victimized for a 70 yard touchdown where the Jets WR Allison blew by him, then overshot him when Allison slowed to catch the ball, then couldn’t recover to make the tackle.  The play was a back breaker, coming one play after the Giants reduced the lead to 1 point.

Special Teams: P Jeff Feagles…yeah…Feagles.

K Lawrence Tynes missed a 51 yard FG short.  If you’re missing short in the warm weather of August, what’s that say about your range when it’s 20 degrees and wet in December?  Tynes’ kickoffs were fine, all with good height and reasonable distance.  He also hit on two mid range field goals.

The kickoff coverage team did an admirable job against Super Jet Leon Washington, allowing just one decent return for 33 yards.

The punt team forced three fair catches, with one lone return for 9 yards.
The kickoff return game was fine, though no spectacular returns were made.  Ware and Sinorice Moss both returned two kicks.

Offensive Player of the Game: Rookie Hakeem Nicks gets the nod this week coming off his 6 catches for 161 yards and 2 TDs.  Honorable mention to David Carr.

Defensive Player of the Game: Chase Blackburn played a very solid game at the MLB position in place of Antonio Pierce, playing stout against the run.

(Box Score – New York Jets at New York Giants, August 29, 2009)
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