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Baltimore Ravens 24 (3-0) – New York Giants 10 (1-2)

by The Hack for BigBlueInteractive.com

Game Summary: The walking wounded also known as the New York Giants limped into M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday night, and as Carl Banks likes to say, “took the ass whooping they came to get”.  The disparity of where the two teams are can be seen by looking absolutely no further than the first two kickoffs of the game.

Giants K Lawrence Tynes boomed the opening kickoff nearly five yards deep into the Baltimore endzone.  Instead of taking a knee, second year returner Jalen Parmele decided to run the ball out.  Phillip Dillard, the only Giant in the picture at the 15 yard line, missed a flying tackle badly but did turn Parmele towards the middle of the field where John Busing flailed at Parmele’s feet and succeeded in causing two more Giants to trip over him.  At this point, Parmele turned outside and ran behind 2nd year reserve guard Bryan Mattison for 15 yards as Mattison manhandled Gartrell Johnson as if he were his personal bitch for a good 5 seconds.  In fact, Lawrence Tynes himself finally made the hit that brought Parmele down at the 33 yard line.  Johnson’s effort was downright embarrassing.

Contrast that with the Giants’ first kickoff return following the Ravens’ first score.  Returner Tim Brown also received the kickoff nearly five yards deep in the endzone, and he too elected to take it out.  An immediate difference can be seen as the Giants ‘wedge’ players set up between the five and ten yard line, where as the Ravens personnel had set up between the 15 and 20, giving their back more room to maneuver.  The second glaring difference was that Parmele ran NORTH instantly, and made the first man (Dillard) miss badly whereas Tim Brown immediately started running east and west, allowing the Ravens to close.  In any event, Dave Tollefson and Madison Hedgecock both made their blocks on the outside.  Gartrell Johnson did an adequate job of neutralizing the first man through the middle.  At this point, you see both Phillip Dillard and John Busing with their BACKS to the Ravens, actually facing Brown and trailing two Ravens, one of whom plants Brown on the ten yard line like a radish.  Dillard missed so badly on his block, it was hard to believe.  He wasn’t even a speed bump.

Really, that sums up the game.  The Ravens on average played sound, gap control, assignment-centric football in all three phases of the game.  The Giants did not.

So what in the world do I mean by ‘perspective is warranted’?  Again, the Giants were without 14 players in this game, and several others were coming back after missing last week because of injury or other reasons.  Several others are still just coming up to game speed as they’re being brought along slowly and cautiously from severe injuries suffered last year.

Also, as suspected, Tom Coughlin and the rest of the coaching staff took an extended look at the young corners filling in for injured Terrell Thomas and Aaron Ross.  The Giants played primarily man to man defense, forcing the linebackers to play straight up on the backs releasing into patterns and quick slants and crosses from TE Todd Heap.  Antrel Rolle admitted after the game that they did not expect the Ravens to throw the ball so often in the first half, and they really did nothing to try to counter the no huddle, pass happy Ravens.  Rolle also said the Giants only made five defensive calls on the entire night.

As everyone knows, the third preseason game is considered the dress rehearsal for the regular season.  Frankly, the Giants weren’t able to use this game to that end.  Too many Giants were still being worked in to the lineup, too many Giants were left to audition for jobs, and too many Giants continued to try to fit in at places they won’t be playing unless the sky does indeed fall.  So just remember, BBI, as Eric warned in his preview this game was already set up as a disaster waiting to happen.  Frankly the only concern I have is that Coach Coughlin lamented the “lack of effort” that he was hoping to see.  As always, Coughlin was vague and we’re left to wonder exactly who and what effort he considered lacking.  Special teams certainly comes to mind, but it didn’t appear that the Giants were just going through the motions in this game.

Offense: In the first half, every single Giants drive ended due to self inflicted wounds rather than by anything that the Ravens specifically did to stop them.  Missed assignments along the entire offensive line destroyed plays from the outset several times, and most amazingly, it seemed to be just one person blowing his task rather than the entire offense being out of sync.  A few examples:

On the first drive of the game for the Giants, on 2nd and 4 from the Baltimore 22 yard line, RT William Beatty, starting due to Kareem McKenzie’s migraine, could not maintain his block against DL Corey Redding in the B gap and Redding filled what would have been a huge hole for Bradshaw to run through.  If Beatty just walls him off, Bradshaw is 10 yards downfield before anyone would have even touched him.  All other assignments, including a nice seal block by Boss, were made on the play.

On the Giants’ second drive, their most successful of the half, Eli Manning missed a wide open Steve Smith six yards behind the defense for what would have been a sure touchdown.  He missed it very, very badly.  Later, after a perfectly executed sweep by Jacobs for 30 yards to the right off an outstanding seal block by Kevin Boss and terrific blocking on the outside by WR Steve Smith, the Giants couldn’t gain a single yard on 2nd, 3rd, or 4th downs after a 9 yard pickup by Hakeem Nicks on 1st down.  What’s frustrating, beyond the fact that Jacobs did not get a single crack on any of the attempts, is that all three had fundamental errors that doomed the chances.

On first down, the left side of the line collapsed the Ravens defense completely, but Bradshaw decided to lean right towards the weak side and came up short.  On second down, Bradshaw again was led right where Hedgecock actually went down at the knees of the outside linebacker two yards before the line of scrimmage, forcing Bradshaw inside and directly into the defensive end that once again, William Beatty could not beat at the point of attack.  Fourth down never had a chance from the outset.  The  Ravens front had 7 men on the line with two linebackers a yard off the line in the A gaps and the Giants set up behind a balanced line in a double TE set.  When they fired off the ball, they left Koets one on one with the noseguard, and double teamed on both Ravens tackles with their guards and tackles, leaving the A gaps completely uncovered for the easy fill and stop.  It was no contest, and there is no way that Eli should have run that play.  Drive over.

On the third drive of the game, on 1st and 10 following the kickoff, the Giants executed a screen pass to Bradshaw that once again should have gone for big yardage.  Unfortunately, C Adam Koets did not allow the nose guard to flow upfield, and when Bradshaw caught the ball, the nose guard was floating towards the play but still had Diehl and Koets in front of him and should have been a non factor.  Inexplicably, when Diehl moved out to take on the Ravens MIKE linebacker, Koets just let the noseguard go.  Literally, just let him go and then turned around to watch Bradshaw, who was turned back inside by Koets’ man, get stopped for only a one yard gain.  After a third down conversion by Manning to Steve Smith, the Giants ran Jacobs off tackle to the right side, but again, a breakdown cost Jacobs an opportunity for a solid gain when FB Madison Hedgecock completely whiffs on the outside linebacker, forcing Jacobs inside right into the DE waiting for him.  Hedgecock was in great position, and just needed to square up and ride his man out, but instead dove head first at the linebacker, who simply Ole’d him.  This forced the play inside while Hedgecock watched helplessly from all fours.  Unacceptable!

Finally, on this drive, out of the shotgun formation with an empty backfield and three wides, Eli checked out of the called play when he saw the Baltimore CB playing 8 yards off Hakeem Nicks and checked in to a bubble screen.  While Manning was changing the play, the CB moved up and squared with Nicks man to man.  Yet Eli, for whatever reason, still called the play even though he saw the CB in Nicks’ face, and actually threw him the ball.  A completion would’ve been for negative yardage, and Manning was actually quite lucky the ball wasn’t intercepted.  Just another inexcusable play.  CALL TIME OUT and get into a different play!  It was obvious to everyone in the country that Baltimore sniffed out the play!

On the fourth drive, a muffed kick off by Andre Brown put the Giants in a deep hole, then to make matters worse Jacobs dropped his second check down of the half.  On third down, C Adam Koets bowled the snap to Manning, then to compound things turned to his left despite the Ravens sending an overload blitz (but just four men), from the right side of Manning, and the cornerback who dropped Manning came right through the area vacated by Koets.  On the play William Beatty’s head was also on a swivel and never got involved in the blocking scheme.  Horrid line play.

On the fifth drive, with less than a minute remaining, the Ravens played it straight up yet still got to Manning with just a four man rush as Beatty once again was manhandled.  On third down, Manning tried to sneak  a pass over the MIKE linebacker, who tipped the ball to Smith who couldn’t handle it and the ball ended up being intercepted.

Finally, due to a Webster interception, the Giants got the ball back with 15 seconds left and the starting offense put together their only scoring drive of the day (hahahaha!) by converting a field goal from 42 yards.

Again, most of the breakdowns were individual.  A couple were the fault of Manning for not recognizing plays that wouldn’t work and calling a time out to regroup.  Hopefully these issues get ironed out sooner than later, as these breakdowns are game changers.  It could not have been a good day Sunday in film sessions.  Some of the mistakes were absolutely embarrassing, yet all of them are correctable.  Execution was the culprit on every single one of those plays, except for the interception, which was off a lucky bounce.

The Quarterbacks: Eli Manning returned to the starting lineup after a missing last week with a laceration to his forehead that wouldn’t allow him to comfortably wear a helmet. Manning did not play a very good half of football, missing on several passes to wide open receivers and also seemingly checking in and out of plays at the wrong time.  Twice, Manning made calls that backfired and cost the Giants.  Overall, Eli finished 9 – 18 for only 63 yards, no touchdowns and 1 interception.  Manning’s QBR was a woeful 35.2.  Manning was only sacked once, but he was under fire from the quick and aggressive Baltimore front 7.  Eli did a good job of avoiding the rush by moving around in the pocket, but was unable to make the big play.  Manning was also victimized by a couple dropped checkdown passes.

Rhett Bomar, whose name was pronounced in every single incarnation conceivable by the Baltimore play by play team, had an average game at best.  His stats line looked decent at 10 – 20 for 140 yards, 1 touchdown and no interceptions and an 89.6 QBR.  On his very first pass of the night, the Giants once again tried to throw a quick hitch to Nicks at the line of scrimmage, a play that simply doesn’t work consistently enough for how often they try to execute it, but Bomar bounced it to him incomplete.  Later, Bomar wasn’t on the same page with Mario Manningham on another hitch play and that pass sailed out of bounds.

Later, Bomar made a beautiful touch pass to Victor Cruz for 35 yards on a 3rd and 2 from an empty backfield shotgun formation.  Bomar laid it out perfectly for Cruz to run under.

All in all, Bomar led the Giants on seven 2nd half “drives”.  In terms of plays and time of possession, the longest was only 6 plays and none used more than 2:38 seconds worth of clock.  Just like the Manning, Bomar was unable to establish any rhythm on offense.

Bomar was sacked four times and hit several other times.  He’s a tough kid, and doesn’t seem to get phased by pressure.  It appeared that he attempted to stay within the pocket and find receivers downfield instead of taking off on a scramble on a few plays that he had an opportunity to do so.  It stands to reason that the staff instructed him to try to find receivers instead of taking off, but Bomar also didn’t move as well within the pocket as he had in the last couple of games.

The Running Backs: HB Ahmad Bradshaw reclaimed the starting spot for this game, but other than one impressive 12 yard run on a semi-broken play, Bradshaw did very little.  As mentioned above, at least one time where he was stuffed was not his fault, but it’s inexcusable to fail to gain one yard on three successive opportunities to do so.  On two of those plays, the yard was there for him to get and he did not do so.  In the passing game, Bradshaw was targeted twice on screen passes and neither worked, and both were due to the blocking breakdowns rather than anything Bradshaw did wrong.

HB Brandon Jacobs returned from a week off with a stiff neck and looked good in his short time in the game.  Jacobs ran with power and conviction, and showed some good burst on a couple of plays.  If not for an illegal motion penalty, Jacobs’ stats would have been even better than they were.  Where Jacobs seems to have trouble is in the passing game.  Jacobs had two passes checked down to him and both went right through his hands.  Jacobs doesn’t move well in the passing game.  He flairs, stops, and turns towards the QB.  He doesn’t seem to be able to be moving during the pass, which makes his receptions fairly innocuous because he can easily be closed on.  Save the one play last year against Dallas where he took a swing pass on the move and turned it into a touchdown, Jacobs just doesn’t seem to be a good option in the passing game as a check down receiver.

HBs Andre Brown and Gartrell Johnson handled the rest of the running game late, but really showed nothing of note.  Unfortunately, both were horrid on special teams as well.

FB Madison Hedgecock, who Coach Tom Coughlin commended for having his assignments down last week, did not have a good game on Saturday night.  Though he seemed sure of his assignments, he did not lead well due to his inability to get on and sustain blocks.  What seemed like a strength two years ago has regressed considerably, and it’s definitely hurting the running game.

The Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: Other than Sinorice Moss and Ramses Barden, the Giants WR corps was complete.  Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, and Victor Cruz each had four receptions, and combined they had 24 passes thrown their way.  On the Giants’ second drive, Steve Smith got deep behind the Raven secondary but Eli Manning, who had to step up in the pocket, could not deliver the homerun ball that would’ve been a sure touchdown.  Smith looks to be in midseason form, as he always seems to be open.

The Giants do not seem to be attempting to get WR Hakeem Nicks into the downfield patterns.  Nicks was targeted 8 times, but not a single throw was deeper than 10 yards.  New York seems content to try to get the ball to Nicks on quick hitters and outs and try to let him make a play one on one with the defender.

Mario Manningham seems to be little more than an afterthought this preseason, as once again he was only targeted twice and had no receptions.  Additionally, Derek Hagan was used sparingly on Saturday night.

Victor Cruz once again looked like an NFL caliber receiver, though he did drop two balls he should have caught.  One of the things to really like about Cruz is his ability to run after the catch.  On the final drive, he made a nice shoestring catch and turned the ball upfield for another 10 or 15 yards before drawing a personal foul penalty when he was hit out of bounds.  On the touchdown play, Cruz showed incredible coordination to keep his feet in bounds and hold on to the ball on a fade in the deepest part of the corner of the endzone and take a hit as well.  It’s safe to say that Victor Cruz will be on the final roster.

The Giants once again largely ignored the fact that the TE is an eligible receiver on offense.  Kevin Boss was thrown to once, as was Scott Chander.  Other than that, the TE was invisible in the passing attack, and it puzzle the mind when you consider that NFL-wide, the TE is now a potent weapon in many offenses.  Kevin Boss looked good in the running game, and had several nice blocks.  Bear Pascoe, so far, seems to be struggling mightily as the second TE in running situations.  He simply hasn’t been able to sustain blocks.

The Offensive Line: Is the glass half full or is the glass half empty with this group?  Or, is the vessel simply twice as big as it needs to be?  The Giants offensive line, for the third consecutive week, was missing three starters.  David Deihl moved back to his customary LT spot to start the game alone with Guy Wimper at LG, Richie Seubert took over the starting C duties for injured Shawn O’Hara, Chris Snee returned to his RG slot and William Beatty stepped in for Kareem McKenzie at the RT position.

While it would be nice to see the actual starting line play at least a few series together in the preseason, it’s been extremely beneficial for the Giants reserves, especially for Beatty and Whimper, to get extended playing time against front line defenses.  Overall, as mentioned above, the offensive line played fairly well as a unit but suffered from individual breakdowns that cost the team yardage on several occasions.  William Beatty in particular had a rough night at RT, but he’s been playing at LT so far so he wasn’t exactly familiar with his assignments.  On the missed opportunity deep to Smith, Beatty was unable to get wide to cut off the outside linebacker, which caused Manning to have to step up and move before throwing the pass.  Later, however, Beatty did a nice job on a Terrell Suggs bull rush in which he was able to square up and keep him off of Manning.  When he moved to LT for the second half, after a penalty for illegal motion for going from a 2 point stance to a 3 point stance that cost Jacobs about a 13 yard gain, Beatty played much better.

Chris Snee looked a little stiff and slow on his pulls early in the game, but it was good to see him back in the lineup and taking his reps.

Richie Seubert made a HELL of a play on a blitz through the A gap on the 12 yard run by Bradshaw.  Pre snap, the Baltimore DE who was lined up as the OLB stacked over Boss came down the line and filled the A gap.  At the snap, Suebert simply turned to his right and ran and pushed him out of the play, allowing Bradshaw to cut back for the big gain.  Considering his limited experience at C, it was an exceptional play by Richie.

Another exceptionally well blocked play was the 30 yard scamper by Jacobs.  The Giants had Pascoe covering up Beatty on the right side of the line, Boss in the slot, and Smith to Boss’ right out wide.  On the snap, Pascoe crashed down on the DL, pinning him to the line.  Beatty fired out and took out the MIKE linebacker, holding his block long enough to let Jacobs get through.  Boss stood up the outside linebacker and Steve Smith obliterated the CB leaving a huge hole for Jacobs to run through.  It was a beautifully executed play, maybe the best of the night for the Giants.

The second unit of the offensive line had little success running the ball.  Shawn Andrews and William Beatty did a good job anchoring the left side of the line.  Adam Koets was up and down and had one bad snap.  Mitch Petrus looked pretty good at RG, but Jacob Bender had a rough go of it over at RT and nearly got Bomar killed on one sack.  Andrews, from what could be seen on TV, didn’t miss a single assignment and for most part dominated his assignments all second half.  As stated, it’s too early to give up on this line.  There are a lot of talented players up front, but they need to start building cohesion and grow a nasty streak.  It’s not helping them, however, that the fullback and second TE are not pitching in as often or effectively as they need to.

The Defense: A week after being relatively healthy on the defensive side of the ball, the Giants were without three key contributors as DT Chris Canty, CBs Terrell Thomas and Aaron Ross missed the game with injuries.  Looking at the glass half full again, this gave invaluable opportunity to young CBs Bruce Johnson and Courtney Brown.  Both are battling for the 4th corner with a couple others, but they’re both going to have to contribute either in nickel or as a substitute at corner throughout the season.

The Giants started the game and stayed in nickel formation for the first two series, ostensibly to see both young corners on the field at the same time to see how they work with the first team defense.

Baltimore is a power running football team with an exceptional back in Ray Rice, who can pound the ball and also be a huge factor in the passing game.  On Saturday, however, Baltimore came out immediately in an empty backfield formation and put pressure on the suspect Giants secondary from the outset.  On the first play from scrimmage, WR Anquan Boldin beat CB Courtney Brown down the seam to Flacco’s left, but was overthrown.  On second down, the Giants sent Brown on a seemingly disinterested corner blitz and Tuck was able to stunt from his left end position to make the sack.  Later, Brown lazily helped collapse the pocket on another CB blitz on Tuck’s second sack.

According to Antrel Rolle, the Giants played the game very close to the vest.  Fellow safety Deon Grant admitted that the Giants gave up a lot of yards, but claimed it wasn’t indicative of the way that they actually played, and said that other than a few individual breakdowns that are easily corrected, they played well.  (Without naming names, Grant suggested that several players were not performing their assignments as they had been taught and told by the coaching staff.)  Grant believes that it’s the last time the Giants will give up that kind of first half yardage this year.

Head Coach Tom Coughlin confirmed that the Giants were leaving their young corners to sink or swim, stating that several young players had “the opportunity of a lifetime” and then didn’t seem too pleased with how any of them played.  The Giants played primarily a man to man nickel situation most of the first half in order to get the young corners plenty of reps.

Baltimore sensed the Giants’ game plan and attacked it by going to a no huddle formation, passing almost exclusively in the first half.  In fact, the Ravens dropped back 35 times in the half.

After getting a three and out to start the game, the Giants starters gave up drives of 13, 11, 10, and 8 plays respectively, allowing 17 points, 17 first downs (12 via the pass), and 243 total yards of offense.

One drive was kept alive by an Antrel Rolle personal foul penalty for hitting a defenseless receiver which led to the Ravens second touchdown instead of a 43 yard field goal attempt.  They were able to make a stop with an interception late in the first half that saved points and led to the Giants first points of the night.

Front 7: Two defensive linemen were out for this game, starting DT Chris Canty and rookie DE Jason Pierre-Paul.  The line did get significant pressure on Flacco at times, including 2 sacks by Justin Tuck.  Unfortunately, the Giants didn’t change up the calls to try and rattle Flacco more when it became apparent he was going to throw at will against the Giants inexperienced defensive backs and young linebackers.  Though they got a good push for most of the half, Mathias Kiwanuka and Osi Umenyiora were held completely off the stat sheet, and Tuck finished with just 3 tackles including his 2 sacks.  Barry Cofield was only in on one tackle on the night and didn’t get much pressure or push up the middle.  Rocky Bernard had a very good night, with two sacks and a third tackle.  His first sack came on a beautiful swim move against the right guard.  Linval Joseph was also active in the middle of the line.  Jay Alford had some good push inside during the second half, looking quicker and more decisive than he had in the past two games.

Since the Giants went with a nickel formation for the first two series, the two starting linebackers were Jonathan Goff in the middle and Michael Boley on the weakside.  Later, Keith Bulluck entered the game as the strong side linebacker, but it’s unknown if he was the designated starter over Clint Sintim or not.  The linebackers had their hands full in coverage for most of the night.  Michael Boley was able to make two tackles behind the line, but no other linebacker had any sort of impact at or behind the line of scrimmage.

Jonathan Goff is still very raw at the MIKE.  On a 2nd and 10 play early in the second quarter from the Giants 16 yard line, the Ravens ran a draw to Ray Rice.  On the play, the Ravens center fired out to the second level and easily squared up Goff and ran him off the play, triggering an easy 8 yard gain.  Goff has GOT to recognize that coming and avoid it.  No center should be able to square up with someone as quick and agile as Goff.

Gerris Wilkinson had a rough game defending the pass before leaving with “cramps” that were later diagnosed as a groin strain.  Thus ended Wilkinson’s record two game playing streak.

The no huddle kept the Giants linebackers guessing during the first half, and they were unable to keep Todd Heap and any receiver in the slot in check.

In summary, for the second consecutive week there were good signs coming from the defensive ends.  The rest of the line also played well in spurts, but they never really had a chance because the Giants coaching staff didn’t call for much pressure, leaving the linebackers in coverage and the CBs singled up on the WRs.  The linebackers, for the most part, were not making plays.  Rather, they were practicing damage control, as many of their tackles occurred deep in the Giants secondary.  It appears that it’s still really unknown as to what the Giants have with their linebacking corps.

Defensive Backs: Thank all that is good that CB Corey Webster is healthy, as he and Antrel Rolle were really the only two bright spots in the Giants secondary on Saturday night.  Deon Grant and Sha’reff Rashad both played well at safety as well, and it was good to know that Rashad was back from his concussion rather early.  As has been discussed over at The Corner Forum, the Giants may be in significant trouble if any of their top three CBs are out for an extended period of time.  With golden opportunities to distinguish themselves and make a claim for playing time and trust from the coaching staff, Bruce Johnson, Courtney Brown, Seth Williams and D.J. Johnson did very little to help their causes.  In fact, the only one that made any type of play whatsoever was D.J. who had very nice pursuit on a late option play run by the Ravens in which he stayed with his assignment and planted the RB after the pitch.

On three separate occasions, Courtney Brown was sent on a corner blitz during the first half.  To say Brown looked disinterested in the assignment would be an overstatement of magnificent proportions.  On two of the blitzes, he was coming face to face with running back Ray Rice and wanted no part of him.  Both times, he slowed, tried to juke, and was a complete non factor in the play.  It’s hard to understand why he didn’t lower his shoulder and barrel through the RB to at least collapse the pocket towards the rest of the pass rush.  Later, on 4th and 2 from the Giant 9 yard line, Brown was singled up with Anquan Boldin in the slot to Flacco’s left.  Off the ball, Boldin slanted in front of Brown, and instead of sticking him at the five yard line, Brown slid off of him leaving an easy pitch and catch to the inside post.  Still, Brown had an opportunity to make a play on the ball because Flacco, anticipating safety help, threw the ball to Bouldin’s back shoulder.  Naturally, Brown flailed at it like a three year old child a split second after the ball was caught.

All you need to look at to see how good…or poor…Bruce Johnson’s coverage skills are is to notice the fact that he led the Giants with six solo tackles.  Naturally, if you’re breaking up passes, you’re not making tackles and vice-versa.  He did not have a pass defensed.  Johnson leaves way too much cushion on almost every route run against him, and seems to have very little ball awareness instincts.

The verdict on this secondary is still out.  According to all the reports, the Giants allowed much of what happened to them due to the fact that they wanted to see what the young CBs could, or would, do.  Combined with the fact that the Ravens also abused the Giants linebacking corps in coverage it’s just not known what they really have.  Hopefully, Deon Grant and Antrel Rolle, who seem unfazed by the night’s misadventures, are speaking the truth and Saturday was an anomaly.

Special Teams: P Matt Dodge definitely is picking up his game, and that’s two games in a row that he’s progressed.  We all got to see just why he’s on the team when he boomed an unbelievable 74 yard punt from his own endzone in the first half.  He also had a very nice “rugby” kick that should have been downed deep in Ravens territory but wasn’t covered well by his coverage team.  Overall Dodge punted 9 times for a 49.1 average and a net average of 38.3 and one touchback, as mentioned.  Dodge is the only holder on the team, and it’s probably too late now to change him out for another punter and holder.  The punting team will be an area of concern for some time.

K Lawrence Tynes, right now, is no longer a concern in the kicking game.  Tynes once again got his kickoffs long and with decent hang time.  The first kickoff was 4 yards deep in the endzone, the other was inside the five.  That said, both returns were taken out beyond the 30 yard line.  The Giants are simply horrible in coverage, and they’re equally as horrible in the return game.  No one is stepping up as a gunner, a special teams ace, a returner, nothing.  Reread the first couple of paragraphs from this story to see what I mean.

In the punt return game, Tim Brown was adequate, but Mario Manningham looked lost out there.  In the kick return game, Andre Brown muffed one and Victor Cruz muffed another.  Brown also made a questionable call to take out a kick that was five yards deep in the endzone.  If things do not change soon, the Giants are in danger of playing on a slanted field, on both sides of the ball, all year long.  The Giants average starting position on their five kickoff returns was the 18 yard line.  Compare that with the average starting position on the two kickoffs the Ravens received, which was the 32.  Overall, Baltimore’s starting field position for every drive was their own 31 yard line whereas the Giants’ overall starting field position for each drive was their own 23.

Coaching: Obviously, the Giants were severely undermanned in this game and the Giants brass decided to play it safe and see what they had and who could win one on one matchups.  Hopefully they saw enough to know what needs to be done and appropriate measures will be employed.  As for special teams, something has got to change.  Maybe a new coach would make a difference, but with a rather large player turnover from last year this team still appears disinterested and undisciplined in their coverages and blocking schemes.

Offensive Player of the Game: Offensive player of the game goes to WR Victor Cruz for leading the Giants in receiving and scoring the Giants lone TD on the day. Honorable mention to Brandon Jacobs, who would have gotten the nod had he not dropped two easy passes.

Defensive Player of the Game: Defensive Tackle Rocky Bernard is finally starting to show the ability that brought him to NY last season as a free agent.  He had an excellent game, including two sacks.

(Box Score – New York Giants at Baltimore Ravens, August 28, 2010)
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