Nov 292015
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (November 29, 2015)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

WASHINGTON REDSKINS 20 – NEW YORK GIANTS 14
The New York Giants lost a critical division game to the Washington Redskins, 20-14, on Sunday afternoon in Landover, Maryland. With the defeat, the Giants fell to 5-6 overall and 2-3 in the NFC East. The Giants are still tied with the Redskins for first place in the dismal NFC East with five games left to play. However, the Giants lost starting guard Geoff Schwartz for the season with a fractured lower leg.

The Giants’ offense was dismal, being shutout for three quarters against the NFL’s 22nd-ranked defense. New York’s first two drives quickly ended with interceptions off of tipped passes. In the Giants’ five other first-half drives, the team only gained four first downs and punted the ball away five times.

The Redskins could not convert the Giants’ two first-half interceptions into points as the defense forced a three-and-out and defensive tackle Jay Bromley blocked a 51-yard field goal attempt. However, Washington was still able to take a commanding 17-0 halftime advantage due to a 12-play, 56-yard field goal drive; a 63-yard deep strike from quarterback Kirk Cousins to wide receiver DeSean Jackson after cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie left the game with an ankle injury; and a 9-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a quarterback keeper on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line near the end of the first half.

The Giants had a chance to get back into the game early in the third quarter after the Redskins turned the ball over on downs at the New York 37-yard line. The Giants responded by driving 59 yards in eight plays down to the Washington 4-yard line. But on 3rd-and-goal, Manning’s pass was thrown behind wide receiver Rueben Randle and intercepted in the end zone.

The Giants went three-and-out on their next two possessions as the Redskins added a 33-yard field goal to go up 20-0 early in the 4th quarter. The Giants made things interesting late with two touchdown throws, including a 40-yard pass to Randle on 4th-and-16 with 10:10 remaining and a spectacular 21-yard, diving catch by wide receiver Odell Beckham with 4:57 remaining.

Nevertheless, the Giants’ defense could not get the ball back quickly after the latter score, allowing the Redskins to gain 37 yards and two first downs, taking 4:38 off of the clock. The Giants started their last drive at their own 20-yard with with only 19 seconds left.

Offensively, the Giants finished with 17 first downs, 299 net yards passing, and a pathetic 33 yards rushing against the NFL’s 30th-ranked run defense. Manning finished the game 26-of-51 for 321 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. He was sacked three times and officially hit eight other times. Beckham caught 9-of-18 passes thrown in his direction for 142 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Will Tye caught 6 passes for 74 yards. No Giants’ running back gained more than 15 yards.

Defensively, the Giants allowed 18 first downs, 302 net yards passing, and 105 rushing yards. The defense did not force a turnover. Cousins completed 69 percent of his passes, was not sacked, and only hit three times.

Video highlights/lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT…
Offensive guard Geoff Schwartz fractured his lower leg in the first half. His season is over. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie injured his ankle but returned to the game.

POST-GAME REACTIONS…
Video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Tom Coughlin and the following players are available at Giants.com:

  • Head Coach Tom Coughlin (Video)
  • QB Eli Manning (Video)
  • WR Odell Beckham (Video)
  • WR Rueben Randle (Video)
  • DT Cullen Jenkins (Video)

POST-GAME NOTES…
Inactive for the Giants were TE Larry Donnell (neck), OC Weston Richburg (ankle), LG Justin Pugh (concussion), WR Geremy Davis, DE George Selvie, CB Leon McFadden, and S Cooper Taylor.

ARTICLES…

Nov 272015
 
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New York Giants Defense (September 24, 2015)

New York Giants Defense – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants at Washington Redskins, November 29, 2015

THE STORYLINE:
It’s been a roller coaster season filled with ups and downs, bad injury news, and four heart-breaking defeats. But through 10 games with six to play, the Giants find themselves in first place in the NFC East, with two of their primary challengers all but officially dead. As unthinkable as it seemed only a week ago, the Giants can virtually lock up a playoff spot before December if they beat the Washington Redskins on Sunday.

These circumstances make this contest one of the most important the Giants will play in 2015. But as important as the game is to the Giants, it’s Washington’s season. If the Redskins lose, like the Cowboys and Eagles, they are all but officially done. Expect playoff-type intensity from the Redskins at Sunday – a team that is 4-1 at home this year, including wins over two teams (the Eagles and Saints) that have beaten the Giants. The Giants need to match or surpass that intensity to win.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • TE Larry Donnell (neck – out)
  • OC Weston Richburg (ankle – doubtful)
  • LG Justin Pugh (concussion – out)
  • RG Geoff Schwartz (ankle – probable)
  • LB J.T. Thomas (ankle – questionable)
  • LB Mark Herzlich (quad – out)
  • LB Uani ‘Unga (neck – probable)
  • DE Damontre Moore (hamstring – probable)
  • CB Prince Amukamara (pectoral – probable)
  • CB Leon McFadden (groin – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
The Redskins are 22nd in overall defense (12th against the pass and 30th against the run). Those figures suggest the Giants should remain balanced. When the Giants defeated the Redskins at the Meadowlands back in September, the Giants passed the ball 32 times for 279 yards and ran it 31 times for 84 yards. But a few variables have changed since that first meeting. New York’s two best offensive linemen – center Weston Richburg and left guard Justin Pugh – are out. That will put a damper on an already moribund rushing game (26th in the NFL). A good running play is usually a well-choreographed affair where one breakdown can lead to failure. Take out two important cogs, especially two of the team’s best run blockers, and it’s not likely that the Giants will be able to generate much success against a defense that has struggled against the run lately.

The other factor that suggests more emphasis on the pass is that Redskins’ cornerback Chris Culliver tore his ACL and MCL in practice on Thanksgiving, making an already somewhat shaky secondary more vulnerable. That doesn’t mean the Giants should abandon the run, but I would emphasize the short-passing game early in lieu of the run – which is what Ben McAdoo often does anyways in some contests.

Washington only has 17 sacks on the season and outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan (4.5 sacks) remains their best pass rusher. The Redskins will line him on both sides so he will likely battle both starting offensive tackles. Inside linebacker Perry Riley is athletic and flashes at times. 3-4 right defensive end Jason Hatcher has been bothered by a knee issue. Bashaud Breeland is now Washington’s best corner, and he is up and down. The safeties are ordinary at best, and Dashon Goldson has been battling a slew of injuries. Eli Manning and his receivers should be able to do some damage against this group if the injury-depleted offensive line can give him time. Look for Washington to blitz up the middle to test Dallas Reynolds and John Jerry.

This game is too important to get too cute with. Put the ball in the hands of your best play-makers: Eli Manning, Odell Beckham, and Shane Vereen. The week off should have helped Rueben Randle too and I could see him having a big day against Washington as they roll their coverage towards Beckham. Eli has played very well against the Redskins in recent games.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
Kirk Cousins is coming on, but to date, he has really struggled against the Giants. Cousins was named “NFC Offensive Player of the Week” against the Buccaneers and had a perfect 158.3 QB rating against the Saints. He’s completing 68 percent of his passes, and as Tom Coughlin pointed out, 80 percent in his last two home games. Cousins brought his team back from a 24-0 deficit against the Buccaneers – a warning for a New York defense that has demonstrated a startling inability to hold leads.

Former Eagle and Giants-killer DeSean Jackson missed the first Giants-Redskins game with a hamstring injury. He’s an explosive deep threat who can put points on the board quickly. Fellow wideout Pierre Garcon is a savvy playmaker as is tight end Jordan Reed (6 touchdowns). Reed plays more like a wide receiver than tight end and is a match-up problem. Diminutive Jamison Crowder has 43 catches as the slot receiver. The Redskins are far more talented at the skill positions than a lot of fans realize. The Giants could focus more on Garcon and Reed in the first game with Jackson out, but they won’t have that luxury this time around. The good news for the Giants is that Prince Amukamara is back, but the Redskins surely have noticed the issues free safety Landon Collins has had in recent weeks.

The Redskins started off the season running the ball very well, but have struggled more of late. That said, this is big offensive line with quality, physical running backs who are sure to test a Giants’ defensive line missing Johnathan Hankins inside. Hankins wasn’t really missed against the Patriots, but this is a different style of opponent. The Giants will need a strong game from Cullen Jenkins, Jay Bromley, and Markus Kuhn. Trent Williams is one of the better left tackles in football, but Jason Pierre-Paul has given him trouble at times and Williams is battling a knee injury.

The Giants need to stop the run and make the Redskins one-dimensional. That will help take away the play-action pass and put pressure on Cousins to perform against a Giants team that he has turned the ball over against in the last three games between these two teams.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
The Redskins have returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, one against the Giants in Week 3 and the other last week against the Panthers. The Giants have also struggled lately on punt return coverage, with long returns by the Saints and Patriots possibly costing the Giants both games. The Redskins’ kicker has 30 kickoffs resulting in touchbacks and Washington is 2nd in the NFL in kickoff coverage so kickoff returns may be tough this week. Dwayne Harris has yet to break one on a punt return. Keep in mind the Giants blocked a punt against Washington in Week 3.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Tom Coughlin on Kirk Cousins: “I think he’s much more confident. I think the rhythm with which he goes about his business, particularly in the play-action pass game, is outstanding.”

THE FINAL WORD:
The Giants’ 97 wins versus Washington are the most for one team against another in pro football history. And the Giants are 5-0 against Washington in their last five contests. Much of that latter discrepancy has been due to the difference in play between Eli Manning and Kirk Cousins when these two teams have met. But don’t sleep on Washington. Cousins has a very talented group of targets who can present serious match-up issues for the Giants. This game is Washington’s season. Expect their best effort.

Sep 272015
 
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princess_bride_280

New York Giants 32 – Washington Redskins 21

Confusing Intro

Two 4th quarter leads blown, 0-2 and playing without your starting LT, best cover corner and best DL against a suddenly revitalized Washington Redskins (161 and 182 yards on the ground to open the year against two of the best defensive fronts in the league in St. Louis and Miami) team that vows to “Break the man in front of you”, were the Giants already dead in week three?  Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens that your team here is only MOSTLY dead. There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there’s usually only one thing you can do.

It turns out the Giants did learn from their first two weeks, not taking their collective feet off the gas in a 32-21 win over the Washington Redskins. Staked to an early 9-0 bulge thanks to a Prince Amukamara INT and Rashad Jennings blocked punt for a safety, the Giants were never really threatened in this one despite a 101-yard kickoff return in the 4th quarter that cut a 32-14 lead to 32-21 and had to make some Giant fans wonder, are we going to cough up the lead again? Never fear, Kirk Cousins is here, and the former Spartan was again generous throwing 2 costly INTs, one inside his own 20 and another when it appeared the Skins were finally gaining some footing on offense. Questions will be raised about Tom Coughlin’s sanity again though, because with under 2 minutes left in the game he inexplicably chose to throw the ball on a 3rd-and-10, essentially gifting his opponent about 40 seconds of clock time late in the game for the second time in three weeks. Fortunately this was Kirk Cousins and not Matt Ryan or Tony Romo and the Skins final effort was an 8-play, 64-yard clunker that ended on a 26-yard garbage time run as time expired. The Giants are not quite dead, which means we can’t yet go through their pockets and look for loose change but we just might get a miracle if the teams in the NFC East keep losing players and we start to get some back next week against the Buffalo Bills.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (September 24, 2015)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Quarterbacks

My name is Eli Manning, you killed my first two games, prepare to die. Eli Manning started the game 8-of-8, looking sharp and decisive with the ball, seeming to involve Rueben Randle early to get the 4th-year pro in a groove to help this offense. Manning found Odell Beckham on a 4th-and-1 conversion on a simply perfect pass low and outside where only his WR could make the catch and again Beckham was on the receiving end of a perfectly-placed toss into the end zone to the high post. Despite the first two games and non-stop criticism, Eli stepped onto the big stage and did what Eli does, he played to win the game and he did just that. That is the Eli we want, that is the Eli we expect and with another makeshift OL, no real slot WR and a frustrating TE situation the Big E came up huge when he had to. Up 25 to 14, instead of going into a shell, Eli and company fired the dagger with a back shoulder pass to Rueben Randle that DB Bashaud Breeland (can someone name a kid Bill or Ted or something, ffs this is getting out of control) tipped, but Randle gathered it and went in for the score. Manning finished the day with 279 yards, 2 TDs and again no interceptions.

Running Backs

Andre Williams gets the first nod for his bruising TD run over left guard following a Prince Amukamara INT to stake the G-men to a 9-0 lead. Late in the 3rd quarter, Williams did his best Brandon Jacobs, in trucking FS Trenton Robinson on a 5-yard run that had to make Skins fans shudder at the memory of old #27 obliterating S LaRon Landry. Other than that, a pretty poor night for the backs again, with a paltry 2.7 ypc average with 11 yards as the long run of the night. This mix and match zone runs and power runs has the OL and backs tied up and simply not performing well at all. It may be time to see what Orleans Darkwa can do because this running game is dead in the water. FB Nikita Whitlock didn’t play many snaps on offense. RB Shane Vereen was held catchless and only touched the ball 6 times but his alert onside recovery saved what could have turned into another late game meltdown.

Rueben Randle, New York Giants (September 24, 2015)

Rueben Randle – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Wide Receivers

Someone must have threatened to put Rueben Randle’s hand in warm water the next time he falls asleep if he didn’t show up this week, because the 4th-year former Bayou Bengal came out punching and didn’t let up. Randle ran a great DIG route on a 3rd-and-8 early in the 3rd to pick up a key conversion. To top things off, Randle pulled in a 3rd-and-10 with the Giants up 11 and only 3:33 left, and raced home for the game-clinching TD. Great night for Randle who finished with 116 yards on 7 grabs and the game-clinching TD. Superlatives simply don’t work anymore when discussing Odell Beckham Jr. He finished with a pedestrian (for him) 79 yards on 7 catches but his 4th-and-1 snag of a low slider from Eli and his effortless grab of a post in the end zone that was high and near a defender just shows how composed he is with the ball in the air and how much his QB trusts him.

Tight Ends

Washington-killer TE Larry Donnell killed a Giants drive midway through the 2nd quarter. An easy 3rd-and-7 conversion fell right through the 6’6” Donnell’s hands killing a drive that ended in a FG. The head scratcher? Donnell seemed to somersault just because he can on a 22-yard catch from Manning as the 4th quarter opened. I mean he didn’t fumble so that’s great but the non-induced gymnastics need to go. Every time he plays, Daniel Fells seems to have a big catch down the seam. Manning found Fells on a seam route on a Giants scoring drive midway through the second quarter. Fells deked LB Keenan Robinson with a jab step outside, got inside leverage and ran a perfect seam route for a 23-yard gain. He’s not flashy, but Fells is as fundamentally sound a TE as this team has had for some time.

Offensive Line

Without starting LT Ereck Flowers, things appeared to be grim against a Washington front that gave the Dolphins and Rams fits. Overall, not a bad job really, though at times RT Marshall Newhouse tried out his new skates when Ryan Kerrigan lined up over him. Newhouse did gave up some pressures, but kept a clean sheet and against a player of Kerrigan’s caliber that’s worth a pat on the backside. Not from me of course, that would be weird. The signal caller was kept clean all game and with few exceptions the pocket was fairly well-formed and stable most of the night. There was definitely pressure at times, but credit C Weston Richburg for keeping slight pressures from becoming drive-killing sacks by helping and switching to double team when needed. LT Justin Pugh acquitted himself well in rookie tough guy Flowers’ absence, and dare I say it, LG John Jerry played a pretty solid game, using his considerable backside to anchor well against a very big and very physical Washington front 7. Against bigger, physical lines, the 680 lb guard tandem of Geoff Schwartz and Jerry will actually be a big plus. C Weston Richburg largely goes unnoticed but ask Eli how much he appreciates room to step up into the pocket and the ability to dump off a screen pass and have his agile pivot man get out in front of the play and actually give it a shot. Another unsung improvement who won’t be on Sports Center or make the Daily News’ goofy headlines, but rest assured our 2nd year center is becoming exactly what this offense needs, a steady sturdy leader who can captain this young and now promising OL.

New York Giants Defense (September 24, 2015)

New York Giants Defense – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Defensive Line

Kerry Wynn made his mark early, knifing through on a 3rd down to drop Matt Jones for a loss and force punt #2. Wynn finished with 8 stops and a QB hit, and in case that doesn’t tell the story clearly, that would be a 128-tackle season for a DL. As a point of reference, Hall of Famer Michael Strahan’s best year was 2005 when he finished with 81 stops. Am I inducting Kerry Wynn into the Hall of Fame because he went to school in Virginia? Yes, yes I am. Wynn likely won’t ever make a Pro Bowl or spit pieces of a PBJ on a reporter, but make no mistake, #72 was a difference-maker all night against what was a vaunted Washington running game. Consistent backside tackles and an ability to hold the edge made Wynn a force all night. His linemates didn’t fill up the stat sheet, but play after play, the Giants DL played with outstanding technique, not allowing cut-back lanes, shutting off the edge and forcing bruising RBs Matt Jones and Alfred Morris to churn out yards inside. The G-Men held the W’s to 88 yards, 26 of it on a last-second run that can easily be tossed out to show how dominant this group was all night. Cool moment of the night: FB/DT Nikita Whitlock had an impressive 360 spin to get in Cousins face from the NT spot and force an incompletion. With the Skins down 19 entering the 4th quarter, it was pin your ears back time and the Giants DL didn’t get much in the way of sacks, though Kerry Wynn and Jay Bromley each chipped in with a couple of QB hurries. That lack of pressure may come back to bite this group eventually but we’ll take this one week at a time and worry about that when and if it happens.

Linebackers

OLB Devon Kennard just keeps making play after play. The 2nd-year former Trojan LOVES contact and it shows. Kennard’s ability to shock with his hands is something this team hasn’t seen since Carl Banks roamed the Meadowlands. What made Banks such a dynamic run and edge defender was his ability to stay square and “shock” or jolt the man blocking him violently with his hands, holding the vaunted edge and controlling the running game. Kennard does the same thing when asked in 3-4 sets, and he gets better every week at it. It’s not glamorous, it’s not cool but key on #59 a few times and watch how violent his hands are and how aggressively he defeats blocks of 300lb lineman with ease. It’s a beautiful thing. LB Jonathan Casillas may have had the whiff of the game when he was handed a perfect blitz and clean shot at Kirk Cousins and he ran right past the QB. It was coincidentally the same fake-blitz-that-becomes-a-blitz that LB Kawika Mitchell executed in Super Bowl 42 to hurry a Tom Brady throw. At the snap, Casillas takes a drop step into his zone, then zips inside a lane created by the DL, only to miss a chance at a sack. Casillas was almost victimized by TE Jordan Reed who had flown past the LB into the end zone but Kirk Cousined it and the Skins were forced to kick the oblong pigskin for points. LB Jon Beason returned from his latest injury room vacation but didn’t register a tackle or have really any impact in limited action. He did avoid a season-ending injury so let’s call that a win. Beason’s understudy (hoping to make the journey from Milan to Minsk) Uani’ Unga picked off a Cousins’ pass with the Skins driving and the G-Men up 12. And with the Giants scoring on the ensuing possession, that INT turned out to be a huge moment in the game. It was of course tipped by Devon Kennard who had perfect coverage on the play and batted the ball into the air, so just get used to 59 making things happen seemingly all over the field. Unga could be blamed on Chris Thompson’s TD catch late in the 4th quarter as the old-young rookie failed to get sufficient depth in his drop, opening a small window for the Cousins pass.

Landon Collins, New York Giants (September 24, 2015)

Landon Collins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Defensive Backs

Prince Amukamara, victimized by Julio Jones and the Falcons game-winning drive, redeemed himself instantly with an INT inside Washington territory that led to an early and easy TD. The Prince batted away a pass to a seemingly-open Pierre Garcon. S Landon Collins looks like he’s rounding into form, making a key breakup early in the 2nd quarter against athletic TE Jordan Reed. Collins had Reed in man coverage all the way and Collins looked to be beaten but he closed down quickly, read Reed’s eyes and turned to find the ball and knock it away at the last second. The ball could have been thrown a bit better, but credit Collins with one of those little smart football things (watching a WRs eyes when running with him to find the ball) that don’t get enough credit. Heady play by the rookie. I bemoaned the signing of S Brandon Meriweather, but thus far #22 has been a solidifying force in the secondary. His strong effort around the line of scrimmage and ability to support the run game have been critical in this defense’s ability to limit ground yardage. Everyone’s favorite punching bag now that Markus Kuhn is on the pine, is undoubtedly CB Jayron Hosley, but the former weird giant turkey mascot school product was solid save for a pass interference call in what was probably his best game as a Giant in coverage.

Special Teams

Finally, finally something special! Rashad Jennings of all people, called for a running into the kicker play that was wiped out by offsetting penalties, came back on the re-do and blocked P Tress Way’s offering into the end zone for an early safety and a silly looking 2-0 lead. I’ll be honest, I really wanted the game to end 2-0. Rueben Randle tried his best to be Chris Calloway as the Redskins last ditch onside kick glanced off the WR’s..well his everything, but Shave Vereen corralled the ball and finally put the team at ease that a victory was within reach, almost. After Rueben Randle’s TD put the G-men up 32-14, disaster struck again as a 101-yard kickoff return for a TD put the game AGAIN on edge but the ensuing onside kick flashed through Randle’s hands, not making contact and the Giants could finally breathe easy.

Coaching

Two simply head scratching calls on 3rd downs from Ben McAdoo. One was an out to TE Daniel Fells, not even close to the first down. And the other was the EXACT same play late in the 3rd that tied up Larry Donnell like a young Bruce Wayne finding all those bats in that hole. Swatting, panicking, falling, Donnell looked awful, but even if caught, he’s 5 yards short. With the best WR in…I would say NFL, most would call me nuts so let’s go best WR in the stadium…and a 6’2” slot WR at your disposal, you decide that slow, sessile TEs should get the ball 5 yards shy of the first down marker because they are so very fast? Mind numbing play calls. That said, McAdoo kept at the run despite it not working to keep the defense honest and eventually it broke the game open as the G-Men erupted for 32 points against a thus far stingy Washington defense that had held the Dolphins and Rams in check.

Nobody gets ‘em ready like old Tommy C. Think about this for a moment. 0-2, he’s too old, his eyes seem more beady than usual (according to me only but seriously they are way beadier now), no Ereck Flowers, no Victor Cruz, no DRC, no Robert Ayers, on short rest against a confident and physical Washington team. The Giants came out and again fought from whistle to whistle, scrapping on defense, specials and offense wire to wire. It’s too early to know what this season will hold, but give Tom an A+++ for game preparation this week with an undermanned squad and tons of pressure, his charges came out swinging. That said, the throw on 3rd down with Washington out of time outs was another late-game head scratcher. My guess is he wanted to be aggressive and get the first down and ice the game since being conservative has led to blowing two 10-point 4th-quarter leads. Not the worst idea given that Randle scored on a similar play a drive earlier, but you have to bleed the clock in that situation, take the extra 40 seconds off and don’t risk stopping the clock there.

By now you all know how I feel about Spags. I love the way he attacks and I love the confidence and speed his teams play with. He has a rookie and a has-been at safety who have had rough patches but overall have acquitted themselves well. He has LBs who can’t cover and LBs who can’t play the run and he actually uses them according to their strengths. This is a team devoid of difference makers on defense. But the speed and aggression they play proves that the whole is better than the sum of its parts and team defense can keep you in games if everyone believes. And this group does.

Inside the Game 

So how are the Giants thus far throttling teams on the ground with the same cast of characters that former DC Perry Fewell led to a 30th-place finish in rushing yards allowed with a whopping 135.1 yards per game against, and dead last in yards-per-attempt at 4.9 yards per carry? FOUR POINT NINE yards per carry, let that sink in for a moment; it means if you run the ball twice you’re looking at 3rd and 7.2 inches to go on average. Through three games, admittedly a small sample size, Steve Spagnuolo’s group is 2nd in yards, giving up 74.7 yards per game and tied for 4th in yards per attempt at 3.4 yards per carry. So what’s been the one big difference? It’s been discussed before, but here it is: the 4-3 shift to a Base 50 or Oklahoma 5-2 front utilizing OLB Devon Kennard as the edge setting run weapon and utilizing 320lb DT Jonathan Hankins as a true nose tackle who can alter the game from that spot. (Captions below pics).

4-3

Notice in this frame, the Skins come out with 3 WRs, 1 TE and one RB, and motion the WR across the formation to get the Giants to shift to the backside of the play, presumably to open up a hole outside the TE and up the field on the right. The Skins had drummed the vaunted Rams front to the tune of 182 rushing yards with similar plays that hemmed in the Rams DEs and neutralized speedy and disruptive DT Aaron Donald.

5-2

As the WR goes in motion, so too does LB Devon Kennard, who shifts to his OLB role, creating what is now a 5-2 front. This shift to get Kennard up to the LOS had worked well in weeks 1 and 2, but the Skins are ready and are running AWAY from Kennard on the play.

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DE George Selvie gets hooked initially and a big lane opens up. But the shift by the Redskins – designed to get safety Brandon Meriweather to slide inside as a true FS as safety Landon Collins is forced to follow the WR in motion and play in the slot, and isolate CB Jayron Hosley on the edge – play side doesn’t work. A big hole develops as you can see above. RB Alfred Morris now has a huge lane to run in, but S Brandon Meriweather, instead of shifting inside to safety to cover for S Landon Colllins, moved up to play CB and take on the block of the WR, as CB Jayron Hosley sat back to put a body in the hole and allow his teammates to “screw down” or move their blockers down the LOS to collapse a running lane. Had Hosley moved to the WR and Meriweather slid back to FS, this play could potentially go for a score or at least a very long gain but Spagnuolo’s trust (or gamble) in leaving CB Prince Amukamara and S Landon Collins in man coverage on the backside means the priority is stifling the ground game.

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Hosley’s presence and Meriweather’s physicality in fighting off the WR’s block cause Morris to stutter step in the hole and cost himself the advantage his TE and RT had initially created. The play goes for 6 yards, a win for the offense usually, but this was a home run-type of running play a year ago. But because the focus on stopping the ground game is clearly a priority, Spags was ready with a smart non-backside play shift that kept a bigger more physical safety to take on a wide receiver’s block and two DEs outside of the NT to help screw down and close the hole after Morris was forced to hesitate. That hesitation cost Morris a huge gain and showed precisely how this team is more prepared and willing to sell out to stop the run. The Skins shift does get Kennard up on the line and moves him away from the play, but it does NOT get Meriweather to slide inside, which would have left Hosley on an island. Chalk one up to the Giants on that one for seeing a tendency, seeming to play into it but having a plan to counter on the backside.

Cram it in your Cramhole Award

It has to go to the Washington team for having the unmitigated gall to hire Perry Fewell. I still have sleepless nights thinking about the Seahawks running for 875 yards against us (dramatization, may have been fewer) and they not only hire the dolt but SHOW HIM ON TV! OK, technically it’s CBS’ fault for showing him but I firmly believe that I speak for all Giant fans, DO NOT SHOW PERRY FEWELL ON TV. Not now…not ever. Just don’t do it. Thankfully Fewell learned nothing in his time here and was totally unable to slow down a passing offense he saw in person every single day. Don’t ever change Perry, you stink and we love you for it…now that you’re gone of course.

(Washington Redskins at New York Giants, September 24, 2015)
Sep 252015
 
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New York Giants Defense (September 24, 2015)

New York Giants Defense – © USA TODAY Sports Images

NEW YORK GIANTS 32 – WASHINGTON REDSKINS 21…
The New York Giants may have saved their season with a convincing 32-21 victory over the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium on Thursday night. The Giants improved their overall record to 1-2 while the Redskins fell to 1-2.

The Redskins received the football to start the game but could not pick up a first down. After offsetting penalties negated the first punt, the second punt attempt by Washington was blocked by running back Rashad Jennings for a safety. New York was up quickly 2-0.

The Giants crossed midfield on their first offensive possession but were forced to punt. On the second snap of Washington’s second drive, cornerback Prince Amukamara picked off quarterback Kirk Cousins at the Redskins 20-yard line and returned it to the 14. Four plays later, running back Andre Williams scored from one yard out to make the game 9-0.

Prince Amukamara, New York Giants (September 24, 2015)

Prince Amukamara – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The Redskins went three-and-out on their third possession. The Giants responded with an 8-play, 47-yard drive that set up a 35-yard field goal by place kicker Josh Brown as the Giants expanded their lead to 12-0. The Redskins then finally moved the ball on their fourth possession, putting together a 10-play, 54-yard effort that resulted in a 44-yard field goal. Giants 12 – Redskins 3.

Both teams then exchanged field goal drives again, the first a 9-play, 47-yard possession by the Giants that resulted in a 36-yard field goal by Brown and then a 13-play, 61-yard possession by the Redskins that resulted in a 37-yard field goal. The Giants once again crossed midfield on their final possession of the first half but could not score. At halftime, the Giants led 15-6.

The Giants received the football to start the second half and promptly expanded their lead to 18-6 after a 15-play, 50-yard drive that took up half the third quarter. The Redskins responded with a scoring threat of their own that was dramatically stopped when linebacker Devon Kennard deflected a pass by Cousins that was intercepted by fellow linebacker Uani’ Unga at the New York 27-yard line.

The Giants then took charge of the game with an 8-play, 73-yard drive that ended with a 30-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Eli Manning to wide receiver Odell Beckham. The Giants led 25-6 early in the fourth quarter.

The Redskins looked to make things interesting on their ensuing possession by driving deep into Giants territory. On 4th-and-1 from the Giants 7-yard line, running back Matt Jones picked up the first down but fumbled the ball out of bounds in the end zone, resulting in a touchback and a turnover. The Giants went three-and-out on the following possession. Washington then drove 74 yards in 12 plays to cut the score to 25-14 after a 4-yard touchdown pass and a successful 2-point conversion attempt with 3:40 to play.

Rueben Randle, New York Giants (September 24, 2015)

Rueben Randle – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Running back Shane Vereen recovered a Redskins onside kick attempt at the Washington 41-yard line. Three plays later, on 3rd-and-10, Manning hit wide receiver Rueben Randle for a 41-yard touchdown to give the Giants a 32-14 advantage with 3:21 to play. However, the Redskins returned the ensuing kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown. The second Redskins onside kick went out of bounds. After a three-and-out by the Giants, the Redskins received the ball with 1:43 to play and advanced the ball to the Giants 14-yard line before the clock expired.

Offensively, the Giants gained 19 first downs and 363 total net yards (279 passing, 84 rushing). The team was only 4-of-12 on third down (33 percent). Manning completed 23-of-32 passes for 279 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions for a QB rating of 119.1. His leading receivers were Randle (7 catches for 116 yards and a touchdown) and Beckham (7 catches for 79 yards and a touchdown). Jennings gained 31 yards on 11 carries, Williams 29 yards on 14 carries, and Vereen 23 yards on six carries.

Defensively, the Giants allowed 22 first downs and 393 yards (305 passing, 88 rushing). The Redskins were 6-of-15 (40 percent) on third down and 2-of-3 (67 percent) on fourth down. The defense forced three turnovers (two interceptions and one fumble). The only sack was by linebacker Jonathan Casillas

Video highlights/lowlights and the post-game locker room celebration are available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT…
Running back Orleans Darkwa left the game with a knee injury and did not return. Cornerback Prince Amukamara hurt his ankle but returned to the football game.

POST-GAME REACTIONS…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Tom Coughlin and various players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

POST-GAME NOTES…
Inactive for the Giants were WR Victor Cruz (calf), TE Jerome Cunningham (knee), DE Robert Ayers (hamstring), DT Markus Kuhn (knee), DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (foot), RT Ereck Flowers (ankle), and CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (concussion).

The Giants have won five games in a row over the Redskins.

The Giants improved to 15-7-3 on Thursdays, including 4-2 under Tom Coughlin.

For the second time in three games, the Giants did not commit a turnover.

QB Eli Manning increased his career touchdown pass total to 263. That broke a tie with Dave Krieg and moved Manning into 12th place on the NFL’s career list. Joe Montana is 11th with 273.

Justin Pugh made his first career start at left tackle. John Jerry started at left guard.

Middle linebacker Jon Beason made his 2015 debut after missing the first two games with a knee injury. Beason split time with Uani’ Unga, who led the Giants with nine tackles (six solo).

Jayron Holsey started at left cornerback for Rodgers-Cromartie.

Fullback Nikita Whitlock played several snaps at defensive tackle in the fourth quarter, as he did in the preseason finale in New England.

Sep 232015
 
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Tuffy Leemans, New York Giants (October 1, 1939)

Tuffy Leemans with ball, New York Giants at Washington Redskins (October 1, 1939)

Washington Redskins at New York Giants, September 24, 2015

THE STORYLINE:
Who are the 2015 New York Giants? On paper, they are a young team led by the oldest and most experienced head coach in the NFL and a 34-year old, two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback. They currently only have one offensive weapon – Odell Beckham – who really scares the opposition in the passing game. The running game remains too unproductive and inconsistent. Defensively, the Giants appear to be a spunky group that lacks any impact player. They can’t rush the passer and they can’t close the deal in the 4th quarter. And once again, it’s a team that simply can’t stay healthy (8 players on Injured Reserve, 13 on the injury report).

The Giants should have stolen the game from the Cowboys, and not the other way around. They had the Falcons on the ropes until another 4th quarter meltdown. Is it a lack of talent? Bad coaching decisions at the wrong moments? Lack of confidence and expecting the worst to happen? Probably a combination of all of the above.

The issue now is that for the third season in a row, the Giants find themselves in a very bad 0-2 hole and risk making themselves irrelevant once again before November. Their saving grace is the state of the rest of the NFC East. It’s almost as if they’ve been given one final second chance. Don’t blow it Giants.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Victor Cruz (calf – out)
  • OT Will Beatty (pectoral – on PUP and will not play)
  • TE Daniel Fells (foot – probable)
  • TE Jerome Cunningham (knee – out)
  • LT Ereck Flowers (ankle – doubtful)
  • RG Geoff Schwartz (illness – probable)
  • DE Robert Ayers (hamstring – questionable)
  • DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (foot – out)
  • DE/DT Cullen Jenkins (hamstring – probable)
  • DT Markus Kuhn (knee – out)
  • DT Jay Bromley (knee – probable)
  • LB Jon Beason (knee – probable)
  • CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromarties (concussion – out)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
Through two games, the Washington Redskins have the NFL’s #1 defense. It is #4 against the run and #2 against the pass. Part of that is due to having faced two offensively-challenged teams in the Miami Dolphins and St. Louis Rams. But the Redskins also shut down a Rams team that had just beaten the NFC Champions.

The Redskins operate a 3-4 defense under new defensive coordinator Joe Barry. The defensive line was largely rebuilt in free agency with the additions of nose tackle Terrance Knighton and left defensive end Stephen Paea. Ex-Cowboy Jason Hatcher still mans the right defensive end position. Their job is to keep the Redskins talented and active linebackers free. Outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan is an aggressive, physical football player who can rush the passer. The other outside linebacker – Trent Murphy – is similar in style and a former 2nd round pick. Inside linebackers Keenan Robinson and Perry Riley make a lot of tackles. (Riley has been bothered by a calf injury).

Despite Washington’s #2 ranking against the pass, the Redskins could still be vulnerable in the secondary. They imported cornerback Chris Culliver and safety Dashon Goldson in the offseason from the 49ers and Buccaneers, respectively, to go along with cornerback DeAngelo Hall and safety Trenton Robinson. They really haven’t been tested yet by a serious passing game.

The Giants did the right thing in cutting Preston Parker. Unless he gets his head out of his ass quickly, I would be tempted to do the same with Rueben Randle. I’d rather take my chances with no-names like Geremy Davis and Julian Talley who at least look like they are giving an effort.

The Giants need to get the God-damn running game going. No excuses. You have four backs who you have invested a lot of resources in. Use them. Put Daniel Fells in at tight end and Nikita Whitlock at fullback and run the football. When throwing the football, look to Odell Beckham and Shane Vereen. Perhaps the site of Burgundy and Gold will inspire Larry Donnell to re-visit his three-TD game against the Redskins from last season.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The game plan is simple. Stop the run. Make the Redskins one dimensional and force Kirk Cousins to beat you. It’s easier said than done as ex-Cowboys offensive line coach Bill Callahan appears to be doing marvelous job with a group that really struggled in the preseason. The Redskins are the #1 rushing team in the NFL despite facing two teams with very talented defensive lines. Trent Williams is one of the more talented (but sometimes inconsistent) left tackles in the NFL and the Redskins have high draft picks – Brandon Scherff at guard and Morgan Moses at tackle – manning the reinvigorated right side of the line. The two-head monster at tailback is Alfred Morris and rookie Matt Jones – both big, physical backs. This is old school football. The Redskins are going to attempt to pound the Giants right at the point-of-attack. Washington will challenge the toughness and manhood of Big Blue.

The good news for the Giants is that WR DeSean Jackson (hamstring) will not play. The two main threats in the passing game are WR Pierre Garcon and TE Jordan Reed (who is more of a dynamic H-Back). These are Kirk Cousins’ two go-to guys. Cousins is an up-and-down quarterback. Right now he is incredibly completing 76 percent of his passes but he will make the bone-headed turnover.

This is a game where the Giants front seven and secondary will have to play very tough, physical football for a full 60 minutes against the run. Defending the ground attack will be more important than rushing the passer in this game. The Giants will have to play their big boys up front. Do that and cover Garcon and Reed.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
The Giants are much better on special teams than the Redskins. This is an opponent where the team’s offseason additions could finally have a game-altering impact.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Tom Coughlin on the Washington Redskins: “Kirk Cousins, their quarterback, his percentage of completions is at 75 percent. They’re the number one rush team in the league, they’re the number two time of possession team in the league – almost 38 minutes a game. The opponent just doesn’t have the ball. Defensively, they’re number one in the league, fourth against the rush, second against the pass.”

THE FINAL WORD:
Through two games, the Redskins have proven to be a very fundamentally-sound football team. They are the #1 rushing team and the #1 defense in the NFL. The big worry here is stopping the Redskins ground game. That’s the key to the game.

For the last few years, we’ve heard the coaches and players say, “There’s still time to turn this around.” For the last few years, they’ve been dead wrong. It’s put up or shut up time right now. Or the empty seats will start appearing at MetLife in October, and that’s just plain sad. Play the run. Hit. Tackle. Run the football. Get the ball to Beckham and Vereen in the passing game. Make plays on special teams.

Most importantly, to paraphrase Ulysses S. Grant, stop worrying about what other teams are going to do to you and make them worry about what you are going to do to them!

This game has some deja vu qualities to it to 2007. That 0-2 Giants team, with a new defensive coordinator named Steve Spagnuolo, won a nail-biter against the Redskins in week three. It was a win that propelled the Giants to a 6-game winning streak and much more significant results. It doesn’t have to be pretty. Just win. Then get Victor Cruz back and start making some hay.

Dec 162014
 
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Odell Beckham and Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (December 14, 2014)

Odell Beckham and Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 24 – Washington Redskins 13

Game Overview

A bad 5-9 football team beat a worse 3-11 football team.

Offensive Overview

It was the Eli Manning and Odell Beckham show and not much else. The Giants only gained 287 total net yards and 143 of those yards came on passes from Manning to Beckham. In other words, half the offense. The Giants only had three plays over 20 yards, and all three were passing plays from Manning to Beckham for 35, 31, and 21 yards. And all three touchdowns were Manning to Beckham connections.

The Giants only rushed for 49 yards. In five first-half possessions, the Giants only gained seven first downs, punted four times, and only netted 95 yards. It took the team 12 plays to travel 56 yards on their one first-half scoring drive.

In the second half, the lone field goal was set up by an onside kick (the Giants could not gain a first down after the successful recovery). There were two more punts and one turnover on downs. The good news is that Manning and Beckham hooked up for their second and third touchdowns on the day.

How bad would this team be without Manning and Beckham?

Quarterback 

Overall, Manning played fairly well given the complete absence of a running game. He finished the game 23-of-34 for 250 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions (118.5 QB rating). Most of the yardage came in the second half as Eli was held to 9-of-16 for 79 yards in the first half of the game. That said, on the 3rd-and-7 play after the onside kick recovery, Manning was fortunate that the linebacker did not intercept his pass intended for Preston Parker. There were two plays that stood out to me in the second half. The first was the 35-yard touchdown pass to Beckham where Manning looked off the coverage to the right, helping Beckham to pull loose from the coverage. The second was his remarkably accurate 18-yard throw to Rueben Randle on 3rd-and-8 despite rolling to his right and throwing back across his body. That’s a throw that normally gets quarterbacks in trouble.

Running Backs 

A virtual non-factor. Rashad Jennings carried the ball once for three yards before leaving the game with a re-aggravated ankle injury. Andre Williams (56 snaps) carried the ball 18 times for a pathetic 44 yards (2.4 yards per carry). His longest run was six yards. The “best” run of the day was Henry Hynoski’s 2-yard gain on 4th-and-1. But Hynoski was unable to convert on a 3rd-and-1 play late in the second quarter, killing a drive.

Wide Receivers

It was the superlative Odell Beckham and not much else from the other wideouts. Beckham caught 12-of-15 passes thrown in his direction for 143 yards and three touchdowns. He and Manning were the offense as the other four wide receivers on the team only caught seven passes for 71 yards.

Ironically, it was a bit of a rough start for Beckham as he couldn’t drag his foot inbounds on one third-down conversion attempt that would have kept the opening drive alive. He later couldn’t handle a somewhat high throw on the first play of the ensuing drive. But the drive ended with an excellent touchdown reception by Beckham despite tight, aggressive coverage by the Redskins’ defensive back.

Odell Beckham comes up with TD despite tight coverage

Odell Beckham comes up with TD despite tight coverage

Besides the 143 receiving yards, Beckham also helped to cause an additional 70 penalty yards as the corner who was covering him was flagged five times on two pass interference, one defensive holding (declined), and two personal foul penalties. Of course, Beckham’s two second-half touchdowns were decisive. In the third quarter, he demonstrated excellent acceleration by sprinting through the middle of the defense for a 35-yard touchdown. On the drive where the Giants really put the Redskins away, Beckham had a key 21-yard reception on 3rd-and-2. And while he dropped his first TD attempt on this drive on 1st-and-goal, he made up for it on 2nd-and-goal with his 6-yard TD reception.

Rueben Randle, New York Giants (December 14, 2014)

Rueben Randle – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Randle (31 snaps) was benched in the first quarter for the second time in three games. When the Giants drafted Randle’s former collegiate teammate and friend Odell Beckham, I thought that might spur Randle to greater heights. It appears to have had the opposite effect. As BBI poster RetroJint said, Randle seems to be “stuck at the crossroads of indifference and envy.” Randle’s one big contribution – and it was a significant play – was his 18-yard reception on 3rd-and-8 that set up the last touchdown. But he also could not come down with a couple of passes that hit him in the hands, including a contested 3rd-and-7 reception that would have kept a drive alive earlier in the game.

BBI poster Emil wrote the following after the game:

Fans don’t often get to see this side of football because all eyes are on the QB at the snap when you watch on TV, but check out the replay of Beckham’s last TD. He wins the route right off the line of scrimmage by attacking the defender’s outside shoulder (his shoulder to the sideline). He uses his feet to get the DB to open up the inside and Beckham exploits it for the TD. It all happens in about a second and the DB is toast. Game over.

Many WRs are fast, many are big, some are big and fast. Few are big, fast, and textbook route runners. In fact, with this new generation of large WRs, most get by on their physical talents because they can. Doesn’t take much for a 6-3+ WR to gain the advantage on a DB. Beckham doesn’t have that luxury. He is fast, and has an incredible catch radius, but he is not big. By running perfect routes, pretty much all the time, he gains separation without getting in the space of the defensive back. It is simply amazing to watch.

Would also point out, this is one of the reasons Beckham gets separation and Randle does not. Randle, who never seems to get separation, runs inconsistent routes and has lazy footwork. Not to mention, he seldom uses his size to his advantage. If Rueben Randle could add some polish to his game, like Amani Toomer did, he would be a real asset in this offense.

Preston Parker played 36 snaps and has one catch for 12 yards. Kevin Ogletree played 19 snaps and had three catches for 25 yards. He had a key 15-yard catch on 3rd-and-4 on the Giants’ first touchdown drive. Corey Washington caught one pass for four yards on his only snap of the game.

Tight Ends

The tight ends were strangely quiet in the passing game as Larry Donnell (38 snaps), who torched the Redskins earlier in the season, had only two catches for 11 yards. Daniel Fells (29 snaps) had one catch for 16 yards that helped to ignite New York’s go-ahead touchdown drive. Adrien Robinson played 12 snaps.

Sometimes the issues with the blocking are with the tight ends and not the offensive line. For example, in the second quarter, Donnell’s man penetrated into the backfield and completely disrupted a run by Williams.

Larry Donnell's opponent penetrates into backfield, disrupting play

Larry Donnell’s opponent penetrates into backfield, disrupting play

Offensive Line

The offensive line remains a sore spot. The line as it is currently constituted simply cannot run block effectively against decent run defenses. The Giants were held to a pathetic 49 yards rushing. Sometimes it is borderline comical. There was one run on the TD drive where RT Justin Pugh got stood up, and a pulling LG Weston Richburg slammed into him, knocking Pugh to the ground and allowing Pugh’s man to make the tackle. But the main issue is the Giants simply are not knocking people off of the line of scrimmage. For example, on the graphic below, Larry Donnell is called upon to block the defensive lineman on a down block and Will Beatty is called upon to pull and take out the linebacker. Neither can do their job and Williams has no place to run.

Will Beatty and Larry Donnell can't make their blocks

Will Beatty and Larry Donnell can’t make their blocks

Pass protection was much better, especially in the first half. The only sack that was given up appears to have been a mental rather than physical breakdown as the Giants left the Redskins’ best pass rusher, linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, unblocked. Either TE Daniel Fells screwed up on the play or their was a flaw in the pass protection call. There was one series in the game where pass protection was an issue from a physical standpoint. Ironically, that was on the Giants’ last TD drive as Manning was hit hard a couple of times. Richburg was also flagged with a holding penalty on this drive.

The most harmful penalty was the one on the preceding series when Pugh’s holding penalty wiped out a 30-yard touchdown to Beckham. This drive ended with a failed 4th-and-1 conversion attempt.

J.D. Walton appeared to have forgotten the snap count on a 3rd-and-2 play at the Washington 9-yard line, causing a 5-yard penalty and a subsequent field goal when the Giants could not convert on 3rd-and-7.

Defensive Overview

It was largely a tale of two halves as New York’s defense was torched by Washington for 16 first downs and 265 yards in the first half, including 98 yards rushing and 167 yards passing. In other words, the Redskins gained more yards in the first half than the Giants did in the entire game. Fortunately for New York, the Redskins only managed 10 first-half points as QB Robert Griffin III inexplicably lost the ball while crossing the goal line at the end of the first half.

In the second half, New York gave up one big offensive play that set up a field goal, but otherwise completely shut down the Redskins (61 of Washington’s 107 second-half  yards came on that one play). The Redskins only gained five second-half first downs, and three of those came on the one scoring drive. Meanwhile, the Giants piled up the sacks, finishing with seven and 12 hits on the quarterback.

The Redskins did have seven plays that gained 20 yards or more. In addition, the defense was often fooled by misdirection. And there were a couple of big mental breakdowns on plays where running backs were left wide open in pass defense.

Defensive Line

For the third week in a row, the Giants played a bad offensive line and for the third week in a row, the pass rush was a huge factor, with New York accruing seven sacks. That said, run defense discipline in the first half was suspect as the Redskins gained 98 yards on 16 carries (6.1 yards per carry). And the pass rushing was more of a factor in the second half, with six of the seven sacks coming after the break.

Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (December 14, 2014)

Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Jason Pierre-Paul (68 snaps, 7 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 2 tackles for losses, 5 QB hits, 1 forced fumble) played a terrific game. Yes, much of his damage came in fourth quarter against a right tackle who was shifted to the left side once Pro Bowler Trent Williams left the game. Yet before Williams departed, JPP had a series of key plays against him in the third quarter, including combining with Devon Kennard for 4-yard sack on 4th-and-2, slamming Robert Griffin the III to the ground on 2nd-and-goal from the NYG 11-yard line, and then on the following play sacking Griffin for a 9-yard loss to force the Skins to settle for a FG.

After the Giants went up 24-13, Pierre-Paul and Johnathan Hankins took over the next series as JPP clobbered Griffin as he threw the ball, Hankins stunted and sacked Griffin on 2nd-and-10, and then Pierre-Paul sacked Griffin from a stand up position on 3rd-and-22.

While JPP was pretty stout against the run, he continues to over-pursue the running back on QB keepers around his end. JPP also had a defensive offside penalty.

Interestingly, Kerry Wynn (41 snaps, 7 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 QB hit) played slightly more than Damontre Moore. Wynn impressed with his hustle and instincts against the run. And for an undrafted rookie, he was probably the most disciplined defensive lineman on the field in terms of not over-pursuing the back on play-action fakes. Wynn didn’t flash as much on the pass rush, but he did pressure the quarterback once into an incompletion.

Moore (39 snaps, 5 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 2 QB hits) was flagged with a defensive holding penalty on the tight end in the second quarter. He combined with Johnathan Hankins on a key 4-yard sack inside the New York 10-yard line late in the first half. In the second half, I was impressed with his hustle chasing Griffin 23 yards down field to make the tackle. Moore also did a nice job of keeping Griffin from scrambling for a first down on 3rd-and-4 in the fourth quarter.

Odell Beckham, New York Giants (December 14, 2014)

Johnathan Hankins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Johnathan Hankins (50 snaps, 6 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3 tackles for a loss, 2 QB hits, 1 forced fumble) played his best game as a Giant. He not only had 2.5 sacks, but he was a factor rushing the passer on a number of other plays as Redskin quarterbacks had no room to step up in the pocket in order to avoid the outside rush. For example, on JPP’s 3rd-and-goal sack, Hankins was right there too, and Griffin had nowhere to run. Two of Hankins sacks came late in the 4th quarter and helped to make the victory a comfortable one.

Cullen Jenkins (32 snaps, 2 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 QB hit) played more than he has in weeks and saw some time both at end and tackle. His sack came on 3rd-and-4 on Griffin’s first drive. Mike Patterson (22 snaps, 1 tackle), Jay Bromley (16 snaps, 1 tackle), and Markus Kuhn (11 snaps, 3 tackles) all played in the rotation.

Linebackers

The only linebackers to play on defense were Jameel McClain (70 snaps, 6 tackles, 1 QB hit), Devon Kennard (49 snaps, 7 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 2 tackles for losses, 1 pass defense, 1 forced fumble), and Mark Herzlich (32 snaps, 4 tackles).

The run defense was shaky in the first half, as was pass coverage on running backs as Silas Redd (3 catches for 62 yards) and Chris Thompson (3 catches for 22 yards and a touchdown) were a factor in early Redskins’ success.

For example, during Washington’s first drive, on a read option, it appears that Kennard didn’t maintain his gap responsibility on a play where QB Colt McCoy picked up 20 yards on the ground. Two plays later, Kennard couldn’t get off of the block from the TE at the point-of-attack and RB Alfred Morris gained 14 yards. Later on this opening FG drive, there was no linebacker in sight on a short pass to Redd that picked up 17 yards on 1st-and-15.

On the Redskins’ TD drive, McClain was easily beaten by TE Niles Paul out of the backfield for a 17-yard reception. And it was either McClain or Stevie Brown who should have picked up Thompson out of the backfield on his wide open 9-yard touchdown reception.

On the Redskins final drive of the first half, Redd was left side open for a 37-yard gain with no one in the picture. Some linebacker or safety was at fault there.

The linebackers played better in the second half. Kennard combined with Jason Pierre-Paul to sack Griffin on 4th-and-2. And he and Herzlich were pretty tough at the point-of-attack on running plays after intermission, including on a 3-yard loss.

Herzlich was flagged with an illegal use of hands that wiped out a 1-yard loss caused by Kennard.

Defensive Backs

The Giants did a fine job on the two main wide receivers: Pierre Garcon (4 catches for 36 yards) and DeSean Jackson (3 catches for 15 yards). The only big pass play to a wideout was the 61 yarder to Andre Roberts.

But to be fair, there were breakdowns that were covered up by the incompetence of Robert Griffin III. For example, note how two receivers are wide open on this first-half 3rd-and-10 pass play where Griffin throws the ball out of bounds.

The Redskins missed some golden opportunities in the secondary

The Redskins missed some golden opportunities in the secondary

Griffin did exploit one of these pass defense breakdowns for a 20-yard gain to Roberts late in the first half.

For the second week in a row, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (57 snaps, 4 tackles, 1 pass defense) and Chykie Brown (68 snaps, 5 tackles) started at corner with Mike Harris (38 snaps, 2 tackles) being the third corner. Unlike last week, Zack Bowman (14 snaps, 0 tackles) did log some time on defense.

Rodgers-Cromartie played well. The Redskins mostly shied away from testing him. He knocked down one pass thrown in his direction to Garcon. Griffin also took one deep shot to Jackson but Rodgers-Cromartie was stride for stride with the Giants’ nemesis. While DRC saved a touchdown by chasing down Roberts on his 61-yard gain, Rodgers-Cromartie may have been the cornerback Rolle said was out of position on the play to begin with (it was either DRC or Mike Harris, and my guess was it was DRC). Nevertheless, Rodgers-Cromartie is playing more than he did during the losing streak and that is having an impact on the overall defense.

Chykie Brown did give up a 22-yard reception to Garcon on the Redskins’ sole TD drive, but once again he surprisingly kept his opponent mostly quiet. He’s playing better than expected since being cut by the Ravens.

Stevie Brown appears to have regained the starting free safety job as for the second week in a row he logged far more snaps (70 snaps, 3 tackles) than Quintin Demps (22 snaps, 5 tackles, 1 pass defense).

Cullen Jenkins, New York Giants (December 14, 2014)

Antrel Rolle – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Antrel Rolle (70 snaps, 4 tackles, 1 pass defense) did not play one of his better games. He had very good coverage on TE Jordan Reed in the end zone on the second-to-last play of the first half, but he could not come down with the interception. Rolle had a dreadful third quarter. First, he should have sacked Griffin for a loss on 2nd-and-6, but Griffin stiff-armed Rolle to the ground and picked up 23 yards. On the next series, Rolle took a bad angle on a 3rd-and-6 play that should have been limited to about a 15-yard completion. He overshot Andre Roberts who then rumbled for a 61-yard gain. On the very next snap, Rolle hit Griffin out-of-bounds for a 15-yard personal foul penalty.

Special Teams

It was mostly a positive performance for the special teams.

Josh Brown hit a 32 yard field goal. Two of his four kickoffs resulted in touchbacks, but one was kicked out of bounds, resulting in Washington starting their possession at the 40-yard line. The Redskins returned one kickoff for 33 yards so that was not ideal either.

Steve Weatherford punted six times, averaging and netting over 43 yards per punt. Five of his six punts were downed inside the 20-yard line, and four inside the 10-yard line. And the Redskins only returned one punt for one yard. Zack Bowman did a nice job of downing two punts inside the 10-yard line.

Preston Parker returned three kickoffs for 90 yards, including a 45 yarder that set up the team’s first touchdown.

Odell Beckham returned four punts for 19 yards, with a long of 13. He was flagged for an invalid fair catch signal in the second quarter. And he muffed the last punt, leading to the team’s only turnover with nine seconds left in the game. The Giants are using him so heavily on offense that the team may want to consider pulling him off specials for the remainder of this season in order to give him a bit of a break. Adrien Robinson was flagged with an illegal block on one return.

One of the big plays in the game was the recovery of the onside kick by the Giants at the start of the third quarter. Given that the Giants were kicking off from the 35 yard line after 30 penalty yards were assessed, the decision was a no brainer but the Washington was expecting the onside kick and the Giants still recovered. It was a nice hustle play by CB Chandler Fenner.

(Washington Redskins at New York Giants, December 14, 2014)
Dec 142014
 
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Odell Beckham, New York Giants (December 14, 2014)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The New York Giants defeated the Washington Redskins 24-13 at MetLIfe Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The victory improved the Giants overall record to 5-9 an ensured that the Giants will finish third place in the NFC East.

The star of the game was rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham, who caught 12 passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns – all of the touchdowns scored by New York.

Odell Beckham and Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (December 14, 2014)

Odell Beckham and Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

“The young man is having outstanding success,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin of Beckham after the game. “When we are getting the ball to him, he’s doing very well with it. He’s a very good football player. He has the ability to go the distance, I think, any time he gets it – whether as a punt returner or as an offensive player. He can run the football; he can throw the football, so we’ve tried to create a lot of situations. He does have the talent to exploit the defense in a lot of different ways.”

The Giants received the football to start the game, picked up one first down due to a penalty, and punted. With Colt McCoy at quarterback, the Redskins drove 79 yards in 13 plays on their opening possession to set up a successful 35-yard field goal.

Wideout Preston Parker returned the ensuing kickoff 45 yards to the Giants’ 44-yard line. New York then drove 56 yards in 12 plays to take a 7-3 lead when quarterback Eli Manning found Beckham for a 10-yard score on 3rd-and-8. Key plays on this drive also included a 15-yard pass to wide receiver Kevin Ogletree on 3rd-and-4 and a 2-yard run by fullback Henry Hynoski and 4th-and-1.

After both teams exchanged punts, the Redskins, now with Robert Griffin III subbing for the injured McCoy, drove 77 yards in seven plays to regain the lead 10-7 on a 9-yard touchdown throw.

New York punted twice and Washington once on the ensuing three possessions. Then came the craziness at the end of the first half.

With 2:55 left to play in the half, the Redskins drove from their own 10-yard line to the Giants’ 8-yard line. On 3rd-and-goal from the 8-yard line, and only with eight seconds left, it appeared Griffin scored on a run around right end to give Washington a 17-7 halftime advantage. But before Griffin crossed the goal line, the ball came out of his hands. The instant replay official ruled that Griffin had fumbled the ball out of bounds in the end zone, resulting in a touchback. The antics continued as wide receiver Santana Moss of the Redskins was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct and thrown out of the game due to his verbal attack on the officials due to the replay reversal.

At the half, the Redskins led the Giants 10-7.

The 30 yards in penalties on Moss at the end of the first half affected the start of the third quarter. With the Giants set to kickoff from Washington 35-yard line, the team attempted an onside kick that was successfully recovered by cornerback Chandler Fenner at the Redskins’ 17-yard line. New York could not pick up a first down, but the recovery did set up a 32-yard field goal by place kicker Josh Brown that tied the game at 10-10.

On Washington’s first drive of the second half, the Redskins reached the New York 36-yard line. On 4th-and-2, Griffin was sacked by linebacker Devon Kennard and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. After another punt by the Giants, Washington regained the lead as Griffin hit a 61-yard pass play on 3rd-and-6 from the Washington 11-yard line. Safety Antrel Rolle was beat on the play but hustle by cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie saved the touchdown as the Redskins receiver was tackled behind on his way to the end zone. The Redskins ended up settling for a 38-yard field goal.

Trailing 13-10 late in the third quarter, the Giants drove 81 yards in four plays to take the lead for good. The key plays on the drive were a 16 yard pass to tight end Daniel Fells, a 23-yard pass interference call against the Redskins on Beckham, and then a 35-yard pass play from Manning to Beckham for the touchdown. Giants 17 – Redskins 13.

Cullen Jenkins, New York Giants (December 14, 2014)

Cullen Jenkins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The Redskins went three-and-out at the start of the fourth quarter, but the Giants could not take advantage of excellent field position as they were stopped on 4th-and-1 on the Washington 28-yard line on a Beckham running attempt. Earlier on this drive, a 30-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Beckham was wiped out due to a holding penalty on right tackle Justin Pugh.

The New York defense held again and the Giants put Washington away for good with a 12-play, 76-yard drive. On 3rd-and-2 from the Washington 47-yard line, Manning found Beckham again for 21 yards. A few snaps later came a huge 3rd-and-8 pass play from Manning to wide receiver Rueben Randle for 18 yards on 3rd-and-8. Then on 2nd-and-goal from the six, Manning found Beckham for his third scoring play. The Giants led 24-13 with 4:41 to play.

The Redskins could not move the ball on their next possession as Griffin was sacked twice. The Giants ran the ball three times and punted. Washington had one last chance but couldn’t move the football and punted with 20 seconds left. Beckham muffed the punt and Washington recovered, but it was too little too late.

Offensively, Manning finished 23-of-34 for 250 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions (118.5 quarterback rating). Beckham caught 12-of-15 passes thrown in his direction for 143 yards and three touchdowns. No other Giants target had more than 30 yards receiving. The Giants only rushed the ball for 49 yards on 22 carries.

Defensively, the Giants accrued seven sacks: DE Jason Pierre Paul (2.5), DT Johnathan Hankins (2.5), DE/DT Cullen Jenkins (1), LB Devon Kennard (0.5), and DE Damontre Moore (0.5).

Video highlights/lowlights of the game are available at NFL.com. The transcript of Tom Coughlin’s post-game transcript is available at BigBlueInteractive.com.

Post-Game Notes: Inactive for the Giants were LB Jacquian Williams (concussion), LB James Davidson, CB Jayron Hosley, RB Chris Ogbonnaya, OT James Brewer (concussion), and OG Eric Herman.

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