Giants News, Notes, and Reflections: Sept 16, 2014


Tuesday morning is when the dust settles from the previous NFL weekend. Team assess injuries, have reviewed their game film, and are finalizing the game plan for next week’s opponent. It’s also the day Giants360 will take a look at statistics from the just completed game and bring you a detailed analysis. We review the subscription statistics on profootballfocus.com (PFF) as well as some homegrown stat analysis to provide information not available anywhere else on the internet. And that’s a pretty big place.

Eli Manning rated out highly in the game despite his two interceptions. He was blitzed half the time, but pass protection was improved, as Manning was under pressure 12 out of 42 drop backs, or 28.5% of the time, a decrease of 3% from last week. Weston Richburg and J.D. Walton continued to struggle with pass protection, but Will Beatty, John Jerry, and Justin Pugh all improved and rated highly. Beatty was among the top tackles in the league for week 2 in pass protection.

Run blocking, on the other hand, was average, with no offensive lineman rating out of the statistical norm. The Giants were again stuffed twice, in 27 attempts, but one of the stuffs was on the goal line, which is a critical area where offensive line surge is most important. Expect the team to focus some attention on the run game in practice this week.

Hynoski 1

Need Lead Blocking? Call Hynoski

One way to improve the run game would be using Henry Hynoski more than the 12 (out of 73) snaps that he was on the field this week. As he has not been on any injury reports the first two weeks of the season, nor limited in practice, it’s reasonable to assume that his shoulder is a non-issue. His lead blocking would be a boost to the running backs. Larry Donnell played 59 snaps, and while an asset as a receiver, is not a skilled blocker, and hurts the rushing attack.

Rashad Jennings ran much better between the guards and center, 9 rushes for 44 yards, 4.88 yards per carry, than to the outside, 9 rushes for 20 yards, 2.22 yards per carry. The lack of an accomplished blocking tight end is one explanation for this discrepancy.

Victor Cruz received a negative rating for the game, and was credited with 2 drops. Andre Williams, noted for his challenged receiving skills, was credited with the only other drop. The Rueben Randle pass was defended by Antonio Cromartie and not considered a drop.

The focus of the new offense is best seen when looking at the PFF passing charts, showing that Eli Manning attempted only 6 passes of 20 yards or more, completing just one. Kevin Gilbride’s offense was more wide open and took more chances down the field. Part of the issue is the offensive line, which can’t hold blocks long enough for down field patterns to develop.

Improvement for the offense is most evident when looking at third down conversions. The Giants converted 6 of 12 third downs, up from a pitiful 2 of 14 against Detroit. They’ve also been good in the red zone, when they’ve reached it, scoring touchdowns on 4 of 5 attempts in 2 games, with the only exception being Jennings fourth quarter fumble.

Tom Coughlin noted the progress for the offense in the game, but is most concerned with the lack of it in the most critical area saying, “You’re not going to beat anybody with 14 points in the National Football League.” While he admits the statistics were better, he’s like to see the ball in the end zone more often. Coughlin specifically mentioned Jennings fumble, saying that “Points were lost on that drive, and it was a 12 play drive.”

On defense, Prince Amukamara rated poorly, even though only 2 passes were completed against him for 28 yards. The Cardinals seemed to stay away from throwing at him, only attempting 3 passes in his direction. Jameel McClain and Trumaine McBride also rated out poorly against the Cardinals.

Number 91, still getting sacks. Robert Ayers

Number 91, still getting sacks. Robert Ayers

Mathias Kiwanuka, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Robert Ayers rated the highest on the Giants defense. Early in the game, the Cardinals were able to run wide several times for big gains towards Kiwanuka’s side of the field, but they defended the run better as the game went on. McClain especially struggled against the run, which is of concern as he will be next up to play middle linebacker for Jon Beason, if Beason is to miss significant time with his re-injured toe. Backup Mark Herzlich also rated out poorly, albeit in limited snaps.

In pass defense, along with Amukamara, Antrel Rolle rated out poorly in pass coverage. Coughlin noted several opportunities for interception in pass coverage, citing Stevie Brown and Rodgers-Cromartie specifically as having missed opportunities to make plays on the ball. He says that intercepting the ball is a matter of being in position and having your eyes in the right spot. Coughlin also thought that Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton was telegraphing some of this passes with his eyes and the Giants didn’t take advantage. He thinks Brown is not quite back to his ball hawking form before his ACL injury last season, but is hopeful the free safety will get there.

One of the biggest losses in this game is nickel back Walter Thurmond, who is out for the year, needing surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle. Coughlin said McBride was “First off the bench” on Sunday to replace Thurmond in the game, but can’t commit to him taking the role long term.

Jay Bromley played 9 snaps (out of 68) against Arizona, after being inactive against the Lions. Damonte Moore was on the field for 19 snaps, and registered a quarterback hurry. Overall, the Giants pass rush re-emerged following a poor showing on opening night, ringing up 5 sacks, 7 hits, and 4 hurries. Two sacks each were were recorded by Ayers and Jason Pierre-Paul. Jonathan Hankins had the other. Only two missed tackles were recorded by PFF.

The Giants are one of three teams without a take away in 2014. The Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers are the others.

Zack Bowman missed a critical special teams tackle

Zack Bowman missed a critical special teams tackle

The most costly missed tackle of the day was the only other recoded for the Giants, and was by Zack Bowman on special teams. It, of course, allowed Ted Ginn to return a Steve Weatherford punt for a touchdown. Quintin Demps had a particularly bad afternoon, rating poorly on both kickoff returns and kick coverage. His fumble was part of the fourth quarter sequence of special teams breakdowns that turned the game in the Cardinals favor. All 6 of Demps kickoff returns began from his own end zone. Apparently, Demps is highly adverse to the concept of a touchback, even when the ball is 8 yards deep in the end zone. He averaged only 23.8 yards per return.

Preston Parker was less impressive as a punt returner, gaining 0 yards on two attempts and one fair catch. Coughlin supported both returners in his press conference, saying that they will do anything to help the team win. He specifically said tht Demps was very close to breaking off long returns on “Two or three” of his returns.

Weatherford, punting on four torn ligaments, averaged 44.3 yard gross, but only 20.3 net, courtesy of the Ginn return. Coughlin mentioned the missed opportunity to down the ball inside the five yard line on another punt as an area that needs improvement, which was also Bowman, during his press conference

In yesterday’s game summary, Giants360 pointed out the role inconsistent and poor officiating played in Sunday’s game. Coughlin also mentioned the penalties on the defensive backs and how damaging they are to efforts to prevent the opponent from scoring. The NFL fines coaches heavily for publicly criticizing officials, so Coughlin only said that the team will work to correct the issue.

Both teams were heavily penalized in the secondary. Of the 16 flags accepted in the game, 12 were on the two defenses, of which, 10 were coverage related, meaning pass interference, illegal contact, or defensive holding. To state that another way, the officiating crew granted ten first downs by penalty in the Cardinals/Giants game on Sunday. Six of the Cardinals 21 first downs were by penalty, that’s 28.5% or more than one quarter, while 4 of the Giants 24 results from flags, or 16.7%.

In reviewing the statistics for the game, it’s most apparent that turnovers cost the Giants this game. Looking at it another way, The Cardinals scored 19 offensive points while gaining 266 yards, or one point for ever 14 yards gained. The Giants scored gained 361 yards while putting 14 on the scoreboard. That’s 24.4 yards per point scored. Because of their miscues on offense and special teams, the Giants had to travel an extra 10 yards, or one more first down for each point they put on the scoreboard. While outplaying the Cardinals on offense and defense, the Giants couldn’t overcome their own mistakes.

Coughlin agrees, saying that the Giants, “Have to stop beating themselves before they can go out and beat others.” He also commended the fans for their support of the team on Sunday, and hopes to see the progress the team made and the direction the Giants are going. His message to Giants fans:

“If the fans understand our task and our goal is to toughen up, let’s go, come on. Stop beating ourselves. This is professional football. Make the plays necessary to win and do it on a consistent basis. And eliminate those bizarre events which take the heart right out of you. So I hope they will respond to the fact that I am counting on the competitors that sit in the audience when I speak to our team. I am counting on them to accept the challenge, to not feel sorry for ourselves, and to realize the work that has to be done in order for us to win. And I hope the fans will join us in that exact feeling.”

Rolle, being interviewed on a New York sports radio station, also challenged the fans to be loud on this coming Sunday’s “Must win” game. He said that despite the 0-2 record, the Giants are not down and will “Bring the pain” to the Texans. While there is still no word on the extent of Jon Beason’s injury, Rolle mentioned “Herzlich in the middle,” perhaps tipping part of the Giants plan to adapt to his defensive co-captain’s absence.

Defensive end Jordan Stanton was released from the practice squad and linebacker Dan Fox is expected to be promoted to the active roster to help fill in for injured linebackers Beason and Devon Kennard. The team will make room by placing Thurmond on injured reserve. Thurmond tweeted today that his surgery went well and he is comfortable.

Jernigan's injury may open the door for Washington

Jernigan’s injury may open the door for Washington

Jerrell Jernigan suffered a mid foot sprain in Sunday’s game, and early reports have him missing significant time. While it’s never good to lose a player who has been seeing a lot of snaps, and Jernigan played 57 this week, it should mean more playing time for preseason star Corey Washington. While raw, the best way to learn the NFL is to be on the field and Washington’s height will provide a missing ingredient to the Giants offense. Parker would also be in line for additional playing time.

At halftime of the Cardinals/Giants game, the Giants honored “legends” Frank Gifford, Lawrence Taylor, Pete Gogolak, Amani Toomer, and Tiki Barber? While no one can dispute Gifford and Taylor’s legendary status among Giants alumni, Gogolak, Toomer, and especially Barber are questionable choices for that consideration.

Despite consistent negative reactions from fans to his presence or even his highlights on the scoreboard, the team continues to bring Barber back to the stadium for various events. Giants fans have notorious long memories, and Barber’s public venomous attacks on former teammates and coaches after his disastrous attempt to transition to the media upon retirement in 2006 left a sour taste in many mouths that lingers today. A chorus of boos reigned down on Barber yet again.

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