Giants News, Notes, and Reflections: Oct 14, 2014


In the aftermath of the 27-0 thrashing by the Philadelphia Eagles, and the loss of Victor Cruz to a season ending Patellar tendon injury, it was a challenge to find a silver lining for the Giants. As it’s Tuesday, when Giants360 looks at the game stats and subscription only ratings on (PFF), we dug through them, and did manage to find a scant few bright spots.

The run game did well, but only managed 85 yards because the team only had 23 attempts. Their 3.70 yards per carry is on par with the Giants average for the season. They were also stuffed only two times, an indicator that the Eagles defensive line did not achieve penetration on rushing plays with the same effectiveness they did on passing plays. The Giants were most effective rushing up the middle between center and right guard, gaining 69 yards on 13 carries, an average of 5.30 per carry.

Richburg is one of two linemen that rated poorly in pass blocking
Richburg is one of two linemen that rated poorly in pass blocking

The Giants pass blocking was far inferior to their efforts in the previous four games, with no lineman rating positive. Justin Pugh was as bad as he appeared, being credited with the four sacks surrendered by PFF,the same number that Giants360 attributed to him in yesterday’s film study. He also rated out poorly in run blocking. Weston Richburg also rated poorly in pass blocking, although he was did not get credited with surrendering a sack by PFF. All of the other linemen rated out as average in both blocking categories. John Jerry had a negative rating because of the three penalties called on him. The Giants offensive linemen had six of the team’s ten penalties assessed against them.

Eli Manning had his worst game of the season, often seeming paralyzed if his first read was covered, something the coaching staff will need to address. The Dallas Cowboys will certainly adopt the Eagles strategy for defending the Giants offense.

Manning was under pressure 12 of his 31 drop backs, a rate of 38.7%, more than double the rate of of the previous three games. The strategy of pressuring Manning is highly effective, as his passer rating drops in half when he’s under pressure. He exhibited “Happy feet” several times on Sunday night, a product of Philadelphia’s early, and continuous pressure.

The Giants managed only 12 first downs for the game, their lowest output of the season. The team converted only 2 third down in 14 attempts. While the offense was able to move the ball at times, any drive that started to gain traction was disrupted by either a penalty, a sack, or both.

Beason may have been rusty
Beason may have been rusty

The Eagles rushed for 203 yards on 36 attempts for an average of 5.64 yards per carry, all season highs against the Giants defense. This is especially concerning for three reasons. First, the Eagles were without two of their starting offensive linemen. Second, Jon Beason, the Giants best run defender returned to the lineup for this game, and finally, next week’s opponent, the Dallas Cowboys have one of the most effective ground games in the NFL.

Philadelphia also had 448 total yards, another season high against the Giants defense. A familiar issue re-emerged, as Nick Foles completed 14 of 17 passes for 149 of his 248 yards, 1 of his touchdowns and no interception down the middle of the field. This was despite Foles being under pressure 11 of his 36 drop backs, a 30.6% under pressure rate. With linebacker and free safety coverage issues, the middle has been vulnerable to pass at all levels of the team’s defense.

Another season high for an opponent were the 24 first downs achieved by the Eagles. Philadelphia was successful on offense despite just a 62.50% success rate in the red zone and a -1 turnover rate. It’s rare for the Giants to lose a game when they win the turnover battle, but it’s an indicator of how ineffective the Giants offensive line was on Sunday night.

The Eagles were most effective running left, gaining 93 yards on 14 carries, an average of 6.64 yards per carry. Philadelphia also gained big chunks of yardage rushing around the edges on both sides, gaining a whopping 8.86 per carry with 133 yards on 15 carries. Note that the carries and yardage figures overlap on those two statistics. The Cowboys have done some of their worst damage on opponent’s edges this season, gaining 326 yards on 59 carries, an average of 5.53 yards per carry.

Demps coverage devolved on Sunday Night
Demps coverage devolved on Sunday Night

Quintin Demps, following two solid performances after taking over for Stevie Brown, had his worst game of the season, rating out poorly against both the pass and the run. Trumaine McBride, also rated poorly in both areas, and suffered a broken thumb which may require season ending surgery, a blow to the Giants rebuilt secondary that is already missing Walter Thurmond III. Jason Pierre-Paul and Markus Kuhn also had bad games against the run. Pierre-Paul’s shift from the right side of the defense to the left to allow him to pass rush against Lane Johnson may have contributed to his run defense performance drop off.

Robert Ayers one of the most consistent and top performing Giants defenders had a bad game against the Eagles, likely a product of his neck injury that resulted in his being listed as questionable for the game. Antrel Rolle performed poorly against the run, but had a solid outing in pass coverage. Jameel McClain was the only Giants who rated highly in run defense.

Zack Bowman, who will take over as nickel cornerback for McBride, and may start for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie if his leg and back injuries keep him out until after the Giants week 8 bye, has a solid outing in pass coverage, as did Jacquian Williams, while Cullen Jenkins was the Giants best pass rusher.

The Giants special teams had an up and down performance, allowing a big return to Darren Sproles, and a partially blocked punt by Eagles safety Chris Maragos. Mark Herzlich rated out the worst on the Giants special teams, and PFF seems to attribute the partially blocked punt to Steve Weatherford, as his rating for the game is negative.

On the blocked punt, Maragos saw something in the Giants blocking scheme and changed sides on the punt block team and got through the protection to get his hand on the punt. It was readily evident on the live broadcast that he was making a move to block the punt and concerning that the Giants did not adjust their protection to account for his movement.

Flaherty's adjustments were not evident
Flaherty’s adjustments were not evident

Upon reflection, the Giants were thoroughly out coached on Sunday night. The above is just one example of the team’s failure to make spot adjustment to the Eagles in game changes. The Eagles were able to overwhelm the Giants offensive line and Ben McAdoo and Pat Flaherty never made an effective counter. As the game progressed, the linemen resorted to holding and personal fouls out of frustration and embarrassment over their humiliating performance on national television.

LeSean McCoy started cutting through the Giants run defense for big gains on Philadelphia’s first drive and didn’t stop until the final gun sounded. Perry Fewell and the defensive staff never effective countered the Eagles running game. The passing yards and completion rate surrendered down the middle of the field appears to be a talent gap, but the men the team has to defend the run are solid and skilled and should have been able to contain McCoy running behind a patched together offensive line.

Tom Coughlin and his staff are outstanding at making corrections to issues between games, but showed vulnerability when an opponent came out with a game plan that was vastly different than what was expected and prepared for during the week. NFL games are won and lost by in game adjustments and this one slipped away by the Giants coaching staff failing to make any of note.

Coughlin’s post game press conference was his shortest any this season. As expected, he took full responsibility for the Giants ” Very poor performance,” saying that the team practiced well, had been excited about the game, but came out with nothing to show for it. He declined comment about what went wrong until after he reviews game film. Coughlin did say that the team did not play well up front, in a blinding flash of the obvious.

Saying that the Eagles stayed in their base defense on first down, even against the Giants three receiver sets, Coughlin noted that Philadelphia’s pass rushers “got the edge” on the Giants often, and the tackles struggled with it. He thought the offense settled down after a rough start, but still were unable to make anything happen.

One of the team’s challenges going forward will be replacing Victor Cruz’s production. A healthy Odell Beckham will have a bigger role, but the team is going to be careful with his hamstring until he puts together several weeks of successful practices and games to ease their comfort level. Preston Parker and Corey Washington are the next men up on the active roster, while Juron Criner, Travis Harvey, and Julian Talley could be promoted from the practice squad.

There is also an internet rumor floating that the Giants are exploring a trade possibility with the Buffalo Bills for veteran receiver Mike Williams. He’s grown out of favor in Buffalo after similarly wearing out his welcome in Tampa Bay. It’s possible a coach like Coughlin could straighten out his attitude and get him to maximize the talent that made him a fourth round pick in 2010. Williams salary guarantees and Buffalo’s compensation demands will likely prevent the deal from being done.

The Giants reportedly worked out former Cowboy and Lions Kevin Ogletree yesterday. Ogletree’s best game as a professional came on opening night 2012 at Metlife stadium against the Giants when he caught 8 passes for 114 yards and 2 touchdowns in a 24-17 Cowboys victory against the defending Super Bowl champion Cowboys. Giants360 would like to acknowledge @MistaYMM for calling this to our attention. Appreciate the assist.

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