Giants Problems: Defense First
What's wrong with the Giants? This is only two consecutive losses, which is no reason to panic, but when you consider that the two previous games were won by miracles - Dez Bryant's finger out of the end zone against Dallas and Eli's spectacular TD pass to Cruz late in the Washington game. Either one of those plays goes wrong, and the Giants are 5-5 today.
Anyway, losing to Cincinnati by 18 points is, at the very least, a cause for deep concern.
I watched this game carefully, and here's what I think is the basic problem: in the 3rd quarter, the G-Men set up a screen pass to Ahmad Bradshaw that resulted in a 2-yard loss. The Fox analyst said the Bengals linebacker "sniffed that one out perfectly."
Exactly -- it seemed to me that all day long the Giants ran the same plays over and over, and on defense used the same blitzes and the same coverages.
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By the 3rd quarter, I could predict on nearly every play what the Giants were going to do on both sides of the ball. And if I can do that, I'm pretty sure an NFL brain trust can do it.
The Giants have settled into this pattern of running the same plays -- post-patterns on long passes, draw plays to Bradshaw on 2nd down, etc. And opposing teams act as if they know what the Giants were going to use in any situation because they DO know -- they watched the game films from the last couple of Giants games.
The Giants have gotten into this rut of thinking that because they won the Super Bowl with just a handful of plays that they can continue to run those same plays over and over. They can't. The difference in talent between the best and worst NFL teams just isn't that great. When you keep throwing to Victor Cruz on 3rd-and-long at the same spot on the field, it doesn't matter how good Victor Cruz is -- or even how well Eli throws the ball. There's going to be an opposing player also waiting for the ball.
The same applies for defense. The Giants' coverages have become so predictable that opposing teams know exactly where the blitzes are coming from and who is going to be covering what area. Here's an eye-popping stat: With AJ Green's 56-yard TD pass reception just 5 plays into Sunday's game, the Giants had given up 56 plays of 20 yards of more - tops in the NFL.
I know what's wrong with Eli Manning. He's getting bad protection and running predictable plays, but I think the problem the Giants should address first is on defense.
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