After watching all NFC teams competing for a wild card spot win yesterday (despite most of them being in danger of losing at some point), the Giants had what was almost a must-win against the team with the best record of the NFL. After being massively outplayed in the first half on the field but not the scoreboard, they put it together in the second half combining a dominant defensive effort with a mediocre offensive effort highlighted by one great Odell Beckham play, to beat the Cowboys 10-7 in front of a stadium that sold approximately a quarter of its tickets to Cowboys fans.
Random thoughts on special teams:
Love OBJ on punt returns but let’s do it against punters without good hang times. With no room to run, why risk it? But when he is given time he will break one.
Not opening on the character issues with Josh Brown but Giants passing on a 40 something yard field goal attempt in the first half was a reflection of their understanding of the difference between Robbie Gould and Josh Brown.
I didn’t understand why Dallas punt returns lines up only 40 yards from line of scrimmage when Brad Wing punted. He kept kicking it over their heads which left them with backwards momentum when trying to catch the ball.
Thoughts on the defense last night:
Olivier Vernon looked solid for the first half of the season. We were told he had some sort of wrist injury which has subsequently healed. I would say that his play over the last 6 weeks has been spectacular including last night. Tyron Smith is a top 5 NFL tackle and he won that battle convincingly. He is amazingly justifying that enormous contract.
The game from Okwara was a very good game. Anyone watching in pre-season (the last time he got real PT) would not be shocked and we got on his bandwagon early. He is clearly no JPP –especially against the run- but his strong game, if followed up with others in the coming weeks could hurt the negotiating power of JPP this off season. I believe JPP bleeds blue and would love to return but with the money already invested in Vernon and Harrison on that line and potentially Hankins too, it will be a tough keep unless he provides a home team discount.
Vernon is on T the only free agent signee performing well. ‘Jackrabbit’ Jenkins has been a true shut down corner and his dominance of Dez Bryant was likely the biggest contributor to the win. Lastly, ‘Snacks’ Harrisons run stuffing has changed the entire defensive front.
I am still perplexed by the lack of playing time that DRC gets. He is still playing great ball. Is this really all about preventing injury? I can even understand having a strong performing Eli Apple ahead of him in base defenses as the gap is minimal, but the fact that Sensabaugh gets playing time as the third CB on first and second downs is perplexing.
I’m not sure if the return of Justin Pugh next week will move the needle enough in terms of the play from the line but the Giants running game just can’t seem to get going and can’t keep defenses honest. Odell will never see single team coverage and defenses don’t have to. There is just no run game to respect –especially when you have a middle linebacker like Sean Lee. He is truly amazing. I’m not sure of his free agency status but I’d love to see the giants come after him.
Dak Prescott has obviously been amazing but he plays with a great running game and the best offensive line in football. It’s hard to imagine that Tony Romo would have struggles the way Dak did last night. Dak has had it easy and never really had to come from behind against a good defense to prove himself.
Offensively, it is still a bit of a mystery to me why the offense would be this much worse than a year ago with virtually identical players other than the upgrades at wide receiver. One possible explanation is that the defense has been watching the Giants offense which has become more predictable. It seemed that every time Manning called an audible at the line, Dallas called their one play in reaction to it and left them in better position to defend the play. Also, the best quarterbacks are always good at looking off of the primary receiver to move the safeties or linebackers. I recall getting to watch Brett Favre in his one NY season and he was amazing at that. Manning doesn’t seem to be able to do that anymore. I’m not sure if his lack of confidence in the time his line will allow him plays into this but he targets his primary receiver from the snap. That is one of the reasons he is particularly poor at screen passes where always telegraphs the play ahead of time. His accuracy seems to have declined as well. He is getting older so a slip in performance shouldn’t be a shock, but it is one possible explanation for the offensive struggles.
Ari has been an avid Giants fan since 1979. He attends many home games and has attended the Giants last 2 Superbowl victories. This blog will talk about anything related to the New York Giants. Ari also blogs about the New York Knicks, at http://www.ariglassknicksblog.com