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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Enemy Scouting Report: L-Men

I watched every defensive snap from the Giants' loss to Atlanta last week from two angles of Coaches Film, as well as every defensive snap from their previous away game, vs. Washington, and have come up with a strategy that could help us to win this crucial late-season battle.

Media outlets are parroting the thought that the Giants are "hoppin' mad" after getting destroyed 34-0 in ATL last Sunday.  How many times have you seen the citation of the stat that they were 7-7 after 14 weeks last year and went on a tear to win the super Bowl?  To that I say, SO WHAT.  They are going to have to come into what still stands as one of the toughest venues in the league and face a hostile crowd, a hostile and desperate team, while not at full strength or momentum.  Obviously, we cannot give the game away again, but the following is a list of chinks in the armor of the defending World Champs' defense, that could make this game the corrective lens for our stumbling season.

1.) The Giants make corrections from game-to-game, but not so much IN-game.  In viewing the Redskins' improbable win against this team, I noted two weeks ago that the Giants gave up the edge on rushing plays by the pound.  Against the Falcons, they did not give up the edge almost at all.  What they DID give up was...

2.) The Giants showed considerable weaknesses in rushes between-the-tackles. Atlanta is not known as a rushing team nor a great blocking team, but they continually attacked the middle to a lot of success.
  This happened throughout the game, and a better attack that the Ravens represent with Rice should completely exploit this weakness.  Specifically, Chase Blackburn at MLB was showing a consistent wrong choice on attacking the holes.  Yet, I believe Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell will correct this chasm, so....

3.) Attack the edges with Rice counter action at the outset.  Rice is the best rusher the Giants have faced in a while, and I think that he could have an early long run if we outguess them here.  This is not the Super Bowl Giant team...they tackle well, but they have clear weaknesses.  We have a large advantage with our top offensive player.  Let's use him.

4.) Attack the defense with reverses.  The Giants showed almost no discipline vs. Atlanta with the Power-I, Flanker reverse fake that teams like running so much to freeze the LBs on inside runs.  They collapsed on the run and left the fake to the wind.  The Falcons wisely took them up on this oversight and ran a reverse with Julio Jones which got them inside of the 5 yard line, net of 19 yards.  The backside DB was taken out by a pulling guard.  We should use this as an alternative to getting Smith and Jones the ball, not WR screens, which the Giants defend very well.  Yet, in the flat.....

5.) The Giants don't defend the FB flat valve well.  Vonta Leach should have a big day if we give him opportunities.  Because again, a less talented FB (#42 Cox and #44 Snell)  for the Falcons was wide open in the flat on pass plays.

  Obviously if it is Ray Rice they will pay attention, but I think Leach could save a dfew drives in this way.  I know it is normal for teams to give up the flat in the zone, and to pursue check-down passes hard to limit the gain, but these plays netted over 10 yards a pop.  They seemed to get home less when pursuing the flats.  Another weakness in pass coverage....

6.) Boldin should destroy the nickel worse than Harry Douglas did.  Again, I sense a theme here...we have a better player at a position that the Giants had a hard time handling last week.  #83 Douglas led the team in receiving yards.  He simply had a ton of wide-open, big plays that were underplayed by their nickel.

 ' Quan feasts on these kinds of players consistently.  We need to look for him early and often.

7.)Yes, the Manning brothers consulted--I would with my brother, and sleep well afterwards--but we can do some consulting of our own.  Both the Head Coach Smith and the D. Coordinator Mike Nolan are former Ravens.  Surely there is a connection there that would enable us to have a conversation or two about this team and what worked  so well on defense. Part of the simple answer is that they got turnovers throughout the game.  Also, us beating the Giants would help the Falcons in that the late-season juggernaut that so many have talked about could be grounded for good.

8.)  We stopped a tougher pass rush last week.  When I say stopped, I mean that the line only allowed one sack for the most part of the game.  Two sacks were allowed on the last drive of the game, with under 1 minute left.  Dumervil's came then.  That is NOT dominance by him.  Admittedly, there must be a balance between Flacco's timing in releasing passes and the line's ability to protect him.  Sure, he was pressured a number of times, but what NFL QB is not, short of Brady?  They all have pressure.  Not all of them hold the ball as long.  And the two edge rushers in Denver only got one garbage-time sack between them.  Some were mentioning the super-strong front four of the Giants, but it's entirely possible that our retooled line will protect Joe long enough to get the ball away.  Plus, they have a very serious threat in Rice that will slow them down.

9.)  Protect!  The!  Ball!.......JOE!!!  Joe might have learned his lesson last week.  admitting his fault was a huge step of leadership.  He must not turn the ball over this week, and I believe he will not.  He can look to those wide open flats late in the pass routes, he can run (which he has slowed down on doing this year), or he can throw it out of the stadium.  Ball security must be his top goal this game.  I know it's a lot to consider...that's why he gets paid the big bucks.

10.) Outsmart them in our use of Rice.  But definitely center around him.  Run him between the tackles, throw to him in the flat, throw screen passes to him out of the backfield (which worked for the Falcons), have him run wheel routes.  Run counters and counter treys towards the edge.  If we don't have a self-destructive beginning of the game again, we should be able to get him into a rhythm against this unmotivated, porous defense living on recent glory.

11.) Don't believe the media hype!!  NO TEAM IN NFL HISTORY has ever had a 30-point shutout loss this late in the season and gone on to win the Super Bowl.  EVER!!  New England, in 2001, lost to the Bills in week ONE, 31-0.  And then they only lost once more.  The only late loss close to this were the '78 Steelers, who lost 35-7 in November back in 1978. But they were 9-2 at the time.  Not struggling like the Giants.  These pundits are talking like the Giants will automatically go into invinco-mode because their feelings were hurt last week.    In reality, this loss for them is dooming.   We are not battling phantoms out there--this is a real, live, bad team that we WILL put down!

12.)  Eli Manning hates noise.  Give him all he can handle.

Even with our injuries and issues, we stand as not only the better team than the Giants, but we are more talented.  It's time to show it.  BEAT THE WORLD CHAMPS!!!