Saints 33 NYG 18

You are not going to beat Drew Brees and the Saints by scoring 10 points. The Giants scored 3 points after the opening drive. Forget 8 points in garbage time when the Saints went into the Prevent Defense.

The NY Giants are 1-3. The Giants have been +3, +3, +6, and +3.5 point underdogs and were capable of winning any of the four games. They have won 1 of them. You are what your record says you are.

This NY Giants blog does not like picking on rookie head coaches. We believe that a new head coach is entitled to a one year honeymoon. The problem with Shurmur is that this is his second stint as Head Coach. So he does not get the luxury of this period of grace. After watching him get seriously outcoached vs Dallas 2 weeks ago, Wonder (italics) takes the gloves off:

Shurmur is a moron. I understand they are coaching players who are not very smart. You need to dumb it down for the them. Belichick does this. He spells out their responsibilities. It eliminates thinking. The only people who think on the Patriots are the Wide Receivers. Timing and option routes. Chad OchoCinco could not do this, so he was gone. Guys like Edelman, Moss, and Welker learned the system and that was it.

You watch Shurmur and there is no rhyme or reason to their Offense. We wanted to see fake counters to Barkley. Not done. OBJ clear the zone to throw to Shepard underneath. Not done. In the run game, trap block, open the interior. Not done. No blocking scheme. Barkley had 10 carries for 44 yards. CLE ATL and TB ran for an average of ~85 yds/game against the Saints without a Barkley.   

There were two things we discussed on Defense (see podcast, previous post). Bettcher did one of them. They took away Thomas with bracketed coverage. But they did not shadow Kamara. 

They did not try to wear down a smaller New Orleans defensive unit with 20+ carries to Barkley. They had a total of 12 runs the whole game. Everything was a 4 yard underneath throw. The main weakness of the Saints Defense was in pass coverage and the Giants did not attack that. How can Shurmur be an Offensive guru if he does not gameplan vs the porous Saints pass Defense?

I did not expect the Giants to win the game. I did think the Giants had a shot to win the game. But after the opening TD, they were zombies.

Football is a gladiator sport. You have to be out of your mind to play this game. If you play for only money, you can’t win. So in order to be ready to spill blood and play hurt, you have to buy into family and team. Us against Them. Buy in. Leave it on the field. Is that what we saw today? A resounding HELL NO. 

Just a little more piling on Shurmur- at the end of the half there is a minute left and you have 3 timeouts. The Saints are about to finish their drive in the red zone. Call a timeout and get the final possession? No. Shurmur fessed up… “In hindsight, maybe could of.” I am getting the sense that (once again) the Giants have a guy who wants to be both Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator, and he is not doing either very well.

I know that many here will try to back away from too much criticism this early against Shurmur. Confront the Brutal Facts. Shurmur is not putting out a good enough product. Yes, it is only Week 4. We know that the OL is not good but your gameplan needs to leverage what you have and cover up what you do not have. This Saints Defense was gashed for an average of 335 yards in the air in the first 3 games… until today. Today, the Giants passed for 153 yards in the air before padding the stats with 102 yards in garbage time. You have an elite WR in OBJ and a very capable WR in Shepard and you are getting a total of 153 yards in the air? And 12 total run carries? Anemic. To quote one Twitter commentator: “(The Saints have the) Worst D in the NFL and we are making them look like the ’85 Bears.”

Shurmur is generating underachievement.

NYG 27 HOU 15

Well, ok, HOU scored 22. But if we deducted 10 Giants pts last week for garbage time, we can deduct the 7 Houston pts in garbage time too.

One of the things a good team does is they close out games with their offense in Q4. Houston got 7 pts in garbage time BECAUSE THE GIANTS OFFENSE SCORED 7 AND PUT THE GAME OUT OF REACH. The Giants are not a good team yet, but that was a very good sign.

Another good sign? How about scoring a TD on your first drive. Great stuff.

There are good wins. There are bad wins. There are good losses. There are bad losses. There were so many good things to note about this victory.  This was a good win on so many levels.

While there were four sacks, the OL overall played a much better game. In the first half, the OL did a very good job of giving Eli just enough time. In the second half, Eli took a little more time and it cost him/Giants. I probably watched Wheeler more closely than any player on the field. Was he great? Of course not. But he was good enough. He went toe to toe with JJ Watt and won some battles. Watt bested him on more than a few snaps (2 sacks vs Wheeler). Living in Houston and watching Watt a lot, I can tell you it takes 2 or 3 guys to slow Watt down, and he still makes you pay. How is it possible that Watt got a total of 3 sacks and Wheeler did enough to help the Giants win? Because Wheeler was not getting blown up at 0.4 seconds after the snap (except one play, the sack strip) and also kept Watt from causing excessive and consistent mayhem. Wheeler wasn’t leg whipping or getting caught holding the pass rusher. Wheeler got thrown into the deep end of the pool. He survived. And the Giants thrived.

Scheme matters so much. The coaches gave Wheeler help early with a Tight End. They ran run plays between the B gap, which helped to take away Watt’s aggressiveness in trying to beat Wheeler on the outside speed rush. And I saw at least 3 times that I counted (likely more) that they rolled Eli out of the pocket to buy him additional time (for longer pass play options) and help the OL. This helps a guy like Wheeler immensely too.

Clowney? Crickets. He was playing through an injury and Solder kept him quiet.

Snacks was dominant against the run. The Texans became one-dimensional. The bad news was that the Giants got carved up in the middle of the field. The soft zone was a major liability. It will not be pretty vs Brees.

Pocket contain is a must. Watson extended so many plays by stepping through holes in the pocket. Brees is not as mobile as Watson but he will hurt the Giants because he likes to see his passing lanes. Brees will use those holes to squeeze out, see the field better and let the ball rip. Watson was inaccurate. Brees will be much more accurate.

Kerry Wynn was Michael Strahan-esque. He was ubiquitous. He was dominant. He made so many impact plays. The fumble turnover. A pass defensed. So many pressures. A great stop for a loss which set up the end of a drive.

Let’s talk about Eli. 25 for 29. 2 TDs. 0 INTs. 297 yds. He was efficient and accurate. Hmm, the OL gave him time and he did not cringe for the first two seconds.

Engram hurt his knee. Injury results Monday.

There was one part of the game I did not like. It looked like the playcalling became less aggressive in the second half until the lead was trimmed to 5. Then the playcalling opened up again and the Giants were able to drive down the field for a TD. You will not get away with that against better teams. You can’t just turn the Offense off and expect to be able to turn it back on again.

Speaking about aggressive playcalling, Shep, Latimer and OBJ looked very good. They caught everything thrown their way. They moved the sticks a lot. 27 points worth. Shep had only one transgression, which was to taunt one of the Houston players in the secondary after a Giants first down. 15 yd unsportsmanlike conduct. NO. NO.

Barkley is a beast. He needs more road graders. Even WITHOUT ROAD GRADERS, Barkley has run for ~4.7 yds per carry after 3 games. He continues to find new ways each game to make players miss. He is special to watch. Wait until he gets more isolation in 1 on 1’s in the flat… he will light it up. I am a bit concerned how Barkley gets dinged up a lot. He bounces back and gets back on the field routinely, but I hope it does not mean he is more susceptible to the pounding than we would otherwise expect.

Speaking about Engram and Barkley getting dinged- it’s clear that that horse manure rule about leading with the helmet is telling defenders to go for the legs more. You won’t get called for a penalty, but you’ll rip up guys knees. The net result is awful. It’s marginally better for brain safety but it’s a lot worse for the game.

Tight End in the Red Zone! Nice way to cap a drive in Q2.

BJ Hill and Lorenzo Carter, the Giants rookies taken in Round 3 this year, both collected their first NFL sacks. That should be the start of much greater things to come from each of them. These are the players to build a future with.

We were looking for 2 or possibly 3 wins in the first 7 games. This is now one of them. The Giants have separated themselves from the nightmare of 2017. They got better. If they keep improving from week to week they will lay the foundation for good things. If the OL becomes serviceable, even greater things will be possible.

We will be joining a Saints podcast this week to discuss that matchup. Onward to Week 4.

Flowers Benched

Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. The Giants coaches want a different result and are making a change at Tackle.

Ereck Flowers will not be starting today vs the Texans, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Chad Wheeler will get the start at RT.

I suspect there may have been some gamesmanship going on here to at least help Wheeler in his first start. JJ Watt and others on the Texans were preparing for Flowers. They will not have much time to look at preseason film of Wheeler.

Giants fans have been waiting for this move for literally years. There are some who will point to the sprinkling of good plays that Flowers made. But anyone with candor knows this change was well past due. Flowers was a consistent liability. There needs to be accountability.

Wheeler has not been much better. We saw him in preseason and he did little to earn an upgrade. We hope there has been enough improvement that Wheeler will not be any worse. Still, the change is good because I’d rather lose with a new body than keep losing with Flowers. And this also gives Wheeler the opportunity to learn with playing time. There will be times today where it will not be pretty. I’d imagine the coaches will be giving Wheeler some help, as they should.

Even if Wheeler is awful, so be it. The other 52 guys have to know that there are consequences for unacceptable performance. You make the change because every player must know that there are consequences if you cannot get your job done.

The alternative was to keep doing nothing and expecting Flowers to change. He’ll complain he wasn’t given enough time at RT. That argument doesn’t hold water because he had from April until now to earn the job. There was zero improvement. Next.