Tag:D.J. Ware
Posted on: November 30, 2011 2:54 pm
 

Film Room: Giants vs. Packers preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



What you’re about to read is not a prediction for the Giants to knockoff the undefeated Packers. The Giants are banged up, have lost back-to-back primetime games and are coming off a trouncing by the Saints offense.

Come Sunday, they’ll have had only six days to prepare for the even-more-prolific Packers – a team coming off a mini bye after playing last Thursday. But there are myriad opportunities to read about why Green Bay can further push New York into one of its patented late-season declines.

We already know which is the better team here. So instead of just joining the masses, let’s challenge ourselves by examining how/why the Giants might be able to pull off an upset.


1. Throwing from base personnel
The Giants offense is most comfortable operating out of base personnel (two backs, one tight end, two receivers). Base personnel gives the Giants more opportunities for a balanced run-pass gameplan and aids their play-action.

More importantly, if last year’s Week 16 matchup between these two clubs is any indication, the Packers will match the Giants’ base personnel with their own 3-4 base personnel. Green Bay is considerably less dangerous lining up in a standard 3-4. Most of Dom Capers’ blitzes and subterfuge come from the nickel 2-4-5 package (with Charles Woodson sliding into the slot).

Against the Pack’s basic 3-4, the Giants pass-blockers can worry less about identifying blitzes and more about traditional execution. The front five can focus on sliding protection towards Clay Matthews and the running backs will have a cleaner look at their help-blocking assignments (such as chipping on the edges or covering for a lineman who gets confounded by a stunt).

What’s more, out of base personnel, the Giants running backs would be bigger factors in the pass game, and Eli Manning would also have a chance to attack A.J. Hawk in coverage. Hawk has recently improved as a space player, but offenses still prefer throwing at him inside and down the seams versus throwing at Charles Woodson or the safeties against the nickel look.

Tight end Jake Ballard (30 receptions, 490 yards this season) gives the Giants an auspicious target in this matchup.

2. The Bradshaw factor
If Ahmad Bradshaw does not return from his foot injury this week, you might as well watch Rams-Niners or Cardinals-Cowboys or The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills during the late afternoon window. Without Bradshaw in the backfield, it will be very difficult for New York to throw out of base personnel, as Brandon Jacobs plays with oven mitts over his hands and D.J. Ware has not shown impressive start/stop quickness in the flats.

Bradshaw is a quick, versatile receiver and an underrated pass-blocker. More importantly, he’s far and away New York’s best runner (Jacobs can still plow over defenders when he has a head full of steam, but his lack of initial burst is a real hindrance to the ground game).

Running the ball is critical for the Giants because it helps keep Aaron Rodgers off the field.

3. The Eli factor
If Eli Manning is not in the tail end of that Tom Brady elite class, he’s comfortably at the very head of the class right after it. It sounds implausible, but Little Brother these days is underrated. Manning is having a career-year despite injuries to his receivers, top running back and offensive line (most recently, left tackle Will Beatty, who missed Monday’s game with a detached retina and will sit out again Sunday).

The Giants offense, even with the injuries and disappearance of its rushing attack (82.3 yards per game, 32nd in the NFL) has managed to post 22.9 points per contest (16th in NFL).

Manning, with his audible powers at the line, almost never lets the Giants attempt an ill-fated play. What’s not talked about enough is his arm strength. He has the gun to get the ball outside the numbers or through tight windows – and he can do it while throwing off-balance or falling back with defenders in his face. He’s as tough in the pocket as any quarterback in the game and, in the last year or two, he’s become routinely accurate.

4. How to attack downfield
The Giants may not prefer to spread the field and make this a shootout – they don’t have the wide receiver depth for that, especially if Mario Manningham’s knee remains an issue. But given the brilliance of the Packers offense, it’s possible – if not probable – that Big Blue will have to score 30-plus in order to win.

If that’s the case, the Giants may want to copy the Chargers’ approach from Week 9, when Philip Rivers & Co. hung 38 points and 460 yards on the Pack. In that game, San Diego lined up in condensed formations, with their receivers in minus splits (inside the numbers). With receivers starting their routes closer to the middle of the field, the Packer defensive backs were forced to defend more space, as they could not rely on the sideline for help:

The Chargers have good receivers and they got great protection up front that day, so they were able to capitalize on the condensed formations. The Giants receivers might be a grade below the Chargers’ (it’s debatable), but regardless, they’re capable of winning one-on-one matchups in space. The Giants’ O-line struggled two weeks ago against the Eagles, but it’s been stellar in protection most of this season.

Condensed formations don’t just create more space for receivers’ routes, they also create opportunities for picks and rubs with crossing routes, which present problems for any defense in man coverage.

5. Giants defense
As we covered in last week’s Film Room post, the Giants like to use their big nickel defense (two linebackers, three safeties) against an offense’s base personnel – especially when the offense has a versatile tight end (like Jimmy Graham last week or Jermichael Finley this week). Expect to see Deon Grant, Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips all on the field for most of this game.

It’s impossible to devise a gameplan that can stop Rodgers and this Green Bay passing attack. Your best bet is to bank on what you do best. For the Giants, that means rushing the passer with four. They got absolutely nothing from their pass-rush Monday night, which was disappointing given the glaring mismatch they had with their ends against the Saints’ iffy tackles. A four-man rush gives coordinator Perry Fewell seven defenders to play with in coverage, which allows for tighter zones and plenty of freelance defenders in man schemes.

The Giants stymied the Patriots with tight man coverage across the board a few weeks ago. That may not work in this matchup. The Packer receivers are the best in the league at beating man-to-man (in part because Rodgers is a genius when it comes to back-shoulder throws). Plus, the Patriots have a horizontal passing game; the Packers are more capable at beating you vertically. One slip by a man defender can equal six points for the offense.

In all likelihood, there won’t be just one simple solution for Fewell and his men on Sunday. They’ll have to mix coverages and try different things, all the while hoping that their star-studded pass-rush can show up.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 13 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: August 17, 2010 12:14 am
 

NYJ and NYG answer some of our questions

(US Presswire) Posted by Josh Katzowitz

I know it’s the middle of training camp. I know it was a preseason exhibition that means absolutely nothing. But man, the Jets looked good. Man, the Jets looked like they could contend for a Super Bowl.

Ugh, I hate myself for writing something like that based on one measly preseason game in which the team I’m touting lost by 15 points. But the first-team offense, for the most part, looked very good – except when the Jets got to the red zone – and the defense, like last year, looked pretty nasty. They looked like a team that still could be playing in February.

If ….

If, that is, they get back Darrelle Revis. Because without Revis, New York might not be the Super Bowl team coach Rex Ryan thinks they can be. A virtual unknown WR named Victor Cruz made that pretty clear tonight during the Giants 31-16 win against the Jets.

Earlier today, we had three questions for each team entering tonight’s game. Let’s look at the answers (which are in bold.)

Jets

1) How will Kyle Wilson look? Without Darrelle Revis around, Wilson is sure to get looks with the first team. How he performs could affect the team’s negotiations with Revis. If Wilson looks completely competent, the Jets can afford (perhaps) to take their time with Revis. If he looks overmatched, maybe they’ll give Revis’ agent a quick phone call post-game. It wasn’t Wilson that looked overmatched. It was the rest of the secondary, minus Antonio Cromartie. We’ll get to him later, but Victor Cruz beat three different Jets CBs for touchdowns (Dwight Lowery, Drew Coleman and Marquice Cole). More than perhaps anybody else associated with these teams, Revis might have gained the most tonight. Except maybe for Cruz.

2) Can Mark Sanchez handle a more high-profile passing attack? Last year, Sanchez could allow his running game and his team’s defense to help him win games. This season, the Jets likely will allow him to test his arm a little more. We might get a few chances to see that tonight. Aside from the tipped INT on his first pass of the game – a throw into double coverage Sanchez shouldn’t have made – he was very impressive, completing 13 of 17 passes for 119 yards and a TD.

3) Does LaDainian Tomlinson still have it?
This obviously won’t be answered tonight. But if Hard Knocks is any indication – and that’s debatable – Tomlinson still has speed and the ability to make the big play (even while catching it out of the backfield). I imagine he’ll get some playing time tonight to see how he performs in a game-like atmosphere. Tomlinson played the entire first half and showed some bursts of speed that were exactly what the Jets wanted to see. Shonn Greene is still the starter – no question about that after blowing away the Giants defense – but Tomlinson looks like he has some fuel left in the tank. The 16-yard TD that was called back because of a hold was pretty exciting for Jets fans to behold.

V. Cruz had quite a night, catching three TD passes for the NYG (AP). Giants

1) Will the Giants defense be better than last year? It’d be tough to have been worse. As Clark Judge so astutely points out in his Giants camp report , the squad allowed 427 points last season, the most since 1966. To say that’s embarrassing is an understatement. Let’s see how new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell’s men perform. Not all that impressively actually. Sanchez pretty much accomplished whatever he wanted, and Greene gashed them for mid-sized gains. Plus, the personnel confusion on Sanchez’s TD pass to Brad Smith was embarrassing.

2) How will the Giants’ new additions on defense help? New York get safety Kenny Phillips back and the Giants have added LB Keith Bulluck, first-round pick DE Jason Pierre-Paul and safeties Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant. How will they all mesh? The Giants have added some veterans, but does that mean all of these players still have the ability to dominate on defense? Phillips and Bulluck didn’t play. Rolle and Grant were pretty good early. Pierre-Paul was, at times, dominated by Jets OT Damien Woody, but he managed to elude Woody with his speed late in the second quarter and sack Sanchez. Less than a minute later, though, Pierre-Paul was whistled for offsides.

3) How much will the Giants miss Domenik Hixon on returns? Last year, he averaged 15.1 yards on punt returns and performed relatively well on kickoffs. But he tore his ACL early in training camp, and it sounds like RB Danny Ware will handle kickoffs and CB Aaron Ross will take punts. Yet, Ware only has returned two kicks in his career, and Ross hasn’t done it at all (though he seemed pretty decent at it his final two years at Texas) The loss of Hixon could be a pretty big deal. Let’s talk about special teams as a whole here. P Matt Dodge was fairly horrendous, line-driving his punts and having another one blocked. Three of Andre Brown’s kick returns didn’t extend past the 22-yard line. Ross did nothing of note while fielding two punts.

-A few other observations: Eli Manning said the mix-up between him and Brandon Jacobs was the quarterback’s fault. In case you missed it, the two collided on what was supposed to be a handoff, Jets LB Calvin Pace then blind-sided Manning and popped off his helmet and Manning’s forehead smacked into Jim Leonhard’s helmet, opening a three-inch gash on his forehead that needed 12 stitches to close. Said Manning in quotes distributed by the team: “I feel fine. I feel normal. Sometimes you make a mistake and get hit in the head."

-Cruz was a joy to watch. He made a one-handed catch on a 64-yard TD pass, and he was the most remarkable subplot of the evening. He’s battling with Sinorice Moss for the sixth WR spot. Moss didn’t play because of a groin injury. Moss, in the next three games, should make sure he finds a way to get on the field.

-The Giants first-team offense recorded five yards in the first quarter. Don’t forget that.

-Kellen Clemens replaced Sanchez to start the second half. Wait a minute, I thought Mark Brunell was the backup QB.

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Posted on: August 16, 2010 7:25 pm
Edited on: August 16, 2010 8:35 pm
 

What to watch for in NYG-NYJ game

NYG defensive coordinator Perry Fewell will begin to show his wares tonight against the NYJ (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Only one game on the preseason docket tonight, but it should be an interesting one. New York Jets vs. New York Giants in the new stadium the two squads share. HBO’s Hard Knocks cameras will be there. So will Rex Ryan and his never-ending string of F-bombs. So will the Giants, who have claimed they have no idea what Hard Knocks is.

I’m sure the fans in attendance will be on their best behavior, and since they’ll want to study up on tonight’s most important storylines while eschewing any type of alcoholic beverage that could impinge on their abilities to break down the game, here are three pressing questions for each team.

Jets

1) How will Kyle Wilson look? Without Darrelle Revis around, Wilson is sure to get looks with the first team. How he performs could affect the team’s negotiations with Revis. If Wilson looks completely competent, the Jets can afford (perhaps) to take their time with Revis. If he looks overmatched, maybe they’ll give Revis’ agent a quick phone call post-game.

2) Can Mark Sanchez handle a more high-profile passing attack?
Last year, Sanchez could allow his running game and his team’s defense to help him win games. This season, the Jets likely will allow him to test his arm a little more. We might get a few chances to see that tonight.

3) Does LaDainian Tomlinson still have it?
This obviously won’t be answered tonight. But if Hard Knocks is any indication – and that’s debatable – Tomlinson still has speed and the ability to make the big play (even while catching it out of the backfield). I imagine he’ll get some playing time tonight to see how he performs in a game-like atmosphere.

Giants

1) Will the Giants defense be better than last year? It’d be tough to have been worse. As Clark Judge so astutely points out in his Giants camp report , the squad allowed 427 points last season, the most since 1966. To say that’s embarrassing is an understatement. Let’s see how new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell’s men perform.

2) How will the Giants’ new additions on defense help? New York get safety Kenny Phillips back and the Giants have added LB Keith Bulluck, first-round pick DE Jason Pierre-Paul and safeties Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant. How will they all mesh? The Giants have added some veterans, but does that mean all of these players still have the ability to dominate on defense?

3) How much will the Giants miss Domenik Hixon on returns? Last year, he averaged 15.1 yards on punt returns and performed relatively well on kickoffs. But he tore his ACL early in training camp, and it sounds like RB Danny Ware will handle kickoffs and CB Aaron Ross will take punts. Yet, Ware only has returned two kicks in his career, and Ross hasn’t done it at all (though he seemed pretty decent at it his final two years at Texas) The loss of Hixon could be a pretty big deal.

And if you didn’t think this preseason game was huge enough, consider the following: this will be the first contest where officials will experiment with starting and stopping the game clock themselves from the field.

From USA Today :

Four officials will wear a smartphone-sized pack by which they can control the pace of the game clock with the press of a button. The officials will work in concert with the game clock operator in the booth, and the system will activate whenever the first official hits the button.

The goal is to be more accurate and reduce lag time between when a play ends or when the ball is set and when the game clock officially starts.


If all goes well, the league could consider adding the system in 2011.


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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com