Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Under the Lens: Giants @ Browns, Week 6

As you probably know by now, Cleveland throttled the Giants 35-14 on Monday night, handing Big Blue their first loss of the season and their first loss since December of last year. It also snapped the team's impressive road winning streak at 11. But while losses are inevitable for any team in the course of an NFL season, the way the Giants lost Monday was very disappointing.

WR Braylon Edwards (left) was a big part of Cleveland's win on Monday Night.

Across the board, Cleveland outplayed the G-men and dominated the game. If not for 10 Browns' penalties, this game could have been a lot worse. The Giants' offense failed to establish any momentum as Eli turned the ball over three times, while the Giant defense was practically non-existent. Cleveland marched up and down the field, racking up 454 yards of total offense and hitting big play after big play. There's a lot for Big Blue to work on coming off of this game if they are going to get back on the winning track this week against San Francisco. Let's a take a look...


The Giants' offensive woes on Monday night are perhaps not immediately evident looking at the statistics, save one: the 3 interceptions. The G-men had a respectable 373 yards of total offense, including 181 yards rushing. They had 23 first downs (more than the Browns) and converted 5 of 9 third down attempts, 56 percent, and Jacobs and Ward both had solid outings, with Ward quietly picking up his first 100 yard game of the season. The rushing attack was one of few bright spots for the O, so let's start there.
  • PRO - Solid Rushing Performance. As I said, 181 rushing yards in a game is pretty solid, and wouldn't you know, the Giants remain the leagues premiere rushing attack averaging...that's right...181 yards per game. D-Ward led the way with 101 yards and averaged over 10 yards a carry on Monday night, while the rushing game as a whole averaged 7.2 yards per carry, impressive numbers.
  • CON - Offensive Play-calling. Given the rushing attack's impressive numbers, it's a little bit baffling that the team only carried the ball 25 times. Granted, they fell behind late in the game and needed to throw the ball, but this team should be running the rock 30-35 times a game. Starting the second half out with a deep bomb that was picked off, instead of pounding it when the Browns were only up 3 was just bizarre. And balancing the run and pass was one thing, but balancing the pass alone was another. After lighting up the Seahawks from every direction in Week 5, it seemed to me like the pass attack was a little too Plax-heavy. He's a tremendous weapon, don't get me wrong, but does anyone else think he could be just as dangerous as a distraction for opposing defenses?
  • CON - Turnovers. Obviously. When you go -3 in the turnover differential, you're probably not going to win too many games. Eli threw some bad balls that I'm sure he'd like to get back. 1 INT through 4 games, 3 INTs in one game. As we've seen, the offense's stats weren't too bad on Monday. Take away the turnovers, and you've got a different ball game.
Shake it off, Eli.

PROJECTION - Up. While some are clamoring that the Giants' lucky streak is over, Eli's back to his old self and the coaching staff should be fired, I'm pretty sure that this game was an anomaly and not the norm. Eli, despite a bad game, was still the same confident, Super Bowl-winning quarterback he was the first four games. His demeanor with the media was completely different from how it's been in the past. He's his own biggest critic and will work hard in the film room and on the field to correct these easily fixable mistakes.

The coaching staff too will learn from Monday's lessons and refine their game plan before going in to face San Fran this week. It's all about three things: run, run, and run. Rush the ball 60-65% of the time and spread the ball in the passing game and things will be okay.

If only the defense were so easy...


To put it bluntly, the Cleveland Browns abused the Giant defense in Week 6. As I mentioned, they accumulated 454 total yards: 310 yards through the air and 144 on the ground. They averaged a ridiculous 10+ yards a play in the passing game and a solid 4.8 yards with the rush. They converted on 9 of 13 third downs, and did not punt the ball a single time. There was a lot to dislike about the defense on Monday night.
  • CON - Did not Control the Line of Scrimmage. The rushing statistics give it away. When you can't stop the run, your defense is going to have a long day. Cleveland has a solid offensive line with a pair of talented tackles. Jamal Lewis was able to run the rock so effectively because the Browns controlled the line of scrimmage. The Giant front four could not get penetration, and the linebackers just did not contain well.
Jamal Lewis runs it in for the score in the second quarter.
  • CON - No QB Pressure. The Giants for the last season plus have been known for their ability to put pressure on the QB. Naturally though, when you don't control the line of scrimmage you're not going to put too much pressure on a quarterback. When you give Derek Anderson, a Pro Bowler last year, 10 seconds to throw the ball, he's going to make some plays, especially with the talent around him. Cleveland had been underachieving all season and they finally showed up to play on Monday. Sadly the Giant D just wasn't ready for it.
  • CON - Poor Tackling. You make mistakes against a good team and you're going to get burned. The Giants had been technically sound for most of the first four games, but Monday you saw missed tackles, tackling guys forward giving them additional yards, and some all-around sloppy play.
  • CON - 3rd Down Efficiency. The G-men could not get off the field. Even with the Browns committed 10 penalties, they could not stop them on 2nd and 3rd downs.
  • CON - No Turnovers. In a game when the defense could not even force a punt, it might seem a bit excessive to fault them for not producing any turnovers, but that's what they get paid to do. If this defense is going to turn things around, they need to start forcing offenses to turn the ball over.
PROJECTION - Up, because you can't really get much worse. There's too much talent on this defense and on the coaching staff to not fix this. I trust that the players are sufficiently embarrassed enough that they will not have a repeat performance any time in the near future. Spagnuolo will dial up some new schemes and the D should look more like its old self.


Not much to comment on here. John Carney has dropped on the impressive-o-meter in the past few weeks and word is Tynes will be back in uniform very soon. Whatever happened to Domenik Hixon returning kick-offs? I guess he was on PR for a while, but oh yeah, the Browns didn't punt the ball on Monday.


Not much love to go around this week, but Steve Smith, Jacobs, and Ward had commendable outings. Hopefully next week, we'll bounce back and there will more to celebrate.


The Giants will come back home to face another NFC West team. This is a must win game for the Giants in my book, as they can't have to go into a very difficult stretch 4-2. They are 2-0 against the West so far this season. I suspect that Eli and offense will rebound and the defense will be in better form. It's a statement game for the G-men. Let's see what they have to say...

Stay tuned for a preview of this weekend's game coming up on Friday, as well as a preview of the game of GSTV.
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Please leave you COMMENTS! A lot of things to talk about this week...

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