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ТЕМА: For nearly two weeks we have wondered how

For nearly two weeks we have wondered how 1 год 8 мес. назад #171

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  • Репутация: 0 , and if, the New York Giants would rebound from their Thursday night loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. After what seemed like an eternity between games, we got our answer in yet another loss, this time against the Atlanta Falcons. Just watching the game revealed some good and entirely too much bad with the Giants. Let's take a closer look at the stats from the game and see what they have to tell us. OffenseQuarterbackMonday night’s loss to the Falcons was a mixed bag for Eli Manning. The Giants’ quarterback had one of his best games from a raw statistical point of view. He threw for 399 yards and a touchdown, completing 71 percent of his passes and a season-high 10.5 yards per attempt. Manning attacked every level of the Falcons’ defense, finally taking advantage of a poor secondary to employ their playmakers. However, Eli also missed some passes he probably should have connected on, and also made some poor decisions which cost the offense opportunities for points. All in all, Manning had his issues, but he also did about as much as he could to compensate for a nonexistent running game and bad pass protection.Offensive LineThe third version of the Giants’ offensive line — Nate Solder, Will Hernandez, Spencer Pulley, John Greco, and Chad Wheeler —was hardly an improvement on the previous two combinations. Once again, Manning was under duress all game long, adding four more sacks to his season total. He is on pace to be sacked 55 times this season, shattering his career-high of 39, set in 2013. As has become a theme this season, each of the Falcons best pass rushers got well within league-average of Eli on their pass rushes, per Next Gen StatsMeanwhile, the blocking for Saquon Barkley in the run game was nearly nonexistent.Skill Positions Speaking of Barkley, who was on the field for 59 of the Giants’ 64 snaps, the looks he received in the passing game weren’t any better than those he got in the run game. He was targeted the second most times with 10, but all of them were in the backfield on either swing passes or as check-downs. The Giants relied on Barkley for easy completions, but never actually set him up to do much of anything with them. Unfortunately, his streak of games with 100 or more scrimmage yards was broken, as he compiled 94 total yards. Given his extreme explosiveness in the open field, it simply doesn’t make sense that the team doesn’t let him run routes down the field, either from the backfield or from the slot or wide receiver positions. But while the Giants’ usage of Barkley is mystifying at best, they finally seemed to figure out how to use Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard. Beckham played 61 snaps (95 percent), while Shepard played 59 (92 percent). The two combined for 210 yards on 13 receptions ( 8 for 143 yards and a touchdown for Beckham, 5 for 167 yards for Shepard), an impressive enough box score. But more importantly was how they were used. Finally, the Giants used Beckham and Shepard as the complimentary weapons they are and moved them around the offensive front and targeted them down the field. DefenseFront sevenThe Giants’ front seven had one of their best performances of the season against a porous Atlanta offensive line. The team had three sacks in the first quarter, and notched another 5 quarterback hits and 6 tackles for a loss over the course of the game. For the first time since their Week 3 win at Houston, the Giants consistently got closer than league-average to the quarterback. Olivier Vernon, who played an incredible 64 of 65 snaps — only Alec Ogletree played more — was the spark for the Giants’ defense early in the game. He routinely beat his man and set up his teammates for their own success. However, it was plain to see by the end of the game that he was gassed. He is a very well-conditioned athlete and has a non-stop motor , but playing every defensive snap but one is a lot to ask of a player in his second game back from a leg injury. Fellow starting EDGE player Kareem Martin played 34 snaps (54 percent), making three tackles and a tackle for a loss. Lorenzo Carter (24 snaps) and Kerry Wynn (22 snaps) rotated with Martin. Carter picked up a tackle, a tackle for a loss, a sack and a quarterback hit, while Wynn notched a tackle, a tackle for a loss, a sack, a quarterback hit, and a pass defensed.For the first time this season, B.J. Hill lead the defensive tackles in snaps, with 37 (57 percent). He didn’t record a sack, but the rookie tackle once again flashed his power, leverage, and technique with four tackles and a tackle for a loss.Dalvin Tomlinson was close behind, logging 32 defensive snaps (49 percent), and notching four tackles of his own. Damon Harrison brought up the rear for the starters, with 30 snaps (46 percent). Mario Edwards Jr. came up with a quarterback hit and a sack — wiped out by penalty — in his 23 defensive snaps.SecondarySafeties Landon Collins and Curtis Riley each played all of the Giants’ 65 defensive snaps, while Janoris Jenkins played 61, and the recently-traded Eli Apple played 58 snaps. B.W. Webb — who will now be the Giants’ starting corner in place of Apple — played 39 snaps, getting two tackles, as well as two tackles for a loss, a sack, and a quarterback hit.The play of the Giants’ secondary against the Falcons’ passing game is difficult to quantify. On one hand, they held Julio Jones to his lowest per-catch average of the season, but he still caught 9 passes for 104 yards. The problem for the Giants was that they simply did not have the defensive depth to match up with the Falcons’ passing game. James Bettcher found early success by having defensive backs blitz rather than try their hands in coverage, but Atlanta eventually countered by replacing the blitz with the ball. The defense did its job, holding the high-powered Falcons’ offense to just 23 points and giving the Giants’ offense a chance (which it squandered) to build an early lead. But once Atlanta adjusted, they did a fantastic job of finding the holes created by the Giants’ blitz packages and spreading the ball around. Ten different receivers caught passes from Matt Ryan, nine of whom caught at least two passes. All in all, the Giants’ defense had its work cut out for it against Atlanta’s potent offense. And while they were far from perfect, they did about as well as could be expected without the offense providing anything like a lead. Normally at this point in the pre-game phase of the week, we would be looking at how the New York Giants defense stacks up against the Atlanta Falcons’ potent offense. But instead we’re going to do what the Giants themselves should do, and hopefully are doing, and take the extra days afforded by Thursday Night Football to break the weekly grind, take a breath, and problem solve. The first step in problem solving is, of course, defining your problem. The Giants as a franchise have a lot of them , certainly more on offense than defense, but the defense is not without some serious issues of its own. Some of them are problems inherent in how the defensive is constructed, but others might be fixable with some in-season adjustments.Problem: TacklingOne of the biggest problems with the Giants’ defense has been “leaky” yardage stemming from poor tackling. While Giants’ defenders have often made first contact which could limit offenses to short gains, too often those initial tacklers have slid off and ball carriers have racked up yards after contact. Those yards after contact have helped keep offenses on, or ahead of, schedule and the defense on the field.Possible solution: Practice it!Without being able to see practice it is difficult to know exactly how the Giants are teaching and practicing their tackling. However, given the current results, something can clearly be done better. The sad reality is that tackling has become a lost art at the high school and college levels, and it is now the norm for players to come in to the NFL with poor technique. Teams with consistently good defenses have been able to find ways to teach good tackling form to players and do so within the limiting structure of the CBA. It might not be easy but it is certainly possible.There could also be some issues with mental mistakes, as players are out of position or playing too overly-aggressive at times. Other problems, such as untimely penalties are artifacts of other mental mistakes. Those are correctable by coaching, but can be difficult in-game or in-season, when bad things are snowballing and players are trying to make a play. Problem: Pass rushThe Giants have fielded one of the, if not the, worst pass rushes in the NFL this season. In the absence of Olivier Vernon, rookie defensive tackle B.J. Hill and EDGE Kareem Martin have been the Giants’ best pass rushers, with 2 sacks and 6 QB hits, respectively. The Giants are at the bottom of the league in terms of both total sacks and sack rate. Possible solutionsContinue to play Oliver Vernon - Vernon is finally back from injury (though he apparently has a “rib thing” after his first week back). His play was one of the few bright spots on defense for the Giants. He isn’t the same kind of lightning-quick pass rushing savant as Von Miller or Osi Umenyiora, but he has the best blend of quickness, agility, power, and technique among the Giants’ options now. As he plays, he should help the pass rush.Play the rookies more - As mentioned above, B.J. Hill leads the Giants in sacks with 2.0. And while Lorenzo Carter has just one sack on the season, he has gotten close, and he has athleticism that not even Vernon can match. Of 397 total defensive snaps (so far), Hill has played 146 (37 percent), while Carter has played 157 (39.5 percent). Part of that has come as the Giants have leaned in to playing nickel packages, which generally feature 4-2-5 alignments. In those cases, the team is more likely to go with Dalvin Tomlinson, Damon Harrison, Connor Barwin, or Kerry Wynn. But with the Giants’ pass rushers only rarely able able to get within league-average distance from the opposing quarterback, they need to upgrade their athleticism along the line. Hill has shown that he can rush from both the DT and DE positions, while Carter has found success from both DE and OLB. One of the Giants’ problems in the pass rush is that they haven’t consistently fielded players who can win their one-on-one match-ups when they get them. While Hill and Carter need development as pass-rushing technicians, they have the physical traits to win those match-ups. Blitz Landon Collins - Landon Collins is one of the Giants’ best defenders, but he hasn’t had the season many expected from him so far. He had a historic season in 2016 playing almost exclusively as a box safety for Steve Spagnuolo, which meant frequently coming on blitzes. The result was 4 sacks , 5 QB hits, and 9 tackles for a loss. Under James Bettcher, Collins has generally played a more varied role, often covering running backs in the passing game while others have blitzed. The Giants have blitzed this year, but they haven’t been particularly successful. They rank 16th in the NFL in success rate on blitzes, and 32nd in the league in sacks on blitzes. When unleashed, Collins is a very effective blitzer, as evidenced by his QB hit on Cam Newton, a pass which resulted in an interception by Janoris Jenkins.Problem: Free SafetyIt was viewed as a surprise when former Tennessee Titans cornerback Curtis Riley emerged in the off-season program as the starter at free safety. Riley took the job from an injured Darian Thompson, though the Giants initially intended for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to play free safety, hinting early on that they wanted a player with a cornerback skillset rather than a more traditional safety. Unfortunately, the experiment has not borne fruit, and despite his interception of Cam Newton, Riley has not been an asset in the deep middle of the field. Free safety might be the position that has the biggest discrepancy between its importance to a defense (especially an aggressive defense), and how much the position is discussed.(Further readingon the importance of the free safety)Possible solutionIn all honesty, this problem might not be solvable in the season. It is also possible that with experience and coaching, Riley could grow into the role. In the mean time, the Giants should try their other options at safety next to Landon Collins. Michael Thomas has played just 77 defensive snaps (19 percent of the total), and although he is listed as a “strong safety”, he does have experience as a slot corner. Thomas is a five-year veteran and has started games at the safety position. In Bettcher’s Cover 1 based defense, recognizing route concepts, rolling coverage appropriately, and then making secure tackles are most important for a safety. Sean Chandler is an undrafted rookie with all of one snap on defense, but he has experience at both corner and safety, and has a reputation for taking good angles to the football. Playing free safety in an aggressive defense might be a lot to ask of the rookie, but it might behoove the Giants to at least start getting him experience. Final thoughtsMany of the Giants’ problems on defense aren’t solvable in-season. The questions about their pass rush have been born out over the first six games of the season. With Vernon injured, the team has one of the worst pass rushes in the NFL. There should be some improvement on their abysmal sack rate with Vernon back on the field, and with the continued development of Carter and Hill. However, the Giants need to add another defender with the speed and quickness to actually threaten offenses (or two, if they part ways with Vernon). There are also problems inherent in poor free safety play — both in general and with an aggressive man-coverage blitz-heavy defense. And while Curtis Riley might improve over the final two thirds of the season, those problems are unlikely to be fixed until free agency or the draft.There is also the problems which stem from the offense: Field position, time of possession, rarely having a lead to defend or influence how an opposing offense calls the game. However, there are also problems which can be fixed in-season. Bettcher is an excellent defensive coordinator with a solid record of producing good defenses and problem solving. It was a coup for the Giants to be able to hire him to run their defense, and it isn’t unreasonable to keep faith that as long as he is supported, he will figure the problems out.
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