Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Giants -- Preseason Game 1

I have to say I was pretty happy with how the first game went. I thought our first team offense and defense looked much better than Carolina I also felt that our backup defenders did a relatively decent job against Carolina's backup. The Giants got the win, but that is really not important. It was awesome, however, to see the Giants win their first preseason victory on such a dramatic play.

I just thought I would share my observations on the Giants game. If you want to see a professional's take on the Giants game, you can go to Matt Mosley's blog on ESPN.com.

First Quarter (1st team defense) -- Giants Defense

Like Mosley, I thought Osi Umenyiora looked great, especially on the play where he was able to beat his man for a sack and force a fumble. I also liked the tackle made by Kevin Dockery and Terrell Thomas to stop the Panther's running game on third down. Although, the Giants secondary did have problems making tackles throughout the game. There is definitely room for improvement in the tackling in our secondary (although Aaron Ross and Corey Webster, the starting cornerbacks were not playing). Thomas also made a nice play on the Panther's third drive, managing to perfectly time a pass to Dwayne Jarrett and deflect it, however he failed to get in position on time to make the interception.

First Quarter (1st team offense) -- Giants Offense

Eli Manning and Mario Manningham did hook up for a nice timing play on the first drive, but unfortunately it was called back due to an illegal motion penalty, and the Giants went three and out on their first drive. Not exactly what I was hoping for.

The next drive showed what the Giants offense is capable of, especially on the ground. Brandon Jacobs was his usual self. Jacobs ran hard through the line with power and made just enough cuts to run effectively. His best run on the day was a 22 yard run on the second drive. Jacobs also showed nice hands on a softly thrown, but high, pass from Manning for 13 yards. Ahmad Bradshaw also looked great on his 22 yard touchdown run on the second drive, making a very nice cut to freeze one defender and then powering his way through the last defender to score a touchdown. Bradshaw continued to look good on the third drive, running for 11 yards in traffic, by continually keeping his legs moving and showing remarkable power.

What was also reassuring on the drive was the effective screen pass to Domenik Hixon for 19 yards. It is refreshing to see the Giants run some effective screens, as I felt it was something we often failed to execute consistently last year.

Eli looked effective, but he only threw 4 passes (if you count the one to Manningham that was called back), although he did complete 3 of the 4 passes. I definitely look forward to the future preseason games where Manning gets more reps.

Second Quarter - Carr led offense

David Carr and the Giants offense began the quarter against the first team offense. Carr made two passes in a row, a short pass to Hixon and a nice slant by Sinorice Moss for 9 yards and the first down. After the pass to Moss, the Carolina first string defense came out and was replaced by the second team defense. Almost immediately Bradshaw made a nice catch and run, making the Carolina second-team defense look bad.

I love Ahmad Bradshaw. As much as I liked Derrick Ward last year and his dynamism in the passing game; I think Bradshaw is and will be a better back. I remember what Bradshaw did for us when Ward and Jacobs were injured in the 2007-08 season. Bradshaw was also the most effective runner in the Super Bowl. Bradshaw brings "home run" potential every time he is in there, and that is something Ward did not bring. Bradshaw is incredibly explosive and has surprising power. His only problems have been his fumble tendency (although if there is anything Coughlin excels at, it is teaching running backs not to fumble, i.e. Tiki Barber), and his blocking ability. I think this will be a great year for Bradshaw and I think he will beat Danny Ware for the backup running back slot.

Although I do like Ware, just not as much as Bradshaw. Ware showed what he was capable of on the Giants last drive of the half. Ware caught a screen pass and showed the right combination of speed and agility to score a 36 yard touchdown. Ware had some decent runs beside this, but nothing over 10 yards.

After watching this game, I do not know if Derek Hagan will make the team. In the second quarter he dropped the first of a few passes that were difficult, but definitely catchable. On the play, Carr threw the ball low on a comeback route (I think he had to in order to prevent an interception) and Hagan couldn't hang on as he went to the ground. While I do not believe Hagan dropped easy passes, it does not bode well for a guy trying to make a team stacked with wide receivers of similar or better ability (and younger).

The worst play of the day for the Giants came on special teams. When Jeff Feagles went to go punt the ball, one of the Giants missed his assignment and the Carolina player came untouched and easily blocked Feagles's kick. Feagles made a nice play to prevent a touchdown, but that play should not have happened, and it cost the Giants 2 points.

On another note, offensive tackle William Beatty, one of the Giants' second round picks, looked very good against Carolina's second-team defense. He was holding his own, and even the Monday Night announcers took notice. While the announcers said he looked a little high on his blocks, they spoke highly of him saying that he seemed to be doing a good job holding the defenders back.

Second Quarter -- Defense (2nd team)

The defense, particularly the defensive line, continued to look good in the second quarter. On one play, Anthony Bryant pushed the offensive line back and got his hands up to deflect the pass, and Stoney Woodson, the Giants 7th round draft pick, was right there and alertly grabbed the interception.

Later in the quarter, Maurice Evans, an unsigned draft pick out of Penn State, made a nice move (albeit against weaker competition) and got around the edge to get the sack and forced fumble. De'Andre Wright, the Giants 6th round draft pick, then managed to get the fumble recovery. It appears that the strategy employed by Giants Safeties coach, Dave Meritt, has been working. Merritt has been making the safeties treat incomplete passes as live balls, and this strategy appeared to work, as the Giants recovered 4 out of the 5 fumbles put on the ground. Well done Merritt!

Jerry Reese seems to have done it again. Clint Sintim, Beatty, Barden, Wright, Andre Woodson, and Evans all have been strong in camp and delivered a stgrong perfromance in the first preseason game. And I still expect big things from Hakeem Nicks, but his injury has slowed him down. Reese definitely seems to have done a good job making his picks this year.

Third Quarter and Fourth Quarter Notes

The third quarter began very badly for the Giants. After one first down, Woodson threw an ill-advised pass to Barden as he rolled out of the pocket. The pass was wobbly and was easily intercepted by the defense. Then the Giants defense looked poor, giving up runs of 16 yards and then 14 yards for the touchdown. The Giants secondary missed multiple tackles, Dave Tollefson got schooled by the running back Goodson, and Bruce Johnson was unable to escape his block at the goal line allowing Goodson to score untouched.

Woodson looked bad all game, even on the passes he completed. In addition to the interception, his passes, even the short ones (including a check-down pass to Ware), were poorly thrown. Woodson's passes were often wobbly, overthrown, or were just plain off-target. However, to be fair, it did not appear that the Giants offensive line line was giving him very good protection, as a few times Woodson had no chance to get rid of the ball. Woodson did complete a 20 yard pass to Barden, but even that was not well thrown. But Barden did run a good route to come back to the ball.

Nicks did finally make an appearance in the third quarter. However, he did not look good on the first ball thrown to him. Woodson threw the ball deep along the sideline. Nicks was unable to get any seperation on the play, and then as Nicks turned for the ball, he mistimed his jump and was unable to hold onto the pass. While it was not an easy play, Nicks's timing was definitely off. Nicks did manage to make a nice play in the fourth quarter on a slant from Rhett Bomar. Nicks showed his concentration by being able to bring in a catch that he juggled at first.

After Carolina's first drive of the third quarter, the defense looked good again (at least until Carolina's scoring drive at the end of the fourth quarter). Wright made a good open field tackle on Goodson. Gerris Wilkinson made a great play on a blitz to get to the quarterback and got his hands up to the deflect the pass, the only negative on the play is that he was unable to make the catch. Clint Sintim looked awesome, getting to the quarterback twice. Sintim managed to force a bad pass (even when he was held twice) and was able to force a fumble that the Giants were able to recover. Sintim looks like he will be a solid contributor to the Giants this year. Second year player Jonathan Goff also made a nice play and was able to deflect a pass down at the line.

One not so great play made by the Giants, was on a bad pass by Hunter Cantwell, the Carolina third-string quarterback. Sha'reff Rashad dropped an easy interception that Cantwell threw right at him.

The defense did look bad again when in prevent defense, they gave up a touchdown and 2 point conversion. The Giants failed to get pressure, the secondary missed tackles, and the secondary blew coverage assignments. However, the defense stepped up again on Carolina's last drive, where Leger Douzable managed to knock the ball from Hunter Cantwell's hand, and Tommy Hill was able to catch the fumble and return it for a touchdown.

Overall it was a good game by the Giants. However, I thought the Giants were too conservative on offense when Woodson and Bomar in. The Giants leaned heavily on their running game, making their offense predictable and easily defended. I also think that both Woodson and Bomar need to get their reps and the young
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receivers need to be given the chance to show how they are progressing. I think this is especially important considering the Giants need all the evidence they can get, in order to decide which 5-6 wide receivers they are going to keep.

I plan on posting about Eli Manning's contract in a later post.

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