Giants – Browns: Hits, Misses, & Musings
It didn’t start out very pretty, but in the end, the Giants came through with a big win that will hopefully carry over to this weekend’s big game against the 49ers. Let’s take a one last look back at last week.
We all know about the big game that Ahmad Bradshaw had (and yes, he naturally gets a hit, even though his fumble warranted consideration for a “hiss”). But how about we talk about one of the guys who was instrumental in making that happen?
Yes, I’m thinking about center David Baas, who in case you haven’t noticed, has had a few nice games so far. In addition to better orchestrating the line calls, Baas’ double-team blocks and his rubbing off defenders as he moves to the second level were a large reason why the running game was as effective as it was.
Another guy who deserves some credit is Kevin Boothe, who happened to lay the knockout punch on Browns’ middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson. Boothe played a physical, smart game this week, bouncing back from a sub par showing the week before at Philly by constantly getting to the second level to clear out more space for the running game.
I noted last week that I thought Domenik Hixon had a good game not just from a receiving standpoint, but in terms of fighting off the aggressive coverage style of the Eagles.
Well this week, it was more of the same from Hixon, who was given the start in place of Hakeem Nicks. Hixon plays fearlessly and uses his hands to counter the jams he gets at the line of scrimmage. What’s more, the guy is always where he needs to be which makes it easy for Eli Manning to find him.
How about Spencer Paysinger? Although he only received 11 snaps – including the start—Paysinger was one of a few defenders who actually handled Trent Richardson well. The first came on a third down run as Paysinger took away a running lane from the rookie. The second was a textbook tackle on Richardson in the flat—a sight to see given that the tackling by the Giants in this game at times left something to be desired.
I don’t know what it was this week, but right tackle Sean Locklear looked to fall off several of his run blocks. He also seemed to get the bulk of the chip blocking help. Is Locklear in danger of being removed from the starting lineup once David Diehl returns? Probably not right away, but Locklear could use a strong showing sooner than later.
I hate to pick on Osi Umenyiora given what was going on with his son, but how is it that, despite the fact that he doesn’t see many double-team blocks, he can’t seem to win those battles to where he is able to get within striking distance of the quarterback on a more consistent basis?
I was really looking forward to seeing Marvin Austin this week, and was somewhat surprised when it was announced that Markus Kuhn was getting the start ahead of Austin. Well, I guess I can see why. Austin had a very pedestrian game, especially against double team blocks. I suppose you can give a pass to Austin for being rusty, but I thought we might see more out of him in what was his most extensive playing time to date.
I’m pretty sure I’ll draw a lot of criticism from folks after they read this, but I’m going to give a “hiss” to Stevie Brown who despite his two huge plays, was also the culprit who blew the coverage on the Browns’ second touchdown reception (the one in which Chase Blackburn was left to track down the receiver).
Maybe I’m nitpicking given how the game turned out—and I admire Brown for admitting that he screwed up—but that kind of breakdown just cannot happen moving forward.
Does anyone else think Steve Weatherford’s punting looks a bit off? His placement of the ball thus far hasn’t been what it was last year. Perhaps part of that is the coverage, but then again, I remember all too often Weatherford put the ball where ever he wanted last year without benefit of the coverage team downing the punt.
We all saw what Eli Manning did on the field, but how about what he’s been doing off the field in working with the receivers? I’m of course talking about Manning taking the initiative to sit receiver Rueben Randle down and go over film with him. The result? Randle seemed more at ease in the game and as Tom Coughlin said, the game wasn’t bigger than the rookie.
Seriously, the value of Manning both on and off the field is priceless, and to think that way back when , I can recall receiving letters from readers who were beside themselves given the Manning transaction. Wonder how those people feel about him today?
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Crazy thought here about the lack of a pass rush, but I have a feeling the injuries to the Michael Boley and in the defensive secondary could be factoring into the problems the pass rush is having.
Clearly the front four isn’t getting the job done because opponents are max protecting against them, and the ball is coming out quicker. But the Giants also haven’t really been able to dial up as many blitzes as I recall them doing in the past when they were at their best, and I wonder if once defensive coordinator Perry Fewell gets more guys back healthy if that will change?
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We noted this in this week’s issue of Inside Football, but it bears repeating. Mathias Kiwanuka’s best talents are being wasted at linebacker. Can you imagine how improved the defensive front might be with a tall pass rusher such as Kiwanuka playing as a down lineman more often?
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The loss of Will Hill, who was suspended for four games for testing positive for Adderal, is huge. In five games, he’s shown that he’s fearless and he’s one of the better tacklers on the team. Hill had played in the nickel, and had played well. His absence will be felt, and it will be curious to see if Fewell deploys Jayron Hosley and his hamstring, or Antrel Rolle and his unsteady knee in that role. Either way, the nickel defense bears watching given this development.