A couple of interesting bits from the Giants game. I actually went through and looked at every New York first down from the first 41 minutes of the game trying to see what happened. It was pretty fun. These aren't all of them-- I left 2 out (consider that, BTW: this short list is all but two of the Giants' first downs until we started playing prevent).
Play 1: Hakeem Nicks for 57 yds.
Bob Sturm has broken this down pretty thoroughly, but I want to point out 1 thing:
This is the moment of the catch. Notice the 8 yard gap between Nicks and Allen, who apparently did not see the throw at all as he has made no move to break on it whatsoever. Allen should be breaking on the ball to arrive about the same time. If he does, the catch is contested and the play is brought to a halt for a good, but manageable, 15-ish yard gain. Allen had an up and down night, and I may seem to pick on him in this fanpost. He had some good plays, too, but he's a clear weakness in the defense from reviewing the game. Because he is back on his heels, Nicks runs right by him and Church (circled, near the line of scrimmage) comes closer to making the tackle than he does.
Play 2: David Wilson for 13 yds.
This play gives us some insight into how this run defense works and why this defense is all about the safeties.
They are in cover 2 at about 15 yards depth. This is NOT the same thing as the prevent they later go into, with safeties literally 30 yds downfield. Notice that the Giants have let Ware go through and nearly pay the price for it, but because of this, they have a train out front of Wilson and get everyone blocked. There is one person who can make the play: our man Will Allen. The cover 2 safety has to be able to read the play and get up in support here. Which he does.
With the LoS at the 39, Allen has filled in and appears to be in position to limit this run to a modest 3-4 yd gain. But... the end zone view at the same moment tells us he isn't:
Lee is pushed in the back and goes to the ground, interfering with Carter. Allen, meanwhile, has overpursued to the outside and Wilson cuts back in the hole for a first down.
Play 3: Victor Cruz 70 yd TD
Sturm has broken this one down as well. I just want to point out, for those who haven't seen, that at the moment of the snap, Scandrick is the only man on the defense who seems to know what he's supposed to do. You can see Eli shaking his hands in the universal "snap the damn football! now!" gesture because he knows what comes next.
Note that Will Allen (again? seriously, he wasn't THAT bad) is still setting up while Cruz is runing low like a sprinter coming off the blocks. Especially note, both men are moving towards each other. Allen against Cruz in Man is a mismatch to begin with, but Eli knows there's no way Allen can cover Cruz here and throws it over the top. Sturm pauses to note that Nicks is wide open, but that's only because Claiborne, who was covering Nicks, sees what's about to happen and turns and sprints in a futile attempt to catch Cruz. Insanely, J J Wilcox almost does, and his closing speed is impressive on video.
Play 4: I forget which
This is some random play in the first half. I don't recall if it was a success or not, just the picture was too good to pass up:
That's Beatty with his arm around Ware's neck and the referee staring straight at them. No flag. Yeah.
Play 5: Randle to the 10-ish.
This one's complicated. The cover seems to be deep quarters as both Carr and Claiborne run to almost the end zone. Scandrick is looking back to the player in the flat and Lee (who is right on Randle at the moment) smoothly shifts off to the (unknown) receiver running the deep comeback as he should with Claiborne going into his deep quarter. Randle breaks inside and Eli fires a bullet into him just ahead of Church and Allen who pounce on him immediately.
Worth noting on this play, though:
The instant of the throw, Selvie has beaten the RT cleanly, and Hatcher has powered through a double team, while Ware has driven his man straight back towards Eli and if you compare the two pictures, which are taken a split second apart, you can see he is doing so at an alarming rate. It's a nice shot.
Final Play: what i mean by "prevent"
I've taken some flack for indicating that we played a completely different style of defense starting with 4:55 to go in the 3rd. This is the moment of the catch from the first play after our 17 point lead.
It's a 15 yd out to Victor Cruz. Yes it was play action but you'll note that Lee is back on the play just fine and it went to the sideline anyhow. We were not victimized by play action here. Notice that Carr is coming forward at a high rate of speed. He's been much deeper than he is now and he's still 20 yds off the LoS. He started in apparent man, but bailed deep immediately. I haven't been able to get the all-22 for this bit but I'm guessing this was a deep quarters coverage... but much deeper. The LoS is off screen left, but the safeties are off screen right after the ball has arrived. This is a very different thing than the Giants doubling Dez or our standard cover 2 (pictured above with the safeties looking deep enough at 15 yards... this is more like double that yardage). Remember the kind of gap introduced by the LBs moving up and how easy it was for Eli to take advantage to Nicks? (see Sturm for details) We were deliberately allowing/creating that type of gap again... and that-- not over aggresive LBs or weak CBs -- is what the Giants took advantage of for their immense passing yardage.
Edited for correction: Will Allen actually snuck back up as the Giants were in a run formation and we were in nickel.. I didn't see this happen without the all 22, but he is actually the cowboy at the left, behind the play. This doesn't change the fact that Barry Church ends the play 30 yds from the Line of Scrimmage (and Carr 20 after clearly sprinting forward to make the tackle) on a play where the deepest route was run 15 yds downfield. Credit BTBer Luke for pointing out the error.
Further correction: I misread 52 for 32. Durant is in, not Scandrick.
See you guys Sunday!