I've always wanted to write an article about the various plays that happened during the game, and today I've selected two major plays (at least the ones that stick out in my mind) that either helped or hurt the Giants in their loss against the Seattle Seahawks. In this case, both plays hurt the hell out of the Giants.
Let's go ahead and break the first one down (and the one that everyone won't stop talking about): the safety.
First of all: don't blame this on DJ Ware.
This was a run play that was designed to do two things: move the ball to the right, and move the linebackers on the inside of the play (rather than get them to attack this outside). It's accomplished by doing a few major things. First and foremost: the offensive line has to move to the right. Second, the Tight End has to come across the two blockers to draw the linebackers inside and key in on him. Third, the Fullback must pick up the man that is coming over the middle.
Two out of three things went right on this play. At the snap, David Baas is immediately engaged with Al Woods, the man lined up right on top of him. This is acceptable because that side of the line needs to shift away from the play - it's to give the linebackers the illusion of an open hole that they must fill. That open hole is the inside of the play where we wanted the linebackers to go - a bit of misdirection.
That hole is created by David Dhiel and William Beatty moving to the right side. At first you might think Dhiel had a brain fart and ignored Anthony Hargrove. That's simply not the case - Hargrove was lined up in the right spot at the right time.
If you watch the tape, Tight End Jake Ballard makes a valiant, though vain, effort to pick up Hargrove. In reality, there's no way he could have picked him up, nor should he have - his job is to misdirect the linebackers, not to block on this play.
The safety itself all comes down to Fullback Henry Hynoski. Instead of picking up the man who enters the backfield - his head swings to the left and clearly watches Hargrove move past him - he decided to dart forward and enter into his "practice position" where he's optimally supposed to be - behind Dhiel and Beatty, blocking upfield.
Hynoski, circled here, picks the wrong blocking lane (yellow).
This play all came down to a screwed up blocking assignment.
The next play I want to discuss is the Marshawn Lynch 47 yard run.
Seattle lined up in a single-back formation, with their TE lined up on the right, one wide receiver out to the right, and two receivers. Middle Linebacker Michael Boley correctly identifies the strong-side Tight End formation and calls it out on the field.
Jason Pierre-Paul is lined up at an angle on the outside and his head is tilted outwards towards Boley before the snap - indicating that he is paying attention to what Boley has to say. He's aware of the offset in the offensive line and needs to pay attention to that side of the field.
From that point, everything appears to be good as everyone is aware of where the strength is lined up. Then the ball snaps, and it all goes oh so wrong.
The first thing that happens is what killed us on this play: the Tight End came across the middle and took a fake hand-off: this caused our linebackers to bite and come up to cover the middle. Jacquain Williams is especially guilty of this since Boley, playing in the middle, should take that gap responsibility, not Williams.
Williams gets engaged in the middle of the field and starts to get pushed upfield. Meanwhile, Jason Pierre-Paul, thanks to his angle, is easily pushed out of the way of the run. Needless to say, he picks up on the direction on the play, quickly disengages, and makes a dive for Lynch. He can't execute, but he shows mental poise here.
Someone who didn't show any mental poise on the play - and who was, essentially, our last line of defense on the play - was Corey Webster. Unfortunately, he's way too busy being engaged with the Seattle wide receiver in order to pay attention to the play. I have to give credit to Seattle on this play though: the misdirection on Webster worked perfectly. Webster's back was turned the entire play as he bit on the fake route being run. This was such a hard bite at a fake that Webster still covers the receiver even after he can clearly see his teammates running towards his position (a clear indication of a run to his side).
Webster, circled here, fails to turn around in time to catch Lynch, who runs for a 47 yard gain
This play worked because of misdirection. From the start, the Tight End misdirected the entire Giants backfield towards the middle, while Lynch bounced the play to the outside. With Jason Pierre-Paul, Michael Boley, Jacquain Williams, Antrel Rolle, and Kenny Phillips all thinking "middle" and Corey Webster thinking "pass" the Giants defense got burned by an extremely talented running back for 47 yards.
These two plays illustrate perfectly what exactly went wrong with the Giants all day long: mental mistakes broke this team down. On offense, blocking mistakes lead to huge problems in the backfield, while defensive mistakes leads to too much aggression on the initial reads, leaving huge holes open thanks to simple misdirection techniques.