It's often so true in the NFL that if you look at the turnovers you can pretty much figure out who won the game. Sure, there are oddities like the San Francisco 49ers who won their game despite handing the ball over 4 times; but, the New York Giants came away with a victory after having a clean game, while the Buffalo Bills go home after turning the ball over twice.
It's a strange statistic, but when two teams are very evenly matches, as the Bills and the Giants turned out to be, the one that turns the ball over the most will generally lose. These teams were so evenly matched that they basically played tit-for-tat the entire day, with the game coming down to the final few possessions, and the Giants defense holding firm on the final Bills drive of the day.
Of course this wouldn't have been the case if the Giants defense could have stopped giving up big plays in the backfield.
While on the day the Giants and Bills were statistically very even, there's one stat that sticks out like a sore thumb, and this one is very worrying: the Giants were 3-5 in the red zone, accounting for 21 of their 27 points; however, the Bills were 1-1 in the red zone. That's only 7 of their 24 points, which means that the Giants defense got gashed on the big plays - and big plays means big mistakes.
The defensive confusion was abundant throughout the entire game, with players lined up out of position, covering the wrong guys, and, in one particularly ugly case, double covering a third string receiver (only to bite on a fake pass and let the run through).
To be blunt: this Perry Fewell defense is not working. While the Bills are far from the joke they once were, they're not an elite team, and it's those elite teams that are going to cause headaches all game long for this confused Giants defense. If Tom Brady, Drew Brees, or Aaron Rodgers were back there throwing balls the outcome to this game would be completely different.
Oh, we have to play all of those guys, don't we? Yeah, thankfully we have a bye week, because some serious adjustments and "stupification" of the defensive scheme has to take place.
To name a few individuals on defense: Corey Webster and Deion Grant continue to embarrass themselves on the field. Deion is just too slow to really execute on the plays he's trying to make, and needs to refocus his efforts on just containing the receivers, rather than trying to jump the route and make picks. Thankfully that's an easy fix.
Corey, on the other hand, doesn't present us with a simple fix. This man is lost, confused, and getting beaten - hard - by bad receivers. I'll be honest with you: I think this is the last year we see "C. Webster" on the roster. With first round draft pick Prince Amukamara coming back from his injury the Giants would be better off dropping Webster and getting a 4th or 5th round pick to fill his slot.
I mentioned that the defense has to get dumber, and here's why: Michael Boley is only one man, and while he has been doing an excellent job of making reads, he's spending way too much of his time getting his teammates lined up and covering the right guys. It seems like every down the middle of the field is confused and looking to Boley for all of the answers - and sometimes even he doesn't have them, being forced to look at his wrist.
Whatever the hell Perry Fewell is doing is completely an utterly broken. While athletes may not be praised for being the smartest people on the planet, the truth is that they're a lot smarter than people give them credit for, having the ability to learn a playbook seemingly over the course of training camp. Sure, you can blame some of the early problems on the lockout and a lack of practices, but we're now 7 weeks into the NFL season - there is something fundamentally wrong with what our defensive coordinator is doing with these guys.
Offensively, we had a good game. Eli Manning continues to play a very solid game at Quarterback with 21 catches from 32 attempts, 292 yards through the air, and a 9.1 yard average per pass, giving him a 94.8 Quarterback rating. Sure, he didn't throw a touchdown, but you really can't complain of a 9.1 average yards per catch.
Our receiving corps continues to produce numbers, propping up a struggling running game. Hakeem Nicks continues to impress with his ability to create just enough separation for Eli to thread the ball to him, while TE Jake Ballard has not only turned out to be a great blocker - which is why we picked him up in the first place - he's also a better offensive weapon than backup Jeremy Shockey ever was, and less of a concussion liability than Kevin Boss.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a legitimate tight end!
The running game continues to struggle compared to previous season, only putting up 122 yards rushing, but this is actually a good number - it continues the upward trend from the previous games, a sign that the offensive line is starting to gel and that defenses are starting to back off attacking the run so aggressively while Eli Manning burning them through the air.
Which brings me to next week - the by week. With no opponent to talk about, we get to focus entirely on what the Giants could focus on this week to help improve their team.
I hate to say this, but the defense needs to refocus its efforts. The overly complicated schemes that Coach Fewell is running is doing more harm than good, and the bye week is the perfect time to simplify those schemes, and cut out the less used ones. Cutting your playbook in half is never the ideal solution, but it's very obvious from watching these games that these players need to spend more time reacting to plays and less time thinking about what they're supposed to do.
Unfortunately, I don't think Perry Fewell is the kind of guy to gut his own playbook. We'll see what happens, but if he uses the bye week is reinforce his gameplan instead of simplifying it, then that rough patch of games against the Patriots, Saints, and Packers isn't going to be rough - it'll murder any playoff chances we have.
On offense I think we need to continue to work the offensive line and help them gel further as a unit - because we're going to need them to start opening more holes for the running game as defenses focus on stopping Eli Manning from burning them through the air. Hey, if you plan for the other teams in the league to make adjustments to what you're doing then you can mitigate the damage those adjustments will do to your game plan.
On special teams, well ... there's really not a whole lot to talk about here. We can't really complain about kickoff coverage because it doesn't exist with the new kickoff rules, and we can't complain about the punting game because we have a punter that can get the ball out of bounds. If anything, Tom Quinn needs to work on the blocking schemes for our returners, otherwise Quinn has really flown under the radar this year simply because the new NFL rules saved his ass.
Hopefully, when we face the Miami Dolphins in two weeks we'll be well rested, with a somewhat replenished backfield and an offensive line that can make more holes for our runners.
Personally, I'm looking forward to a weekend where I don't have to flip the channel between CBS, FOX, and NFL RedZone.