[Note by Ed Valentine, 11/22/11 10:17 AM EST: An excellent piece of work here by BBI.]
An observation (or belief) that I've had for each player (or coach) that's become more evident as the season has progressed.
I wanted to do a little bit of a rant, but I decided that whatever I wanted to be said was already said. So I decided to just talk about a few interesting points about these players, and how it contributes to either a win or a loss.
I'd love your views on these points, or any new ones you might have to make.
Eli Manning: I've seen Eli become more and more of a rhythm QB more than anything. I think the biggest reason he does well during the final two minutes is because he is put into a situation where he has to consistently pass. The offense is forced into a drumbeat sort of fast-paced rhythm. That's where no running game hurts, because interspersing a non-effective running game presents a herky-jerky type situation that hurts Eli's game.
Brandon Jacobs: A big part of his problem is that when he tries to cut, he forces himself to stay upright. That way, not only does he give the defender easier access to his ankles, but when he gets tackled there's no way he falls forward. Compare this to LeSean McCoy, who, even when he's going sideways, he's always digging and almost always falls forward for an extra yard or two.
Will Beatty: He's done extremely well against speed rushers. I'd have no worries about him going up against Dwight Freeney. The problem comes when he goes against power rushers. This was evident when he went up against Seattle or Miami. A guy like Julius Peppers would eat him alive.
David Diehl: Here's a shocking comment...he sucks. He's a big reason for Snee not doing that well. Reason? He gets pushed back so often that Baas has to come in to help Diehl almost ALL THE TIME. Snee is left on an island more often, gets gassed easier, and gets beaten.
David Baas: Speaking of Baas, interesting to note that while people are calling him a bust, he has been surprisingly good at pass protection when going up against a nose tackle. Granted, he isn't strong enough to move anybody off the ball when it comes to run blocking, but there it is.
Chris Snee: I think the biggest problem with Snee that I've seen is he's gotten slower. He can still stonewall rushing DTs with the best of them, but put him on a more athletic one or with a DE coming in on a stunt, and he loses leverage pretty easily. His form is suffering, and a lot of it can be attributed to what I said about David Diehl above.
Kareem McKenzie: Same sort of thing as Chris Snee. His form is just terrible this season and that probably the reason why he's always getting pushed backwards. I saw Jason Babin just lean around him most of the time, and I saw Ryan Kerrigan and Chris Long able to get inside his shoulders and not allow him to push him back.
Hakeem Nicks: Probably one of the most physical WRs that I've ever seen. Probably 2nd best receiver in terms to body control in the league to Larry Fitzgerald. Makes adjustments on the fly that are simply ridiculous. Problem with the physicality is that I think I wouldn't hesitate calling him an injury-prone player.
Mario Manningham: I find it funny that HAM has great games (and by great, maybe not statistically, but in terms of getting open, making tough catches, etc) when Nicks or Cruz are out. He steps up in a big way, but based on Eli's progressions, it looks like Manningham has fallen to the 3rd favorite receiver.
Victor Cruz: The dude has "Ahmad" syndrome in the way he carries the ball. Loose, and it gets me scared. Awesome YAC though, basically the anti-Steve Smith. Funny thing about his catches, most of them are intermediate throws to the outside where he seems most comfortable turning upfield. Haven't seen him catching many across the middle and making something out of it. Could spell trouble in the future if teams try and bracket him off to the side.
Jake Ballard: One of the biggest problems I have with him is his in-line blocking. Instead of blocking, it just seems like he's chipping the defender. This is probably a blessing in disguise, because that helps conceal when he fakes blocking to run a route.
Jason Pierre-Paul: I have been screaming every game for JPP not to get that many reps at DT. Reason being is he just gets stonewalled over and over again. Not only does it take snaps away from an effective rotation of Bernard-Canty-Joseph, but it is stunting JPP's development as a pass rusher at DE. I noticed, especially in the Eagle game, where JPP was getting good pressure consistently as a DE. He got a sack as a DT, but that was because VY walked into him.
Osi Umenyiora: As astonishing as this sounds, I feel like Osi is playing too tentatively the past few games. We all thought he'd sell out against the run to go rush the passer, but that hasn't happened. I've seen Osi on multiple occasions just give up on the rush and try and cut inside to try and defend the run. Hasn't helped too much, though.
Justin Tuck: Something ain't right with him. Not really an interesting observation, though.
Chris Canty: He has been the most up and down player on the defense. He also happens to be the most substituted player on the defense. I'm not sure why. Also, he hasn't been able to take on blockers like I thought he would. He's either in the backfield, blowing plays up....or completely blown off the ball.
Linval Joseph: Probably the most improved DL from the beginning of the year to now. He's the one I see taking on multiple blockers, and I rarely see anybody running at him. Bold statement is that he will be playing at a probowl level by the end of the season.
Jacquian Williams: The kid reminds me of another Mathias Kiwanuka. By that, I mean he flies to the football, for better or worse. Something I see from him is absolutely no hesitancy at all. He's playing confidently, but that doesn't mean he isn't prone to overpursuit.
Mark Herzlich: Can only really comment on Sunday's game, because that was the most action I've seen. He seems like the opposite of Jacquian. He looked slow, but his football IQ was impressive. He made adjustments and was able to sniff out a couple run plays pretty well. Did not expect that.
Greg Jones: A lot of hype, especially from me, but he's made some rookie mistakes. Not especially groundbreaking news here. Looked uncomfortable in space, and looks to me like he could develop into another Jonathon Goff (which isn't a bad thing by any means).
Michael Boley: We saw how much he means to the Giants after the Eagles game. Though there's something to be said about the leadership he brings. I've seen him on multiple occasions help line up the young linebackers and bark out playcalls. The dude is probably our best playmaker on defense, and I've seen him blow a lot less coverages this year than last year.
Mathias Kiwanuka: Obviously the most versatile player on the team, but we already saw that. Still needs a bit of growing to do when it comes to zone discipline. He's very much like the rookies in that regard. I'd much rather see him stay closer to the LOS and run blitz every play.
Deon Grant: I've pooped on Grant alot, and with good reason. He can't cover in space at all. He's been playing a LOT of "MLB" in the nickel set, but he isn't fast enough to make it effective because a good slot WR in his zone has always been able to get the underneath route against him. I loved the way he was used against the Eagles though, up close to the LOS and run blitzing.
Antrel Rolle: Rolle has been criticized greatly over the season, but I thought he's been one of our best secondary players. He's by far the most versatile, playing a little bit of LB, along with nickel corner, and safety. Obviously, his pass coverage leaves something to be desired, but its actually steadily improved as the year has progressed. Also, I maintain that he is the only one in the secondary that gives a damn about run defense.
Kenny Phillips: Purely the opposite of Rolle, he started out the year ballin'. He was taking away pretty much every deep route, but he has regressed. He seems a step slower, and he seems to drift sometimes when he shouldn't be off to a side.
Corey Webster: No other way to put it, but Webster struggles with speed. Put a good route runner, or a physical WR on him, and CWeb will handle him. Webster does have a great catch up speed, though. Don't know how he does it, but if the ball is underthrown at all, Webster is always there.
Aaron Ross: He should never be put in the slot. Ever. However, he is a very strong outside cornerback. I haven't seen him get beat badly since the St. Louis game. He uses a noted Darrelle Revis move quite often. He never gives up the inside edge...even if that means giving up an outside catch, and I've seen him redirect a few routes outside, allowing the sideline to be another defender. Most improved player on the defense by far.
Kevin Gilbride: A lot of people are killing Gilbride recently for the playcalling, and while there is some merit to that, there's also a reason for it. Gilbride is not responsible for the suckitude of the OL, nor is he responsible for the injury to Hynoski and Bradshaw. He calls run plays simply to save Eli. In the Philly game, I saw Eli getting hit after a pass multiple times in consecutive order. Sometimes you need to run (despite its effectiveness) to save the QB. What bothers me is the predictability of the playcalling. We know exactly when he will run, and when he will pass. However, can't question his run/pass ratio. Also, while he has been much maligned for his run calls (giving Brandon Jacobs a stretch play is a work of brilliance, isn't it Killdrive?)....nobody mentions the pass plays that he comes up with. Some of them are actually designed brilliantly. The way he has been using Manningham and Cruz especially have been something special, and the route tree they run (all the way from short routes to deep fly routes) along with the calculated risks he takes have to be credited to Gilbride.
Perry Fewell: I don't know what to think of Fewell. On one side, he uses three-man rushes, JPP at DT (rage!), an ineffective zone at inopportune times. On the other side, the adjustments he makes post-halftime are undeniable. Even the staunchest Perry Fewell haters have to acknowledge that. Look at each game split from the first half and second half. We make the necessary adjustments and in almost every case, we shut down the opposing offense (New England Patriots and the 2nd game against the Eagles are the exceptions). Now, it is perfectly legitimate to question why we can't have those types of adjustments earlier, but there it is. One other point in Fewell's favor is how he's handled the injury situation. Despite players going down, we have not wavered to far from our mean average in terms of points, yardage, etc. Again, those stats indicate we are average, so take it for what its worth. Alot of Fewell's playcalling is also predicated on protecting the weak spots of the defense. Though its difficult to say, much of the zone defense has been to protect the overmatched linebacking corps and get the safeties to come down and play closer. Also, to help the decimated CB corps. Playing zone will tire out your CBs much less than if they were going man. I can't really stress this enough. With NO DEPTH behind the CBs, to preserve the CBs we have playing, we've been going zone. This is all conjecture on my part, but it makes sense to me.
Tom Coughlin: I am a noted Tom Coughlin fan. While the results have not been there in the second half, I'm not sure just how much that has to do with the team. We can talk about mentality all day, but the one that Coughlin is preaching is one that I can't see as being wrong. What is wrong about the "FINISH. FINISH. FINISH" mentality? I think the players are buying in. You saw the locker room after the Patriot game. On top of that, nobody is calling out the head coach. Everybody is taking responsibility, and there is almost no turmoil in the locker room as far as I can tell.
Coughlin SHOULD be responsible for some of the playcalling. I wouldn't be opposed to hiring a quality control consultant or something. Either that, or just shoulder some of the adjustments. As far as rallying the troops, time management, challenges, etc., I don't think Coughlin has done a bad job. He has weathered a ton of adversity already, and was being talked about as a coach of the year candidate just two weeks ago.
It depends on how much you factor in accountability to determine blame. I don't blame Coughlin, but I can understand those that do.