I watched the Giants-Jets game on tape Saturday night intending to focus on the running game, and instead wound up obsessively focusing on the run game. I found out that HD provides no benefits at 2:00 AM. Below I list a number of plays in which I focused on what was happening and why, with all of the detail that was relevant to the play. I apologize for the lack of video clips, but creating that is outside of my expertise and available time. I listed where the plays were in the game if you want to look them up yourself. My terminology should be readable if not 100% correct. At the end I summarize my thoughts from the game.
Run Play 1:
Situation: 1st running play of the game. 2nd and 10, 11:59 1st quarter.
Formation: Two TEs (Bennett & Pascoe) and FB (Hynoski) in triangle off of right tackle. Bennett to left, Hynoski to rear and center. Odd formation - screams run. Jets in base 3-4.
Play Call/Movement: Bradshaw takes handoff and heads offtackle right through the triangle. Locklear and Baas diagonally forward and right to ILBs/second level. Boothe goes right to slow down NT. Diehl blocks LDE, Bennett LOLB, Hynoski LCB. Pascoe to second level versus LILB. Snee pulls to right and through as lead blocker. Complex - possibly getting a trial here since it is first run called.
Result: Play side blocks on line are held, Diehl and Bennett hold edge. Snee finds no one to block. Baas winds up in middle of ILBs, turns back toward RILB. Locklear too slow to assist. RILB runs forward and left to grab Bradshaw, LILB slides off Pascoe to assist at end.
Analysis: Baas blows this play, his reaction and the movement of everyone else show that he was supposed to block the RILB. Unless the theory was that with Locklear and Pascoe they could cover the ILBs if they moved left or right with their first step, but this would still have Baas responsible for the RILB here. Pascoe held his block as long as can be expected in the open field. But the play design here could be improved. You have heavier guys outside of their guys. They should be blocking down towards the middle, the RB should be sprinting around the outside. There are too many bodies offtackle to have a running lane. Locklear is not a moveable piece with the play going right, it would be safer to have him stay and cut off pursuit from the rear (which did not affect this play).
Run Play 2:
Situation: 9:30 1st quarter.
Formation: Base, except Bennett on left side. Jets in base 3-4, with RDE lined up over the B gap.
Play Call/Movement: The Jets SS (TE side) creeps in during snap and run blitzes around end. Power O to left B gap with a twist. Locklear and Bennett both block ROLB. Boothe releases to second level against LILB.
Result: RDE comes straight in and met by Hynoski in backfield. Bradshaw forced to stop, sees safety outside, steps in. RILB comes through line to make tackle, Locklear releases ROLB too late to get RILB.
Analysis: I have to assume this is on Locklear. You rarely double-team the OLB. Perhaps he was confused when the RDE lined up inside of him, the play normally has him blocking to the outside. Usually you block the closest defender on second level, interesting that Boothe went after the LILB. But since the safety took himself out of the play, if Locklear took the RDE and Hynoski the RILB then Bradshaw is off to the races.
Run Play 3:
Situation: 1st and 10, 4:33 1st quarter.
Formation: Two TEs no FB. Jets in base 3-4.
Play Call/Movement: Ware starts left then cuts back to right offtackle. To build fake left, Boothe helps Locklear with RDE before releasing to RILB. TEs block OLBs. Diehl and Snee double LDE.
Result: Double-team on right creates hole valley. Ware gains several yards.
Analysis: Straight-up simple blocking. Extra TE on line allows immediate strong double teams.
Run Play 4:
Situation: 1st and 10, 3:20 1st quarter.
Formation: Two TEs no FB. Bennett on left side of line, Pascoe split out left. Jets in base 3-4. ROLB split out over Pascoe in 5-yard cushion.
Play Call/Movement: Ware offtackle left. Bennett and Locklear double RDE before Bennett slides off onto RILB.
Result: Pascoe blocks ROLB with contact down the field (ROLB does not attack forward), combined with double team allows Ware to accelerate instantly. The LILB is caught up trying to penetrate line. Safety has to make tackle after a gain of a few yards.
Analysis: Straight-up simple blocking. Bennett executes blocks perfectly. Jets, as in Run Play 1, did not adjust formation to Giants' formation, and with blocks made the Giants take advantage.
Run Play 5:
Situation: 2nd and inches, 0:33 1st quarter.
Formation: Base, Bennett on right side of line. Jets in 4-4. ROLB back with ILBs, RDT over center, man-over-man on right side of offensive line.
Play Call/Movement: ROLB run blitzes the B gap on his side, where Ware is heading. Boothe and Snee release to ILBs on second level, Diehl and Bennett slide left to occupy defenders to their left, leaving LOLB free.
Result: ROLB hits Hynoski in backfield, blocking hole and stalling Ware. LOLB coming free from side makes tackle.
Analysis: Like Run Play 2, blind obedience to play on paper without regard to defensive alignment. Boothe needs to account for the ROLB in front of him. No concept that we need a yard, too busy worrying about second level blockers.
Run Play 6:
Situation: 1st and 10, 13:46 2nd quarter.
Formation: Base with TE on right. Jets base 3-4, LDE sitting in B gap.
Play Call/Movement: Appeared to be Power O version to left B gap. Snee releases to ILBs on second level.
Result: LDE beats Diehl inside and stops Ware in backfield.
Analysis: Jets are frequently lining up the DEs in the B gap where the Giants like to run. Giants are not accounting for this in play design, play calls, or player reactions. Releasing to second level opens holes in the OL.
Run Play 7:
Situation: 1st play of 4th quarter.
Formation: Unsure (not relevant, see below). Jets base 3-4.
Play Call/Movement: Straight ahead blocking, man-on-man. Capers uncovered at LG so he releases to ILBs, Wilson runs behind him.
Result: Positive running play.
Analysis: Simple play I jotted down after I was done taking notes.
Run Play 8:
Situation: 3rd and 14, 13:49 4th quarter.
Formation: Unsure (not relevant, see below). Jets have NT over RG.
Play Call/Movement: Wilson run up middle. Cordle at C uncovered releases to second level. Capers at LG pushes RDE in B gap to left, releases to second level. Defenders on left side stunt, putting themselves out of this play.
Result: Wilson is fast. But so is Coples, and the single push does not slow him down enough. He gets jersey grab on Wilson and is able to bring him down. Coples got a replay and recognition for this from the announcers.
Analysis: They are trying to maximize blockers on a run that needs yards, otherwise I'd say leave Capers in and let Wilson make moves on the unblocked defenders in the middle of the field. This play could be tweaked or better played, might be different when starters are playing. Only mentioned here because it got so much attention.
The Giants offensive linemen are winning their one-on-one battles. The double-teams were effective. The tight ends are executing their blocks. They are not dominating their opponents, but they are not getting beat. Snee played well and is the best of them on the move. Baas had a little trouble with Kenrick Ellis, but he is 6-5 350, so it is a little understandable, especially since he had no help. But one failed 3rd and short, Snee pulled out and Ellis slid into the gap, making the stop. Bennett looks good.
But they appear to be blindly following the playbook. There are no adjustments for where defenders are positioned or for movement. Some of these problems are created by a play call (Run Play 6, for example), but more often a player could have made an adjustment. Locklear in particular I found to be lost, and it was more football understanding than new team's playbook (Run Play 2).
I think the coaches need to look at where these player and play call mistakes occur. In the examples above a common feature of negative plays were linemen releasing to the second level off of the snap. This creates holes in the offensive line for defenders to come through. Diehl likely could have held his block in Run Play 6 if Snee was still occupying space. On Run Plays 2 & 5 it allowed easy penetration into backfield. Some of these plays might work better if we had different personnel. We are asking slow guys to go find moving targets in space. This is why zone-blocking teams utilize smaller, quicker linemen. The Power O to the left B gap is the signature Giants play of the last 10 years. It used to involve Snee pulling around the back through the hole. Saturday night it involved releases forward to the second level. The difference is that in the pull play, the linebacker (or safety) has to come meet the guard in the hole. Advantage to bigger guard. The release opens the hole earlier and initiates contact further from the hole, which is likely why they are doing it. It also keeps the guard from getting in the backs' way. But it seems to introduce more variables than we are able to deal with. When we only need a yard or two, keep everyone home and use double teams to generate push.
The good news is that this can be fixed by coaching tweaks, more experience, and better decision-making from the linemen. If this happens. But this should not be an insurmountable obstacle. The players have the ability. We do not need to find new OL to run the ball. We just need more time in the classroom.
As a related side note, I focused on James Brewer after closing out my "running game notes". I was very impressed. No mental errors, and in fact some intelligent plays. I hope he gets some snaps against a first-team defense in the next two games.