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All-22 film review: What can we learn from Giants-Steelers tape?

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Victor Cruz, Odell Beckham, more

NFL: New York Giants at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s take a brief moment out of getting ready for New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys to look back at the film from Sunday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and see what we can learn.

As always, a reminder I am not a scout. These are simply observations.

Was Victor Cruz ever open?

Lots of talk this week about Victor Cruz. We know he was frustrated by not getting ant balls thrown his way. The question is, was Cruz ever open and how often should the ball have gone his way.

Truth is, Cruz played 26 snaps and he was hardly ever open. On most of his snaps there was little to no separation between Cruz and whatever defender was assigned to him. He was open two, maybe three times. On each, though, by the time Cruz came open Eli Manning had either already released the ball or decided to go elsewhere.

2Q, 6:27, 3-4, NYG 31: Cruz goes down the seam and eventually comes open. By the time he does, though, Manning has moved on in his progression. He throws a bad ball, dumping it incomplete at the feet of Will Tye.

3Q, 15:00, 1-10, NYG 25: The first play of the second half. Cruz runs a short in cut. He is open, but Manning’s first read is Beckham on the other side of the field. He goes there for a 4-yard gain.

That’s pretty much it. I can’t find a single play where I felt like Manning had time to wait for Cruz and where the ball absolutely should have gone there.

Too many throws to Odell?

On Tuesday, I used the word “ludicrous” to describe the Giants throwing the ball to Odell Beckham Jr. on 15 of 25 passing attempts in the second half on Sunday. On the third quarter drive where the Giants failed on fourth-and-1 at the Pittsburgh 3-yard line, there are two examples of where the ball was forced to a covered Beckham at the expense of a wide open Sterling Shepard.

On first down from the 12-yard line, Manning tries to hit a double-covered Beckham in the end zone and nearly has a deflected ball picked off. Meanwhile, an uncovered Shepard flashes across the screen wide open on a slant route at about the 2-yard line for what would have been an easy score.

On third-and-10, Manning hits Beckham for 9 yards, setting up the fourth-down play. Shepard and Tye are both clearly open on this play, and in better position to score.

Manning often talks about going through his progressions, but what I see on a lot of these is that there is no progression, whatever the first read is that is where the ball goes if Manning sees even the slightest chance of a completion.

I can’t be sure, but I think there are a couple of factors at play here. Part of it might be Manning simply being coached to get the ball out as quickly as possible, the quick throw being a staple of the McAdoo offense. The other part might well be Manning feeling like his offensive line is not going to give him time to scan the field, so he simply takes the first option whenever possible.

One quick note

This isn’t really a film observation. Pittsburgh ran for 37 yards in the first half and 86 in the second half. The most significant difference? No Jason Pierre-Paul on the field for the Giants in the second half. I think you can expect that the pass rush is not the only part of the Giants’ defense that will suffer without JPP.