It will soon be time to spin forward to thinking about the New York Giants’ upcoming game against the New Orleans Saints. Let’s take one more look back at Sunday’s victory over the Dallas Cowboys, though, with a film review.
This is something we started doing during the preseason. My usual caveat that I am not a trained scout, so I won’t be breaking down technique not will I be trying to figure out player assignments. These will be general observations from a closer study of the game. Incidentally, I will try to do this whenever possible using the All-22 coaches film. In this case, the All-22 was not yet available via Game Pass when I was able to review the game.
Now, on to some of my thoughts.
- The Giants had a very simple plan when it came to running the ball. Go straight ahead. Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen carried a total of 24 times, and only two of those plays were not designed to — more or less — run directly behind Weston Richburg, Justin Pugh and John Jerry. Both of those runs, stretch plays behind left tackle Ereck Flowers, flopped.
- While the Giants ran straight ahead, they did not block straight ahead. That’s a major change from what we saw in the preseason. Offensive linemen and tight ends were pulling across the formation on virtually every running play, creating angles and creating confusion on the Dallas defense as to where blocks were coming from. The plays looked simple, but the design of the blocking schemes was anything but.
- Speaking of blocking, props to — believe it or not — Larry Donnell. On Rashad Jennings’ 17-yard run — his longest of the day — Donnell sealed off what looked to be a Dallas linebacker. As often as we criticize Donnell’s generally lackluster blocking, gotta give him props when he gets it right.
- Ereck Flowers got beaten off the edge by a Benson Mayowa speed rush early in the game, and I have no idea what his Pro Football Focus grade was, but he didn’t play as that badly. On the third-quarter sack Flowers gave up, he had Mayowa neutralized until Manning started moving around, basically running right into Mayowa.
- Landon Collins did manage to get a hand in and pry the ball out of the grip of Dez Bryant on a pass originally ruled a Dallas touchdown before being overturned in replay. That masked the fact that Collins was beaten. Collins had a nice game, but pass coverage is still an area of concern. He surrendered at least three other completions when he was beaten one-on-one.
- Ezekiel Elliott and Alfred Morris combined for 27 carries and 86 yards (3.2 yards per carry). Of those 27 runs, I counted only five times when there was something resembling a hole for a back to run through. The Giants’ revamped, and expensive, front four did its job.
- Speaking of run defense, it is a really under-appreciated part of Olivier Vernon’s game.
- Coach Ben McAdoo said first-round pick Eli Apple improved as the game went along, and he was right. Apple was beaten early for a couple of completions, but made a few solid open-field tackles in the second half.
- What a hit Nat Berhe put on Ezekiel Elliott. You can’t really appreciate it until you watch it again and watch Elliott go backwards. This is a great example of a legal hit, even though Berhe launched himself. He led with the shoulder and hit the chest.