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After further review: A deeper dive into the Giants-Colts film

A look at some of the more interesting plays from Sunday

NFL: JAN 01 Colts at Giants Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Every week after a New York Giants game, I dive into the film and post what I feel are interesting clips to my Twitter timeline. The plays in review can be positive or negative but typically speak to a player’s skill set, technique, or the scheme utilized by the Giants' coaching staff.

This week, and possibly moving forward, we will post the clips into a Big Blue View article for a more discursive description of the plays, which is not possible on Twitter. Let’s start with the Landon Collins pick-six:

On third-and-11 after two positive defensive plays by Darnay Holmes, the Colts align in 11 personnel with a BUNCH on the numbers to the boundary - where there’s not a lot of space - and a reduced split tight tend to the field side, aligned on the hash.

The Giants align in a Quarters look pre-snap, but Xavier McKinney (29) buzzes to the BUNCH side right at the snap, transitioning to a Cover-3 defense. Collins is the curl-flat defender to the boundary where the BUNCH is located:

The Colts released the No. 1 and No. 2 wide receivers vertically; this prompted Collins to work over the top of their releases to get outside the numbers to the flat. The buzz defender (McKinney) was directly behind him, and the deep third defender had any other vertical concept that angled outside the numbers. Essentially, Collins had his eye on the No. 3 receiver’s path while also positioning himself underneath a deep corner if the Colts ran a Sail concept, which they ran.

Once Collins worked over the top of the two vertical receivers, he flashed his eyes on Nick Foles (9) and noticed his intentions were to the flat of the Sail concept. Collins read the play design the entire way to the short side of the field and earned a well-deserved pick-six.

A simulated pressure is typically - but not always - a pressure with man coverage on the backend with four rushers pressuring, and one is not a traditional rusher. Typically two players who appear to be rushing drop off into coverage, as we see above.

Both end-men-on-the-line-of-scrimmage, Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) and Oshane Ximines (53), drop off the line of scrimmage but are accounted for in the offense’s protection. Jaylon Smith is the disguised rusher. Justin Ellis (71) and Jihad Ward (55) are tasked to engage the center and guard, respectively; this opens up the A-Gap and allowed Smith to hit Foles.

It’s a well-designed pressure and one that Wink Martindale loves to use. The Colts are aligned in a 3x1 set, so Thibodeaux does not have a man coverage responsibility on the play. Thibodeaux sunk underneath the backside slant of Alec Pierce (14) and looked to match any inside crosser from the three-receiver side.

However, Indianapolis ran a designed flare pass with three stalk blockers to the field. Ximines read it well and matched the running back, as did Darnay Holmes (30) to shoot through the outside shoulder of the No. 2 WR. Fabian Moreau (27) is playing inside-out to the field side against Michael Pittman Jr. (11).

Foles should have been sacked, but Smith thought he released the football. Foles is lucky he wasn’t sacked, but he was also lucky he did not throw the backside slant because Thibodeaux was right in the throwing window. Here are other excellent individual efforts from Kayvon Thibodeaux against the Colts:

And here are all but a few snaps of Kayvon Thibodeaux against the Colts:

We can’t forget about Dexter Lawrence because any team that has faced him certainly cannot:

Dexter Lawrence is playing unreal football this season. He puts All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson on skates with his bull rush. Lawrence maintained a low center of gravity throughout the rep, drove through the ground, and leveraged his length with his inside arm to keep Nelson off his chest. Just a fantastic individual effort from Lawrence.

Micah McFadden deserves a shout-out for some of the more unheralded plays that he makes every week. McFadden is not perfect, and his issues in coverage have been exploited throughout the season - he’s a rookie - but generally speaking, he does a solid job in the tackle box.

In the play above, he assumed force responsibilities off the read after presenting himself in the C-Gap; once Ward narrowed the C-Gap and removed it as an option for the running back, McFadden jumped to the outside, stayed square, and took contain from Ward. A very cohesive defensive move from the rookie that displayed his understanding of responsibilities and roles.


Evan Neal’s rookie season has been less than ideal. He’s dealt with injury, his college concerns persisted, and he’s struggled in both phases of blocking at times through the year. However, he played his best game by far against the Colts. Here are all of his pass-blocking reps from the Colts’ game:

He was disciplined in his pass sets, did not lean nearly as much, and was more technically sound. It’s excellent to see a positive game from Neal. For what it is worth, Neal had some of his best all-around grades, according to Pro Football Focus, in Week 17.

Mike Kafka’s done an excellent job evolving the entire Giants’ offense, but he’s also incorporated different run schemes and tags to keep the Giants’ rushing offense fresh. Over the last couple of weeks, the Giants have used WHAM and TRAP blocking tags to assist their rushing attack.

A WHAM block is when an H-Back, TE, Sniffer (whatever terminology you want to use) or any non-offensive lineman comes across the formation and blocks a defender who is initially unblocked by his covered offensive linemen. Daniel Bellinger (82) is the WHAM defender above against Grover Stewart (90), who did a great job diagnosing the blocking concept, but Saquon Barkley (26) and Bellinger did enough to spring a solid Giants’ run.

The WHAM allows OL easy access to the second level. Mark Glowinski (64) had a 2i technique on his inside shoulder; he ignored the defender and allowed him to penetrate with Bellinger coming on the WHAM. Glowinski too the wide defender, which allowed Andrew Thomas (78) to climb up to Zaire Franklin (44). Due to the OVER Front and the 2i’s positioning on the guard (he wasn’t a true 1-technique on the center’s shoulder), Jon Feliciano (76) had uncovered access to Bobby Okereke (58).

As Barkley went into the mesh point with Jones, all six defenders in the box were blocked up and accounted for by the Giants. The run could have possibly been much longer if Feliciano held onto his block a split-second longer. Here’s a quick picture of the WHAM from Breakdown Sports:

A TRAP block is a similar concept, only it’s an OL pulling to block an initial unblocked defender instead of an H-Back or Fullback. Here’s a quick picture of the TRAP from Ryan Dukarm at Inside the Pylon:

Interesting passing concepts

The Giants have recently embraced the boundary stack. A stack is a wide receiver alignment with one WR on the line of scrimmage with another just behind him, as we see at the top of the tweet above. New York successfully employed the stack against Minnesota, and they built on that success in Week 17. It can work against zone or man coverage.

In the play above, the Colts run a man-match concept. The Giants use a drive concept - a High-Low middle-of-the-field concept with Darius Slayton (86) on the drag and Richie James (80) on the cross in a 2x2 set. To the field side, Bellinger ran a deep vertical route that was specifically angled toward the opposite hash.

Slayton’s drag route forced a push call from the cornerback to the linebacker which removed the linebacker from the middle of the field. Both receivers in the stack released inside off the line of scrimmage, away from Stephon Gilmore (5), who aligned outside the numbers; Gilmore was in no position to cover either player.

The apex defender assumed Gilmore had James, but James’ route was well inside of Gilmore’s position, so no one was able to match James since that apex defender made the push call on Slayton’s drag. Bellinger’s route initially occupied the eyes of the safety and eventually created a fair pick against Gilmore, who was in no position to reach James anyway.

The Colts played straight man coverage to the field side, which worked in the Giants' favor; Barkley was taken by the underneath defender, clearing out more space for James, and Rodney McLeod Jr. (26) attached to Bellinger’s hip and did not pass the tight end off to the safety. Jones did a fantastic job recognizing the coverage mishaps and exploiting the Colts' defense for a 16-yard gain to James.

Another 2x2 set with the Giants using two WRs to the boundary (not stacked, but close together), along with Barkley releasing in that direction. Indianapolis aligned in a Quarters look on first-and-ten with twenty seconds left in the first half.

Barkley’s flare outside removed a linebacker in the middle of the field, which isolated a linebacker against Hodgins to the field side. Jones quickly processed the mismatch and delivered a strike to Hodgins for 19 yards.

I know, it’s against a linebacker, but I don’t want to undersell Hodgins’ ability to sell his breaks up the top of his stem - he’s a very deceptive route runner in a big possession receiver’s body. The hard outside jab at the top of his break, combined with the shoulder turn and head fake is really impressive, considering the amount of burst he generates out of his breaks.

Hodgins has used similar moves against cornerbacks like James Bradberry this season. I still see people refer to Hodgins as a “practice squad guy.” That’s unfair at this point. Yes, he was claimed off the Bills’ practice squad, but Hodgins is a professional wide receiver good enough to start in an 11-personnel package.

He has caught 33 of 39 targets for 351 yards and four touchdowns since arriving in New York after the BYE week. He’s earned respect and the playing time he receives.

Mike Kafka used Bellinger as a fullback against Minnesota, and he did it against the Colts. The Giants have creatively employed play-action passing concepts all season - this type of utilization is the new wrinkle, and it’s two-for-two in two games.

Here are some other tweets about the offense that range from Andrew Thomas’ pass blocking to Jon Feliciano and Ben Bredeson almost turning MetLife Stadium into a UFC event.

Final thoughts

Thank you to everyone for reading the inaugural article on tweets from the timeline. Please let us know in the comment section if you appreciated the piece.