Defensive Review



…Sorry, no Studs and Duds again this week. Schedule is a killer and the loss of a players off day means far less time for watching the game again. Need a full day and then some to get it all done so the offense gets shelved until next week.

Stephen Bowen would have been a Stud.  I know he only has one sack, but he is consistently getting into the backfield and does an excellent job on stunts with Barry Cofield. Both of them waste little movement with their feet, allowing them to take strong angles and turn up quick.  Bowen occupied two defenders on some run stops, allowing Perry Riley to stay unblocked and make a tackle. For all the talk about how Brian Orakpo’s absence has hurt Ryan Kerrigan, I think it’s had a big impact on Bowen, too. Their ability to run stunts with those two on the edge would have been big. It can’t be overlooked.

Rob Jackson made an impact in the pass game late and he helped against the run throughout the game. He showed good hands in the first half to shed blocks and did that again late. He was quiet for stretches, but he did make a few plays.

… Kerrigan’s best rushes still occur when he comes inside. That’s been true for weeks now as he’s not getting the edge; instead, his two best rushes Monday came when he faked up and turned inside and when he slanted inside and was paired vs. the guard.

…Field position played a big role in the second half defensive success. In the second half New York started three of its four drives inside the 10-yard line, with the fourth beginning at their own 20. They punted three times (with their field goal drive starting at the 8). Not that this field position led to offensive success for Washington; the Redskins’ only points in the second half followed the Giants’ field goal series. Still, it impacted New York’s offense.

… Of the Giants’ six offensive penalties, three had an impact, but three of them occurred on their first-half touchdown drive. The killer one? A holding penalty on left tackle Will Beatty on third and 10 in the fourth quarter, wiping out an 11-yard gain. However, had Beatty not held Rob Jackson, the linebacker may have caused a hurried or errant toss (yes, maybe even a sack).

…Every game features a big play missed, so you can’t say if Eli Manning had just hit this throw or that throw, then the Giants would have won. I’ve seen plenty of examples on the Redskins end, where if one block is made or the ball is thrown, then they would have scored and perhaps the game goes differently. But Manning did miss some throws that would have impacted this game without a doubt. Victor Cruz, for a second straight game vs. Washington, got open on a deep ball. Once more, he raced past safety Madieu Williams, but the ball was overthrown this time. One thing I wonder about the play: Williams was only 11 yards deep and did not get depth after the snap. He does not turn and run well and it showed in this case. He was fortunate this time. The Redskins play two teams in the next two weeks  that will take shots deep and have receivers who can burn them. They can’t rely on being fortunate.

…Manning also barely missed Hakeem Nicks on the go route down the left sideline vs. Cedric Griffin. The Redskins’ corner did catch up on the play, but only because Nicks had to slow down a bit to try and catch an underthrown ball. Again: you can pick out similar plays by the Redskins’ offense. It’s also true that DeAngelo Hall nearly intercepted the first pass of the second half; had Manning put it a little higher then Hall wins. But I did think Manning was off and I do think the Redskins’ pressure, at times, bothered him into these decisions. Like on the next item:

…Manning also hesitated (and lost) on the fourth quarter sack by Jackson. The Giants lined up with a bunch formation to the right and ran the same play they had earlier in the quarter (that was negated by a false start. Tight end Martellus Bennett, in the back of the bunch on the left, rubs off underneath to the flat. With linebacker London Fletcher and corner Josh Wilson doubling slot receiver Victor Cruz (back right at the snap) on the inside, nobody is on Bennett as the other receiver (can’t see the number to know who it was) is covered one-on-one by Hall.

Manning does not look at Bennett initially, but turns his way with enough time to make a pass. For some reason he did not throw the ball – on the negated play, he threw it to Bennett. Had he thrown the ball, Bennett would needed to have run seven yards to pick up the first. Considering no defender was within seven or eight yards of him (Hall was the closest and he was turned downfield and would have needed to shed a block), Bennett had more than a good shot at the first down.  There was no other option; I’m not sure why Manning didn’t throw the ball.

…The Redskins did indeed use more five-man rushes and man coverage in the second half. New York dropped back to pass 24 times in the first half; Washington countered with 17 four-man rushes and five five-man rushes (and twice sent just three). But in the second half the Redskins used eight five-man rushes out of 14 drop-backs and six four-man rushes.

…The Redskins used a five-man rush on New York’s final five passes. They were successful, sacking Manning once, drawing a hold and limiting Manning to one completion for four yards (on third and 20). On four of those plays, it appeared the Redskins had a single-high safety and man coverage. The Redskins looked to have used some form of man coverage on nine pass plays in the second half (occasionally a cover-2 with man under among the looks).

But after that it was individual performances as much as anything that stopped the run. New York started u

…Kerrigan and Cofield saved a potential big play by the Giants thanks to an excellent pass rush. Kerrigan had a quiet night when rushing the edge vs. right tackle Sean Locklear. But Kerrigan, as has been the case for a while, was effective when rushing inside. This time, he stepped wide and shot back inside and drew a holding penalty by Locklear. Meanwhile, Cofield ran a stunt with Jarvis Jenkins. Cofield got to the inside shoulder of the guard and quickly gained position. The pressure applied by Kerrigan and Cofield forced Manning to look away from Victor Cruz on the left side – just as he was starting to run past corner Josh Wilson. That is how it’s supposed to work: the pass rush helping the coverage.

…The pass defense received the focus after the game because it finally slowed  Manning. But the run defense deserves a major assist. The Giants rushed for 86 yards in the first half, but only 31 in the second half (five coming on an Manning scramble). Of the 10 times a running back carried the ball, the Giants gained two yards or less six times (there was a two-yard run on second and 1).

There were a number of reasons:  Early in the half they used more defenders in the box. For example, on the Giants’ first three runs of the second half Washington used a nine-man front (Hall at safety) on a no gain; an eight-man box on two-yard run and another eight-man box on a no gain.

Of the Giants’ final six runs, four came with six defenders in the box because New York was in shotgun and/or had three receivers.  The Giants gained 18 yards on those carries, but they weren’t hurting Washington. In the seven-man fronts, New York managed three yards. Riley stopped one run for a yard while Jackson and Bowen combined on the two-yard stop.

…If Bennett could block, the Giants might have fared better. His blocking failures led to the two-yard stop as Jackson used his right hand to push off Bennett’s chest and get in position for a hit in the backfield. Another time, against a six-man front, Bennett reached linebacker London Fletcher but did so with little pop. Bennett, who is 6-foot-6, was bent more at the waist when he reached the 5-foot-9 Fletcher, who shed the block easily and helped on a four-yard stop. A better block by Bennett and it’s a longer gain. I did see Bennett one time toss Jackson to the ground, but for the most part the Giants run away from his side (they love running to the weak side vs. a 3-4).

…Because of the success stopping the run, the Giants were in more second- and third-and-long situations. They faced second and 7 or longer on six of their nine second downs. They faced third and five or longer on four of five third downs. In the first half, eight of 13 second downs were for that distance and six of 10 third downs. The key: number of plays run (40 in the first half; 23 in the second).

Bowen shoved left tackle Will Beatty back nearly three yards and made a stop on Bradshaw for no gain; nose tackle Chris Baker showed excellent leverage and got around the center for another no-gainer;  a double team on Bowen and a Rob Jackson force enabled Perry Riley to make a stop for two yards; Riley avoided a Locklear block, slipping inside him, for a one-yard stop; finally, Jackson shed a Bennett block (hands inside) and hit Bradshaw at the line and into Bowen and several others for a two-yard gain.

… On the sack, I don’t want to diminish Jackson’s effort, but he rushed unblocked as Ahmad Bradshaw ran to the flat. But I wonder if Manning thought Jackson was covering Bradshaw – or if, as the Redskins expected, the back was supposed to block. At the snap, Jackson started out at Bradshaw. Manning takes a peek in that direction and then returns his eyes to the other side of the field. But all Jackson did was give him a nudge and continue. Apparently, Jackson was expecting to be chipped on the play by Bradshaw, but that didn’t happen either. Beatty looks at Jackson off the snap and blocks inside.

Because of the miscue, Jackson didn’t have to beat anyone to make the sack and Manning had a false sense of the rush.

But the rusher who made that play was Kerrigan. He rushed inside vs. the guard and shoved him back. Manning wanted to escape left, where he thought he’d have an opening, until Jackson arrived. Cofield also had a good rush on the play. Both were in position to do damage.

… When the Giants ran this play earlier in the game, Bradshaw did not chip and ran to the flat, but it was also against a different look by the Redskins’ defense.

…Riley needs work in zone coverage. On the four-yard TD pass to Bennett, he and Fletcher drop into coverage over the middle as Manning looks either to the middle or to his left. Riley is on Manning’s right side. There’s no reason for him to move out of position and, in fact, he should have cheated to the inside based on Manning’s vision. Instead, Riley started shuffling several steps the other way as Bradshaw came out of the backfield. Fletcher, with Cruz to his right and Bennett to his left, had to stay in place. Riley’s decision created a huge gap for Bennett.