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Week 8 grades Defense, B-: 75 plays, 438 yards, 22 first downs (17 passing, 5 rushing, 0 from penalty (that's a first in a while, isn't it?)), 4/16 on third down, 1/2 on fourth down, 3/3 in the red zone, 1 turnovers, 24 points; that's more like it, aside from the mini-meltdown in the 4th quarter Defensive front: The Giants had a couple of drives where they were able to be productive on the ground, with some Peyton Hillis carries reminding me of the Browns game in 2011 when he pretty much single-handedly beat us. For the most part, though, we shut down the run. Eli had their longest run, believe it or not. Andre Williams was completely ineffective. They don't have any really good backs, but our play up front was strong. The tackling got sloppy for a stretch, with Freeman missing one on the goalline. Pass rush was decent, not really impressive though. Newsome is really good, but most of our pressures and the few QB hits we did get were late in the play. Not a lot of immediate pressure. It seemed to me that they committed some extra attention to Werner, which is encouraging, but they weren't flat out doubling him with any regularity. Push up the middle was more consistent this week. B-, once Jones gets going, this will be our best defensive line in a loooong time Pass defense: There it is. Cancel the search, we found our pass defense. Or did we??? The fourth quarter was a mess, with Beckham continuing to get open. And the big play he made was just poor finish work. Too many guys had a chance to tackle him, and didn't. We have to end plays, otherwise good coverage is pointless. We got our hands on some passes, including Vontae's near pick in the end zone. That's how you defend a fade route. The receiver had no chance at the ball, and we're talking about a receiver who has 4 inches on the DB. Give Vontae his credit, people. They targeted him 11 times, like dummies, and he wouldn't budge. Toler was mostly good, too, aside from the one long play. Sergio had some nice plays also. Linebackers looked a lot better in coverage. Werner looks better and better in space. Gordy and Purifoy didn't do a good job at the end of the game. B, the Giants wound up with a lot of yards, but while the game was actually in doubt, it was mostly "E. Manning, pass incomplete" Offense, B-: 71 plays, 443 yards, 22 first downs (15 passing, 5 rushing, 2 from penalty), 5/15 on third down, 2/2 in the red zone, 0 turnovers, 40 points; sloppy for a big part of the first half, but clearly in control, and once it clicked there was nothing the Giants could do about it QB: Luck himself said this wasn't his best game. I agree, and that's ironic, given the numbers and the impact he had on this game. He had some misses that make you shake your head, and of course, he waits too long to bail when he has a chance to run (except for the one carry for a first down). A miscommunication with Fleener on what should have been a TD; Fleener takes an outside release with no help over the top, Luck throws the ball to the inside, Fleener never really even sees it. Even the TD to Hilton wasn't a good throw; thankfully Hilton made the play. And then the wild toss that no one should ever try, and everyone knows it. We bang on Dalton for trying to pass the ball waaaaay past the line of scrimmage, but really, Luck's play was just as bad. However, he was getting a ton of pressure for the second week in a row, and he stood in there and continued to find receivers. The TD pass to Reggie exemplifies why you put up with the bad that's scattered here and there. Luck ceiling is virtually unknown, mostly because of his ability to make plays under pressure, and he did that over and over again. Someone asked whether Luck is actually a good QB; the answer is a resounding YES. B, I assume the bye will be spent cleaning up some of the miscues Backs / receivers / tight ends, B+: Running game: When we used it, it worked well. Just didn't use it very much. Bradshaw had some nice rips, including a couple of plays where he broke tackles in the backfield and turned them into big gains. Richardson was pretty steady also. Herron couldn't do anything at the end of the game, but the Giants were selling out to get stops. Backs averaged 4.2 yards/carry, which is acceptable. B Passing game: Our receivers were mostly uncoverable. I thought someone was open pretty much every play. Luck missed some throws, and failed to see some open receivers, including some dumpoffs. And the pressure caused some plays to break down, but their corners were a MASH unit, and their backers couldn't cover our TEs on their best day. It's weird to look at 350 yards and 4 TDs and talk about how much more there could have been, if only... But none of that is on the receivers; they were getting open. Nicks had the drop on the slant, which is annoying, but it was thrown really hard and slightly off topic; he should still catch that, though. I'd like to see more Moncrief after the bye. Fleener also failed to bring in another TD between double coverage, but he had defenders pulling him down. B+ OL / blocking: Pass protection wasn't good. I thought it started out pretty good, and Luck was holding the ball too long. But as we continued to drop back, the protection continued to get worse. Too many pressures, too many blown protections. Ayers was eating up our linemen, Louis in particular, who was only in the game because Thornton decided to enjoy NYC a little too much the night before the game. Harrison also made a lot of mistakes. I can't know for certain who the snap count problem was with, but it appeared that Harrison was the only interior lineman who thought it was a double count. Even Luck's movement looked like he was expecting the ball. Cherilus was way better this week, though he did give up a couple of pressures. The run blocking was better, despite some mistakes, and I think that we should have relied on it more. Didn't bring the game home late in the 4th, which is disappointing. (Side note: Even in a game where Thornton is benched for disciplinary reasons, Holmes -- who Grigson says is working at guard -- can't get a game jersey. Weird...) C+, failures in pass pro had me thinking of Satele and McGlynn Special teams: We let them have one somewhat interesting kick return, but nothing else. Beckham was -3 on his one punt return. We still don't return well, and Whalen is looking more and more overmatched each week. He's sure-handed most of the time, but his return efforts are pretty terrible. He had a decent kickoff return and a decent punt return, but he also had some bad ones. McAfee was excellent, dropping 3 punts inside the 20, and AV was 4/4, including a 48 yarder. Best special teams we've ever had. Don't let us get a return game to go with this offense... A- Coaching / playcalling / game management, B: I don't know what to say about the pass:run ratio in the first half. I understand picking on their banged up secondary and throwing against heavy fronts, but we should still work the run in there more than we did. The play calling did get receivers open, but it also invited relentless pass rush. Good job getting a play in to Luck so quickly before Coughlin could challenge, and not just a dive play, but a TD pass. Nice. And we came out in the second half ready to go, with 3 TDs and a FG on our first four possessions. B- The defense got back to what we have been doing so well with this season, mostly scrapping the zone coverage from last week, and blitzing more effectively. Anything the Giants got was off of pure effort, or lack of effort from our defense. The players were deployed very effectively. B+ I'm torn on the end of game situation. I understand the desire to get the backups some time, but they didn't handle it well. And we really only pulled the corners, not the trench players who were getting nicked up all game long and who are more at risk. Also, we're going into the bye. One more possession with the starting corners would have clinched it, I think, but I mostly put the blame on the players who, IMO, weren't playing as hard as they should have been. Clock management was good, and the challenge was a no-brainer. B Game ball: Andrew Luck, pretty much did what he wanted, despite the mistakes and the pressure, and it was obvious the whole time that he was going to bring it home Next up, bye week, then a Sunday Night game hosting the Pats. Good opportunity for a "Shut em up" game. Let's bring it home. GO COLTS!!!
Make him proud, boys. Week 7 grades Box score Offense, C+: 58 plays, 314 yards, 17 first downs (11 passing, 3 rushing, 3 from penalty), 4/13 on third down, 2/4 in the red zone, 0 turnovers, 27 points; another slow start, blame it on play calling and execution QB: Fits and starts for most of the game, and it was mostly because of dropped passes and heavy pressure. When he wasn't shrugging off defenders, he was being frustrated with balls hitting the ground that should have been caught. However, he missed a few reads himself: Whalen was open in the end zone on a play that Luck threw to a doubled DHB underneath, and he completely missed Fleener on the first two point conversion. Luck also overthrew receivers a handful of times, and almost put one in a corner's breadbasket down near the goal line. All that led to a 6/20 start, and an overall line of 18/40 with four sacks. No picks, finished with 274 yards and three touchdowns. He and Hilton put the offense on their shoulders and made plays to win it, and this exemplifies what makes him so special. Whether it's flicking the ball 50 yards downfield while being hit by JJ Watt, or it's converting on a two point conversion by hooking up with Fleener in double coverage, he showed the goods again. B+ (it's not obvious in the stats, but he played his butt off) Backs / receivers / tight ends: Still not a lot of running success, and we abandoned the run game early in an effort to get something going. Only 14 rushing attempts in this one (and only 58 total offensive plays, so it's hard to complain about the run:pass ratio). Richardson missed a couple of chances to get to the second level, but there wasn't a lot of room for him. Brown got a nice gain on a cutback and finished it off with a stiff arm. He's still getting better situations than Richardson, but he also looks more explosive in general. Richardson gained some tough yards on a screen, and took another swing pass for a nice gain. Let's get him in space more often, right? The receivers were the bane of my existence for much of this game. I counted six drops: 2 by DHB, 2 by Whalen, one by Brown, one by Hilton. Two of those were on third down, leading to us starting out 0/8 on third down. No bueno. Especially with Reggie out, this will not fly. Some nice catches by Fleener, and of course, Hilton made up for his third down drop with the hat trick. Showed great speed, great hands, and great footwork, in that order, on his three scores. It's probably going to be up to him to pick up the slack. Whatever Reggie said to him at halftime worked. C+ (too many drops, lack of production on the ground) OL / blocking: I can't understand why, of all people, we'd ever leave JJ Watt unblocked. I feel sorry for our linemen, because the Texans move Watt all over the field, so you can't really get in a rhythm against him and figure out how to approach the assignment. One snap he's at end, the next he's on the opposite side of the field at three-tech, next he's at one-tech... But still, he was abusing Cherilus, Thornton, pretty much anyone he lined up against. Probably the best defensive lineman in the game, but we simply whiffed on him a few times. Smith did his damage as well, and their line mostly won against our blockers. Our backs picked up some blitzes, but also missed some. Some of our schemes bought Luck some time, and we had some one on one success later in the game after their rushers started to get tired. For the most part, however, our line was overmatched, and you could really see it on the last drive of the game when we couldn't gain any yardage, much less get close to a clinching first down. If we want to be a power run game, we have to prove it against a fearsome front like the Texans'. We have to put the game away in a clock killing situation. Still a lot of work to do. C- (too many mistakes and matchup losses) Defense, C+: 68 plays, 483 yards, 22 first downs (16 passing, 6 rushing, 0 from penalty), 6/14 on third down, 0/1 on fourth down, 1/2 in the red zone, 0 turnovers, 24 points; they dominated time of possession, scored on four possessions, and missed three makeable field goals Defensive front: The Texans averaged 3.9 yards/carry on conventional runs. A lot of small chunks, 6 yards, 9 yards, 11, 9, 5, etc. No real busts in the run game, and we got some big stuffs, including the drive we stopped them on fourth down. Our run fits were pretty good, but every once in a while, we'd overpursue and miss an opportunity, turning what should have been a loss into a moderate gain. Franklin spent a lot of time on the ground. Moala and Redding displayed some poor technique, but Redding also made some plays (he was the first one through on the fourth down stop). RJF was mostly good, and Hughes finally got on the field and did well, I thought. Mathis couldn't beat Duane Brown, who got a lot of help from schemes and alignments, but also played a really good game. Werner was limited, but had a pressure and had some chances in the run game. Walden made a couple mistakes, but made more plays, finally checking in with a sack. If he were a little more athletic, he'd be a game wrecker. Angerer was all over the place, and that's good because Freeman was MIA. We played the read option perfectly, after getting beat by it. That's how you run a scrape exchange, NFL. B- (effort was there, technique was lacking at times) Pass defense: What the heck happened? The guy who looked like an All Pro last time out came down to earth with some big mistakes in this one. So did everyone else, unfortunately. Bethea seems to being having trouble playing the ball. The corners got beat by some good route running and some excellent throws (Keenum was on point everywhere on the field; it wasn't just a case of him throwing the ball up for his receivers). Secondary kept battling and made some plays in the second half, but still just gave up too many big gains. I counted six pass plays that went for 20+ yards, and there's easily another eight or nine that went for 10+, including the last two to set up the field goal try. The linebackers did a decent job, but we let Graham catch four balls. Started flying to the ball and making stops underneath, and Davis did almost have a pick on a nice coverage. The third AJ TD was covered pretty good, but Davis couldn't quite get to the ball. It wasn't all bad, but we really gave up too many big plays, and against a third string QB. We almost let Johnson beat us singlehandedly, and their run game was at 70%. C- (I think I'm being nice, but the point is that we can't give up big plays like we did) Special teams: Okay, seriously, what the heck happened?!!!?!? The coaches need to understand that Matt Overton CANNOT block JJ Watt on FGAs. Then we let pressure in on the punt. The specialists did fine, aside from McAfee dropping the snap. We even got some nice returns. And we covered well. But the basics should be a given on special teams, and they weren't. Thankfully, the Texans couldn't capitalized, because this game could have been out of hand in the first quarter. B- Coaching / playcalling, C+: I think Manusky called a great game. Our run fits were great, and the little issues we had from time to time (like the read option) were fixed quickly. We just missed chances with overpursuit and poor technique. The secondary was in good situations, but corners bit on double moves and let receivers behind them, and Bethea lost the ball in the air. I didn't like the pass coverage on the final drive, when we played kind of soft shell coverage. If the Texans had managed the clock a little better, they might have gotten another play off, and Keenum wasn't having any trouble finding ways to throw on that zone scheme. We were probably trying to keep them from getting a touchdown or getting out of bounds, which we did. In all, while the defense gave up a bunch of big plays, I think it was due to execution, not coaching. And we mostly got it fixed in the second half. B Hamilton, on the other hand, doesn't seem to get it. Takes too long to get the backs involved in the pass game, and still hasn't found a way to put his shiny new toy (which maybe isn't as shiny as we thought) to good use. Not so much heavy personnel in this one, but that's mostly because we couldn't get any drives going early on and had to scrap the power runs. Look, Luck can do whatever you want him to do. Let him. And give your backs a chance to be successful by getting them the ball in space and on the outside, rather than predictably pounding it up the middle. I don't think we need to completely abandon the power run game, but we need to make some adjustments at this point. Maybe we can finish games with strong running, but we obviously aren't able to start games that way just yet. The weapon that is shining brightest right now and is most important is wrapped in a #13 jersey. We've got to get him the ball early and often. C- Nice challenge. Pagano kept the team on task like almost always. I get the two point conversion, just don't think we should have gone for it right there. We wound up scoring 21 points to end the game, and we would have without the two point tries. Just was too early to start chasing points. Kind of conservative at the end of the first half, but understandably so. Maybe could have gone for it on fourth down in the first quarter from Houston's 43, but the offense hadn't really earned any confidence at that point. Good job overall. B Game ball, offense: TY Hilton. My skill position grade up above is harsh, but Hilton deserves credit for his performance. Aside from the early drop on third down, he was incredible. Like Luck said, if they didn't know who he is, they ought to now. We need him to dominate from here on out. Game ball, defense: Erik Walden. Doesn't have the closing speed needed from a good pass rusher, but he was the only one getting consistent pressure. He made a number of stops, including a sack and a TFL. Also knocked a pass down. He was often the difference between a 4 yard gain and a potential 15 yard gain. Probably his best game of the year, and probably the last time he's even in the running for a game ball. Hosting the Rams, who are a mess right now. Good defensive front, some playmakers on defense, some youngsters with potential on offense, but they've lost three in a row, two of them at home, and are down to Kellen Clemens at QB. If we're really a title contender, we have to win this game, and it shouldn't be close.