How It Happened
Happy game day, everyone. This series will come out midweek for #GiantsNation during the regular season and will break down plays from the previous Sunday’s matchup via the All-22 film from NFL Game Pass, providing some valuable insight on the seemingly infinite number of tidbits that can be found on any given play. Since this tape is not available for pre-season games, we have to live with the broadcast tape, but what better way to refresh for today’s action than to go over some of last week’s plays? Let’s dive in.
In the first quarter, the Jets were driving against the stout Giants front seven, most running to the right side of the defensive line. This culminated in an outside zone toss play where pre-snap jet motion caused a crucial shift at the second tier for Big Blue. See below:
The motion and resulting shift by LB BJ Goodson allowed RG James Carpenter a better angle as he climbed to the second level and sealed Goodson, whose mental processing was slow and was easily overcome by the large left guard. This set in motion a bad sequence for the defense where contain was lost, and force players (NB Webb and others) could not turn the runner back inside to the help coming. Overall, gap discipline was weak on this drive, and as a sign of any good defense, was quickly corrected on the ensuing two drives by the probable large amount of decibels from DC James Bettcher.
Latimer’s deep reception near the end of the second quarter was really the offensive highlight of the night for Big Blue. It came out of 21 personnel (2 RBs, 1 TE), where versatile FB Shane Smith was originally lined up in the near slot vs. the Jets’ base defense. Manning, noting the sinking safety to the field that was near the line of scrimmage, adjusted Smith down to block backside and pick up the defender. This set up an adequate deep ball to Cody Latimer, as he made a very good adjustment on the ball after winning his route. You may have noticed part of these clips from my in-game analysis (twitter: tmanic21), but as usual, the more time you have to break a play down, the more details you’ll notice. See below:
Manning’s adjustment allowed for the play-action pass set to go uninterrupted and the blitz picked up, giving him enough time to throw the deep route. Latimer, whose name is relatively new to Giants fans, is a nice addition because of his ability to win 1×1 matchups in lone isolation routes. Having a bona fide threat on either side of the formation is a real headwind to any defensive coverage, especially when 3×1 formations are deployed (as seen later in this game).
Speaking of 3×1 formations, in the second quarter, Manning threw his second-best deep ball of the night. Again, I originally broke down on Twitter in real time Shepard’s great hand move to both time the ball coming in and clear space for the defender who was in great position to make a play on the ball. My co-host on the Big Blue Banter (twitter; @DanSchneierNFL) actually pointed out Manning’s hand signal after the line calls were made. He signals to his head to the right side of the formation, which is in a 3×1 set, just before throwing a slot fade or smash route. Please see below:
Manning probably saw the inside leverage of the defensive backs coupled with the single high look from the deep safety, signaling either Cover 1 man (most probable) or Cover 3 zone (least probable). In either case, Shepard is going to have to beat a defender that cannot collide with him (if man), or a deep third corner that is playing off and will have to match his speed from a stationary starting position (if zone). Although we can’t be 100 percent sure what Manning signaled, either way, this offense has a very simple wrinkle that allows the quarterback to take advantage of pre-snap looks on a frequent basis.
Running Game Issues
Many critics of the offensive line have scoffed at the lack of running production, particularly from veteran Jonathan Stewart. But one of the issues has been the blocks from tight ends that are critical to many of the inside zone flow back runs or duo gap schemes that Shurmur likes to run. Here in duo, receiver Sterling Shepard was motioned in to block the edge defensive back, but he quickly lost his battle and almost fell over. Evan Engram initially had good position on his defender but could not allow RB Gallman enough time to locate the hole. See below:
One of the things that astute Giants fans may have noticed near the top of the screen was the receiver smoke screen run by the opposite two receivers on the offense’s right. This was an RPO look frequently employed by offensive coordinator Mike Shula down in Carolina, one that now Giant Russel Shepard ran often. This play was probably a pre-snap RPO, where Manning could check to the screen if the defensive front or numbers in the box were not in the offense’s favor. The almost full cover down by the nickelback to the inside slot receiver in the offset stack set is not the best setup to run that route, but against a two-high safety look and others, it can be very effective.
Come check back mid-next week for a second teaser for the weekly Giant Tidbits series that will kick off week one vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars.