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Thursday, 6 November 2014

Indianapolis 40, New York Giants 24: Three Things We Learned

It’s hard not to think that the Giants are the worst team in the NFC East after their most recent performance against the Colts. They were thoroughly dominated in all facets of the game. Their offense was inept and their defense, although they had some moments, simply could not stop Andrew Luck, who by the third quarter had four touchdowns and over 350 yards. Granted, Prince Amukamara was injured early in the game and might be gone for the rest of the season with a torn biceps.

On a night where Giants fans were exuberant for the Hall of Fame ring ceremony for Michael Strahan, the home side did absolutely nothing to take advantage of a crowd that was revved up during pre-game.

This was not a particularly pretty game. The Colts dominated, but they looked rather pedestrian on offense at times. Andrew Luck completed 54 percent of his passes and misfired on a lot of throws. His offensive line (particularly his center and guards) also blew multiple blitz pickups  (the Giants blitzed Luck 29 times, but he had an amazing 81.6 QBR against pressure. Manning saw 31 pressures and had an awful QBR of 29). But, when pressured, as Luck usual was, he was terrific. Eli Manning, was not.

Here’s ESPN’s breakdown of quarterbacks against the blitz on Monday. 


Times Blitzed

Comp-Att-TD vs Blitz




13-29-0 (95 yards)




17-29-2 (258 yards)


Both teams were terrible on third downs The Giants were three for 13, while the Colts were five for 15. The GMen only averaged 3.6 yards per carry only because Peyton Hillis and Michael Cox combined for three carries and 33 yards. One of the telling plays was Coby Fleener catching a 21 yard pass from Luck where it appeared he did not complete the process of the catch, as the ball was moving as he headed to the ground. The side judge called it a catch but it was surely subject for a review. Tom Coughlin had a hard time getting the challenge flag out of his sock (I kid you not), so consequently, Andrew Luck quick-snapped and threw a beautiful 32 yard touchdown to Fleener. The rest was history. The Giants never recovered.

The Colts had their way not only because they were the better team, but they completely out-coached the lifeless Giants. The only players to show up for the Giants and have meaningful games were Robert Ayers Jr. and Odell Beckham Jr. Ayers was a beast with six quarterback hits on Manning. Unfortunately, he could not get a sack and Luck burned him and the Giants because of that. Beckham, continues to show that he will be an absolute star in the league. He finished with seven catches for 147 yards.

Here are the three things we learned from the Colts-Giants matchup.

1. Ben McAdoo’s play-calling is atrocious

There was much excite for McAdoo coming from a great offense in Green Bay. Having been the quarterback coach for Aaron Rodgers, it was only fair to assume he would ‘fix’ Eli Manning and the sputtering Giants offense. Those aspirations were dumbfounded and have completely disappeared. McAdoo continued to go to the run with very little success, against the Colts, just like he did two weeks ago against Dallas. The Giants had little success running the football and even less on first and second down, where McAdoo often ran useless back-to-back inside runs with the plodding Andre Williams. It meant situations where they consistently had to deal with third and long situations. Manning had a nice statistical game only due to the soft zones the Colts were playing as it was garbage time. The Colts took out most of their defensive starters in the middle of the fourth quarter.  For the first three quarters, there was no rhythm nor continuity with this sputtering offense.

Manning also had a hard time hitting his targets. According to ESPN Stats Inc., Manning overthrew his intended receiver 11 times. Poor accuracy has continued to plague him and today, he was not bailed out by his receiver.

Jon Gruden also alluded many times that the Colts were playing their typical press-man coverage on the Giants receivers. McAdoo rarely called plays with motion or movement for his receivers, nor did he call for any bunch or trips formations, plays that gave the Colts numerous problems last week as Ben Roethlisberger destroyed their passing defense.

He also continued to put Preston Parker into the game, who could not connect whatsoever with Eli Manning dropping passes and running the wrong routes. McAdoo failed to use Larry Donnell properly except for his late touchdown where he was split out wide against , in any one-on-one situations. The Colts have struggled at times against tight ends this season and Donnell should have been used more out wide to create mismatches.

McAdoo and the Giants are privy to enough data to realize that Eli Manning has been awful on deep throws, as he’s only completed four of 26 passes that travel 20 or more yards in the air. That is atrocious and yet, they went 0 for 7 in the game and continued to try and fire deep. Manning has been terrible over the last two seasons on deep throws. Time to stop dialing them up.

McAdoo looks in over his head as a first-year offensive coordinator for the Giants. Eli Manning has not progressed well and the Giants offense has still not clicked consistently. It is starting to look like Aaron Rodgers is the cure to the supposed “mastery” that McAdoo possessed.


2. Vontae Davis has been a top-flight corner this season

Vontae Davis has had his best season as a pro  and should be considered among the best corners in the league. Pro Football Focus has Davis with a quarterback rating against of 37 on passes intended to him.  

NFL Media’s Jeff Darlington tweeted this during the game: “Davis has been targeted 33 times, allowing 15 catches. 45.5 percent of passes caught — that’s 3rd best in NFL.”Those are elite level numbers from a corner who was always on the cusp of becoming a top-flight player, but never has been able to completely put it together until this season.

He is a pure pressing corner who you can leave on an island. With the loss of Robert Mathis, the Colts have relied on Davis to provide the type of coverage that can mask a team not having an elite pass rush. They are also blitzing more this season having They are also blitzing more this season having done so on 39.1% of opponent dropbacks this season.

He was not shadowing one particular player, but any receiver that was on the left side of the formation had their hands full with Davis. Odell Beckham Jr. had the best game of any Giants wide receiver and his big gain of 59 yards and subsequent catches of 11 and 14 yards were against Greg Toler. We saw how badly the Steelers dismantled the Colts pass defense last week as Davis was taken out of the game due to injury. Against the Giants, the Colts proved that their pass defense can be dominant.


3. The Giants are out of the NFC East Race and virtually done from playoff contention

Since 1990, only seven of 135 teams that have started 3-5 ended up making the playoffs. This year, the Giants have already lost games to the Eagles and Cowboys and are 3-5. In contrast, the Eagles are 6-2 and the Cowboys are 6-3.

Barring an epic collapse, the Giants have no chance at winning the NFC East and a Wild Card spot is virtually an impossible task with teams like the Seahawks, Lions and the 2nd place NFC East team vying for two Wildcard spots. They have lost the likes of Victor Cruz, Prince Amukamara and Jon Beason for the season. Players such as Jason Pierre-Paul have not stepped up in areas where the Giants have needed them, most notably in the pass rush.

Their next eight games are: @Seattle, vs. San Francisco, vs. Dallas, @Jacksonville (who can pressure the quarterback), @Tennessee, vs. Washington, @St.Louis, vs.Philadelphia.

At best that is a 5-3 record and they would finish 8-8. Remember how the Cardinals at 11-5 did not make the playoffs last year. There is no way this Giants team is going 8-0 or even 7-1 in the next eight contests.

The Giants have not cleaned up their poor running game and sputtering passing offense and injuries have done them in as well. Looking at the playoffs contenders at this moment, what exactly can pundits say the Giants do well or close to better than any other team? Dallas and Philadelphia run the ball very well. Arizona blitzes the crap out of teams and stop the run like gangbusters. The Lions rush the passer like no tomorrow and the Packers and Seahawks (who they play next week) have elite quarterbacks. The Giants should worry soon about getting more of their young players work as their season is virtually done.



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