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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Manning, Jacobs and the Ravens

Ultimatenyg comments in red

Out of Blue, Eli Manning hits a slump (where have we seen this topic before?)

Tuesday, November 11th 2008, 8:50 PM

For 23 remarkable minutes Sunday night, Eli Manning was putting on a quarterback clinic. He had recovered beautifully from his opening-drive interception, which was batted at the line of scrimmage. He was right on the mark on almost every pass after that.

Then, suddenly, it all disappeared. He went from a brilliant, 13-for-17, 143-yard performance in the first 23 minutes against the Eagles to 4-for-14 for 48 yards over the final 37 minutes. Sure, the Giants won, 36-31, but the drop-off in the passing game was pretty dramatic. To be fair, he had a few dropped passes, but it is the "Old Eli" who would not be able to play 4 quarters with the same consistency and urgency.

Still, while Tom Coughlin admitted he'd prefer to see Manning "statistically being a little more proficient," he didn't sound concerned about what appears to be a quarterback slump. Manning may have failed to top 200 passing yards in any of the last five games, but the Giants (8-1) have won four of those. Maybe, just maybe, it is the job of Gilbrown to put Manning in play action for his pass atempts when the run is so effective, and NOT have Manning in shotgun? Ya think?

"We still had a lot of production," Coughlin said. "And we would prefer to have pretty much a mix (of the run and the pass). You'd like to come off the field with an explosive team like Philadelphia and have the ball for 39-plus minutes. That's the way you would want the game to come out. Gilbrown has the best OL in football. This was a game when punching Jacobs was more than adequate. To be fair, it was not Gilbrown's fault that Jacobs decided to do his Olympic hurdles imitation.

"If you could sit and design something where everything was perfect, that would be fine. But it's not going to be that way."

The Giants did hold the ball for 39:10 against the Eagles, and their powerful rushing attack had its fourth 200-yard game of the season (219). Add in a stifling (huh? what DL non-existent pass rush were you watching?) defense that held the dangerous Brian Westbrook to just 59 total yards, and it's clear the Giants don't need big numbers from Manning to win.

The problem is that eventually they will need more from him - maybe even this Sunday when they host the Baltimore Ravens (YES, correct, Ralph... Ray Lewis and company will be waiting to tackle the behemoth and they will not be nearly as charitable as the Eagles), who have the best rushing defense in the NFL (65.4 yards per game). Through the first four games of the season, when Manning was completing 63.6% of his passes (84 for 132) for 1,032 yards with six touchdowns and just one interception, nobody doubted his ability to deliver. But starting with the Giants' lone loss in Cleveland on Oct. 13, Manning's numbers have dipped. (Manning Malaise, ahem.) His completion percentage in those games is at 57.7 (86 for 149) and he has thrown five interceptions to go with his eight touchdown passes. His yardage total in those five is 894, with a high (at Pittsburgh) of just 199.

Is it a slump? Is it a product of playing tougher defenses? Is it just because the Giants are content to rely on the run? And how can the Giants explain his dramatic in-game decline in Philadelphia, which seemed to start the moment Brandon Jacobs lost a second-quarter fumble? Until the Giants pulled in the reins in the fourth quarter and ran on their final 13 plays, they were a perfectly balanced team - 32 runs and 32 passes. (Gilbrown wuz here.)

But after his hot start, Manning went 1-for-5 for just six yards in the final 6-1/2 minutes of the first half, and was 3-for-9 for 42yards in the second half.

"I don't know what exactly the reason would be," Coughlin said. "There are always things as you look at a play you go hindsight. Sometimes there is a balance issue, there is a set issue or whether the quarterback is rushed or whether he just makes an inaccurate throw, or whether the receiver wasn't on the same page with the quarterback and that type of thing, or a Gilbrown in shotgun."

Those issues are part of the reason why the Giants' once-dangerous passing game is now ranked just 16th in the NFL (205.8yards per game). And those are issues Manning needs to work out down the stretch, against a difficult schedule. A powerful defense and running game could carry the Giants to another Super Bowl championship.

But at some point they're going to need their quarterback, too.

This was a fantastic article by Ralph Vacchiano. He nailed it. This Sunday we will need to pass against what Wonder refers to as a suspect group of DBs for the Ravens. Yes, we have to run vs the Ravens to keep them honest. But Manning is going to have to deliver. Hixon and Burress need to stretch the field, because if this team cannot go vertical, that just means the Reed and Lewis poaching will get ever more pronounced. The Giants like to punch, and that can work against an undersized Eagle DL, but against the front 7 of the Ravens, punching with Jacobs will not be as effective as BOXING with a mix of passing, passing deep, running with Ward and running with Jacobs. DO ALL 4, and don't be utterly anal in your attempt to be balanced. Jacobs does not need 20 touches this game for us to win, spread it around, keep this defense off-balance, Lewis knows tendency better than anyone. I may be wrong, but I fear that Jacobs' lack of speed will be a tremendous liability against this run defense.


Mitch said...

A couple of days ago Michael Eisen posted some numbers regarding Eli Manning. Eli has now made 64 starts which is the equivalant of 4 full seasons. There is alot of interesting info. Here is the link if you want to compare him with other QB's today & past Giants QB's etc:


Daniel said...

The Ravens defense is fast and strong. You're absolutely right, Andy, the Giants need to mix everything up. If they do any one thing too often, the Ravens will be able to adjust and stop it. They have the talent to stop all of the Giants weapons individually, but there is not a talented enough defense in the league who can stop all of the Giants weapons at the same time.

Gilbride (that's my nomination for ultimatenyg's official curse-word), needs to keep the Ravens guessing and go back to things that they try earlier in the game even if they failed earlier. The Giants have a bad habit of screwing something up, and never calling that play, or using that player again for the rest of the game. So even if Bradshaw fumbles, bring him back in later in the game - we Bradshawlics really need that.

Mike Kavis said...

Although Manning's numbers are down the overall offense is not. His numbers are a product of a very effective running game. When you run for 200+ every other game you passing numbers will decline. Look at their overall offensive stats and they are 4th in yards, second in points, and second in wins. No worries here. In the Pittsburgh game, Pittsburgh slowed down the running game. Although Eli's stats may not have been impressive, he made some key plays and audibles, especially the 4th down play to Toomer. he has been awesome on third down plays and keeps many drives alive. He does many little things like change the protection at the line. They are 22-5 in the last 7 so his yards passing per game are the least of my worries.

Bob said...

this is a game where Bradshaw could make a BIG difference.

Is killdrive smart & flexible enough to recognize that ?
Will Coughlin let Bradshaw have
the reps ?

Is Bradshaw smart enough to make adjustments to how he holds the ball ?

Or will we keep running Jacobs off tackle, right into the arms of Ray Lewis ?

xtian said...

stats are fun, but the only important stat is winning. with the gmen running so well expect mannings and receivers numbers to be down. that is fine with me. and unless you're a to-cowboy it shouldnt matter to you either.

dberenson said...

This will be a very tough game for Eli to show a real turnaround, what with Ray Lewis & Company. But he'll need to find it at key moments, which he has done all year, even when his overall stats are blah.

BTW, we know he has it in him to turn it on from out of nowhere. Who would have thought after last year's Minnesota game that the Giants had any prospects whatsoever. And after SB42, he has earned our patience.

If we beat Pittsburgh, we can beat this Ravens team. Flacco has been playing much better than Big Ben, but not against defenses as strong as the Giants.

Mitch said...

Going into Sunday’s game, there already is a lot of talk about the Giants' running game and the Ravens’ run defense, and justifiably so, each team is at the top of the NFL in those respective categories.

But I think when the Giants try to attack the Ravens on Sunday, it will be by going over them rather than through them. The Giants’ run game may be a source of pride but they would rather simply win and slamming into the strength of Baltimore’s defense doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Given the choice between hammering away at the Baltimore front seven or trying to take advantage of a secondary that has been playing with injuries, it appears obvious as to which way they should attack.

I would hope we see alot of three and four wides this week, and if we can run the ball even a little, then our play action should be very effective and we might finally see a Plaxico Burress sighting in the end zone for a few.

On Defense, which I haven't seen discussed yet on the blog, I see us confusing a rookie QB and forcing him into some mistakes. If we protect the ball (a big if... considering our play last week) then I don't see how the Ravens could score enough points to beat us.

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