Monday, September 14, 2009

Zornies 17 - Elis 23, Very Frustrating

The Giants have already been crowned NFC champs this morning if you read a New York area tabloid, listened to WFAN sports radio, or read any other media based in New York such as The Giants offense was outstanding. Eli is worth every penny. The Giants defense dominated. They are perfect.

Conversely, the Redskins “should have tried harder to land Sanchez or Cutler” (I’m not kidding. That is what some clown on wrote. He must have written it before yesterday’s games. Campbell’s QB rating is in the 90s, Sanchez, who looked good, is in the 80s and Cutler, OMG, is in the 40s). The Redskins did not improve one iota from last year. The Redskins did nothing on defense.

To the victor goes the spoils...

Cold Water
Okay, time for a little cold water on the face. Every statement I make in this regard will be backed by a fact or statistic.

The Redskins offense actually outplayed the Giants offense yesterday. When the Skins offense was on the field, they scored 17 points. When the Giants offense was on the field they scored 16 points.

Once again, Jason Campbell actually outplayed Eli Manning, albeit by a statistically insignificant amount—Campbell’s QB rating for the game was 93.6 and Eli’s was 93.5. (See the QB comparison below to understand the "once again" reference). No real difference in QB rating, but notice Sports Illustrated is not calling for the Giants to sign Jeff Garcia this morning or for a Manning refund on the $90+ million. But, based on yesterday’s performances they want to replace Campbell with a guy who threw four picks and lost.

Clinton Portis ran the ball better than Jacobs. Look at the numbers. But, also look at some key points in the game. The Giants had third-and-two (or less) and fourth-and-two (or less) three times in the game, tried to ram Jacobs down the Redskins throats and failed every time including one when Redskins safety Horton tackle Jacobs for a five-yard loss on fourth-and-one.

The Only Difference
The only difference in the game was this: The Giants defense scored on a turnover and the Redskins defense did not. One play. Osi scored and Hall did not. That’s it. One play out of 111 was the difference between a Redskins victory and a loss. It’s hard to imagine waking up this morning and reading in the tabloids that the Giants were done this year, if they had lost yesterday, but the media has buried the Skins already.

More Observations
A. I cannot stress this one enough: Maybe Jim Zorn needs an offensive coordinator; one who knows how to call a game; one who has done it before.

There is an old adage in football: offenses are supposed to take what the defense gives them. By the middle of the second quarter in yesterday’s game it was apparent what the Giants were willing to give up. They stacked eight guys in the box on most plays and double-covered Moss. The Giants weren’t going to let Portis or Moss beat them. They made the Redskins try to beat them by throwing to someone other than Moss.

Now, here is the kicker: The Redskins were throwing to guys other than Moss and it worked! The Giants left the intermediate routes in the middle of the field wide open. By the end of the second quarter Campbell was 5-for-5 for 83 yards on crossing routes and tight end seam routes that were in the middle of the field, ten- to twenty-yards from the line of scrimmage. Still, Zorn inexplicably insisted on calling a balanced run/pass attack.

But, that only works in theory before the fact. Once the game is underway and your opponent shows you all of his cards, it is time to make an adjustment. Zorn needed to keep throwing to that part of the field until the Giants proved they could stop it. The only way the Giants were going to stop it was by making an adjustment themselves such as by dropping a few linebackers and safeties in coverage. But, that would have opened up some running lanes for Portis.

B. The Giants receivers made some surprising and amazing acrobatic catches that kept drives alive on key third downs. I bet they surprised Giants fans. I’ll bet they surprised themselves. Let’s see them do it for a whole season before we hand them that crown. The odds are not with them. Either Eli is going to have to get a lot more accurate or they will see some important drives stall.

C. Several comments in the media implied that the Redskins yards and scores in the last eighteen minutes of the game were of the “garbage time,” stat-padding variety. That is pure nonsense.

It is garbage time when a team has no chance of winning, not when they are kicking an onside kick with two minutes left and a touch wins (not ties) the game. Believe me, the Giants did not want to have to defend against that onside kick.

It is garbage time when a defense allows an offense to go down field in ten-yard chunks to eat up the last four minutes of a game, let the team score and still win by two TDs. The Redskins, on the other hand, drove 72 yards in 1:42 to get that TD to Cooley and make the onside kick meaningful.

D. There is a very good chance that we are all going to wake up on Monday, October 19, to find the Redskins right in the middle of the NFC East race. They may even be all alone in first place on that date. Their next five games are more than very winnable. These next five weeks will give Zorn a chance to fix his errors. It will give Snyder a chance to hire an offensive coordinator. It will give the veteran players a chance to wrest control of the team from Zorn. They will be able to work out the kinks and still win. Perhaps they will be firing on all cylinders by that date, who knows.

Some of Offensive Coordinator Zorn’s wonderful calls:
1. On the second play from scrimmage, after Portis picked up over thirty yards on the first play, he calls a reverse pass. A trick play early in the game after you just showed you can play smash mouth with the Giants? It was like Mike Tyson apologizing after delivering a hard punch.

2. Deep in Giants territory he called a fake rocket screen to the right sideline and had Campbell spin 180 degrees and deliver a real rocket screen to Moss on the left sideline. Minus two yards later, I wondered about that play. Now, I’m no genius offensive coordinator like Zorn, but it seems to me that after you bring up to the line of scrimmage the linebackers and safeties who bit on the fake screen, perhaps the only thing worse than an actual screen would be a draw play. Is it me?

3. Deep in their own territory Zorn failed to call even one pass play. The Giants were ten in the box at that point, so there was no way running was going to be successful. Three and out and the Skins had to punt from their end zone.

4. But, the real killer was that he kept going to the running game until it was too late; loooong after it was clear the Giants would overstack to prevent it and loooong after it was clear that the Giants could not stop the Redskins intermediate passing attack.

Campbell's Performance
Here are Campbell’s numbers when he threw intermediate passes in the middle of the field:

Attempts: 17
Completions: 14
Yards: 163
Y/A: 9.6
TDs: 1
Ints: 0

Rating: 126.23

All but one of those passes went to ARE and Cooley, and that one was incomplete to Moss. Cooley and ARE had seven catches each.

Maybe Zorn needs an offensive coordinator who is not so offensive to Skins fans. Seriously, he is in over his head and has a lot on his plate. Zorn cost the Redskins yet another win yesterday.


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