I apologize for not offering more during the game. I was at the game but typing on an iPhone as the weather got colder was a bit of a challenge. And I was also quite busy screaming at everyone as the game headed south. Man was I worked up today.
I blew it. My confidence heading into this game was apparently terribly misplaced. The Packers were awful. I haven’t seen them play that badly for a long time. A really long time. They just plain didn’t show up and frankly, it’s still hard to believe that they just laid an egg like that.
Let me say this up top here before delving into more detail – the team looked weighed down emotionally. Occasionally guys would try to get the crowd pumped up by waving their arms on the sideline, but most of the times I looked over at our sideline the general emotion level looked flat to me. After a series ended, players were walking off the field – or walking onto the field. I didn’t see much jumping up and down or playoff excitement going on. (The one exception to that of course was Jarrett Bush – and even though he’s always like that, at least he was busy being intense out there.) I am not necessarily accusing the guys of not trying – but I am saying that something seemed to be interfering with their collective emotion out there and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say the tragedy involving Michael Philbin may have been part of that. I also think this may have affected the team’s ability to recover from their mistakes. Yes the mistakes killed us, but great teams (like the Saints yesterday) can usually collect themselves and get back on track. We didn’t do that at all today and it seemed more a mental factor than anything.
Our WRs were not getting open. Rodgers was not good – he looked out of sync the whole game. I’ll get to him later. But our WRs just seemed totally off – almost like they couldn’t adjust to Jennings being back in there. The mix of play calls also seemed really odd. For example, on an important, clear passing 2nd down play Nelson and Jennings both weren’t on the field (Jones and Finley were spread out wide). On a number of occasions, it seemed our WRs ran their primary routes and then just stopped. A huge number of plays today seemed to quickly evolve into broken plays. Usually our WRs are awesome in those instances because they come back for the ball and work to get open. I can’t tell you how many times our WRs just seemed to stop – almost like they were expecting someone else to make a play. It was weird. I’m not sure whether to chalk this up to a lack of effort, confusion or the weather or what. Just don’t know what was going on there. The WRs (and TEs) also dropped some important passes early and it was very clear from watching Rodgers’ body language after the drops that he was pissed – REALLY pissed. In fact on one (that easy Crabtree one I believe) he got more worked up than I’ve seen him get in quite a while. And uncharacteristically, I’m not sure he ever really recovered from that mentally.
Rodgers was not good today. I realize that his stats would have been quite different without the 6 drops or whatever it was – but even with those as completions he was just not in rhythm today. It was windier at the game than TV could really give a person the sense for – and I do think this affected passes. But he missed so badly on some throws that it wasn’t just the wind affecting his passes.
Our defense was bad – and man was I wrong about that before the game. Wow. That first drive by the Giants hurt because they completed some huge 3rd down plays that really dented our defenses’ confidence. Not sure about you guys, but it looked to me that Desmond Bishop was about the only guy ready to play today. Pickett had a couple nice plays as did Burnett, but overall our D was just not there today.
On one play Brad Jones made a bee line for the Giants’ sideline right after the snap – presumably to set himself in some kind of zone. It was one of the oddest things I’ve ever seen. Nobody was over there. He was covering space – taking himself out of the play completely. Kevin Greene talked to him afterward and I believe after another assignment whiff, he was benched in favor of Zombo and eventually Walden. Yes he managed a blocked kick and a sack – but overall Brad Jones just wasn’t the miracle answer to our ROLB problem.
Woodson had several questionable plays – including some uncharacteristically weak tackle attempts.
I have no idea what was going on schematically, but Tramon Williams at times was starting plays nearly 20 yards off the line of scrimmage. On at least 4 of those plays, he gave up quick passes to his guy and in 2 cases – significant yardage. One of those plays ended up being a huge 3rd down conversion. It was almost as though he didn’t know it was 3rd and short. Tramon Williams went from borderline superstar CB last year to borderline liability this year. He was not good today.
Not sure why we didn’t have any defenders taller than 5’10” back defending on that Hail Mary pass. Of course Nicks catches that towering over the guys – especially when only one of our guys jumped.
I don’t think the Giants did anything special today. One of the things I kept telling my dad is that Eli was just taking whatever our defense was giving to him. He played a smart, solid game in that regard – and of course our D gave him plenty. Sadly were it not for what looked like some horrendous calls FOR the Packers, the Giants might have scored 50 points.
Their defense borrowed a page from the Bears’ D – and I think it helps explain why Rodgers struggled like he did. They dropped their safeties often back into coverage (not necessarily deep, just both usually dropped) and generally, it seemed like the passing lanes were clogged back there. When the Bears have slowed Rodgers before, this is just what they do. To the Giants credit, because of this clogging, our WRs couldn’t seem to find any space.
The turnovers obviously killed us. I feel badly for Grant – he was trying to get a few extra yards – but that fumble really hurt.
The coaching today was not good. McCarthy’s mix of plays felt off. He had poor playcalling rhythm and just couldn’t seem to figure stuff out. The onside kick call was even odd. Usually I’m all for such calls – but I thought the timing on that one was particularly odd. One of the things I kept calling for was a play-action deep pass. Rodgers tried a couple play action plays, but didn’t pull the trigger on long passes. And the result of this? The Giants’ D was forcing us to play a shorter field and a shorter field with 2 dropped safeties can be really tough to throw against. Usually one of the keys to our offense is an early deep pass that keeps the defense honest. That didn’t happen today. While Rolle and Grant weren’t necessarily cheating forward today, they weren’t given reason to worry about the deep ball and held about 25-30 yards deep max. I was also disappointed that we didn’t work in a few more screens to counter their aggressive pass rush.
Dom Capers was not good today. In the first quarter, when the Giants were building their momentum, Capers insisted on rushing just 3 – but dropping LBs back into coverage (rather than having a bunch of DBs back there). The result was that we didn’t get any pass rush, of course, and Eli was passing to WRs and TEs who had favorable matchups. He also didn’t make many adjustments out there until the 3rd quarter, which was a bit better for our D. But then it’s like he lost focus or something in the 4th as the Giants put the game out of reach. While Capers certainly didn’t work the miracles this year that he worked last year after a number of injuries, I do feel for him a bit because we very clearly suffer from a lack of defensive talent.
It was interesting – toward the end, I saw Bishop line up more on the outside and he was really disruptive – not sure why they haven’t tried this more before.
Mathews was at times being double and triple teamed. He continued to not do a whole lot out there though, even on plays when he drew one-on-one matchups. He didn’t have a great season this year.
Disappointing end to an exciting season. We have a very interesting offseason ahead of us with lots of situations to figure out (Flynn, Finley, Capers, Moss etc). I just hope that TT focuses some on defense in the draft and in free agency, especially OLBs and safeties, CBs and DEs (everything I guess except DTs).
Just a really odd game. Hats off to the team for a great season and for getting deep into the playoffs (because of the bye), but a terribly disappointing finish.
Happy offseason to you all and as always, thanks for reading.
I disagree that we didn’t have WRs open. We did. We had Jennings wide open twice for TDs, but couldn’t take advantage. Most of the drops were also very open receivers. I also think you are being a bit harsh on the coaching. Capers did rush 3 guys a few times early on, but I think you have to mix it up at times, and Capers definitely has a reputation for bringing a lot of blitzes. I would like to hear McCarthy’s explanation of the first onside kick. I would guess it was maybe something he saw on film, but the Giants were clearly ready for it as none of their front players left early. I think it’s easy to say the play-calling was iffy when the offense struggled, but the main problem on offense was catching and holding onto the football, two things that have nothing to do with play-calling. I agree we need some more talent on defense. Woodson looked old today, maybe his time is near. Secondary has struggled all season, and I think communication is the biggest reason why. Matthews, however, did have a great season. Don’t let the stats fool you. He wasn’t quite as disruptive today as he usually is, but I’m sure the Giants were paying a lot of attention to him. We just need some other playmakers on defense. Thanks for taking the time to write this.
good thoughts dusty. but i was at the game and while the WRs were open on a few of the drops (the Jennings and Crabtree drops among the most costly), many of the plays we called broke down because our WRs simply weren’t getting open. In addition to the drops, I think that was part of the reason Rodgers was so obviously frustrated out there.
Pickett, Bishop, Raji, and even Hawk all had great games. They essentially shut down the Giants run game until the game was out of hand. This group came to play with energy and did their job.
This defense was stellar last year. It is do frustrating to see them take a HUGE step back like this and flush away a good season.The guys on defense that were supposed to generate a pass rush simply did not and that has been the story all season. That exposes some weakness in the secondary and makes it terribly difficult to cover a good group of WR’s especially when you are facing an accurate passer like E. Manning.
Fix this pass rush and you fix this defense. I know they have some issues in the back end but I think that resolves itself with a better pass rush. Job one for Capers and Ted Thompson this offseason will be to find a DE and ROLB that can get after the QB and relieve some pressure from Matthews.
This team is young and talented roster and this was a wasted opportunity to win another championship. With a healthy Rodgers they should be in the post season every year going forward. Sliding those final puzzle pieces into place didn’t happen this year and the organization really needs to examine why that didn’t happen and make some moves to prevent that from happening again.
I recall Tramon Williams playing a lot of bump-at-the-line last season. Lining up at the line and aggressively bumping a receiver off his route, messing us his timing, etc. I know he had an injury early in the season that required him to avoid this approach, but to me he was much less effective this year (I agree with you) and I am perplexed as to why he would continually play so far off the line.
On the play where Rodgers was stripped Jennings was heading toward the endzone and was wide open. Certainly hope they don’t waste the franchise tag on Finley. He may go somewhere else and be a stud but so far, outside of his first few games as a Packer I don’t see a super star.
Wish I couyld figure out why McCarthey called the timeout two play before th hailary. Bet he’d love to have that back. How the defense allowed that long run play the next play baffles me.
Oh well, guess that’s why I watch from the couch. This was a total team loss. Hard to believe a 15-1 team has so many flaws. Rodgers definitely deserves MVP because he carried this team through the first 12 games.
I gotta add my props for the defense. Yeah, they weren’t the same shut-down force they were last year, and giving up that Hail Mary touchdown at the end of the first half was pretty awful.
But in spite of a pretty awful performance, this was a 7-point game going into the 4th quarter. I’m not sure what else you could ask for. The game didn’t really get out of control until that failed 4th down conversion followed by a fumble returned nearly to the goal line.
The only thing you could put on the defense is that the Packers were in desperate need of a turnover or two (or three), and the defense didn’t come through.
Was at a friends house watching the season collapse together. Agree a lot with what Dave in Tuscon says. We thought the D stepped up, especially in third quarter. Our offense’s inability to get no more than 3 points in 3rd quarter was killer. I think we had the ball three times and got only a FG. Rodgers and the recievers were all out of sync. what a shame – waste of a season of several players in their prime. Now I have to suffer through 2 weeks of my wife and daughter watching non-stop Austrailian Open tennis coverage and no Packers programming to fall back on.