DENVER -- The Giants are running the wrong plays on the ground.
There, I said it. I’ve been hearing rumblings of that for a while now. All season, in fact. But I was reluctant to give them that out. It’s about blocking it up and running hard. That’s what gets you big yardage.
But after watching this team Thursday night and looking over the game again Friday morning, I’m convinced a major problem is they’re trying to go too wide and not straight ahead. Running backs coach Jerald Ingram said a lot of issues for Brandon Jacobs early in the season were the play calls to the outside that had him stopping and starting. Well, they’re still making those calls and they don’t have Derrick Ward around to run them. Plus, this offensive line would like to start knocking people off the ball more often instead of these finesse runs.
The worst one, to me, was after a 13-yard completion on their second offensive play of the second half. It was their longest play of the game at that point and it had come off an interception by Terrell Thomas that finally had them feeling good. So what did they do? They ran Jacobs wide on a stretch play with a lead blocker that went for a loss of 2 yards. Three plays later, Jacobs lost 3 yards on a run wide to the left side.
Starting with their next game against the Cowboys, the Giants need to start being more physical and straight ahead in the running game. They need to get after their opposing fronts. Now. And start being more effective in the running game. Now. To set up their passing game. Now.
And I’m not the only one who feels that way. Trust me.
Broncos WR Brandon Marshall. A couple of fingertip one-handed catches and suddenly it’s time to hug the rookie running back and slap hands with the coach. Brandon, you’re a terrific player -- when your head is screwed on right.
Denver RB Knowshon Moreno. We’ve had a chance to see Eagles RB LeSean McCoy and Cards RB Beanie Wells this year and both of those guys have been impressive. But Moreno’s in another world compared to those guys. Elusive but powerful and terrific vision. That spin move on DT Rocky Bernard and DE Mathias Kiwanuka was one of the best moves by a back I’ve seen in a while. (Though that doesn’t excuse the missed tackles.)
Broncos LB D.J. Williams. No weaknesses in his game. More thoughts on him sprinkled throughout down low.
S Brian Dawkins. He was an absolute game changer last night. He was terrific in run support and all over the field. Safe to say the Eagles appear to have cut the cord on him a little too soon. Having said that, see the bottom section for another thought on Dawkins.
Broncos fans. That stadium was rocking last night. The press box was shaking. Very impressive, especially since their team was on a four-game losing streak. I didn’t get the sense those fans were doubting their team.
Broncos defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. Some guys are better suited as coordinators, not head coaches. Thursday night, the Broncos’ defensive scheme and execution were both superb. Denver just looked to be on step ahead of the Giants. One of my favorite calls was when they brought heavy pressure on a third down late in the first quarter but dropped two LBs out into coverage (I said LBs, not DEs folks) to take away the quick throws they knew Manning would make with the pressure coming. Williams darted right for WR Mario Manningham to undercut the slant on the right side and that’s exactly what Manning was looking to complete. Great call, great play.
Denver K Matt Prater. Five touchbacks and kicks returned to the 16 and the 20. When an opposing offense is struggling and then has to deal with field position like that, a kicker really makes his coach happy.
Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride. You asked for it, you got it. My biggest beef? What I wrote up top about the running game.
Coach Tom Coughlin. The “road warriors” are now on a three-game losing streak away from home. Oh, and after a loss like that, Tom, nobody wants to hear how good your team meetings were. Nobody.
Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan. The defense gave up points on four of the Broncos’ first five drives. Dating back to the Falcons’ scoring on all four drives in the second half, that made eight of nine drives that ended in points for the opponent. Other issues remain the same: DEs dropping into coverage, no personality, swagger or confidence and guessing wrong.
QB Eli Manning. I knew it was a bad sign when, on the first play of the game, Manning rolled right and threw for WR Hakeem Nicks on the short out, completely overlooking WR Steve Smith wide open on the deeper out. A few minutes later Mike Mayock broke down the play on NFL.com and made the point that, when you roll out and you’re not under pressure, you have to read from “high to low” and Manning definitely did not do it on that play. I also realized it was a bad sign when Manning threw behind Smith and nearly got picked off and then panicked and threw off his back foot on third down when he wasn’t under pressure in the least bit.
S C.C. Brown. I can’t be entirely positive about this because I don’t have the coverage call, but based on what I saw, it looked like the Giants were playing man coverage on a trips formation to the left side on the Broncos’ last TD. That means Brown, who was inside, should have taken the first player to emerge inside. That didn’t happen, as he instead rode with TE Tony Scheffler to the outside, leaving WR Brandon Stokley wide open over the middle. (And to boot, he got called for holding Scheffler.) Earlier, Brown also made the one mistake you can’t make on an NFL field: he hesitated. It was on a fourth-and-5 in the second quarter when he had RB Correll Buckhalter should he release out of the backfield. When Buckhalter stayed in to block, that freed up Brown to blitz. He started to come but stopped and then started again. Too late. Broncos QB Kyle Orton had already thrown the ball to Scheffler for a gain of 21. If he had just darted into the backfield, he would have had pressure or maybe a sack that could have given the ball back to the Giants instead of allowing Denver to go up 6-0.
RB DJ Ware. That fumble was a k!ller because the Giants might have been getting something going there.
CB Corey Webster. Just like this whole team, I thought he had snapped out of it last week. But like this whole team, he regressed again. He’s got to bounce back because the Giants will need him to play well against Dallas.
LB Michael Boley. He couldn’t get off a block.
Anybody who missed a tackle. Kiwanuka, Bernard, Chase Blackburn, Barry Cofield, Thomas, et al. I pinned the blame on Sheridan, but frankly, those guys and more were in position to make stops in the backfield and didn’t do it.