Patriots 28 – Giants 20: Hits, Misses, & Musings

This is going to be a short one this week, but I still hope you find it to be a good read.

Hits
Justin Pugh:
Take away the false start, his second in as many weeks, and an inside pressure in the second half, and  the Giants look like they have their new starting right tackle.  Pugh matched power with power and did a strong job of protecting the edge, showing good technique in getting his man squared up and not lunging forward, thereby losing his leverage. As a run blocker, he showed good mobility and managed to stay on his feet – all positives. While it was all against backup players, it’s definitely something to build on, and it will be interesting to see how well he holds up against the Cowboys; pass rushers next week.

David Wilson: We all have seen what Wilson can do with his legs, but what has particularly been impressive has been what he’s done when asked to pass block. This week, he had a huge blitz pickup on safety Adrian Wilson on the Giants’ first touchdown drive – I break it down in the film review section. I don’t know exactly what percentage of time Wilson is going to be asked to pass block moving forward, but it was very reassuring to see this smallish back handle a guy who had five inches and about 30 pounds on him.

Josh Brown: Finishing with an 86.6% conversion rate on his field goal kicking, where Brown really stood out was on his kickoffs, with ten of his kickoffs going for touchbacks, and only nine being returned for 225 yards 925.0 avg.).

Misses
Brandon Myers:
Perhaps I’m being a bit too hard on Myers, especially after he recorded three receptions in this week’s game. However, I cannot get past two things in his performance. The first was two false start penalties, which are just inexcusable for a veteran player.

The second is Myers’ continued struggles with blocking. I don’t know what the problem is, but I would suspect that if the coaches can’t trust him to protect the edge, we won’t be seeing many running plays heading to that side of the field, which makes the defense’s guess worth a little easier, especially on running plays.

Bill Belichick: Up by one point  in the game with ten seconds left and possession of the ball, was it really necessary for the Patriots to run up the score?  Was thatone play really going to make a difference in whether Tebow makes the Patriots’ roster?

Nah, methinks someone is still bothered by the fact that his team twice lost to the Giants in the Super Bowl, you know, the games that actually count for something.

Musings
I know the talk will be about why the coaches exposed André Brown and tight end Brandon Myers to injuries late in the game, but here’s another more pressing (to my mind at any rate) that I’m surprised no one other than perhaps Inside Football Senior Analyst Bob Folger and myself are wondering.

Why did the coaches move James Brewer, who will be the starting left guard on opening day, out of that position after about 17 snaps over to left tackle?

Brewer, remember, said he hadn’t played left guard before. So why not let the young man get as many snaps as possible at the position he’s going to play in the regular season so that he gets as comfortable as possible with the spot rather than moving him to a position that, in the regular season, he has little to no chance of playing?

Film Review
There were two things I wanted to study for this week’s film session. The first was David Wilson’s pass block of Patriots safety Adrian Wilson, who was coming in on a blitz, and the second was the Giants’ performance on short yardage.

First, Wilson’s pass block, which came in the first quarter on the Giants’ first play of their touchdown drive, a 37-yard pass completion from Eli Manning to receiver Louis Murphy.

Adrian Wilson is listed as 6-3, 230 lbs.; David Wilson is listed as 5-9, 205 lbs. A size mismatch?

Perhaps, but what David Wilson did to nullify the size advantage was a) correctly identify safety Wilson’s blitz and b) laying enough of his shoulder into the charging safety that was just enough to slow him down and allow Manning to step up into the pocket to complete his pass to Murphy.

Wilson is probably never going to blow the bigger defenders guys out of the water during his blitz pickups, but if he can simply get in their way, to where he’s slowing them down, he’ll get the job done.

Also give credit Wilson for setting his base to where when he collided with the safety, it was the bigger man who was knocked off-balance while Wilson held his ground.

Now let’s look at the third-and-sort situations (3 yards or less). The Giants had three third-and-short situations, converting just one.

The first case was  a third-and-two at their 28. Right tackle Justin Pugh was flagged for a dales start, the result of which turned third-and-short into third and-seven.

The next case came in the second quarter at the 2:00 warning when André Brown went up the middle on a third-and-one from the NE 26 and picked up three yard (this was also the play on which Brown suffered his broken leg when the outer part of his left leg collided with safety Adrian Wilson’s leg.

On this conversion, the Giants had two running backs and one tight end on the field . Although the Patriots started to swarm the hole which Brown was trying to attack, the running back, whose power running is a thing of beauty, kept his legs moving, squared his shoulders, and was able to plow through the congestion, despite the fact that Bear Pascoe, at fullback, blocked on the other side of the line.

Also on this play, tight end Larry Donnell looked as though he dove at his man, who got around him, though this particular defender didn’t really have any bearing on the play as it looked like Brown spotted the breakdown and adjusted accordingly.

The last third-and-short came with 7:51 left in the third quarter, a third-and-one at the Patriots 29.  From what I could gather, guard Brandon Mosley was sliding to his right and made contact with his man, but then for some reason, released him and went to get in on another block in which two of his teammates seemed to already be engaged in holding off the defender.

As a result, the first defender that Mosley tapped on the shoulders went in behind him and was able to cut down Ryan Torain as he tried to but back inside, dropping the running back for a one-yard loss.

The Final Word
There was some outrage that the Giants left key players like running back André Brown and tight end Brandon Myers, in the game  after the rest of the starter left.

We all know what happened. Myers escaped while Brown suffered a broken leg that will reportedly sideline him for 4-6 weeks.

The argument, which on the surface is valid given what happened to Brown, is that leaving the starters out there too long exposed them to injury.

Well guess what? It doesn’t matter how long they were out there or that they were out there at all. Football is a violent sport and injuries are going to happen.

It doesn’t matter if it’s preseason or Week 1 of the regular season. Injuries don’t discriminate. Just ask Henry Hynoski, who needed knee surgery after a freak accident in a non-contact OTA, or Terrell Thomas, whose first of two ACL tears was a result of his leg getting caught in the turf.

If you believe that these freak injuries, such as what I described above and such as the ones suffered this summer by Stevie Brown and André Brown couldn’t have happened in the regular season, then ask Justin Tuck about that – remember how in a regular season game he was injured by Flozell Adams and he wasn’t right for a good two years after that?

Would a regular season injury have made it any better for those of you questioning Coughlin’s deployment of personnel to digest what happened?

My guess is no.

Again, the injury bug doesn’t discriminate. The game is violent and guys are going to get hurt.

If you want to blame anyone for the injuries, blame the people who put the current CBA together, the rules of which have turned offseason practices and training camp sessions into flag football. In my opinion, this has contributed to stunting the players ability to get into true “football shape,” and this is a big reason guys have become more susceptible to pulled muscles, soreness, and other nagging physical ailments.

If you want to lament over the timing of what happened to Stevie Brown and André Brown, don’t. Instead, you might want to consider the fact that two young men entering the prime of their careers and who are in contract years have lost significant negotiating leverage because in a game where the odds of sustaining an injury is very high to begin with, their numbers unfortunately came up.

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