Sidelines Notes

Giants beat the Redskins: Film review notes and observations

In a 40-16 win, there isn’t quite as much to break down, but there are some important things I saw on tape that contributed to the Giants blowout win over the Redskins yesterday:  

• The Giants won this game because they dominated up front, especially on defense. Washington running backs Chris Thompson and Adrian Peterson combined for only 13 carries for 39 yards. Peterson had one 12-yard run, and on his other nine attempts, he had only four yards. The Giants defense knew if they could stop the Redskins first down running attack, they would put the ball in the hands of a quarterback who had been with the Redskins for less than a month. It worked.

• A week after B.J. Hill had three sacks, he played very well versus the run against Peterson. He was strong at the point of attack, penetrated, and was able to separate himself from blocks to get the ball carrier. He had the benefit of playing against a pair of tackles playing out of position at guard, but the rookie continues to show improvement. 

• Once the Giants turned the Redskins into a passing team, it was the beginning of the end. It was easy to see that the Giants were able to anticipate where Mark Sanchez was trying to go with the football. Linebackers, safeties and cornerbacks were in Sanchez’s passing lanes throughout the early part of the game. Curtis Riley’s interception was the result of him anticipating a slant off of a RPO, and Michael Thomas could’ve had an interception of his own in the first half if it wasn’t knocked down at the line of scrimmage. These Giants players are still putting the work in during the week to mentally prepare for these games. 

• When the Giants took away Sanchez’s first option, he didn’t seem to know what to do with the football, which allowed the pass rushers time to get home. Despite five sacks in the first half for the Giants, there were not a ton of overly impressive one on one pass rush moves. Lorenzo Carter won inside on a play. Vernon used his power well against Trent Williams to push him into the backfield, and Josh Mauro powered his way to a sack as well. The group’s overall effort and relentlessness was very impressive.

• The Giants takeaways were once again the key to the team’s success. Riley’s interception was returned for a touchdown. Alec Ogletree snagged a tipped pass for his interception, and that gave the offense the ball on the 10-yard line, leading to another score.

• On the Ogletree play, I was impressed with his ability to carry wide receiver Jamison Crowder down the middle of the field in Cover 2. He didn’t get his hand on the ball but his proximity helped prevent the catch. He was also very good in his run fits against Adrian Peterson.

• The Giants offense did not start the game well at all. It had only two first downs (one of which came on defensive pass interference) on their first three drives, which all led to punts. The Giants then scored 34 unanswered points, started by Riley’s interception return. The Giants never had to sustain prolonged drives for scores thanks to good field position and big plays. 

• Saquon Barkley was untouched on his 78-yard touchdown run. The Giants were in 12 personnel with Rhett Ellison and Evan Engram as the two tight ends. The entire offensive line blocked down to the right, while Sterling Shepard came across the formation behind the offensive line to block to the left. Barkley cut left behind Shepard, who blocked safety D.J. Swearinger in the hole. Ellison got to the second level to seal linebacker Mason Foster inside, and Barkley was off to the races for the touchdown.

• Sterling Shepard is (rightfully) getting credit for his block down the field on Barkley’s 52-yard run later in the second quarter, but the most credit should go to the Giants’ two tight ends. Ellison and Scott Simonson both made excellent plays on the edge to get Barkley past the line of scrimmage virtually untouched. Simonson helped Ellison by chipping on linebacker Pernell McPhee, getting him out of the play. He then gets outside and blocks Swearinger to give Barkley a clear run upfield. Ellison and Simonson have played an underrated but very important role in the upsurge of the Giants running attack. 

• Eli Manning’s numbers in this game were modest but efficient (14-22, 197 yards, 3 TD’s, 0 Int) and he threw some accurate throws into small spaces down the field. He dropped a pass in the bucket to wide receiver Corey Coleman down the left sideline in the face of pressure for a 30-yard gain to the three-yard line. He had a previous deep pass to Coleman earlier in the game that was right on the money, but Coleman couldn’t come up with it. His touchdown pass to wide receiver Bennie Fowler in the end zone was into a very tight space as well. 

• All four of the Giants scoring drives that started in their own territory in the first half had a play of 30 or more yards to help them move the ball down the field. The offense continued to be explosive, even without Odell Beckham Jr. in the game. Give the Giants offense credit for functioning well without Beckham, which is something that they have not been able to do in the past. Manning completed passes to seven different receivers, with Evan Engram leading the way with 77 yards. 

• The Redskins were unable to make this a passing game for the Giants because they stuck with their formula of running the ball and using play action, so they didn’t have to use many straight dropbacks, which would have benefitted the Washington pass rush.

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