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Sidelines Notes

Giants fall in Philly: Film review notes and observations

As I went through the Giants/Eagles tape, it was harder than usual to lock down exactly what went wrong for the Giants in the second half. It wasn’t as simple as play selection, penalties or execution. As usual, it was a combination. Here’s what I saw.

• Not counting the final three plays of the game for the Giants when they were in desperation mode, down three with only 16 seconds and no timeouts remaining, the Giants ran only 19 second half plays. 19! They only possessed the ball for 10:17 in the third and fourth quarters. The Eagles, on the other hand, ran 39 plays and held the ball for 19:43 in the second half. Why?

• The easy answer is third down conversions. The Giants were 4 of 6 on third downs in the first half when they possessed the ball for 17 minutes. In the second half, they were just 1 of 6 (1 for 5 if you discount the final third down of the game). The distances had something to do with the disparity. The first half third down yardage for the Giants offense (9, 3, 7, 8, 15, 6) was more manageable than the second half (18, 18, 10, 8, 4, 6), but it wasn’t enough to explain it all away. The Giants actually converted 3 of 7 third downs of eight yards or more, but they did it far better in the first half. Let’s dig deeper.

• The Giants actually committed a lot more penalties in the first half than the second (the Giants only had one accepted offensive penalty in the second half: a five-yard false start on their first three second half drives that went 11 plays for -7 yards), so I’ll throw that away for the time being. How about balance? Taking out the final three passes in the game, the Giants ran it seven times, and dropped back to pass twelve times. It was nearly an IDENTICAL balance to the 19-11 pass-run balance in the first half (removing the two-minute possession). Let’s dig deeper. 

• The Giants’ aforementioned first three drives of the second half that resulted in three punts are a big part of what cost them the game. On the first drive, the Giants ran it for three yards on the first play. On the second, they ran a play action pass with max protection, but the three players that went out on routes were not open and Manning had to take a sack. On 3rd and 18, the team ran it, which led to a punt. Odell Beckham Jr. was not on the field here because of hydration issues.  

• Their second drive (Saquon Barkley was given a rest) started with two successful Wayne Gallman runs for 12 yards. Nate Solder committed the false start on the next play. Corey Coleman then dropped a perfect slant pass from Eli Manning that would have gone for a first down. Gallman ran for a three-yard loss on 2nd and 15, (there was also an offensive hold on Jamon Brown that was declined) setting up a 3rd and 18 that resulted in a punt. On the first two possessions of the half, it is hard to have an issue with the run/pass balance or play calling. Execution was the problem.

• The third drive started with a deep shot to Odell Beckham Jr. down the sideline that wasn’t open against Cover 3 zone. The second play was a RPO where Manning chose to throw it to Shepard on a slant instead of hand it off to Barkley. There was contact between Shepard and the cornerback but no flag was thrown. On third down, Manning was sacked and the Giants were three and out for the second time in the half. 

• On those three drives, there was one accepted penalty, a drop, two sacks, one negative run and Barkley touched the ball only twice (one of which came on a 3rd and 18 run). There was plenty of blame to go around for that stretch, which is where the game was ultimately lost.

• The Giants defense had their own struggles in the final three quarters. The Eagles scored on five of their final seven possessions (discounting their first half kneel down after the Manning interception), and didn’t turn it over or have one three-and-out the entire game. Going into the game, however, I would have thought allowing only 341 yards and 25 points would have given the Giants a good chance to win the game.

• The Giants rush defense really struggled in the fourth quarter. On their touchdown scoring drive, the Eagles ran it five straight times to get from the Giants 38-yard line into the end zone. They then ran it a sixth time to convert a two-point try. The Giants run fits were poor, especially from the back seven of the defense. 

• On the Eagles’ final drive of the game, the Giants had an opportunity at 4th and 1 to get off the field. The Eagles threw the ball against the Giants’ zone coverage. Nelson Agholor settled in the middle of the field, and Carson Wentz drew Alec Ogletree, the underneath linebacker, out of the area on a crossing route to get Agholor so wide open. The pass set up the Eagles’ game-winning field goal. 

• The Giants did have three sacks in the game, with two coming on possessions that ended in punts. Pressure on the quarterback makes a difference, and the Giants are still far too inconsistent in creating it. 

• A few other broad observations about the offense. Saquon Barkley’s two long runs (26 and 51 yards) came because of his spectacular ability to keep running after contact. Defenders were in position to get him to the ground, but he was too elusive. 

• The Giants offensive line took a bit of a step back this week in pass protection. The Eagles were getting more consistent pressure in the second half, and there was a lot of penetration in the backfield on both run and pass plays. 

• The officials threw a lot of flags near the line of scrimmage, but let both teams play in the defensive backfield. The Giants had three passes over the middle (one each to Shepard, Barkley and Beckham) where there was a lot of contact but no flag was thrown. Penalties on any of the three could have extended drives that could have resulted in more points.

• Pat Shurmur’s decision to go for two in the first quarter was the right one once the ball was moved to the one-yard line. The Giants assumed the Eagles would expect a run, so Manning used play action. Malcolm Jenkins made a great play leaving Rhett Ellison open to close on Elijah Penny and breaking up Manning’s pass.

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