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Tape Study

Giants vs. Redskins: Film review notes and observations

The Giants fell for the seventh time in eight games on Sunday against the first place Redskins. Here's what I saw while reviewing the game tape:

• Talking about the offensive performance of this team every week is starting to feel like Groundhog Day. There were too many mistakes at all positions and red zone failures for the team to score enough points to win the football game. In the modern NFL, it is nearly impossible to win when you score only 13 points. 

• Mistakes or poor plays on each of the first half drives prevented points from being scored. The Giants should have had a first down on a 3rd and 6 slant to Bennie Fowler on their first drive, but he inexplicably fell down before the first down marker despite quarterback Eli Manning hitting him with a pass at his waist. The Giants had to punt. 

• On their second drive, the Giants overcame false start and delay of game penalties to convert a 3rd and 17 on a great throw and catch from Eli Manning to Odell Beckham Jr. But on the next play, Saquon Barkley was stopped for no gain on a rush, and Manning was sacked on second down to put the team in a 3rd and 15. They had to punt. 

• The Giants avoided any negative plays on their next drive until they got into the red zone. After a Wayne Gallman one-yard loss on 1st and 10 from the 11-yard line, Manning threw an ill-advised pass to Beckham on a shallow cross that was intercepted by safety D.J. Swearinger, who faked playing man coverage on tight end Evan Engram before coming down on Beckham and beating him to the spot to get the pick. Manning told me after the game that he thought Beckham would be able to cross in front of Swearinger and run by him but that was not the case. Manning admitted the mistake was on him. It was a nice play by Swearinger, who sold he was covering Engram by pushing him inside of five yards.

• On the first play of the Giants' next drive, Sterling Shepard failed to hold onto what would have been a 40-plus-yard potential game-changing play. He had the ball in his hands on a deep post but allowed cornerback Greg Stroman to knock it out late. It's a ball he would tell you that he has to hold onto. The Giants still managed a field goal on the drive but it could have been so much more. 

• The Giants might have missed an opportunity on a 1st and 10 on their first drive of the second half. They ran a play-action pass with max protection from a pair of tight ends. The Redskins rushed just four. If protection would have held up for a couple more seconds and Preston Smith didn't beat Scott Simonson to flush Manning out of the pocket, he might have had a chance to hit Beckham on a double move against Josh Norman near the left sideline. 

• In the second half, the Giants' pass protection had a ton of breakdowns across the offensive line, resulting in negative plays that short-circuited drives. Manning was sacked on a 3rd and 5 on the team's first drive. On their second drive, he was sacked again on a 3rd and 10. He was sacked for an eight-yard loss on 2nd and 10 on their third drive. 

• The fourth drive of the half might have been the turning point of the game. Immediately following an Olivier Vernon 43-yard fumble return, which set the Giants up at the Redskins 39-yard line, Bennie Fowler dropped a pass that would have picked up five yards. On the next play, Beckham caught a pass but ran backwards, turning what could have been a one-yard gain into a two-yard loss. The team managed to get nine yards on a 3rd and 12, but Evan Engram dropped a 4th and 3 pass that would have been a first down. It killed any momentum created by the defense's lone takeaway. On the fifth drive, Manning was sacked for a six-yard loss on a 2nd and 10. It is impossible to sustain drives with those types of negative plays. 

• Manning managed to avoid any sacks on their sixth drive of the half, and with the help of a 46-yard pass interference penalty by cornerback Fabian Moureau on Saquon Barkley, got the ball to the 4-yard line. On first down, they only gained one-yard on a Barkley rush. Manning overthrew Fowler on second down on a fade. On third down, Manning had enough protection to get to his third read, but was a beat slow delivering the ball to Barkley, and Swearinger knocked the ball away. The Giants had to settle for a field goal. 

• In the second half, here were the Giants' third down distances: 5, 10, 18, 12, 16, 3, 19, 10, 4 and 6. Is it any surprise the team could only score 10 second-half points? The Giants are the best team in the NFL on 3rd down conversions of fewer than four yards (79%), but they are the 28th ranked team on third down conversion of 10 yards or more (11%). Other than their red zone issues (40% TD conversion rate, 31st in the league), this is the crux of why they cannot sustain drives and score more points. 

• Credit needs to be given to the Redskins defense as well. For the second straight week, their defensive line disrupted an opposing offense. They didn't have to bring a lot of pressure to do it against the Giants, with four men getting pressure much of the time. It allowed them to dedicate a lot of men to coverage. On a couple of the sacks, Manning had time to make a read or two, but there weren't a lot of receivers open down the field. The Redskins played more zone than they did in past weeks, and the Giants couldn't make plays against it before the rush got home. Even when the Redskins did play man to man, they were able to stick close enough to Giants receivers to disrupt the passing game. 

• All the pundits want to try to find the "one" reason the Giants are struggling, but it isn't that simple. This will be the last week I go through all the offensive possessions, but I did it for a reason. On some drives, it is the quarterback's fault. On others, it is the offensive line. On others, it's dropped passes. There are 11 players on the field and when a team is 1-7 and struggling on offense the way the Giants are, no one escapes blame.

• The Giants defense played well enough to win in this game, but they missed some opportunities to make things easier on the offense. B.J. Goodson and Curtis Riley had chances for interceptions but neither could come up with the necessary play. 

• The defense did make a potential game-altering play in the third quarter when Landon Collins stripped the ball from Adrian Peterson, setting up the 43-yard Vernon return, but the offense couldn't capitalize on it. The Giants defense couldn't sustain the effort in the fourth quarter, however, as it allowed 10 points, which ultimately sealed the game for the Redskins. 

• The backbreaking play that gave the Redskins their final touchdown was the 64-yard touchdown run by Adrian Peterson. There were a number of mistakes by the defense on the play. Kareem Martin crashed down the line, rather than moving outside where the play was going. Tae Davis was a little slow getting over to fill the hole, and Curtis Riley didn't take the best angle to prevent the long run. It was a disappointing end for the defense on a day where they kept the team in the game. 

• Even though the final numbers don't look good (33 rushes, 182 yards for the Redskins), the Giants' rush defense was adequate against Adrian Peterson. Until that 64-yard run, Washington only had 32 rushes for 118 yards, which is well under four yards per carry. Given the Giants defense was without Damon Harrison for the first time, as well as Alec Ogletree, they controlled the Redskins on the ground. B.J. Hill was in the backfield a bunch over the course of the game.

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