A few thoughts from the Giants 22-16 win over the Chicago Bears.
- Landon Collins is a playmaker- I’ve said it again and again- I still think there’s room for improvement overall- but he keeps making plays. He’s improved weekly this season and we’ve seen his growth in how often he steps up during the game. He just seems to be in the right place at the right time. Cutler slipped making that pass and Collins just happened to turn before the receiver did to be able to come back to that ball. He’s playing himself into a leadership role on this team my guess is that when this season is done we will probably be talking about his impact.
- Tale of two halves- The Giants came out listless in a game many had cautioned was a trap game for the Giants. After all a 2-7 team against a 6-3 team with 4 straight wins and trending up seems like a mismatch on paper but Giants fans like myself were prepared for the let down game and the report before the game didn’t really put me at ease by Kim Jones. She reported that this was the loosest Giants team she had ever seen since she started covering the team in 2001. Out came Cutler throwing fastballs to his receivers and Jordan Howard patiently picking apart the Giants defensive line to a tune of 88 yards. And every Giants fan could be heard groaning with the “here we freaking go”. The second half however, the Giants came out motivated, and eager to change the script. The defensive line shut down the Bears running attack and made them one dimensional and as he has proven throughout his career, when the game is in the hands of Jay Cutler, he oftentimes throws him and his team out of a game. A very resilient response by a team that can’t afford to take halves off against any team in the NFL and hopefully this game proved educational for the Big Blue.
- Prevent Offense- The first two drives of the second half resulted in touchdowns as the Giants scored in 3:56 and 3:15 and then went 5 consecutive punts with 4 of the 5 being 3 and outs and the only non 3 and out lasting all of 5 plays. The Giants inability to run the ball with any consistency is going to be a major problem as the weather gets far worse and the schedule begins getting worse. You need a solid run game in the Northeast playing through the elements. Every remaining game will be played in less than ideal temperatures. In those situations you can’t keep losing the time of possession battle and expect to come out with wins. Its a situation worth keeping an eye on.
- Missed PAT’s- As of this writing there are 10 missed PAT’s and its officially made one of the more boring aspects of football a bit more unpredictable. This counts as the ONLY rule change during Goodell’s tenure that would count as something for the betterment of the game. The game expected up to 50mph winds which lead to three missed PAT’s and two missed FG’s. It may have played into how McAdoo called the game especially on that second 4th down call where it was on the Bears 33. Again- with weather conditions worsening its going to be interesting to see if the Giants can’t trust their run game OR their FG kicker it may make the Giants overly reliant on the passing game.
- 4th down play calling- It bears repeating every week. Most analytically leaning writers will tell you the value in going for it on 4th and less than 5 in opponent’s territory but its shocking how many coaches play so safe. And make no mistake that having been in the organization two years prior allows McAdoo to operate from a perspective that allows him to know what he can trust his QB to convert and what he can’t. A first year head coach may not be as bold. But McAdoo has exhibited a level of trust that shows that he won’t give up on possessions as easily as most conservative head coaches will. Reminds you that sometimes football coaches are able to listen to reason and not all be Jeff Fisher’s.
- JPP is playing himself into a big contract- At this point, Vernon’s contract may be what JPP’s side is aiming for, but if he keeps playing the way he has the last few weeks, it may be the starting point. JPP is getting push at the point and he’s got some of that burst back. Good for him. He’s also playing the run extremely well.
- Speaking of Olivier Vernon- There’s a man who’s living up to what many felt was a ludicrous contract (me included). More than the sack numbers he’s played the run extremely consistent and now the sack numbers are coming. He’s getting better and that’s coinciding with JPP playing better along with the rest of the line getting better and Landon Collins. Its amazing what happens when the unit comes together. The Spags element shouldn’t be lost here either. Many (me included) had begun to lose faith in Spags and fell into the convenient “he had three great pass rushers- of course his defense was going to play well” theory but the entire unit has benefited from being in the system for over a year.
- Turning Point of the Game- Landon Collins’ interception is the easy call here. But here’s a close second- 4th and 2 on the Chicago 17 in the first quarter after Chicago marched down the field and scored a touchdown fairly easily. Many people have unfairly suggested that Coughlin would have lost these games this year if he were still coaching. I don’t think its that simple. I think McAdoo just strikes a different chord and after 12 seasons Coughlin’s voice just started to get old in a locker room that was different from the one he won Super Bowls with. Collins interception iced the game and once again saved the offense by shutting the Bears down in the second half. They legitemately were an elite defense in hte second half. Again, they are winning the games good teams win- its those five after next week that they have to worry about.
- Looking ahead to the winless Browns- I’ll say it again. Trap games exist. This could be huge given the result of this Thursday’s Turkey Bowl between the Cowboys and Skins. The Giants either have the opportunity to gain some ground on the Cowboys or put some distance between them and the Skins which will be huge later in the season when the Giants meet the Skins in the Nation’s Capital.
- The Top 10-
A. Cowboys- Have earned this. Huge moment with Romo’s press conference putting to rest any speculation for the rest of the season. Aside from injury or a string of games of poor play Dak will be the QB for the Cowboys.
B. Patriots- Brady being a realistic MVP candidate without playing the first four games is a tribute to the machine in Foxboro.
C. Seahawks- Wilson clearly will be limited moving forward which compromises how great this team can be but this defense still balls the heck out and will need to continue to dominate.
D. Raiders- They have a young fearless QB and a fearless coach and those guys are always the most dangerous teams.
E. Giants- Yes- a five game winning streak vaults you into Top 5 status. And the only difference between the Giants and the Dolphins is I trust Eli and Odell more than Ryan Tannehill and Jay Ajayi.
F. Dolphins- They looked dead 6 weeks ago. Now they are second in the division and trending upward with an out of nowhere dominant run game.
G. Chiefs- Similarly I trust the Chiefs QB Alex Smith more than the Broncos Trevor Seimian. Getting a guy like Justin Houston back is huge for a team that will need him over the next four weeks. Big stretch coming.
H. Broncos- the defending Super Bowl champions can wrest control over the division but can Trevor Seimian actually do that? We’re about to find out Sunday.
I. Falcons- They’re still Matt Ryan and Julio Jones but this year Ryan has been comfortable operating Kyle Shanahan’s offense and it shows.
J. Redskins- Their offensive line is playing well and keeping them in all the games but their real skill has been Cousins’ efficiency and not having a true number one receiver. He doesn’t have to force the ball into a player in a critical situation. Don’t underestimate that.