Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

15 Sep 2017

Word of Muth: First Impressions

by Ben Muth

The Giants suffered a thorough and decisive loss at the hands of the Cowboys in prime time this past Sunday. Their defense did some positive things, but the main takeaway for most viewers was that the New York offense was absolutely terrible. They didn't block very well, they got poor quarterback play, no one seemed to ever be open, and I'm not sure if I saw a single running back make someone miss. I wouldn't be surprised if the training staff messed up the mix for the Gatorade. It was that kind of night.

We're not here to talk about everything that went wrong with New York's offense, though. (Thank God, because I don't get paid by the word.) We're here to talk about the five guys up front for the Giants. And if we're going to talk about what went wrong, we need to start with Bobby Hart (68) at right tackle.

Take this screen play. As one of the guys staying in on a screen, you basically have to just get your ass kicked, but not too much. You want to let your man beat you upfield so he's out of the play, but you just can't let him do it too quickly. It's a pretty easy block and this is not how it's done.

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First, it's just really soft. But technically where he gets into trouble is with his outside foot. Look at how it just dies and he just rolls over it. That's someone playing with no balance out there. I don't know what else to say about that, except you can't let your outside leg die and you can't get your ass kicked that bad.

As bad as that last play was, this next one was actually worse from a technique standpoint.

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Good God in Heaven, he screws up like three things in his first two steps. It's actually impressive. First, he false steps with his outside foot. If you're running outside zone away, you should never ever step with your outside foot first. Then, when he does get around to stepping play-side, he steps underneath himself. So after taking two steps, he has somehow moved in the opposite direction from where he was trying to go. He is further away from making a block than if he had just stayed in his stance.

And finally, he ends the play with an absolute textbook case of a coffee table cut. On a good cut, you put your helmet on a defender's thigh board and drive your legs until you just can't stay up anymore. On a crappy cut, you drop to all fours and hope the defender trips over you like you're a coffee table in the middle of the night. This play is an absolute dumpster fire of technique.

Hart also struggled in pass protection. He got beat for a couple of hurries because he got his hands knocked down, and he and right guard John Jerry gave up a couple of sacks on defensive line twists. The right side line of the Giants line was really bad on Sunday, and it's something that will have to get better going forward.

On the bright side, the left side of the line played alright (at least in the passing game). At left guard I thought Justin Pugh played the best of any Giants offensive lineman, and probably better than any of their skill guys too. He didn't give up a lot of pressure and generally blocked his man in the running game.

I also thought Ereck Flowers played OK. Now a lot of that was low expectations, and some of it was not being Bobby Hart, but Flowers looked like a starting offensive tackle last Sunday. Not a great one, but certainly not the disaster I've heard about. Still, he did get beat on a sack on what was probably the most costly play of the game for New York's offense.

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This was on a second-and-goal from the 4 on the Giants' first possession of the second half. For Flowers (74) here, it's all hands. Look at how low and wide he's carrying them in his set. That makes his punch too slow to land, so the defensive end times it up and swipes his hands away. Flowers played alright, but you won't change the narrative on yourself if you give up a sack on what turns out to be the biggest play of the game (although even if Flowers had blocked his guy, there's a good chance the right side of the line would have given up one on the twist again anyways).

One last thing before we go. I saw an interview where Justin Pugh said that the Cowboys gave the Giants some looks they weren't expecting, and I buy that. The Cowboys showed a lot of late movement on running downs or formations that seemed to bother New York, including shifting both defensive tackles to the strong side and dropping a linebacker down.

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That's a tough look to run into. All three New York offensive linemen on the play side are covered up, so none of them can double anyone. It's tough to win three one-on-one blocks at the point of attack on the same play. Here, Weston Richburg (70) gives up too much quick penetration at center and forces an immediate cut back.

I still think the play could have gone for OK yards with some better running by the back -- I really like what Pugh (67) did here, for instance. But that is for another column to judge. I wasn't really impressed by anything the Giants' skill guys did all night. This was a total failure as an offensive unit, as three-point efforts usually are. It's not the way you want to start your season, but it's just one game. There's still plenty of time to turn it around.

Posted by: Ben Muth on 15 Sep 2017

6 comments, Last at 01 Oct 2017, 1:49pm by wiilaim11

Comments

1
by theslothook :: Fri, 09/15/2017 - 1:50pm

Hmmm, give lots of credit to Marinelli. For a guy who clearly knows how to coach defense, its hard to believe he was the head coach of an 0-16 team that was one of the worst defenses in living memory. Maybe like Wade, being a head coach means you can't devote most of your time to the side of the ball you know best.

2
by Will Allen :: Sat, 09/16/2017 - 8:21am

Marinelli is terrific. Never judge anybody by what happened while associated with Matt Millen, GM.

4
by ChrisS :: Mon, 09/18/2017 - 1:51pm

There should be a law that Matt Millen can't be an announcer for any game involving a team from Michigan. He was color on the U of M game so I had to watch without any sound on. No, I am not still bitter.

3
by Will Allen :: Sat, 09/16/2017 - 8:26am

You'll get a lot less criticism for your awful, hideous, blocking when you do it as a late round draft pick, than you get for merely below average, or sometimes even average blocking, as a 1st round draft pick. The cash that comes with being a 1st rounder makes up for it, however.

5
by garion333 :: Wed, 09/20/2017 - 10:35am

LTTP, but I dig the sped up gifs.

In the second Bobby Hart gif, did he false start? Sure looks like he twitched.

Good news for the Giants! Bobby Hart lasted two plays this past week. They moved Pugh to RT. I can't imagine he was great there, but probably better than Hart.

6
by wiilaim11 :: Sun, 10/01/2017 - 1:49pm