New York Giants: Dissecting the First-Team Defense Against Jacksonville

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistAugust 15, 2012

Aug 10, 2012; Jacksonville FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Mike Thomas (80) runs for yardage after a reception as New York Giants defensive back Antrel Rolle (26) attempts to make the tackle during the first quarter at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE
Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE

The New York Giants didn't exactly get off to a sparkling start to the preseason on defense.

The G-men let the Jacksonville Jaguars march down the field on a 13-play scoring drive during the first quarter Friday night in Jacksonville. And as painful as it'll be for some Giants fans, I would like to take this opportunity to conduct a review of the tape from that series. 

You've been warned.


Play No. 1: 1st-and-10 from the Jacksonville 11-yard line. Nothing fancy for the first snap of the preseason. New York is in a base defense with man coverage against an I-formation. 

And it was a good start for the Giants, with Justin Tuck easily beating Cameron Bradfield inside and forcing Blaine Gabbert to rush his throw. Incomplete pass and a hit on the quarterback, and New York's defense looks to be picking up where it left off.

Play No. 2: 2nd-and-10 from the Jacksonville 11-yard line. With Gabbert under center and a single back, the Giants show blitz on the strong side.

Hand-off to Rashad Jennings and the Giants' defensive front is taken care of well by the Jags' offensive line. There's an opening for Jennings.

He actually found another hole left of where I expected him to take it, but it's a five-yard gain nonetheless. Remember that the Giants don't have Chris Canty up front.


Play No. 3: 3rd-and-5 from the Jacksonville 16-yard line. A fairly obvious passing down, especially with no Maurice Jones-Drew for the Jags. This is where that Big Blue pass-rush is supposed to shine. Man coverage with no cushion and two safeties deep. But a spread formation from the Jags means this will probably be a quick play.

The line again holds up against only a four-man rush, but the Giants' coverage is good on first glance.

Credit Gabbert for stepping up into the pocket with poise and delivering a pass right on the money to Laurent Robinson, who will step into this picture on a comeback route in a split-second to make the catch against Corey Webster. First down, Jaguars.

Play No. 4: 1st-and-10 from the Jacksonville 23-yard line. Jacksonville motions to the strong side to completely shift the balance that way.

They run to the weak side with Jennings, but the Giants appear to have good penetration from Jason Pierre-Paul and Linval Joseph. 


Bradfield does a good job on Pierre-Paul and Jennings beats the New York defense to the edge, gaining 17 yards. We didn't get a good look here from the broadcast, but the Giants' D simply looked slow, and Jennings looked fast.


Play No. 5: 1st-and-10 from the Jacksonville 40-yard line. Jennings takes a toss and has plenty of options as Prince Amukamara gets dominated by Greg Jones. 

Here we are a second-and-a-half later and Jennings has moved nine yards. Amukamara is still being pushed by Jones, and the rest of the Giants' defense has caught up to wrestle him down.

Play No. 6: 2nd-and-6 from the Jacksonville 44-yard line. The Jags bring it in tight.


Gabbert again has a decent amount of time. He hasn't been pressured since that first play, and he won't be here. The problem is that the coverage is good and he doesn't think to check down to Jennings as he breaks into the right flat.

Lucky for the Giants, because he instead tries to go over the middle to Robinson. 

Good job from Linval Joseph, getting a hand on it.

Play No. 7: 3rd-and-6 from the Jacksonville 44-yard line. Another fairly obvious passing down and a chance for that defensive line to do its thing. Base D but with the corners backed off a bit compared to last time. Empty backfield for Gabbert. I expect this to go New York's way.

But the Giants never have a chance because Mike Thomas makes easy work of Antrel Rolle. Gabbert needs less than two seconds to deliver a pass with comfort.

Another first down, and Gabbert still hasn't been touched since that first play.


Play No. 8: 1st-and-10 from the New York 44-yard line. The Giants bring in an extra defensive back.

Jennings goes nowhere on a draw. The Giants' front seven does a good job of plugging holes.

Play No. 9: 2nd-and-7 from the New York 41-yard line. Back into the base defense. The Jags line up with three in the backfield. 


Gabbert takes the pass-rush out of the equation again by going straight to Cecil Shorts on a quick slant.

But it's broken up by Corey Webster. Well played.

Play No. 10: 3rd-and-7 from the New York 41-yard line. Another third-and-long. The G-men stack the box and show blitz with Gabbert in shotgun.

The blitz comes but is picked up well. Gabbert has time to recognize Thomas in single coverage with Amukamara on the left sideline.

See how well protected the pocket is...

And now watch Amukamara get beat badly...

And a second later...

It would result in a 29-yard gain. See what happens to the Giants when they aren't getting pressure up front?


Play No. 11: 1st-and-10 from the New York 12-yard line.The Jags bring everyone in again.

And the Jacksonville offensive line wins another battle. Nice opening for Jennings.


That would result in a seven-yard gain.


Play No. 12: 2nd-and-3 on the New York 5-yard line. Base defense. Jags have just one wide receiver split out to the right. 

Jennings again has an opening, but this time Mathias Kiwanuka is there to collide with him at the three-yard line. 

Play No. 13: 3rd-and-1 on the New York 3-yard line. The Giants have already been beaten on all three third-downs this series. They can survive a long, painful drive with a stop here.


Gabbert is looking left from the outset, right at Amukamara and Cecil Shorts.

He throws to the spot before Shorts has even begun to beat Amukamara.

And yet, one second later...

Touchdown. And one of the worst offensive teams in the league makes easy work of a Giants defense that lacks electricity to start the first game of the preseason.


I was surprised to see a mediocre Jaguars line get the better of the New York pass-rush. Gabbert threw seven passes on that series and was touched only once. As a result, a rusty Amukamara was exposed. He has to get better, but the defensive line will have to bring more heat.

Of course, now, they're lacking some serious depth up front, but the three key pass-rushers are healthy and Linval Joseph is a solid player. Joseph looked decent Friday night and Tuck got pressure on that first play, but we didn't see much from Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul.

We also didn't see much from the linebacking corps. They didn't make any mistakes, but the first unit also failed to make any big plays. 

And most importantly, the Giants allowed the Jaguars to convert all four of their third downs, which is obviously unacceptable.

We're talking about one series in one preseason game, so there's no reason to panic. But I'm showing/telling you what I saw. I liked that this unit came out on the next possession and forced a turnover on the first play, but I definitely want to see more fire from the entire group Saturday night against the Jets.

Oh, and for those who say this is another indication that I'm a Giant hater, I'll have you know that I went after the Eagles pretty aggressively in this same space Tuesday.


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