It was not at all the type of game that the Giants should have been looking to have against a high voltage offensive team like the Cards. Teams like the Cardinals who have an explosive offense and lack luster defense want games that become shootouts, and the last thing the Giants should have allowed was a shootout.
However, this was not the case, and I put no blame on the defense as stopping the Cardinals offense is not an easy task as they average around 380 yards per game and about 28 points per contest, you can only hope to contain them.
The game plan should have been to run the ball, control the clock, and not allow the Cards offense on the field. Kevin Gilbride, offensive coordinator for the Giants, failed at doing so, choosing a shoot out over a show down.
Here are some interesting statistics I found about the game that explain where the Giants went wrong, allowing this game to be a close eight point victory:
1. Giants' time of possession was 30:27 compared to the Cards' 29:23.
Yes the Giants controlled the clock for a mere one minute and 14 seconds more than their opponents. Equal time on the field for both offenses inevitably led to the game becoming a shootout and a high scoring affair.
Either the Giants didn't execute, or the play calling was to blame. In this instance it was the play calling no doubt because the Giants put up big points, but not because of the run, which meant not holding onto the ball and limiting the chances the Cards offense would have.
Throwing more than running usually does not lead to a ball control game, which leads me to my next point...
2. Kevin Gilbride went away from the run.
The Giants ran the ball 25 times compared to 33 passes. This is a fairly balanced game plan, except when you should be trying to control the clock.
The Giants only ran the ball on back to back plays FIVE times out of the 25 runs compared to eleven back to back pass plays throughout the game. The Giants are the best running team in football and in a 60 minute game they managed only to call five back to back running plays.
Very few, if any running backs in football can get going and get a rhythm running that sporadically throughout a game. The number of back to back plays should really be four times though as one of those instances came at the end of the first half when trying to run out the clock and kill the cards timeouts.
3. Ahmad Bradshaw was not used.
Now when Brandon Jacobs is available it is understandable that Bradshaw is limited, but Jacobs was not available and all of a sudden the Giants went from a three back system to a one back system.
Is this odd to anyone else? Let's do the math. You have earth, wind, and fire. An earthquake happens and earth needs to take a break, that leaves you with wind and fire. That is still a two back system!
Bradshaw received four carries throughout the game, his work load practically decreased with Jacobs out and Gilbride failed to give him the chance to create a spark in the running game as usual.
4. Too much passing on first down.
Almost half of the Giants pass plays came on first down (15/33) compared to only eight runs on first down (8/25). However it should really have been 16 passes and seven runs because of the very first play of the game in which there was a penalty setting the Giants back quickly at which point the pass play on first was changed to a run.
This does not bode well when trying to control the clock and leads me to believe Gilbride was content with a shootout, a shootout that the Cards wanted and could have won the game with.
5. Gilbride is somewhat predictable.
Now this may be nit-picking but to say that NFL defenses would not recognize this is simple just not true. I for one believe the Cards knew what was coming in the following situation.
The Giants passed the ball on first down and followed it with a run on second down 10 times in the game. In these pass then run plays on first and second down, the pass was successful setting up seven out of those 10 plays with a second and less than five run situation.
Well, Gilbride ran all seven of those second and short chances.
I have no problem with this except when defenses know that it is coming. Fifty-seven percent of the time the Giants did not convert on these short yardage runs. In short, a successful first down pass setting up second and short, meant a run. The Cards knew it and stopped it more than it succeeded.
You run to set up the pass, that is how the Giants work, but not how they called the game on Sunday, not to mention it seems that the Cards knew when the run was coming after being "set-up" by the pass.
You run to set up the pass so the play action is successful, play action's ability to fake a defense is limited when passing to set up the run.
I want to make this very clear, my disappointment in Gilbride is not because I want a new coordinator to put up more points, gain more yards, etc.
This is about wanting a smarter offensive coordinator who calls a smart game plan even if it means less points, but a more comfortable victory. A coordinator who utilizes all talent on the team, not just that talent when players are hurt or suspended. A coordinator who when running the ball, doesn't randomly go into shotgun on on first down and pass on three straight downs.
It is as though Gilbride out thinks himself sometimes.
To me Kevin Gilbride is like watching Lawrence Tynes kick field goals, always unsure if he is going to kick it properly. Yes, the Giants are 10-1, a high scoring team, and in great shape. It is hard to change something that has been working, but I tend to question whether the play calling is working because of the offensive talent or because of the play calling itself.
I tend to side with the players talents which in turn are masking Gilbride's short comings as an offensive coordinator.
People will say that I should be content, the Giants won the game, and are on cruise control. My response is that there is always another level and you should always be looking to get better, just like Jerry Reese is always looking to improve the personnel.
To me the weakest link is Gilbride and we can get better in that deparment. If you are not looking to improve, other teams eventually catch up to you.
I for one would like to get even better.
Giants over Redskins: 27-17