Monday, November 9, 2009

The Pass Rush

Had a bunch of people on conference calls today as the Giants begin their self-analysis of their fall to 5-4. Among the subjects discussed was the pass rush and how effective it was.

In particular, Tom Coughlin said that of the nine pass plays called in the Chargers' final drive, four were pressured. Of course, none of the pressure resulted in a much-needed sack, or even a premature pass. But Coughlin said he was happy with the mix of pressure and coverage.

"You're gonna play coverage, you're gonna pressure, you're gonna mix it up," Coughlin said. "You're trying not to just get a pattern. Now, if you had success and you got to the quarterback and made a disruption, that might have been another thought. But that wasn't the case."

We'll give Coughlin the benefit of the doubt here, but it seems to me that four pressured snaps out of nine in a situation where one needs to prevent the opposition from marching 80 yards to a touchdown is not sufficient. Not only that, but there was no blitz on the final play, the 18-yard touchdown toss where Corey Webster was caught on an island with Vincent Jackson, as safety Michael Johnson was frozen by another receiver coming down the middle of the field.

There was also an issue with the decision to drop Justin Tuck into coverage several times, which turned into valuable yards for San Diego. Osi Umenyiora took mild issue with Bill Sheridan's decision to go with the zone blitz, and understandably so. Defensive linemen would certainly want to pass rush rather than cover. And taking out the Giants' best pass rusher to cover one of the top tight ends in the league in Antonio Gates seemed hardly worth the risk to many onlookers.

"Obviously, we'd want to limit that," Umenyiora said. "We definitely want to limit that. I remember a couple years ago in the Pro Bowl, the offensive coach from Carolina said anytime you see a premier pass rusher drop into coverage, you're doing the offense a favor. But you still have to do it if necessary."

Of course, that's all incidental stuff. The Giants would have won despite everything had they stopped the last two plays, both of which were huge mess-ups an call and execution. The first, the 21-yard pass to Darren Sproles over an open middle, was unpressured and, obviously, uncovered. And the second, Philip Rivers' 18-yard touchdown throw to Vincent Jackson, came on two-deep coverage on which Johnson should have been helping over the top.

"Those last two plays were plays I don't even want to remember," Coughlin said. "I don't want to see them in my mind."



  1. Teams are clearly exploiting the Giants DB's. Even Corey Webster is getting beat. I hope Aaron Ross can help when he comes back, but nothing's going to hide their Safeties. Losing Kenny Phillips was a bigger blow than any other this year. The suddenly average pass rush isn't helping things.

    I also have my doubts about Bill Sheridan. His play-calling doesn't seem to be as aggressive or as creative as Spagnuola's... I hope he grows in the second half of the season.

  2. Ernie,

    Is there a stat that follows the percentage of blitzes that result in a QB hit/pressure/sack? I would love to see one as I surmise the NYG would have another scary number to match their red zone woes.