February 4, 2012


Smarter Stats: Super Bowl Edition -- Giants' offense vs. Patriots' defense (Doug Farrar,  Shutdown Corner)

Eli Manning has been one of the best quarterbacks in the league with three-receiver sets through the 2011 season, but he wasn't successful at all out of that formation against the Patriots -- per Football Outsiders' game-charting, Manning threw 22 passes with three receivers on the field and competed just eight for 109 yards. Victor Cruz (Manning's not-so-secret slot weapon) was the targeted receiver on seven of those passes, and he caught two for 30 yards. That's interesting, because the Giants ran more plays out of three-wide than any team in the NFL, and the Patriots were at their worst defensively against that formation, per ESPN Stats & Info.

The Giants were scrambling because Nicks was out of the game, but it's the Patriots who will be scrambling if they don't run more defensive sets with extra DBs this time around. In the first half of Week 9, the Pats put five or six defensive backs on the field nine time when Manning threw a pass. Manning completed just three of those passes for 24 yards. The Pats didn't go nickel or dime at all in the second half, but they had a fairly decent reason. They lost two of their most important defensive players -- linebacker Brandon Spikes and safety Patrick Chung -- during that game.

Those injuries really affected New England's defense. Before he was hurt, Chung was often tasked to hover about 8-15 yards off the line at the hash and beat the crap out of any seam receiver who came into that area, which limited Manning's options to underrated tight end Jake Ballard. Spikes was part of a linebacker corps that was responsible not only for dealing with New York's inside rushing attack, but also for reading run and helping to compensate when their cornerbacks (especially Devin McCourty) bit on play action -- and McCourty did that a lot

Posted by at February 4, 2012 9:37 PM

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