This wasn't a game, it was a deconstruction.
Normally when I make one of these posts, I can find two or three main problems in the game and I like to focus on those. There are enough problems on tape this time to take up four posts. The utter (and seemingly out of nowhere) crapulence of Matt Schaub, the fact that the Giants knew our offensive plays so well that they blew them up in the backfield with ease, the offensive line's pass protection falling apart before our eyes, the inability of any non-Brian Cushing player to get a pass rush, the scorching of Kareem Jackson, and the schemes of Frank Bush. If I spent time charting special teams, we'd have another couple of problems to throw on the pile as well.
There are 24 point losses where you can point something good out about your team, that at least they did _____ right, or at least they shut down_____. There was not a single positive in this game. This is easily the worst loss of the Schaub Era, and probably the worst loss of the Kubiak Era. Watching the film filled me with a desire to kick puppies.
Let's start with the offense. We're looking at Schaub, the offensive line, and how the Giants defecated all over the playcalling. Be sure to hit the jump only after you've removed all razor blades, small defenseless creatures, and chemicals that could be mixed to produce hazardous fluids from your personal area.
Stump The Schaub, Featuring Stu Scott's Lazy Eye.
For most of Matt Schaub's Texans career, I've been defending him from people who think he's not an elite QB. He has his poor traits; he does get some passes tipped, he does throw a dumb ball deep to Andre Johnson every once in awhile, and he has had some memorable pick sixes. But for the most part, he's been an elite quarterback.
Yesterday, that was not the case. He looked like he was rushing through his reads and looking for the perfect pass on every play. He looked wide-eyed and perplexed. He looked positively Carr-ian.
The two plays that I feel best exemplify this are the Giants first sack and Schaub's interception to Andre Johnson.
The throw to Johnson was one of the few times that Schaub had good protection all game. The Giants brought an extra man, but the Texans offensive line gave Schaub plenty of room. He was not in any way hurried on this throw. I want to stress that. Now, look at this camera angle:
When Schaub goes deep to Andre on the play-action, he has a tendency to force it into some tight spots at times, and sometimes Andre is triple-covered. Sometimes you get an interception, and sometimes Andre makes a spectacular play. But this...this wasn't even close. You can't get any more un-open than Andre is on this play. It's probably the worst throw he's made in his Texans career.
Now on the sack, he has a pretty clear throw to Owen Daniels. It's not a perfect angle, no, but it's pretty decent sized for an NFL quarterback. But he looks, and stares, and he doesn't take it. Then he is quickly destroyed by Osi Umenyiora:
You just have to throw that ball. There isn't any other way around it. It's not third down, and the yards would be helpful. He just doesn't make the throw.
Now, am I suggesting it's time to push the panic button on Schaub? No. He's had bad games before, though probably not as bad as this. But you can't win an NFL game with our defense and a quarterback performance like Schaub's on Sunday. Quarterback play like that leads me to stop thinking about the question "Playoffs?" and start thinking about the question "Can we win another game this season?"
Rick Dennison...you ARE the father!
Now, while Schaub's play was horrendous, that didn't mean that Rick Dennison couldn't get some things going on Sunday. You have a terrific pair of backs for screens and a defense that is pretty aggressive; screens would seem to be in order. Instead, they threw just two screens in the first half. Instead of Dennison making adjustments, the other team adjusted to him. Take a gander at these two plays:
Here we have a pretty standard Texans run play offtackle. Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell brings a cornerback blitz that the Texans have absolutely no answer for. Dreessen blocks the corner, but because of this, the linebacker gets a clean shot at Foster behind the line of scrimmage since Andre Johnson can't catch up to him. One of the reasons the Texans weren't able to establish the run early is because Chris Canty dominated Chris Myers one-on-one, and Rashad Butler looked clueless as well, but when you get out-coached like this and Schaub is playing the way he is, it leaves you in a lot of third and longs that he can't possibly convert.
On the other hand, this is a demolition of the play-action game. Note how Clint Sintim does not take his eye off Schaub for an instant when the handoff comes. Either the Giants saw something in the tape to exploit, or they coached their linebackers up really well to handle our PA passes. Schaub has no chance on this play and really makes a good play just to be able to get the ball off.
You can survive and score when you're not playing well as an offense if you strategize well, stay on schedule, and attack weaknesses. Dennison did not give them that chance yesterday, or perhaps more accurately, Fewell took it away. The Giants were in perfect position all afternoon (see: all the tipped balls) and from a strategical standpoint, this was Maginot Line bad. No sleep for Dennison this week, I hope.
You can't block computer throws In Mortal Kombat II, either.
One last merciful tidbit: I've always said that cut blocking is a bit of a gamble. Most of the time, it succeeds, and you can get a pile of bodies if you do it right. However, credit to Fewell, he knew exactly how to defeat it and the Giants seemed to really avoid the cuts well. Here's a failed one by Wade Smith:
These showed up time and time again. I don't want to discount the talent of the Giants defensive line, and certainly, they were beating the Texans one-on-one a fair amount of times as well. But you can see that there is no cutback lane here precisely because they'd been coached to avoid the cut blocks.
There's no other way to say this: The Texans did not execute very well, but Fewell-on-Dennison was a Kain v. Cecil in Fabul level ass kicking. I'd like to tell you that adjustments came in the second part of the half, but they really didn't.
Next time, be prepared for the somewhat more expected side of this debacle--the Texans defense versus the Giants offense.