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Tape Study: Giants 34, Texans 10 -- Too Close (II)

"I guess there's only one thing left to do:  Win the whole ****ing thing." -- Major League

Although the Major League Indians had the slight advantage of being a .500 unit, watching the Texans defense fills me with with many sad emotions, and sad sports emotions always take me back to that quote. 

I'd like to tell you that this is a fairy tale, and that the Texans defense eventually wakes up, slays the dragon, and sacks the princess. I just don't see any way that the pass defense can outperform what it's already done with the players that are on the field right now though. Brian Cushing will help (did help) the pass rush, but barring immediate improvement from Kareem Jackson, the Texans just can't do enough on defense to slow anyone down.

Frank Bush's attempts to rush the passer have actually increased as he's realized how poor his coverage will be. In fact, through five games, he's rushing the quarterback more often than he has in any year so far. The problem is that he can't trade out one bit of vanilla without giving up another. Bring a creative blitz and (in Frank's mind) the secondary has to play off the line, and the resulting quick pass is almost always successful. Behind the jump we have a look at the Texans coverage, try to be a little more optimistic over some successful stunts, and share some defensive charting statistics.

Take The Given. Seriously, take them, I don't want to hear them.

Okay, so everyone remembers the Redskins game, yes? Joey Galloway ravaged the Texans deep and had Donovan McNabb not overthrown his receivers just a few times, we would be a sub-.500 team. The Texans have had 32 balls thrown against them that have gone 20 yards or more in the air. Only four of them were in this game. Why?

Because Bush has become so scared of getting beat deep (okay, of Jackson getting beat deep) that he has cheated the corners back. We've wound up allowing an insane amount of short passes. That sounds great in theory, but because of the depth of the zones we're playing, those short passes are getting gains that make you question why we're worried about getting beat deep if we're just going to let them march right down the field on us. In the past couple of weeks, I've shown you the Zach Miller catches and how Zac Diles had no chance at stopping them, and I've shown you some dumpoff passes to completely uncovered running backs that have given away huge chunks of yards.

Dumpoff passes, which normally come as a result of pressure and are plays where the offense has to give up, are 14/15 so far against the Texans. For 101 yards. I don't want to suggest that giving up 6.7 YPA on dumpoff passes is unheard of, but it's definitely execrable. Look at the numbers on screens and draws and they both show the same thing:  This team is playing so far off the ball that the short game is just going to ride right down the field on them.

Here's a failed blitz. It didn't fail because the blitz was not of quality, and it didn't fail because the players on the blitz didn't get penetration. It failed because of the scheme. 

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If the cornerbacks had been playing up enough to get a bump, or at least slow up the receivers for a bit, the pass rush might have had a chance to get there before this ball goes off. Instead, not only is this a successful short gain, it's a successful long gain.

I'm not saying that Bush has been tasked with an easy solution to this plan. Until Jackson starts playing like an actual NFL corner, he's basically trying to play pass defense with two safeties that can't cover, a bunch of corners who aren't ready to be seeing extensive NFL time, and Glover Quin. I don't think he has enough capable secondary talent to put together a good defense; I do think that he could achieve better results with a game plan that is more aggressive. In short, I think more of this is in order:

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They need to bring the blitzes more often, as they did in the second half, and they need to play up on the line, have a deep safety over Jackson's man, and start gambling. Of those 32 deep passes I mentioned earlier, 16 of them were incomplete. It's a lot harder to pass deep than it is to pass short. And as I don't think there is any hope in sight for the pass defense, I'd rather them try to play boom and bust football (especially against non-Peyton Manning teams) then get consistently steamrolled. That's not very conducive to Bush keeping his job, since everyone wants to kill the defensive coordinator when long gains are allowed, but I really don't see a way around it considering the secondary's play right now.


One way the Texans were able to get pressure was with the help of stunts. In the second half, Bush went to a lot of 3 lineman sets and put some ketchup out there. The result was that despite the defense continually getting shredded on a play-to-play basis, they were able to get some turnovers.  Witness Sherrick McManis's pick: 

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The Giants' offensive line had a lot of problems picking these up. It probably won't be a week-to-week thing, especially since they had so many players out of position, but it was nice to see regardless. Bush does deserve a sliver of credit for changing it up. And it has become apparent that Brian Cushing is going to be a damn important part of our pass rush. Five hurries in one game puts him fourth on the Texans in hurries. For the season. He's played one game.

Defensive Charting Statistics, The Final Frontier (of Sadness):

Completions Allowed/Pass Targets -- Yards After Catch -- Once again, these don't consider complete context. Don't think that because Player X had a better completion percentage against him than Player Y that Player Y is better in coverage. Player Y has his own demons, after all. I heard he wears crocs. These go by the FO-sanctioned definition of coverage:  Look for the person who had the man in coverage, and if you can't tell, pick the closest person. This time, I've added Hole In Zone (our old friend) and Uncovered, Frank Bush's pal.

Kareem Jackson - 27/49 -- 217
Glover Quin 25/38 -- 61
Zac Diles 31/33 -- 116
Brice McCain - 8/18 -- 20
DeMeco Ryans - 10/15 -- 39
Bernard Pollard - 9/13 -- 42
Xavier Adibi - 3/4 -- 22
Eugene Wilson - 1/3 --1
Brian Cushing - 1/2 -- 2
Mario Williams - 0/2 -- 0
Shaun Cody - 1/1 - 5 
Earl Mitchell - 1/1 - 3
Adewale Ogunleye - 0/1 -- 0
Sherrick McManis - 0/1 -- 0

Hole In Zone: 10/12 -- 77
Players "responsible" for zones (if applicable): Bernard Pollard 3, Eugene Wilson, Troy Nolan, DeMeco Ryan, Xavier Adibi, Glover Quin, Zac Diles all with 1. 

Uncovered - 19/21 -- 224

Versus Play Types:

Draw: 22 carries, 115 yards.
Dumpoff pass: 14/15, 101 yards 
End Around: 2 carries, 0 yards.
Pitch: 4 carries, 18 yards
Quick Hitch: 2/2, 1 yard (5 yard penalty on the other)
Quick Slant:: 7/11, 67 yards
RB Screen: 8/9, 108 yards
Shotgun Sweep (Draw play without the tackles moving back): 3 carries, 31 yards
Swing Pass: 1/1, 5 yards
TE Screen: 1/1, 7 yards
WR Screen: 9/9, 63 yards

Rush Percentages (i.e., how many we send at the QB)

Rush 3: 10 (4.3%)
Rush 4: 145 (62.7%)
Rush 5: 67 (29%)
Rush 6: 9 (3.8%)

Pass Pressures:

Mario Williams: 18
Antonio Smith: 14
Amobi Okoye: 10
Brian Cushing: 5
Zac Diles: 4
Earl Mitchell: 3
Jesse Nading: 2
Shaun Cody: 1
Ryan Denney: 1
Tim Jamison: 1
Adewale Ogunleye: 1
Bernard Pollard: 1
DeMeco Ryans: 1
Glover Quin: 1

Missed Tackles:

Zac Diles: 6
Eugene Wilson: 5
Glover Quin: 4
Bernard Pollard: 4
Kareem Jackson: 3
Brice McCain: 3
DeMeco Ryans: 2
Mario Williams: 2
Troy Nolan: 1
Dominique Barber: 1
Amobi Okoye: 1
Shaun Cody: 1
Adewale Ogunleye: 1

Giants vs Texans coverage