It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. We went from unbeatable to almost unable to win. The team comes of out the preseason and pulls off a highly improbably victory against the reigning Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots and followed it up beating the now 8-1 Philadelphia Eagles. We continued to reel off victories over the next three games, then basically hit the wall of losses. Games we should have won, we found a way to lose.
Something changed over the course of these nine games. We are at the point in the season where we can lock in the playoffs or slide back into the pack. I am sure we all feel the same way about getting the team back on track, so we don’t need to debate that point.
I have speculated in other articles on the coaching staff changing up what was working or Andy Reid playing the season like a game, coasting into the finish. I still think there is some truth in this. Rather than continue with what was working until someone stops it, I think they decided to fake out the opposition. If that really is the case, it isn’t working.
Whatever is really going on, I think we are at a point in the season where we show who we really are. It is a watershed game at the bye week watershed date. We are coming off the bye and heading into a game against the 1-8 New York Giants. This is a team we should definitely be able to beat.
It makes me wonder if we are going to dominate that game in all three phases or find a way to lose the game. I really don’t have a sense of which way we are going to play this week. I do, however, have a couple ideas on things we need to do this week to come out victorious.
So, without further ado, here are my “3 Keys to Victory.”
Actually, one more bit of ado. I am assuming the team can make their way to the stadium without getting hurt and Andy Reid doesn’t get sidetracked by an all-you-can-eat cheeseburger bar.
Key # 1 – Fast and Furious Offense
We need the play calling and execution to go back to the type we ran in the early games. Pre-snap motion from the speedsters. Stretch the field with the wideouts. Run the multi-option run/pass plays. Alex Smith has been in this offense and the league long enough to know what to do so… call the plays.
In addition to the play calling, the players need to execute. We can’t be dropping balls, running bad routes, not opening holes in the line, or turning over the ball. Making the key plays will extend drives and keep the ball out of the hands of the opposition, thus controlling the clock.
Another wrinkle we can throw in is the hurry up offense. I don’t think we need to be in it at all times, but we should be situationally aware and go into that mode in certain circumstances. This method of play keeps the opposing team off balance and guessing. Creating confusion on defense is the point with this, so mix it up.
Key # 2 – Best Defense is a Good Offense
In this case, I don’t mean our offense… I mean we need to go on the attack. Bend don’t break, has been breaking. I don’t know if we are overcompensating for Eric Berry being out, DJ looking slow, Dee Ford’s injury or something else. We have employed a cautious defense frequently and one where we seem to be doing what the offense doesn’t expect. By trying to fake out the competition, I think we are just playing our weakness against them.
We need to stop dropping Justin Houston into coverage and turn him loose on the quarterback. Send in Hali on the opposite side on passing downs and Zombo on others. With Houston rushing the QB, we need our DBs to cover for about 3-4 seconds. Sounds simple, but that probably seems like a long time between the whistles. To help the DBs manage that time, I would suggest pressing the receivers at the line.
I believe our defense was better when it attacked more. It can be riskier, but I think the overall results were better. We seemed to get more turnovers, more stops on drives, and more wins.
Key # 3 – Return of the Mack…
(and by Mack, I mean the rock to the end zone)
Our special teams need to return the ball better. To me that means staying in the end zone on kickoffs we aren’t setup to return properly. It also means better punt returns. We need the team to block better and the returners to use their speed properly.
When we return a ball, we need to go right at the coverage and not sideline to sideline. Going sideline to sideline negates our speed advantage. When the returners go straight ahead, with minimal cuts, we create a very fast closing speed. That means the coverage has nanoseconds to make the tackle or give up a TD.
It is also time to finally make another play where we take the ball to the house. If Dave Toub can dial up the right play, we can put a “free 7” on the board. That is demoralizing to the opposing team and creates pressure on the next 4th down. We start seeing team kick away from the returner or going for it on 4th down. Those play to our advantage also.
While we could look at this game as an easy win, I would suggest we consider the proverbial trap game. An opponent we should beat is dangerous. They don’t really have anything to lose and will feel free to try anything against us. If we aren’t careful, we lose this game big.
So, I think we need to come in with the intent of playing all out the whole game. No underestimating the Giants. No keeping the playbook closed. No holding back on the big play. Let it all rip. Play like this is the Super Bowl.
If we can dominate this game from start to finish and in all three phases, we can get back on track. Anything less and the questions remain.
So, which team do you think we field? What gameplay do we employ? Do we leave the Meadowlands with a W or L? Let me know.
Until next week, there’s The Rub!
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