I. Props to Dave Diehl

All the talk surrounding the Giants this week has centered around injuries, the horrendous defense, and how good Eli looked. But here’s something important that got lost in the shuffle: Dave Diehl did very well in pass protection in his first regular season appearance at left tackle.

This is no small matter: coming into the year, this was one of the most important questions. And while Sunday night’s game certainly doesn’t give us a definitive answer, it’s at least a pretty good sign.

I went back over the DVR and watched Diehl on each of the game’s 44 pass plays. As far as I could tell (which isn’t that far, considering I don’t know the blocking schemes and couldn’t get such a good handle on the spacing from the standard sideline camera), Diehl did a pretty flawless job on all but five plays. That’s pretty good, especially considering he was going up against DeMarcus Ware on a lot of those plays, one of the league’s quickest pass-rushers.

Here are the blemishes to an otherwise excellent night:

–On two plays, Ware raced around him on a speed-rush and got a piece of Eli, but didn’t knock him down. His throw was affected on one of these two plays;

–At another point, Diehl allowed Ware to make a nice inside move and get close to Eli. This, along with some other mild fuck-ups along the line, forced Eli to slide right in the pocket and not see a wide open Amani on the left side. With his options limited to the right side, Eli tried to squeeze a throw in to Plax, but Plax fell down, and the pass was intercepted by Jacques Reeves;

–On another play, he seemed to get crossed up on an assignment, helping Seubert with a double-team while a blitzing safety ran unblocked from the corner and forced Eli to dump a short pass to Toomer for no-gain;

–And he honored the legacy of his predecessor at left tackle by flinching for a false start.

But the good far outweighed the bad. Against many of Ware’s speed-rushes, Diehl intelligently rode him outside past the pocket. On others, he showed some good awareness of space and angles to compensate for his less-than-ideal quickness. Not once did he get overpowered.

So it was a good first audition for Diehl, who is hopefully on his way toward confirming Jerry Reese’s belief in him. He’ll face a pretty stern test this week against the Packers, who will rotate Cullen Jenkins – who at over 300 pounds, is a run-stuffing stud who can rush the passer as well, notching 6.5 sacks last year – and KGB, who isn’t nearly as quick off the edge as he used to be but can still get after the quarterback and represents a change-of-pace from Jenkins.

 

II. Ward Gets the Nod

Len Pasquarelli reports that Derrick Ward will start at tailback this week. This is obviously no surprise; we all would have been pretty disappointed if Droughns had been named.

Pasquarelli’s a great reporter and an incredibly prolific writer – you can tell by the sheer length of his articles how much he loves what he does. But since nobody else is gonna call him out for this mistake, I’m going to:

“A hard charger with a low-to-the-ground build, Ward lacks Jacobs’ long run ability, but is a physical runner between the tackles.”

Wrong on the last two points. If he’s anything, Ward is a home-run threat – witness his 44 yard-burst last week, twenty yards longer than any play Rueben Droughns had from scrimmage last year. And if he’s not anything, it’s a between-the-tackles runner. He’s quick and fast, but, hard and low to the ground as he may run, lacks tackle-breaking and pile-moving power.

I will continue my plea for the G-Men to realize what a talent they have in Ahmad Bradshaw, and hope they will work him into the rotation as soon as possible. It looks like they’re coming around a bit, as he took some snaps with the first team yesterday.

Bradshaw’s best trait as a runner is his instinctiveness: he’s not, he’s not big, he’s just good. At least he was at Marshall, and I think he will be in the pros.

While re-watching the game, I noticed on one of his kick-returns – the one he took down the right sideline to the 41 – that he deliberately changed his speed to lull a defender asleep before exploding past him. It was really a pretty slick little move and to me, speaks of a quality that is a lot more meaningful than whatever his 40-time is.

Think of running the football like pitching: it’s not how fast you run, but where you run, as well as your ability to prevent defenders from getting good reads on tackles (pitching analogy still applies). If you need an example of this, look no further than Tiki Barber, who told Ben McGrath of The New Yorker that he hardly ever ran full speed while enjoying the best seasons any Giants running back ever has.

 

III. Madison will Replace R.W. in the Starting Lineup

I know people are pretty down on R.W., but let me point out that both egregious touchdowns he allowed were probably not entirely his fault. I’ll refer back to my recap post on this one:

 

–T.O.’s first Touchdown early in the Third Quarter:

To give some context, it’s not as if Dallas wasn’t gonna score on this possession anyway: On their previous three plays, they had put together gains of 14, 21, and 18 yards.

Still, their touchdown was particularly bewildering.

It looked as if R.W. was in press coverage against T.O. on the right side. He bumped him and then ran with him, understandably a couple of strides behind. Only there was no over-the-top help, and T.O. was wide open to catch the touchdown pass.

Press coverage against T.O. with no safety help in sight? It had to be a blown coverage. Either way, the ‘Boys extended their lead to 24-16.

–Sam Hurd’s Touchdown late in the Fourth Quarter:

The coup de grace.

Romo drops back and hits Sam Hurd on an inside dig. Hurd doesn’t break stride as he streaks to the endzone unmolested (strange word, yes).

Who’s fault was this? I don’t know, but it certainly didn’t look like it was R.W.’s fault for getting beaten by a half step on an inside move.

Maybe it was Pierce’s fault – he didn’t get enough depth in his drop zone.

Maybe it was James Butler’s fault – he was nowhere to be found after Hurd caught the ball, and was easily eluded as Hurd took it the distance to bury the G-Men. 45-35, Cowboys.

 

Besides, it’s not as if Madison is so great, or even the least bit competent. On the bright side, at least Webster seemed to be absent from a lot of the ugliness Sunday night.

 

IV. The Short Giants Career of Robert Douglas is Over

He’s been replaced on the roster by some guy named Madison Hedgecock, who was waived by the Rams a couple of days ago. Isn’t Madison a really trendy girls name these days? It’s hard to have much of an opinion on this one.

 

IV. Injury Updates:

Eli: He threw at practice yesterday. It’s gonna be a game-time decision – it’s all about the swelling, along with his strength and range of motion.

Osi: I guess the same goes for him, but it’s looking pretty unlikely that he’ll play. He had some quote about not feeling good about playing if he hasn’t practiced. Time to get on your shit, Mike.

Jacobs: Out 3-5 weeks

Gibril: Apparently something happened with his quad, but he practiced on a limited basis Thursday.

An injury to our only experienced safety is the last thing we need. The only other safeties on the roster are Michael Johnson and Craig Dahl, a rookie 7th rounder and a rookie free agent, respectively. Are we sure cutting Demps, who was having a good camp after a good last few games last year, was the right thing to do?

Tynes: He didn’t kick in practice on Thursday, but he’ll be good to go. By the way, 3-for-3 with a 44-yarder last week? Not bad.

Wilkinson: He’s gonna get some snaps after coming back from a subluxed kneecap (which, in case you didn’t know, is a slight dislocation. I’ve had around seven of these, no exaggeration). Gerris has kind of become a forgotten man, but he’s closer than people think to being counted on as a contributor.

Dockery: He left the Dallas game with an ankle injury that literally hasn’t been reported on since. According to the official injury report, he hasn’t practiced this week.