Written by: Glenn Warciski and Paul Burke
Credit Giants head coach Pat Shrumur for making necessary corrections in order to get his Giants on the winning track. A week ago, I was critical about the state of the team and the awful 0-2 start. Yesterday versus the Texans, he had his team prepared and ready to play. Indeed, it showed with an impressive road win over the Texans 27-22.
Shurmur’s first fantastic move: Benching Ereck “Trainwreck” Flowers. I had seen enough of Flower’s inept play. And so did Shurmur. The Giants 2015 first round draft bust would not play versus the Texans. Rejoice. His replacement Chad Wheeler started and finished the game at right tackle. Wheeler, who was responsible for blocking super Texans defensive player J.J. Watt, allowed THREE sacks. For the most part, Wheeler did not have much help and did NOT embarrass himself like Trainwreck.
With the insertion of Wheeler in the starting lineup, the Giants were able to run the football. This was something they could not do in their first two games. So we had an interesting cause and effect. Wheeler in the game engendered a robust rushing attack, ( the Giants gained 114 yards on the ground). This enabled the Giants to score points. They scored the most points 27 thus far this season.
Because the Giants were able to run the football, this allowed our beleaguered 15 year quarterback Eli Manning to flourish. Manning played his best game in a LONG time. Manning 25-29 for 297 yards TWO touchdowns and ZERO interceptions was the Manning Shurmur promised had years left.
As opposed to last week versus Dallas, Shurmur was the one who outcoached his rival Bill O’Brien. The Giants were prepared on both sides of the ball. They scored points on their first 4 drives to take a commanding 20-6 half time lead. On the other side of the ball, the Giants defense limited the Texans to 59 yards rushing. Oh by the way, the Texans were the best rushing team in the NFL coming into this game. Much credit has to be given to Giants NT Snacks Harrison for clogging up the middle. The Texans offensive line could not move him around. This allowed the Giants to make the Texans one-dimensional.
With a smothering run defense, the Texans had to rely on the passing game to move the football. Although Texans quarterback DeShaun Watson threw for 385 yards, the Giants were able to get two crucial turnovers. An interception and fumble recovery snarled Texans drives. In fact, the Giants were PLUS TWO in the turnover differential category. Any time a team wins the turnover battle, more than likely, they will win a game. And the Giants did that.
Giants running back Saqoun Barkley is a dynamic player. Imagine if he had a formidable offensive line blocking for him. On this day, Barkley ran for 82 yards on 17 carries and one rushing touchdown. In addition, he caught 5 balls for 35 yards. A word of caution here. Early in the game, Texans defensive back Kareem Jackson hit Barkley in the knee. He had to come out of the game. Thankfully, he was able to return and have a stellar game. The thing to be concerned about is Shurmur over utilizing him. At this rate, will Barkley hit the proverbial “rookie wall” later this season? We shall see if Shurmur was forced to use him because the Giants season was on the line.
After dominating the first half, the Giants offense did not score until late in the 4th quarter. The Texans were able to get pressure on Eli which stalled drives. On the day, the Texans recorded FOUR sacks, three of those sacks were J.J. Watt getting past Wheeler. Sacks are drive killers. Shurmur can scheme all he wants which he did today. At the end of the day, this offensive line will be their Achilles heel.
As I have been stating, the Giants pass defense is going to be their undoing. If it were not for Texans’ miscues 4 false start penalties which got their offense out of rhythm and the two turnovers, this could have been a different game.
The Giants have to play this type of football: limit their own mistakes, stop the run, establish their ground game and let Eli Manning spread the ball around to multiple receivers.