We’ve had series of big wins for the home team in the Thursday night games this season, so this week we turned it around, but sadly only so we got a big win for the away team. My focus for Washington was to be Brian Orakpo and Richard Griffin, but with RG3’s injury, I’ve swapped it to his backup Kirk Cousins who is now the starter. For the Giants I wanted to take a look at Eli Manning and see how he is settling into the new offence, and Antrel Rolle at safety who went to the Pro Bowl last season.
The headline for this game has been the four interceptions for Kirk Cousins and the good day for Eli Manning, there are other things that that need writing, but I might as well start there.
Kirk Cousins didn’t actually play too badly in the first half. I liked the use of play action in the passing game, but the warning signs were already beginning to show themselves. Washington’s first drive ended on sack of Cousins, who fumbled the ball, handing the Giants excellent field position from which they scored. Both sides then failed to get a first down on their next drives, Washington fails to get a first down again, before the Giants and then Washington have touchdown drives. The lone touchdown pass for Cousins to Andre Roberts came off play action and was the last time that Washington were within a touchdown of the Giants. On the next series, Cousins lofted a deep pass that led Niles Paul into a pair of receivers and a concussion. The drive ended when he completed a pass to Logan Paulsen, who then fumbled the ball. As I said, I liked the play action passes and Cousins looked good completing to his backs and tight ends, but there were some inaccurate throws mixed in.
The meltdown came in the second half trying to get his team back in the game, but the interceptions were not good passes. Having successfully led his team to a touchdown on their first drive, Cousins threw his first interception on the next one. His receiver was not open, but what made it worse was that Cousins placed his throw to the inside of Ryan Grant, giving a simple interception to corner Prince Amukamara. He might have gotten away with this, when on the following Giant’s drive a diving Brandon Meriwether jarred the ball lose in the end zone, that popped up for an interception, but on the second play of the ensuing drive, Cousins overthrew Pierre Garcon and safety Quintin Demps made a nice play to get across from his deep position and make the interception. With good field position, Eli Manning wasted no time in getting a touchdown in four plays. On the following drive Washington fails to get a first down, but then so does the Giants. However, again on the second play of the drive, Cousins drops back with three receivers to his right, hits his back foot and throws the ball into zone coverage, and directly to Mathias Kiwanuka. This again gives Eli Manning a short field and he wastes no time in scoring another touchdown. However, on the next drive Cousins throws his final interception, when he can’t step into his throw as left guard Josh LeRibeus gets knocked over resulting in Giants pressure, an underthrown ball, and an interception to Antrel Rolle. This was a horrible half of football, and whilst it is far too early to write him off, Washington and Cousins can’t afford to have too many more performances like this.
So whilst Kirk Cousins had a nightmare, Eli Manning had four touchdown passes, a touchdown run and three hundred yards passing. He looked in control of the offence, settling into the new system, and making good use of tight end Larry Donnell who looked really good as he caught three touchdown passes. There’s no doubt that Eli benefitted from good field position, and there were a few more three and out drives than the Giant’s would have liked, but he definitely looks like he could thrive in the new offence, and talk of his demise has been a bit premature.
The other thing that helped Eli Manning look so good was a well ranked defence that I was not that impressed with in this game. The secondary seemed soft in coverage all day, and there were a lot of diving attempts at tackles without wrapping up. I was pretty disappointed with Brian Orakpo, who managed no sacks, very little pressure and only two tackles. He seemed to be completely controlled by Will Beatty, and whilst I don’t know if this was just a bad day, he’ll need to do a lot better if he’s to get the big contract he will want next season.
On defence for the Giants, Antrel Rolle looked good without standing out to me. On the interception, I wonder whether if Cousins was able to step into the throw, DeSean Jackson was not past Rolle and gone for a big play. I also saw him miss a tackle when Alfred Morris stepped round him and he was flat out run on a pass play by Roy Helu, but he was round the play and I could very well be nit picking. I need to spend more time watching safeties to be sure.
In conclusion, this was a very solid win for the Giants and casts more question about Washington than just the play of Kirk Cousins. I said the Giants were improving when I picked against them, but they were definitely better than I expected and I am now worried about how Washington are going to be going forward. For now, only time will tell.