After averaging nearly 30 points per game through their first 12 contests, the profilic New York Football Giants offense has produced a mere 22 points in the last two games. Two of those points came on a safety, so the offense has contributed a mere ten points per game in their last two efforts.
The explanation is simple: the best Giants are not on the field. Sunday night, the offense badly missed Plaxico Burress, Brandon Jacobs and in the second half, linemen Rich Seubert and Kareem McKenzie.
At running back, the dropoff from Brandon Jacobs to Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw makes the team less physically imposing. No back in the league finishes runs the way Jacobs does and few backs are as hard to bring down after contact. Jacobs ability to fight for extra yards creates much more favorable play-calling decisions on subsequent downs. On a 2nd and 5 for example, the Giants play action pass game will be much more potent (and deceptive) than after an ineffectual first down play. Eli Manning excels with the playfake. Also, the playfake, which primarily targets the opposing linebackers, is particularly effective in freeing a tight end, who is usually covered by linebackers. Ask Kevin Boss about this, he's caught just two passes, total, in the last two games.
Plaxico Burress was the Giants deep threat and his absence creates a nasty domino effect in coverage schemes. Against a team like the Cowboys, Terrence Newman would have covered Burress, who would have caught his fair share of balls. That would created nice matchups on the other side for Dominik Hixon, Amani Toomer and Steve Smith. Without Burress to suck up the opponent's best corner, and with the linebackers freed from the threat of Jacobs, Hixon, Toomer and Smith have been unable to get open regularly. Surprising? Hardly. As a baseball scout might ask, where are the plus tools among that group?
It appeared to me that whoever the Cowboys lined up across from Kevin Boothe, who was subbing for Kareem McKenzie, won the matchup. Moreover, the Giants had to put Kevin Boss in the area to help out, limiting their play-calling options even further.
On defense, once teams double-team Justin Tuck, as the Cowboys did Sunday night, who else is going to step up and bring the pressure?
Also, I recommend http://www.giantsfootballblog.com/ for non-stop G-men coverage.