Cosell’s Watching the Super Bowl: “As Good a Throw as You’ll Ever See”

From the Desk of Greg Cosell, Greg Cosell, Inside the Game, New England Patriots, New York Giants

NFL Matchup’s Executive Producer shares notes from his review of the Super Bowl XLVI game tape.  Here are Greg’s observations of the Giants offense vs. the Patriots defense. 

  • Patriots opened the game in a 4-3 front: Ninkovich and Broderick played DE, Wilfork was the “3 technique”; Spikes was the MLB and White was the WLB
  • Patriots nickel sub-package featured Moore and Molden on the outside, and Arrington in the slot; McCourty and Chung were the safeties – Edelman did not play 1 snap on defense
  • Giants first 3rd + long (3rd + 6) Manningham was in the slot with Cruz outside: Cruz 8 yds – Patriots played dime with Mayo the only LB and Ihedigbo hybrid S/LB

  • Patriots played 1 snap of 3-4 on the Giants 1st possession: Wilfork played DE, Ninkovich and Anderson were the OLB
  • Nicks 19 yds on 1st possession came out of 3×1 set, Nicks “x iso” one-on-one versus Molden – Patriots singled up Moore on Manningham on the outside on 3 receiver side with no safety help
  • Deaderick sack on 1st + 10 on 1st possession came out of 4-3 “cover 2 trap”
  • Anderson sack to end 1st possession came out of dime sub-package – Patriots played 2 snaps of dime on Giants 1st possession, Both were on 3rd + long (only two 3rd + long plays on the series)
  • Mayo and Spikes both played MLB in the 4-3 front
  • Bradshaw 24 yds on 2nd possession came against 3-4 front, Wilfork was not on the field; 2 back set with FB Hynoski, Designed misdirection to closed side of the formation – Missed tackle by Chung
  • Spikes again flashed as a downhill run defender, A collision player
  • Giants balanced offensive approach in the 1st half, both in terms of personnel and play calling
  • Giants significant utilization of 2 back sets, FB Hynoski played about 30 snaps in the game
  • Nicks 18 yds on 3rd + 6 in the 2nd quarter came with Nicks and Cruz on the same side; Patriots dime sub-package, They doubled Cruz in the slot with Arrington and Chung, Nicks one-on-one versus Molden
  • Patriots played predominantly out of a 2 deep shell, both in base and in the sub-packages
  • Dime was the Patriots featured sub-package on 3rd + long, Ihedigbo predominantly played LB in that personnel package
  • Giants were conservative offensively in the 1st half; A lot of 2 back sets with Hynoski, Not as much 3 WR personnel as I anticipated
  • Giants 1st half play breakdown: 19 called passes, 15 called runs (not including Manning kneel down)
  • Patriots a number of snaps versus Giants 3 WR personnel in which they doubled Cruz out of the slot and singled the WR outside of Cruz, whether it was Nicks or Manningham
  • 4-3 was Patriots predominant front in the 1st half, Only a handful of snaps of 3-4
  • Patriots 3-4 on 1st play of the 2nd half, Wilfork again at DE with Ninkovich and Anderson at OLB
  • Patriots predominantly matched Molden on Nicks and Moore on Manningham when both were aligned outside
  • Patriots played more 3-4 in the 2nd half, Clearly a half time adjustment
  • Ellis, after playing just 3 snaps in the AFC Championship game, was a significant part of the DL rotation; He played about 30 snaps at DE
  • Wilfork played snaps at NT in the 2nd half after playing only DE in the 1st half
  • RT McKenzie had some rough moments in pass protection, Gave up the edge a number of times
  • What always stands out about Manning is his willingness to pull the trigger, to make stick throws into small windows
  • Giants offensive approach was methodical and measured, Pass game was more ball control than aggressive
  • Cruz was clearly the focus of the Patriots pass defense when he was in the slot in 3 WR personnel sets
  • Patriots stayed with dime sub-package in the 2nd half in 3rd + long situations
  • Manningham 38 yds on 1st play of winning TD drive was as good a throw as you’ll ever see, Also great route by Manningham to give Manning room to drop the ball into the bucket
  • Patriots stayed with double on Cruz in the slot on the Giants winning drive, Manningham 16 yds he was aligned outside Cruz and singled on Moore
  • Patriots consecutive snaps of “cover zero blitz” on winning drive: Manningham 2 yds on quick screen, Nicks 14 yds on quick slant versus off coverage Molden
  • Giants ran 71 offensive plays and controlled the ball for more than 37 minutes
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