With all the talk surrounding Nnamdi Asomugha‘s play Sunday night, we thought we would switch on the coaches tape to see what it revealed. The question being debated: Was Asomugha burned on a couple big plays against the Giants, or was he let down by his safeties?
Let’s zero in on back-to-back strikes from Eli Manning downfield midway through the fourth that set up the go-ahead score for New York.
The first is a 31-yard completion to Ramses Barden along the right sideline. Asomugha lines up right over him in press coverage. Kurt Coleman (in the blue box) is positioned 10 yards back on that side of the hash marks.
The Giants run play action, drawing Coleman closer to the line of scrimmage. Barden makes it past Asomugha’s jam and is off to the races on a fly pattern, staying a stride ahead of the corner. You can see in this next image that Coleman is just starting to reverse his momentum as Manning gets set to deliver the throw.
“But I have to be in a position to be able to help,” said Coleman. “He got me on that one.”
Putting all the information together, it wasn’t a matter of Asomugha looking to hand off coverage on this particular play. Barden got a step on him, the play-action was successful, and Manning nailed the throw. Call it shared responsibility.
The second play is a 41-yard completion to Domenik Hixon over the middle.
This is also a play-action pass. Asomugha seems to offer free release as Hixon makes a move inside and bursts up the seam. Here is the alignment to start:
Coleman said that his first priority was run on this play as well, which helps explain why he was so close to the line. It stands to reason that if Coleman was primarily responsible for the run that Allen would be looking pass. But he got sucked in. Asomugha, meanwhile, seems to be in a trail position, which Andy Reid talked about on Monday.
“He challenged, that’s what he did,” said Reid. “And some of those, when you guys have a chance to look at the tape, you’ll see that when you have help over the top and you are in a trail position, sometimes it looks like you might be getting beat down the field. But there are reasons as you look at it that you’ll see.”
Asomugha was strong overall when he was in. (He missed some snaps with an eye injury). The criticism is mainly coming from these two plays, as far as I can tell. The first play falls partly on him. The second is debatable. Bottom line, he was very sound but not flawless. Few are.