Let me start with an admission. This is probably the first 'Kudos & Wet Willies' in Big Blue View history that is being written without my having watched the entire game either live or via the DVR. When LeSean McCoy went 66 yards for a score to make it 40-17 I packed it in. I had seen all I could stomach, and all I needed to see to write this edition of 'K&WW.' I'm not going back and watching any of it again, either.
How bad was it? I actually spent the fourth quarter out in my back yard cleaning up leaves. That was more fun than watching that embarrassment.
After the game Tom Coughlin sounded pretty much the way I felt. He didn't want to watch the carnage, either.
"We didn't tackle well, our secondary didn't tackle well," said Coughlin. "We had created holes in the line of scrimmage, we didn't cover kicks well; we again threw interceptions...that's not the kind of football we teach. We definitely put ourselves in this funk -- whatever you want to call it."
As I promised last night, there will be no 'Kudos' today. After three straight losses, including two games in which they were embarrassingly un-competitive, I can't find a good reason to give out 'Kudos' to anyone.
About the best I will do is exempt a handful of players from the team-wide 'Wet Willies' I am getting ready to hand out.
On offense, I will exempt Kevin Boss, Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Jacobs. The three receivers made some plays when Eli Manning actually remembered to throw the ball to the guys in the white jerseys, and Jacobs ran better than he had all season . Too bad the efforts of those four were pretty much meaningless.
On defense, I will exempt Fred Robbins and Osi Umenyiora. Robbins at least batted down a few passes and recovered a fumble. As for Osi, a sack and a forced fumble. At least it looked like those two guys were trying out there.
To be honest, 'Wet Willies' for everyone else. Players -- and coaches -- included.
There is no way I can hand out these 'Wet Willies' one player at a time. I would be writing for hours -- and you guys are already sickened enough by what you saw Sunday that I know you don't want to read it. So, I will do it in broad strokes.
Slice it any way you want, and I know there is a lot to complain about today. The problems with the Giants start with the defense. Bluntly, they are not a very good defensive football team right now. Maybe they never really were. Maybe they will be later on in the year, maybe they won't. Right now, though, they are terrible.
The 17-yard first-quarter touchdown pass to Eagles' tight end Brett Celek? Right in-between 'Bad, Bad C.C. Brown' and 'Just as Bad Aaron Rouse.' Inexcusable to give up a touchdown on third-and-goal from the 17. We had no idea how much the Giants would miss Kenny Phillips. In fact, on crutches he might be a better cover guy than either of those two buffoons.
The back-breaking 54-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson right before halftime? Webster passed him off to 'Bad, Bad,' who never even got within the same area code as Jackson. Again, horrible.
The Giants missed more tackles Sunday than we are used to seeing them miss in a whole season. Rouse came from Green Bay with the reputation of a guy who played hard but couldn't cover and took bad angles in run support. On the 66-yard run by McCoy he proved the latter part of his rep, running right by the play and whiffing on the tackle.
Rouse wasn't the only guy in the secondary missing tackles. Terrell Thomas missed a bunch of tackles. Webster, Brown, pretty much all the DBs tackled like Deion Sanders most of the day. In other words, like they wanted nothing to do with it.
Pass rush? The Giants front four tried to generate some pressure, but couldn't quite get it done. They tried to be aggressive and blitz, but even that tactic was rarely successful. It only succeeded in exposing the bystanders marauding as defensive backs.
Run defense? Umm, the Giants gave up a 66-yard touchdown run to McCoy and a 41-yard touchdown run to a FULLBACK, Leonard Weaver. Both of those plays were right up the gut.
I have said this before, but the Giants defensive tackles are not getting the job done against the run in the middle. Osi consistently runs himself out of position against the run. And the next big play Antonio Pierce makes will be the first one I can remember in 2009. Pierce is smart, but he has to take a hit when teams keep running the ball right up the middle -- right at him -- and busting off huge plays.
Pierce, though, isn't the only linebacker worthy of a 'Wet Willie.' Did you see any Giants linebackers actually get off a block and make a play Sunday? I didn't. When the linebackers blitzed, they got stoned. When they tried to play run support, they were no help.
Unfortunately, Sunday was not the first time this season we have seen any of those things. Bad defense is becoming a regular occurrence for this team -- which was built around defense.
Manning's numbers (20-of-39, 222 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions) don't begin to tell the story of how bad he was on Sunday. The Eagles dropped at least two easy interceptions. They had another taken away on a penalty. Manning missed open receivers several times. He threw up a couple of prayer passes, as well, where receivers like Nicks and Boss bailed him out.
I love Eli, and I truly believe he is an upper echelon quarterback in the NFL. But, he has been in the league too long and played quite often at too high of a level to make some of the pitiful decisions and poor throws he can occasionally make. And he made a slew of each on Sunday. Way more bad throws than good ones.
Remember last season when he started off so well some pundits were wondering if he had surpassed his brother and become the best Manning? We know he faded at the end. This season Eli again started off great, weak competition or not. The past couple of weeks, though, we have seen the return of the 'Bad Eli.' The one we thought was gone for good.
Of course, it's not all on Eli. The Giants offensive line does not appear to be its old, dominant, self. Manning was only sacked twice, but he was hit a bunch of times and went running for his life a lot more often than we are used to seeing. This line has always blocked the run better than the pass, and if they are going to be playing from behind all the time Eli is going to get hammered.
The Special Teams
Seems like the Giants had a flashback to 2008 Sunday with a complete inability to cover kickoffs. When they briefly threatened to make a game of it at 16-7 with less than two minutes left in the half, the Giants immediately allowed a kickoff return close to midfield. That, of course, emboldened the Eagles and led to Jackson's long TD. Which then led to the Giants feeling pressured on offense and making another mistake that cost them seven more points. So, indirectly, that one kickoff return cost them 14 points.
Domenik Hixon was also a big dud on kick returns. We have screamed from the rooftops for two seasons now for Hixon to be the primary return guy. The last two weeks he has had that opportunity and done nothing with it. Added to the inability to make a big return was his inexplicable drop -- not fumble, drop -- of the second-half kickoff. I should have gone out to clean up leaves right then.
When a team supposedly as good as the Giants plays this ineptly for three consecutive weeks the coaching staff has to take a hit.
I love Coughlin. I think he is a marvelous coach, and he has had a great run with four straight playoff appearances and a Super Bowl title. Twice in three weeks, however, the Giants have fallen behind by huge margins early and gotten blown out. In the other game, at home, they turned the ball over, looked rattled at times and did not play the way we are accustomed to seeing the Giants play. Are the Giants just not very good? Or, are they a good team that is coming into games not ready to play, or without a good plan? If it's the latter -- and it MIGHT be -- that is on the head coach.
It seems I am always defending Kevin Gilbride from criticism for something. Let's just say Gilbride can't throw the ball for Eli. He can't make him choose the right receiver. He can't pick up blitzing linebackers, or chip defensive ends before going out on pass routes. He can't catch the ball. He can't do the physical things it seems the Giants are failing to do.
He can, however, come up with a better plan. At least this week there was an effort to get the ball to Boss. There was an effort to stay with the running game. There were a few play-action passes, though those are useless when you are down by three scores.
There was, however, too much predictability. On the field, FOX sideline reporter Tony Siragusa said repeatedly that it was obvious the Eagles knew when running plays were coming. Time and time again, it was obvious from the reactions of the Philly defensive backs that they could read -- from formation, personnel package or whatever -- what pass routes were coming.
There was also, still, a lot of risky vertical passing. Very little underneath stuff. No movement of the pocket. What happened to three-step drop and get the ball out quick?
Oh, and the excruciatingly slow pace of the Giants offense. When you're down three or four scores how about a no-huddle? Or, at least your quarterback get to the line of scrimmage and get some plays off without using the entire clock.
I will often defend Gilbride because, like him or not, the Giants have had a lot of offensive success during his tenure. Right now, though, his group is not playing efficient football. The offense looks like run a little bit, drop back, chuck the ball down the field and pray. He needs to figure out what is going on, and give his offense a better plan to work with.
Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan will spend much of this week getting killed by fans and questioned by the media. That is what happens when a highly-touted defensive gets torched for 40 or more points twice in three weeks.
I won't kill Sheridan over the 'blitz or don't blitz' thing. He is, quite obviously, caught between a rock and a hard place right now. He was given a team built around a supposedly ferocious front four that would allow him to cover and protect weak spots in the secondary. The front four is, vastly, under-achieving. Can't pressure on its own, is not holding up against the run.
Sheridan has been trying to bring more pressure, but with Michael Boley hurt the Giants do not have athletic linebackers on the field who can shed blocks and make plays. When the blitz doesn't get home, this defense has no chance. The Eagles burned the blitz, which we have all screamed for, repeatedly. The fact that Brown and Rouse couldn't cover me is not Sheridan's fault. It is what he has to work with.
There are plenty of other things I have to put on Sheridan, though. The incredibly poor tackling. The epidemic of missed assignments in the secondary. The constant state of confusion the defense seems to be in, with guys running all over the place not certain how to line up. The fact that the Giants seem to have no clue how to play the run.
Special teams coach Tom Quinn has to take a hit, too. It seems like every week some part of his unit springs a leak. This week the Giants could not cover kickoffs. They couldn't return them, either.
I know I am usually the optimist around here, the guy who always tells you folks to step back from the ledge. I am hardly throwing in the towel on this season, and no one should be up on the ledge. There is too much football yet to be played, too much time to get things right.
No way, however, you can feel good about this team after what we have seen the past three weeks.
As the week progresses, I will share some thoughts on changes I would like to see made. That's about all I can stand for now, though.