For the second time this season, I can't think of a single New York Giants player worthy of 'Kudos' following an embarrassing loss.
Not a single player, or coach, deserves praise after a humiliating performance on what should have been a tremendous occasion. The final regular-season game for the team at Giants Stadium, with several legendary players on the sideline, and a playoff berth at stake.
Instead, the Giants turned in a monumentally embarrassing performance. I can't call it "effort," because there wasn't much of that. Greats in attendance like Lawrence Taylor, Carl Banks and Joe Morris have to be ashamed of what they witnessed.
That was about as far from what we have come to consider Giants football -- especially defensively -- as you can get.
As I did earlier this season, I will 'exempt' a handful of players and coaches from the 'Wet Willies.' That is as close as I will get to saying anything nice about anyone today.
Wet Willie 'Exemptions' ...
OFFENSE: I will exempt Eli Manning, Ahmad Bradshaw, Steve Smith and Kevin Gilbride. Manning did what he could while being sacked four times, taking a beating, and getting pretty much no help from anyone else offensively. Bradshaw at least made a few plays, and Smith had a typical effort. Gilbride was brilliant on the first drive, and there wasn't much he was going to do the rest of the way to change the outcome. There are no play calls that magically erase 31-point deficits after three quarters.
DEFENSE: I will exempt Justin Tuck. I thought about exempting a couple of other defensive players, but they all need to share in the blame for Sunday's disastrous non-effort. Tuck had eight tackles, a half-sack and was one of the few players who showed real energy throughout the game.
Wet Willies ...
In fact, I might even call these doube-barreled Wet Willies. Particularly defensively, there should not be a single Giant who feels good about what he did Sunday.
- Bill Sheridan: Where to begin with this? Sheridan probably gets a seasonal achievement 'Wet Willie,' for coordinating quite possibly the most disappointing Giants defense since the 'Wilderness Years' of the 1970s. Much of what happened Sunday is on players simply getting beat -- blown off the line of scrimmage, missing easy tackles, losing coverage, etc. But, this is Sheridan's unit and this is the fourth time the Giants have given up more than 40 points this season. Defense was supposed to lead this team, and in a way it has. It has led this team straight into a train wreck, and Sheridan has to get a large chunk of the blame. How could he think having Kevin Dockery -- a corner back the Giants have spent the season trying not to play -- shadow Carolina's Steve Smith would work? I know the ineptitude of this defense is not entirely Sheridan's fault, but he has to shoulder his share of the blame. Injuries hurt this team, and the talent isn't what we thought, but it should be better than this. Bye, bye, Bill. Have fun working on Steve Spagnuolo's staff in St. Louis next season.
Osi Umenyiora: Osi had lots to say after Sunday's game. As far as I'm concerned the stat sheet -- which Osi does not appear on -- says even more. He believes he is a great defensive end, which he used to be. Now, though, he is a liability. He might just get his wish and be an ex-Giant next season.
Fred Robbins and Rocky Bernard: Good riddance to both of 'em. Aging defensive tackles who have spent the season being dominated inside. Chris Canty has often been in that category this season, as well. At least Sunday, Canty made four tackles, had a half-sack and got in the backfield a couple of times.
Brandon Jacobs: Six carries for one yard? One stinkin' yard? I love the big fella, but it sure would have been nice to see him do something Sunday besides run up to the line of scrimmage and fall down as soon as he got touched. If the Giants wanted to see that, they could bring back Ron Dayne. Can the Giants go forward with Jacobs as their featured back? I need to think about that one more when I'm not as aggravated as I am right now.
Kevin Dockery, Terrell Thomas and Michael Johnson: It wasn't fair to ask Dockery to try and cover Steve Smith. After all, the Giants have admitted Dockery is terrible by barely playing him all season. But, it sure would be nice if Dockery didn't whiff on so many tackles. Watch him play, and you see why he hardly ever does. As for Thomas, not a good day when Muhsin Muhammed is running by you for touchdowns. Johnson is a guy I used to have high hopes for, but I no longer think he is a starting caliber NFL safety. Too many missed tackles, and his pass defense is atrocious.
The rest of the defense (excluding Tuck): Tom Coughlin expressed his displeasure with the defense this way.
"For us to play the way we did today, there is obviously no excuse for it. We didn’t tackle well. We didn’t play with great energy. We didn’t do anything to deserve any kind of break at all. We didn’t get it. We didn’t hustle. We didn’t get any turnovers. How many times did a very good runner break through some arm tackles today?"
Here, from the Giants PR staff, are some numbers on how awful the defense was Sunday.
Carolina played without leading rusher DeAngelo Williams but still ran for 247 yards, the most yards on the ground the Giants ever allowed in Giants Stadium. The previous high was 242 in a strike-replacement game vs. San Francisco on Oct. 5, 1987. Their previous high rushing total allowed in a non-strike game in Giants Stadium was 239 yards vs. Dallas on Nov. 9, 1980 in a 38-35 Giants victory. The 247 rushing yards were the most the Giants have allowed in any home game since Dec. 8, 1968, when the St. Louis Cardinals ran for 277 yards in a 28-21 victory over the Giants in Yankee Stadium.
Jonathan Stewart, who started for Williams, rushed for 206 yards on 28 carries, the third-highest individual total ever against the Giants.
- Mario Manningham: A fumble that killed any potential Giants' momentum early in the game. Manningham has great ability -- sadly, though, it is great ability to help both teams at the same time.
- Madison Hedgecock: His day summed up the Giants' futility. Cost them one touchdown with a holding penalty (at least it was an obvious one -- a beautiful take down), and dropped a touchdown pass. At least he was consistent in not helping the offense at all.
I could probably go on, but that's about all I can stand. Feel free to add your own 'Wet Willies.'