After an embarrassing loss in their final game at the Meadowlands the Giants leave me pondering these 10 questions.
1) How does Bill Sheridan keep his job? If Sheridan were a 10-year vet I would say he is in trouble. As a rookie coordinator I'm surprised he hasn't fired himself. Which would go something like this.
Bill 1 - Job was pretty simple, just had to run Spags's defense and pawn it off as your own.
Bill 2 - I like watching Canty in coverage, he's big and funny.
Bill 1 - I think allowing four opponents to score 40 or more points is gonna make some people pretty mad, don't ya think?
Bill 2 - Maybe. What about my new "amoeba" defense, that was cool right?
Bill 1 - I'm pretty sure that was code for prevent defense.
Bill 2 - Ha, it sure was. Can I go back to Uncle Steve in St Louis and be the linebackers coach again?
Bill 1 - Sure thing, kiddo.
Bill 2 - Yaaaayyy!!
2) Are the Giant defenders actually this bad? It's pretty rare that two Pro Bowl lineman in the peaks of their careers go from studs to duds this fast. Before you go blaming Osi for rushing up field and abandoning the run ask yourself this. How good did the Giants run defense look this past Sunday with Kiwi at end? The guy was coming off major knee surgery and still led the Giants in sacks with a paltry 7. I'm giving Tuck a pass for playing with one arm. Terrell Thomas, in his second year, had 5 picks, but was out run by Mushin Muhammed who played with a walker (ha, jokes). My point is sometimes coaches simply don't put their players in the right positions to make plays, and to me there is far too much talent on this team to have played so poorly.
3) What happened to Earth, Wind and Fire? Pretty simple really. Wind left via free agency, Earth turned out to be clay (just punched my own face for this corny analogy) and Fire did his best on two badly injured ankles. I love Brandon Jacobs, who I affectionately refer to as the baby Rhinoceros, but 3.7 a carry is not going to cut it. I have a sneaking suspicion that we will soon be hearing about off-season knee surgery for Brandon, who never passed the eyeball test this year. Yes, he ran over some linebackers, but at 8'2'' 650 pounds that's going to happen. Still he never seemed to hit the hole with the same fervor he did last year.
And now for the myth factor, does Brandon Jacobs pounding a defense really soften teams up for Bradshaw or is Bradshaw just that good? Tune into to Discovery Channel's Myth Busters on Thursday to find out. I think what was effective is Brandon running like a Bull at 4+ a carry; then having the faster, cut back runner, like Ahmad Bradshaw come in to wipe out a defense that had seen a downfield runner for two quarters. I'm not saying Jacobs' pounding isn't a factor (we'll find out Thursday as those clever little men rig up some wacky experiment to prove their points) but AB seemed to do just fine without any "softening" this year. The Giants had high hopes for Andre Brown who they lost to season ending surgery in the pre-season, but the question is, how will he recover after rupturing his Achilles?
4) What is a safety and do the Giants have one? This is a conversation I had with a member of the Jets organization after Kenny Phillips went down with season ending micro-fracture surgery on his left knee.
Me - Oh dear God, C.C. Brown is our new safety.
Jet Guy - You'd be better off playing 10 guys.
Me - That can't be true.
Jet Guy - I scouted him, trust me you'll be better off with 10. Any chance you can re-claim Will Demps?
Me - I hate you.
I hated him even more after Brown explained why he gave up a 54-yard TD pass to DeSean Jackson (who will haunt us for the next decade) "I played my own coverage." I then got a text from Jet Guy that said "no doubt this statement has forced you to light your eyeballs on fire. Told ya so."
So where do the Giants go from here? Phillips is a 23-year-old safety with Patella Femoral Arthritis. Brown likes to play his own coverage. Aaron Rouse can hit but doesn't run well. Michael Johnson remains overly aggressive and Aaron Ross will probably slide back over to corner next year. Atari Bigby and Roman Harper are free agents, but General Manager Jerry Reese has proven the draft is where you win and lose in the NFL. That said Harper was coveted by the Gmen in 08' and was rumored to be a part of the Jeremy Shockey deal at one point. Whatever happens, it's clear playing with 2 safeties is a must in this era.
5) What is the future at Middle Linebacker? At this point the candidates are Antonio Pierce, an emotional leader with a keen sense of the game and old legs or Jonathan Goff a second year pro with raw talent and little experience. As much as I love AP and all he did for the Giants (including one of the greatest heart plays I've ever seen, getting through two blocker on a screen in Green Bay) I have to think his run in NY is over. What we fans can't see is how much leadership, football knowledge and energy AP brought to that defense. I wonder how much they missed that leadership this past Sunday (although 247 rushing yards is not stopped by one man). Goff has shown some raw talent with an interception and a sack in his first two games as a stater, but his lack of experience led Michael Boley to make many of the calls pre snap. Goff will get one last game to prove his worth before Jerry has to make a decision.
6) What happened to this year's free agents? Let's face it, this group fell flat on their faces. Rocky Bernard seldom played and when he did he had trouble tying up two offensive linemen (shocking for a man who looks like he ate another man) and even found himself a healthy scratch for one game. Chris Canty sat out the majority of the year with calf issues and when he did play he was rarely a factor. Michael Boley may be the fastest Giants linebacker since Wesley Mallard (don't judge me, I loved Mallard) but he also struggled with injuries and missed almost half the year. Thank God NFL contracts are not guaranteed because this unit may not be around much longer, although I think Canty and Boley will get a chance to prove their worth again next year. Boley was a factor when he played.
7) Do you really believe the whole emotion thing? For years fans and analysts have claimed that losing teams look "flat" or played without "heart" and for years I have been refuting this point. Sunday Michael Strahan said the Giants looked flat and came out with no emotion. I rolled back the tape (OK I hit rewind on my DVR) and watched as Justin Tuck and Canty sacked Matt Moore and showed a ton of emotion. Then they got smacked in the mouth over and over again by a run game the Giants had no answer for. I saw huge holes and missed tackles, but I didn't see lack of emotion. It was only 3 years ago that fans/analysts said Eli Manning didn't have enough emotion to be a true leader. Did we learn nothing from the Super Bowl win? Have we learned nothing from Roger Federer or Tom Glavine or even our own Eli? Sometimes you lose despite being pumped for the game. I'll take a talented, even-keeled player over an emotional nut-case anytime, or just give me 53 LT'S (does that totally disprove my point? Get on this Myth Busters).
8) Is Beatty ready? Well no, and that was clear Sunday. But after another full training camp under his belt and a little more weight on his frame this could spell the end for Kareem McKenzie. If the Giants did cut McKenzie they would be saving 5 million and change, but it may not matter in what could be an uncapped year. The good news is Beatty looks like he will be ready sooner then most of us expected.
9) While the Giants were down 31-3 in the third quarter this debate broke out at the bar. Do you face forward or backwards in the shower, and what's wrong with you if you are facing forward? I know it's completely irrelevant and it's not helping you get over the embarrassment of Sunday's debacle, but seriously why are people facing front? I am not happy about this. I feel like Jerry Seinfeld explaining to Kramer how to shower.
10) Is it time for a special overhaul? Let's face it, old man Jeff Feagles finally lived up to his name this year and it's time to cut ties with the 73-year-old punter. He is an outstanding directional punter (one of the best ever) but the kicks got lower and lower this year and often they didn't find the sidelines. Meanwhile the only fun thing about Lawrence Tynes is figuring out how to put his name in NY Post headlines "In the Nick of Tynes," "Right on Tynes," "It's about Tynes to get rid of Lawrence." There might be two new kickers in camp next year.
Feel free to answer all 10 questions yourself and throw in some more why don't ya, but before you go cutting Osi and Jacobs remember Monday's are when we over-react. In the off-season are you still going to feel this strongly? Fire Sheridan, cut Rocky, blame CC but think twice before you release our core. That said, what do I know? I'm just a silly writer.
[* Writers note - My girlfriend implored me to never use the word silly again. I did not honor her wishes.]