Eli Manning (10) of the New York Giants is sacked by Chris Neild (95) of the Washington Redskins during the season opener at FedExField on September 11, 2011 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
I will get to the traditional 'Kudos & Wet Willies' shortly, but first a few general impressions after Sunday's disappointing effort by the New York Giants in a season-opening loss to the Washington Redskins.
- Rex Grossman is one of the worst quarterbacks the Giants will face this season. The fact that he threw for 305 yards is a horrible sign. The Giants look helpless in the secondary.
- The Giants were a pitiful 1-for-10 on third down. When they tried running, they couldn't get anybody blocked. When they tried passing they had drops (Victor Cruz) or Eli Manning was running for his life.
- Why did the Giants abandon the run? In the first half they had 12 runs for 63 yards (5.25 yards per carry). After the Ryan Kerrigan interception return for a touchdown the Giants ran the ball only six more times. That just is not playing to your strength.
- This game felt way too much like the last season-and-a-half, where the Giants were their own worst enemy with penalties, bone-headed plays, short-yardage problems and killer turnovers.
- One final note before we move on to the 'Kudos & Wet Willies.' Sunday was not good, and many of you have written off this season already. Don't jump off the bridge yet, though. If the season is lost for the Giants, it is also lost for the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons and Pittsburgh Steelers -- and we know all of those teams are Super Bowl contenders.
Now, on to the good stuff.
Kudos to ...
Jake Ballard: Two impressive catches for Ballard, but the really noticeable part is that they totaled 59 yards -- a lot for a 270-pound guy who is supposed to be a blocker. Oh, and Ballard showed the kind of toughness Travis Beckum can only dream about, playing the entire second half after suffering a hip injury in the second quarter.
Hakeem Nicks: Seven catches for Nicks, who is going to have to be a big-time playmaker for the Giants. The only big play was the 68-yarder that set up the Giants first score, but he had a good day.
Jason Pierre-Paul: Without Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck to take some of the attention, JPP stepped up when the Giants needed plays from their defense. Both of his sacks and his forced fumble came in the second half when the Giants were on the ropes.
Henry Hynoski: When the Giants were able to run the ball in the first half the rookie fullback had a lot to do with it. I think the UDFA from Pittsburgh is going to be just fine in that role.
Michael Boley: Four tackles and a fumble recovery. Boley was extremely active, and spent a decent amount of time in Washington's backfield.
Brandon Jacobs: Six carries for 29 yards. The big guy ran hard. Question is this. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry to Ahmad Bradshaw's 3.4. In 2010 he averaged 5.6 to Bradshaw's 4.5. When do the Giants start giving Jacobs the ball more often?
Dave Tollefson: Two tackles and a sack for Tollefson, starting in place of Justin Tuck. He did not dominate, which you would not expect him to. He held his own, though.
Chris Canty: For playing well ... and for calling out his teammates.
Wet Willies to ...
Corey Webster: Some of you will bristle at this, pointing to Webster's two passes defensed. Fact is, though, the Redskins picked on and abused Webster all night long. Washington went after Webster over and over and over, and most of the time the guy who is supposedly the best cornerback the Giants have left had no answers. To be honest, Aaron Ross and Antrel Rolle weren't so hot in coverage, either, but Webster was the guy Rex Grossman picked on most of the day. Truth is, the Giants have huge problems in the secondary.
Giants Offensive Line: Not a good first effort for the revamped line. Eli Manning was sacked four times, and the Giants were unable to get anyone blocked on two failed short-yardage plays, a fourth-and-one and a third-and-one.
Special Teams: Has anyone signed Rhys Lloyd yet? Lawrence Tynes' first kickoff was horrid, and the blocked field goal was entirely on him. The Washington player who blocked it didn't even need to get off the ground the kick was so low. Plus, it probably would have been wide left even if it hadn't been blocked. I know Tynes missed a lot of time with that thigh bruise, but he did not do much to show me he was healthy. Also, how does Devin Thomas simply allow a kickoff to fall to the ground and not make much of an effort to go cover it up? At least Domenik Hixon did a good job on punt returns.
Antrel Rolle: I really don't care about the seven tackles. A veteran guy and a supposed Pro Bowler can't go and spear a defenseless receiver laying on the ground in the fourth quarter of a seven-point game. Especially when simply touching him down makes it fourth down and gives the Giants the ball back. Rolle's dumb penalty led to Washington's game-clinching score. That, simply, is inexcusably bad football. Rolle made all sorts of noise after the game about how he didn't lead with his helmet. When he watches the film he will see that he most certainly did.
Victor Cruz: One critical drop on the Giants first series, a third-down pass that would have given the Giants a first down in Washington territory. It likely took away a scoring opportunity. Cruz was quickly replaced after that by Domenik Hixon in three-receiver sets.
Third-Down Offense: Poor short-yardage blocking, drops, Kevin Gilbride's play-calling. Blame it on whatever you want but you can't win games, build drives and get carries for Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs when you go 1-for-10 on third down.
Eli Manning: I don't really have a specific criticism of Eli. The Pick Six was Kareem McKenzie's fault, not Eli's. Reality is, though, that the Giants' offense was utterly ineffective in the second half and Manning got outplayed by Grossman.