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'Kudos & Wet Willies:' How many Wet Willies can I give the defense?

OK, so the headline of this post gives away what I am thinking right now. At the very least, C.C. Brown is getting 'Wet Willies' for both ears.

Before I get to the full 'Kudos & Wet Willies', however, some general thoughts about Sunday's 48-27 embarrassment our New York Giants (5-1) suffered at the hands of the New Orleans Saints (5-0).

Be honest, after watching the past few games you had to at least think it was possible that Drew Brees and the Saints would do something like this to the Giants' defense. The pass rush has not been there consistently, and the secondary's stats have had more to do with the poor offenses the Giants had played against than anything special being done by the defensive backs.

Ralph Vacchiano said that Brees predicted that New Orleans would score at least 40 points on the Giants defense. Can't get mad at the guy when he's right. Shoot, the Saints could have put up 60 or more had they needed to, or wanted to. The Giants had absolutely no answers.

The Giants' offense was not perfect Sunday, either, but I am not going to waste time criticizing that unit. Eli Manning and crew had to figure out early that their defense had no chance of helping them, and there was no way the offense was going to match the Saints score-for-score, try as they might. Manning (14-for-31, one TD, one INT, one fumble) obviously did not have his best day. Offense, though, was not the problem. The Giants did move the ball, did average 5.7 yards per play and did score 27 points.

You can't win, though, when you have to score 50 just to have a chance. The Giants think, and we want to believe, they have a championship-caliber club. That won't happen, however, if they can't play better defense than that against good teams.

I am not jumping off the bridge, and I don't think you guys should either. It was just one bad game in a long season. Still, the ease with which the Saints dispatched the Giants is disturbing. Now, on with the 'Kudos & Wet Willies.'


Kudos to ...
  • Domenik Hixon: Welcome back to the role you are best suited for, Domenik! I know I'm not the only one, but I have been advocating Hixon's return to returning since training camp. Sunday, he showed why with seven kickoff returns for 230 yards, including 68 and 45-yard returns, and two punt returns for 51 yards. Throw in three pass receptions for 22 yards for good measure, and it was a great day for Hixon. He at least gave the Giants a chance.
  • Mario Manningham: Manningham had a decent game with four catches for 50 yards, and made a nice play to take an interception away from Darren Sharper and score a touchdown.
  • Hakeem Nicks: The No. 1 pick is developing nicely as a weapon for Manning. Five catches for 114 yards Sunday, including a 58-yard catch and run.
  • Ahmad Bradshaw: Ran had and well in limited opportunities, though it wasn't nearly enough to keep the Giants in the game. Bradshaw also missed a blitz pickup that led to an interception and had me debating whether or not to leave him off this list. I would give Brandon Jacobs 'kudos' to, but seven carries isn't enough to earn it. And his best play, a leaping touchdown catch in a huge crowd, was wiped out by a phantom penalty.

Now, we move on to the really brutal part of this.

Wet Willies to ...
  • The entire defense: Let's face it, that was an utterly embarrassing performance by a unit that calls itself one of the best in the league. They had no answers for the Saints. They could not cover receivers. They could not pressure Brees. They could not seem to get along with each other, as there were lots of 'discussions' between players who seemed not to be able to fulfill their assignments, make any plays or get the help they were expecting from other players. I will, of course, hand out plenty of individual 'Wet Willies,' but in all honesty I can't name one defensive player who actually had a good game.
  • C.C. Brown: So, here is next week's game plan for Kurt Warner and the Arizona Cardinals, and probably for every team the Giants play the rest of the season. Find the guy Brown is supposed to be covering, or the area he is supposed to be responsible for, and throw the ball there. Brown had a team-high 13 tackles Sunday, but that is only because it seemed like nearly every New Orleans play was designed to abuse him. In man coverage, allegedly, Brown had no chance. In zone coverage, he was repeatedly late arriving or made a bad read and went to the wrong area entirely (just ask Kevin Dockery). I said way back in training camp and pre-season that Brown is terrible in coverage. The only reason it has not been an issue until now is because of the inept offenses the Giants faced the past three weeks. I don't know if Aaron Rouse, or one of the guys on the Giants' practice squad is any better but Brown will be an issue the rest of the season.
  • The defensive line: In the pre-season I was asked if the Giants had put together a historically good defensive line. My question right now is more along the lines of "is this group over-rated?' One sack Sunday, and that came from linebacker Chase Blackburn. Pressure from the defensive line was totally non-existent Sunday, and if the Giants can't pressure we now see what can happen to this weakened secondary. The Giants have now had games this season when their line has been gashed with the running game, and more than one game where the pass rush from the front four has been invisible. They can't miss Chris Canty and Jay Alford that much, can they?
  • Bill Sheridan: The rookie defensive coordinator has gotten lots of praise thus far in 2009. When your defense looks that far overmatched, though, the coordinator has to take a hit. Sheridan could not find a way to get pressure. He could not find a way to get the Giants in coverages that worked. There were, seemingly, too many blown coverages and guys out of position. Too many lineman and linebackers looking like they were freelancing instead of playing the defense. Sean Payton made Sheridan and the Giants look defenseless, and the coordinator needs to take some of the blame.
  • Eli Manning: I almost feel bad giving Eli a 'Wet Willie' here. Absolute perfection from the Giants offense would probably not have been enough to win Sunday. Manning had a rough game, though, just missing a few open receivers, throwing a bad interception and coughing up a fumble that was a huge turning point. By the way, have you ever seen Eli get in a player's face the way he got after Bradshaw for the missed blitz pickup that caused the interception? He not only very obviously yelled at AB, but he grabbed him by the shoulder pads and gave him a little 'what the heck were you doing?' shove. Wow!
  • The officiating: I am not going to whine here, because the Giants got blown out of the Louisiana Superdome all by themselves. They would have needed a ton of help just to be in the game, like maybe being allowed to use 14-15 defenders not named C.C. Brown. But how many bad, or phantom, calls were there in that game. Pass interference on Corey Webster? Face mask on Bryan Kehl? I'm still looking for the holding call on Shaun O'Hara that negated Jacobs' touchdown catch. The officials are going to get calls wrong. The thing that bothers me is when flags get throws for things they 'think' they see. If you are an official and you aren't 'sure' you see something, you have to keep the flag in your pocket.
  • Me: What did I do, you ask? Well, I hate to admit that Sunday is the first time this year I failed to wear one of my Giants' shirts on a game day. I did have my Giants' winter cap on to try (unsuccessfully, I might add) to stay warm at my son's soccer game. The cap, apparently, does not carry any good luck with it.

This list could probably be a lot longer. I can't stand it anymore, though, so that's enough for now.

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