If you guys feel like I do this morning (and I am figuring you probably do) this is the second consecutive Monday where it is very difficult to remain optimistic as a fan of the New York Giants. Two weeks in a row now you have to come away from watching an awful loss with a miserable 'what the heck is happening to this team' kind of feeling.
Albeit that Sunday's loss to Green Bay and the one the week before to Philadelphia were completely different. One was a game the Giants had won and handed away. The other was a game the Giants could have and should have won but never really allowed themselves to be competitive in.
However, you look at it the Giants are now 9-6 and seem likely to wind up on the outside looking in when the playoffs begin in a couple of weeks. It's a situation a team with this kind of talent and ability should not be in, but it is the situation they deserve. They have done it to themselves.
Let's go through today's 'Kudos & Wet Willies.' Not because we want to, or because there will be any solace in doing so. It is, however, what we do on Mondays. So, let's get this over with.
Wet Willies to ...
We are starting here today because, well, because the performance on Sunday pretty much deserves a team-wide 'Wet Willie' and this is the right place to start.
Tom Coughlin: How can you not start here? A second straight embarrassing effort by the Giants. Whatever the reasons, this is a third straight season in which Coughlin's team is collapsing in awful fashion at the end of the season. Whatever Coughlin tried to get the Giants to shake off the disastrous loss to Philly, didn't work. The Giants came out right away, made an awful defensive play and a pitiful turnover to put themselves in a 14-point hole. They continued to make the same offensive mistakes they have made for two seasons, and continued to show the kind of confused, undisciplined defense we thought they had left behind when they booted Bill Sheridan out of the Meadowlands. Is TC's job in jeopardy? I just don't know the answer to that. I also don't know why he has not been able to get an incredibly explosive group of offensive players to place some value on the football, and a talented defense to understand its assignments and play with some discipline. Or, why his December record with the Giants is so awful. He's a good coach with good players who isn't getting consistently good results. I am mystified as to why.
Eli Manning: Sunday night I compared Eli's 'chuck and duck' act to a high school kid playing quarterback for the first time. I still feel that way this morning. Eli now has a ridiculous total of 24 interceptions, the only quarterback in the NFL with at least 20. He has now thrown at least three interceptions in a game an astounding four times this season -- yes, FOUR times! Prior to this year he had done that five times in his entire career. How is it possible that in his seventh season in the league he is, too often, more careless with the ball than he has ever been? He is too good to play like this so often, and I just don't get it. All four of those interceptions on Sunday were horrible throws. The first one, to Hakeem Nicks, was simply heaved into triple coverage when Nicks was not even looking, and was probably five yards away from the receiver. The out to Derek Hagan was a horrible throw that never had a chance, since Hagan was blanketed by two defenders. The long throw to Mario Manningham was a ridiculous, throw it up and pray Hail Mary. The final one to Ahmad Bradshaw was a throw that has become all too typical for Eli, just flinging the ball carelessly when a play is basically dead. Eli can say the Giants were in desperation mode toward the end, but those are still throws that can't be made. The Giants now have a league-high 40 turnovers, and Eli is responsible for 29 of those.
I do believe Eli is hurt, badly, by Steve Smith being out. There are way too many times it seems like Eli is expecting one thing and getting another from his receivers. To me, that means there is probably way too much complexity in what the Giants are asking some of their receivers to do. Yet, Manning can't blame any of Sunday's picks on anyone but himself.
- Perry Fewell: The Giants gave up 515 yards Sunday, the first time a Giants team had given up that many yards since 1980. The Packers held the ball for 37:01. A week ago against Philadelphia Fewell's defense gave up 28 points in less than eight minutes and surrendered 418 total yards. Something has gone horribly wrong. Suddenly the Giants have confusion in coverages, they have cornerbacks missing tackles or giving up easy completions, they have safeties in wrong places or taking horrible angles, they are losing at the line of scrimmage. The most disturbing thing, for me, is the seeming lack of assignment discipline from a veteran group. It makes you wonder if the players are buying what Fewell is selling, or if the Giants have reverted back to the CC Brown Method -- playing their own individual defenses.
- Corey Webster and Terrell Thomas: There really is no way to separate the two Giants corners right now. There really also is nothing else to say about the way they played on Sunday except to say they both outright stunk. Not sure Elvis 'Toast' Patterson or Frank Walker could have spent the day playing any softer, or could have missed more tackles. Or shown less maturity than Thomas did committing a stupid, unnecessary personal foul that helped the Packers to a momentum-shifting touchdown right before the half after the Giants had rallied from a 14-0 deficit to tie the game. Please, don't come around anymore and try to make the argument that either of these guys is an elite corner. They aren't. They both have their moments when they play well, but they also have too many games in which they come up short. Sunday Green Bay's receivers made them both look silly.
Deon Grant and Antrel Rolle: I don't want to hear about the number of tackles either guy had, or Rolle's fortunate forced fumble. I thought the Giants brought these guys in, and paid them a ton of money, so that we could stop watching safeties bite on play fakes and vacate the middle of the field. I thought we brought them in so we would stop watching guys take themselves out of position, or take horrible angles that result in missed tackles and huge plays. We could have kept Brown and Aaron Rouse if we wanted safeties to play like that.
- Osi Umenyiora: I always used to criticize Osi for having too many games this season where he just outright did not show up. Sunday, when he got into the stat column with one assist on a tackle, is probably the first time I can say that this season. He was invisible, and probably didn't get into the same area code as Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers all day.
- The linebackers: Jonathan Goff made a couple of plays and wound up with nine tackles, but for the most part this group spent the day getting blown backwards in run support.
- Kevin Boss: The Bossman dropped a couple of catchable balls, including one right before halftime that cost the Giants a first down. He also stupidly tried to pick up Brandon Jacobs' fumble and run with it when he had a clear, uncontested shot at falling on it. That cost the Giants a possession and, realistically, cost them their best shot at getting back into the game. At the time they trailed by 14 points late in the third quarter.
Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs: Both backs had critical fumbles. If you want to give Jacobs a bit of a pass because Clay Matthews of the Packers made a tremendous play, fine. If you want to say the same about Bradshaw's fumble, crediting the Packers for poking the ball out, fine. All I know is these things have happened way too often to the Giants. Bradshaw has now lost a ridiculous six fumbles this season. You simply have to put the ball away, and these guys didn't do it on Sunday.
By the way, I did not have a huge problem with the play call on the direct snap to Bradshaw there. I did have a problem with the design of the play. How can you design a running play on a key third down with Mario Manningham and Travis Beckum as your lead blockers? It's no wonder that play got blown up in the backfield? If you are going to run that play you have to get Boss, Bear Pascoe or a lineman out in front of Bradshaw.
- Offensive Line: I love Shaun O'Hara, but it's obvious that the man should not be playing. Spent the day getting pushed around or just blown past by Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji. The Giants averaged 4.3 yards per carry, but some of that came from one 21-yard run by Manning and the rest on the 21-yard run Jacobs finished by fumbling. The rest of the day O'Hara and the Giants line could not open any holes for the running game. That has happened two weeks in a row, and the common denominator has been that an obviously not completely healthy O'Hara has been playing center, re-shuffling a line that had been functioning pretty well.
There are probably more guys deserving of 'Wet Willies.' I figure many of you will throw offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, punter Matt Dodge, our awful return game and the referees under a bus, off a bridge, under airplane tires on the runway or wherever else you can think of. I am not really going to argue, but I've had enough 'Wet Willie' misery at this point.
Kudos to ...
Believe it or not, I was actually able to find a couple of players worthy of 'kudos' amidst the wreckage of Sunday's second consecutive disastrous performance.
- Justin Tuck: Seven tackles, a sack, a fumble recovery and a whole lot of pressures and hits on Aaron Rodgers. I can't blame anything that happened Sunday on Tuck.
- Mario Manningham: Can't blame any of the issues on Manningham, either. An 85-yard touchdown on a 'chuck and duck' from Eli and a total of four catches for 132 yards. He may be unpredictable, and is often maddening. When he is good, though, he is very good. And he was very good on Sunday.
- Linval Joseph: With Dave Tollefson out, Joseph was active for one of the few times this season. The second-round pick from East Carolina responded with five tackles, including a goal-line stop in the backfield.