Before we get to the 'Kudos & Wet Willies' analysis of Saturday night's 24-10 loss by our New York Giants to the Baltimore Ravens, I have to hand out a special 'honor'.
A super-sized, double-fisted 'Wet Willie' for all of you commenting in Saturday's Game Thread and in Sunday's posts who have already decided that the season is over, there is no hope, the Giants stink, the team needs a new quarterback, they don't do anything right, everyone should be fired, it has no guts, Jerry Reese has suddenly turned into Matt Millen and rooting for the Giants is a complete waste of time.
Get a grip, people. It's preseason. Yes, things did not go as well Saturday as many of you, coach Tom Coughlin and the Giants players wanted it to. But, all it really means is that the Giants are far from a finished product. Will they ever be finished? Will they be what we want them to be this season?
We don't know. There is no way to know -- the season has not begun yet. But, to write their epitaph while the 2010 Giants are still, technically, in the womb, is silly.
Have you noticed that the Colts, who went to the Super Bowl a year ago, are 0-3? I doubt Colts fans are ready to run Jim Caldwell and Peyton Manning out of town. Those Super Bowl-bound Jets (just ask 'em) are 1-2. Preseason results are, largely, meaningless.
When I say that I recognize fully that this has not, by any means, been a great preseason for the Giants. There are issues all over the place.
The offense is a mess. If you expected precision Saturday, I really don't know what you were basing that on. Eli Manning has missed time practice and game time. Most of the receivers have missed chunks of time. The offensive line is like a jumbo-sized game of 'Twister' with players shuffling from spot to spot.
Things will get better on that side of the ball, especially once the Giants settle on what their line will look like. They could go with a variety of configurations. The key right now, though, is to decide on one -- and figure out if Shaun O'Hara will be able to be part of it.
There have been good signs from running backs Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs, and the emergence of Victor Cruz. So, some good things.
The defense is still in an exploratory phase. Perry Fewell is still probing, moving players around, trying combinations, sometimes playing in ways he would not ordinarily play during the regular season, simply to find out what his players can and can't do. That is what you do in preseason.If the Giants are still getting gashed like that on short passes across the middle six or eight weeks from now, then I will be concerned.
I'm concerned about the cornerback depth. I am also concerned about the linebacker play, particularly in pass coverage. Again, though, I think some of that will settle down once the Giants decide once and for all who is in -- and who is out -- in their linebacker rotation. Once everyone knows for certain what they will be asked to do things should get better.
Besides, with a new coordinator and so many new parts on defense did you really expect things to be smooth sailing right from the beginning? Did you not learn from 2007, when Steve Spagnuolo's group was terrible the first two games before settling in and helping the Giants win a Super Bowl?
You should feel really good about the play of Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka. Corey Webster has been excellent. Kenny Phillips is looking more and more comfortable. Michael Boley looks healthy. Good signs from a lot of guys.
The special teams are a work in progress. Matt Dodge still has growing pains to experience. The Giants still can't cover a kickoff, or return one.
All of these problems can be fixed. Will they be? We don't know, but it's too early to just throw in the towel.
I know, though, that some of you have already done that. You know who you are, whether you have voiced it in the comments or kept that opinion to yourself. You guys get special 'Wet Willie' recognition this week.
Now, on to the stuff you all really want to read about.
Kudos to ...
Justin Tuck: His pair of sacks and the fact that he was buzzing around the quarterback the entire time he was in the game was probably the best thing to come out of the entire game Saturday.
Corey Webster: An interception and a handful of passes defensed, though I don't know the exact number. The Giants played a lot of man-to-man Saturday, and Webster thrived in it.
Shawn Andrews: For a guy who had not played in two years, and who had only been around for a week, Andrews did a very nice job at left guard in the second half. The offensive line is still unsettled, but if Andrews can build off that he could depose Rich Seubert and help the power running game inside the tackles we see the Giants struggle with so often.
- Matt Dodge: Nine kicks and only one that I thought was poor. The rookie even ripped a 74-yarder, had a punt caught inside the 20 and one that should have been downed. He also had a good hold on a high snap for a Lawrence Tynes field goal. A step in the right direction for the heavily-scrutinized punter.
- Rocky Bernard: If the Giants have to cut someone from their defensive line stockpile, I would be stunned if it was the veteran tackle. A pair of sacks and three tackles Saturday, following a nice goal line stop the week before. There's a little life in Bernard yet.
- Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw: Jacobs showed he can still get it done when he can get square to the line of scrimmage with a head of steam, ripping off a 30-yard run in the first half. The run, by the way, came on a stretch play -- my absolute favorite play call for Jacobs. It allows him to build a head of steam, get to the edge, get his shoulders square and start dishing out punishment. Bradshaw had just 22 yards on seven carries, but pretty much every single one of those yards he got on his own.
Wet Willies to ...
- Every cornerback not named Corey Webster: Tom Coughlin said the Giants played more man-to-man than they normally would simply to find out more about players like Seth Williams, D.J. Johnson and Courtney Brown. I think they found out that none of those guys are NFL-caliber players. I will do one final 53-man roster projection this week, and I guarantee I am leaving one spot open for the veteran cornerback the Giants absolutely must add to this team.
- Antrel Rolle: Don't care about the seven tackles. I care about all the passes completed with the Giants' biggest free-agent acquisition late to arrive. Don't want to hear his whining about the late-hit penalty he received, either. I know years ago the hit would have been applauded. Not now, though. The ball was clearly incomplete, and Rolle had time to recognize that before delivering a hit.
- Jonathan Goff: The young middle linebacker was getting his Antonio Pierce on Saturday night, and I'm not talking about the good Antonio of his early years. I'm talking about the old, slow AP who got abused in pass coverage. Goff has done a lot of good things thus far in the preseason, but if he keeps looking that clueless in pass coverage he is going to accomplish one more thing, a very bad one. He will wind up tagged with the nickname C.C. Brown left behind, 'Can't Cover.'
- Will Beatty: Played the first half on the right side in place of Kareem 'Migraine' McKenzie, and was not good. Missed a couple of blocks and missed an assignment on a blitz. Whether he is the starting left tackle Week 1 or not the Giants will need Beatty this season, and if he is needed on the right side he has to figure out a way to get the job done over there.
- Kickoff return and kickoff coverage: The Giants averaged 17 yards per return and gave up 32 yards per return. That's a lot of field position to surrender during the course of a game. Thought Tim Brown was going to break one kickoff return, but it looked like he lost his footing just a step or two before breaking into the clear.
Kwillies to ...
I won't do this every week, but there are a couple of players who fell into this category Saturday. Basically, these are guys who did things that actually helped both teams.
- Rhett Bomar: For me, Bomar (10-for-20, 140 yards, 1 TD) has done enough to displace sore-shouldered Jim Sorgi. He was far from perfect Saturday with a couple of erratic throws and a couple of situation where he held the ball too long in the pocket, but there is some ability there. The Giants should continue to nurture it.
- Tim Brown: Couple of decent punt returns (13-yard average on two tries), but he fell and missed an opportunity for a big play on one return and foolishly tried to run a kickoff back from five yards deep in the end zone. He barely got past the 10-yard line. I can't blame the guy for trying, since he knows he has to make a big play to have a shot at a roster spot. Judgment also counts, however.
- Victor Cruz: Four catches for 76 yards and a touchdown. He dropped an easy ball over the middle, though, and was not good at all on special teams. As a gunner on the outside a number of times, Cruz was never able to get past the double team and get down the field to get involved in the coverage. I know we are excited about his skills as a receiver, but he has shown absolutely nothing in terms of being able to help the Giants on special teams -- a place he will have to find a role.
I probably missed a couple along the way. Feel free to add your own thoughts.