It is the day after yet another loss by the New York Giants. Which means, of course, that here at Big Blue View it time for our traditional 'Kudos & Wet Willies' review. So, here goes the latest somber 'K&WW' edition, this one reviewing the carnage of a winnable game against the San Francisco 49ers tossed into the chilly MetLife Stadium air.
'Kudos' To ...
Odell Beckham Jr. -- Missed a third straight 100-yard receiving game by seven yards, but so what? Beckham caught six passes for 93 yards, including an amazing 37-yard catch that set the Giants up at the 4-yard line in the fourth quarter with a chance to punch in a potential winning score. It didn't happen, but that doesn't make his work any less amazing. Beckham also had a 25-yard punt return. He also led the pre-game on-field player meeting. For good measure, he appeared on the kickoff return a couple of times although he never got the ball. Maybe next week Beckham can sell tickets and play safety, too.
Josh Brown -- C'mon, when a 35-year-old placekicker gets credited with a forced fumble, he gets 'kudos.' Not only did Brown execute a fantastic onside kick after a third quarter field goal he tossed San Francisco's Bubba Ventrone around like a rag doll, forcing him to lose possession of the ball. Mark Herzlich of the Giants recovered.
Giants' Special Teams -- We kill the Giants week-in and week-out for their special teams buffoonery. So, when they do really good work -- like they did on Sunday -- we have to tip our caps to them. Not only did Brown's onside kick become a highlight, there was also other good work. The Giants overhauled their kickoff return scheme, using two deep men. Preston Parker ended up having an excellent day, averaging 25.8 yards on five kickoff returns. He had a 38-yard return he might have taken for a touchdown, but a stumble allowed San Francisco kicker Phil Dawson to make the tackle. Beckham had a 25-yard punt return to give the Giants life in the fourth quarter.
Giants' Defense -- Give the defense some credit for at least playing with pride. A week after being humiliated and having their toughness questioned due to giving up 510 yards to the Seattle Seahawks, the defense gave the Giants every chance to win on Sunday. The defense allowed only three points off those five Manning interceptions. The Giants held the 49ers to 333 total yards, the first time in five games it has given up less than 423 yards. Despite constantly being put in bad field position the defense forced four San Francisco field-goal attempts.
Linebackers Jameel McClain (14 tackles), Devon Kennard (nine tackles) and Mark Herzlich (nine tackles) were all active. Robert Ayers had a sack, a tackle for loss and a hit on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Johnathan Hankins had four pressures from his tackle spot.
The coverage was good most of the day, except for a poor angle taken by safety Quintin Demps that contributed to a 48-yard Michael Crabtree touchdown.
Really, defensively there wasn't much to complain about. The defense, with all the injuries and personnel shortcomings, probably played about as well as it can.
'Wet Willies' To ...
Eli Manning -- What is there to say? The 'Bad Eli' still exists, and when he decides to make an appearance he does it in grand style. Let's first admit that Manning had to fear for his life knowing that John Jerry and Charles Brown were allegedly "blocking" for him when he went back to pass, and being able to see the results of their handiwork on every play. It would have scared me to death, and it apparently scared Eli into morphing from the efficient quarterback he had been into his mistake-prone alter ego.
Pressure or no pressure, though, you have to be better than Manning was on Sunday. Forget the final interception -- that is a desperation play where Manning has to put the ball in the end zone no matter what. The first four interceptions were all awful plays by Manning.
The first was a ball to Odell Beckham over the middle. Manning threw it too late and Chris Borland picked it. The second was a ball Manning said he tried not to throw because the 49ers corner jumped the route Rueben Randle was running. The ball came out, anyway, and was intercepted in the red zone. The third was a deep ball to a double-covered Randle that Manning never should have throws, and compounded by overthrowing by about five yards. The fourth was a horribly off target throw across the middle, again in Randle's direction.
Manning was terrible. Pressure or no pressure, he has to be able to play better than that.
John Jerry/Charles Brown -- Did it seem like the right side of the pocket in front of Manning was collapsing all day? Well, it seemed that way because it was. Brown, playing 62 snaps after Justin Pugh exited with a quad injury, showed why the New Orleans Saints jettisoned him after last season. He ended up with a -7.9 PFF grade, including -6.8 in pass protection. He was responsible for an astoundingly awful two hits and eight hurries in 44 pass-blocking snaps. Jerry graded at -7.1, including -4.5 in pass protection. He was 'credited' with allowing both sacks of Manning and six hurries.
These guys were both free-agent signings by GM Jerry Reese, guys brought in to allegedly upgrade the depth of an offensive line that had none last year. Bluntly, Reese and whoever else in the Giants' organization recommended bringing in these two guys has got to do better than this.
Cross your fingers that a) Geoff Schwartz is activated at some point today and b) Pugh's injury doesn't force him to miss any more games.
Jason Pierre-Paul -- If this is how the free-agent-to-be intends to conduct a contract drive, the Giants won't have to worry about making a decision on whether or not to offer him a big-money contract. He won't be worth it. Pierre-Paul was a complete non-factor Sunday, registering one tackle and no quarterback pressures. For the third straight week Pierre-Paul got absolutely nothing done. He was the Giants' lowest-rated defensive player with a grade of -2.1.
Ben McAdoo's Play-Calling -- I usually avoid putting coaches here in the 'K&WW' review, but a pair of highly questionable sequences have to be given 'Wet Willies.' The series of plays from the 4-yard line in the fourth quarter was terrible. Three fades? Are you serious? Don't the Giants have some other passing play in their playbook from inside the five?
Tom Coughlin said after the game it was "inexcusable" not to score a touchdown from there. Coughlin defended the fades, saying "that's how we've scored a bunch of times." True, but you can't just keep going to the same well on every play. Even Coughlin said he thought in retrospect the Giants should have run the ball at least once. That was pretty obvious, especially if they knew from the beginning they were going to go for it if they reached fourth down. They should have used a little more imagination in the pass plays called, as well. Bubble screen? Roll out? Donnell over the middle? Anything to give San Francisco a different look.
The other debatable play call was the fourth-and-inches run by Rashad Jennings from the San Francisco 43-yard line in the third quarter. Many thought that the Giants should simply have gone quarterback sneak there. Manning, though, simply doesn't do that very well and Coughlin said simply "I don't run the quarterback sneak."
For me, the problem isn't giving Jennings the ball. The problem is going behind Jerry and Brown, your two worst linemen, on the games' most critical short-yardage play. You have one above average lineman in the game -- Will Beatty. That play has to go behind him. Otherwise, you aren't giving yourself the best chance to succeed.