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Lions 35, Giants 14: 'Kudos & Wet Willies' Review

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Let's review Monday's loss to Detroit in our traditional 'Kudos & Wet Willies' style.

Larry Donnell has five catches Monday, but also a costly mis-communication with Eli Manning
Larry Donnell has five catches Monday, but also a costly mis-communication with Eli Manning
Joe Sargent

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The 2014 New York Giants looked way too much like the bumbling 2013 New York Giants during Monday night's one-sided 35-14 season-opening loss to the Detroit Lions.

  • There was quarterback Eli Manning taking hit after hit and throwing two interceptions.
  • There were mis-communications with wide receivers.
  • There were too many times when receivers had opportunities to make plays and did not make them.
  • There were a plethora of defensive assignment breakdowns.
  • There wasn't enough pressure on Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford.
  • There were problems on special teams.
  • The Giants' running game was non-existent.

Does all of this sound familiar? Many of the faces on both the roster and the coaching staff have changed since last season. The results, and the problems, remained the same.

The Giants tried to remain optimistic after the game, but after watching Monday's game it is hard to believe this season will end up any differently than 2013 did.

To win games you have to block, you have to catch the ball, you have to know and carry out your assignments, you have to limit turnovers, you have to force the other team to make turnovers and you have to play clean on special teams.

The Giants didn't show the ability to do any of those things on Monday night in what head coach Tom Coughlin rightly called "a nightmare performance."

The thing is, after watching the Giants live through this same bad dream a year ago Monday's loss has to leave you wondering if they are ever going to wake up.

Kudos

Steve Weatherford -- Simply for gutting out the final three quarters after suffering a high ankle sprain in the first quarter thanks to the Giants' inability to protect him. Weatherford punted twice after the injury occurred, and even managed to hit a 51-yarder. You know how uncomfortable he was if you saw him try to stand up after holding for Josh Brown on extra points. He could barely get off the ground.

Prince Amukamara -- Maybe it should have been Amukamara shadowing Detroit's Calvin Johnson. He was the only member of the Giants' secondary making any plays. Amukamara forced Megatron out of bounds on one play, sprinted downfield to blast Johnson on another to prevent a long reception. He ripped a potential touchdown out of Detroit tight end Joseph Fauria's hands. Amukamara had three stops and received a defense-best +3.1 Pro Football Focus grade. He earned every bit of it.

Jason Pierre-Paul -- Pierre-Paul was a force against the run and did put pressure on Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, generating three hurries.

Johnathan Hankins -- Hankins was a force against the run with five tackles. He was not credited with any pass rush pressures, but I thought I did see him flush Stafford out of the pocket on a couple of occasions.

Wet Willies

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie -- Well, maybe it isn't such a good idea to have DRC shadowing the opposing team's best receiver. Johnson absolutely had his way with Rodgers-Cromartie. DRC couldn't stay with Johnson long or short, couldn't seem to get on the same page with safety Stevie Brown and in general had a miserable Giants debut. Stafford targeted him nine times, had six completions and ended up with a  146.8 rating throwing at Rodgers-Cromartie. Yes, I know it was largely against Megatron, but the Giants are paying DRC a ton of money to cover guys like that, and his performance was not encouraging.

Jacquian Williams -- An NFL linebacker should never, ever get embarrassed by an NFL quarterback in the open field the way Williams was embarrassed by Matthew Stafford Monday night on Stafford's fie-yard touchdown run. Stafford, not one of the NFL's running quarterbacks, juked a flailing Williams at the two-yard line and scored easily. The Giants talked a lot during preseason about how they thought Williams had grown into a three-down linebacker. Well, maybe not. Three missed tackles, a penalty and a whole lot of chasing guys who just caught passes instead of actually covering them.

Victor Cruz -- The numbers say Cruz was targeted six times and had only two catches for 24 yards. Cruz, who has to be a guy Eli Manning can count on, was anything but that on Monday night. Manning's second interception was a ball he probably shouldn't have thrown, and yes it was floated because he was running left. Cruz, though, is simply standing still waiting for the ball. Unfortunately, Detroit's Glover Quin was actually going to the ball -- which is what you are supposed to be -- and made the pick. Cruz also dropped a pair of passes that would have gone for sizeable gains.

Giants Pass Protection -- Manning was sacked twice and hit or hurried nine other times. That's 11 times in 35 drop backs that the quarterback was under duress. That is also pitiful. It's not even worth singling out individual linemen. Every Giants' lineman who started the game finished with a negative PFF grade.

Giants Punt Protection -- The Giants had a punt partially blocked, almost got two others blocked and might have lost Steve Weatherford for a while thanks to their inability to keep the Lions away from him. Three first-quarter punts, three awful efforts. And I thought Manning was the Giant most likely to suffer injury thanks to faulty protection.

Stevie Brown -- The fact that Brown led the Giants in tackles with nine is misleading. He wasn't good in his regular-season return after missing last season with a torn ACL. What, precisely, was he doing on Johnson's 81-yard touchdown run? It looked like he thought he was covering Rodgers-Cromartie, because he was running away from Megatron and laid a nice tackle on DRC. He seemed to be late in coverage all night.

Rueben Randle -- Two catches for one yard? Really?

Kwillies

Larry Donnell -- Donnell actually led the Giants in receptions with five and receiving yards with 56. He was, truthfully, the only guy who made plays for Manning all night. The problem was the one play Donnell didn't make. I'm not a scout or a coach, but on Manning's first interception Donnell was the 'hot' receiver on a Detroit blitz and clearly never got his head around to look for the ball. Manning fell on his sword after the game and tried to take the blame off the young tight end, but it certainly looked like that interception was the tight end's fault. Other than that one play, though, it was an encouraging night for the tight end.