Thanks to all of you who congratulated my family on our son’s wedding Sunday which, as many of you know, took me away from my seat in the MetLife Stadium press box for Sunday’s 29-27 loss by the New York Giants to the Washington Redskins.
I am not, however, going to let the week go by without giving you the traditional “Kudos & Wet Willies” review. Truth be told, I saw most of the first half before leaving for the ceremony. And yes, at the reception I was among the many who were checking their cell phones for score updates.
Anyway, this “K&WW,” as it’s a day later than normal is part Kudos & Wet Willies and part film review. It is also, actually, part commentary on the Giants’ seemingly never-ending ability to find ways to lose games they should win.
Kudos to ...
Odell Beckham’s talent — I predicted before Sunday’s game that Beckham would get the better of Josh Norman in their one-on-one matchup, and that happened. Norman couldn’t cover Beckham last year, and he couldn’t cover him Sunday as Beckham caught seven passes for 121 yards. Six of those catches and 107 of the yards came with a helpless Norman in coverage.
Offensive line — Aside from Weston Richburg getting tossed from the game for a pair of personal foul penalties Eli Manning called “ticky-tack” the line played well. Bobby Hart held up at right tackle. Ereck Flowers had another good week at left tackle. John Jerry continues to show he has figured out how to run block. Four of the Giants’ five highest-graded players by Pro Football Focus were offensive linemen (Justin Pugh, 85.3; Hart 80.8, Flowers 75.4, Jerry 74.4).
Orleans Darkwa — I have said this before, and after his 10-carry, 53-yard effort on Sunday I will say it again. There may be guys as good as he is on the roster, but the Giants do not have a running back who is better than Darkwa. Shame on Ben McAdoo for never putting the ball in Darkwa’s hands for the final 23 minutes of Sunday’s game. By the way, as much respect as I have for Rashad Jennings I would still like to see Darkwa get a real opportunity to be the primary back. If Jennings’ thumb allows him to play next week against the Minnesota Vikings that won’t happen. But, it should.
Wet Willies to ...
Special teams — How many devastating special teams mistakes can a team make in one game? The Giants made a season’s worth in one game, and that is a big part of the reason they are 2-1 instead of 3-0.
- There was Josh Brown, kicking the ball out of bounds (way out of bounds) after the Giants had taken a 7-0 lead. That put the ball at the 40-yard line and set up Washington’s first score. That’s three points courtesy of a special teams blunder.
- There was the 50-yard punt return. You can blame that one mostly on Eli Apple and partly on Dwayne Harris. Apple is 1-on-1 with Jamison Crowder pinned to the sideline. He has to make that tackle. It didn’t help that Harris, the opposite side gunner, overran the play and gave up contain on his side. Finally, an awful punt by Brad Wing started the whole mess. Three more points for the Redskins.
- There was the fake punt. The Giants had single coverage on gunner Quintin Dunbar, and Trevin Wade stumbled trying to locate the ball. Rather than criticize Wade, I’m going to wonder why the Giants didn’t have the gunners doubled. That cost the Giants 31 yards and possession of the ball. Three more points for Washington.
- Andrew Adams’ penalty. Had the blocked punt by Romeo Okwara stood, the Giants would have taken over at the Washington 18-yard line trailing 26-24 with just more than 11 minutes to play. Adams’ unnecessary roughness penalty forced a re-kick, and the Giants ended up with the ball at their own 30-yard line. Adams clearly launched himself, and was clearly unaware the hit was unnecessary anyway because a) the ball had been blocked and b) the Washington player had gone out of bounds. I know it was his first NFL game, but that’s as boneheaded as it gets. That’s a 52-yard difference in field position. The Giants did get a field goal on the drive for a 27-26 lead, but that was still an opportunity missed and time taken off the clock.
In all, those four plays could be looked at as a potential 13-point swing in the game.
Odell Beckham’s maturity — When will Odell grow up? Yes, he made it through the game without having any incidents with Josh Norman, and even spoke peacefully to him afterwards. But, attention-grabbing tantrums worthy of a 5-year-old on the sideline that drew the ire of the head coach, quarterback, position coach and was caught by the TV cameras? C’mon! Beckham’s talent ought to have people comparing him to Jerry Rice. Instead, this immature nonsense conjures up images of Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson.
Eli Manning — The stats say that Manning completed 25-of-38 passes for 350 yards. Those numbers look good, but Manning really didn’t play well at all. In no universe was Shane Vereen open on the game-ending interception. The ball needed to be thrown somewhere, but not there. Manning was a bit off-target. Per PFF, Manning had a 39.6 rating under pressure, and a 37.5 rating when blitzed. Gotta be better than that.
The one play I will cut Manning some slack on is the goal line interception thrown toward Will Tye. When Manning lets go of the ball, Tye — as you see above — has inside position and looks to be open for the score. Tye, though, quits running, allows Quinton Dunbar to take inside position and doesn’t put up a fight as Dunbar makes the interception.
Shane Vereen — I know he had a triceps injury that will require surgery, and that coach Ben McAdoo indicated he had been playing through it for a while. But, that’s part of the problem. If you are a running back who has an injury that impacts your ability to secure the ball you shouldn’t be out there. Vereen fumbled twice, even if he was ruled down on the first one, and lost fumbles in each of the last two games. Call it tough if you want, and I don’t honestly know when Vereen told the Giants about his injury, but I’m thinking he, like Rashad Jennings, should not have been out there.
Richburg — “Ticky-tack” penalties or not, and I would agree that they probably were, Richburg had to understand the way the game would be officiated. He had to be able to avoid anything unnecessary after the whistle. He had to be more disciplined and poised than that, and he wasn’t.
This was an awful game for the Giants, much too reminiscent of the 2015 season. The Redskins didn’t win. The Giants lost. The 13-point swing on special teams. A goal line turnover that cost them at least three points. Tye’s failure to fight for position that likely cost the Giants points. A horrible throw by Manning on the game-ending drive. An Odell Beckham sideline tantrum. A Weston Richburg ejection, even though both of his personal foul penalties were questionable. An Olivier Vernon roughing the passer penalty with 6:54 left that turned what would have been a third-and-14 for Washington into a first down at their 36-yard line and enabled them to drive for the eventual winning field goal.
The Giants should be 3-0, riding high heading into next week’s Monday Night Football game against the Minnesota Vikings. Instead, they let the Redskins off the mat for the second year in a row, missing an opportunity to put themselves in a good spot in the NFC East.
I did not put McAdoo in the “Wet Willies.” But, I could have. And maybe I should have. He did not have a good day Sunday. Everything was rosy for McAdoo as the Giants started 2-0 in his rookie season as head coach. Sunday, not so rosy.
McAdoo said Monday that “when we’re not disciplined and poised, that’s a reflection on me.”
The Giants were neither disciplined nor poised on Sunday. They are -6 in takeaway/giveaway ratio after treating the ball like a grenade for the third straight week. The special teams were ridiculously bad. Beckham was out of control on the sideline.
On top of all that, there were those 20 straight passes to close the game. Giants’ fans used to laugh at Andy Reid when the former Philadelphia Eagles coach would abandon a working running game for no reason, throwing pass after pass. It’s impossible not to call out McAdoo for having done that same thing on Sunday.
Yes, the Redskins were without Bashaud Breeland and DeAngelo Hall. Yes, Richburg got booted. But, the Giants ran 21 times for 120 yards (5.7 yards per carry). Orleans Darkwa was gashing the Washington defense. His last three runs were for 13, 9, and 6 yards. Yet, the last running play the Giants ran came with 8:00 left in the third quarter.
That kind of play-calling reeks of desperation, and while it was a tight game the Giants never had any reason to be desperate until their final drive.
Here’s another question. McAdoo sat Jennings because of ball security concerns. Did he know Vereen was hurting? If so, why was Vereen playing with an injury that obviously affected his ability to hold onto the ball while Jennings was inactive?
McAdoo needs to be better than that. The Giants as a whole need to be better than what we saw Sunday. It was just one game, of course. It looked and felt much too much like 2015, though, for anyone to simply shrug it off.