What did we learn Sunday from the New York Giants’ 25-23 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?
The Giants Are Cooked
Stick a fork in ‘em. They are over. Done. Finished. Toast. Dead. The Giants are 0-4. Only one team, the 1992 San Diego Chargers, has made the playoffs after starting 0-4. This team isn’t making the playoffs. The have gotten better on offense, but still leave too many points off the board. Special teams is killing them. The defense can’t get stops when they are needed.
Nick Folk (two missed field goals and a missed extra point) and the Bucs tried to gift-wrap this game for the Giants. They couldn’t figure out how to open the package.
There are 12 games left. That means we face three full months of meaningless football. How many weeks until free agency?
The Giants Can’t Close Out Games
All credit to Jake Elliott of the Philadelphia Eagles for the 61-yard kick that beat the Giants a week ago, but a series of comical screw-ups by the Giants are what put Elliott in position to have that chance.
Again this week, the Giants couldn’t close the deal when they had the game in their hands. The Giants held a 17-16 lead heading into the fourth quarter. They had a number of opportunities to close the deal. They couldn’t.
- With 14:19 left, Aldrick Rosas missed a 43-yard field goal that would have given the Giants a four-point lead. Maybe he just felt bad for Tampa Bay’s Nick Folk, who had already missed three kicks.
- On the Giants’ next possession, they had second-and-3 at their 42-yard line with 9:43 to play. Eli Manning hit Brandon Marshall right in the hands with a pass that would have been a first down. Marshall dropped it, the Giants failed to convert, and Brad Wing then hit a miserable 15-yard punt to help set the Bucs up for a go-ahead touchdown.
- The defense twice gave up fourth-quarter leads. First, a five-play, 58-yard drive gave the Bucs a 22-17 lead. Then, the Bucs went 59 yards in nine plays over the final 3:16 for the game-winning field goal. All of that can’t be explained by the absence of Olivier Vernon.
The Defense Is A Mess
As mentioned above, the defense coughed up the lead twice in the fourth quarter. The Giants surrendered six plays of 26 yards or more. They gave up 111 yards rushing and 4.8 yards per carry. Aside from one sack, they barely got any pressures on Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston. Young defensive backs Eli Apple and Darian Thompson are continuing to struggle. The Giants continue to have no idea how to cover tight ends, giving up a 58-yard T to O.J. Howard and four catches for 80 yards and a TD to Cameron Brate.
The Giants entered the season thinking they had a championship-caliber defense. They don’t.
OJ Howard found the hole in the Giants defense pic.twitter.com/SFCZ0xo8P0— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) October 1, 2017
The punter’s confidence is in a big puddle on the field at Tampa Bay’s Raymond James Stadium at this point. A 15-yard (yes, 15-yard!) punt by Wing with 9:32 left and the Giants leading by a point set up Tampa Bay’s final touchdown. That on the heels of his 28-yard punt that helped the Philadelphia Eagles win last week. Wing has been a good punter for the Giants, but this can’t continue.
Rosas missing a 43-yard field goal didn’t help matters, but Wing is the kicker to be really concerned with right now.
Welcome to the NFL!!! Wayne Gallman's first touchdown in his first game! Oh, and Happy Birthday @Wayne_Kanye!! pic.twitter.com/k6Bg9oU0zn— New York Giants (@Giants) October 1, 2017
Wayne Gallman Is A Nice Player
Rookie running back Wayne Gallman was active for the first time thanks to a back injury suffered by Orleans Darkwa. He received extensive playing time thanks to a rib injury suffered by Paul Perkins, and took advantage of it.
Gallman carried 11 times for 42 yards (3.8 yards per carry) and he caught a 4-yard touchdown pass. You have to believe his role is going to continue to expand.
D.J. Fluker Did A Nice Job
In his first action of the season, Fluker started at right guard with John Jerry shifting to the left side to replace the injured Brett Jones. In a bit of irony, Jones ended up having to play anyway when Weston Richburg went out with a possible concussion.
Anyway, at first glance Fluker appeared to hold up well. Some of the Giants’ successful runs were to his side. Eli Manning was never sacked and was hit only twice, though some of that was due to Manning’s own nifty footwork.
We will examine Fluker’s work much closer in the days to come (that’s a hint on an upcoming film study), but the initial impression was a good one.
Ben McAdoo Does Have Some Imagination
The formation on the third-and-goal 2-yard touchdown pass to Rhett Ellison showed it. The Giants used three (yes, three) tight ends and placed defensive end Kerry Wynn at fullback in front of Gallman. They used play action and Manning found Ellison for an easy score.
Eli Has Wheels
Manning used his 36-year-old legs to score a 14-yard touchdown in the second quarter, the longest of his career. He also ran two other times and finished with three carries for 22 yards, 7.3 yards per carry. He also moved effectively in the pocket to buy time and make throwing lanes when he was pressured.
I don’t want to give away a “Kudos,” but if you want to kill Manning after Sunday, when he went 30-of-49 for 288 yards, threw two touchdown passes and ran for another then you’re off your rocker.
Dislocated Fingers Are Nasty
Just when you thought Odell Beckham was having a tough season...BAM a dislocated finger. pic.twitter.com/uMtoa9Et7x— James LeBreton (@jamesplebreton) October 1, 2017
Ouch! And Odell Beckham Jr. played after that, catching five second-half passes.
Putting Eli Apple On Mike Evans Was A Bad Idea
That is how the Giants began the game, and it cost them in a hurry. That cost the Giants a touchdown before they got Apple off Evans and Janoris Jenkins on him. Sorry, but putting your third-best corner on the best Tampa Bay receiver, and one of the five best receivers in the game, was never going to be a good idea.