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Giants-Bucs “Kudos & Wet Willies” Review

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New York Giants v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Eli Apple gives up a first-quarter touchdown to Mike Evans.
Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Who deserves praise and who deserves criticism after the New York Giants’ 25-23 loss on Sunday to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? Well, you know how we handle that question. Let’s take a look with our traditional “Kudos & Wet Willies” review.

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Kudos to ...

Eli Manning — Sunday was about as well as Manning can play. He was 30-of-49 for 288 yards and had at least four passes (two by Odell Beckham Jr. and two by Brandon Marshall) dropped. He ran for a 14-yard score, the longest running TD of his career, and passed for two scores. He was never intercepted. He threw some beautiful intermediate and deep balls. He moved in the pocket. He did everything he possibly could have.

Wayne Gallman — In his first action, Gallman was impressive. He ran 11 times for 42 yards (3.8 yards per carry), showing both patience and vision. He caught a 4-yard touchdown pass. He threw a nice block on the 2-yard touchdown pass to Rhett Ellison, picking up a blitzer. Let’s not anoint him the running back of the future just yet, but he earned the right to play more in the coming weeks.

Evan Engram — This kid is a player. He caught six passes for 62 yards, including a 21-yarder and a terrific juggling catch for a first down with a Bucs defender draped all over him.

Offensive line — Yes, believe it or not, a “Kudos” for the beleaguered offensive line. After the first two running plays, which lost a total of 8 yards, the line did a nice job. Paul Perkins had a 14-yard run. Wayne Gallman had a 13-yard run. Eli Manning was never sacked and was hit just twice in 52 drop backs. With Brett Jones filling in at center and D.J. Fluker at right guard joining a makeshift group that had only left tackle Ereck Flowers playing where he started the season, the line held up just fine.

Wet Willies to ...

The entire defense — Soooo many things to talk about here, and soooo many players who could be given individual “Wet Willies.” Eli Apple, Darian Thompson, a mostly invisible Jason Pierre-Paul, the entire linebacking group. I could probably add more guys individually, but the reality is that the Giants have suffered a defensive meltdown from top to bottom. A defense that was one of the best in the league a year ago can’t tackle, can’t play the run, can’t cover the tight end, can’t prevent the big play and can’t protect a lead.

Where to start?

For the second straight week, the defense pretty much vaporized with the Giants holding fourth-quarter leads. They surrendered two leads in Week 3 vs. the Philadelphia Eagles, and two more Sunday against the Buccaneers.

Tampa Bay averaged 8.9 yards per play on its final two possessions, which included a four-play, 57-yard touchdown drive.

The Giants surrendered six plays of 26 yards or more, five of them for more than 30 yards.

Thompson still can’t tackle. Of course, it looked like no one in the secondary could. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins both had call carriers bounce off them when they tried to shoulder tackle instead of wrap up. Andrew Adams, replacing Thompson, whiffed on at least one tackle.

Apple — again — didn’t find the ball on the touchdown pass to Mike Evans. To his credit, though, he was at least in the vicinity of Evans. No one was within 20 yards of O.J. Howard on a 58-yard touchdown pass. And the Giants seemed to think trying to cover Cameron Brate was against the rules.

There was pretty much no pass rush, unless defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo sent blitzers out of the secondary. Jason Pierre-Paul had a half-sack, but was basically invisible for most of the game.

The run defense was again not good enough, giving up 4.8 yards per carry including a 36-yard play.

Brad Wing — Yuck! Wing is a great guy. He’s bright, funny, accommodating. All things that make you like him, and make you want to see him succeed. For the last two weeks, though, he’s been terrible at his job. He followed a critical 28-yard shanked punt vs. the Eagles that set up their winning score with an even worse 15-yard shank that set up a fourth-quarter Tampa Bay touchdown. These are the kind of back-to-back weeks that cost punters jobs.

Brandon Marshall — Bringing the veteran receiver to the Giants just isn’t working out. He caught six passes for 46 yards, and did make one nice catch that gave the Giants a first-and-goal at the Tampa Bay 4-yard line in the third quarter. The bad, though, far outweighed the good. He dropped a simple fourth-quarter pass that would have given the Giants a first down and led to Wing’s disastrous punt. He also had a first-quarter drop that cost the Giants a first down. Finally, there was a deep ball that Vernon Hargreaves, six inches shorter and 30 pounds lighter, knocked away from him. Marshall is on his fifth team in a 12-year career and has caught nearly 1,000 passes. He has never been to the playoffs, though, and the reason is apparent. He is not a winning player.

Final Thoughts

The Giants are 0-4 for a simple reason — they have earned the right to be 0-4. Coach Ben McAdoo talks incessantly about complementary football. In a way, the Giants are playing complementary football. Each of the three phases is complementing the other two in helping the Giants be bad.

The Giants have been better on offense the past two weeks, but they are still missing opportunities. Dropped passes killed a couple of drives Sunday and for the second week in a row the Giants passed up a chip-shot field goal and failed on a fourth-down conversion.

Defensively, see what I wrote above. Not good enough. Period.

Special teams? Wing has been a disaster. Aldrick Rosas missed a critical field goal on Sunday. They are getting nothing in the return game.

As McAdoo said Sunday, the Giants “need to win a damn game.”

They won’t do it, though, playing the way they have the first four weeks.