OK, let’s get this done. Another loss by your New York Giants, this one a 33-18 disappointment at the hands of the New Orleans Saints. A 1-3 record. A whole lot of locker room speeches that sounded like regurgitations of the same stuff we’ve been hearing from years from different coaches and players. Let’s review in our tradition “Kudos & Wet Willies” style.
Kudos to ...
First-half defense — The Giants’ defense did as much as it could to give the team a chance to win on Sunday. Four times in the first half the defense turned away Saints’ scoring opportunities, forcing field goals. That included the drive that began at the Giants’ 11-yard line after a Wayne Gallman fumble.
Sterling Shepard — Ten catches in 10 targets for 77 yards and a touchdown. A pretty good day’s work for Shepard. Whatever page he and Eli Manning are on so far this season appears to be a good one. Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. need to find that page.
Landon Collins — The 2018 version of Landon Collins is beginning to play like the 2016 All-Pro version of Collins, not the slowed-by-injury version we saw last season. Collins was a force at the line of scrimmage Sunday with 14 tackles (9 solo). He was also solid in coverage and had a pass defensed.
Eli’s tackling — I have no idea when Manning last made a tackle, if he had ever made one in an NFL game prior to Sunday. His hustle after Gallman’s fumble, though, knocking Marshon Lattimore out of bounds at the 11-yard line, saved the Giants four points. It ended up not meaning anything, but still an excellent hustle play from the 37-year-old.
B.J. Hill — The third-round pick out of North Carolina State, continues to show that he is a much better, more versatile player than most thought. The collegiate nose tackle picked up the Giants only sack of the day on Sunday, his second in as many games. He’s been a pleasant surprise in a season that has thus far featured far too much familiar disappointment.
Saquon Barkley — Not Barkley’s best game, but he ended up with exactly 100 yards from scrimmage on the day (56 receiving, 44 rushing). He has hit the 100-yard mark in all four games this season. Barkley got 28 of his rushing yards on one play. There are problems with the Giants’ offense, but the way Barkley is playing isn’t one of them.
Alec Ogletree — Twelve tackles, five of which were solo and two of which went for losses. The veteran linebacker made a huge interception the week before in a victory over the Houston Texans, and has been a nice addition to the defense.
Wet Willies to ...
Eli Manning — As I wrote last night, Manning ended up with good overall numbers (31-of-41, 255 yards, a touchdown and a 99.1 passer rating). He really, though, didn’t have a good game. He missed connections with Beckham a couple of times. Whether it was by the design of the play calls or because he simply felt he had to check the ball down because of the soft zone played by the Saints, the passing “attack” became an endless series of dump offs and short throws that went nowhere. Somehow, the Giants couldn’t find a way to attack a secondary that had been giving up 336.7 yards per game (30th in the NFL) entering the game.
I have long defended Manning, and continue to believe that when he is comfortable and confident — like he was vs. the Texans — that he can make plays and win games. He has to be willing, and able, to challenge defenses down the field, though. I know it was a long time ago, but the guy who won two Super Bowls was willing to do that. Now? Whatever the reason, the passing attack consists mostly of a bunch of short passes to nowhere.
Offense as a whole — In a league where all of the rules favor the offense and where teams across the league seem to be consistently lighting up the scoreboard the Giants are plodding along and have now failed to score 30 or more points in 37 straight games. They haven’t even reached 20 in three of their four games this season. Astounding.
The offensive line wasn’t good Sunday, with center John Greco and the league’s highest-paid left tackle, Nate Solder, appearing at first glance to struggle the most. Manning was sacked three more times, and has now been sacked 15 times in four games. At that pace, he will be sacked 60 times this season. The most he’s ever been sacked in a season is 39. Complain about Manning all you want, but you have to believe the duress he’s under and the number of times he’s being hit or pressured is contributing to not getting the ball down field.
Take away Saquon Barkley’s 28-yard run and the Giants had 14 carries for 37 yards, 2.6 yards per carry.
Manning didn’t get much done. Beckham again made no impact plays. Wayne Gallman had a fumble that killed a potential drive and gave the Saints three points.
After the game the Giants were giving the “well, the Saints played a soft zone and didn’t let us do what we wanted” speech. We’ve been hearing it for years, from other head coaches, other offensive coordinators and other players. It’s tiresome.
Even without Evan Engram the Giants have quality offensive players. They need to find better ways to use them, to actually attack defenses rather than as Pat Shurmur said after the game, “pick away” and make trying to crawl down the field look like torture.
Curtis Riley — I have written this before, but the Giants have a problem at free safety. Riley has two major flaws — he consistently takes poor angles to the football, and when he does get there he simply cannot tackle. He either gets run through, past or simply hangs on to some part of a ball carrier until help from someone who can actually bring that player down arrives. It’s not a good look, and it’s not good enough to secure the back of the Giants’ defense.
Jawill Davis — I hate picking on a kid who had been on an NFL roster for maybe 48 hours when Sunday’s kickoff rolled around, the Davis was not good at all in his debut as the Giants return man. Replacing kickoff returner Codfy Latimer and punt/kickoff returner Stacy Coley (ankle), who had replaced Kaelin Clay, who had replaced Hunter Sharp, Davis was an adventure returning kicks. He fair caught the only punt he had to handle. Davis averaged 20.0 yards on three kickoff returns, but made the awful decision in the third quarter to bring a kickoff out from 5 yards deep in the end zone. He was stopped at the 11-yard line. He also mishandled two kickoffs in the end zone. A very shaky debut.
Pete Morelli — The horse-collar call on Janoris Jenkins was awful. There was a missed facemask on a run by Saquon Barkley. The pass interference call late in the game on Donte Deayon was debatable. That’s not the point, or why referee Pete Morelli gets a “Wet Willie.” Could the guy look, or sound, any more bored? Or, like he would rather be anywhere else than refereeing an NFL game? From the guy’s body language and his monotone voice while making calls you’d think he was having a colonoscopy. If the guy doesn’t want to be there, he shouldn’t be there.
Bob Papa on Giants radio: "Pete Morelli needs to retire."— Art Stapleton (@art_stapleton) September 30, 2018
Odell Beckham — Yes, I’m going to go here. Beckham hasn’t made an impact play in four games. Yes, Manning has missed him a couple of times. The lack of big plays, though, isn’t entirely on Manning. The Giants need Beckham to be better. I have also said this before — but the Giants didn’t make him the highest-paid receiver in the game to be a possession guy. They paid him to change games.
The sideline is also part of the story. There were no meltdowns Sunday from Beckham. Problem is, there wasn’t much of anything. Beckham is the Giants’ heartbeat. He is their energy source. Sunday, he seemed lifeless on the sideline, defeated. He was quiet and alone on the sideline much of the time as the game progressed and began to get away from the Giants. If Beckham doesn’t have life, the Giants don’t have life.
My game picks — I’m 0-4. I stink at picking games, that’s just how it is. I have to admit, I really wanted to pick the Giants to beat the Texans. I knew I should have done that. I wanted to do that in my gut. I just couldn’t justify it based on the numbers. Sunday, I knew better than to pick the Giants to beat the Saints. I knew that was a mistake when I first made the pick last Thursday and debated changing it right up until Sunday morning. Dummy! My advice to you — don’t ever bet your hard-earned money off my game predictions.