Each week we try to assess the things we have learned from the most recent New York Giants game. What did we learn from Monday's 27-7 shellacking by the Philadelphia Eagles?
The biggest thing we learned is that this Giants team is, like its predecessors the past couple of seasons, still capable of some really awful football.You wwant to believe this team will be different, but it still might not be good enough to contend in the NFC East. Despite some early promise, this might turn out to be another lost season in the Meadowlands. They could bounce back with a big victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, but all of the ugly play on Monday could only raise red flags.
Let's see what else we learned.
We were right to fear the Eagles' edge rushers
We wrote in our pre-game buildup about how the Eagles' edge rushers presented a problem for the Giants. Boy, did they ever. Manning was sacked three times and harassed all night. He had two rather comical intentional grounding calls, including one that looked more like a weak effort at bowling. Marshall Newhouse couldn't handle Connor Barwin. Weston Richburg couldn't seem to handle nose tackle Bennie Logan. Fletcher Cox, Vibby Curry and Brandon Graham all had their way, as well.
"They rushed the passer and they rushed the passer well, and we didn't do a very good job of protecting," said head coach Tom Coughlin in an understatement.
This was the nightmare scenario for the Giants. Behind, out of rhythm and having to look for bigger chunks of yardage. The offensive line was exposed.
Damontre Moore still doesn't get it
For all of you who are still whining after three years about why Damontre Moore doesn't play more, his idiotic unnecessary roughness penalty in the first quarter that cost the Giants seven points is the answer. On third-and-10 Moore wrapped and body slammed Sam Bradford to the turn well after the play was over. Rather than being forced to punt the Eagles got a gift 15 yards and a first down, which they converted into a game-tying touchdown.
"Another very, very bad penalty," was Coughlin's reaction to the play by Moore. The third-year player now has three penalties this season and 16 penalties in 37 career games, four of which have given first down to an opposing team.
Moore owned up to his mistake after the game, but the admission he made was stunning:
Give Damontre Moore credit. He said his roughing the passer penalty was "me having a poor football IQ and not being aware of the rules."— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoNYDN) October 20, 2015
Larry giveth, Larry taketh away
Tight end Larry Donnell was a star a week ago, making a brilliant catch in the closing seconds as the Giants defeated the San Francisco 49ers, 30-27. Monday night, Donnell helped the Giants give away a game to the Eagles. A first-quarter pass from Manning to Donnell was ripped away from Donnell by DeMeco Ryans in the red zone with the Giants driving for what might have become a 14-0 lead. Instead, it ripped away the Giants' momentum. They never regained it.
The play was called in interception. Tom Coughlin, though, referred to it as "Larry's fumble," and he was right. That was Donnell's turnover, not Manning's.
"I'm thinking 14 points here, and we end up losing the ball and no points," Coughlin said. "I thought it was a critical play in the game."
This is what Donnell is. A player capable of spectacular moments, but one who has come up small too often the past two seasons. His fumble that wasn't ruled a fumble Monday night crushed the Giants' early momentum.
"We both had our hands on the ball at the same time, but then I wasn't able to get the ball good and he just ended up making a good play," Donnell said. "We kind of met at the same time, so you know the ball was there, he was going for it and I was going for it and he happened to make a good play."
So much for praising Brad Wing
Through the first five weeks of the season, a ton of praise has been heaped upon punter Brad Wing. Monday night, though, Wing punted like, well, like manure. He was awful. His stats look fine, eight punts for an average of 42.4 yards per punt, a net of 39.3 per punt and two punts downed inside the 20-yard line. If you watched the game, though, you know he was far worse than that. Wing had a 27-yard punt and at least two other punts that only turned out OK because they were uncatchable and rolled several yards. If you've been wondering why Wing couldn't make it with the Eagles and got traded by the Pittsburgh Steelers after one season, maybe what we saw Monday night had something to do with it.
The pass rush remains non-existent
When your two best pass rushers are your fullback and a third-year defensive end who admits he really know what's legal and what isn't, you have a lot of problems. And when it comes to pass rush, the Giants have A LOT of problems.
The Giants got one sack of Sam Bradford (from Moore) and just three hits (two from Moore, one from Nikita Whitlock). Otherwise, Bradford pretty much had time to order room service, maybe get a massage, a pedicure, compose a song, take a nap, whatever he wanted to do while he was in the pocket waiting for receivers to come open. Which, inevitably they did.
The Giants simply can't rush the passer with four people. Unfortunately, with their best linebacker (Devon Kennard) out, and cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Trumaine McBride out defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo wasn't willing to risk dialing up blitzes and exposing his weakened secondary. The result was that Bradford was nice and comfy all night. He might not even need to wash his uniform.
The Giants have a meager seven sacks through five games, tied for last in the league.
The Nikita Whitlock experience wasn't all good
Well, you had to know every week wasn't going to be a fairy tale for the fullback/defensive tackle/special teams teams ace. Monday certainly wasn't for Whitlock. He used that incredible spin move to get a hit on Sam Bradford in the third quarter, but otherwise had a regrettable night.
He had a running into the kicker penalty that gave Philadelphia a first down and led to a touchdown. He also appeared to have little to no success getting anyone blocked while at fullback. The only time the Giants had success running was in single-back sets with Rashad Jennings (13 carries, 63 yards) running the ball. With Whitlock in the game, the Giants got nothing done in the run game.
For all of the things Whitlock can do for the Giants, the gamble was always whether or not he could do enough at fullback to justify the deicision to cut Henry Hynoski. At least on Monday, he didn't get that done.
Sam Bradford isn't very good
Which makes the lopsided nature of this loss by the Giants even harder to stomach. Bradford, the Eagles quarterback tried ... and tried ... and tried to help the Giants. Their response? A definitive "no, thanks!" nBradford threw a trio of interceptions, missed several open receivers and botched a handoff to DeMarco Murray that led to a fumble. Yes, the Eagles won. Easily.
DeMarco Murray is alive and well
Maybe a game against the Giants is all Murray needed. After a really slow start in which Murray gained only 47 yards on 29 carries, he had 20 carries for 83 yards last week and 22 for 109 against the Giants. The absence of Devon Kennard is really being felt by the Giants' defense.
The Giants still have hope
Despite Sunday's embarrassing loss the Giants do have hope. They are still actually tied for first place in the NFC East at 3-3, and their next three games are against the Tony Romo-less Dallas Cowboys, the 2-4 New Orleans Saints and the 2-3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.