Diary of a Giants Fan – Giant Disaster Versus Philly – Grades
Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. For what was, when you check the upcoming schedule, close to a must win for the Giants, the team failed to get off the bus. And in what can only be described as an unmitigated disaster, the Giants fell to the Eagles.
As we know, the Giants have a history of inexplicably poor play. They have a history of playing down to an inferior opponent. But it's been a long time since I've seen a Giants team play so dang awful. Their play was lackluster. It was listless. It was just plain lousy. The game started with some promise for the Giants, in that Vince Young looked awful. His first pass looked like a volley ball spike straight to the feet of an open receiver in the flat. The promise faded quickly, however, when on the Giants' first possession Ballard dropped an easy pass and Weatherford made his first of many entrances into the game. The bulk of the first half clicked by in largely uneventful fashion. Prince Amukamara, who was making his first ever start, did intercept a Vince Young pass, but other than that nothing of note transpired in the first quarter and a half of this chippy affair.
A big LeSean McCoy run, one of his only of the game, set the Eagles up in field goal position. The attempt was converted, 0-3 Eagles. Several brilliant Weatherford punts later the Eagles had the ball back inside their own five. A long completion to DeSean Jackson was called back after the always childish receiver taunted the Giants sideline. It was once again a sign of the ridiculous immaturity that has lurked behind the receiver's talent, the type of immaturity that had him benched last week. It was the lone positive to be taken from this horrific game, however, as after a poorly covered punt the Eagles would score on a touchdown pass to former Giant Steve Smith. 10-0 Eagles. A decent Giants drive would follow and move them into field goal range. Drops by both Cruz and Ballard kept them out of the end zone, however. They'd settle for a long field goal. 3-10 at half time.
It was a terrible half for the Giants. Just awful. They had no rhythm on offense. The offensive line wasn't blocking, the running backs weren't running and the receivers weren't actually catching anything. In all honesty, the only Giant who was doing his job was Steve Weatherford. If it is possible for a punter to pull his team to victory, it felt as though Weatherford would find a way. The defense hadn't played great but they were, honestly, playing well enough to win. The defensive line, this vaulted defensive line was not doing its job, though the linebackers and the secondary were, to this point, picking up their slack. If the Giants were to look like a professional football team in the second half they'd have to look to Eli Manning to win them the game. Defensively, the line would need to start playing better, heck, I would have settled for them showing that someone on the front four had a pulse.
Poor play by the offenses, including a Vince Young interception by Aaron Ross and poor play from the Giants' offensive line, reigned throughout the third quarter. Despite the Giants' inability on the ground, Kevin Gilbride picked tonight to show commitment to the running game. For the first time all season the offensive coordinator wasn't putting it on Manning to win the game. He was force feeding a running attack that was slowly dying in a sad state of malaise and disarray. It wasn't until the fourth quarter that the Giants finally broke through. It was through the air, of course, as Eli Manning found Hakeem Nicks deep down the right sideline. A touchdown pass to Cruz would follow to make it 10-10. It was a terrific drive for the Giant quarterback who looked part signal caller part orchestra conductor, rolling out of the pocket and directing his receivers with his hands. Despite the awful play the Giants looked poised to complete yet another fourth down comeback and sink the Eagles' season.
Then came the let down. And what a spectacular letdown it was. The Giants defense, which as a unit had looked decent all game, fell apart. Third down conversion after third down conversion had the Eagles marching down the field. Completions from Vince Young to b-team players like Riley Cooper were slowly demoralizing and decimating this Giants defense. In a cruel bit of mercy the drive was finally ended, nearly nine minutes after it started, when Young found Cooper in the back of the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown. 10-17. At least this horrifically inconsistent Giants team is consistent (yes, I know that sounds weird). If you've got Pro Bowlers on your offense, you're in trouble. However, if your offense features skill-position players who couldn't buy their way to Hawaii, and who couldn't get recognized wearing their home jersey in their home city, you'll be given free reign of the secondary.
The Giants were alive however. They had over two minutes to play and one of the best two minute quarterbacks in the game. Manning had the offense moving and into striking range with huge completions to both Nicks and Cruz. However, it's difficult to be one of the best two minute quarterbacks in the game when you're not given any time to throw in the pocket. In keeping with the night's tradition the offensive line steadfastly refused to block for their quarterback. Manning, trying to escape trouble, was sacked and fumbled. Ballgame.
And what an awful, appalling game it was. This was the worst game of the season for the Giants - yes worse than both the Washington and Seattle losses. Not only was this Giants team woefully disappointing in their execution, I thought they looked largely apathetic throughout. The only life the team seemed to show was when engaging in the numerous shoving matches that broke out. I usually try to add some levity to these columns, do my best to inject humor. Tonight, however, it's hard to find any humor to be taken from the contest. In fact, it's hard to find anything but disgust. To not only lose, but to give that kind of a performance, at home, against an inferior opponent, again, with so much on the line, is simply inexcusable. At least they lost as a team, I guess. Bad coaching. Bad offensive play. Bad defensive play. Bad special teams play. Except you Weatherford. You're a rock.
Grades: Defensive Line - F: Once again this much heralded, once great defensive line was lifeless in the first three and a half quarters of football. This week, however, there was no clutch, late game play to save an otherwise pedestrian game. Either by scheme or by sheer ineffectiveness this unit hasn't really been impressive lately. It makes me think that these experts who talk about how great this Giants pass rush is aren't actually watching the games. I mean, they are great. But only occasionally.
Line Backers - C-: They played without Boley, Mark Herzlich got the start, and actually didn't play that poor a game. They played well against McCoy but were burned far too many times by crossing and seam routes for there to a good grade here.
Defensive Backs - C-: This loss wasn't about them. But a win wouldn't have been about them either. A couple of interceptions, yes. But Riley Cooper ran wild late. Riley. Cooper.
Special Teams - C: The Giants return game is awful. They might be the only team in the NFL where the fair catch is the correct play every time. Weatherford really was the best player on the field for the Giants today. His punts played a huge role in winning the field position battle which helped keep the Giants in this game. This grade should probably be a tad higher, but poor coverage led directly to a touchdown and as you can tell I'm in a pretty foul mood.
Offensive Line - F: Block someone. Block anyone. Block each other for God's sake just show me that you're capable of doing it.
Running Backs - D: They didn't have a lot of room to run but they didn't help themselves either.
Wide Receivers - D: You get paid to catch the ball. Stop dropping it. Catch it.
Eli Manning - C: He threw an absolutely inexcusable interception in the first half but he made some clutch throws late and looked to have his team ready to go in for the score. Manning continues to look better moving in the pocket but he didn't have much space to move today. He got zero help from his receivers or his line. Still. More is expected, now.
Check back here during the week for a preview of the Giants' game at New Orleans...if you dare.