Diary of a Giants Fan: Giants Demoralized in New Orleans – Grades
Coming into this Monday Night game it was going to be hard for the Giants to put forth a more disgusting effort than they did last week. Then the game started.
The Superdome became a house of horrors for the Giants Monday night. It started from the opening gun with Drew Brees marching his prolific offense up and down the field. Thanks to a great play by Pierre-Paul, on what should have been an easy conversion on a fake field goal, the Giants were lucky to get out of the first quarter without giving up points. Their luck would run out, however, when on the first play of the second quarter Brees found Lance Moore for a touchdown. 0-7, and there's your ball game.
Well, not quite. The Giants would rally off of their first possession, which ended in a Manning interception - a play that Ballard really should make - to get a field goal. Their defense would then, defying all logic, get a stop, and a dream began to materialize that maybe the Giants could make a game of it. After their own offense stalled, however, that dream proved fleeting as Brees took his team straight down the field. Inside the Giant's ten yard line, with Aaron Ross giving roughly thirty yards of cushion - apparently scared he'd be burned on a fly route to the parking lot - Brees found Graham for the touchdown. 3-14 Saints. After yet another Giants drive stalled inside Saints' territory, the demoralizing knockout blow would come. Drew Brees, in some kind of seven-on-seven drill from hell, led the Saints on an 88-yard drive in just over thirty seconds. 3-21.
The half would end at that score, and if there is a just and loving God the game would have ended at that score. After all, the Giants had just spent a half having their doors blown off. The defense hadn't shown up, minus Pierre-Paul, and the offense had squandered numerous opportunities. They had been able to move the ball on the Saints, but penalties, drops (three on one drive), and just overall poor execution had cost them where it counted.
Normally, I would now take this opportunity to spell out what Big Blue would need to do in the second half to get the win...I've got nothing for you here Giants fans. Let's be honest, to get this win the G-men would have had to sign an entirely new secondary during halftime. The Giants's defensive line was not getting any real pressure, and that zone defense they've run with success a grand total of zero times this year had been completely dissected by Brees and company. Perry Fewell was showing a defiant refusal to attempt anything different, so unless the Giants found a way to draft L.S.U's secondary during halftime, we were screwed.
Still, the second half did open well, with the Giants driving down the field for a Brandon Jacobs touchdown run. It was the running back's first sign of life since being handed the starting job. Despite Jacobs taunting and dancing his way back to the sideline, in a frighteningly horrible display of situational ignorance, at 10-21 you once again thought that the Giants could make a game of this. The Saints would quickly crush that hope, however, answering with fourteen straight points that quite simply put this game away. They'd run away and hide in the end - the Saints had come into the Superdome and flat out destroyed the Giants. Big Blue's defense, except Pierre-Paul, looked largely uninterested in the second half, several players even looked to have flat out quit on the field. On a Pierre Thomas touchdown run Corey Webster stood and watched running back get to the corner before turning around and walking back to the sideline, making no effort to chase down the ball carrier. On the final touchdown of the game, a Mark Ingram run, Jason Pierre-Paul was the only defense player chasing down the back - a startling visual representation of a defense that got blitzed early and quit late.
The end result was a 24-49 loss for the Giants. It was a loss in which the Giants defense, even when it looked interested in the game's outcome, seemed as though they wouldn't have been able to cover the currently crutched Sean Payton. Their zone defense was simply demolished by the Saints. Their pass rush was non-existant, their secondary seemed lost, and Perry Fewell seemed to stubbornly refuse to try anything else - like, I don't know, blitzes? Maybe some man-to-man? This defense was flat-out embarrassed on Monday. Offensively, the Giants were only slightly better. Yes, they moved the ball on this team, but for the third straight game they squandered opportunities to come away with touchdowns.
It was, once again, a disgusting effort from the Giants. I wish that I could find the energy, the zeal - if you will - to write with the revulsion I should be feeling, but I'm just too demoralized. In fact, I think this game calls into specific relief a question that has to have been lingering in the mind's of Giants fans this week. Simply put? Is this team actually any good? Maybe not. I fear that once again the Giants got off to a fast start against poor teams and that start disguised the fact that they simply aren't a quality football team. I fear that early success elevated what should have been mild expectations for a squad that has been so ravaged by injury. But hey, perhaps it's less sinister than that. Perhaps they're just going through a rough patch. Perhaps the fact that this Giants squad, at least half of it, has come out in consecutive games and looked nothing short of apathetic is a coincidence. Perhaps the fact that the Giants have a starting running back who doesn't run, receivers who don't receive, and a defensive plan that wouldn't stop the passing attack of the Budweiser Clydesdale's is all just a recent trend that'll be fixed in time (Hey look, I rallied up and found the revulsion). Only time will well.
Grades: Defensive Line (Not Pierre-Paul) - D: They got more pressure than they had the last two weeks, but that's a pretty low bar. Disrupting Brees' timing is the only way to stop that offense and they failed miserably.
Pierre-Paul - A: JPP was everywhere on the field Monday. Throughout the game he was the only Giants defensive player who didn't appear to be suffering from a Mardi Gras hangover.
Linebackers - F: I know you've got injuries, but you do know that you're supposed to cover those guys running out of the backfield catching passes, right? Feel free to make an effort.
Defensive Backs - F: See above.
Special Teams - B: The kick return game showed some real improvement. I guess all the repetition helped.
Offensive Line - C-: There were some holes to run through and some protection for Manning, much better job. There's still a lot of room for improvement though, and there were some costly penalties.
Running Backs - C: Meh.
Wide Receivers - F: Stop. Dropping. Balls.
Eli Manning - B: He was the best offensive player on the field Monday for the Giants. Yes he threw an interception - which I maintain is a play Ballard needs to make - but I refuse to lay this loss at Eli's feet. He moved his team between the twenties and was stopped by offensive line penalties and wide receiver drops.
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