New York Jets 16 – New York Giants 10
Overview: “We did not play well at all,” Head Coach Jim Fassel said. “Maybe we needed this, but we made mental mistakes and physical errors, we missed assignments, we malfunctioned at times, we gave up too many big plays, and the false-start penalties.I’ve had my bellyful of those.I don’t think we played an inspired game. I’m just really disappointed.”
Most disheartening in the 16-10 loss was not the regression on offense, but the extremely poor run defense. The Jets’ offensive line really took it to the Giants’ front seven on defense and almost everyone’s tackling was simply atrocious. Tampa Bay must be licking their chops.
On offense, the Giants’ offensive line and backs didn’t handle the blitz well at all. The receivers disappeared. And there were far too many penalties.especially those nagging false starts that just don’t seem to go away.
I saw this game coming. The egos of the Giants’ players were once again getting too bloated. The Giants need to be confident, but not overconfident. Too many players are talking the talk, but not walking the walk. Shut up and play the damn game. There was too much talking in the press this week. Don’t celebrate after every good play – especially when the other team is taking it to you. This game was not as close as the score indicates. The players must stop thinking about how good they think they are and just PLAY ONE GAME AT A TIME, ONE PLAY AT A TIME. Let their actions do their talking for them. Don’t think about the playoffs or the Superbowl. Play tough, play physical, and wear down your opponent. If each player takes care of his own business, the Giants will do well.
I should preface my game review this week by letting readers know I am unable to give the a real good breakdown this week. I watched the game at a bar and thus was unable to tape it and breakdown the video. WOR‘s coverage stinks (ever hear of replay?) and I was drinking to much beer and not paying enough attention. My apologies.
On a side note, Keith Hamilton’s brother, Jarrod, made an appearance at the bar. He was riot.
Pray that Brian Williams’ knee injury is not serious and that he won’t miss any time. We cannot afford to lose him right now – especially with Lance Scott being down.
Quarterbacks: Kent Graham (13-22 for 125 yards, one touchdown, and one interception) was not as sharp this week. Granted he didn’t have the super-solid pass protection of the previous two games and had to rid of the ball far quicker, but he seemed to get a tad too antsy in the pocket this week. Last week, he made quite a few plays by scrambling out of the pocket. He did that far too much for my liking this week. He has to remember that that really isn’t his game.
To be fair, it did seem as if receivers were not getting open down the field. The Giants’ also most likely were not using their best stuff this week as they want to hide that from the Bucs. I thought his best pass of the night was his short toss to Charlie Way on a play where Way was most likely his third option. He showed some nice touch on that pass. He also did a good job of hitting Joe Jurevicius in stride on his sole touchdown pass. On the negative side, he badly missed on a couple of throws and he had far too many balls batted down at the line of scrimmage.
Kerry Collins didn’t get a chance to play much, but I expected more from him. His first pass was a beauty – a three-step slant to David Patten that allowed Patten to do some serious damage after the catch. However, he looked real shaky in the pocket to me. Again, the protection was not great, but Collins looked like he had some “happy feet” to me. Instead of moving around in the pocket, he took off scrambling a couple of times. His last pass to Jurevicius on 4th-and-23 was underthrown.
Wide Receivers: These guys didn’t bother to show up this week. Amani Toomer was shut out. Ike Hilliard was held to two catches for a measly 11 yards (he also fumbled the ball away). Patten made a real nice catch-and-run for 48 yards, but that was his only reception of the night. Jurevicius caught one pass for 12 yards and a touchdown. Fred Brock and Brian Alford were shut out. 4 catches is not going to get it done.
Running Backs: No fumbles this week. At least that was a plus. It was good to see Gary Brown (9 carries for 21 yards) back in there and I didn’t think he looked that rusty at all. There were a couple of plays where he got nailed in the backfield, but that was due to poor blocking up front. When he was given a hole, he showed those quick feet again. He did have one costly drop on a play where he might have picked up some good yardage.
Charles Way looked sharp. He had four tough carries for 12 yards and 2 catches for 28 yards. He’s a tank, but I’d like to see some more vision from him on his runs. Speaking of another guy who doesn’t have the best vision, LeShon Johnson seems to make up his mind where to take the ball sometimes without looking for the hole. He had a good gain on one rightside run, but could have broken it for big yardage if he saw the gapping hole right to his right. He does have a burst and had a reasonably productive night (10 carries for 36 yards).
Tiki Barber made a great, diving catch and had a key 10 yard run on the Giants’ last drive where he broke a tackle. However, I did spot him missing badly on one blitz pick up. On the subject of the blitz pick-ups, some of the pressure and sacks credited against the offense line probably had to do with shoddy blitz pick-ups from the backs. The Jets sent their linebackers quite a bit and these guys are often the responsibility of the backs, not the line. “They blitzed the heck out of us, but that’s okay. It’s good for us to see those blitz packages in the preseason,” Graham said. “They brought it to us and we struggled. There was a lot more pressure than there has been, that’s for sure.”
Sean Bennett only carried the ball twice for six yards. He did come up with a key first down conversion on the Giants’ last drive on an outside run. Greg Comella had two catches for seven yards.
Tight Ends: Pete Mitchell (5 catches for 50 yards) had a big night and Giants’ fans saw glimpse of what they are going to see all season long from him if he stays healthy. He was Graham’s sole security blanket over the middle all night. A couple of his receptions were tough catches in traffic and picked up key first downs. The good thing about the offense this week, even though they did not put a lot of points on the board, is that at least there weren’t a bunch of three-and-outs like there were last year. Pete Mitchell had a lot to do with that. It is also interesting to note that the Giants have him lining up all over the place – as a stationary tight end, as a move guy, in the backfield, in the slot, etc. Dan Campbell caught one pass for nine yards on the last drive.
Offensive Line: Much shakier this week and still too many false starts (I saw false starts from Scott Gragg, Nate Miller, and Jason Whittle). Most attempts to run outside were not successful as Jet defenders shot the gaps and disrupted the play. On the inside running game, there were too many missed assignments. I saw Luke Pettigout whiff on a run block early on. The Giants did not do well picking up blitzers either. There was too far too much pressure on Kent Graham and Kerry Collins this week. And that pressure was coming from all over the place – up the middle and from the outside. Matters were not helped with Brian Williams leaving the game in the second quarter with a knee injury. Derek Engler played in his place.
Defensive Line and Linebackers: “I don’t think we played an inspired game,” Fassel said. “I’m just really disappointed.” Fassel was probably talking about his entire team, but these are the sentiments I came away with by watching the Giants’ defense. The Giants did not play inspired football. But they also did not play smart. They repeatedly overpursued on running plays, kept getting burned on screen passes and misdirection, and tackled exceptionally poorly. Surprisingly, the Giants were not hurt so much from the downfield passing game. Where the Jets took it to them was by running the ball straight at them. The defensive line and linebackers were overpowered by a Jets’ offensive line that should not have overpowered them. Everyone was at fault, even Michael Strahan. Inside, the Giants’ defensive tackles were getting blown off the ball by the Jets’ supposedly “weak-link” guards. Christian Peter didn’t do much for the injured Robert Harris (who I saw get obliterated on one play). Cedric Jones was damn near invisible. When the Jets did pass, their was no pass pressure. The line and linebackers did not do a good job of reading screens, unlike the previous two weeks.
But as bad as the line was, the linebackers were even worse. For some reason, Scott Galyon played a ton in the base defense for Corey Widmer and Galyon got killed. All talk of him starting on the strongside should stop right now. When he was not getting handled at the point-of-attack, he was overpursuing the play. Marcus Buckley and Ryan Phillips were invisible. Jessie Armstead had his moments, but he was getting handled too often too. And the tackling was simply terrible. No one wrapped up.
The only guy who I thought had a positive performance at linebacker was Pete Monty. The only highlight of the game was the goalline stand (Widmer made real nice play on one outside run and Jessie stuff an inside run).
It is interesting to note that Rasheed Simmons saw playing time, but Frank Ferrara did not. Neither did Keith Council, Ryan Hale, O.J. Childress, or Jesse Tarplin.
Secondary: Jeremy Lincoln played better this week. Plus, one of the guys at the bar told me that they rid an article last week where Defensive Backs Coach Johnnie Lynn said Lincoln was not responsible for the big pass play last week against Jacksonville. Lincoln played too far off the ball for my liking, but he did not hurt his team. He also made a very nice run force on an outside play. Phillippi played off the ball a bit too. I think the Giants might have been trying to mislead the Bucs a bit here. Reserve CB Andre Weathers did not have a good game. He made one real solid tackle, but he should have been burned for a long touchdown (the receiver dropped the ball) and his man got open on another pass that was off the mark. Percy Ellsworth continues his clinic on poor tackling (though he did have one nice effort). He was run over on the goalline by Curtis Martin. Shaun Williams almost killed Testeverde on a safety blitz.
Special Teams: P Brad Maynard did not play well. He had two nice coffin corner kicks, but his other two punts were atrocious. PK Brad Daluiso did a very nice job with his kick-offs and hit a long field goal (for 46 yards). Bashir Levingston was not in the game (not a good sign for him). David Patten had one decent kick return, as did Tiki Barber on a punt return. Punt and kick coverage this week was OK. Blocking for returns remains shoddy. Sean Bennett returned a couple of kicks and didn’t look real natural doing so (he seems to lack a burst for that part of the game).
The first game I am covering this year, and it is the Jets. It always leaves a bitter taste in my mouth because we never play well against these guys- now they have the Tuna, in his Prime Albacore days. As I’m riding up the Pike I am thinking to myself- everyone knows the Jets were the Titans, but , of course, now the Titans are in Tennessee. But do you all know how the Titans originated? There was a sports writer in NYC named Harry Wismer. Harry hated the Giants. When the AFL came along, Harry and other investors jumped at the opportunity. But the team had to be larger than the Giants. Harry searched his mythology and discovered that the keepers of the Forge, the Titans were larger than Giants, so lo and behold, we had the NY Titans.
Also, I’m thinking, how many people actually knew any of these early Titans/Jets? I grew up in East Orange, NJ, in an area of two family, one family homes. There were a lot of big lots with cherry trees, apple trees, grape arbors, mulberry trees and the occasional quince tree. It was an ethnic area- Vailsburg(Newark) ran from South Orange Ave to Tremont Ave- it was interspersed, but heavily Irish American. East Orange started at Tremont and ran west- my block was heavilt Italian American. The next major street began a mixed area of Irish, Italian and Afro Americans. We played together, fought each other, and misappropriated the good Italian red table wine that the old timers made on their presses in the fall. Life was good. So what does this have to do with the Giants/Jets game? One day, the fellow who owned our two-family house, sold the lot. The cherry trees and apple trees were replaced by a new home. Into that home moved a huge man- he was Art Powell, then of the Jets, later an all-Pro with the Oakland Raiders. We used to marvel at how he pushed his manual lawn mower with one hand. I don’t remember the circumstances, but I do remember one day dad sending me next door to get Mr. Powell, who had a long distance phone call at our house. It was the Oakland Raiders calling and I sat and listened to Mr. Powell negotiate for his moving expenses. He was a working man’ just like every one else in the area.
The Jets followed me off to Law School as they were the only team broadcast in Lexington, VA. This was Skins territory, so our beloved Giants were newspaper reading only. And there, the infamous Heidi game took place. Off went the game with the Jets beating, who else? But those same Raiders, on came Heidi- disaster struck- the Jets, leading, lost and TV history was made.
Now, how else can I be haunted by these soul bandits. Get this- my son is born in VA.- he has no connection with NY save me. But he watches as my wife gives me Giants presents on every holiday and special days. He listens as I scream at the TV and die with each Giant loss. And you know what, he grows up a Jets fan. And you, my friends thing there is pain in your life. First my son, then Tuna, what next will these Jets steal- our chance at Super Bowl glory?
Well Saturday’s game was another loser. You have all read the analysis of others by now. My highlight was closing the loop with other friends- the sidelines are a welcome place- habituated by camera gypsies, writers who occasionally slum with us riff-raff, and this week The Donald and one lovely photographer who showed up wearing black silk-like hip huggers and a matching top, leaving a bare mid-section. By the third quarter I had found my place to stand.
The game itself- ugly. The Jets came to win, the Giants, for the most part, just came. The Tuna began the mind game by starting Lucas, which apparently discombobulated the Giants defense, which, except for Jessie and Michael thought they were spectators at the ballet. Screen, draw, draw, screen- the rush was nullified. The first drive was Curtis Martin’s and he showed why he is worth big bucks. Lucas was surprisingly agile an accurate. The Jets controlled the ball for 11 minutes. For the Giants, it was Graham with short passes, Brown with real short gains. Then the rumble. Vinny goes back to pass, Jessie rushes, the ball is in the air, all hell breaks loose. These teams were just waiting for the opportunity for a good one. When the refs regained control, they penalized Jessie, probably because Vinny is a QB. Possibly unfairly in view of all the involvement by both teams. They might as well have called the game right there. The rest of the night was trench warfare.
The second quarter was the Giants. We had the ball twelve minutes, but the Jets finished with the lead. Gary Brown started with a -7 yards on two plays. A defensive holding call, a couple of incomplete passes, then a nice shotgun shuffle to Way for some yardage. The Way and Brown brought it close, where Graham hit JJ on a nice play. All the hard work was nullified when Martin went around the left end on an 80 yard romp, which left Giants laying all over the turf and from my vantage point in the end zone behind the run looked like an Alphonse-Gaston routine, no you tackle him, no YOU tackle him. What was the D thinking? The Giants then held the ball for awhile and practiced their short yardage offense, short run, short pass, short run. There was one real nice pass to Mitchell over the middle, good for 16 yards. The drive ended with a punt.
The first half saw Martin put in a full night’s work- he finished with 127(half). Graham was our leader with 22, followed by Brown with 21 and Way with 12. It was that kind of night for Kent, deja vu all over again as the line did not hold. Losing Brian Williams led to confusion. Luke played like a rookie- not real bad, just bad enough to almost get his QB killed. Actually, Gragg and Cross looked the best. Graham was a respectable 9/13 for 97 yards, despite little help from the line, the disappearance of Amani and a couple of penalties. Of the passes, 4 went to Mitchell for 43 yards.
The third quarter was a Bennett return and LeShon trying the left end. Hilliard then fumbled and the replay official ruled it a Jet recovery- looked pretty close from our vantage point. The defense stiffened. By now Peter was in and he was everywhere making hits. Cedric Jones, ah! Cedric- was he still in Albany? Cedric has one move; he stands up and runs into the tackle. If the play passes him, he has cat like speed and can make a tackle from behind. Where is the real Cedric Jones? The third quarter was a bore. Jessie for the Giants, Ferguson for the Jets were the enforcers. It was punt left, punt right, missed field goal, interception in the end zone and fumble. It doesn’t matter which team, neither had it going, except for the obvious embarrassment the Giant D felt for that Martin run. Jessie was possessed, and Strahan had a full game face. Time of possession, about even. The fourth quarter was a replay- almost even possession.
We got good field position late in the third, couldn’t move far, got a field goal. Whittle was the center for the long snap. The Jets had modest gains- Vinnie was still in the game. They were stopped and punted. Collins came in for the Giants, and started out with a beautiful catch and run by Patten, good for 48 yards. Then sack, short, short, punt. Mirer came in for the Jets and after one moderate gain, he was greeted by Rasheed Simmons who got the sack. Following the Jets punt, Collins completed a short pass, Bennett had little success, Collins scrambled, Tiki had a run, Collins was sacked, missed a pass to Brock which was just not well timed and then missed a beauty to JJ who came downfield turned his man in, dived out and came up just short on a timing pattern. That was it.
Sideline observations: Coach was not happy, Strahan looked frustrated, Peter was having a great game, Jessie settled down and played smart after his initial outburst of testosterone. Graham had a decent game and showed he deserves to be the starter, but he needs help from the front line. Brian Williams value cannot be understated. He is the key to success this year. With him, the line has espirit, without him, it is last year without Scott. Our kick return game looks better, and Coach said he was pleased with the kicking. Gary Brown has a way to go and Charles Way should lead the offense. Tiki has settled in and has a place. The Jets are a good team and we put up a legitimate 184 yard passing effort against them with 8 different receivers getting into the act. Mitchell is going to be the go to guy and Patten is the breakaway threat. Jessie is the man, and Lincoln had a pretty decent effort. As boring as it was, the Giants held their own against a team rated by many as a legit Super Bowl contender. Parcells went for it, Fassel kept the wraps on- December should be a different game.
Following the game, Coach Fassel said he wasn’t real happy, the penalties had to stop, he didn’t think it was right to penalize Jessie alone for the fight. On Gary Brown, he ” thought he ran hard…he had 9 carries” about what he had anticipated. He didn’t think the Giants `were sharp.’ “We were coming up with some plays, they were coming up with some bigger plays.” He felt the Jets “were very effective with draws and screens…I don’t know if we got out of our rush lanes, if somebody blocked us up…” Coach didn’t feel the team reacted well to the blocking. There was some thought that the practice days inside last week hurt, “there were a lot of missed tackles.”
He felt, Kent played well, overall `it wasn’t his best performance, but it was alright.’ On the offense, he reiterated it “was a building process.” He knew they weren’t going to keep scoring like the first two games. Overall, he was just “really disappointed right now.” He said he “would go back, look at the tapes….whatever we weren’t doing right, I’ll coach them up…” He was asked about what he would do with the penalties- he said he would bench em, but refused to go into it further and teased the media by not discussing anyone in particular.
Jessie explained the fight and said the ball was in the air and “Vinnie started grabbing me” so Jessie grabbed him back and then all hell broke loose. Jessie acknowledged that the defense had to tighten up, they “couldn’t just give up a big gain like that.” He talked about the game being violent and said he didn’t feel it was justified to give him the penalty. He felt ” we had a letdown.”
In the lockeroom Kent Graham was talking about the loss of Lance and Brian Williams. He said he “knew that..he would have to do some scrambling to get some people open. This was another good test for us, a different type test for us.” He “thought we were trying to be smart with the football…they were trying to do the same thing…” Kent said the team would have to regroup, that they had had “a lot of good games…as a whole the preseason was positive.” I asked him if he had put too much on himself by scrambling to make things happen. He acknowledged he “took some shots out there…I feel ok.”
The rest of the night I talked to Emmit Zitelli and Ferrara. We didn’t talk for attribution just made conversation. Emmit and Frank are good kids. Both are chasing a dream. Sometimes we forget they are young, and maybe even scared. Not many media people pay much attention to Zitelli. It’s assumed he’s going to be cut. He’s frustrated that he hasn’t gotten any playing time, but he’s staying balanced. Emmit is from Pittsburgh; he’s played in Europe for two years now and feels that’s enough. Although the experience was good, it was living in hotels, with a roomate- it was a vagabond existence. Frank is a big, good natured shy kid, who actually blushes when I tell him of his following on BBI. He says he is trying as hard as he can and giving it his all. He got in for one series tonight and loved it, but is frustrated at lack of playing time. He has a high level of energy, and frankly, for my money, put him next to Cedric and at least Frank acts alive. I wish them the best of luck- they are good people.