Oct 252001
 
Philadelphia Eagles 10 – New York Giants 9

Game Overview: The Giants should be 5-1, but are 3-3. But what’s done is done and the team does not have the luxury of time to dwell on it. If they do, the season will slip away.

So the Giants find themselves in the crisis-mode once again – something quite normal in the professional sports setting. How they respond to this crisis will determine the outcome of the 2001 season. In 1997 and 2000, they responded well to crises. In 1998, the responded too little too late. In 1999, they did not respond well at all.

What is going on with the offense? If you want definitive answers from me, you are not going to get them. I can only speculate and provide various theories. It is up to you to decide whether or not they have any merit:

  • The Eagles have a very good defense. Unlike my anger over not being able to put more points up on the board against the Rams, I can appreciate the difficulties the Giants’ offense faced playing against the Eagles. In the two regular season games from last year, the Giants moved the ball quite well against Philadelphia and at times on Monday night, they had them back on their heels as well (though it can be argued that the Giants’ long drives were only possible due to the numerous defensive offsides penalties). But don’t discount the Eagles’ defense – give the other team credit too.
  • Because the Eagles face the Giants twice a year, they are very familiar with the Giants and what they try to accomplish on offense. Just as the Giants were able to figure out what the Eagles intended to do on offense, the Eagle defenders often knew what play was coming before the snap of the ball. But they also made the strategic decision to not let Tiki Barber beat them. So every time Barber went out for a pass, there seemed to be three Eagles around him. No one but Ike in the first half stepped up to the plate to make the Eagles pay for this strategy.
  • The Eagles are familiar with the Giants, but the Giants were simply too predictable and too conservative, especially in the second half. EVERY drive in the second half, except for the last one after the Giants had lost the lead, started off with a running play. You can’t do that against a quality defense. It puts you in too many 2nd- and 3rd- and long situations. One got the feeling that Jim Fassel decided to sit on the 9-point and 6-point leads. Well, he got burned because of it. 9-points is a little more easy to accept (after all, if the Eagles score on defense, fans would be shouting “Why did get so risky when our defense was playing so well?”). But after the Eagles cut the lead to 6-points, the lead was too small to play it safe. One play is all the Eagles would have needed to take the lead, and unfortunately, they got it.
  • The Giants made some strange calls in the redzone, as well as making some huge mistakes. The Giants allowed a couple of big sacks in the redzone. They also made some strange calls such as the 3rd-and-13 screen to Tiki, a naked rollout on 3rd-and-goal after two straight running plays, the shovel pass to Ike Hilliard (which the Giants had just shown last week against the Rams so it fooled no one), the swing pass to Tiki on 3rd-and-goal. Then there was Collins dropping a shotgun snap that put the Giants out of field goal range. Right after that play, despite having timeouts, the Giants rushed to get another play off and threw a 2-yard pass to Hilliard. I blame Jim Fassel for that as well.
  • The Giants simply refused to throw the football down the field. Except for Collins’ strange decision to fire a deep pass into triple-coverage, the Giants’ passing game kept everything short. This is very strange when one considers that in the past the Giants have had success throwing deep on the Eagles. Many times it seemed that the receivers were covered. But there also seemed to be many plays where the primary target was the short receiver and the Eagles were waiting for this. As the Eagles played tighter and tighter against the line, these plays became even more difficult. The Giants NEVER made the Eagles pay for playing so tight to the line of scrimmage. You’re not going to make a living trying to methodically drive the ball down the field against a top notch defense. You need big plays.
  • The Giants don’t seem to have a lot of speed on offense. Tiki Barber is a fast halfback. Dayne is not. Amani Toomer has above-average speed, but is no blazer. Hilliard is more quick than fast. Joe Jurevicius is sluggish. The Giants never throw to the tight ends, so when Howard Cross and Dan Campbell are on the field, the defense doesn’t have to worry about them. Collins is immobile. Ron Dixon has speed, but is having problems picking up the offense. Jonathan Carter has speed but is on the Practice Squad because he is having problems picking up the offense.

Now the Giants find them in three straight must-win games. They lost their wiggle-room with these two 1-point losses. Not a great situation to find themselves in. Beware, because the Redskins’ defense is playing very well right now.

Quarterback: Kerry Collins (21-out-of-33 for 162 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions) played alright, but he didn’t do enough to help his team win. His longest throw of the night was 38 yards and that was a short pass that Hilliard turned into a long gain with his feet. Part of that was due to the play-calling, part of that was due to the receivers not getting open, and part of that was due to Kerry’s reluctance to throw the ball down the field. The one time that he did was a poor decision (triple coverage). My biggest problem with him on the night was on the last drive right before halftime. He took a sack on 1st-and-5 from the 17 (why the Giants were not in the shot gun here makes little sense to me). Then he took another big loss when he couldn’t handle the shot gun snap on the next play. Then instead of calling a time out (I blame the coaches here too), he rushed a short throw on 3rd-and-long that didn’t help Morten Andersen out at all. Dumb. The missed field goal cost the Giants the game.

Up until that time, Collins had been efficient, moving the Giants deep into the redzone on three separate occasions. The only thing I didn’t like was that when the Eagles were jumping offsides, Collins didn’t take his free shot down the field. Dumb. I liked the way he handled himself on one play on the third drive, when he looked right, found nothing, and then came back to his left and just missed hitting Barber deep for what would have been a huge play. But this is one of the few times he fired deep. Right after that was the best play from him all night when he rolled to his right and threw a perfect pass to Hilliard for a first down on 3rd-and-15.

But too many of his throws were telegraphed too. He should have seen the Eagles concentrating their coverage on Barber and him staring in his direction from the snap of the ball didn’t help matters. The few times he checked off the primary receiver, it worked such as his pass to Dayne on the second-to-last drive of the first half.

In the second half, things started off well on the first drive as Collins hit Joe Jurevicius over the middle for a first down on 3rd-and-2. He then threw to Dayne for 8 yards. But after a run picked up a first down, Collins wasted a play by that throw into triple coverage. He then missed Jurevicius on an intermediate pass that could have gone for big yardage. Immediate pressure on the next play forced a short throw and the Giants punted.

The next four drives the Giants’ offense went 3-and-out. This gave the Eagles new life and the game. The play-calling was overly conservative as every drive started with a run. Receivers couldn’t get open and the short passes went nowhere. There were also two drops. Two “drives” ended with Collins forced to throw the ball away when (1) he couldn’t see the open receiver or (2) no one could get open. To top the night off, I don’t know what Collins was thinking when he decided to scramble left, while carrying the ball like a loaf of bread, on the final offensive play of the night for the Giants. The resulting fumble put the final nail in the coffin.

Wide Receivers: Whether it was their inability to get open, the play-calling, or the quarterbacking, the receivers were a virtual non-factor. Only Ike Hilliard (6 catches for 80 yards) made much noise and this came only in the first half. Amani Toomer (3 catches for 19 yards) was invisible. He also failed to bring down a catchable ball on 3rd-and-long on the second drive of the second half. He also had a drop in the first half. Joe Jurevicius (3 catches for 22 yards) had a couple of key third down conversions but was too unproductive as well. If the Giants dump Hilliard to keep Jurevicius at the end of the year, it will be a mistake. Hilliard brings a bit of fear to the opposing defense; Jurevicius does not.

The one thing Jurevicius does do very well in open space is block and he had a number of key blocks, including on the short, quick pass to Hilliard on 3rd-and-3 for a first down.

The shovel pass to Hilliard on the goalline was stupid. This is a trick play, but the Giants just ran it last week against the Rams. Of course, the Eagles were ready for it. What I would have liked to have seen the Giants do more, especially in the second half, was to spread things out more like they did on their last drive of the first half. At one point, counting Barber, the Giants went to 5-wide and it worked. Hilliard’s best play of the night came with his nifty spin move and run for 38 yards right before halftime. This play should have put the game away had it not been for the ensuing negative yardage plays.

Running Backs: Tiki Barber (13 carries for 55 yards, 5 catches for 25 yards) and Ron Dayne (16 carries for 32 yards, 2 catches for 15 yards) had their moments, but it wasn’t enough. Barber looked pretty sharp, but had some negative plays that hurt. On the first drive of the game, he dropped a 3rd-and-6 pass from Collins that should have picked up the first. Tiki dropped a 3rd-and-7 pass on the next drive, but was let off the hook because the Eagles jumped offsides.

The screen to Barber on 3rd-and-long down in the redzone was a dumb call. The Giants were basically just setting up a shorter field goal. No guts, no glory. It also looked like Barber screwed up right before the shovel pass. On 1st-and-goal, Greg Comella led the play to the outside and it looked like Tiki had the corner for what would have been the game-winning touchdown, but for some reason, Barber took it inside and was stuffed. On 3rd-and-goal, the Giants threw and idiotic flat pass to Barber. He was the primary receiver. Dumb. Throw the ball into the endzone Fassel and Payton!!! It also looked to me that Barber should have picked up a corner blitz on 3rd-and-10 on the first drive of the second half. Because of the pressure, Collins was forced to throw short and a punt resulted.

Ron Dayne had some strong runs, but was also hampered by some really predictable play calling and inconsistent run blocking. I like the way he started things off in the game by dragging tacklers on his 4-yard run. He also did a good job of keeping his feet moving after contact on the 4th-and-1 play for a first down on the second drive of the night (behind a good block from Greg Comella too). Dayne had dragged a tackler on the play before as well.

I liked the way Greg Comella picked up the blitz on a short pass to Amani Toomer that resulted in a first down. But Greg also missed a block against the linebacker on a 1st-and-goal that went nowhere. One of the dumb plays of the night was the Giants splitting Greg out wide and throwing a quick, short pass to him. The success of these plays requires the receiver to juke out the defender right at the line – juking is not the strength of a fullback. Bad call.

Offensive Line (Plus Blocking of Skilled Position Players): The blocking didn’t cost the Giants the game, though there were some big negative plays that hurt. In the first half, the Giants’ line, tight ends, and Comella mostly did a good job of sustaining their blocks and allowing the backs to pick up yardage. However, a few breakdowns in protection hurt. In the second half, the blockers were stymied by the play-calling – I don’t care what Fassel says about execution here. The Giants should have passed on first down. Cross the Eagles up. Dumb again.

LG Glenn Parker continues to struggle on the pull and the Giants either have to drop this play from the playbook or bench Parker. He’s just not getting out quickly enough. In fact, he keeps running into the back just as often as he blocks his man. On the second drive of the game, Ron Dayne picked up five yards on a left-side sweep behind good blocks from Lomas Brown, Campbell, and Comella. On 3rd-and-5, Jurevicius, Hilliard, Campbell, and Luke Petitgout made excellent blocks to spring Barber for a first down on a right-side sweep (I was surprised that the Giants had more success running outside on the Eagles than inside). On 2nd-and-8, however, Lomas Brown missed a run block on Hugh Douglas and Dayne was stuffed. On 1st-and-5, Ron Stone, Petitgout, and Zeigler sprung Barber for 10 yards. But the promising drive stalled when Douglas beat Brown to the inside for a sack.

On a later drive in the first half, Luke Petitgout was manhandled by the end and Dayne was stuffed on a right-side run. But then Dayne picked up 5 yards behind strong blocking from Petitgout, Comella, Stone, and Zeigler. Petitgout and Stone then sprung Barber for 8 yards. On the last drive of the first half, a huge negative play resulted when Collins was sacked when both Petitgout and Brown couldn’t handle the outside rush.

In the second half, Barber picked up 10+ yards on a left-side sweep behind excellent blocks from Campbell and Comella. On the next drive, however, Campbell couldn’t handle his man and Barber lost a yard. Campbell couldn’t sustain his lead block on the next drive on a Dayne run up the middle either. But on the next drive, Campbell successfully led Barber on a left-side sweep for four yards. Petitgout couldn’t handle the outside rush from the left end and Collins was forced to roll away from the pressure two plays later (resulting in an incompletion on 3rd-and-6). On the next drive, Campbell got a good block, but Parker was not quick enough again on the pull.

Tight Ends: The blocking was pretty strong and as you can tell from above, except for a couple of plays, Dan Campbell was a factor in many of the Giants’ successful runs. But what is really hurting the Giants is that they have absolutely no pass threat from the tight/H-Back position. It’s like the Giants are playing with seven offensive linemen. Cross can catch the ball – I’ve seen him do it. Campbell can too. The Giants need to start throwing the ball to these two so the defense will at have to consider defending these two. Also, don’t ask someone like Campbell to perform in the clutch (such as the 3rd-and-4 pass he dropped) when you have never bothered to get him into the flow of the passing game all night (the play was stupid anyways because had Campbell caught the ball, he would have been tackled short of the first down). I don’t know what the answer is. Marcellus Rivers is probably too slight and intellectually overwhelmed at this point to contribute. If the Giants are unwilling or incapable of getting the tight ends involved, it’s going to be hard to move the ball in a consistent fashion.

Comment on Defense: The defense played a magnificent game and you cannot blame them for the loss. But they had a chance to win the game if they keep the Eagles from getting those late 10 points. The holding call on Brandon Short, Will Peterson getting beat by James Thrash, and the personal foul on Shaun Williams helped to set up the field goal. And on the touchdown drive, the Giants lost contain on McNabb twice and got too soft against the run at the wrong moment. The Giants’ final fleeting chance at victory was snuffed out when the defense made a boneheaded play and didn’t keep an eye on McNabb on 4th-and-4. Dumb. The Giants players and coaches didn’t play or coach smartly on Monday and that’s why they lost.

Defensive Line: Michael Strahan (4 tackles, 2 sacks) is playing at a level that I thought he would never attain. I was very excited the day the Giants drafted him and thought he would be a fine player, but even after 1997 and 1998, I didn’t expect this. It’s funny that announcers mentioned that RT Jon Ruynan was doing a good job on him because Strahan still beat Ruynan for a sack and numerous pressures in the game. At one time, I even saw Strahan getting triple-teamed. But Michael made one huge screw up. His hard charge up the field on the play where Thrash caught the TD pass allowed McNabb to get outside of contain and make the play. It wasn’t that Strahan got blocked; it was that he took himself out of the play. Strahan also was run on for 7 yards on an earlier play on the drive and couldn’t mount enough pass pressure. Some of the positives: on the first drive, on 3rd-and-10, Strahan forced McNabb to throw quickly as he clobbered the quarterback. On the third drive, on 3rd-and-4, his pressure resulted in yet another incompletion. In the second half, Strahan’s first sack came against the right guard on a stunt on 3rd-and-15. On the third drive of the second half, Strahan’s pressure forced a quick throw to the short receiver. With Eagles driving and on the Giants’ 12-yard line, Strahan got his second sack on an outside speed rush against Runyan.

DT Keith Hamilton (no tackles) was invisible (except for his dumb late hit on McNabb) and probably should not have played due to his shoulder injury. To make matters worse, he re-injured the shoulder in the game. His replacement, Lance Legree, was a non-factor other than one play where he stuffed the run.

Cornelius Griffin (7 tackles, 1 sack) played fairly well. He (and Mike Barrow) pressured McNabb on the first play of the game. On the third drive, Griffin made a great athletic play by playing off the block and tackling the scrambling McNabb from behind just as he was about to burst into the clear. Griffin missed an easy sack on the Eagles’ last drive of the first half. But he redeemed himself on 3rd-and-4 with a big sack up the middle. This play saved three points as the Eagles missed the ensuing field goal. But on the Eagles’ TD drive, McNabb scrambled up the middle for good yardage when Griffin and Legree did not contain him on the pass rush.

DE Kenny Holmes (4 tackles, 1 sack) is becoming more of a factor as the season progresses. We saw something on Monday night that we haven’t seen since Chad Bratzke left – a quick outside speed rush for a sack from the right end. Holmes’ run defense was up-and-down and I was surprised the Eagles didn’t try to run the ball more. Duce Staley picked up 16 yards when Holmes, Keith Hamilton, and Jessie Armstead got handled on the Eagles’ first drive of the second half. But Holmes’ sack came shortly after that as he beat Tra Thomas to the outside. (He had just missed a sack as well right before the half when he failed to wrap up McNabb). Two drives later in the second half, Holmes made a good play in run defense as he charged hard inside to nail the halfback from behind. On a later drive, Holmes got handled at the point for a six-yard gain. The Giants could have used some pass rush from Holmes on the Eagles’ TD drive (same with Griffin, Legree, and Strahan). Holmes was the only Giant on defense not to get suckered by McNabb’s 4th-and-4 bootleg.

Linebackers: Tough to judge as they were being called to cover the short receivers most of the night. And since the Eagles’ short passing game was mostly harmless, they must have done a good job. Mike Barrow (3 tackles) seemed to be blanketing his man in coverage such as his tight coverage on Duce Staley on the first drive. He also had very tight coverage on a failed 3rd-and-1 pass in the second half. Barrow did miss a tackle on a 6-yard run by Correll Buckhalter however.

Armstead (5 tackles) may have done well in coverage too, but I wasn’t too impressed with his play. On the first drive of the second half, he missed a tackle on Duce Staley. On the following drive, he blitzed himself out of the play as Staley cut inside him for a 9-yard run. He then missed a tackle on a scrambling McNabb on 2nd-and-7 and McNabb picked up the first down.

Brandon Short (3 tackles) was flagged with a costly pass interference penalty on Staley on 3rd-and-1. This came on their field goal drive. Short, Barrow, and Strahan all got handled at the point-of-attack on a 7-yard carry on the Eagles’ TD drive.

Defensive Backs: Will Peterson (5 tackles) had some problems, but played pretty well in just his second start. He had good coverage on the first play of the game targeted at him and then immediately followed that up by making a sure tackle on a quick, short, outside pass. However, two drives later, he missed the tackle on the exact same play and a 17-yard gain resulted. Strahan’s pressure two plays later saved him as he was beat deep on the play. In the second half, Peterson looked good on a blitz as he leveled McNabb just as he threw the ball (unfortunately, this came on the play where Short was flagged). Two plays later, Peterson got beat to the inside by James Thrash on a play that helped to set up the field goal. But there were many plays in the second half where McNabb could find no one open deep. The TD pass play came against Peterson, but he had fine coverage on the play – it was simply a perfect throw.

Sehorn (6 tackles, 1 sack, 1 pass defensed) played yet another strong game. Only one time did he get beat: a 3rd-and-6 deep pass to Todd Pinkston, despite solid coverage (Sehorn missed the jam however on the play). Other than that, Sehorn blanketed his man, deflected on pass that was almost intercepted for what might-have-been a touchdown by Shaun Williams. Sehorn later had a monster-sack on a corner blitz.

Shaun Williams (6 tackles, 1 sack, 2 passes defensed) played very well except for one bonehead late hit on James Thrash that helped the Eagles out on their field goal drive. He did a nice job of playing two-deep coverage and getting over to the sideline to intercept McNabb on the first play of the Eagles’ second possession. He also picked up a sack by finishing off McNabb when he was originally pressured by Sehorn and Strahan.

The Giants did a great job of defending Pro Bowl TE Chad Lewis and SS Sam Garnes (4 tackles) deserves much of the credit (as do the linebackers). The only time I saw Garnes beat was a 4th quarter pass to Lewis (his only catch of the game). Before that, Garnes made a couple of sure tackles on short passes, including on a swing pass to Staley. My biggest problem with Garnes is that he got suckered on McNabb’s 4th-and-4 scramble at the end of the game – Garnes should have stayed with McNabb.

Special Teams: P Rodney Williams’ 27-yard shank (after a Thabiti Davis holding penalty) set the Eagles up on the Giants’ 40-yard line on their game-winning drive. Williams’ poor punt should not be underestimated – that was a huge play for Philadelphia.

Damon Washington was VERY ordinary returning kick-offs despite some solid blocking. Tiki Barber broke one punt return for 20 yards.

Morten Andersen wasn’t real strong on kick-offs. His first landed at the 19 yard line and another at the 11 yard line. All lacked hang time. Luckily, except for one return, the kick coverage unit played well. So did the punt coverage unit. Players who stood out included Clayton White (1 tackle), Omar Stoutmire (2 tackles), and Dhani Jones (2 tackles).

Cedric Scott and Thabiti Davis each came VERY close to blocking punts. The Giants were very lucky that the Eagles had a lineman illegally down field on their fake field goal or the play would have worked.


Eagles High on Meadowlands Air

by David Oliver

Another heartbreaking loss, one of many in a long series of Giants’ snatching defeat from the jaws of victory performances. The shame of it is, the game should have been over at halftime, following a totally dominant performance by the offense, EXCEPT where it counts, the Red Zone and the End Zone. The Red Zone, or Zona Rosa as it is called in Mexico City, is aptly named for the Giants offense this year. In Mexico, it is where the tourists stay and where businessmen bring their ‘secretaries’ for long, languid lunch hours during the week. The Giants O can identify with this, except for one thing- the businessmen are scoring.

The 78,000 Giants fans at the Stadium and countless others at home were crushed Monday night (the rest were several hundred delirious Eagles fans who weren’t sure how to act as it’s been so long since their team has won). I don’t quite know why we are all so deflated by this loss – it’s like something every fan is taking personally. I mean, the Eagles, the team that resides in that smug dustbin of Eastern seaboard culture, famous only for a movie character and a sandwich, built within a good upwind smell of the entire State of Delaware, a City and a team with an inferiority complex so large it won’t fit between Camden and Newark, a team which is now the recipient of a gift which only the generosity of the NY Metro area could provide, a win over the Giants. That’s it – the Eagles won. No sour grapes as only the scoreboard counts – there are no points in the standings for style points – and maybe that is the lesson the Giants must take from this one.

At the end of a boring first half, which saw a dominant, but unexciting Giants team march up and down the field, keeping the ball for over 25 minutes, the score was a measly 9-0, same as the Yankees in the 7th inning. As Lomas Brown said, “Between the 30s, we dominated.” And they did it in a manner for which the fans have been clamoring – a powerful ground game, which rolled up over 75 yards. The aging, inept offensive line pounded the vaunted Eagles defense all over the lot. Not with big plays, pancake blocks, illusion or even finesse. It was straight up, line em and gut run ‘em football. Efficient football, sending Dayne and Barber over the right side time after time, interspersing short passes (really short passes), moving the sticks. On the first long drive, the Giants’ second possession, there was a 10 yard gain and three 9-yard gains, and a whole bunch of 1-, 2- and 5-yarders. That was an 8-minute drive which netted 3 points. The next drive was similar except for a 17-yard pass to Ike Hilliard.. That drive lasted 5 minutes and netted 3 points. And then another 8-minute drive, with another 17-yard pass to Ike. Another 3 points.

The majority of runs went to the right, but there was no real distinction in yardage per carry, 1-, 2- 5- or 7-yards, either side. This team, any team (except the Redskins) should have come away with at least 13 points, more likely 17 points. The Giants didn’t. They tried to duplicate the effort in the second half, but as Lomas Brown said, “Teams like that, you can’t leave them around, because that’s what happens, they come back and beat you…We pretty much came back out with the same game plan, we made a few adjustments; they didn’t really do anything differently out there; when it came down to stopping us in the end zone, they wanted it worse and they executed better.” That seems to be a pretty fair assessment. The Giants had 11 drives. After an opener of 4 yards, they went 64, 39, 61, 34, and 38 yards. Not too bad, if you forget the 5 or 6 they left off three of them. But the last 5 drives went –2, 7, 4,-4 and 6 yards. It must have been something in the Gatorade. The Eagles weren’t much different, but they scored on a possession where they only had to drive 40 yards. They did and they scored on an 18 yard pass to a wide receiver when the Giants were in a flex defense with one mission – keep the ball in front of you, don’t let them in an end zone. All those D-Backs out there and the rookie corner had no help deep in the end zone, on a play where the QB scrambled and the receiver should have been coming back to help him. When it is your night, it is your night. Shaun Williams was standing perplexed for a good while – I’m not sure if he was shocked the pass was completed, or if, maybe, he was supposed to be the help for that rookie corner but bit on the scramble. Left him in kind of no man’s land.

I could go on with stats all night to show how evenly these teams played, notwithstanding the dominant performance of the Giants’ O in the first half, and a great game by the Giants’ D in the second – until that one pass, but heck, the stats don’t tell the full story. As CGrif (Cornelius Griffin) told me, “We didn’t play 60 minutes, that’s what happened.” We’ve heard talk of grumbling by the defense about the lack of production by the offense – it’s there, but very mild, and guys like CGrif don’t pay it any mind. He told me, “We’ll come back Wednesday, focus on Washington, take them one at a time. The team has to stay together, that’s football, the team has got to make more plays, the TEAM has to stay together, special teams, offense, defense…If you stay together, you can do anything, you can do the impossible.” What grousing I heard was more along the lines of. “Why don’t we play to win a game instead of playing not to lose?” Sound familiar? Sounds like BBI. There is a mild frustration because the team knows it is good and probably just wants to go punch someone’s lights out. So there may be some grousing, but I wouldn’t go looking for a team rift – it’s not there.

Remember last year, the Detroit game. It was a low point. Eric and I both snapped. The weather was getting bad and the Giants were playing with no focus. Well, the last two losses were nothing like that, but suddenly we are spoiled. The Giants faced down the ALL World Offense and the Killer Defense on successive weekends, not only held their own but should have won, and yet, didn’t. Are they cooked? Not by a long shot – it is conceivable that they can now run 9 out of the last 10 (I don’t know about the Vikings in the Dome on Monday night). Why do I feel that way?

KERRY COLLINS – No, he’s not Joe Montana, not Brett Favre, but he’s got a good arm, he’s a winner and he’s surrounded by decent, if sparse talent. He’s in a funk. He’s more Daryl LaMonica than he’ll ever be Steve Young and he hasn’t been able to crank the big one. Face it, the Eagles are good, damn good. KC just didn’t get it done. Let’s look at the negatives, he runs like RockyT, has poor field awareness, goes through his progressions like the Roadrunner, then drops off to Tiki and BB56 is his biggest cheerleader. Pretty hefty negatives. Oh, and he lacks “fire”. Bob Papa was saying on his post game show that he wasn’t sure he wanted a QB throwing his helmet all over the place. Right, Bob, but that’s not fire, that’s anger. Fire is a quality that enables a QB to walk into the huddle and say, “Guys, I’m going to get this one. Hey, fat ass, knock somebody down, JJ put your stickum on, Amani, WAKE up, damn it, WAKE up, it’s coming at you.” Now that’s fire. Kerry, bless him, is corporate. He has said himself that it’s a team effort and he looks for everyone to do his job. Good leadership qualities if you are planning a raid on the coffee machine. Sometimes the team needs a spark, and sometimes that spark is more than just a play, it is words, it is fire – at least that’s what I think of when I say KC lacks fire. Maybe I’m way off base, but I think that the difference for him between being an adequate QB (if you would call that masterful 3,000 yard season adequate) and a Championship QB is fire, and I wish he would cut loose. He doesn’t need a reconstructed personality on the field.

So what would I do if I were his quarterback coach. First, I would have the running back coach teach him how to use his 6’5″ body to gain yards by using his feet; second, I would try to teach him how to throw a pass on the run – very difficult, but he can’t do it at all; third, failing one and two, I would tell him never run laterally, just throw it away. Then I would tell him look for Ike, look for Ike first, second and third, THEN dump it off to Tiki, not look at the defense rush and toss it to Tiki. Then I would tell him, look, here’s Ron Dayne behind you, just hand him the ball and watch.

In short, there’s not much wrong with Kerry Collins that a little imaginative play execution won’t cure. Not motion, execution. Vince Lombardi only liked to see three people move on each play, two guards and a center – oh, yeah, 4, if you count the running back who followed them. Motion is nice, but it has to produce points and it’s not. The team goes where Kerry goes, so it’s time to get Kerry going into the win column.

OFFENSIVE LINE – Read BBI and you would think there are a couple of old guys, some stumblebums and a backup who is ready for the Pro Bowl. Not how I see it. Lomas Brown is playing good ball. He is beaten, maybe once a game, when up against a speed rusher, but not often. He did a good job against the Saints, the Rams and the Eagles; no, replay that, he did an excellent job, in pass protection, which is why he is with the Giants. I saw several plays Monday night where Douglas went for his knees; cheap shot, dirty crap. Lomas owns Douglas, who couldn’t even get to his knees. So left tackle is still pretty good. Glenn Parker is struggling. Sometimes when something large, something bigger than football intrudes in a life, the compassionate thing to do is let the player play his way back, let him find his soul in the game. Is he a liability? Not really, he is doing his job and he is doing it better than his replacement could right now, that’s why he is playing. It’s getting colder, the games are getting tougher, Parker will be an asset over the next stretch of games. Ziegler and Stone (even injured) are doing their jobs. Luke has struggled a little this year and I can’t put a finger on it. He should be crushing people now. Let’s watch his performance over the next couple of games.

This line pistol-whipped the Eagles for a half. The Eagles stepped it up, the Giants didn’t – but it wasn’t just the offensive line.

DEFENSE – Just flat out awesome when John Fox cuts the dogs loose. Michael Strahan is playing the best ball of his career and although he didn’t own Runyan Monday night, he worked his ass into the turf and beat him enough to make it rough on McNabb. In the end, he wore down and that let McNabb get away on one crucial play. But Runyan had nothing to do with it and MS had no help. The Giants have half a Hammer and 75% of CGrif and they are monsters in the middle. Not only that, but the center of the line for the future looks like Grif and Legree. Lance is getting some reps with Hammer out and he is showing up big. He is getting some pressure on the QBs which is a surprise. But it may have been that playing a rookie at the end hurt – I don’t know, maybe that’s why MS had no help on that scramble. Somebody look at the tape and tell me. Kenny Holmes is quietly improving each game. He was up against a mammoth Tra Thomas Monday and at times Tra tossed him like a rag doll. But at other times, Kenny whipped Tra’s fat butt and made a play. Kenny’s 4 tackles and a sack weren’t bad. Keep looking for Cedric Scott – the man has cat like moves for a huge guy. Watch him on specials. We talked a little about it Monday night and he told me that on the play where he tackled a break away runner, “I was the last guy, I had to catch him, by any means necessary. I was on the backside, he cut it up the middle, I had to fold under and catch him.” He acknowledges that specials have some “work to do” and told me they are “not hitting on all cylinders in every phase”, but that they are working to get it all together and that soon they will have “all 11 men doing their job, we’re going to get it together.”

SECONDARY – Still developing chemistry. When Jason Sehorn makes up his mind to play, he is one of the top 2 or 3 corners in football. Some nights, he appears to be watching reruns of Law and Order and doesn’t get it done. He killed the Eagles twice last year. Monday he was just good, not Super good. EMac (Emmanuel McDaniel) is a player who builds on success. As he gets game time, his confidence grows and makes plays. He started in the dog pound for some reason, but he is coming on. He once again had a joyful smile as we talked in the locker and it was good to see. Don’t be so hard on Will Peterson, he’s a rookie, and everyone here knew that playing the rookies would cost the Giants a few games – this was one of them. But I don’t know if it was entirely his fault – there was a lot going on with that play, and I think someone was not in position. Now, this controversy that appears to be brewing – EMac is a veteran, and he plays well in situations. The Giants have decided to get younger, and faster. This one is a coin toss – these are all good kids and they can all play – corporate decisions suck – they always do when you are not running the corporation. EMac had 6 interceptions last year. Not playing him sucks.

On Monday night, the defense did it’s job. Unless you are like CGrif and believe they didn’t play 60 minutes. So who lost the game? Was it the offense not scoring, the defense allowing a score, special teams for field position? The Giants lost, the Eagles won, both did it as a Team.

So how about the coaching and the play calling. These guys were well coached for this game and the play calling went as they figured – grind it out, muscle on muscle football. Think about it, last week they stayed with the Aerial Circus, this week they pounded the Immovable Object. They lost both times. Not shamefully, just stupidly. The Zona Rosa does present some problems. Standing in the end zone as the Giants tried to pound it in was ugly. There was some pad popping, head snapping brutality underway on both sides of the ball. The Giants insisted they were going to grind it in, the Eagles sent 5 or 6 men to the ball each time. And we can criticize the Giants for the rest of the year because what they did, didn’t work. Was it execution? I don ‘t think so? Was it desire? It didn’t look that way. The Eagles were just in a short yardage defense and they are good at it. What could have been done differently? Lots. Play action to Tiki with a toss to the tight end. Uh, is there a tight end in this offense? Didn’t look like it. How about a naked bootleg? Could have worked on at least one play on the drive to the tunnel end. But the Giants running a naked bootleg down here would be like Madonna performing fully clothed. How about a reverse, or a double reverse? The Eagles didn’t so much penetrate as pursue and close quickly. Could a reverse have been worse than what was called?

Can’t fault Payton for not calling for a pass. I’m sure on the sack play there was a call for Toomer in the end zone. He was covered when Kerry looked at him. Kerry pulled it down, looked right and was clobbered. Kerry, for some reason, has stopped throwing to spots; he waits for an open receiver. In that situation, he has to throw the ball into the corner and let Amani go up and fight for it.

I could go on and on, but let me finish with my conversation with Dhani Jones, who responded to a question I put to him by saying, “If we don’t win, I’m not happy with anything. If the team didn’t win, then nobody did well, or everybody could have done better. Our performance wasn’t sufficient. It was a learning experience, not to be taken lightly. We take them personally (the Eagles); people may not understand, they are in our Division, they are part of what we want; they are in our way.”

Well said, Dhani. Now on to the 1-and-5 Super Bowl bound Washington Homers. If the Giants lose this one, I’m mailing back my Payton-Bennett Fan Club Membership Card.

(Box Score – Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants, October 22, 2001)
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Eric Kennedy

Eric Kennedy is Editor-in-Chief of BigBlueInteractive.com, a publication of Big Blue Interactive, LLC. Follow @BigBlueInteract on Twitter.

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