Sep 192007
 
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Green Bay Packers 35 – New York Giants 13

by Damon Micalizzi for BigBlueInteractive.com

In Brief…

There is no need to sugar coat this. The Giants are in trouble. Serious trouble.   The defense is not getting it done. The offense did absolutely nothing to help out the quarterback, who might as well have taken a week off to rest his shoulder. There is no attitude, no fire, and no emotion, aside from two penalties that inevitably took points off the board. All in all, you have to wonder if these guys are another loss away from mailing it in the rest of the way.

Quarterbacks

Although he didn’t get much help from his receivers Eli Manning showed a lot of heart and toughness not only starting the game, but standing in there and making the throws he did with a bum shoulder. Eli gets a lot of criticism because he’s not a charismatic leader, he’s not a fiery personality, and he doesn’t fuel headlines with bulletin board material. But the kid is a warrior. He wasn’t as sharp as he was in week one, but he was under a lot more heat. Green Bay brought a bunch of different looks and although he was only sacked once, many times he threw the ball either just before getting hit, or in the face of a pass rush. Of course, he had the one very bad interception. He was probably sick of getting hit. He promptly took Corey Williams down with maybe the best tackle any of the Giants had all day.

When the game was out of reach, and the O-Line was seemingly out of gas, Jared Lorenzen made his second (and hopefully last) appearance of the season, and it’s a good thing he did, as he was promptly sacked and hit three times there after before exiting with an injury to his leg. Thankfully Eli had been pulled at that point, as he doesn’t need to take those hits.

Then, offering further proof that life without Eli would be, for lack of a better word, a disaster, Anthony Wright replaced J-Load, completing just one of six passes. Let’s hope it’s the last time we see him as well.

Running Backs

Once again, Derrick Ward proved serviceable, gaining 90 yards on just 15 carries. Which begs the question: If you’re running the ball at 6 yards a clip, why do you only run the ball 15 times.    Ward is a good cut back runner, who is elusive and quick while in space, but not as effective running in between the tackles. Still though, he fights for the extra yard, and finishes his runs by lowering his shoulder and keeping his feet moving. He did a nice job catching the ball out of the backfield four times for 35 yards, but he did have one bad drop that led to a first quarter punt. That was the first of several times the Giants’ offense shot themselves in the foot on Sunday.

Reuben Droughns was really a non-factor. He blocked well on a few of Ward’s runs and had one catch for 4 yards, but aside from three kickoff returns (64 yards) he was virtually silent.

Ahmad Bradshaw looked good on one catch gaining eleven yards. However, the coaching staff obviously doesn’t trust him picking up the blitz as he didn’t see the field much at all. He didn’t do anything to help gain their trust as he lost a fumble on a kickoff return. It was his second fumble of a kickoff in two games so far.

Wide Receivers

Nick Barnett is a punk. He’s a talented player, but has the reputation of being a bit of a cheap shot artist. This apparently doesn’t sit too well with Amani Toomer. In what was very uncharacteristic of Toomer, after a hit to the back, he returned the favor to Barnett by taking a shot at his legs, and then getting into a pushing match with him after the play. It was a penalty that proved to stall another Giants first half drive. Toomer did have a nice 40 yard catch and run where he broke a tackle along the way, but in this game, he’s remembered for having a short fuse that probably left points on the board.

It appears that Plaxico Burress’ balky ankle is acting up again. And while his 26-yard touchdown grab was probably the lone Giants highlight of the game, (thanks to a perfectly thrown ball threading the needle by Manning) he was otherwise silent, in limited action.

Keeping with the theme of the last few years #3 receiver Steve Smith caught a pass for 10 yards and a first down. And then he promptly left the game with a fractured shoulder bone.

The best news from this group was probably the play of Anthony Mix, who caught 3 passes (39 yards) and looked very smooth in doing so. Mix is a big target with soft hands who is tough to tackle after the catch.

Sinorice Moss gained 4 yards on an end around, and wasn’t able to catch the one ball that was thrown to him on an out pattern. Although that ball was probably overthrown.

Tight Ends

It was a very frustrating game for Jeremy Shockey. Though he caught five balls for 60 yards, it was the plays he didn’t make that really hurt the team. Frustrated that he didn’t gain more yards on a free play thanks to an offsides, Shockey punched the ball from his hands after being tackled near the 15 yard line. Offsetting penalties, followed by a dropped pass by Shockey at the 5 yard line on the very next play brought a potential TD drive to a halt.

Michael Matthews also followed suit with a dropped pass, of which he had about 15 yards of nothing around him in every direction.

Offensive Line

On paper, (6 yards a carry and only 2 sacks) this unit doesn’t appear to have done a bad job. However, Manning was knocked around a bit too much. David Diehl did a pretty good job for the second week in a row against a fierce pass rusher, this time against Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, although KGB did get a hand on the QB once or twice.

Defensive Line

Defensively, it was really the tale of two halves. For the majority of the first half, the Defensive Line and Linebackers Pretty much did a pretty good job. Fred Robbins was only credited with two tackles, but he has consistently gotten a good push. Justin Tuck was for the second game in a row our most effective pass rusher, getting a the Giants only sack on Favre and getting close a few other times. Osi Umenyiora had two very nice stops against the run, but is not getting off the edge as we had grown used to seeing. Michael Strahan is still not in football shape, and aside from one big first half stop against the run, he was handled pretty much all day.

The biggest issue as far as the defensive line goes is the lack of pressure on the quarterback. For as many problems as we have had in coverage in the past two weeks, the absence of pressure on opposing QBs is making it easy for the opposition to pick a suspect back seven apart.

Linebackers

While no one on this Defense is without fault, Mathias Kiwanuka did play better this week against Green Bay. I’m basing that analysis on the fact that he blatantly didn’t stick out getting burnt this week. Or maybe the rest of the crew just stunk it up so badly that they over shadowed him. Whatever the case may be, in spite of the fact that he had 10 tackles and made some very good plays on D, Antonio Pierce, for the second game in a row, got beat far too often. Bubba Franks manhandled him in the endzone for a TD catch and DeShawn Wynn made him miss more than a few times. It just seems that he’s a step too slow more often than not.

I’d really like to see someone else try their hand on the weak side, as Kawika Mitchell is doing his best to remind us why we rushed for 200 + yards against KC two years ago. Maybe this guy will come around, but so far he’s been unimpressive.

Zak DeOssie continues to impress me simply by being one of the first guys down the field, after snapping on punts.

Cornerbacks

There is not a member of the secondary that did not get burnt badly on Sunday. Corey Webster probably got beat the most. After a possible bad call against him for pass interference, where he appeared to have pretty good coverage on the receiver, Webster’s play deteriorated pretty much from that point on. Whether he was getting beat deep, or diving at Ryan Grant’s legs only to have him spin around and then turn up-field for another ten or twenty yards, Webster was in the picture on almost every big play Green Bay had.

Sam Madison also got flagged for a pass interference in the red zone that led to a Packers’ TD and then later got beat in the endzone for a TD as well. R.W. McQuarters got in on the act as he seems to bite on every pump fake and then get beat.

Again, this may be just because of the feeble play of his peers, but Aaron Ross seemed to have a pretty decent game. He did miss on one tackle, badly. But he did tip the ball that Wilson picked off, and downed a punt inside the 5. We’ll probably see more of him next week.

Safeties

Where there’s a big play, there’s sure to be a James Butler sighting. Whether he’s jumping on pump fake on a blitz while Favre threw a TD pass, or jumping on the receiver 30 yards down field, Butler has just done nothing to warrant a starting job in the NFL.
His counterpart Gibril Wilson did get an interception, however, was equally inept on Sunday. After a roughing the kicker penalty, Wilson, was able to make a few tackles, but also missed more than a few as well.   He is aggressive, sometimes to a fault. More than once he was too quick to dive at the runner’s legs instead of trying to take him down high.

Special Teams

Another low snap may have caused Lawrence Tynes to miss his first field goal attempt, although, I thought Jeff Feagles did a nice job getting it down. Tynes’ kickoffs could have had a little more air under them, but coverage on those kickoffs was poor. Aaron Ross did his best David Tyree impression catching a beautiful Feagles punt inside the 5 yard line. Punt coverage was pretty much nonexistent as, Green Bay simply didn’t have to punt much.

To Sum It Up…

Still though, in spite of all of the missed tackles, stupid penalties, mental breakdowns and missed opportunities, the Giants were ahead at half time and in a 14-13 game at the end of the third quarter. I’m not going to play the should have, could have, would have game as there is just too many should haves, could haves and would haves. The bottom line is this: Once again, in the fourth quarter, the team just imploded.

While I have a hard time believing that 75 percent of these guys are just not in good enough football shape yet at this point to play a full game, you have to wonder why no one can finish.

Most disheartening, as the Packers were marching 80 yards up the field in the fourth quarter, on the first of their three touchdown drives, was that at no time did Strahan, at no time did Pierce, at no time did any of the so called leaders of this defense do anything or say anything to rally the troops. They were a team defeated, down by 8, with plenty of time on the clock and they did nothing to help themselves.

Now this downtrodden group heads to Washington to face an upstart Redskins team that will do doubt be looking for blood.   His job is as good as gone, so Coach Coughlin had better shuffle some guys around, throw a tantrum or cut someone quick or it’s going to be another ugly Sunday.

(Box Score – Green Bay Packers at New York Giants, September 16, 2007)
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