Sep 302010
 
Tennessee Titans 29 (2-1) – New York Giants 10 (1-2)

by The Hack for BigBlueInteractive.com

Game Summary: BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! Click…click…click…(gimme a sec, need to reload)…BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!  There we go, both feet sufficiently wounded.

These are the maddening games for fans.

After absorbing a beating from Indianapolis a week earlier, the Giants had a golden opportunity to get back on track against a Tennessee team that was pummeled by Pittsburgh last Sunday.  The Titans committed 7 turnovers and absorbed 4 sacks while gaining just 46 yards on the ground against the Steelers.  In fact, starting QB Vince Young was benched in favor of former Giants starter Kerry Collins and all week there was talk of a QB controversy in Tennessee.  Finally, this happened at home to the Titans.  If ever there was a recipe for home cooking, then this was it.  This game had all the earmarks of a Giants rout.  Coming home after an embarrassing loss, a defense that had its mettle called out, an offense that was healthy and ready to roll, and a team limping in after being thoroughly  defeated at home.

As sometimes happens, it just didn’t quite turn out that way.  Sure, the 29-10 score could easily have been reversed in the Giants favor had it not been for all the self inflicted mistakes they made.  The Giants committed 3 more turnovers while producing none, missed 2 field goals, and committed 11 penalties for 88 yards, including 6…SIX!!!…personal fouls.  The Giants had 4 drives the resulted in 1st and goal opportunities, and scored 1 touchdown and nothing else.

Once again, the Giants offense let the team down as they turned the ball over on their first two drives and then missed a 53 yard field goal after being set up with a first down at the Titan’s 29 yard line.  The Titans, in the mean time, scored 10 points and once again the Giants were in catch up mode early.  To their credit, the Giants rebounded and tied the game up just short of halftime.  Any fan watching the game at this point had to be breathing a semi-sigh of relief as the teams headed to the locker room tied, though the Giants dominated in every sense of the game.  There was no reason to believe that the ship had not been righted at this point, and everyone expected the Giants to finish the deal in the second half.  And that’s when it all went wrong the Giants.

Coming out after the half, the Giants special teams immediately allowed a kickoff return out to the 48 yard line of Tennessee.  The defense, however, stiffened and forced a punt.  Unfortunately, the special teams once again screwed up.  With the Titans kicking from their own 39 yard line, the Giants did NOT double the outside gunners, and in fact, released them completely off the line.  Both gunners were down in the vicinity of the punt, without a Giant within 15 yards of them, where Titans special teams ace Michael Griffin caught the ball and stopped just short of the goal line.  On the play, the contain man on the right side of the Giants defense actually was running off the field to the sidelines from around the 20 yard line a full 3 seconds before the ball was even downed.  I could not make out the number of the player, but I sure hope Tom Coughlin saw it and makes an example of him.

The Giants were unable to recover from the horrible field position as Ahmad Bradshaw was called for an illegal chop block in the endzone, resulting in a safety and 2 points for Tennessee.

At this point, you’d have liked to think the special teams mistakes were finally over, but they weren’t.  Unbelievably, P Matt Dodge was only able to punt the free kick 47 yards in the air, on a line drive with no hang time.  The ball bounced at the Tennessee 33 yard line and off that bounce was returned 24 yards to the Tennessee 48 yard line.

The comedy of errors on special teams still wasn’t over.  Following the second Titans touchdown, the Giants committed a holding penalty on a kickoff return, committed a delay of game penalty on a field goal attempt, missed said field goal attempt, and finally committed a personal foul penalty on the same field goal attempt.

The Giants had the ball 6 times in the second half.  How each drive ended is hard to believe: safety, fumble, missed field goal, downs, downs, end of game.  The first half wasn’t much better.  On 6 first half drives, the Giants gave up the ball by interception, interception, missed field goal, field goal and touchdown.  That’s horrid.

The defense played well enough to win this game.  The offense, had they decided to finish their drives, also played well enough to win this game.  Special teams, however, didn’t play well enough to make a Pop Warner coach happy.  So now, the real question is this: are we seeing the ‘real’ 2010 New York Giants or is this just a slow start?  Bill Parcells used to say “You are what your record says you are”, and right now they’re 1-2 having given up 85 points while scoring a paltry 55.  Is this the best we can expect of the Giants?  A middling defense that cannot stop a team in the redzone?  A team prone to offensive mistakes that are killing them in terms of field position and scoring?  A special teams that is an absolute joke to be considered ‘professional’?

So far, the Giants have been run on more than any team in the league, but are only giving up a pedestrian 3.8 ypc average, which is tied for 11th best in the league.  On the contrary, the Giants are only thrown on 25 times a game, the second lowest in the league.  The problem is that although the Giants are only allowing a 57% completion rate, good for 10th in the league, they’re giving up a 7.7 yards per attempt, which is tied for 17th in the league.

The offensive line stats, across the board, come in just above the middle of the pack.  The Giants have had 12 rushes of 10+ yards, which is a lot at this point.  7 of these have been runs to the Giants’ right side.  The Giants have also gained 11 first downs over the right side of the line. The Giants are 12th in the league with a 4.3 ypc average.  The problem for the line appears to be in the passing game, where they are tied for 8th in sacks allowed with 8 and 7th in QB hits allowed with 18.  Surely the TE situation combined with Bradshaw in the game more often than not in blitz pickup situations is skewing this stat, but it’s clear that Eli is getting hit more often than in the past.

The Giants have turned the ball over an astounding 10 times in just 3 games.  Remember when they set the record for fewest turnovers in a non strike shortened season with just 13 two years ago?  So much for trying to equal or better that record. The Giants currently sit at a -4 on the year for turnover ratio.

Third downs, on both sides of the ball, continue to hurt the Giants as well.  Currently, the Giants are converting 3rd downs at a 37% clip while allowing the opponents to convert at a 44% rate.

You don’t even want to see the special teams statistics to this point.  You already know the score there.

Overall, this game reminded me tremendously of the Arizona game in Week 7 from last year.  After a 5-0 start, the Giants were blown out by New Orleans.  The next week, they beat Arizona in every facet of the game, just like this past Sunday, except for the final score.  Had the Giants won that game, it may have stopped the bleeding and the Giants might have recovered their confidence and saved their season.  It’s early, but one has to wonder if Big Blue’s confidence is shaken and could this be the game that starts them spiraling down the drain, just like in 2009?

Offense: The Giants were without their starting center Shaun O’Hara on Sunday as Adam Koets filled in.  That said, Big Blue rolled up 471 yards on 70 offensive plays, an impressive 6.7 yards per play average.  They ran for 107 yards on 20 carries for an again very impressive 5.4 yards per carry average.   Eli Manning completed an astounding 71% of his passes, going 34 -48.  And that’s with at least 3 drops.  Manning missed a 400 yard passing day by just 14 yards.  Overall, the team held the ball for nearly 32 minutes and out-gained the Titans by 200 yards.

With these gaudy statistics your only guide, you’d believe it if I told you the Giants had scored a minimum of 30 points and won the game handily.  And you’d be wrong.  Despite these numbers, the Giants lost by nearly 3 touchdowns and only scored 10 points.  How could this be, you ask?  The Giants were 1-4 in the redzone, and in fact, were only 1-4 in goal to go situations.  They offense turned the ball over three times, twice within the 5 yard line, missed two field goals, and even gave up a safety.

For the third straight game, the Giants offense was uneven and could not stay in sync.  There should be no reason, with the talent on this team, that the struggles and turnovers continue.  It’s time for them to step up, play under control, and finish some drives.

The Quarterback: Statistically, Eli Manning had a tremendous game.  As noted, he threw for nearly 400 yards and completed more than 70% of his passes against what was the number 1 passing defense in the league and a very stout and aggressive front 7.  Manning also threw 2 interceptions, but only the second was his fault as once again a catchable ball clanged off a receiver’s hands and wound up an interception.  The second, however, was inexcusable when on a third down play from inside the 5 yard line he tried to force a left handed shot put throw into the endzone that ended up tipped and intercepted.  With the woes the Giants have had in the redzone, it’s just not a good decision to force anything when you have a near sure 3 points waiting for you to pluck from the tree.  On the play, the protection breakdown came from both the LT and RG positions as both Deihl and Snee were overwhelmed at the point of attack.  Eli was able to escape to his left, but instead of just taking the sack disastrously attempted to get the ball to Boss.

Eli ran a flawless two minute drill just before the half to tie the game up.  On the 80 yard drive, Manning completed 5 passes, none better than a 20 yard hook up with Mario Manningham that was perfectly thrown sideline pass allowing Manningham to toe tap both feet before falling out of bounds.

Another great call came early when Manning switched out of a running play and hit TE Kevin Boss for 54 yards (20 of it coming from Boss’ second and third effort) down the seam over top the linebackers.

What’s worrisome about Manning is the fact that he’s getting hit and hit hard.  Manning was sacked twice and hit 7 times total.  That’s 18 QB hits against Manning in just three games.  Everyone knows that Eli does a good job of moving in the pocket and can take a big hit, but frankly he’s taking way too many big hits right now.

The Running Backs: Ahmad Bradshaw, statistically, had one of the best days he’s ever had as a pro.  Bradshaw ran wild through the Titans defense for 88 yards on just 15 carries, a tidy 5.9 ypc average and a 10 yard touchdown run.  Bradshaw also caught 5 passes for another 30 yards.

Unfortunately, Bradshaw still seems to misread some of his holes.  A prime example was the very first play of the game.  David Deihl and Rich Suebert created a nice hole to the left, which was the way Bradshaw was headed off the handoff, and Hedgecock got to the second level to take out the outside backer.  For some reason, Bradshaw chose not to follow the blocking and cut back right into the free safety who filled the void on the right side and stopped for no gain.  Bradshaw is a great cut back runner who has good power to break tackles, but sometimes it appears that if he just stayed in with the play he’d have even more success.

Bradshaw is still having trouble with the blitz pickups.  On the missed field goal drive on 2nd and 9 from the Titans 28 yard line, Manning dropped back to pass against a five man rush.  The Giants had an I formation with no TE, but kept both Hedgecock and Bradshaw in to block,and both were in position to stop the corner blitz, but Hedgecock missed and Bradshaw didn’t engage him and instead tried to take out a late blitzing linebacker who had no impact on the play.  The cornerback ensured that Eli had nowhere to step up and he was eventually sacked by LT David Diehl’s man.  Bradshaw also was flagged for an illegal chop block in the endzone which cost the Giants 2 points.  While much debate ensued over this play over in The Corner Forum, the fact is he didn’t even need to go at the player’s knees.  All he really needed to do was stay on his feet and hit him in the chest and Manning would’ve had the ball out and completed to Manningham.  Additionally, Adam Koets should have been called for a facemask penalty on the play as well.

The other bugaboo on Sunday for Bradshaw was an incredibly untimely fumble which cost the Giants all the momentum they were rebuilding following the 9 point start to the quarter by the Titans.  Fighting for extra yards on 1st down, he fumbled it away at the Titans 5 yard line.  That play was really the end of the game for the Giants.

Brandon Jacobs played sparsely, getting 4 attempts for 17 yards for a 4.3 ypc average. What was good to see, however, was that Jacobs ran hard, ran low, and bulldozed his way into the line the way he used to run.  Brandon also caught a pass for 1 yard.  Jacobs missed a crucial blitz pickup, allowing a blitzer to run right by him for a sack.  Still, you’d think when the team was backed against it’s goal line the big back would be in for either a chance to bulldoze it out for a few yards or at least help with blitz pickups if they did decide to pass, which they did to disastrous results on that particular 3rd down.

The Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: Welcome back Kevin Boss.  Boss only caught three passes for 88 yards, but Eli looked his way 7 times.  Boss, as mentioned above, made a tremendous catch and run that set the Giants up in 1st and goal at the 9 yard line.  The play was nothing short of inspiring, as the fans erupted in the stadium.  Unfortunately, it did not translate to points, as also mentioned above.  Travis Beckum had a couple of nice plays, too.  On the 3rd play of the game he made a nice chip on the RDE before releasing over the middle and catching a short pass that he turned upfield for an 18 yard gain and a 1st down.  Beckum also did a fine job of neutralizing the LDE on the 2nd down running play to Bradshaw from the endzone.

Mario Manningham had an awful preseason, catching less than a handful of balls.  He surely looked as though he’d be the odd man out this season in the top heavy Giants receiving corps.  That hasn’t been the case, though, as Manningham is currently 6th in the NFC in receiving yardage with 238 yards.  The amazing thing is that he only has 14 receptions.  His yards per reception average is 3rd best in the NFC amongst players who have caught 10 or more passes.  While his production has been a great surprise, what really stands out about Manningham is that he’s learned the art of body control and field awareness.  Many of us in The Corner Forum had lamented his inability to get his feet down in bounds on seemingly routine receptions.  Those laments are a thing of the past as Mario seems positively Toomer-like in his abilities now.  Finally, Manningham has become a beast in the downfield blocking game.  It was his block that cleared the final path for Bradshaw’s touchdown run.  Manningham did have one drop on Sunday, but it ended up having no affect on the drive.

WR Hakeem Nicks played the role of possession receiver on Sunday, catching 7 balls for just 56 yards.  Nicks had a very costly drop on Eli’s second pass of the game when the ball glanced off his hands, deflected off the CBs shoulder pads, and bounced 10 yards back towards the line of scrimmage into the waiting arms of a defensive end.  The Titans manufactured 3 points off that turnover.

WR Steve Smith had a good day, catching 9 passes for 103 yards.  Smith took a couple vicious shots going over the middle of the field, even having his helmet knocked off once.

The Offensive Line: The offensive line had a better day this past Sunday than they had against the Colts, but it’s still not up to par.  One can look to the nearly 500 yards of offense that the Giants put up and surmise that the offensive line did pretty well, and at times they did.  The pulling of the guards was much improved over the first couple of games.  The run blocking, in general, was very effective.

Backup C Adam Koets was not asked to do much in this game, as the Giants attempted to get the ball wide with Bradshaw most of the time.  In pass protection, Koets made one fatal read when he did not pick up the nose guard and instead helped Snee to the right with the Titans LG.  On the play, the Giants lined up in a single back trips formation with Boss at TE on the left side of the line covering up Deihl.  The Titans brought the nickel corner on a blitz, and McKenzie picked him up easily.  Boss bottled up the DE on his side, and he was also a non factor in the play.  Suebert and McKenzie stifled the Titans right DT and the outside linebacker who also came on a blitz.  On Snee’s side, the DE took him on straight up while the DT pushed  Koets off to that side, taking an inside move on him.  Koets continued to slide right and left the DT free lane into the backfield.  Bradshaw filled and took him out at the knees, but Koets had a handful of facemask, so therefore was “engaged” with the lineman, so Bradshaw got called for the penalty.  Had Koets held his ground, the play would have been successful.  Earlier, Koets was obviously on the wrong page with the offensive unit as everyone moved prior to his snap.  As the play occurred on a 3rd and 22 attempt, it didn’t have any effect on the outcome of the drive.

RT Kareem McKenzie was benched late in the game following his second personal foul of the half.  Shawn Andrews finished the game at right tackle and looked right at home doing so.

Defense: The Giants defense deserved a win in this game.  Granted, their redzone troubles continue, as they allowed the Titans 3 touchdowns on 4 trips inside the 20.  This has got to change.  In The Corner Forum, much has been made of the great starting field position the Giants are allowing their opponents and whether that’s contributing to the red zone defensive woes.  The Titans had drives begin at their own 49, 43, 48, 49 and 44 yard lines.  Of those 5 drives, the Titans scored 2 touchdowns and 2 field goals (the last drive was their final of the game and they were not trying to move the ball).   Their 3rd touchdown was scored on a drive that started at their own 35.  The Titans had 3 drives that began at their 20 yard line, and all 3 ended as 3 and outs.  There is no analysis to suggest causation, but the Giants are breaking on the short drives, not just bending.

Front 7: The Giants front 7 played a solid game.  Until the fourth quarter when everything was decided, they did a magnificent job of keeping RB Chris Johnson under wraps.  At the half, the Titans only had 78 net yards.  Johnson had 52 on 17 carries, a 3.2 ypc average.  Combined with the fact that the Titans had only thrown the ball 4 times for a total of 32 yards, you could see the Titans were determined to run and the Giants were determined to deny them.

Unfortunately, on part of the first Titans drive of the second have and then almost exclusively on their second, Tennessee decided to change things up and see if they could throw the ball against the Giants.  It worked well, as the Giants front got very little pressure on QB Vince Young, who made enough plays to make the difference.  The Giants came with four or fewer for most of the day, content to allow the defensive line attack the running game.  When the Titans passed, however, they generally had plenty of time to find a receiver.  The Giants managed just 1 QB hit the entire game, which was the Mathias Kiwanuka sack.

Justin Tuck had a great game, especially in the running game, where he was in on 8 tackles in which two were thrown for a loss.  DTs Chris Canty and Barry Cofield were also excellent in run support.  Speaking of Kiwanuka, the man is playing the best football of his career from a different spot on the field seemingly on every play.  Kiwi played mostly from the LB position on Sunday, and had 4 tackles, 2 for a loss, and a sack.  Osi Umenyiora was a non factor for the entire game.

MIKE linebacker Jonathan Goff is progressing.  Still, however, he has moments that are head scratching.  At times, Goff tends to take on his blocker with such enthusiasm he doesn’t realize the ball carrier is running right past him.  A case in point is on the first decent gain Johnson got in the game.  On 2nd and 7 from the Giants 45 yard line, the Titans were in an offset I formation with a TE to the right of the line and two receivers left.  That left the entire right side of the field outside the hash marks uncovered by the Titans.  The Giants were in a nickel package, with Goff and Kiwanuka at the linebacker positions and Aaron Ross on the line of scrimmage somewhat over the left tackle.  On the play Johnson ran right.  Ross did a great job of engaging the fullback behind the line of scrimmage, opening a gap for Goff and Kiwanuka to exploit.  Instead of hitting and filling the hole, however, Goff continued to his right and engaged the DE head on and never disengaged.  Chris Johnson ran right past him and into the secondary where Kenny Phillips made the tackle after a 12 yard gain.  Goff has to start playing more with his eyes on the ball carrier.  Had Goff had situational awareness on Johnson during that play, it would have been a one or two yard gain.  Goff also took a poor angle on Johnson’s second touchdown run.

The Giants dime package was interesting, to say the least.  One of the best plays of the day was a 3rd and 6 draw attempted by the Titans in the second quarter.  The Giants had 3 linemen (one of them Michael Boley lined up over the center), three players lined up at the traditional linebacker spots but they were not linebackers.  DE Jason Pierre-Paul was lined up on the right side, DE Mathias Kiwanuka was manning the middle, and S Deon Grant was on the left.   On the play, Pierre-Paul knifed in like he was shot out of a cannon and planted Johnson for a 4 yard loss.  It was an incredible display of athleticism.

Defensive Backs: The defensive backfield had another rough day.  The Titans only threw 16 passes all game, completing 10 of them, but each of the completions was vital.  Terrell Thomas once again had a shaky day, committing a costly interference penalty on a second down deep in Giants territory.  Vince Young also missed two sure touchdowns by overthrowing his receiver that had beaten Thomas both times.

Corey Webster had a very tough day, allowing several completions including the touchdown pass to WR Kenny Britt.

For whatever reason, the Giants secondary was unable to defense any of a number of passes that appeared to be contestable.  The Giants also were unable to jar the ball loose on any completion.

Anrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips both had solid games in run support, combining for 16 tackles on the day.  Phillips also showed his old speed and athleticism by getting to the sideline to nearly intercept a deep ball that it seemed he had no business getting to.

All in all, the secondary needs to start making some plays that will either change a possession or change a game.  Granted, the pass rush has not been great, but you cannot allow a fairly benign passing team such as the Titans to complete 10 of 16 passes when 3 of the incompeltions were to wide open receivers that were simply poor throws.

Special Teams: It’s hard to believe that a unit can play so badly week after week and month after month and not get even remotely better.  It is unfathomable that holder Matt Dodge could take a delay of game penalty on a run of the mill field goal attempt.  It’s unconscionable that a free kick would only travel 47 yards in the air with no hang time.  There were breakdowns all over the place, as noted above on the play where the Giants just allowed the Titans to down the ball at their own 1 yard line on a punt.  Just simply allowed it!

The Titans kicked off 6 times, 5 reached the endzone, and 3 resulted in touchbacks.  The Giants kicked off 4 times, 1 reached the endzone, and that one went for a touchback.  The Giants started  6 drives after receiving a kickoff, and their average starting position was their own 20.  The Titans started 4 drives after receiving a kickoff and their average starting field position was their 35 yard line.

Kick coverages and returns were atrocious, as they have been all year.  Right now the Giants are 27th in average kick return yardage, 21st in the league in average kickoff return yardage allowed, 27th in average punt return yardage, and 24th in average punt return yardage allowed.

At least other than the free kick and the botched play clock penalty we didn’t have to see Dodge out there punting.

Coaching: It appeared the Giants had two great game plans for Sunday, and for the most part the Giants employed them effectively.  While Head Coach Tom Coughlin took the blame for the turnovers and the penalties, I just don’t buy it.  If the Giants eliminate just half the mistakes in this game, they would have won it easily.

Kudos to Coughlin for benching both Rolle and McKenzie after their stupid penalties.

I’m still puzzled why Gilbride let Bradshaw play from the Giants 1 yard line when the better pass blocker, Brandon Jacobs, sat the bench.

Special Teams coordinator Tom Quinn has got to find a way to fix his unit.  It’s inexcusable, and it’s recurring.

Offensive Player of the Game: Despite the stupid decision on the second interception, the nod goes to Eli Manning.

Defensive Player of the Game: Though he didn’t get much pressure on the QB, Justin Tuck was a force in the running game and made Chris Johnson think about where to run with the ball from the very outset of the game.

(Box Score – Tennessee Titans at New York Giants, September 26, 2010)
Sep 302010
 

September 29, 2010 New York Giants Injury Report – Manningham Has a Concussion: Not practicing yesterday were WR Mario Manningham (concussion), OC Shaun O’Hara (ankle/Achilles), OT Will Beatty (foot), DT Rocky Bernard (back), LB Keith Bulluck (toe), and returner Darius Reynaud (illness).

“(Manningham) really appeared to be fine Monday when we saw him,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “We didn’t expect that there would be any slowdown in his performance (on Wednesday) in practice. There was, so hopefully we can do the tests again and see how that comes out, but we’re a little bit surprised that there’s an issue here.”

When asked how long O’Hara will be out, Coughlin responded, “I was hoping initially that it was a two-week period but I’m not sure now what it is.”

Coughlin was then asked if surgery was an option for O’Hara. “I don’t think so,” replied Coughlin. “We’re hoping it’s not a surgical issue.”

Regarding Bernard and Bulluck, Coughlin said, “Hopefully we’ll get them both (on Thursday).”

LB Phillip Dillard (hamstring) was limited in practice. LB Chase Blackburn (knee) did not appear on the injury report and practiced fully.

CB Michael Coe Added to Practice Squad: The Giants added CB Michael Coe to their Practice Squad yesterday. Coe was waived by the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday. He has spent time with the Giants in 2009 before the Jaguars signed him off of the Giants’ Practice Squad that season.

Article on Head Coach Tom Coughlin: Tom Coughlin Is Not Going Anywhere by Ian O’Connor of ESPNNewYork.com

Articles on Giants’ Special Teams:

Sep 292010
 

BBI Online Live is an internet radio show dedicated exclusively to coverage of the New York Giants. The show is co-hosted by Eric Kennedy of BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) and John McDevitt of Side Kick Productions. Eric and John discuss the New York Giants 29-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans that dropped the team to 1-2 and the upcoming game against the Chicago Bears.

Sep 292010
 

Michael Johnson Placed on Injured Reserve: The Giants placed S Michael Johnson on Injured Reserve yesterday, effectively ending his season. Johnson was suffering from a herniated disc in his back.

To fill Johnson’s roster spot, the Giants signed S/CB Brian Jackson to the 53-man roster from their Practice Squad.

Article on Michael Strahan and Phil Simms: Strahan, Simms Weigh In On Giants by Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com

Article on Michael Strahan: In Retirement, Former Giants Defensive End Michael Strahan Sees the True Value of Tom Coughlin’s Ways by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

Sep 282010
 

New York Giants to Establish “Ring of Honor” on Sunday Night: During halftime ceremonies at the New Meadowlands Stadium on Sunday night, the Giants will announce 30 charter members to their new “Ring of Honor.” The Ring will celebrate the contributions of players and team officials who have contributed significantly to the team’s history.

The Giants have provided a sneak preview of the 30 by releasing the names of six of the honorees:

  • Coach Bill Parcells
  • QB Phil Simms
  • HB Frank Gifford
  • HB Tiki Barber
  • DE Michael Strahan
  • PK Pete Gogolak

The names will be displayed in the end zones of every home game as well as the Giants’ new Legacy Club within the stadium.

O’Hara Seeking Second Opinion: OC Shaun O’Hara, who has been bothered for weeks with issues to his left Achilles and ankle, went to see a foot and ankle specialist in Manhattan yesterday in order to seek a second opinion.

“He’s still in the boot and we’ll see,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin yesterday. “I’m not sure where this is going to lead. He is seeing another doctor.”

Sep 262010
 

Mistake-Prone Giants Fall to 1-2: The Giants fell to 1-2 today as New York fell 29-10 to the Tennessee Titans at New Meadowlands Stadium. The game was tied at half time 10-10, but the Titans scored 19 unanswered second-half points.

The Giants out-gained the Titans in total net yards (471 to 271), net yards passing (364 to 110), and first downs (26 to 17). Incredibly, the Giants lost a game where their punter never had to punt. But it was all for naught.

The Giants missed two field goals, had two drives inside the Titans’ 10-yard line end in turnovers, allowed a safety on a penalty, and committed five personal foul penalties.

The Giants received the football to start the game. After picking one first down, the Giants turned the football over as QB Eli Manning was intercepted near midfield when the ball bounced off of WR Hakeem Nicks’ hands. The Titans picked up only one first down, but that was enough to put them in field goal range as Tennessee successfully kicked the 48-yarder to go up 3-0.

On New York’s second drive, the Giants moved from their 17 to the Tennessee 2-yard line. On 3rd-and-goal, Manning’s pass intended for TE Kevin Boss was intercepted in the end zone for a touchback.

The Titans went three-and-out on the ensuing possession with QB Vince Young being sacked by DE Mathias Kiwanuka on 3rd-and-4. The Giants started their third possession near midfield and picked up two first downs. But a 12-yard sack knocked the Giants back and Tynes missed a 53-yard field goal. With the miss, Tennessee started their third possession at their own 43-yard line. The Titans then moved 57 yards in 10 plays to take a 10-0 lead.

The Giants finally managed to get on the board on their next possession as the Giants drove 38 yards in eight plays to set up a successful 50-yard field goal by Tynes. This drive was also sabotaged by a sack.

Tennessee went three-and-out and with just under three minutes to go before the half, the Giants drove 63 yards in 9 plays to tie the game at 10-10 when HB Ahmad Bradshaw scored from 10 yards out.

Despite allowing the Titans to return the second-half kickoff to near midfield, the defense held after allowing one first down. The ensuing Tennessee punt was down at the Giants’ 1-yard line. A key moment in the game came on 3rd-and-10. Manning hit WR Mario Manningham for a 43-yard play, but Bradshaw was flagged for an illegal chop block in the end zone, resulting in a safety and a 12-10 Titans lead.

With the safety, the Giants were forced to kick the ball back to Tennessee, and the Titans returned the kick again to near midfield. Six plays later, the Titans scored on a 3rd-and-7 pass at the Giants’ 13-yard line. Tennessee was now up 19-10.

It looked like New York would get back into the game on their second drive of the half as the Giants drove from their own 11-yard line to the Tennessee 6-yard line. But on 1st-and-goal, Bradshaw fumbled the ball away to Tennessee. An unnecessary roughness penalty on LT David Diehl also gave the Titans an extra 15 yards.

The Titans went three-and-out. The Giants drove the ball again, this time from their own 25-yard line to the Tennessee 21-yard line. But the drive stalled and Tynes missed from 44 yards out early in the fourth quarter. To make matters worse, a personal foul penalty on RT Kareem McKenzie gave the Titans the ball near midfield again. The Titans then drove 46 yards in 10 plays to set up a successful 22-yard field goal. Tennessee 22 – Giants 10.

With less than eight minutes to go and down by 12, the Giants moved from their own 20-yard line to the Tennessee 31-yard line. But another personal foul penalty on McKenzie helped to stall the drive and the Giants failed to convert on 4th-and-14. Tennessee then put the game away with a 5-play, 65-yard drive that was aided by a 42-yard run by HB Chris Johnson and yet another personal foul penalty on the Giants. This time on S Antrel Rolle. Johnson scored from eight yard out to put the game away.

Lowlights of the game are available at NFL.com.

Post-Game Notes: Inactive for the Giants were WR Ramses Barden, WR Duke Calhoun, OC Shaun O’Hara (ankle/Achilles), OT William Beatty (foot), DT Linval Joseph, LB Chase Blackburn (knee), LB Phillip Dillard (hamstring), and S Michael Johnson (back).

Article on Head Coach Tom Coughlin: New York Giants Coach Tom Coughlin Could Find Himself Out of a Job if Big Blue Miss Playoffs Again by Mike Lupica of The Daily News

Article on S Antrel Rolle: Family of ‘Fighters’ Stands Behind Outspoken Giants Safety Antrel Rolle by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

Sep 252010
 

September 24, 2010 New York Giants Injury Report – Tuck Questionable: Not practicing yesterday were DE Justin Tuck (shoulder), OC Shaun O’Hara (ankle/Achilles), LB Phillip Dillard (hamstring), OT Will Beatty (foot), and S Michael Johnson (back).

The injury-prone Tuck has been officially listed as “questionable” for the game against the Titans on Sunday. Tuck says he will “absolutely” play however.

Tuck was asked if the injury was related to the torn labrum from last season. “A little bit,” responded Tuck. “Same shoulder.” (Incidentally, Head Coach Tom Coughlin said it was not related to the previous injury).

Tuck was then asked if the injury might linger all season. “Maybe,” said Tuck. “I think that I have to do a great job of communicating when I feel something and not be a hero every day.”

Does Tuck think the shoulder will affect his play against the Titans? “”I’ll be able to answer that question after the game,” said Tuck. “I don’t know.”

Meanwhile, O’Hara did not practice all week and is “doubtful” for the game. Adam Koets will likely start at center.

Dilliard, Beatty, and Johnson will not play.

LB Chase Blackburn (knee) practiced on a limited basis and is “questionable” for the game against the Titans.

TE Kevin Boss (concussion), WR Mario Manningham (illness), and CB Aaron Ross (foot) practiced fully and are “probable” for the game.

Article on OC Adam Koets: Koets Brings a Californian’s Cool to Subbing for O’Hara by Aditi Kinkhabwala of The Wall Street Journal

Article on LB Keith Bulluck: Keith Bulluck Ready to Take on Titans by Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com

Sep 242010
 

By Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com

Approach to the Game – Tennessee Titans at New York Giants, September 26, 2010: Over the course of the last few years, I have had a few people e-mail me with very reasonable requests to not use profanity in our game previews and reviews, arguing that such talk is offensive and unnecessary, cheapens the site, and is a bad influence on younger readers.  I think these are all very accurate criticisms.  But I have to be honest.

This has been a really shitty week.

The mostly positive feelings that came out of the opener against the Carolina Panthers have seemingly evaporated with the drubbing the Giants received by the Indianapolis Colts.  Flashbacks to the end of 2009 season are unavoidable.  Against the Colts, the defense could not stop the run or the pass.  The offense had trouble running and passing.  The Giants lost the turnover battle.  Perhaps most damning, the other team – a team not known for being very physical – was clearly the more physical team on both sides of the ball.  Brandon Jacobs threw his helmet into the stands, wanted to be traded, then didn’t want to be traded.  Antrel Rolle publicly ripped his fellow teammates and coaches.  Coaches met with players.  Players met with other players.  This shit isn’t supposed to happen in week two, especially for a team that is still tied for first place in its division.

Of course all of this proved to be plenty of fuel for those strange Giants’ fans who seem to consciously or subconsciously revel in their team’s troubles.  There are those who think it is the fault of the coaches.  There are those who think it is the fault of the players.  There are some who think it is both.  Everyone has an opinion about what is wrong.  And they are damn sure going to let everybody else know about it.

For those who have not noticed, I tend to take a contrarian view of things.  When the Giants are winning, I tend to try to dampen expectations.  When the Giants are losing, I tell fans it isn’t as bad as it appears.  I know this pisses off a lot of people on the website, but I tend to think the contrarian point-of-view tends to be more right than wrong.  It’s never as good or bad as it seems.

Now that said, this has been a really shitty week.  And negative thoughts have permeated my mind, such as:

  • Maybe this team just isn’t that good.  The Giants screwed up by not bringing in more NFL-caliber tight ends.  Bear Pascoe is not an NFL-quality player.  He can’t block and he’s not a threat to catch the football.  Travis Beckum is a bulked up wide receiver who can’t block.  Kevin Boss is the only viable tight end on the roster and he is coming off yet another concussion.  For a team that depends so heavily on the tight end in both run and pass blocking, this is inexcusable.  Even with a healthy Boss, the Giants can’t run a legit two-TE formation without bringing out an extra offensive lineman.  Speaking of the line, whether it is declining ability, the injury to Shaun O’Hara, or the line being out of sync because it did not work together all camp and the preseason, the Giants are not getting the job done up front.  And the fullback has gone from a road grader to a position blocker.  In other words, the Giants don’t seem to be very good blockers anymore.  And that’s a huge problem for ANY offense.  If you can’t block, you can’t consistently move the football no matter how good your quarterback, receivers, and runners are.
  • The Giants are missing something on defense.  Many think it is the leadership of Michael Strahan.  That could be the case.  But the Giants were 11-1 without Michael in 2008.  Maybe it’s Steve Spagnuolo.  Whatever it is, the Giants don’t seem to dictate to anyone on defense.  Where is the intimidation?  Where is the confidence?  Confidence comes from demonstrated ability.  For the last two years, there hasn’t been enough of the latter.  What is brutally clear is that the defensive players think much more highly of themselves than their play shows.  Hey guys, until proven otherwise, you’re not that good.  Shut up.
  • Tying in my first two points, has this team become too soft?  Both offensively and defensively?  Is this team now too finesse?  It is difficult to argue otherwise offensively.  Defensively, it’s still early, but the Colts game was certainly very disconcerting.  Toughness matters in the NFL.
  • Are we starting to see a repeat of the end of Coughlin’s tenure in Jacksonville?  Are the players tuning him out?  If Coughlin retired today, he would forever go down as one of the great coaches in Giants’ history based on 2007 alone.  But the Giants have been blown out in three of their last four regular season games.  Those three games were not even competitive, all three were over by halftime.  That’s unacceptable.  The Giants have talent issues, but they are not that bad.

So this is some of the negative shit that has even been bouncing around my deranged mind this week.  It’s made me an unpleasant figure to be around.  But in my almost 30 years of watching football, I do know one thing.   Winning cures a multitude of sins.  Win and much of this shit goes away.  The sun rises.  And life is good again.

The Giants need a win.  Desperately.  To go to 2-1 and remain in first place.  To erase self-doubt.  To shut up the outside doubters.  To feel good again.  To become confident again.

Lose this week and things are only going to get worse.  Get blown out, and the season may be over before it really started.  And we all know what that means.  Rebuilding time and the only ones who are guaranteed to survive the coming offseason purge are Jerry Reese and Eli Manning.

Giants on Offense, Defense, and Special Teams: No X’s and O’s talk this week.  This game is about one thing.  And Bob Papa said it best:

  • “What (the Giants) need to do is get back to that mentality up front where they can go and dominate people. And you are not going to get a better test than the Titans and their front. (The Titans) are going to test your manhood… They are going to punch you in the mouth and you better be ready to punch them back. And if you don’t, they are going to look to bully you around all day long.”

Are the Giants men?  Or pussies?

We should know the answer by 4PM.

Sep 242010
 

September 23, 2010 New York Giants Injury Report: Not practicing yesterday were OC Shaun O’Hara (ankle/Achilles), LB Phillip Dillard (hamstring), OT Will Beatty (foot), and S Michael Johnson (back).

TE Kevin Boss (concussion) and CB Aaron Ross (foot) practiced fully. WR Mario Manningham (illness) and LB Chase Blackburn (knee) returned to practice. Blackburn was limited and Manningham fully practiced.

Giants Put in Waiver Claim for Tight End: According to the Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Giants were one of three teams to put in a waiver claim for TE Mickey Shuler, Jr., who was waived on Wednesday by the Minnesota Vikings. However, Shuler was awarded to the Dolphins. The Colts were the other team that was interested in Shuler.

Article on Antel Rolle and Justin Tuck: Giants’ Antrel Rolle, Justin Tuck Clear Air Over Rolle’s ‘So-Called Leaders’ Comment by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

Article on the New Meadowlands Stadium: Giants’ Storied History, in 5,000 Square Feet by Judy Battista of The New York Times

Quotes: Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell on the Giants’ problems stopping the run with their nickel and dime defenses: “I still think that we can stop the run with six in the box. I learned that we weren’t as sharp as we should have been and that our run fits with the two backers that we had in the football game at that point in time, that we have to concentrate more on that, that if there was an emphasis that should have been tilted one way or the other…hindsight is 20/20, but you took a team that for 13 years, they’ve thrown the football every down. Every year I’ve played them they’ve thrown the football every down. And they had a good plan of attack, so, again, just using our personnel and doing what we like to do, we should have and we could have done a better job.”

Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride on pass protection against the Colts: “(The tackles) struggled against two outstanding pass-rushers in a hostile, loud environment last week so we’ll at least have the benefit of being home, which is a good thing now that…they’ve got to play better and just our unit has to play better because we never ask just our tackles to block. We’ve been helping our tackles for years with chips here and tight ends there. The guards have to slide on all of those things. They didn’t have their best game but we didn’t have as good of a game as we needed to as a unit in helping assist those guys, especially under the conditions of last Sunday.”

DE Justin Tuck on S Antrel Rolle’s criticism of the team’s leadership: “The only thing I was upset about was he didn’t come to me first, and we’re a team. So we’ll talk. We haven’t talked. We will talk, and I’ll figure out what exactly he meant by what he did. If he’s got a problem with how I lead, that’s fine. That’s his opinion. I mean, none of us are perfect. I’m not going to sit here and tell you I’m the best leader. When I make a mistake, I own up to it. And obviously against the Colts, we didn’t do a good job in leadership because the score reflected that.”

Sep 232010
 
Indianapolis Colts 38 (1-1) – New York Giants 14 (1-1)

by The Hack for BigBlueInteractive.com

Game Summary: So much for all the hype surrounding Manning Bowl II.  Peyton Manning once again showed the country why he’s one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game.  Peyton played a near flawless game and methodically took apart what appeared to be an improving New York Giants defense.  Peyton simply recognized what the Giants wanted to do on defense and denied them by doing the opposite.  As noted by Eric from BBI on the “inactives” thread in The Corner Forum,

“wow…
Eric from BBI 9/19/2010 7:07 pm
two DT’s inactive tonight…going with the DE’s.”

The Giants indeed decided to try to force the Colts to pass and asked the safeties and whoever was placed into the interior of the line to stop the run.  Peyton Manning said after the game that the inactives list gave the Colts a strong idea of what their game plan was going to be and during the game, Peyton used it against them time and again.

“Obviously we are a no-huddle team,” Peyton said. “They didn’t dress but two defensive tackles. They dressed all their defensive ends which kind of told you they were going to play that pass rush type front, that they were going to defend the pass. I can’t remember when we had more rushing attempts than passing attempts so it would be hard not to blame them, especially after last week.”

The Colts were able to run double tight end sets on to the field between plays yet keep the Giants from substituting and the results were such that they were able to run through the Giants for 160 total yards on 40 carries for a 4.0 ypc average (Peyton’s 3 kneel downs at the end of the game were removed from the analysis).

The Colts doubled their average rushing yards per game from last year.  The 23 first half rushes were the most by the Colts in the first half since 1991.  Overall, the Colts ran the ball 17 more times than they passed, and they didn’t do that too badly, either.

As noted on The Corner Forum, this strategy wasn’t exactly a bad strategy.  In fact, early on with the exception of the first drive, the strategy actually worked fairly well.  Granted, Reggie Wayne uncharacteristically dropped a sure catch that could’ve gone the distance, but the Giants did get 2 consecutive 3 and outs.  After that, however, they didn’t execute and waited too long to change things up when they could not stop the run.

The killer drive for the Giants, after three unsuccessful offensive possessions, was the fourth Colts possession.  Inexplicably, with the Colts pinned at the 2 yard line on 1st down, the Giants went with the 3 Safety 3 CB package (4 linemen, 1 true linebacker, and 6 DBs).  The Giants were in a traditional look on defense, with Thomas and Webster on the outside, 7 men in the box (Kiwi, Canty, Cofield and Tuck on the line with Ross, Boley and Grant in the traditional linebacker formation) and the true safeties Rolle and Phillips both playing a deep cover two, both of whom took up station  on the 15 yard line. Neither was in the TV picture pre-snap, but clearly on the replay you can see they’re both very deep.

This was the defensive formation despite the fact that coming out of a TV time out, the Colts were in a single back double TE set.  In other words, at least on this occasion, the Colts didn’t catch the Giants in a formation and take advantage of it.  Could this be a situation that Rolle was discussing when he said “sometimes you have to let dogs be dogs”?  Were they being overly cautious?  The Giants showed none of the aggressiveness you’d expect in that situation.

On the play, Tuck was neutralized by Dallas Clark, Ross was vaporized by the RT, Grant ran himself completely out of position, not so much negated by anyone he simply negated himself by running behind Kiwanuka who was effectively walled off by the LT.  By the time Grant realized he took the wrong angle, the LG had him walled off as he attempted to double back into the play.  Canty, Boley and Cofield were collapsed by the middle of the Colts line and Addai had nothing but daylight until Phillips met him halfway at the 8 and finally took him down.  Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy, 8 yard gain, Phillips shaken up, and the Colts out of danger.

The Giants had an opportunity to turn the game around two plays later when Addai fumbled but were unable to recover the football.  After a pass to Clark and then 3 consecutive running plays, Manning had the Giants defense set up.  When S Michael Johnson, subbing for Phillips, bit like a Michael Vick pit bull on play action, Peyton hit a wide open Clark for an easy 50 yard touchdown.

On their next drive, the Colts ran on every down.  All seven.  The Giants held on a 3rd and 1, holding the Colts to a field goal.

The statistics really tell the whole story of the half in this one.  The Colts held the ball for just under two thirds of the first half, ran up 278 (124 on the ground!) yards to 69 for the Giants.  The Colts had 18 first downs, 41 offensive plays (23 were runs).  The Giants had a mere 11 yards passing, 5 first downs, and held the ball for just over 10 minutes. With the score at 24-0 at the end of the half, this one was all over.  Though the second half was statistically more even, the game was out of hand.  After the Giants got a quick strike touchdown on the opening drive and a three and out, the Colts got to Manning for a second fumble which was recovered for a touchdown.  All in all, the Giants had three turnovers turned into 17 points.  Game, set, match.

Offense: Kevin Boss was the only starter on offense not to play on Sunday night.  Unfortunately for the Giants, that really hurt them on Sunday night.  With only one ‘experienced’ tight end on the roster, Adam Koets saw a lot of time in double tight end sets and even was the only tight end on the field at times.  In fact, Koets started as the lone TE Sunday.

The Giants offense had a horrid first half.  Although the defense gave up 31 points Sunday, Big Blue had 3 opportunities to right the ship after the Colts’ first touchdown.  Questionable play calling on the first 2 drives resulted in quick 3 and outs.  On the 3rd drive, after obtaining their first 1st down via the penalty, the Giants stalled and were forced to punt at the Colts 40 yard line. The last two drives of the half were disastrous.  After Indianapolis stretched the lead to 14-0, Eli attempted to get a quick 7 and threw deep into triple coverage where Steve Smith nearly made a miraculous catch.  As luck would have it, however, the ball was stripped and wound up intercepted.  That led to 3 more Colts points.  Following that, the Giants had a chance to close the gap and get the ball back to start the second half and maybe make this into a game, but a promising drive was halted when Eli was strip sacked and the Giants lost the ball.  This turnover turned into 7 more Colts points.  So instead of going into half time down 14-0 or possibly better, it was an insurmountable 24-0.

The Giants started the game with an end around, but that play went nowhere when Bradshaw blocked the wrong Colt as he passed right by the safety that made the play.  On the second “drive”, after an 8 yard gain on a first down run, the Giants dropped back to pass twice before punting.

Now, after these two possessions, one has to question just what the Giants are thinking.  It’s been widely reported that Ahmad Bradshaw is the starting running back, and the reasons we’ve heard vary from the thought that he’s the better back and more suited to the offense to the thought that Jacobs is no longer capable of being the back he once was.  So what do the Giants do?  After giving Bradshaw just TWO CARRIES on the first two possessions, they bring in Jacobs.  Why?  Was Jacobs suddenly the better option than Bradshaw?  Was there a “shake up” in the works?  It just makes no sense.

The Giants, for reasons unknown, did not let Bradshaw establish anything.  Now for sure, on the next drive, in which Jacobs began and finished, Jacobs did well.  There’s no disputing the results.  It’s just something to ponder.  If Bradshaw is your guy, why do you remove him from the game after just two carries for the sole reason that it’s the third series?  It’s maddening that the staff never lets one of these guys get anything established, or when they do, they still pull them in favor of touches and not by situation, but by series.

On the night, the Giants had 8 possessions of 3 plays or less.  Their other 4 drives were 7 plays on 3 possessions and 8 on a fourth.  They never got any continuity going.

The Quarterback: Before the game, some discussion on The Corner Forum suggested that it might be wise to try to throw against Indianapolis for a couple of reason.  One, the Giants were light at TE and may not be able to establish an effective running game.  Two, if they could protect Eli, he’d most likely have a good day against a suspect back end of the defense.  Third, the Colts were embarrassed last week and many thought they’d sell out to stop the run, no matter what.

Unfortunately, number two didn’t happen as Eli Manning had almost no chance from the very start of this game to establish anything in the passing game.  The Giants offensive line, particularly the offensive tackles were abused by the quick Colts DEs, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.  Eli had very little time to throw, allowing the Colt DBs to sit on the short routes.  Manning had just 11 yards passing in the first half.

Just 3 of 8 in the first half with an interception and fumble, Manning’s stats were better in the second half, and he finished 13-24 for 161 yards and 2 touchdowns, 1 interception and 2 fumbles.  All of Eli’s turnovers were capitalized upon for points by the Colts, 17 in total.

The puzzling thing is that the Giants never attempted to use the Colts speed against them by trying to either roll the pocket or set up some quick hitters in the flat or on screens.  They also didn’t try to use the no huddle or hurry up offense to try and slow down the quick defensive ends.  I suppose you can say that both of Manning’s touchdown passes were perfectly thrown.  So he had that going for him, which is nice.

The Running Backs: Ahmad Bradshaw got the start as expected, then received just one carry in each of the first two drives before giving way to Brandon Jacobs.  Though Bradshaw finished with respectable statistics, 17 carries for 89 yards and a 5.2 ypc average, the Giants did not run two successful running plays, runs of 4 yards or greater, in a row all night.  Bradshaw never was able to step up and help in the passing game, either.  He was weak all night on his blitz pickups and targeted just one time as a receiver, which went for an incompletion.

And while Brandon Jacobs had a tough night, not everything attributed to him was his fault.  On the play that Jacobs danced east and west instead of hitting the hole, the intended hole was filled because acting TE Adam Koets missed his block at the second level.  Had Jacobs continued on, he’d have been stopped for no gain.  When Jacobs broke to his left, he had a second hole that he could have turned up into and gained a few yards, but instead chose to bring the ball wide and we all saw where that went.

On the interception return in which Jacobs was penalized 15 yards for a hit out of bounds, it’s extremely hard to find fault with what he did.  Jacobs did not hit Jarrod Power, who intercepted the ball.  Watching the play several times, Jacobs had his eyes on the returner the entire time.  What he didn’t see, possibly until the very last millisecond, was that another Colt, Kelvin Hayden, circled back into his path and while Jacobs appeared to pull up and attempt to avoid him, he ended up hitting him pretty hard.  I believe it was accidental and should not have been called for “unnecessary roughness”.

All in all, the Giants were never able to get the ground game going in any sustained fashion.  Ahmad Bradshaw missed a few open holes, too.  With the TE situation as it is, along with a fullback who is not playing very good football right now, it’s difficult to pin all the problems from Sunday night on the two featured backs.  There is simply no room inside for the Giants to run, even on the inside handoffs that have become a staple of the offense.

Speaking of the fullback, Madison Hedgecock isn’t very effective right now.  While he gets to the hole in seemingly good shape, he’s been unable to move any one out or at the very least, neutralize them.  This causes the backs to have to look for cutback lanes or try to squeeze through very tight spaces.  Not one time did a Giants running back get through the line of scrimmage untouched before getting to the second level.  On each run into the line, a lineman was able to at least get a hand on them.

The Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: As with the running backs, it’s very difficult to place any blame on the wide receivers for Sunday night’s offensive woes.  There were receivers open on several occasions in which Eli Manning had no time to deliver the ball.  Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks both caught long touchdown passes and Steve Smith continues his other worldly production on third down situations.  Overall, the WRs were targeted 20 times and came down with 10 receptions.  In the blocking department, Steve Smith did an adequate job but missed on a couple that could have sprung both Jacobs and Bradshaw for very long runs.

Where to begin with the tight ends?  Adam Koets started at TE for the Giants on Sunday night.  He was also in the game on nearly every running play, either as a single TE or with Bear Pascoe in a double TE set.  Koets, as far as I can tell, only missed one key block and actually played with passion and toughness.  He seemed to take on his role with great enthusiasm.  Unfortunately, everyone in the country knows when he’s in there they have to pay absolutely no attention to him in the passing game.

Bear Pascoe, for the most part, was horrible in the running game.  After watching his performance on Sunday, it’s easy to see why he was waived/signed to the practice squad.  31 other teams passed on him for good reason.  He’s slow out of his stance, stands straight up, and gets very little push.  He can be effective when he is doubling and walling off an opponent.  In the passing game, Pascoe was targeted once and gained 7 yards on the reception.

H-Back Travis Beckum is nearly the exact opposite of Adam Koets.  Beckum, in the first half, was in the lineup for just 4 rushing plays.  3 of those plays saw the action come to his side, and all three were unsuccessful.  He simply can’t block.  Every other time he was on the field, the Giants attempted to pass the ball.   Beckum lined up all over the field for the Giants.  He saw time in the backfield, the slot, wide out, and as a tight end.  He was only thrown to once, however, and had a 4 yard reception.  In pass protection, Beckum is no match for anyone.  On the Manningham touchdown, Beckum allowed Freeney to go right past him as he looked back at Eli right at the snap, never getting out of his stance to engage Freeney or do whatever his assignment was on the play if it wasn’t to engage Freeney.  At any rate, Eli got the ball out fast enough to avoid getting clobbered by the quick DE.  Overall, Beckum was in on about a third of the offensive plays, but only in a couple of two TE sets.

The Offensive Line: The offensive line had a very, very rough night on Thursday.  They neither run blocked or pass blocked with any consistency.

Particularly, LT David Diehll and RT Kareem McKenzie had tough goes of it.  Diehl was repeatedly beaten like a drum by DE Dwight Freeney, but McKenzie had an equally tough time with Robert Mathis on the other side.  For some reason, the Giants never attempted to get help for either one of them, many times allowing them both to be on an island for the play.  The Giants never went to a max protect at any time in the game.

While Bradshaw did stay in to pass protect on a good number of occasions, he wasn’t very effective and at times seemed at a loss as to which side he should give help to.  The Colts didn’t blitz often, because they didn’t have to.  When they did, however, they got home as evidenced by Alvin Bethea’s QB hit.

C Shawn O’Hara was up and down during the game, as well.  On several plays he was simply blown back into the play as his ankle/Achilles is obviously bothering him.

There is a lot of talk in The Corner Forum about these guys suddenly getting old and that their no longer able to play the game at a high level.  What needs to be remembered is that these guys, while older, are still pretty damned good.  There are mitigating circumstances which contributed to the problems on Sunday night.  The only effective blocking TE on the team was their backup center, and their fullback simply isn’t getting his job done.  In fact, the Giants didn’t even employ a fullback in many of their plays on Sunday night, running primarily out of a 1 back set.

Defense: As noted above, the game plan for the Giants was to pressure Peyton, employ a heavy dose of dime package looks, and concede the running game but keep it in check to a degree.  As we saw on Sunday, it didn’t work and the Giants didn’t try an alternate tactic until it was too late.  One thing that should be noted, however, is that the Giants used their two normal starting DTs, Chris Canty and Barry Cofield, a lot of the time.  They were not always in a three DE set, though Chris Collinsworth (whom I like as an announcer) would have had you believe otherwise.  One problem turned out to be that the likes of Aaron Ross and Deon Grant were completely ineffective from the traditional outside linebacker positions against the run.  They were exploited over and over again.  Another problem was the line got absolutely no pressure on Peyton other than 1 sack by Mathias Kiwanuka.  The Giants, as a team, only got 3 hits on Peyton all night in 27 drop backs.  Finally, even with the safeties marked to cover Dwight Clark, they couldn’t stop him from wreaking havoc in the middle of the field.

Front 7: With DTs Rocky Bernard and Linval Joseph inactive and LBs Jonathan Goff, Gerris Wilkinson, Chris Sintim and Keith Bulluck not sharing a very big part of the defensive game plan , the job of stopping the run fell to Chris Canty, Barry Cofield and a variety of DEs asked to play inside and defensive backs to fill from the traditional outside linebacker positions.  While the strategy worked in spurts, overall it failed.  Michael Boley was the only significantly active linebacker on the night, and it showed as he was in on 15 (11 solo) tackles which led the team.

With the master Peyton calling the game with clinical precision, he effectively neutralized any rush the Giants may have tried to put on him because they had no idea what Peyton was going to do.  The outside pass rush was non-existent all night; however, the Giants didn’t do anything to try change things up.  The Giants didn’t blitz very often, and it may have been due to the personnel package they were employing on most downs which consisted of 6 defensive backs.

Jonathan Goff and Keith Bulluck both played more in the second half, and both played reasonably well.  Bulluck is hitting hard, which is a good sign.  Goff, in his limited snaps, managed to get in on 8 tackles.  Justin Tuck was also in on 7 tackles.

Defensive Backs: The defensive backfield had their hands full all night with the very good Indianapolis receiving corps, yet they threw everything but the kitchen sink at them to try and slow them down.  While most people have been focusing on the incredible and unexpected rushing success that Indy enjoyed, not much is being said about the fact that the DBs allowed Peyton to complete 20 of 26 passes (with two outright drops) for 255 yards and 3 touchdowns.  No matter what’s going on with the running game, and even though they received very little help from the pass rush that kind of production allowed is unacceptable.  Frankly, everything worked for the Colts Sunday night.

Terrell Thomas had the unenviable task of covering the explosive Reggie Wayne, and was burned early and often by him.  Thomas was beaten on the in slant at least 3 times, and Wayne ended up catching 7 balls for 83 yards and a touchdown.  Thomas, coincidentally, had 7 tackles on the night and 1 forced and recovered fumble late in the game.

Antrel Rolle had an uncharacteristically quiet night, but sure was loud later in the week when he complained about playing in a cover two shell for most of the night.  Rolle also had 7 tackles.

Kenny Phillips, an integral part of the defensive backfield, showed just how much he’s missed when not in the lineup.  After getting up woozy from a blow to the head while making a tackle on Joseph Addai, Phillips had to leave the game for a bit.  His replacement, Michael Johnson, was immediately victimized by Peyton on a play action fake that had him stampeding towards the line while Dallas Clark waved goodbye to him on his way past him for an easy 50 yard touchdown catch.  Thankfully Phillips was not hurt badly and was able to go back into the game shortly thereafter.

Deon Grant had an eventful night, tasked with covering the TE over the middle and the backs out in the flat.  Grant was abused by Peyton in the running game.  When he was up near the line of scrimmage, the Colts ran at him.

Special Teams: Finally, P Matt Dodge punted with success.  Unfortunately, he had to punt 6 times!  His net of 41.2 yards was certainly acceptable, and he did drop one down on the Indy two yard line.  The first punt was a line drive, but the other five were all well struck with decent hang time and distance.

Lawrence Tynes had a decent night kicking off after a shaky first game.  He had 1 touchback and the other two were dropped inside the 5 yard line.  The coverage teams were much better on Sunday, with Victor Cruz doing a good job as the gunner to turn the returner inside into the field where the Giants did a good job of limiting returns to minimal damage.

There was no return game to speak of, as the Colts kicker notched 5 touchbacks and an obviously frustrated Darius Raynaud unwisely took one out from 5 yards deep and only got back to the 15 yard line.

Coaching: All we can do is speculate as to what the coaching staff was thinking on Sunday night when they employed the game plans we saw.  While it’s easy to understand the logic behind the defensive game plan, it’s difficult to understand why they didn’t change it up when it was obviously not working.  Why did they stick with the 6 DB package for so long before reinserting Goff and Bulluck?  Why didn’t they try to overload Peyton on one side to get him at least moving laterally to try to take half the field away from him?  Why no blitzes?  Why did they stick with the cover 2 which some of the players obviously were uncomfortable with?

As for the offense, Sunday night’s game makes no sense to me.  They never established the run.  They didn’t try to use the Colts’ aggressiveness against them by moving the pocket, employing screens, or going to a no huddle offense.  Not once, after an end around to open the game, did the Giants try to change the pace or momentum of anything.

It appeared as if HC Tom Coughlin, OC Kevin Gilbride and DC Perry Fewell were all paralyzed by the fact that their plans were not working and they had no contingencies.  They just appeared mesmerized.

Offensive Player of the Game: After rewatching this game several times, I’m giving the OPOG to backup OL Adam Koets.  He wasn’t great.  He was, in fact, adequate.  Yet he played hard, he played tough, and when watching him you could tell he knew his assignments, even if he wasn’t always able to execute it.  I just liked his attitude and competitiveness.

Defensive Player of the Game: The Giants ran into a cerebral buzz saw on Sunday night.  If the offense could have scored on one of their first three possessions, or at the least run some clock to give them a break, this game could’ve turned out differently.  Michael Boley was all over the place on Sunday night playing primarily from the MIKE position with two DBs flanking him.  Boley had 15 tackles on the night, 11 of which were solo.

(Box Score – New York Giants at Indianapolis Colts, September 19, 2010)