Tennessee Titans 28 – New York Giants 14
Game Overview: How depressing! It’s not so much the outcome of the contest, but the lack of effort put forth. The game wasn’t as close as the score. The Giants were out-played by a team with better player, out-coached by a team with better coaches, and out-hustled by a team that plays with more hustle and passion.
I think the Giants may be the bleakest 3-2 team in the history of the NFL.
But before we dive too far into the minutiae of this particular game, let’s take a look at the big picture. I am usually wary of reading too much into one win or one loss. My biggest pet peeve with the media (especially the national media) is how fast they will jump on or off a bandwagon after a week’s action. The Giants pretty much dominated three mediocre teams and then in turn were dominated by two playoff teams. That seems to suggest that the Giants lie somewhere between these two opposite poles. But I think the Titan game represented something different as well. How can the Giants come out so flat against the AFC Champions – especially after they got embarrassed last week at home on national television? Head Coach Jim Fassel hollered at his players on Thursday after practice about their lack of focus and intensity, but they seemed to have ignored him. Remember, they ignored him and the owner in the season finale last year too. That’s never a good sign.
Last night, having had my fill with a generally crappy football day, I turned off the late game and put in a tape of a movie of mine that I hadn’t watched in years, Patton. Early in the film, George C. Scott (Patton) turns to Karl Malden (Omar Bradley) and says, “When I get through with them, they (his troops) will lose their fear of the Germans. I only hope to God that they never lose their fear of me.” And that’s the problem with Fassel. The players obviously don’t fear him. Oh sure, they like him, but I challenge anyone to actually suggest that they fear the man. Fear is the all-powerful motivator. People will bend over backwards because of fear, not because of some warm fuzzy feeling.
But let’s not just throw stones at Fassel – his assistants are to blame too (more on that below). So are the players. Jessie Armstead is the heart of the team and he admittedly shows up flat? What the hell is that? Where is the leadership on this team? Where are the play-makers? Is there a Pro Bowler among this group? I don’t think so. And the attitude just flat out sucks. All talk. “This is a wake up call…blah, blah, blah, blah.” No heart and they crumble at the first sign of adversity. Just give me my paycheck please. I’d rather watch a bunch of no-name rookie free agents who get paid the league minimum. At least they would sell out on every play – and the results wouldn’t be much different.
Giants on Offense: What offense? In the first half, the Giants went three-and-out on their first three possessions. The fourth ended in a fumbled snap. The fifth ended with an interception. Two first downs for an entire half – the first coming with only minutes before halftime! One yard rushing and 44 yards passing for an entire half of football! The Titans are good, but they aren’t that good. Hell, Kent Graham and the Steelers did better last week. The Giants’ 17:14 time of possession for the game was their lowest since the figure started being kept in 1980.
Let’s start with Offensive Coordinator Sean “the Genius” Payton. What are the Giants offensively? They are not a smash mouth team – they are a finesse West Coast Offense. The Titans are a smash mouth team very similar to the old Giants’ teams under Bill Parcells. The last thing you want to do is to start trying to run the ball straight at them from the get-go, especially when they are crowding the line of scrimmage. This plays right into their hands. Luke Petitgout, Dusty Zeigler, Glenn Parker, and Lomas Brown are not maulers. The strength of their game is angle-blocking and being in the right spot to shield the ball carrier from the defender. Can you imagine if Bill Walsh and his old 49ers teams tried to power the football at the Giants’ defenses under Parcells? You would have laughed your ass off. What Payton should have done was try to loosen the defense up by throwing the ball – and not just to the receivers, but to Tiki Barber and Pete Mitchell. Once the safeties had backed off, then the Giants should have hit them with the run. That’s what the West Coast Offense is all about – it’s what teams like St. Louis and the Vikings do. What the hell happened about all this talk from Fassel and Payton about passing when they expect you to run and visa versa? Poor game plan – it didn’t fit our personnel.
Perhaps what this teams needs is to hire a disciplinarian who will clean house and put together an offensive line that fits Ron Dayne’s skills. Move Luke Petitgout to left tackle, put Mike Rosenthal at left guard, and sign or draft a power right tackle.
Now for some brief comments on player performance:
- Quarterback: Kerry Collins (17–of-36 for 197 yards, 2 touchdowns, 3 interceptions) is regressing. And it is not simply a matter of him playing against a much better quality of opponent. He is forcing the ball again and his accuracy is waning. A team can not win a championship if the quarterback crumbles at the first suggestion that the game may rest on his arm. For every excellent throw on Sunday (and there were a few), there were some terrible passes (most notably the interceptions). Kerry looks confused again. The fumbled snap is inexcusable.
- Offensive Line: Terrible run blocking, but the game plan didn’t play to their strength. This is a finesse line, not a slug-it-out unit that can dictate its own terms to the opponent. Luke Petitgout badly missed a block on a 3rd-and-2 play that forced the Giants to punt. The pass blocking was not too bad. Petitgout did an admirable job on DE Jevon Kearse, holding him to no sacks and two tackles. Actually, LT Lomas Brown had more problems with DE Kenny Holmes (and Kearse on one play). Given the situation (being down quickly 14 and 21 to nothing), the pass protection was surprising given the fact that Tennessee was pinning their ears back.
- Wide Receivers: Four drops – all costly. Amani “Give Me the Damn Ball” Toomer (5 catches for 81 yards) dropped a perfectly thrown deep pass from Collins early in the game. That play was a momentum killer. Ike “I apparently don’t want the damn ball” Hilliard had yet another multiple drop game. It’s time to set up the passing machine in his garage at home. Now even Ron Dixon (no catches) is getting into the act, by dropping a 3rd down pass for what would have been a first down. Joe “Eric’s first round wide receiver” Jurevicius (1 catch for six yards) is a second round bust. Maybe it’s time to sit down one of the starters for Thabiti Davis – at least he’ll catch the ball.
- Tight Ends: TE Dan Campbell did a nice job on his one-yard touchdown reception on 4th-and-goal. Poor blocking and not a factor in the passing game. Great job by the coaching staff getting Pete Mitchell (no catches) into the flow of the offense.
- Running Backs: “Thunder and Lightening”? The Macarena fad lasted longer. Does anyone want a refund on the t-shirt? Kerry Collins (3 carries for 19 yards) outrushed Tiki Barber (5 carries for 2 yards), Ron Dayne (3 carries for 1 yard), and Greg Comella (1 carry for 4 yards). Subtract Kerry’s 13 yarder and the Giants rushed for 11 yards on 11 carries. Great. Greg was also flagged for holding.
Giants on Defense: Perhaps Defensive Coordinator John Fox is trying to get Jim Fassel fired. Either his players are dumb as dirt (to use a kind word) and don’t listen to him and his staff, or they were poorly prepared. All the Titans do is throw to their tight ends and backs and yet time and time again on Sunday, these guys were not covered or covered by players who should not have been in position to cover them. Last week, it was Sam Garnes on Irving Fryar. This week it was Ryan Phillips on Frank Wycheck and Eddie George. You just don’t put Phillips in that position in the first place! Hell on George’s late third down reception in the 4th quarter when the Giants are trying to get the ball back, why was Phillips even in the game? There is no excuse – it’s stupid football.
The Giants gave up four TD drives: 9 plays/80 yards, 19 plays/98 yards, 9 plays/80 yards, and 14 plays/80 yards. They converted 14 of 20 third down attempts. That’s absurd. Just look at the 19 play drive:
- 3rd-and-8 from the Titans’ 4: George gains eight yards on carry where he runs through Sam Garnes.
- 3rd-and-3 from the Titans’ 19: George runs up the middle for three yards.
- 3rd-and-8 from the Titans’ 24: McNair passes 17 yards to WR Derrick Mason against nickel corner Emmanuel McDaniel.
- 3rd-and-8 from the Titans’ 43: McNair passes to Mason for 13 yards.
- 3rd-and-10 from the Giants’ 44: McNair passes to TE Erron Kinney for 17 yards.
- 3rd-and-8 from the Giants’26: McNair passes to George for 19 yards.
Six third down conversions, most of them long yardage. Six first downs. The Titans hit the Giants’ undercoverage all day when they weren’t throwing the ball against the nickel back. Then they pounded Eddie George straight at the defense with good results. One of the poorest efforts I have ever seen from a Giants’ defense that lacks any superior talent. Michael Strahan, Jessie Armstead, and Jason Sehorn are all overpaid and overrated. Same with Sam Garnes and Mike Barrow.
- Defensive Line: Very sporadic pass pressure and run defense. The tone for the day was set when the Titans drove 80-yards down the field on their first drive for a touchdown, helped by three inexcusable off-sides penalties by Keith Hamilton (2) and Christian Peter (1). Eddie George (125 yards) had little trouble gaining ground inside or outside. Ernie Accorsi needs to think about waiving DE Michael Strahan (1 tackle, 1 sack) after the end of the season. If he wasn’t being paid like he is, he would be considered a solid defensive end in this league, but Strahan is being paid as one of the best defenders. When a beat-up, pass blocking tight end plants you, you should think about giving back most of your signing bonus. He played at both ends, but it didn’t matter. Cedric Jones (7 tackles) was pushed around way too much on outside runs. He gets no pressure on his pass rush. The Giants have a 4-3 defense where their weakside rusher has zero sacks for the season (and very little pressure). Oh, and he was playing against a back-up for much of the game. That’s just great. The inside duo of Hamilton (6 tackles, 1 sack) and Peter (5 tackles) were more active, but it wasn’t enough. I will say this – Hamilton is being double-teamed quite a bit and he is still fighting. The late hit call on him was BS. DT/DE Cornelius Griffin (1 tackle) got some good pressure on one pass rush from the right end side.
- Linebackers: Absolutely terrible, both against the run and the pass. The coverage on the tight ends (10 catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns) was virtually non-existent. Same story with Eddie George (4 catches for 52 yards). The Giants knew they would throw to these guys and yet they left them wide open! How does Jessie Armstead (5 tackles), the leader of the team, come out flat for this game? Mike Barrow (6) tackles missed much of the contest with a neck stinger. Ryan Phillips had seven tackles, but I spotted him getting crushed on one outside run on an important third down and he was just terrible in coverage. Pete Monty (5 tackles) finally got a chance to play with the base defense and didn’t take advantage of it.
- Defensive Backs: SS Sam Garnes (7 tackles) got a big 4-year deal in the offseason, but when is the last time you said to yourself, “Garnes made a hell of a play there.” When is the last time Garnes made a play? Getting run over by Eddie George like that on 3rd-and-8 coming off of the goal line isn’t supposed to happen to “one of the best run defending safeties in the league.” He also is probably to blame for many of those completions to the tight end. You can ship this Fassel ass-kisser out of New York too. FS Shaun Williams (6 tackles) almost made a pick down on the goalline and had one big hit that caused an incompletion. The starting corners were pretty solid. Jason Sehorn (9 tackles) and Dave Thomas (2 tackles) both knocked down long balls when they were locked up one-on-one and Thomas almost came down with the pick. Sehorn was faked out of his jock strap by McNair on one CB blitz and Thomas couldn’t bring McNair down on another. Run support by either wasn’t very strong either. The real culprit in the secondary was nickel back Emmanuel McDaniel (4 tackles) who was abused by WR Derrick Mason for multiple key receptions. He was so bad that he had to be replaced by Reggie Stephens who promptly gave up a reception to Mason. (Derrick finished the day with 6 catches for 103 yards – and he isn’t even a starter).
Special Teams: This is the only aspect of the team that seems to be improving. PK Jaret Holmes (three kicks into the end zone/two touchbacks) was a big improvement over Brad Daluiso in the kick-off department. P Brad Maynard punted well all day, both in his long drive attempts and positional efforts. The coverage teams did a great job on one of the most dangerous kick and punt returners in the game. Ron Dixon screwed up royally by trying to be too cute and letting the ball roll too close to the end zone instead of playing it safe and downing the ball. He came back on the next effort and made a superb effort to down the ball. Dixon had a 37-yard kick-off return that gave the Giants’ offense good field position. Dan Campbell was flagged for holding on one return. Jack Golden almost (and should have) blocked a punt.
Analysis of the Offensive
by Chris Jacobs
As I started to grade the film I decided that letting everyone know how each lineman graded out in this game would not only be moot but redundant. They all graded somewhere between 80 to 90% so what’s the point. So what I have done was gone over each play in the first half to try and find where the breakdowns occurred, it’s not always the O-lines fault. There were only 17 plays in the first half anyway.
- Trips right, tight left, toss sweep to Tiki. Four guys were in the backfield before Tiki got the ball. No one was blocked on the play.
- Swing pass to Barber. Nice gain. But Campbell lets Kearse run right around him similar to the flea flicker sack the previous week. They need to work on Campbell’s pass blocking.
- Ok, 3rd and 2. Hilliard is alone on the right with the D-back 10 yards off him. This is a no brainer right? Wrong, Pete Mitchell in the flat for one yard. Bad decision by Collins, really bad.
- Toomers drop, would have been a 35 yard gain to the Tenn 25, it was only 7-0 at this point and could have made it a very different game. If you want the ball, catch it.
- Quick throw to Toomer, gain of 4, good play. Would have been perfect on 3rd and 2.
- Third and 6, run the same play where Toomer dropped the ball. Toomer lets himself get jammed. To the untrained eye it looked like a bad throw, it wasn’t.
- Iso up the middle to Dayne. Blocked perfect, wide open if you cut it left, LB steps up and knocks Comella back into Dayne sheds him and makes the tackle. If Dayne has such great vision and quick feet he should have recognized this and cut left and picked up 10; if it were Tiki he would have gained 20.
- Pass protection is good, Collins panics and dumps it to Mitchell who’s back is turned, meanwhile both Ike and Toomer are open to the left. Bad decision by Collins, his wheels are starting to come off.
- Blitz, pressure from everywhere, Collins gets hit by 2 guys at once. Incomplete pass. Comella was called for holding.
- Quick slant to Toomer 13 yards. (Sarcastic cheer)
- Play fake, good protection, Collins throws to Hilliard on the sideline who drops the ball. But as Matt Millen pointed out, Toomer was wide open in the middle of the field. Bad decision by Collins.
- I-formation, quick dive to Comella for 5. Tiki faked the sweep. Good idea, give yourself a third and 5 instead of 3rd and 10.
- Ok, 3rd and 5 down by 21, 2 minutes left. Toss sweep Charles Way. Sorry bad flashback. Actually I liked this play. They lined up in that tight trips formation that the usually run out of. The 3 recievers cris-crossed at the line, outside guy runs a 5yd in, middle guy goes up the sideline, outside guy runs a short post. The linebackers smelled run and stepped up right away. JJ would have been wide open on his 5yard in across the middle. Good play, but, fumbled snap.
- Pass protection good 26 yard gainer to Ike. Good play all around.
- Shotgun, trips left, Toomer right, Tiki in the backfield. Kearse jumps offsides and Collins dumps it short to JJ. Bad decision by Collins, if they jump offsides, throw it long, your down by 21, take a shot.
- Pass, Lomas completely misses his man and Luke holds Kearse. Fumble but Giants recover.
- Interception. Collins threw the ball falling backwards even though the pressure wasn’t that bad. I would love to ask him who he was throwing this one to. It seemed like Toomer but Dixon was open deep, I think he was trying to get it to Dixon but I’m not sure.
I was listening to the FAN and Jim Fassel said, “We have to match the opposing teams intensity.” That’s a really good point. I felt that by making that point, he was blaming himself. I remember when I was young, I grew up with three brothers, we were all fairly well behaved but lets be honest, four boys, we had our bad moments. Every time my Dad yelled at us, individually or as a group, my grandmother would blurt something out in Italian. I didn’t know what she was saying, and if I asked, she wouldn’t tell. Years later I asked her and finally she told me, “The fish stinks from the head” (it sounds much nicer in Italian). She was obviously taking a shot at my Dad there, but he did a good job, we all turned out alright. Anyway, let me get back to the Giants and I’ll make my point. This is Jim Fassel’s team, he’s had 4 years to rid of players he didn’t want, and has had 4 drafts and free agency periods to replace them. This is his team, if he wants intensity, he needs to get intense himself. Being a coach isn’t always knowledge of the X’s and O’s, it’s how to get the best effort out of a group of guys. This is a talented team, he needs to find what motivates them. Every time I see a player screw up and yell at the TV, I can faintly hear my grandmother…the fish stinks from the head.
REMEMBER THE TITANS
by David Oliver
No, the movie isn’t about those Titans, nor even the NY Titans, but the TC Williams High School Titans in Alexandria, VA. TC Williams was a perennial powerhouse in football until recent years. Keep in mind that Virginia was not a very progressive state in race relations until late into the 60s and the early 70s. Williams was an integrated team, a team that relied on athletic ability, not skin color. It was a shining example of the New South for a brief period of time. And TC Williams probably could have played the Tennessee Titans as well as did the NY Giants yesterday.
I am writing this report only for those who did not have the opportunity to see the game. There isn’t much to say. In the past 5 years, I haven’t been this down – even when the Skins rolled up 50 points last year, the Giants appeared to have some fight in them. Maybe there was a flu epidemic we haven’t heard about, maybe someone has cast a spell on the blue uniforms, maybe Tennessee is just that much better.
I got up at 4 a.m. (So did my very precious wife who drove me to the airport, then came got me at night) to make a 6:30 a.m. flight to Nashville. There were 6 passengers on the plane, three of us going to the game, both my traveling mates Titans fans. They started it off, saying they expected a close game, that the Titans hadn’t been productive all year, that Eddie George hadn’t gotten out of the blocks. It continued at the airport in Nashville, the bus driver on the way downtown, the doorman, and every assortment of Titans fans I encountered – a close game, maybe a field goal, they couldn’t wait to see “Thunder & Lightning”. Jeesh! I didn’t expect a Giant victory, but I did expect a close game. This whole thing about the motion offense, “Thunder & Lightning,” the new Giants is turning out to be just another Urban Legend.
Something appeared wrong from the get go. The Giants came out of the tunnel strangely; Coach was angry already and hollering at the troops to move their asses, to get set, to get out for the intros. Couldn’t quite place it, but it wasn’t right. A divergence – the new stadium is nicely done – similar to Raymond James in Tampa; but it is located across the river from town, with limited parking for the fans, so they have to find parking in town, walk down to the bridge, cross over and into the Stadium. In NY they would need respirators every 200 yards. Once you get there, the people are as friendly as can be. Smiling and friendly. But cheap – this is the worst stadium for treatment of photographers that I have ever visited. There is a rigid class structure for those who report sports. The pencil-necks who sit on their asses upstairs get treated as if they are royalty. They are dined and comforted. The working classes, field rats, are banned from most press lounges. The Giants take very good care of us, nonetheless. We get parking privileges, there is a room at field level, there is a buffet style spread before the games and a sandwich, drink and ice cream at half time. In short, we may not be first class citizens, but we are citizens. The Jets give full access, so does Philly, the Florida Stadiums are pretty good. The Redskins suck, the Ravens sort of such – well, you get the picture. Of course we don’t show up for the meal, but we are at the Stadium 3 to 4 hours in advance and we do work. If you think it’s easy come on down some time and carry the equipment, run up and down sweating or freezing, yadda, yadda, yadda. Tennessee – a banana and water. Screw the Titans, I hope the river floods and takes the whole operation somewhere down below.
I’ve avoided it as long as possible, but HOW BOUT THEM GIANTS? Seventeen minutes of possession, bumbling, stumbling, physically beat, mentally beat, unprepared and humiliated. And that is the kind version. The fans who were there, and there were some, remarked afterwards, back at the hotel, at the airport, that it looked from the stands, as from the field that the Giants were simply not prepared – they appeared to be sucking wind from the start. I can tell you this – in my lifetime I have been privileged to see great teams, great individual players, great team and individual efforts. Sports performances are very much like works of art – Bob Costas said it about Michael “Golden Shoes” Johnson. Great sports performances appeal to the aesthetic sense in us. Dan Marino, John Elway, LT were masterpieces. Well, Eddie George will be in that class, if not already. I have never seen a running back who physically punishes people such as Eddie G. Maybe John Henry Johnson of the Steelers back in the 1950s. I remember him knocking at least 1 or 2 Giants out of the game every time they played. George is the most physically powerful runner I have witnessed in person in my lifetime.
When he wasn’t running over people, he ran around them. As tough as Jason Sehorn is, we actually caught him shying away at one point in the game. It usually took at least 3 Giants to make the stop. CJ made one nice penetration tackle, I think he stopped George with a submarine tackle, but then again it could have been Rodney Thomas. Air McNair showed the Giants what a motion offense was all about – he also showed what a durable, mobile QB could do for an offense. And the Freak – even an under the weather Freak showed flashes of what he is about. He gobbles up huge chunks of real estate, chases down the ball carrier, approaches the game as seek and destroy. But don’t compare him to LT – he’s not in that class, no one is. Talking to some of the knowledgeable Titan fans, I was told that the Freak is the nervous sort – they told me to watch him on the sidelines, pacing, spitting up almost wretching with anxiety. He is a Super Bowl player on a Super Bowl team, but he is not another LT. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Methuselah Bruce Matthews, line stud. Still tickin and still lickin – pistol whipped a couple of Giants. Their other offensive House is a mammoth guard named Zach Piller – made several key blocks. Did the Giants create some new all pros for the Titans? Yep, Derrick Mason looked like the second coming of Jerry Rice. He beat Dave Thomas so badly, that the Giants sent in Manny McD. Oops! Manny was torched by Mason for a score. In came Reggie Stephens. Just an inch saved Reggie from the same fate as a McNair pass bounced off Mason’s finger tips. Then there was Chris Sanders, who turned Sehorn every which way but loose in the first half, or was it Williams? I don’t know, they all looked so bad out there that it is difficult to apportion fault. On defense, Blaine Bishop just keyed on KC and was in position a lot. He killed the final Giants gasp with a nice INT on a KC heave to nowhere.
Homage paid where homage is due. The Titans are a damn fine team. The Giants played mediocre ball. But, then, as my seatmate on the way home said, weren’t the Giants supposed to be a mediocre team this year? Yes, I guess they were. And as Sean Payton cautioned last April, don’t expect instant success, the whole package needs time to jell – that is, if it isn’t broken apart by November. Did any Giants players perform well? Well, Mike Barrow deserves the heroism award. Injured early, sitting on the bench with his jersey off, and told by the doctors to sit it out, he was arguing with the medical staff and at one point could be seen pulling his jersey over his head saying he just wanted to be ready – he got back in and played his heart out. Christian Peter dug and dug and dug again, just couldn’t get it quite done. Ryan Phillips played about the steadiest game for the backers but was often out of position. On offense, Ron Dixon has that youthful spirit, the will to win. He made several rookie mistakes – like failing to down a punt on the 2 yard line and taking his eye off the ball late in the game and dropping a pass, stopping a Giants’s effort. But this kid has legitimate super star quality. He will be a very good player and he has heart, game heart. The mistakes can be corrected, just so they don’t break his spirit. Other than that, only individual plays stood out. There were NONE, no game performances.
It has been said at BBI, by myself and countless others that this team will go only as far as Kerry Collins carries it. KC has again shown that he is not a top echelon QB. He is inconsistent at best, performs well against lesser opponents, but frankly chokes against the big boys. He played three quarters in a daze. Clear as a bell, on the fumble, he was already looking at the defense before the snap.. He had short passes deflected at the line, he threw into the ground, and without an open Tiki he appeared lost in the offense. I know it sounds harsh, but guys who make more than 5 million a year must produce. Guys who are drafted high in the first round can’t be just good. The Giants have major investments in KC, Sean Williams, and CJ which are so far performing like the NASDAQ. Mr. Tisch is a good businessman – he can’t be happy with the mounting losses in his human investments. These guys must step up and they aren’t. Keep in mind, Dave Thomas may be a convenient whipping boy, but he is a journeyman corner, playing only because the Coach likes his toughness – he was never a blue chipper, so don’t focus on him. There are so many under performers on this team that it is a short sellers paradise. For the game, the QB position was a negligible.
The tight end position , without a healthy Pete Mitchell, is a disaster. I have not ever called for Howard Cross to sit, but after this game, it is time. He does nothing that another, younger better receiver couldn’t do. And it becomes painfully obvious when you watch an average overachiever like Wycheck, or a mountain of a man like Erron Kinney perform. Kinney could have caught 20 balls had they chosen to throw to him. Somebody on the Giants defense is too used to practicing against Howard Cross and forgets that tight ends are supposed to catch the ball – tight ends kill our defense. Why? The Giants need to scour the rolls and get one of these Arena guys – forget undersize players – the Giants need a huge, ambulatory pass catching tight end. Dan Campbell made a nice catch on the TD pass. Sit Howard and get Dan in the game. Sean Payton’s motion offense needs another weapon and this is it. More productivity out of the tight end position, please.
The line – I can’t wait to see Chris’ evaluation. It seemed as if the Titans just overloaded the box, keyed on Tiki and shut the Giants down. As good, as tough, as gutsy as Comella is, the Gash thing is beginning to look like a major mistake. It often appears as if there are 15 defensive players on the field. For all the motion, the Giants run basically the same play with Tiki and a fast, over pursuing defense has gotten the pattern. I don’t think the line is playing badly, they are just overwhelmed.
The receivers – Amani got it going late in the game. He laid out for some catches, made some nice effort grabs. Same with Ike. Dixon has the tools, he just needs experience. I wouldn’t worry about the mistakes – put him on the field the entire game, he belongs in the lineup. JJ simply can’t find a place. He is so much promise, so little delivery. Typical Penn State skill player product. The Giants miss the Derrick Mason type receiver – David Patten almost got there, but didn’t. They need the streaker who can just flat out beat the defense. Seems simple doesn’t it. Get a big, pass catching tight end and a speed long baller and the whole offense clicks into gear.
The running backs. Whoa! Where is Thunder? Play the Big Fella. Let him pound it 25 times a game, hell the offense couldn’t be worse, could it? And how about this for progress: Joe Montgomery actually got to dress up for the game – still on the bench, but at least dressed. I don’t know about the talent, but I do know he has the fire. The Giants need fury right now, they badly need someone to stand up and say I’m not going to lose, follow me, to kick some ass. Joe Montgomery could be that kind of person and he needs to be on the field. If the Giants want a power offense, go to the power backs, then bring Tiki in as the change of pace – it will increase his effectiveness. When Tiki is on the field too many plays, the defense keys on him and takes him away. Otherwise, put Walendy in the game and let him lead Tiki. Power and finesse to not come out of the same barrel.
Defense. For 30 minutes, there was no defense. A 98 yard, 10 minute march is a back breaker. On the first possession there were 4 penalties, no pass defense, little run stoppage, the Titans, as one fan said “had their way with the Giants.” That’s a very polite way of saying the Giants defense consisted of a bunch of pussies waving at Titans going by. I think LT would have killed someone on the field had he been playing Sunday. JF and the defensive coaches were screaming at the defense on the bench after the first drive. It was an ugly scene. Sehorn was beaten by Sanders more than once. Williams had another very poor game, when Barrow went out, it took Monty a while to realize he was in a game as several plays went by him and he just watched. CJ had one decent play, then Williams was beaten again, the McNair scrambled and somehow the Giants forgot how successful they had been against McNabb and McNown and even the Snake for three quarters. They looked like they were playing the fourth quarter against Arizona – in a daze. Griffin made a stop of George and realized what the NFL was. He got pretty well worn out in this one, as George just beat the hell out of the Giants.
About this time I was saying throw Jeremiah Parker in and the defensive coaches must have been just as frustrated because lo and behold there was Parker on the field. That didn’t work either. There were now 7 and a half minutes left in the first half and KC couldn’t hit the wall from the inside of the barn. The wheels had fallen off. Titans again and Sehorn was beaten by Sanders, then Mason went by McDaniel for the score. Next up came the KC fumble. The look, duh! Where is it – it bounced for an eternity without a Giant in sight. Titans ball. Sean Williams finally defensed a pass, but Mason almost beat Stephens for another score. And just before half a very bad KC pass, and an INT. Mercifully it was halftime. I’m doing this review without benefit of my photos. I’m sure it would be much worse with the pictures in front of me. Most of the shooting was Titans – George, McNair, Mason. Think I got three rolls of Titans – any Titans fans out there – I’ll have a private viewing.
Interesting byplay at the start of the second half. All the Giants coaches came out first, except JF. No players, just coaches on the bench. Poor Sean Payton again sitting, furiously reading Gone With the Wind, trying to find the chapter on Tennessee, or maybe reading next week’s Atlanta chapter. What the hell are the Giants doing with Gone With the Wind anyway? Why not Thucidydes or some of Alcibiades speeches or Winston Churchill. The more I think about comparing the Giants offensive play book to a romance novel, the more confused I get. And then it comes to me – the attitude last week and this week is aptly summed up by Clark Gable’s Rhett Butler – the Giants are playing as if “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!”
The second half was better – not good, but better. JF must have torched them a little because they came out to play. KC scrambled, then Tiki, then Tiki stopped. Punt. Interjection. How could I forget. Game ball to Brad Maynard – he kicked the hell out of it. Two straight weeks of great kicking. Sean Williams missed a tackle, George got a big gain. CJ got a sack – somebody actually knocked Matthews on his keister. The George stopped by Garnes – but there was no one else on that side of the field – where have all the Giants gone? Then Thomas defensed Pickens and Strahan had a good rush. CJ had a nice contain play and hammer actually tackled McNair.
Offense. Pass to Toomer, flag 1st down, thank you zebras. Pass to Toomer, again flag, hit out of bounds, thank you zebras.. Tiki run. Then Toomer laid out for a nice catch at the 14. Finally some offensive life.
Titans again. Erron Kinney from deep in his own territory. Then McNair with a big run around a wide open (left side) of the Giants defense- where have all the Giants gone? We are into the 4th quarter. CP bats a pass down, then McNair to Mason. Monty stopped George – it was either tackle him or be trampled. Then a 2 yard TD pass to Wycheck. For you guys watching on TV- I was standing right there in the end zone and it looked to me as if he did not have possession before he dropped the ball. Ref was behind the play. What did you see?
Next Giants offensive series. Dixon took his eye off the ball, which would have been a first down completion, drive stopped. He was looking for the corner ready to turn and go. Youthful mistake – the guy wants to make a play so bad you can’t get mad, just sigh and grow with him. He then went down and mad a nice tackle on the punt. The defense had a decent series stopping George. He brings it on every play and the Giants will be sore tomorrow. Then a Toomer pass, a Tiki pass, TD pass to Campbell – nice play action. The play before, they sent in Dayne and Tennessee had 11 men in the box on the 2 for the stop. If you are going to be macho, you had better have the horses. But at least they set up the play action for the next play, which worked to perfection.
Then the Titans fumble. Bounce, bounce, Giants ball. oops, KC hangs one up to Ike on the Titans 25, INT. Still more life. KC to Toomer, incomplete, then KC to Dixon and the final INT. Game over.
I didn’t go into the locker room, didn’t wait for the final stats. This one wasn’t pretty. Got home and watched the Eagles pound Atlanta and again wish we had signed Brian Mitchell – then I remember, the Giants don’t think big and Mitchell didn’t go to Penn State. Guys and gals, the Giants were outplayed, out coached, out muscled. The score doesn’t describe the humiliation. Those who picked 8 and 8 at the beginning of the year, gloat now and get passed it. We are seeing the greening of Sean Payton, the desanctification of john Fox and the beginning of the Marty Schottenheimer watch. Oh, Lord, spare us this final indignity as Giants fans.