The State Of The New York Football Giants: MIDSEASON REPORT


The State Of The New York Football Giants: MIDSEASON REPORT
M.D. Wright
11.19.09

***EDITOR’S NOTE: While this is a MIDSEASON REPORT, there will be commentary on the remaining games on the schedule and a potential playoff outlook, as well.

OK, we’re basically at the halfway point in the season for the Giants. They are 5-4 through 9 games, with 7 to go and coming off a bye. After reading my boy’s assessment of his team, the Jets, I decided to do one for the Giants in the same manner.

What this analyzation consists of is a brief summary of each game to this point, what each team did well/poorly, who stood out both good and bad and what could be built upon going ahead.

***EDITOR’S NOTE: The Giants will reportedly get CB Aaron Ross back in Week 11, along with LB Michael Boley and DE/DT Chris Canty. I saw CB Terrell Thomas at a club here in New York last night and he confirmed that Ross will play in Week 11.

WEEK 1:
Washington Redskins vs. New York Giants
Giants Stadium
East Rutherford, New Jersey

FINAL SCORE:
Washington 17
NY Giants 23

Going in, expectations were huge for the defense, which, while it didn’t disappoint, wasn’t completely dominant against a Redskins’ offense that by all measures would be average at best going into the season. The running game was decent, although RB Brandon Jacobs appeared to be tiptoeing and a step slow all game. RB Ahmad Bradshaw made the most of his carries and QB Eli Manning was efficient. The offensive line was its normal consistent. FS Kenny Phillips played very well while standing out in the secondary.

The Redskins, as previously mentioned, were projected to be average at best offensively. The defense was expected to be bolstered with the signing of the $100M man, Albert Haynesworth, but his effectiveness was limited by a decent job done by the Giants’ offensive line. LB London Fletcher tackled everything moving.

GRADE: B+.

WEEK 2:
New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys
Cowboys Stadium
Arlington, Texas

FINAL SCORE:
NY Giants 33
Dallas 31

For all intents and purposes, the Cowboys dominated this game offensively. They put three running backs into the game and they all had their way running off the left side behind LT Flozell Adams (who nearly took out both the Giants’ starting defensive ends, DE Justin Tuck/DE Osi Umenyiora within minutes of one another with a leg whip on each). If not for an awful game by QB Tony Romo, the Cowboys would have won by 10.

QB Eli Manning had an excellent game and once again FS Kenny Phillips stood out with 2 INTs, with a TD being taken off the board by horrific officiating. WRs Mario Manningham and Steve Smith were able to do basically whatever they wanted against the Cowboys’ secondary. Cowboys’ DT Jay Ratliff made several plays in this game that I have never seen a defensive tackle make in my LIFE.

GRADE: B.

WEEK 3:
New York Giants vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Raymond James Stadium
Tampa, Florida

FINAL SCORE:
NY Giants 24
Tampa Bay 0

The Giants did what they should’ve. They let the Bucs hang around a bit. Eli Manning did not have a stellar day, however RB Brandon Jacobs scored a TD and RB Ahmad Bradshaw had 104 yards on limited carries. The offensive line did its thing, providing holes for 226 rushing yards.

The biggest part of this game was the Giants defense and its ability to shut out the Bucs; however minuscule that feat may appear. They held the Bucs to under 100 total yards and did not yield a 1st down until the 3rd quarter was nearly over. CB Terrell Thomas notched his first INT of the season in this game.

GRADE: A-.

WEEK 4:
New York Giants vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Arrowhead Stadium
Kansas City, Missouri

FINAL SCORE
NY Giants 27
Kansas City 16

The good thing about playing three straight road games is the fact that the tough games late are at home. Or is that good news? Giants fans and people who know the team’s recent struggles in late December and in the playoffs know what this means.

At any rate, the Giants thoroughly dominated this game until allowing the Chiefs to score a couple of cheap ones late.

WR Steve Smith had a HUGE day, 11 receptions for 134 yards and RB Brandon Jacobs rushed for 92 yards.

The defense was able to rattle QB Matt Cassel all game, and RB Larry Johnson was invisible for the entire game.

WR Hakeem Nicks became a factor and caught his first TD in the NFL.

GRADE: A-.

WEEK 5:
Oakland Raiders vs. New York Giants
Giants Stadium
East Rutherford, New Jersey

FINAL SCORE:
Oakland 7
NY Giants 44

Complete domination. While only passing for 173 yards, QB Eli Manning barely missed any passes all game. He was able to sit most of the 2nd half, while injuring his heel — which began concerns for Giants fans with more competitive games upcoming.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw had another stellar game with 110 rushing yards (on just 11 carries) and 2 TDs. The offensive line opened gaping holes behind LT Dave Diehl and LG Rich Seubert all game; including Bradshaw’s biggest run of the game.

WR Steve Smith silenced all the “other Steve Smith” talk while continuing the lead the NFL in catches and yardage, and, at the time, TDs.

The Giants’ defense confounded Raiders’ QB JaMarcus Russell all game, before he was eventually benched. The Raiders’ rushing game was completely stifled and their offense in general was held to 124 yards. CB Terrell Thomas recorded a forced fumble and his 1st NFL sack; while always-there DE Justin Tuck was there on the play to recover the fumble by Russell.

DE/LB Mathias Kiwanuka made some noise while sacking Russell as well, with MLB Antonio Pierce able to record the recovery of the fumble by Russell.

WR Hakeem Nicks continued to prove why he was drafted when he was, and how fortunate Giants fans must be to have him, recording another TD from Manning on an outstanding catch. WR Mario Manningham continued his strong play.

GRADE: A+.

WEEK 6:
New York Giants vs. New Orleans Saints
Louisiana Superdome
New Orleans, Louisiana

FINAL SCORE:
NY Giants 27
New Orleans 48

The Saints completely annihilated the Giants in every facet. From the opening drive, the Saints (aided by a missed INT by CB Corey Webster) did whatever they wanted on offense. The officiating was ghastly and slanted in the Saints’ favor, essentially taking 10-14 points off the board for the Giants while the game was still competitive.

Nevertheless, the Saints were the better team and the Giants looked completely outmatched, outcoached, outphysicalled — basically, Jim Mora could’ve given the speech he gave following his last game with the Saints in 1996 vs. the Carolina Panthers for the Giants following that game.

View the clip and see how accurate what Mora said jived with what took place in that game (if you watched it and not just looking at the score).

Defensive Coordinator was petrified on the sidelines all game, perplexed by the different looks the Saints featured and never adjusting from the basic 4-3 alignment. SLB Danny Clark is a good player, but forcing him to cover TE Jeremy Shockey is not a favorable matchup. Likewise with MLB Antonio Pierce trying to cover downfield. OLB Michael Boley was out and that really killed any chances for the Giants to cover the middle of the field in the passing game. FS C.C. Brown had one of the worst games I have ever seen in my life in 25 years watching Giants football (and old heads know that INCLUDES Elvis “Toast” Patterson), as QB Drew Brees picked on him all game. WR Marques Colston appeared to have been playing in 7 on 7 drills, not a Sunday NFL game.

The Giants appeared to be trying to trade shot for shot with the Saints offensively. When healthy and the playcalling is unpredictable (which it began to become anything BUT starting with this game), the Giants could score with anyone. But with atrocious playcalling by atrocious Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride, who deserves THIS again: . You saw in this game why us Giants fans call him Kevin KILLDRIVE or Kevin KILLJOY.

The Giants could’ve run the ball with ease, had Gilbride not gotten away from it and called for QB Eli Manning to pass just as much as Brees did. That would’ve slowed the tempo and kept the Saints’ offense off the field; especially since the Saints’ defense was playing WAY over its head at that point in the season. The Giants had nice runs early and would’ve had 200 yards rushing had they committed to the run.

The lone bright spot for the Giants on this day was WR Hakeem Nicks with 114 receiving yards and a TD.

GRADE: D.

WEEK 7:
Arizona Cardinals vs. New York Giants
Giants Stadium
East Rutherford, New Jersey

FINAL SCORE:
Arizona 24
NY Giants 17

Nightmare game for the Giants. They played this game as if they were spotting the Cardinals points and thought they could score at any time late to win it. Conservative play-calling, poor execution, being a half a step slow getting to QB Kurt Warner all game and some poor route-running by the Giants’ wide receivers characterized this game.

RB Brandon Jacobs had a decent game, with yet again, poor play-calling limiting his carries. WR Hakeem Nicks had 80 yards receiving. The Giants’ defense appeared to be like a dam breaking with FS C.C. Brown experiencing MORE nightmares.

Cardinals’ DT Darnell Dockett proved that he is a “MAYNE” and the 2nd best DT in the NFL. CB Dominique Rogers-Cromartie (hereafter known as “DRC”) made tons of plays all over the field all game before leaving with an injury (when, all of a sudden, the Giants were able to get the ball to WR Steve Smith).

I find it hard to believe how anyone can justify why WR Domenik Hixon sees the field outside of MAYBE kick returning; and even that, he doesn’t really excel in, except a couple of decent returns ever 3-4 games.

GRADE: C-.

WEEK 8:
New York Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Lincoln Financial Field
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

FINAL SCORE:
NY Giants 17
Philadelphia 40

What a headache. One is a legit loss, two is a worry, three is a trend. The Saints game was 80% Saints/15% Refs/5% Frozen Play-Calling on both sides of the ball for the Giants. The Cardinals game appeared to be the Giants playing in reverse all game until they ran out of time to finally put together a continuous drive.

The Eagle game, while obviously an aberration, given the way the Eagles play when they don’t get the big plays that they were able to execute in this game, was disturbing, because nothing changed in the philosophy of the Giants. The Eagles are not nearly as formidable defensively as they were with previous Defensive Coordinator Jim Johnson (RIP, 2009), but the Giants played right into their hands with their offensive play-calling. The running game had opportunities all game, but with decisions to pass the ball when the run was obviously what was necessary (all Giants fans agree) led to game-changing interception and the killed drives that Kevin Gilbride is known for as the Giants’ offensive coordinator.

Not to take anything away from the Eagles, but starting C.C. Brown at Free Safety led to three Eagles touchdowns — not shockingly, the margin of victory (effectively). Even FB Leonard Weaver… THE FULLBACK, scored on a 40 yard run, because… YOU GUESSED IT, C.C. Brown got caught in the wash in the box. For whatEVER reason, he was even there to begin with, he couldn’t even run down a 260 lb FB? Unforgivable. Then he was caught out of position all day as WRs DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin were able to go wherever they wanted and make big plays all game. To be sure, QB Donovan McNabb is playing some of his best ball ever, but the Giants made him look like a first ballot Hall of Famer by not even getting pressure on him from the defensive front seven. TE Kevin Boss made some plays for the Giants.

GRADE: F.

WEEK 9:
San Diego Chargers vs. New York Giants
Giants Stadium
East Rutherford, New Jersey

FINAL SCORE:
San Diego 21
NY Giants 20

Simply put: HEARTBREAK CITY. The Giants held the potent Charger offense under wraps all game. After finally, benching FS C.C. Brown in favor of FS Aaron Rouse (who, to be sure, is only a band-aid if/until we get regular starter Kenny Phillips back next year — hoping that knee issue isn’t degenerative and chronic), the Giants didn’t give up any big plays all game. Only at the very end, after MORE over-conservative play-calling on the Giants’ last drive, did the Giants’ defense finally crumble. DE Justin Tuck had the leave the game during the middle of the drive and the Giants were unable to summon any pressure on QB Philip Rivers. RBs LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles did absolutely nothing all game.

CB Terrell Thomas continued to shine in an increased role with an INT (that he should’ve scored on — which would’ve ended the game — and admitted last night when I saw him that he should’ve ha). An esoteric holding penalty on RG Chris Snee moved the ball from the Chargers’ 1 on the last drive, following a run by RB Brandon Jacobs, then the Giants inexplicably (after being moved to the 11 on the holding that did not occur) ran the ball on consecutive plays instead of at least attempting to put the game away with a pass into the end zone. Following a baffling draw play on 3rd and Goal from the 10 which netted 6 yards, the Giants settled for a field goal, putting them up 20-14. Not the LOCK that 24-14 would have been — so Gilbride once again gives us heart issues because now the Giants have to stop a team in two-minute mode — something they aren’t exactly adept at doing with a porous secondary and half-step-slow pass rush/slow linebackers (without Boley at times).

QB Eli Manning was very efficient most of the game, 25-33, 215 yards and 2 TD, but for whatever reason, the Giants were unable to cash in on a multitude of opportunities. Whether it was legit and esoteric penalties or MORE AWFUL PLAY-CALLING, they only mustered 20 points with a game turned in such as the one Manning offered.

CB Corey Webster, while still a Top 5 CB in the NFL was burned on the last play, when WR Vincent Jackson scored the GW TD.

GRADE: B-

WEEK 10:
BYE

WEEK 11:
Atlanta Falcons vs. New York Giants
Giants Stadium
East Rutherford, New Jersey

The Falcons do not travel well at all. And while it will be relatively warm for late November in Jersey, without Michael Turner, expect them to struggle. The Giants have had a week and a half to prepare for this game and fix their very-fixable problems on both sides of the ball (namely pass protection, run blocking, schematics in the front seven and getting Ross healthy to go in tandem with Webster — and at LEAST providing a band-aid for the busted dam that was C.C. Brown, following Kenny Phillips’ injury and placement on IR).

Very winnable game.

WEEK 12:
New York Giants vs. Denver Broncos
InVesco Field at Mile High Stadium
Denver, Colorado

The Broncos have landed back on earth. After playing over their heads for 1/3 of the season and teams (for whatever reason) not blitzing the hell out of QB Kyle Orton, the Broncos have been exposed. They’re frauds. Even their defensive statistics, much like the Giants’ early, were hollow. They can’t stop anyone and Orton doesn’t use WR Eddie Royal as he should (i.e. as E. Manning uses S. Smith and T. Brady uses W. Welker).

Giants SHOULD win this one also.

WEEK 13:
Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants
Giants Stadium
East Rutherford, New Jersey

Dallas is coming to the area looking for revenge for the heartbreaking loss in Week 2. Who knows if A) Romo is swooning again like every year in December and the team in general is folding in December as it has the past 15 years and B) the Giants will be on a winning streak or reeling. On paper, the teams are even talent-wise. And while Manning has been slightly more consistent than Tony Romo for the most part, that position and the play by both will be the determining factor, all else being relatively equal. Dallas could very well win this game, and the one game out of the final 7 that I will concede, because the others should be wins.

WEEK 14:
Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants
Giants Stadium
East Rutherford, New Jersey

The Week 8 game was clearly an aberration, and the play-calling flaws were fixed during this Week 10 Bye, so no 40-17 (at least in Philly’s favor). The Iggles have proven they are one-dimensional. If they can’t get the big play on either side of the ball (via deep bombs to DeSean Jackson, or returns of punts and kicks by him) or get INTs/FFs, they can neither sustain long drives over an entire game nor stop teams that are consistent with running the ball (a major sticking point with Giants fans as the offensive coordinator has gotten away from the running game several times this season).

The Giants WILL win this game.

WEEK 15:
New York Giants vs. Washington Redskins
FedEx Field
Landover, Maryland

The Skins try hard, but they don’t have a fraction of the talent that the Giants have, and Coughlin has instilled into the team of late the mentality they need to have in order to finish this season strongly.

Close game, but Giants win.

WEEK 16:
Carolina Panthers vs. New York Giants
Giants Stadium
East Rutherford, New Jersey

The Panthers’ loss in Week 11 to the Miami Dolphins all but sunk their playoff chances. With some help, this game may loom HUGE for both these teams if the Giants are unable to win the NFC East. The Panthers can only make the playoffs via the Wild Card, so most likely they will be playing spoilers here. With the Giants getting healthy on the defensive side of the ball and going against QB Jake Delhomme, that is a recipe for disaster for the Panthers and their fans — especially if their offensive coordinator forgets to run the ball (as he did early and in Week 11).

Giants win.

WEEK 17:
New York Giants vs. Minnesota Vikings
The Metrodome
Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Vikes will be resting their starters for this game, and most likely, the Giants will be fighting for the division until the very end — or at the very least, a wild card spot, so with the Vikes standing to gain nothing (once they sew up the division in Week 13), expect the Giants to win this game also and finish 11-5.

More to come, as the weeks advance, including a playoff synopsis following Week 17.

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