What’s Wrong With the 2013 New York Football Giants?
Everyone is an armchair general manager, head coach, coordinator, ex-player or what have you. Even people who have played football don’t know the half of what goes on with this team; no matter how plugged in they are. They aren’t in meetings, they aren’t coaching, they don’t know exactly what the position coaches and the coordinators want to do at every step of the way. Hell, they (the coaches) don’t always know! Whenever discussing this current generation of know-it-alls who know nothing, I always point to this jewel that I heard when I was 10 years old (and kept in mind when I entered coaching 13 years ago):
“You guys really… don’t… know when it’s good or bad, when it comes right down to it. And I’m promisin’ you right now that you don’t know when it’s good or bad. You really don’t know. Because you don’t know what we’re tryin’ to do, you guys don’t look at the films, you don’t know what happened, you really don’t know. You THINK you know… but you really… don’t know… and you never will.”
There are times when this is highly applicable…
…and then there are the 2013 New York Football Giants.
The Giants’ issues are pretty evident to even the most casual of football observers, regardless of their knowledge base of the game. The Giants have arguably the worst offensive line in the NFL. The Giants’ defensive line is an amalgamation of big bodies, none of whom can even sniff a quarterback thus far this season, and, as anyone who has played and/or coached football knows, everything emanates from your offensive line. When your offensive line is poor, you cannot rush the football, you cannot pass the football, you cannot sustain drives, you cannot, therefore, manage the clock, you cannot keep your defense off the field, and you cannot win games consistently, when your offense only holds the ball for fewer than 25 minutes per game, doesn’t score consistently, and causes your defense to be on the field all game. Offensive line play is the beginning and end of every football team. Everything trickles down from there.
For all the finger-pointing at David Baas (and let’s face it, the guy was a bad signing, and was only “passable” in 2012, after a brutal initial season in Giants Blue in 2011), the offensive line as a collective unit is a sieve. The only member of the line that has graded above average thus far in 2013 is Kevin Boothe at left guard. The problem is, with the poor play of Baas, Boothe would be better suited to play center, where he also graded well in the past. Baas — after Week 3 — is now out with a neck injury. Chris Snee, with his perpetually-injured hip, has been masquerading as a turnstile Penn Station during peak hour thus far this year. It is tough to watch, because he is a gamer, and you know he is smarting. But the facts are the facts. Will Beatty met his weekly quota of once a game committing a back-breaking, drive-killing (and in this case, taking a touchdown off the board) penalty. It was not holding, as was called, especially since the Panthers got away with actual holding several times on key big plays for the Panthers, but that is not even remotely the reason that the Giants lost to the Panthers nor for the Giants’ overall poor play thus far this season.
The rookie Justin Pugh has looked decent, although he has needed help on the outside at right tackle. He is hardly a “problem,” given that the interior of the line has been the biggest culprit for making Eli Manning look like he is he spending a day at the beach in St. Croix by ending up on his back several times per game.
Defensively, the unit as a whole starts out every game playing well, but with the plethora of three-and-out series by the offense and/or turnovers, they end up running on fumes heading into the half, and throughout the second halves of games. People who blame Perry Fewell for this are FOOLS. Then again, these are the same people who have called for Tom Coughlin’s head on several occasions over the past 10 years. These same football knowledge-deficient buffoons have wanted Fewell gone since midway through his first season here, and clamoring for Steve Spagnuolo’s return, despite “Spags” (who most Giants fans still love) heading the absolute and statistically worst defense in the HISTORY of the NFL in New Orleans last season. No one’s defense is going to perform consistently when it spends 35-40 minutes on the field every game.
In fact, that benchmark is the very reason why I believed that the Kansas City Chiefs would be much improved this season (along with the stability that came with Andy Reid and Alex Smith’s ability to avoid costly turnovers); their defense is littered with nothing but current and former 1st Round draft picks. These guys are individually studs who have come into their own as a collective unit that may be the best defense in the AFC — only surpassed by the otherworldly unit in Seattle.
The difference with those teams? They run the ball superior to everyone else in the NFL, they don’t commit rashes of turnovers, and they can command the football for 8 to 10 minutes if they had to. The Giants haven’t come close to sustaining such a drive ALL SEASON and this is, again, due in large part to the offensive line’s play, which has an outflow effect on the rest of the team.
The defense has had a couple of glaring issues at times, but none have been the direct reason why they have lost any of the three games thus far in 2013. Defensive end, and fan favorite, Justin Tuck is clearly playing two steps slower than he was in his last good season (2010). The whispers of him being washed up are becoming loud groans and screams in 2013. Jason Pierre-Paul is not fully healthy, and, lacking explosiveness, is much less effective, particularly when there is no one else providing consistent pass rushing ability for the Giants.
The linebackers are an absolute joke. One would think that GM Jerry Reese was threatened with waterboarding for virtually ignoring the augmentation of the LB corps. The ignorance to that unit only gets further underlined with deficient defensive line play, which, again, is negatively affected by offensive line play, leaving the defense on the field for extensive periods of time.
Kevin Gilbride apologists love to point to his offense’s season total rankings as compared to the other 31 teams in the NFL: points per game (perennially in the top 3-5), yardage/pass yardage (same) and so forth. The knock on the nicknamed “Kevin Killdrive” is that he is more predictable than sunrise, and John Buccigross making an embarrassingly horrible joke on SportsCenter every night. His play-calling is horrid within both 20s (which we have pointed out in dozens of pieces over the past seven seasons), and always has been. When situations get tight, he ignores tight ends almost entirely, uses an inside handoff as a throwaway play call while he borrows extra time to think up the actual next play, and fails to adjust the game plan when it is evident that what he and his unit planned to do coming into the game simply will not work. Instead, Gilbride wants to impose his will, even if it is akin to watching someone ram their car into a tree, throw it in reverse, and continue to do it 30 times in a row, expecting the tree to budge. This is succinctly accurate in comparison to watching the Giants play offense when the opposing defense stands up against them.
And for those who think this is a recent phenomenon, I have long reminded younger Giants fans who were not born or old enough to remember Gilbride’s tenure at the same post for the Houston Oilers of the early 1990s — the same Oilers that perennially posted virtually the exact same passing yardage, sometimey rushing offense, inept adjustments, ignorance to tight ends at important times, and putting their All-Pro QB in precarious situations… the same Oilers who blew a 32-point lead in a playoff game, much like the Giants did in Week 15 of the 2010 season against Philadelphia, both under… YOU GUESSED IT Kevin Gilbride and his stubborn play-calling — that my dad and I, who used to play basketball during the summers with Haywood Jeffires, who was one of the star wide receivers on those Oilers teams — were the chief reason why those highly touted Oilers teams never once even made it to the Super Bowl, much less won one. That stodgy offensive output that Giants fans have witnessed thus far in 2013 MIRROR those of the Oilers in Gilbride’s “Finest Hour” while being punched on national television during the final playoff run (yawn?) that those Oilers teams made before Bud Adams eventually cleaned house and brought on Jeff Fisher.
This is not to suggest that Gilbride (or even offensive line coach Pat Flaherty) are the problem. The problem with the Giants isn’t singular. Some of it is effort. Some of it is heart. Some of it is pride (or lack thereof). Some of it is complacency. Some of it is lack of toughness. Some of it is simply not having the amount of talent that some believed. There are a few overrated and overpaid players on this football team, and they are not even playing up to their potential individually, much less collectively as units and as a complete team. Some of it is fixable, but what some may fear hearing is the likelihood that the biggest problem of them all is NOT fixable:
That dreaded offensive line.