Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Game 3 Report Card

Well, that was a lot easier than expected, and it's not just because Tampa Bay is a bad team. Remember, those guys put up a bunch of yards against Dallas just two weeks ago. And, even though we picked them to lose, who expected a shutout from an injury-riddled defense?

Lots of good marks coming up, all around.

QUARTERBACK: Another great job by Eli Manning in a 14-of-24, 161-yard effort. No picks for a second straight game. Two touchdown passes, including a great throw over the cornerback on Sinorice Moss' touchdown. Best of all, because of the running game's efficiency, he only had to throw 24 times, which is right about where you want him. Have to give him a lot of credit for that big first-possession completion to Steve Smith that was threaded right through Aqib Talib's grasp. Thought that was coming back the other way. He also did a good job getting new target Travis Beckum into the passing game, and hit eight receivers before David Carr mopped up and added a ninth target in Gartrell Johnson. GRADE: A.

RUNNING BACKS: 226 yards on the ground, 104 from Ahmad Bradshaw and 92 and a touchdown from Brandon Jacobs. Thanks, they needed that. The breakout game after two weeks of slogging around should get this bunch back on track. Bradshaw looked sharper than Jacobs in breaking off the longest run of the game, a 38-yarder that positioned them for Steve Smith's 4-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. Kind of worried about Jacobs, actually. He looked tentative at times, picking at instead of hitting the holes as hard as a 264-pound running back should. He does tend toward fragility, so perhaps he's unconciously trying to pace himself. Still, they handed him the ball 26 times. Tom Coughlin said he didn't notice any tentativeness in Jacobs, however. "No," Coughlin said, when asked about the observation. "It's getting better. We're all getting better in the run." Jacobs did get dragged down for a loss at the Bucs' 3 on the missed field goal drive, but Coughlin said that wasn't his fault. Gartrell Johnson did a nice job running the clock in the fourth quarter and can look forward to having his playbook expanded. Grade: A.

RECEIVERS: This rapport thing Manning has going with Steve Smith is getting awfully good. Smith seems to be there everytime he's needed, whether it's going out on goal-line slant for a touchdown catch or battling off the Bucs' top cornerback while falling on a sideline grab for a first down. Manning is starting to trust this guy, a lot, and it showed with his team-high seven catches for 63 yards and a touchdown. His diving 10-yard catch set up Moss' first reception, a touchdown. Mario Manningham put up another strong effort with four catches for 55 yards. Interesting work from the tight ends as Kevin Boss and Beckum caught two passes each, and Darcy Johnson was thrown to once. Manning threw to the three tight ends seven times, indicating a growing confidence in all of them. GRADE: A.

OFFENSIVE LINE: These guys love to block downhill, and that's exactly what this game came down to. Once they got the momentum against a defense that was lighter than average up front, they did what they were supposed to do, which is basically manhandle them. The 226 yards on the ground and no sacks for a second straight game tells most of the story. Best part: Manning got hit twice, just like last week in Dallas. They love it when the quarterback comes out with a clean uniform. The most encouraging stuff happened after both RT Kareem McKenzie and LG Rich Seubert came out of the game with respective knee and shoulder injuries. Kevin Boothe at guard and second-rounder Will Beatty at right tackle both did commendable jobs in both pass and run blocking. Beatty actually played both tackles, seeing action on the goal line team, the short-yardage team, and the field goal team before taking over for McKenzie. Coughlin said he did well with his assignments and will be in the mix with Boothe and Guy Wimper to replace McKenzie if he can't go Sunday. GRADE: A.

DEFENSIVE LINE: For a banged up front, this unit did a super job against a ground game that recorded almost 200 yards against Dallas two weeks ago. Derrick Ward was held to just five carries for two yards. Okay, part of that was the fact that the Giants jumped up 14-0 and forced them into a passing game. But the other part was Fred Robbins working his way through inside double-teams, at one time splitting the blockers to drag down Ward for minus-5. No sacks for a second straight week, but who needs them when you can scare a guy like Byron Leftwich into throwing prematurely just by growling at him? Mathias Kiwanuka, Osi Umenyiora, and Dave Tollefson recorded seven of the 10 official hits the Giants laid on him. GRADE: A.

LINEBACKERS: Danny Clark made a nice tackle on Leftwich's second-quarter scramble that could have gone for major yards. Antonio Pierce made a touchdown-saving breakup in the fourth quarter a split second before tight end Jerramy Stevens came free behind him. And once again, Pierce was excellent in putting his teammates in the right position. Michael Boley had three tackles including one for a loss. GRADE: B+

SECONDARY: Aaron Ross can take his time coming back from his hamstring because Terrell Thomas continues to grow at the right corner spot. Not only did he make his first interception of the season, but he got a hit on Leftwich and finished second to Corey Webster with three tackles. Coughlin said his body positioning on tackles, which he blamed for misses the previous two weeks, is improving. C.C. Brown did fine as IRed safety Kenny Phillips' replacement with two tackles. Bruce Johnson missed a tackle, but did nothing to put the team's chances in danger. GRADE: B.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Oh, boy. Poor Lawrence Tynes. He missed a second field goal from inside 30, this one coming at 14-0, when it was still a game. That no doubt rankled Coughlin. But the coach said he's not planning on trying out any kickers this week, so Tynes gets another chance. Kickoff coverage was good, as only one came back as far as the 30, and Tynes had a touchback. Jeff Feagles banged out four punts for a 50-yard average. GRADE: B.

COACHING: Can't get on Kevin Gilbride for this one, in any manner. Yeah, they were unsuccessful in three of five Red Zone situations, but at least they scored two touchdowns there on a Jacobs run and a pass play that had the Bucs chasing three receivers on the right side. Looked more like a high weave in basketball to me. I'm just saying...Also, great run-pass mix, one of the benefits of getting up on the scoreboard quickly. Can't knock the defense, either. You shut out a team on 86 total yards, 36 offensive plays, and five first downs, and you've earned your gruel for the next week. Give Coughlin credit, too, for preparing a team that could well have been complacent or spent after the previous week's cliff-hanger in Dallas. He spent the week pumping Tampa Bay's explosiveness, but a couple of Hail Mary's should cover that. GRADE: A.

Tell me what you think.



  1. Man I can't wait for some of our injured players start coming back.

    John W

  2. I don't understand how they don't bring in a kicker for a look. Eventually one of these misses will matter.

  3. I agree with you on all grades, Ernie. But I do hope the Giants can improve on their punt and kick return game.