Plenty of players got called out in the team film review yesterday of the weekend's 48-27 mess in New Orleans. You could just imagine defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan going right down the list: "C.C. Brown, where the heck were you on that play? Danny Clark, the object of running from Point A to Point B is to get there on time. Corey Webster, hands, much?"
Not that the offense got any pats on the head, either. But that defense. Oy.
Well, now it's our turn. We saw it. Now we'll grade it. And believe me, the report card is not, shall we say, stellar.
QUARTERBACK: Can't pin this one on Eli Manning, although he was decidedly mediocre in a 14-of-31, 178-yard effor with a touchdown and an interception. He never should have let that pressured third-quarter pass go, especially when he saw he was about to be hit. Instead, it wound up as an interception with the Giants down 17. Worse was his fumble off a sack just before the half after he'd moved the ball into Saints territory, down by 10. I won't fault him for taking those deep third-down shots to Steve Smith and Domenik Hixon, but you've got to complete at least one of them. It's not good enough that the balls missed by mear inches. David Carr did a nice job mopping up, and even came up with a long touchdown throw to Hakeem Nicks. GRADE: C.
RUNNING BACKS: That interception was Ahmad Bradshaw's fault for not picking up a blitzer. He went inside when he should have stayed outside. Very bad. Bradshaw recorded the Giants' only rushing touchdown and had 48 yards on 10 carries. Brandon Jacobs had his problems again, and the stinger he suffered in the second quarter didn't help a seven-carry, 33-yard effort. No matter who gets the bulk of the yardage, they're going to have to do better than 84 total yards in the future. GRADE: C-.
WIDE RECEIVERS: They got open frequently enough. Manning just couldn't hit them. The more I see of Nicks, the more I like him. In addition to a 37-yard touchdown reception, the kid had a 58-yard catch-and-run, and he finished with a team-high five catches for 114 yards. Mario Manningham had four catches for 50 yards and a touchdown, and Domenik Hixon returned as a legit downfield target. He would have had a huge gainer, perhaps a touchdown, had Jabari Greer not made a nice play on the ball. Steve Smith continues to run good routes and would have had a huge gainer, perhaps a touchdown, had Manning thrown it an inch shorter so Smith could get more than his fingertips on it. Jacobs had an amazing touchdown catch in traffic, only to have it called back on what appeared to be a phantom holding call on Shaun O'Hara. GRADE: B.
OFFENSIVE LINE: It wasn't like Manning was battered all day, but the line couldn't keep him safe in key situations. Losing Kareem McKenzie to a first-half groin injury didn't help. The run-blocking wasn't outstanding, but one wonders if it would have improved had the score not turned the Giants one-dimensional late. The grade stays as a passing one because I don't believe O'Hara pulled down anybody on Jacobs' TD. GRADE: C.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Did they play? You wouldn't have known it. If hiding the four-man pass rush warrants a grade, they'd get an A. But that's not the way it works. Justin Tuck, Fred Robbins, Osi Umenyiora, the whole gang; none of them got within spittin' distance of Drew Brees. Not that he needed a long time to look over his receivers because the ball came out just that quick. But somebody still should have gotten close enough to hit him, or at least give him second thoughts about making the airways look like one of those WWII dogfight movies. They couldn't stop the run, either, as the Saints gained 133 yards and three touchdowns on 39 carries. Nice goal line stand at 27-17, but it's not enough to bring up the overall score. GRADE: F.
LINEBACKERS: Kind of sad watching old Danny Clark trying to keep up with Jeremy Shockey on that touchdown throw to the back of the end zone. Poor guy never had a chance. Antonio Pierce also was seen chasing Marques Colston in vain on his 28-yard completion to the 1. They didn't blitz a lot, but the few times they did, they never came close to getting home, unless you count Chase Blackburn's sack of Mark Brunell. We don't. GRADE: F.
SECONDARY: This group offered a pleasantly entertaining blend of the Keystone Cops and "Car 54 Where Are You?" C.C. (Tootie) Brown did plenty of running around, usually to the wrong spot. On the few occasions he was there, he didn't make the play. For example, he never left the ground to challenge Robert Meachem's leaping grab of Brees' 36-yard touchdown pass, despite having good coverage. Don't let the team-high 13 tackles fool you, Brown was not good. That's not to say the other guys were great, either. Had Webster at least knocked down that first-possession, third-and-7 pass to Lance Moore that went for 17 yards and a first down at the Giants' 25, the whole game might have changed. Instead, his failure kept the touchdown drive going. Webster also had a questionable 35-yard pass interference call when his legs got tangled with Colston's on a second-quarter scoring drive. They picked on Terrell Thomas, and he didn't respond. And Kevin Dockery had a perfectly horrible day as he and Brown constantly tried to get on the same page and failed. All you need to know here is that Brees completed 15 straight passes at one point in his 23-of-30, 369-yard, four-touchdown day. Can't win if your secondary is allowing those kinds of numbers. GRADE: Z. No. Gotta be fair. Can't go lower than an F. Board of Ed rules, ya know.
SPECIAL TEAMS: The only true bright spot. Domenik Hixon is for now and for all time (at least until he gets injured again) the Giants' returnman after being a one-man field position machine. His seven kickoff returns for 230 yards bested Sinorice Moss' entire 2009 production by nearly 100 yards, and he nearly broke his 68-yard return for a touchdown. Bruce Johnson blocked a point-after, and the Giants came close on another. Lawrence Tynes was 2-of-2 in field goals. GRADE: A.
COACHING: Look. Everybody wants to get on Sheridan for sticking with the four-man rush and keeping the blitz to a minimum. But if he blitzed, he'd have left all those DBs on islands, and they did bad enough playing zone coverage. So I'm not going to bang him too hard on that. But he should have come out of base coverage earlier and gone with more nickel. The individual players did such a bad job of things, however, I'm not sure even that would have helped. Kevin Gilbride's offensive gameplan wasn't perfect, but it wasn't the reason they lost, either. The Giants did move the ball against a very good defense. Have to hold off on Coughlin's grade until this week, when we find out if he can pull his team back up emotionally after such a disaster. GRADE: C-.
The floor is open, people. Have at it.
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