Tuesday, October 6, 2009

How Much Does An "A" Cost?

We're going to find that out real soon, starting tomorrow when Eli Manning and his injured plantar fascia either practices or doesn't practice. One thing I'm sure of is that Tom Coughlin probably would have traded a couple of those 11 completions to Steve Smith and one of those touchdowns for a completely healthy quarterback.

But that was not to be, and now we're left to ponder the exact expense of their second consecutive blowout win over a team that may have trouble winning three games this year. In any other week, the GPA would have brought reasons for smiles. Instead, a quick nod of the head and a lot of worry will come from this report card.

Here are the grades.

QUARTERBACK: Manning now has eight touchdowns against just two interceptions after a 20-for-34, 292-yard, three-touchdown performance. He was pinpoint perfect in hitting Smith for 11 catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns, and would have hit another long one to Hakeem Nicks had the rookie run the proper route at the Chiefs' 10. No doubting this guy's toughness as he rose from his plantar fascia bruise (my guess it's not plantar faciitis, as he told Mike Kay on ESPN Radio because that's a chronic condition) to flick one more pass to Nicks that went for a 54-yard touchdown. He moved in the pocket well to avoid most of the pressure, but did give the ball up once on a sack. The one interception he did throw was not his fault. If he plays this week against Oakland, the inclination might be to give him an A just for showing up. GRADE: A.

RUNNING BACKS: Brandon Jacobs finally started looking like Brandon Jacobs, and Ahmad Bradshaw showed no signs of the ankle and foot soreness that kept him in a boot the first two days of practice. Jacobs snapped off three runs of 10 or more yards and knocked over a few people en route to a 21-carry, 92-yard day. Bradshaw, back in the boot yesterday, had a strong 12 carries for 64 yards. The Giants have just one rushing touchdown on the season, but with Smith and Nicks scoring through the air, they didn't need the running game down close. Bradshaw did a wonderful job converting a fourth-and-3 on a nine-yard Wildcat run to keep a field goal drive alive. They only ran twice on third or fourth-and-5 or less and converted them both. Even Madison Hedgecock got in on the stats, catching his first pass of the season for nine yards. GRADE: A.

RECEIVERS: Steve Smith, Steve Smith, Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, Steve Smith, Steve Smith...Get the idea? Nicks may have taken that nice catch-and-run 54 yards for his first career touchdown, and Mario Manningham may have had a wonderful, juggling 43-yard reception, but this game belong to Smith. He was consistently open again as he grabbed 11 balls for 134 yards and two touchdowns, the second coming from 25 yards out on a beautiful tandem post pattern with Manningham. Smith now leads the NFL in receptions (34), yardage (411), and receiving touchdowns (4). His route-running just gets better and better. Manningham cost this group a half a grade because he let a perfectly good throw go through his hands for Manning's only interception, but tight end Kevin Boss gets it back for his heady play in getting back up quickly from an ankle sprain to prevent a time runoff as the first half ran down that would have killed a field goal opportunity. GRADE: A.

OFFENSIVE LINE: Don't blame Manning's injury on them. It was a non-contact thing, as Manning got hurt while hitting his final step on a fourth-quarter dropback. They were solid in the run game and good in pass protection, though David Diehl did get beaten badly on the sack and strip. Some nice inside blocking from Chris Snee and Rich Seubert cleared alleys for both Jacobs and Bradshaw. Manning was hit just three times. GRADE: B+.

DEFENSIVE LINE: We had to wait for the second half to see that pass rush ramp up, but when they did they made the most of it. Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Rocky Bernard, and Mathias Kiwanuka had four of the Giants' five sacks that half, and Umenyiora and Kiwanuka had two hits each on Matt Cassel. Larry Johnson broke a couple of good runs, but for the most part the line held strong. GRADE: B+.

LINEBACKERS: A great day for the unit, but another potentially costly one as Michael Boley wound up on crutches yesterday after his knee stiffened. He was a monster until he hit the tarmac, though, planting himself all day in the Chiefs' backfield. He had a sack, and four of his five tackles came behind the line of scrimmage. He had two passes defensed. Antonio Pierce was also a regular in the backfield as two of his team-high seven tackles went for losses. He also recovered a fumble. Between these guys and the defensive line, the Chiefs were never able to get an offensive rhythm going. GRADE: A.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Terrell Thomas continues to look like a star replacement for Aaron Ross on the right corner. He should have had an interception but dropped it. Bruce Johnson played well again, and Kevin Dockery got some time as he comes back from a hamstring pull. But that was a bad pass interference call by Corey Webster in the end zone on a ball where he had good coverage on Dwayne Bowe anyway. It led to a final touchdown that never should have been scored. GRADE: B.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Start with the good. Bryan Kehl was huge, recovering the fumble on the opening kickoff at the Chiefs' 16 to set up a quick touchdown, and then recovering the on-side kick that started the second half. Now the bad. Lawrence Tynes missed a 38-yarder, his third makeable miss of the season. None have cost the Giants a win yet, but Coughlin is about at the end of his rope with this guy. GRADE: B.

COACHING: Good idea to start early with Smith and keep going to him. Until teams start figuring out a way to cover him, a throw in Smith's direction is as close to a sure bet as Kevin Gilbride will ever get. Have to take issue with the fourth-quarter series where David Carr threw twice instead of using Jacobs to kill the clock. The defense has to do a better job in garbage time. Here's a nitpick. Coughlin's first challenge of the season, on a second-quarter Manningham incompletion, was a bad decision. You're up 14-3 at the time, and you're not challenging an end zone play. Save the challenges for later, when you might really need them. GRADE: B.

Agree? Disagree? The floor is open.



  1. i'm impressed by how AP moves people around out there - its like having an extra on-field coach ... is this a fairly routine thing for the defensive leader, or is Pierce particularly good at reading the formations and guessing where to send guys?

  2. EDLAKE:

    You don't see that all the time. He's one of the best in the league at defensive audibles.

  3. I thought it was a good challenge by coughlin. After seeing the replays it looked like a catch to me.