Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Turnovers + Field Position = Bad Grades

That's the story as we wrap up the most recent loss to Arizona and begin looking ahead to this weekend's matchup with the much-hated Phillies, er, uh, Eagles. Kind of forgot the sport there for a second.

At any rate, the Giants have a hard week of preparation ahead of them, with about a zillion problems to correct. Bad tempo on offense, receivers who need to learn how to fight off defensive backs for the ball, coaches who need to jigger their gameplans to play into this 5-2 team's strength. It's going to be a rough week all around as the Giants prepare to face the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year, right in Giants Stadium.

Here are the grades.

QUARTERBACK: Eli Manning came into the game with three interceptions and left with six. If that wasn't bad enough, he picked up two delay of game calls to turn manageable third-down situations into third-and-longs, stopping one promising drive entirely. He wasn't particularly accurate in a 19-for-37, 243-yard day, and his lone touchdown toss was more luck than anything. This was Manning's second straight stinker. What's worse, though, is that he's grown a penchant for throwing the low-percentage deep shot when he should be looking for shorter options, or even the run game, on short-yardage situations. Those things look nice on film when they hit, but more often they wind up going long or sailing out of bounds, as his deep toss to Mario Manningham did on third-and-2 from the Cardinals' 46. He actually had a run called there, but he checked out of it to heave it long. He did the same thing against New Orleans, time and time again. He also tried to force too many balls into tight spots. Time to rein in the arm. GRADE: F.

RUNNING BACKS: Ahmad Bradshaw's late fourth-quarter fumble cost the Giants the ball at the Arizona 42 when they trailed by seven. Other than that, Bradshaw was nothing more than ordinary in a 12-for-32 night, a departure from the previous six games, where he looked like the Giants' lead back. Brandon Jacobs took back that honor with his best outing of the season, a 13-carry, 76-yard, one-touchdown outing that produced a 5.8-yard per carry average. The problem was, he wasn't used nearly enough. Jacobs needs to be up around 20-25 carries, but that's not his fault. GRADE: C-.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Hakeem Nicks made one of those Johnny-on-the-Spot catches off a deflected ball and took it 62 yards for a touchdown. He gets a personal "A" just for that. And give Kevin Boss an "A" for holding onto that 25-yard catch despite a helmet-to-helmet hit. The other guys? Meh. Steve Smith was a non-factor in a four-catch, 69-yard day. Manningham ran a bunch of bad routes. And Domenik Hixon had a sure touchdown, only to have it stolen from him in mid-air by Dominique Rogers-Cromartie in the end zone. Can't let that happen. If Hixon comes down with it, it's a different ballgame. Actually, Antrel Rolle had a similar-type interception on the Giants' last play of the game, swiping it from Smith. GRADE: C-.

OFFENSIVE LINE: Second-round rookie Will Beatty made his first career start in place of injured RT Kareem McKenzie and did a solid job. At least he didn't give up a sack, which is something that can't be said for LG Rich Seubert. That whole middle of the line looked shaky both in the run and in pass protection. The Cardinals blitzed a lot, but their front three exerted plenty of pressure on their own. They never really got into a blocking rhythm on the run game, either. GRADE: C.

DEFENSIVE LINE: Can't blame these guys for the loss. They stepped up the pass rush significantly from their no-show against New Orleans. Mathias Kiwanuka harrassed Kurt Warner and had one of the Giants' two sacks as well as two quarterback hits. Osi Umenyiora was active, as was Justin Tuck, who forced a fumble. If anything, they can be criticized for not getting all the way home enough. But they did make Warner uncomfortable in a 20-for-36, 231-yard, one touchdown day. GRADE: B+.

LINEBACKERS: When Danny Clark gets a sack, you know something's going right. Clark hadn't had one of those since 2005 in Oakland. Antonio Pierce had 10 tackles, including one for a loss. Regardless of the improved performance, this group continues to miss the athleticism and speed of Michael Boley tremendously. GRADE: B.

SECONDARY: C.C. Brown had a much-improved outing over the previous week. But he could have stood in one spot and done that. Whatever, he didn't kill the Giants. Terrell Thomas had his second interception of the season and four breakups. Bruce Johnson, playing the nickel, was a real weak spot, especially the few times he was matched up against Larry Fitzgerald. Totally outmanned in that one. Corey Webster continued a strong season with a pair of breakups on Fitzgerald, and was key in holding him to six catches for 83 yards and no touchdowns. GRADE: B.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Yikes. I never thought I'd be writing this, but Jeff Feagles was a disaster. Seven punts for a 34.4-yard average, and four straight from deep in his own territory that never traveled more than 35 yards. He blamed it on the angles he took. Maybe Steve Breaston's return ability got into his head, because Feagles is more than capable of angling out a punt 45 yards downfield. Three of those four gave the Cardinals field position near or beyond midfield. The Giants' own return game was a non-factor. A year after they had an average starting field position at the 44 against the Cardinals, they fell back to the 27. GRADE: F.

COACHING: The offense never should have gotten away from the run because the game was never out of hand. Jacobs needs to get between 20 and 25 carries per game, and the Giants need to run between 30 and 35 times. Instead, they had just 26 carries for 107 yards. Once the Giants fell behind 17-14, the run-pass ratio shifted dramatically, 22-10 over the final 32 plays. Have to even that out, especially when Jacobs is on. The defensive gameplan wasn't horrible, as Bill Sheridan made better use of the blitz and the front four got pressure. Also, good use of Kevin Dockery and C.C. Brown to double-cover Fitzgerald. GRADE: D.

Okay. Let's hear it.



  1. Your grades look right to me. Hearing that Eli checked out of a run for the bomb to Manningham makes me wonder how many other times he did it Sunday. He needs to take some of the blame people(me included) are heaping on Gilbride.

  2. I'm tired of watching Eli regress during the year - every single year he has done this! It seems like he starts out okay and then goes into a funk for most of the middle of the season. He can not be considered an elite QB as long as he keeps doing this. The play calling was horrible - he and Gilbride should get the blame for this since Eli changes a lot of plays at the line.

  3. Eli throws up two cluckers a year. This was definately one of them. He looked dazed and confused, although his young receivers need to have better ball presense.

  4. Just found your blog Ed -- nice work. I thought your grades and analysis of the Cards game was dead on.
    Only additional comment I had, was Terrell Thomas appears to get lost in zone coverage -- three plays where he was lost, the Cards completed 20+ yard passes....he's got to be able to play zone as well as M2M (which he is solid at).