Monday, December 15, 2008

Who would ever think that 11-3 could suck so much? A Giants/Cowboys Recap

I hate these Sunday Night Giant games when I make the intelligent move of driving from NJ to the Upper East Side to watch. At best, I get home around 1am, pass out, only to wake up at 4am to the sweet smell of victory and the not-so-sweet feeling of bar-food heartburn. And frankly, it's much more of the latter than the former. A loss like last night? The bar food heartburn doesn't go away, but the sweet smell of victory sure as hell does.

But on the plus side, we have an excuse to not go to Blondie's anymore. I started going there because a few friends of mine watched the playoff run last year and wanted to continue with the good luck. As the season has gone on, I've come to realize that we spend our Sundays at a bar with 1) no HDtvs, 2)lousy food, and most importantly, 3)beer that isn't as cheap as most bars on a football Sunday. Basically the only thing that kept us going there was White Boy and my undefeated record at this place. Now? We go elsewhere. At least something positive came from the evening.

And with that said, let's recap this bitch Good/Bad/Ugly style, with much more emphasis on the latter two.

The Good.
-Say what you want about the Giants defense, but they took Marion Barber III out of the game, and his replacement wasn't much of a factor until the 4th quarter.

-This could've just been me, but it sure looked like the Giants got their pass rush back. Next, it's time to force some fumbles.

-T.O. looked like crap for most of the game. He had a few catches, but also had a few drops and slid short of a first down, Derrick Ward style. Apparently some drunk asshole thought T.O. was Kanye West and started shouting "T.O. hates White People!" This was somewhat funny the first time it was yelled and became annoying when it was shouted the other 10 times during the game. By the way, I'm 92% sure that asshole was me.

-Corey Webster, shutdown corner, buy yourself a house. Homeboy just got a 5 year deal which saves him from impending unrestricted free agency. Smart signing by the golden GM. Now Reese needs to work on contracts for Jacobs and Toomer, in that order.

The Bad

Wow. Where to start, let's do this methodically. First the offense...

-The Giants were winning games over the last calendar year because of the offensive and defensive lines. That was totally where they lost this game. Eli was hit on every play and sacked on every other dropback. And Derrick Ward had to make a few Cowgirls miss just to get back to the line of scrimmage.

-Yeah, this team misses Plax. There's some serious problems with what Plax did to this team, but let's start with the most basic: NO ONE ON THIS TEAM IS GETTING OPEN. Hixon may soon become a featured receiver, but he needs to start playing like it.

-This team needs Brandon Jacobs to win. I said earlier this season that Jacobs was good, but that Bradshaw, after last year's playoff run was possibly better. Not true. Bradshaw is a solid runner, but Jacobs may be one of the five most feared running backs in the game when healthy. The Giants need Jacobs back for the Carolina game and should then rest him the next three weeks until Arizona or Atlanta come to town in the 2nd round.

-No legit offensive touchdowns in the last few weeks. This could fall under ugly, but there's enough to put into that category. Forget about the fact that Eli is killing fantasy owners in their playoffs. (See: Boy, White) Eli is reverting back to last year when his instincts were simply awful. What bothered me as much as anything was the few passes that he threw that nearly hit Boss in the back. Someone there isn't on the right page, probably Boss actually, but it needs to be remedied. Sooner than later.

-Bottom line, in years past, this team has been able to put up 30 points against Dallas. They should have certainly been able to put up 20-25 points on these guys, even without Plax and Co.

As for the defense...

-Romo didn't really kill them for most of the game, but it sure seemed like guys were open. I love our cornerbacks and think that they're going to be good for years to come, but they needed to provide better coverage.

-So I'm assuming that Fred Robbins is hurt? It's amazing how little you hear about this injury. And it's also amazing how much better this team seems to play when he plays. Put this man in the Pro Bowl. Now. The unsung hero of this team.

-If the defense held the Cowboys in the fourth quarter, if they prevent Jason Witten from getting that final first down, Eli has a chance to win the game. And say what you want about Eli, but this wouldn't be the first time he's looked lousy all game only to rock a 2-minute drill for the win. But the defense couldn't get it done.

-And the reason they didn't? Pierce has been lousy recently. But let's save that for the ugly.

And lest we spare the coaching, let's talk about them for a second...

-How often, Jason Sehorn aside, do guys get hurt returning kicks and punts? Hixon has proven to be a difference maker returning kicks, but the Giants not only keep him away from returns, but they also shelve Bradshaw from return duties in order to keep them fresh and injury free. Instead, the Giants have had Sinorice Moss and R.W. McQuarters returning kicks. These guys are painfully average and shouldn't be on the field when you have pro bowl caliber return guys that the team is saving for the offense. Oh, and McQuarters shouldn't even be dressing. Sam Madison is better. When McQuarters wasn't old, he was still an awful corner.

-Remember when the screens to Ward and Bradshaw used to work? Hell, remember when they were actually attempted? Seems like years ago doesn't it? How did the Cowboys have so much success with this, but it never dawned on the Giants to try one of these? In related news, Gilbride rebuffed Syracuse's offer to interview him for their head coaching job. Damn.

The Ugly

-It's funny, my one memory of the Dan Reeves era from the early 90's was that there were so many games in which Mike Horan was our best player. I think the Giants went 7-9 most of those years. Last night? Yeah, Jeff Feagles was the best Giant. Not a good sign.

-Ok, time for the Giants to stop getting hurt. Robbins was out, Jacobs was out, McKenzie got hurt, and the O and D lines started to suffer. Not good. The Giants need to have all three of these guys healthy if they want to win the Super Bowl.

-The Plax fallout is starting to become clear. From a strict football perspective, this is what bothers me:
1. Plax wasn't coming back to this team next year. But the Giants probably get the Ravens' 1st or 2nd round pick for the guy if he doesn't pack heat. Now the Giants may have to (or at least should) trade the 2nd round pick they got from the Saints and possibly a 4th rounder for Anquan Boldin.
2. Antonio Pierce can talk all he wants about his mind being on the game at hand. He can talk all he wants about not being distracted from repeating as Super Bowl Champs and getting the respect that the Giants finally deserve. But the fact is, he sucks right now. He looks a step slower, a bit more indecisive, and as the quarterback of our defense goes, so the team goes. And if he doesn't miss the tackle on Witten in the final few minutes on that third down, the Giants have a chance to win last night.

-And what defines ugly? Seeing Jerry Jones celebrate the win with his entourage in his luxury box. Praise Allah that he wasn't on the sidelines. Looking back, I wouldn't piss on Jones if he were on fire either.

The Bottom Line

-It's weird being scared about a team at 11-3, but that's what it is right now. They don't look good at all. The good news about this game is that win or loss, it didn't affect the Giants' future. The bad news, is that the season probably comes down to a game against Carolina at a time when the Giants have lost two in a row, nearly amassing a losing streak. That said, the game is in Giants Stadium, and it should favor the Giants. A win, and teams have to come through Giants Stadium. A loss, and the Giants will have to go through Carolina to get to Tampa. Oh, and there's still a chance the Giants will have to beat Minnesota in order to not get the #3 seed.

One last note...
Sure, Giants fans should be happy given that the team won a Super Bowl last year and they're clearly competitive this year. And they should stay competitive into the future, right? Eh, not so much. In 2000, it looked like the Giants would stay a power for years to come with the Collins/Tiki/Toomer/Strahan combo. And in 2002, they had a great end to the regular season, only to get owned by the 49ers and TO in the wild card game. And while the team had Super Bowl aspirations going into 2003, the entire thing completely fell apart, and Fassel, Collins and their Super Bowl aspirations were all history by 2004. All of this is to say that for those who think that the Giants should be contenders for the next 5-6 years with the core of young players, you have every right to think that, and I agree with you. But who knows what the future holds. Fuck it, let's win it all this year.

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