The Giants are like a box chocolates- you never know what you are going to get. From one week to the next, do any of you know who shows up? That inconsistency smacks of poor coaching and preparation. To be fair, the Giants did not have Amukamara and Bradshaw, and those players' absences were felt. (Boley was activated and mostly invisible.) But 34-0? It is an embarrassment. And we have learned over the years to watch as these Giants get embarrassed more often than they should, which should be almost never.
This week we got the sloppy Giants, the low energy Giants, the ones who needed a win desperately but left their energy at practice. The Giants just were not moving as quickly as the opponent and they certainly weren't as physical as the opponent. It should be noted that both picks of Eli occurred on routes that Hakeem Nicks was running. I am sure that Nicks is doing everything he can out there to fight through his injury, but he is simply playing at less than 100%, and the entire team is paying for this. Asante Samuel was going jump the route no matter who was running it, but Nicks makes it easier because Nicks just doesn't have the physical ability to fight for the ball.
It should be pointed out that the Defense essentially gave up 7 points in the first half. Not a "bad" showing. But overall the defense allowed Ryan to go 23 for 28 on passing and they allowed the Falcons to run right up the gut of the defense. Tuck and JPP, two players that the Giants need to make plays, were essentially invisible. They are playing through injuries too, even if they don't talk much about it. When the game was over in Q4, Tuck has Snelling wrapped up for a small gain but is tackling him high and gets shed like a rag doll. Justin Tuck, the Giants All-Pro DL, is a shell of himself. There is no one who loves Tuck's football game more than us at UltimateNYG Giants blog, but this team misses the Real Justin Tuck badly right now. Last year, he gutted it out right at this moment in the season and was able to fight through to assist the Giants to another title. If the Giants are going to find their Super Bowl, which I severely doubt, it will get done with players like Tuck and JPP somehow getting healthier and making impact plays. Without them, the Giants are also rans.
(Injuries are never an excuse in football. Every team in the NFL has to weather a series of injuries and have your second and sometimes 3rd stringers step in to make up the difference. In each of the 4 SB runs for the Gmen, reserves stepped in and filled holes. In 1986, when Terry Kinard tore his ACL in Week 14, it was a seemingly devastating blow, yet the Giants plugged it up w no-names like Welch and Lasker. In 1990, the Giants lost no less than Phil Simms, but we all know what Hoss did thereafter. In 2007, it was guys like Kiwi, Ward and Shockey lost with players like Corey Webster answering the call down the stretch into the playoffs. Last year, it was TT, Osi lost for half a season, as well as Ballard down the stretch.)
Back to the game, the offense could not buy a 4th down conversion, going 0-3 and torpedoing its chances to score points. For my money, at the end of Q2 w the score 17-0, you kick the FG and get something on the scoreboard. The calculus is even simpler because you just failed previously in short yardage and needed to make it a 2 score game. Instead, it was a little too desperate. I respect Coughlin trying to ignite something there, but the Giants had already failed before in that situation. Another point about the Giants offense was noted by Roman Oben and Amani Toomer in the postgame- the Giants OL is blocking too high on these run plays and not digging down for push at the line of scrimmage. They both questioned aloud how bad technique could be present this late in the season. It would certainly explain in some part why the Giants were failing on the 3rd and 4th down conversions.
0-2 in the red zone. Once again, there was a distinct lack of use of the TE by the Giants, and we keep preaching how critical the TE is in the red zone.
Eli did not have a lot of time throw. This is where Gilbride must adjust and take the edge off the Atlanta pass rush with shorter routes, 3 step drops, screens, slants, flares. Rhythm. Yada yada.
So where are the Giants? They are no longer in control of their own NFC East destiny, but still are at the controls for a wild card berth. Win the last two games and the Giants are assured at leas the 6 seed. After going 6-2, they have gone 2-4 and are on the outside looking in. The Ravens and Eagles are both winnable games–but that is only if The Good Giants show up. The ones with energy. If Good Eli is there, if Tuck fights through like he did vs the Jets et al on that SB run, if JPP can start making some impact plays, if Nicks can get healthier, if some other teams lose.