We knew we were going to find out if the Giants were real today. 6 games of ugliness were followed by 4 games of hope. The hope had an asterisk of having played against 4 pretend QBs. What would happen when the Giants finally faced a real QB?
They came up short.
The Giants fought valiantly and at times made us very proud. They worked hard enough for their opportunity just to get to today. They showed up and they played. But they also made some mistakes and showed some of the same weaknesses from the first 6 games. We saw the difference of "new" players like Andre Brown, Jon Beason and Will Hill. We also saw the poor OL and the meek pass rush of JPP.
How do you fault Victor Cruz, a mostly reliable ball carrier who was stripped of a ball when forward progress was finished? That fumble/TD was a killer. The Giants were behind on tempo the rest of the game and never recovered. The best they could do was supply a great effort in Q4 to tie the game with 4 mins to go, but Dallas sealed it with clutch 3rd down conversions and a FG to win the game.
I am so tired of Gilbride. I want a change. I want to see Eli with a new Offensive Coordinator. (1) If I have to watch one more WR route that is run incorrectly, I am going to scream. When there are habitual infractions from Randle (who played a solid game in place of Nicks), Jernigan and Murphy it is obvious that there is something structurally wrong with the playbook. Route tree or no route tree, you cannot have wrong routes being run seemingly every game and think this is on the players for not knowing their playbook. Either the coach has to simplify the playbook or make some kind of adaptation to make it work and remove the systemic errors. (2) If I have to watch one more screen pass run pathetically, I am going to scream. We talked about how critical it was to practice these plays over and over during preseason with a blog post here in July. But there is never any improvement. In fact, it is worse than ever. (3) If I have to watch any more red zone failures, I am going to scream. The team was 1 for 3 today, and is 26th in the league in this very important statistic. As I understand it, Carl Banks and Bob Papa were as exasperated as we were.
There was one play that stuck out in my mind that goes to the root cause of red zone failure. We tweeted it pretty much as soon as it happened. It is so fundamental, that it makes it very clear that the Offensive Coordinator really does not understand why he continues to fail. It took place in the very first attempt in the red zone. The Giants had the ball, 1st and Goal at the 9 yard line. The ball was thrown out into the flat to the TE, Myers caught the ball and there was no gain. Okay football fans- what was wrong with this playcall? After all, Gilbride seemingly gave us what we wanted, a throw to the TE in the red zone- shouldn't we have been happy? The answer is that you must throw the ball to the TE in the END ZONE (/new first down), not at the line of scrimmage. This is fundamental. In the cramped quarters of the red zone, where a defense has an advantage of an end line to help them defend, crispness and succinctness are at a premium. Yards after catch are not going to happen easily. The advantage of the pass to the TE is that it is 9 yards (into the end zone) and a cloud of dust. You throw it to that WIDE BODY point blank in the end zone, he catches the ball, falls down, TD, end of story. ZERO YARDS AFTER CATCH. Dan Marino threw so many TDs to his no name TE (Holly?, that's the point, I don't know his name) in the END ZONE. Reception, TD, end of story. Throwing the ball to the TE in the flat at the 9 yard line is a wasted play. Unless the TE can break a tackle (possible, but doubtful, especially considering he has no forward momentum at that moment and is a sitting duck), it is a wasted down. And you cannot waste anything in the red zone. Gilbride is thinking of making it 2nd and Goal at the ~3 with a 6 yard pickup. But that is for a RB or a WR to break a tackle, not the TE. The TE is not going to reliably get yards after the catch in the red zone.
Interestingly, and perhaps ironically, later on in the game when Dallas was up 14-6, they were in the red zone and did the same thing on first down- a pass in the flat to Witten, for almost no gain. Same error! And just to juxtapose the correct red zone use of the TE, on 3rd down they went back to Witten, this time in the end zone, and the result was the simple reception and a TD.
This game is not entirely Gilbride's fault. He was not Mathias Kiwanuka or Antrel Rolle, who collectively had 3 personal foul gifts furnished to the Boys. He was not Damontre Moore, whose stupid hit called back a nice specials run. He is not Will Beatty, who is good for seemingly one penalty and one turnstile pass block every game. He is not the Giants LBers, who are undressed in pass coverage as soon as we face a real QB and a real coordinator who is smart enough to expose this weakness (6 passes to RB for 63 yards).
With 4 sacks and 17 pts allowed, the defensive effort overall should have been good enough for a win. It was not. They could not stop Dez Bryant when it counted most.
Let's celebrate Andre Brown. Let's also applaud Brandon Jacobs. Without Sean Lee in the middle, this was the Giants' chance to win a game. They were both very good and did what they had to do to put the team in a position to win.
The Giants had 11 penalties for 81 yards. That is unacceptable. That Dallas also had 11 penalties for 85 yards means the Giants simply had an opportunity to cash in on an opponent's mistakes and they made enough of their own to say 'no thank you.'
The Giants are 4-7. I for one never let my feet get off the ground with too much optimism once the hole was dug back in September and October. We all knew that the past 4 games needed to be validated. Unfortunately the Cowboys made enough plays and the Giants made enough mistakes to block the validation.
We hear that RGIII threw (some, all of?) his teammates under the bus. That means the Giants could be able to collect wins vs the Skins in their 2 contests. And Detroit's wheels are coming off- they are the best team in that division but they keep snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. SD and SEA are problematic. So realistically, the Giants chances now for a playoff appearance are very slim. When your star defensive player, JPP, cannot get to the QB, and your OL is in tatters, you should be 4-7.
The Giants will be good enough for something like ~6 wins and a middling draft pick. If we don't see some coaching changes, the mediocrity will be tougher to accept.