Lots of odds and ends, a sort of house cleaning as we move ahead in this long 10 day layoff between games.
1) We keep trying to get across a message that the defense is not really the problem this season, that it's the offense. Well, in stark numbers, the defense is about neutral on PFF grading, -1.8. That means that when you sum every single player up, the total is net a couple of bad plays by a couple of players. Contrast that with the offense, which is -41.1, 29th in the NFL.
1a) No, we are not absolving the pass rush, which on its own is -14.1, or 29th in the league also. But let's keep our eye on the ball.. in today's NFL of offense, it's the offense that is not performing.
2) Tom Coughlin has brought 2 titles to this franchise. We are respectful and grateful. But in that context, it frankly offended this NY Giants blog writer when Tom Coughlin was being compared to Bill Parcells in terms of coaching ability, in the same sentence. After all, the line of thinking went, they both have won 2 titles, and that is an equally impressive body of work. But those old enough to have witnessed the career of both frankly took it as an insult to Parcells. There were probably a dozen reasons why, but the 0-6 goose egg here in 2013 is another. Foolish stat hounds would point to 1987 when a Parcells team started 0-5, but 3 of those losses were due to replacement players. (A story for another day, the Giants were caught with their pants down when the rest of the league turned them into chumps for abiding by the rules. The good replacement players were fleeced before the strike was announced.)
We are not here to bash Coughlin OR kiss Parcells' butt. Parcells screwed this franchise in May 1991, and ushered in 2 years of awful football with Ray Handley. Anyone who remembers Handley understands that Coughlin is a solid coach. Yes, Coughlin was lucky, but he was good enough when pressured by ownership to change. He gets the credit in '07 and '11, but he also gets the blame for costing the franchise a title in '08. He was at the helm in '09, selecting Sheridan, who delivered FIVE 40 point defensive horror shows. He was there at the helm when a team that was winning 31-10 with 8 minutes left could not close out the Eagles. This resulted directly in the Giants squandering a playoff bid. And Coughlin is there now, at the helm of an 0-6 team, watching as his Offensive Coordinator once again cannot make the adjustments necessary to adapt and overcome. We take the bad with the good. Coughlin is a good coach. He is not a great coach. Great coaches do not have so many seasons of underachievement.
3) Which brings us to Hakeem Nicks. We blogged after the loss that we were very upset on a key play at the end of the first half when the Giants had the opportunity to score some points. The Giants were down by 7 pts, but they had the ball on 3rd and 3. The ball is thrown to Nicks, and it goes through his outstretched hands. But Nicks had a half step on his defender and did not jump up to get the ball. We saw lack of the effort that was required in that moment. The Giants gave the ball back to Chicago, who drove the ball downfield for a FG, making it a 10 point deficit at the half. This ties in with how the defense should not even have been on the field for that last possession if the offense is doing its job. But back to Coughlin, it is the head coach's job to get 100% out of his players. The comparison to Parcells here is that there is no way that Parcells would allow Nicks to go through the motions like that. Players had a requisite amount of fear and respect for Parcells. They did not like playing for him, but they loved him. That's because he demanded so much from his players; he made them each better or else they did not play for him. And you also knew that the other 44 players were not going to be dogging it either.
You hear the trade talk. Is Mr. Brittle Nicks doing more to protect his body than win for his team? What is Coughlin doing to get the most out of Nicks in his contract year?
4) The Minnesota game on Monday is winnable. The Gmen are -3.5 pt favorites. We thought the Giants would get a win vs the Eagles when handed a similar home FG favored setup. Just like vs Philly at home, this one is also the Giants' game to win or lose.
5) My wife and I watched the NFL Network's A FOOTBALL LIFE: MICHAEL STRAHAN. I enjoyed seeing and hearing some of the stories about his journey. While I would have preferred seeing some stories of how he gracefully defended against the run, it was nonetheless a very good portrayal of how a guy who had less than you think could overcome obstacles and become one of the greatest players in the NFL. His success on and off the field is the embodiment of the American Dream.
6) How much pride is there from these players? Wilson is gone for another 3+ games. Snee out for the year. Baas neck injury. The Giants can win as many as 6 of the last 10 games. They can also lose all 10.
7) Baas was able to play all 16 games in a single season twice for SF before signing a Free Agent deal with the Giants. He cashed a pretty bonus check en route to 28M over 5 years. We nearly vomited when we heard the numbers of that deal, wondering how it was possible for a middling Center to get that kind of marquee money. Baas is now in his 3rd year of that contract. He misses games, and when he is in, the offensive line is not able to get surge in the run game. Just as Pugh was taken with Reese behind the curve, so was Baas signed when Reese was behind the curve. Pugh will probably end up being a solid starter, but will he be worth the Round 1 pick? Just like with Baas, the pick was a result of his hand being forced. So don't let me hear about the "best player available." We are grateful an OLineman was taken early, but its an indictment of negligence to be at this point in 2013. You start a rookie in Week 1, you sign an overpaid Center, you are playing an older Guard who just had hip surgery… stir in an Offensive Coordinator who can't adjust his gameplan quickly and that is how you get to 0-6.
8) Quick question- who is the biggest disappointment after the first 6 games of 2013? No, it is not JPP, because he came into the season without training camp and was still working through offseason back surgery. No, it is not Eli Manning, who has thrown umpteen INTs… we have discussed why Eli is a symptom of the offensive woes, not a cause of them. It is not Randle either- he is simply too young to be a disappointment. I believe the biggest disappointment thus far is TE Brandon Myers. After Week 2's loss to Denver, we opined that Myers was a downgrade at TE. We gave the new Giant some room to get acclimated to his new linemates and QB. After 6 games, he has the lowest PFF scores on the Offense (and the entire team, for that matter), a reflection of his inability to block and his mistakes on the pass-catching side as well. We hear it from players and coaches- "Who is going to step up and make a play?" The Tight End is a very important part of the offense, because he helps block in the run game, he pass protects, he is a pass catcher, and most importantly for this NY Giants blog, the TE is an invaluable target in the red zone. Myers needs to step up and make plays. Now. It is only 6 games, and we do not want to be too harsh in passing judgment. But thus far, Myers has not helped this offense and needs to start making plays. One thing working against Myers and the Giants is that PFF graded Myers out with a net negative score in 2010, 2011 AND 2012.