By Martin Alvin
Last night’s 27-21 loss to the Chicago Bears was worse — more exasperating, more painful, more excruciating — than all the other Giants losses going back to the end of last season; because this wasn’t a lop-sided, no-contest, blow-out like last years Atlanta game or Baltimore game or any of this years smack-downs. This game — like the Cowboys game, after a ton of early turnovers — was right there for the taking in the fourth quarter; except the Giants didn’t take it. Instead, they clumsily snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. And because it was so exciting and so close and competitive, it was EXCRUCIATING!
But credit where credit due and blame where blame is due. Blame first: The receivers hurt Eli, badly: on the first interception, Randle was lazy and didn’t aggressively come back for the pass — but the Chicago DB did. Result? Pick! Suggestion: maybe the receivers coach — Gilbride-the-younger — should get in Randle’s face and coach him up. Or is Gilbride-the-younger the receivers coach simply because he’s Gilbride-the-elders son?
The second interception: Randle reads the coverage and goes deep. Eli reads the coverage and throws short. Result? Pick-Six! And once again — as in every game this season — the Giants are playing from behind from the get-go. They haven’t had the lead in a game for more then two or three minutes all year, and that was again Philly last week. They’re playing every game they play, up-hill! Just like their entire season will now be up-hill.
Hey, coaching staff! How about letting Randle run non-option routes that allow him to be athletic but not have to think too much? Yeah, if he thinks just like Eli thinks, great: it’s a big play. But if he doesn’t — and clearly, he doesn’t — it’s an interception. Why not just “Dumb” it down for the guy for a while? This is Gilbride-the-elder and Gilbride-the-younger’s responsibility.
Later on, needing a third down conversion, Eli throws to Nicks on a crossing pattern. The ball is high — so that it can clear the linebackers, dropping back into coverage. Nicks reaches up for it. The ball glances off his fingertips. He doesn’t leap for it. He doesn’t leave his feet and go after the ball. He just reaches for it. Result: Punt. This is Gilbride-the-youngers responsibility, again.
And by the way, speaking about coaches: ex-receivers coach, Sean Ryan, has been the QB coach for the last two years and hasn’t Eli looked a lot worse since Ryan took over for Mike Sullivan — now the Offensive Coordinator down in Tampa? And haven’t the receivers looked worse? Just asking.
Later, and most egregiously, in the fourth quarter, the Giants are driving for the winning TD. New – and heralded — tight end acquisition, Brandon Myers gets open. The ball is thrown high — again, so it won’t get knocked down or intercepted by a LB. The ball glances off Myers fingertips, because, like Nicks earlier in the game, he simply reaches up for the ball but doesn’t leap or leave his feet. Coach Pope is a great tight-end coach but this tight end didn’t do his job … and it cost the Giants the game.
And the final blame name: while the ‘D’ played hard and fast, there was absolutely no pressure on Cutler: few hurries, fewer hits and no sacks. He was able to stay relaxed, set his feet, and nickel and dime the Giants ‘D’ to death, including their first TD which caught Will Hill – an absolute terror last week — napping.
Now, credit where credit is due: the ‘D’ only gave up 20 points and seven of those points came on the early interception and TD by the Bears. The Giants ‘D’ also held the Bears to only 3 points in the second half. And Will Hill finally overcame his initial brain-freeze moment and was very active in the game with very aggressive and very sure tackling.
And how about Jon Beason? After barely a week of practice, in a brand new system, with completely different terminology, he was a major presence in the middle of the field, racking up 11 tackles. Even with his past surgeries, the guy can move and hit. And get this, after just a week; this guy is the first real middle linebacker of substance since Antonio Pierce in 2008. What does that tell you about the Giant’s draft and free agent philosophy and their personnel department?
And hats off to Bear Pascoe. Last week he was throwing half-hearted one-shoulder, Little Sisters of the Poor, blocks in pass protection, but this week he was a runaway freight train.
And Brandon Jacobs looked like the Brandon Jacobs of 2007-2008 and not The Tip-Toe Bandit of the last few years. He ran hard and angry and made a difference. And maybe, just maybe, he taught the Giants something about their much maligned ‘O’ line: maybe they look better when a north-south runner is behind them as opposed to a back like Wilson. Maybe the slower Jacobs allows the blocks to develop and, thus, the holes to open, while Wilson isn’t patient enough and hits the hole too fast, before it’s open.
And finally credit to the guys who fought their hearts out and still lost. That’s why this loss is the toughest loss to swallow so far. Because you could see guys fighting their asses off and still coming away with an ‘L’ instead of a ‘W.’ Hell, I’m telling you: it was EXCRUCIATING!