Giants Pluck Wounded Philly-Birds: Don’t Get Giddy!
By Martin Alvin
Before I say something negative –- which, of course, I will –- let me acknowledge the fact that the Giants did, in fact, beat the Eagles 15-7 yesterday in the Eagle’s own house; and after a horrific 0-6 start, that’s good news. An NFL win, is a an NFL win. And Big Blue seems to have made some of the adjustments we’ve all been screaming for: Eli is taking shorter drops and getting the ball out quicker; which means the ‘O’ line doesn’t have to protect as long. The receivers are actually catching the ball in the shorter, quicker passing game — perhaps because they don’t have to make as many option reads. There were no turnovers on offense, yesterday. And the Giants now have the kind of north/south runner the ‘O’ line loves to block for: a no-nonsense, no-dancing, runner who really fires up the team.
And that type of running attack can’t be underestimated because the character of the championship NY Giants teams has always been epitomized by a strong, north/south running game, whether is was Joe Morris and O.J. Anderson back in the 80s and 90s or Jacobs, Bradshaw and Derrick Ward in 2007 and 2011. No dancing. No tiptoeing. No running parallel to the line of scrimmage. No scat backs. Just powerful running designed to hit the tackler before the tackler hits the runner. That’s who the four-time Super Bowl winning Giants are. And when the Giants are true to who they are, the whole team takes on that tough persona.
On defense, Jon Beason looks like the real deal, and maybe, even, the free agent steal of the season. Terrell Thomas and Jon Beason, and Antrel Rolle and Justin Tuck really showed up and stopped McCoy and the Eagles running game all day long. And with a healthy Vick always a potential threat to burn the Giants with his back-door runs, Perry Fewell used his imagination and had cornerback, Terrell Thomas set the backside edge to effectively protect against those runs. The ‘D’ had four sacks and a lot of pressures. And, oh, yeah, they won their second game in a row.
So, I hate to rain on everyone’s parade but let’s face it, there were a lot of negatives, too, starting with the biggest negative of all: after dominating the Eagles for four quarters, against a ham-strung veteran QB and then a raw rookie QB, the Giants could never put the Eagles away. With five trips to the red zone — or just outside the red zone –- the Giants couldn’t score a TD and had to settle for five FGs. And in the fourth quarter, when Zak DeOssie uncharacteristically snapped the ball over Steve Weatherford’s head and the Eagles recovered the ball in the end zone for a TD; the Giants were suddenly up by only 8 points. Against a better team, that could have been a disaster.
And there were lots of other silly mistakes that could have cost the Giants the game had they been playing against a better team. In the first quarter, Jernigan runs a third down route too short for the first down and the Giants have to punt. Weatherford then shanks the punt and the Eagles get great field position –- but luckily, can’t take advantage of it.
Later on, Rolle –- who had a monster game — intercepts a bad throw by Vick at the Giants 35, but gets flagged for an excessive celebration, resulting in a 15-yard penalty, putting them back to their own 20.
Later on, Rolle blitzes and sacks Vick at the Eagle 10; but doesn’t know the ball is on the ground until Vick recovers it.
In the second quarter, after a great drive down to the Eagles 5, they’re flagged because the right tackle is exposed and ineligible. Later on in the game, they’re flagged for the same thing. The ball is now at the ten-yard line with goal to go and three plays later, Donnell catches a TD pass — out of bounds. They kick another FG.
Later, in the third quarter, the Giants have a good drive into the red zone defused by two penalties: one is a motion penalty and the other is a delay of game which pushes them back and results in yet another FG. By the way, is there another team in the league with more delay of game penalties?
Later in the game, the Eagles take a dumb sack and go for it on fourth and nine, fumble the snap and miss the throw. Then, later, they go for it on fourth down again and fail again. And after getting to within one score, with more than four minutes left in the game, the Eagles idiotically try an on-sides kick and fail to recover it. Those were all gifts. Good teams won’t be that generous.
So, let’s be real and honest, the Giants have beaten two pretty bad teams in a row. They can’t count on dysfunctional opponents week in and week out. The rest of the games are going to be tougher against: the Raiders, the Packers, the Cowboys, the Redskins twice, the Chargers, the Seahawks and the Lions. So, let’s try to keep things in perspective, okay? Yes, two wins are better than two loses, and yes, Big Blue is only two games out of first place in the bizarre NFC East; but they’re going to have to play a lot better to keep winning. Not saying they can’t. They may very well have already started. But to get where they want to go, they’re going to have to get a hell of a lot better … and they’ve got two weeks to do it!