No Joke! Giants Risk Losing Eli In 2014.
By Martin Alvin
Sometimes we get a glimpse of the future: a preview, a foreshadowing, an omen, if you will; and it can be very frightening. Last Sunday at Met Life Stadium during a Giants Redskins football game played in a Southeast Asian monsoon, we got that glimpse; and it truly was terrifying.
The rain was so incessant and heavy there were rumors of a guy in nearby Passiac building an ark. On days like last Sunday, there are few things people can do outdoors with any success, like, for instance, sunbathing and flinging a wet football around. There are only two good options: building an ark like the guy in Passaic and running the damn ball!
But, in the offense-inhibiting rain, the Giants were flinging the ball all over the place; because nothing interferes with Big Blue’s, U.S. Postal Service, offensive philosophy: neither rain nor sleet nor gloom of night and all that other dumb crap. And Eli was getting hammered, just like he’s been getting hammered all season long.
Meanwhile, the Giants were making the same mistakes they’ve been making all year. They still can’t get a play off in time. Eli had to waste a time out to prevent yet another delay of game penalty. Hakeem Nicks cut a dig route short and Eli threw it long and it almost got picked off. Later, in the red zone, Nicks got called for pass interference and the Giants had to settle for FG instead of a TD. Andre Brown fumbled again. And when Brown was replaced by Hillis, and he began successfully running the ball with the driving power of an old chain-drive Mack truck; the Giants ignored him and kept on flinging the damn ball all over the lot.
And then came the God-awful glimpse of the future: With 1:13 left on the clock before halftime, and with the ball at midfield; the clock was running because the Giants had no time outs — one of which had been squandered by Eli because he didn’t want to incur his weekly delay of game penalty. So, still flinging the ball around like it’s sunny and 75 degrees; even though the ‘O’ line can’t stop the Redskins ‘D’ from rushing him like crazy, Eli gets sacked, his ankles bend awkwardly under him, and he comes up limping. And suddenly, it was frighteningly obvious, if the Giants don’t protect Eli in 2014, he’s going to get seriously injured.
This season’s ‘D’ gets a pass. They played well, after Beason arrived, and they simplified their style. But Tom Quinn’s special teams still stink and Larry Izzo deserves a shot. He can’t possibly do worse. The receivers have regressed under Kevin Gilbride Junior; and Eli has regressed under QB coach, Sean Ryan. Those coaches have to go, too. And the fact that Eli stayed in the game and threw a flat-footed interception to butter-fingered Brandon Meyers –- who also has to go — isn’t the point. The point is; the Giants have to protect Eli. Imagine the consequences if they don’t.
It is -– and it has been –- Kevin Gilbride’s offensive philosophy that’s at fault. With an ‘O’ line in flux, Eli can’t keep dropping seven steps, trying to go through his 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th progressions, while his receivers run complex read-option routes, which are often misread by guys like Randle and Jernigan. Look, if Cruz can handle them, and he’s proven that he can; that’s great. Stay with it. But if Randle and Jernigan can’t, don’t force the damn issue. Stop trying to fit square pegs into round holes. Dumb it down. Those guys have talent, learn how to utilize it.
With an ‘O’ line in flux, or even fully formed, the new philosophy still has to be: short, quick, three step drops and short, quick, non-read-option slants and digs and flares to guys who can make things happen in space. Hell, the Giants already have those guy on the roster, like Cruz and Jernigan and Randle and, if he’s healthy, David Wilson; all of whom, are natural fits. And how about screen passes –- that actually work – once in a while? For God’s sake, even high school teams can run screens.
And they can’t be so quick to abandon the run, especially when it’s working. Unspectacular, plow horses like Peyton Hillis –- who can stay, inexpensively — control the clock and the game by running the ball with power. And when the opposing ‘D’ begins to creep up to stop the run and the short, quick passes, the deep routes against single coverage will open up. Then, Eli can go deep!
No insult intended to Kevin Gilbride, who has done a great job in the past, but his Giants’ offense is as inflexible as an old nut and bolt left in place too long; calcified, corroded and rusted so badly, they’re now fused together. WD-40 won’t adjust or loosen the connection. It requires a bolt cutter or a hacksaw.
The Giants will, no doubt, address their ‘O’ line problems and the coaching for special teams and the receivers and the QB. But they can’t completely overhaul everything in just one off-season. It takes time. They have to start with the most pressing problem –- Kevin Gilbride’s inflexible offensive philosophy. If they don’t, no joke, the Giants risk losing Eli in 2014. And not providing protection for their 100 million dollar, franchise, two time Super Bowl MVP, QB would be beyond remiss; it would be sheer, stubborn, stupidity.