Jets Need Sympathy; Giants Need To Wake Up
Watching the Giants 19-17 loss to the Eagles in Philadelphia last night, two things stood out for me. The first was how extraordinary the Giants have been in two championship postseasons. The second is how utterly ordinary they have been otherwise in the Tom Coughlin era.
Late in the 4th quarter, with the Giants driving for what could have been he wining field goal, the announcers dropped a stat on us: the Giants had lost seven of eight previous games with the Eagles. Why didn't I know this? I guess because when I think of the Giants and Eagles, I think of the Giants rising to the occasion of the big game and the Eagles flopping.
If you're the Eagles, I guess the primary question is: How can you be so good against the best team in your division, your oldest and bitterest rival, and so absolutely lousy against everyone else?
It isn't particularly hard to figure out why the Giants lost to the Eagles last night: the defense gave up 422 yards against a team that was held to just six points last week. (The Giants, who were just about the running-team in the league last year, once again could not run the ball with any consistency, gaining an undernourished total of just 57 yards.
LeSean McCoy embarrassed New York with 123 yards in 23 carries, and Michael Vick further embarrassed them with an excellent all-around day, 19 of 30 for 241 yards and 6 carries for 50 yards. Face it, Giants fans, Vick outplayed Eli Manning (24 of 42 for 309 yards with an interception).
But it's also true that Eli played well enough to win most games, at least games where the team doesn't commit seven penalties for 55 yards, one of them so blatantly obvious that Philly fans in the corner of the end zone, where Ramses Barden mugged Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (can't we just call him Dom and save a coupe of syllables?) cheered when the flag was thrown, already knowing that it would be offensive pass interference.
The Giants' heads weren't in this game on either side of the ball. The NFL is indeed a passing league, but that presumes that you don't give up a lot of yards rushing. You can't let another team, particularly your big rival, run for 191 yards and expect to win. Here's your key: the Giants held McCoy to two yards rushing in the first half, at which point they were leading 10-7. McCoy ran for 121 of his 123 yards in the second half.
I want to say that, in the 3rd and 4th quarters, the Giants were attempting to stop McCoy with arm tackles, but on some plays it didn't even appear they were using their arms. The way their defensive backs were yelling at McCoy every time he got up off the ground, I have to believe that their game plan was simply to use harsh language.
At yesterday afternoon's postgame press conference following the Jets' devastating 34-0 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, an ashen-face Rex Ryan told reporters, "It starts with coaches. The players, they've got to dig deep, look down at themselves." I wonder: what does Rex Ryan see when he looks "down" at himself? Vince Lombardi?
The Jets, like the Giants, couldn't stop the run yesterday, giving up a whopping 236 yards on the ground to the Niners, a team that doesn't even have the aerial fire power to spread a defense. But by far the Jets' ugliest football was played on the offensive side. They had just 145 yards all day, just 45 on the ground (where they average 3.8 yards per try, almost exactly the same as the Giants).
Ryan and his coaching staff wasted the entire preseason babbling about how the acquisition of Tim Tebow was going to give the Jets' offense a new dimension, and they are now wasting the entire regular season trying to tell us why they're not using him. Did they perhaps get him because he ran a really mean Wildcat-like option? If so, when they replay the films from Sunday's game, they ought to note that the 49ers showed them how to do it when their backup QB, Colin Kaepernick ran one for a 7-yard TD in the 2nd quarter.
After the game, everyone was asking Ryan if the loss of the Jets' biggest playmakers on defense - Darrelle Revis - and possibly on offense - Santonio Holmes (who went out with a foot injury on a pass reception and may or may not be back this season, depending on today's MRI) officially finished the Jets season. Rex was predictably noncommittal. He certainly didn't' want to say yes, but he didn't want to say no either, because injuries to two such key players could be milked for a lot of sympathy, a quality the Jets need right now by the ton.
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