Quick Returns, Week 2 – Giants’ Blocked Field Goal, Dominant Defense, Super Rookie and Veteran Gaffs
By Jack Harrold
Just a few days ago, I wrote an article talking about how history doesn’t really repeat itself. Boy, was I right! The New York Giants beat the New Orleans Saints 16-13 with a last second field goal. Up until that last moment, flashbacks of last year’s time mismanagement threatened to rear its ugly head. That didn’t happen, let’s take a quick look at what did.
Big Hank and the Jackrabbit
Easily the most exciting play of the game, Jonathan “Big Hank” Hankins block a field goal by Saints’ kicker, Wil Lutz. Any blocked kick is amazing. Giants’ fans were in for an extra treat as the ball bobbled in front of Janoris “Jackrabbit” Jenkins who scooped it up and ran 65 yards for the Giants only touchdown.
Apart from the big plays by Big Hank and Jackrabbit, I noticed that the reaction of the rest of the Giants was equally on point. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nat Berhe flanked Jenkins down the field. Whereas most teams would have been content with the block, putting in the extra effort seems to be a common theme for the Giants’ defense over these past two weeks.
Keeping with the defensive theme, the Giants seem to have found a way to dictate the course of a game – they make the other team one dimensional. Like last week, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo deployed his forces to stop the run and pressure the quarterback.
All day long, Saints’ running back, Mark Ingram was shut down. He was just a non factor due to the containment of the Giants’ front four. Because of this, their linebackers and secondary were both able to concentrate on the primary Saints attack – Drew Brees and his receivers.
In fact, the defense was so effective that the Saints first five – yes five drives ended in punts. The sixth drive ended in the previously mentioned field goal attempt that resulted in the Giants’ only touchdown and the first score of the game.
It seems that the Giants’ coaching staff has done their home work. They are figuring out the personnel match ups that work in their favor. The players are executing.
What happened to The Duke?
Starting back to the OTAs, the Giants have renamed the football after the patriarch owner, Wellington “The Duke” Mara. The idea was to simply stress the importance of “owning” the football. Protection from turnovers. Somewhere, that message got forgotten this week.
Thee times in the first half the Giants fumbled. To make matters worse, they were not able to recover the fumbles. Each of these killed otherwise promising drives.
Sadly, this cannot be chalked up to rookie mistakes. It was the veterans, Shane Vereen, Eli Manning and Victor Cruz that lost The Duke. Cruz’s fumble was especially disheartening as it came on the end of what would have been a 40+ yard reception.
For a team that was so goo last year in the turnover battle, these past two week show history not repeating itself.
Last week, Sterling Shepard snagged his first touchdown in the NFL – in his first game. But, the argument could be made that his grab was just beginners luck. Ya can’t claim that anymore.
Shepard hauled in 8 receptions for over 100 yards. Incidentally, that made him nearly perfect on the day – he was targeted 8 times.
I have to say nearly perfect because he did have a big of a mental mistake on a 32 yard reception. Instead of turning on the gas, he seemed to get inside of his own head trying to cut back and find more yardage. That’s still a good thing as it shows he was looking for a way to win. Great mentality to have.
Dropping the Ball
Other than the sack-fumble, Eli Manning was great. He made some amazing throws and completed better than 75% of his passes. Sadly, his stats could have been so much better if he had gotten some help from his much lauded receivers.
We’ve seen Larry Donnell drop passes and are willing to give Victor Cruz a pass as he’s still knocking some rust off. But Shane Vereen and Odell Beckham Jr. have no excuses. When a ball hits your hands, you have to grab it.
The dropped passes looked to be a matter of concentration. And at least two of them had the possibility of being touchdowns. Donnell was in the end zone and just couldn’t hold on.
Okay, this might be a bit sacrilegious to say on this site, but Odell Beckham Jr. was not good Sunday. That seems odd to say considering he pulled in 8 receptions for 80+ yards. Never the less, I got the impression that he was too busy playing mind games with the corners than concentrating on catching balls.
Watching him play was, frankly, frustrating. after each play he was doing his show boating and jaw-jacking at opposing players. This echoed the shenanigans that got him in trouble last year during the Panthers game and Josh Norman. Guess who we have next week? Is he gonna tighten things up and get disciplined or…
Although the Giants won, I was left with an odd feeling of elation, pride and frustration.
Elation for the win, obviously. But also for the manner in which Coach McAdoo managed the end of the game.
Pride in our defense. I grew up watching Harry Carson, Jim Burt, Leonard Marshall and, of course, Lawrence Taylor. For me, Giants football has always been about tough defense. I cannot express how wonderful it is to see the Big Blue Wrecking Crew resurrected.
Quickly following is the frustration at the stupid mistakes, gaffs and fundamentals that were not executed this past week. The blocking schemes were terrible, and the running game was nearly nonexistent. These were the strengths a week ago.
More damning were the turnovers and missed opportunities. These need to be cleaned up if the Giants are to truly be a contender for that fifth Lombardi Trophy.