Collapse in Cleveland: I never thought that the Giants would go through the season undefeated. At the same time, I didn’t think that their unbeaten status would come to an end in Cleveland where the Browns had gotten off to a horrendous 1-3 start. When I woke up this morning, last night’s 35-14 drubbing seemed like a bad dream until I saw it confirmed in the sports pages. Even now it is a lttle difficult to believe.
In retrospect , I should have seen it coming. All week long, the experts have been lauding the Giants: how cohesive the O Line is, how error free Eli Manning’s play has been, how big and tough Brandon Jacobs is, how smart the defensive backs are and how great the pass rush is. I guess the Giants read those same articles and went into Cleveland believing that they would walk away with an easy win. Nothing seemed to click yesterday. The pass rush was unable to mount any pressure, Jamaal Lewis ran for huge chunks of yardage, the DB’s gave up long pass completions, the offensive line was porous and Eli threw three interceptions. In Eli’s case, I think he was trying too hard to force the ball to Plaxico Burress and thus telegraphed his throws. Also, he had to hurry his passes when the protection broke down and his chest injury might have hampered his throwing. This is not to excuse his performance which was decidely sub-par. At least now, we wont have to listen to those ridiculous discussions as to which Manning is better: Eli or Peyton. Hopefully, this will be a wake-up call for the entire team . They are not an overpowering group and they have to play at their absolute best for every W . I look for them to rebound against San Francisco next week.
A Dallas Disaster: The most entertaining game on TV last weekend was the Dallas Cowboys against the Arizona Cardinals. It was in doubt all throughout ( unlike the Giants game which was over long before the final whistle) and the final game-winning play was bizarre to say the least. What a disaster for the Cowboys ! The loss of the game was not as devasting as the injuries. Tony Romo sidelined for at least 4 games, punter Mat McBriar lost for the season and RB Felix Jones nursing a hamstring pull. And now, Pacman Jones has been suspended for at least 4 games. Almost makes me feel sorry for them. Almost, but not quite! LOL! For all their talent, the Cowboys seem unable to live with prosperity. They lost inspite of having the benefit of two or three blown calls and some bone -headed decisions by Ken Whisenhut, the Arizona coach. First, there was that utterly unnecessary onside kick; then, there was that time-out call which gave the Cowboys a second chance to tie the game. I never thought ,after all that, that they would lose the game and in such stunning fashion too. In Dallas, incensed fans have plenty of targets for their wrath. Many feel that Wade Phillips is too laid back and that he should be be replaced, perhaps with Bill Cowher. Jason Garrett ( the offensive co-ordinator and coach in waiting) and the offensive line have also come in for criticism,as has QB Tony Romo.One long time fan, a 76 year old woman,wrote in to say ” If you ask me, the problem with the Cowboys is that Romo needs to get that blonde bimbo off his mind…” Now,that’s too harsh.
The next 4 weeks are going to be very difficult for the Cowboys but I feel they have a really smart sub in Brad Johnson and he may be able to pull off a couple of wins. BTW, I’m not sure why the Cowboys felt that they had to trade for WR Roy Williams; I would have thought that with TO and Patrick Crayton ( and Jason Witten at TE) that they were adequately stocked with pass catchers.
Dumb coaching moves: Does it seem to you that coaches are getting too aggressive in their play calling? Previously, onside kicks were limited to the end of the game when the trailing team needed to get the ball back after a score. Now it seems like the coaches often call for an onside kick in mid-game. Sean Payton ( N.O) did it last week and Whisenhut did it this week in a tight game in Arizona. The biggest blunder I thought was Chicago leading Atlanta 20-19 and calling for a squib kickoff with only 11 seconds remaining in the game. Atlanta got good field position, a Matt Ryan pass got them in field goal range and Elam kicked a winning 48 yarder. I know that Atlanta had had an 85 yard return earlier in the game but , come on… show a little faith in your special teams.
Quick Takes: Good to see Atlanta doing well. After last years debacle ( MIchael Vick’s dog fighting conviction, Bobby Petrino jumping ship in mid season), I’m glad the Hawks areon the way back. That Matt Ryan doesn’t look like a rookie , does he ?
What a difference a week makes ! Last, week, the NFC Esat was being lauded as the toughest in the NFL. This week …?
Exciting finish in the Dolphins- Texans game . Gutsy call for a QB draw by the Texans coaching staff after a stacked WR formation that had everyone certain the final play was going to be a pass.
Apparently, the Giants were interested in acquiring ALL -Pro TE Tony Gonzalez from KC but the deal fell through because the Chiefs held out for a second round draft choice and the Giants only offered a 6th rounder. I like Gonzalez, a great player and a solid citizen, but I also thought Kevin Boss was adequate, a fair receiver and a good blocker. Besides, with the talent that the Giants have at WR, Manning doesn’t lack for targets.
One book I will not be reading : GIANT by Plaxico Burress.