An Unimpressive Win: Well, the Giants won (and the Cowboys lost) but Giants fans cannot be very happy about the Blueshirts performance. Playing at home , Big Blue turned in an unconvincing display while grinding out a 29-17 victory over a mediocre 49ers team. Neither the offense nor the defense was impressive and the Giants will have to be much, much better if they are to make the playoffs. The Giants are 5-1 right now , having fattened up on some patsies, but the remainder of the season they will be facing teams of a different caliber. Except for the Vikings, whom they play in the season-ender, every team they will be facing is .500 or better. Seeing the Steelers, their next opponent, roll over the Bengals 38-10 makes me very nervous about next Sunday.
Eli Manning seems to have lost his touch the last couple of weeks. To my eyes, he seems to be looking for Plaxico Burress far too much, often forcing the ball when Burress is well covered. I know Burress was outstanding last season and that ,at 6′-5″, is a huge target but, come on…spread the wealth. The offense really clicked against Seattle when Burress was out and Manning was involving the other WR’s in the offense. Burress drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and then mouthing off at Coach Coughlin was also very disturbing.Does that remind you of someone? Jeremy Shockey, perhaps ? Statistically , the defense played well but gave up too many big plays and didn’t inspire confidence. I’m not surprised the Steelers are early 2-point favorites.
Freezing the Kicker: I am not a fan of the tactic of coaches calling a time-out just as the opposing team’s kicker is about to attempt a game-ending field goal. That tactic nearly backfired in the Oakland-NY jets game when the Raiders interim coach, Tom Cable, called a timeout just as the Jets Jay Feely attempted a 52 yard FG. The kick hit the upright and bounced back and that would have been the end of the game. The time-out gave the Jets a reprieve and, the second time, Feely made no mistake tying the game at 13-13. Luckily for the Raiders, they were able to kick a FG for an OT win but it would have served them right if Cable’s bonehead tactic had cost them the game.
Nice guys finish last said Leo Durocher a long time ago. Fans in Dallas and Indianapolis feel the adage is true and are demanding coaching changes. In Dallas, coach Wade Phillips has long been perceived as too soft and Cowboys fans are saying that the 4-3 record is mostly his fault. It’s true the Cowboys are not playing upto the level of their talent and that they looked horrible in the 34-14 loss to the St. Louis Rams but to blame it all on the coach ?.. come on There are plenty of people to share the blame: an interfering owner, off-field and on-field distractions ( Pacman Jones and TO), a mistake prone OL, stupid penalties, unimaginative playcalling, a defense that can’t stop the run, and an erratic QB who is now injured. How soon people forget ! Just last year, Dallas fans were praising Wade Phillips as a refreshing change from the dictatorial ways of Bill Parcells. Now suddenly he’s a bum ? Owner Jerry Jones might have pulled the trigger by now but Jason Garrett ,the offensive co-ordinator and coach-in-waiting , hasn’t exactly covered himself with glory. Indy’s poor start is mostly due to injuries on defense, Peyton Manning’s rustiness after missing the entire pre-season and age catching up with their WR corps. No doubt, the grumbling will get louder after they play the unbeaten Titans this coming Sunday but canning Tony Dungy is not the answer.
Shockey reverts to form. Returning from a sports hernia injury, Shockey caught 5 passes for 50 yards . He also was stripped of the ball , a fumble that led to Carolina’s go-ahead TD and missed a key cut-off block. Afterwards, he griped that he had come back too soon from his injury and that, in future, he would seek second opinions rather than rely on the team doctors’ assessment. In N.O, Saints fans already seem to be becoming disenchanted with Shockey. Giants fans meanwhile have to be happy that he’s no longer around with his pouting and his antics. Incidentally, the Carolina-New Orleans game was a coaching match-up between two former Giants asst. coaches. John Fox ( defensive co- ord.) won over Sean Payton ( offensive co-ord.) Defense won but one shouldn’t read too much into it since Carolina had the superior team. I couldn’t help thinking though that defensive co-ordinators seem to be more successful as head coaches than offensive co-ordinators.
Quick Takes:Bears 48- Vikings 41. Why did I ever think that Chicago and Minnesota had good defenses?Incidentally, after Gus Frerotte’s 4 INT performance, the Vikes have a real problem on their hands. Do they stick with the 38 year old journeyman or do they toss the ball to the disappointing Tavaris Jackson?
Packers- Colts. After the 34-14 loss at Lambeau Field , the Colts will have a tough road to the playoffs. They will be competing for one of 2 wildcard spots with New England, Jacksonville, Baltimore and San Diego. Their chances don’t get better as they play the undefeated Tennessee next weekend. I still think they can make it or perhaps I should say I hope they can make it. It will be strange to have a playoffs without Peyton Manning. BTW, kudos to Packer QB Aaron Rodgers forplaying injured and coming through with a gutsy game winning performance for Green Bay. Any Packer fans who still think that the Packers should have kept Brett Favre need to have their heads examined.