Team Giants


Special Report

Sent: 09-16-14

Dave Klein was the Giants' beat writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books and he is one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls. Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.


By Aaron Klein
Well, that didn't go as planned now, did it?

For the pessimists out there, the season is almost over. For the optimists, the new offense showed some signs of life and the defensive front had a decent (not great) showing.

The facts, however, are thus: there were too many dropped passes, too many turnovers, the defense let a career backup quarterback keep his team in the game and a crucial failure on special teams was a back breaker. The Giants have proven one thing over the last few years: they're consistent in their inconsistency.

Sound familiar? It should. We've been down this road for the last three years, replete with the lousy start to the season and the mystifying mistakes and the questions about the abilities of Eli Manning and whether or not head coach Tom Coughlin has lost the locker room. Those last two ideas? Forget them, for now. It's hard to consider the end of an era and while that's not warranted today ... well, it's just as hard to ignore the concept, too.

Still, there were some good signs in the loss to Arizona, positive signs amid the shocking mistakes and deflating outcome. There were also plenty of bad and ugly signs that must be rectified before it's too late.


Pass rushing, to a point: Jason Pierre-Paul showed up in the first quarter and was such a monster it looked as though he was back. He finished the game with four tackles and 1.5 sacks. Arizona quarterback Drew Stanton was sacked four times overall (one each for Jonathan Hankins and Robert Ayers) and he did not throw a touchdown, completing 14 of 29 pass attempts, which is just shy of 50 percent. To be fair, while headlines scream about the backup quarterback who beat the Giants, the truth is that the Giants beat themselves by giving Arizona plenty of chances to win. Stanton just didn't make mistakes.

Eli Manning, to a point: We can dissect the first interception and decide that the pass was ill advised, poorly executed or even reckless, but the fact is that he was trying, too hard, to make something happen in the heat of the game with chaos and pressure all around him. Not going to beat on him for that.

Instead, his 26-of-39 performance for 277 yards and two touchdowns was solid. Yes, there was a second interception, but that came near the end of an already-lost game, so forget it. Manning was strong in the first half, when everything looked shiny and clean on Opening Day at MetLife Stadium, before the team imploded. He executed a superb scoring drive that featured mostly the no-huddle offense and, with the help of tight end Larry Donnell, was virtually perfect. Then came the fourth quarter, when the mistakes and the pressure came to life and, inexplicably, it looked as though the entire team was stricken with sloppy play and miscommunication, Eli included. Remember, the whole thing really unraveled in the fourth quarter, after the Giants regained the lead at 14-10.

Pass blocking, to a point: Manning was officially sacked twice, once on a 3rd-and-7 at the Arizona 45 and again on the Giants' final drive when all was lost. He was also sacked early in the second quarter when he failed to sense the oncoming pass rush and fumbled the ball, though the play was nullified by one of many illegal contact penalties enforced generously by the officiating crew. Still, the pass protection wasn't bad, much better than it was in Week 1. Will Beatty, who had an awful game against Detroit, allowed just one hurry, but the Cards were missing their best defensive linemen and still, the pressure was there, especially against the run as they held the Giants to 81 yards rushing and no scores. If this new offense is to work, it must get better production from the running game to set up the short, upbeat passing attack.

Larry Donnell: The team's leading receiver, Donnell caught nearly everything that came his way, from the easy to the difficult, and has quickly become Manning's favorite target. That's good for them but also good for the other receivers, who will benefit when the opposing defenses put extra coverage on Donnell, a big receiving tight end who reminds some of Zeke Mowatt, and it's not just the jersey number.

Steve Weatherford: With four torn ligaments in his ankle, suffered against Detroit, Weatherford still managed a strong punting performance (4 for 44.3 yards per attempt), though one short one was at least partially responsible for a disastrous return by Arizona. Unfortunately, Weatherford didn't benefit from quality punt coverage by the special teams.

Jonathan Hankins: For the second week straight, Hankins, in his second start, helped explain the team's decision to let Linval Joseph go via free agency, notching six tackles and a sack, as well as consistently plugging gaps and bringing pressure to the Arizona offense. Hankins is a beast.

Rueben Randle's touchdown catch: While Randle still isn't completely on the same page as Manning, and has yet to prove he can create separation add some Yards After Catch, he still made one heckuva one-handed touchdown catch on a perfectly thrown ball. Yes, it was a tough catch, but no one but Randle could have touched the ball (Eli meant to do it that way), and he managed to bring the ball in safely near the end of the first half to cap an impressive, 13-play, 90-yard drive that ate up 7:13, much of with the no-huddle in play.

Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie: DR-C put up a solid game, allowing just three receptions on nearly a dozen targets and, in part, redeeming himself after a poor showing at Detroit. He also laid a major hit on Malcom Floyd, separating the receiver from a sure catch.


Victor Cruz and the drops: Is it the money? Is it the fame? Is he pressing or just not paying attention? Whatever is going on with Cruz, it has to end soon because five drops in two games is not only unacceptable but disruptive to the progress of this new offense. During the week, Cruz publicly explained that if he only had more targets he could help the offense overall. Well, he saw more passes come his way, catching five passes on 10 targets for 60 yards, but he also dropped three balls, including a crucial drive-killer in the fourth quarter.

Look, the Giants need a hero and Cruz, along with Pierre-Paul and Manning, is on the short list to be just that, maybe the leader of the pack. Time to step up.

The running game, or lack thereof: Between suspect run blocking, poorly executed plays and at least one major error, the Giants couldn't generate a legitimate running game, once again resulting in Manning having to win the game on his own. The Giants brought in Rashad Jennings and rookie Andre Williams for a reason yet got little production. Jennings' fumble on an easy screen was a killer as it destroyed a potential scoring drive at the Arizona 17 after a 13-play drive. He lost his footing and fumbled as his elbow hit the ground. In itself, it was just one of those things and Jennings is better than that, but there are mistakes and there are badly- timed mistakes.

JPP's disappearance: After the first quarter, Pierre-Paul was virtually invisible and that's a concern. Was it that he didn't have the stamina against the Arizona offensive line? Was it that he was fighting double- and triple-teams for the rest of the game? Yes to both, but great players can often overcome those obstacles. In his defense, when the opposite defensive end is either Matthias Kiwanuka or Robert Ayers, the offense can afford to overload on the stud.

Damontre Moore must find a way on the field; the coaches aren't sitting him for no reason, he has to earn it. Still, the team needs JPP to explode and play four quarters the way he played the first.


One minute of special teams destroyed the game: In the end, it wasn't just Eli's interception or Jennings' fumble or even Stanton's surprise appearance. Instead, a painful, life-sucking 71-yard punt return for a touchdown and the subsequent fumble by Quinton Demps that lead to a field goal of the ensuing kickoff both snatched defeat from the jaws of victory (an old but appropriate saying).

Blame Zach Bowman for missing the tackle on Ted Ginn Jr., but several players whiffed, too, and even co-captain Zak DeOssie admitted that the coverage unit, regardless of a somewhat short punt, was responsible. Ginn Jr. bobbed and weaved his way downfield into open territory. Look, the Giants were leading, 14-13, and after the debacle in Detroit, they merely had to put up a field goal or two to protect the lead and the victory. Instead, in the span of just over a minute, the Giants found themselves behind, 22-14.

Worse still was the visible, palpable deflation of the Giants, heads down, exhaling, defeated. That, above all else, has to change. You see, there were still nine minutes remaining. The game wasn't over yet... or was it?

Have something to say? Ask a question?
Send it over to
and follow me on Twitter @_AaronKlein_
Don't forget to follow us on Twitter @E_Giants

Check out Dave's website at E-GIANTS where you can subscribe to his newsletters which run much more frequently than what is available here.
- Team Giants

NOW - Send a request to for a free week's worth of news!

Previous Articles
Special Report

Practice squad players
Special Report

Preseason - Jets
Special Report

Michael Strahan
Special Report

Looking ahead


Stop in and visit "Mike's Keys to the Internet"
Links to every newspaper and magazine that's available on the net.

Website by Mike