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Giants defense not playoff worthy

November 23, 2009

Thanks to a career day from Quarterback Eli Manning, the New York football Giants defeated the Atlanta Falcons 34-31 in overtime Sunday. The Giants hadn’t won since beating Oakland 44-7 on Oct. 11, so it had to feel good to get a win under the belt.  It was a must win for the G-men, as they are now in good position for a playoff berth, if their offense continues to light it up like it did Sunday.  On the other hand, if their defense continues to play like it has the past few weeks, the Giants are going to be on the outside looking in.

Who could forget the Giants Superbowl victory over the hated Patriots.  New York was a heavy underdog, and virtually given no shot to derail an unbeaten New England team.  Despite the critics and non believers, the Giants shocked the world and defeated the Pats much because of the play of the defense.  It was no secret that the way to beat Tom Brady is to hit him in the mouth, knock him to the ground, and kick him for good measure.  Osi, Justin Tuck, and the rest of the defensive line were able to do all that and more.  Likewise, the Giants secondary played terrific, keeping up with the lethal Patriot weapons. 

These long faces have become too common for the defense

Fast forward to the present and the Giants defense is the antithesis of that Championship team.  Osi Umenyiora has been virtually invisible, the defensive tackles have played way too inconsistent, and the secondary couldn’t cover the Oceanside Sailors.  Sunday against the Falcons, the Giants defense blew a 14 point lead with 7 minutes remaining, a feat that felt all too similar to the previous week, when the G-men allowed Philip Rivers and the Chargers to march right down the field for the game-winning touchdown.  Then there was of course the debacle in Philadelphia, where the defense allowed the Eagles to rack up 420 yards of total offense.  Oh yeah, the Saints dropped 48 on them as well.  In fact, since the Giants started 5-0, the defense has allowed an average of 32.8 points per game over the last 5 games.  If the Giants want to make the playoffs, the defense must find a way to reverse their fortunes. 

“There are some thing we’ve got to get corrected, play some coverages a little tighter, “said Michael Boley after Sunday’s game.  “We had some chances, hands on balls, third downs.  We’ve got to make those plays.”

“There is a communication problem, but that’s an easy thing to fix,” defensive end Justin Tuck added. “I’m not too much worried about that.”

Listen, I think Tuck is a tremendous player, I think he’s a smart guy and I think he knows more about football than I know, certainly. But if the communication problems are so easy to fix, well then …

… FIX THEM!!!!!!!!!

 We’ve been hearing since after the Saints game that the players aren’t on the same page but that they will be soon because it’s real easy to get guys thinking the same thing. But there is still communication problems between the linebackers, between the corner backs and safeties, and between Bill Sheridan and the linebackers. 

“I can only speak for myself as far as what I hear and what I see,” Tuck said. “And you can tell (communication issues are) there because, when a guy scores a touchdown, guys are looking at each other like, ‘I thought this, I thought that.’ That’s not anyone’s fault; we just have to do a good job of understanding our roles in certain defenses, listening and knowing when a call is coming and being prepared for it.”

The Falcons had their way with the Giants defense

Well, Tuck, someone needs to get blamed.  In fact, does this defense have any accountability anymore? 

For fixable problems, these issues are sure taking a long time to go away. So make them go away. Now.

There is no doubt that the defense has the talent to get it done.  It all starts with the defensive line and applying pressure, and talent-wise the G-men have one of the top 5 lines in football.  Nevertheless, the Giants are just middle of the road in team sacks, with 22.  That number must go up in the final stretch of the season. 

Speaking of middle of the road, the linebackers play has been atrocious the past few weeks.  Maybe the best thing that happened to the Giants is losing Antonio Pierce.  Pierce has seen better days and it has become laughable watching him try to cover a tight end or running back.  The secondary play has been equally as disappointing, but some of that comes from the lack of pressure the front 4 is applying.  It is tough to cover wide receivers in this league when the quarter back has all day to throw the football. 

“I am concerned,” coach Tom Coughlin said when asked about his foundering defense. “We won a game and we will look at it.  I think we are capable of playing better.”

I don’t think the entire blame should be put on the shoulders of Bill Sheridan.  Obviously he has not done a good job, but the players have to start making some plays.  While I don’t think the Giants will ever be a top defense this season (despite being 2nd in yards allowed), I believe they can play well enough to get the Giants to the playoffs.  The defense has been doubted before, and has prevailed in the end.  So who am I to say they won’t turn it around?  But it must start Thursday night in Denver.  The Giants season is counting on it.

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