The MVP of the Eagles today was shared by three people: Eli Manning, John Carney and Kevin Gilbrown. While I will not take anything away from the Eagles, THE GIANTS BEAT THEMSELVES TODAY. Like we said this week, there will be no excuses if this team loses because they were afforded all the opportunities with advanced warning of how the game would play out. Indeed, there were no surprises! The only surprise, which really should not be one, is how cranially-challenged Kevin Gilbrown really is. But we will get to that in a bit.
1) I have said it here after we won Super Bowl XLII--> Eli Manning has a free pass for life. He won me, he won you, he won all the Giants a championship. So I will not serve him up and skewer the guy. I have no animosity or anger at #10. It was what it was for him. He played very poorly today. His longest pass, a connection to Hixon, was another backfooted prayer that happened to be fortunate enough to randomly hit Hixon. A broken clock is right twice a day, and that was Eli, who was guessing with his throws all afternoon and came up inaccurate too often in too BIG a game. Jim Johnson told the FOX TV crew that he was putting it on Eli by committing to stopping the run. ELI DID NOT ANSWER. If Eli answers the Giants win. If Eli does not answer, the Giants lose. It is not that complicated. When you think back to the "pick 6" by Manning throwing off his back foot into the wind in Q1 to Samuel, Manning effectively did not contribute ANYTHING offensively. 6 of the 9 points were set up by a Bradshaw kickoff runback and a Robbins INT. Technically speaking, that makes Eli essentially NEGATIVE FOUR POINTS WHILE OUT ON THE FIELD.
But Eli had some help in this crime of the Giants being beaten by themselves. He did not have any help from the dartboard poster child of this New York Giants blog..
2) Kevin Gilbrown. For those of you who do not know, we have been calling Mr. Gilbride "Gilbrown" because 'brown' is short for Dave Brown, the official curse word of the 2008 season here at ultimatenyg. Gilbrown was brown today. In such a big and horrendous way. All you have to do is go back to Carl Banks' discussion on WFAN which we painstakingly detailed 5 days ago. Banks spelled it out- the playcalling was hampering the team. The red zone inefficiency (0 for 3) and 3rd down inconsistency (3 for 13) was going to come back to bite you in the playoffs if you were in the wrong place (tight game) at the wrong time (ie Eli Manning playing poorly). We discussed in detail many weeks ago that what is needed as the antidote for opposing teams committing to stopping the run (WITH BURRESS NO LONGER ON THE ROSTER) is to do the following:
a) run flares to the RBs
b) run screens to the RBs
c) run delayed TE screens
d) draw plays
e) play action
f) quick slants
WHERE WERE THESE PLAYS TODAY? There wasn't a single screen. THERE WAS NOT A SINGLE SLANT!! So when your team is in the red zone 3x and comes away with 9 points, it is going to be a killer.
3) John Carney. This one is on the coaching staff, actually, squarely on Tom Coughlin. If there is one thing everyone knew, it is was that the 40something Carney did not have a long leg. So Coughlin is smart in activating Tynes for kickoffs, but why not use Tynes for the long FGs that Carney cannot make? Yes, they were with the wind, but you use Tynes because it was Carney who missed the LONG ONE two weeks ago vs Minnesota. This is not Monday AM QB. We have been asking (more than few times this season) for both FG kickers to be dressed for these reasons. Carney missing these FGs is more a symptom of the Manning problem/Gilbrown disease than anything else.
The rest of these items are subplots to the loss:
4) Matthias Kiwanuka was invisible later in the season and was once again unable to make the impact we needed.
5) The DL lack of push up the middle from Robbins and Cofield in pass rush was clearly a problem, especially after some early (Q1) effectiveness disappeared.
6) Jacobs running wide (getting strung out way too many times for no impact and NO POUNDING) and not north/south was a symptom of the Gilbride disease.
7) Bradshaw's # was not called a single time all game. Egregious misuse of personnel. At a certain point you have to accept the fact that Bradshaw can break a big play, and he got ZERO touches. 0.0. Those plays mentioned about were a perfect way to put him out there in space to utilize his skills. It was absent. Instead, all we got was one pass (ALL GAME!) to Ward in the flat that Ward dropped.
8) Boss got a lot more balls thrown to him, but Manning missed him also on 3 occasions that I can recall.
9) Manning needs to learn to throw a tight spiral beginning NOW. In the offseason. Simms changed his mechanics to make the Meadowlands in Nov/Dec/Jan an advantage. Until he does so, you can easily argue that it is a DISADVANTAGE to be playing at home. Indeed, what is Manning's playoff record at the Meadowlands? 0-2 I believe.
10) I am tired of watching LBers chasing RBs. Spags had more safeties on them this game, and it worked, but Spags will be gone soon and these slow LBers will not. Pls draft FAST LBers by committing stronger resources (high picks) toward this position.
There are so many other items that could be discussed in this recap, but it will have to wait for coming days. After all, we now have plenty of time in the offseason to examine the responses needed. Certainly, it was not the Giants coaching staff's fault that Plaxico Burress essentially undermined this season. But it was the Giants coaching staff's fault that proper adjustments were not made to put the Giants in the best position to win. Gilbrown and (ultimately) Coughlin will have to deal with that. One of the things said here back in September and October when the Giants were kicking major brown on opposing teams was that the offense and the team were winning DESPITE GILBROWN, not because of him. When Burress was lost, this put more pressure on Gilbrown to work with less and adapt to the new hand being dealt. He was not equal to the task.
Ultimatenyg is a home to many people who are passionate about football and the New York Giants. I will put on a new hat right now: Ultimatenyg Grief Counselor. We have had a death in the family, a Giant death. The 2008 Giants season. So that you can manage this painful process, I offer you a personal journey through this bitter and painful period. The 5 stages of grief are:
1) Denial- I cannot believe we lost and are out of the playoffs. What happened?! Was this a bad dream? Someone wake me up from this bad dream and tell me it wasn't real.
2) Anger- That Motherbrowner Gilbrown. I hate him.
3) Bargaining- If I promise to be good and not send a letter bomb to Kevin Gilbrown, will the Giants be nice enough to release him?!
4) Depression- Sorry, not there yet. In a few days when I have to deal with the thought that the Eagles and Cardinals are playing for the NFC Championship, I will start to get nauseous and depressed.
5) Acceptance- The Giants were given plenty of advanced warning about what they needed to do back in W14 in order to win. They did not take advantage of their enormous opportunity and they have to learn from this if they want to win next season. Losing guys like Strahan, Umenyiora and Burress are body blows that are hard to come back from, so let's regroup for the draft and win it all in next season.
Thanks everyone for a great year.