I’m normally a half-glass-full kind of person who tries to focus on the possible good even when things are at their most bleak. But after watching the Giants blow their record-tying fifth fourth quarter lead in Sunday’s 23-20 overtime loss to the Jets, I’m not in a generous mood. I have never seen a halfway decent team come up with so many different ways to blow a game down the stretch. The Giants are losing savants, charting previously unexplored routes to fail city.
Every facet of the team – offense, defense, special teams and coaching – contributed vital incompetence in the loss to Gang Green, dropping the Giants to 5-7 and a half game behind Washington for least incompetent team in the NFC East.
Let’s discuss the failures of the respective areas of the team.
Giants placekicker Josh Brown has been outstanding this season and is probably headed to the Pro Bowl in the NFC. Unfortunately the game ended when Brown hooked a potential game-tying 48-yard field goal in overtime, his first miss of the season. As first-time misses go, it’s not on par with Gary Anderson shanking a 38-yard field for the Vikings in the 1998 NFC Championship Game, which gave us a Super Bowl featuring Atlanta quarterback Chris Chandler. But Brown could have picked a better spot to miss his first kick. Like, say, with just under nine minutes left and the Giants ahead 20-10 and facing a fourth and 2 on the Jets goal line?
People are giving Coughlin a lot of grief for going for it in that aforementioned situation, but his mistake in my eyes was not going for it in a similar spot earlier in the game when the Giants were ahead 7-0, instead opting for a 20-yard field goal. The Giants’ last-ranked defense has proven it can’t stop anyone, allowing Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw for 390 yards Sunday. Coughlin’s mistake was in waiting so late in the game to demonstrate his lack of confidence in his defense. On fourth and short near the opponent’s goal line, they should be going for it just about every time. And certainly when they had the opportunity to go up by 17 points halfway through the fourth quarter. Their best defense is their offense, so leave the offense on the field as much as possible.
Meanwhile, what was with that bird-brained challenge earlier in the game, all over 2 yards? The Jets already had the first down and the spot of the ball was relatively meaningless. It's instances like that --- more than going for it on fourth down and short -- that spur whispers about Coughlin's competence.
The Giants had four running backs -- Orleans Darkwa, Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen and Andre Williams -- who carried more than four times but fewer than nine in Sunday's loss. How are any of them supposed to get into the flow of the game when you're swapping them out like relief pitchers on a team managed by Tony LaRussa? Darkwa is the guy. He is the most explosive back on the team and should be on the field at least on every first and second down, with Vereen in the mix on third down. Jennings and Williams have proven time and again that they're not the answer, so why keep running them out there?
This particular glass is empty, shattered and should be swept into a dustbin. This defense simply can't stop anyone when it matters most. Sure, they're opportunistic and occasionally make big plays. But countless underneath routes turn into big plays because of their lackluster tackling.
The Giants have now lost three games in a row. Whatever confidence they might have had in taking the Patriots the distance a few weeks ago has evaporated. Even if this team ekes past the rest of the NFC East, they're probably going to host Seattle in the NFC Wild Card game, and that's going to be ugly.
Big Black and Blue plays Miami next week on Monday Night Football, an opportunity for the nation to once again see the wildly flawed mediocrity that is the 2015 New York Giants, the NFL's losing savants.