|Running back Ahmad Bradshaw and the rest of the Giants had very little to smile about following a 31-13 loss to the Bengals. (US Presswire)|
If the New York Giants were correcting one or two specific issues, things wouldn't be so bad.
But instead of focusing on run defense or interior pass protection, coach Tom Coughlin and his staff are entering the Week 11 bye with a potpourri of problems following Sunday's 31-13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
There were some positives. The Giants ran the ball well and they did a much better job defending the run -- both of which are primary objectives for the team every week. But unless Coughlin can pull off some fundamental, systemic change before the Week 12 matchup with the Green Bay Packers, the Giants will be in danger of losing their grasp on the division and a playoff spot.
There are no guarantees the Giants can win another NFC East crown, even in a down year in the NFC East Division.
Let's put it this way: LG Kevin Boothe and RB Ahmad Bradshaw combined to make four tackles in Sunday's loss. Those are the sorts of bizarre statistics an offense accumulates when its quarterback throws two “foolish” interceptions (Coughlin's word) and coughs up a fumble. Of course, it wasn't all QB Eli Manning's fault. Bradshaw lost a fumble of his own, the offensive line failed to protect the pocket and WR Victor Cruz dropped a would-be touchdown pass. The good news: WR Hakeem Nicks shook off lingering knee pain to make nine catches for 75 yards, WR Ramses Barden's offensive hiatus ended with two catches for 22 yards and RB Andre Brown had 65 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. New York registered 21 first downs, but unfortunately the offense was out-possessed for the fourth straight week. Previous game's grade: F
The tackling and run defense improved from a Week 9 loss to the Steelers, but the Giants still were sloppy in coverage and that helped put New York in a quick 14-0 hole. The real sin was the way the pass rush failed to do anything of consequence. DT Linval Joseph hit Bengals QB Andy Dalton once and that was the extent of the damage. The silver lining is that the defense gave up only 275 yards, largely because the Bengals enjoyed great field position. Previous game's grade: C-
Special teams: D
CB Justin Tryon got called for running out of bounds, which negated a beautiful Steve Weatherford punt and gave Bengals PR Adam Jones a chance to reel off a 68-yard mulligan. Yes, MLB Chase Blackburn caused a fumble with a ferocious hit, but Jones' big return is another mark against a struggling punt coverage unit. K Lawrence Tynes hit both of his attempts and PR Rueben Randle had a couple of 14-yard returns, but KR David Wilson failed to make a difference for the fourth straight week. Previous game's grade: D
The issues aren't related to effort. The problems are execution, communication and attention to detail, which means the coaching staff has to evaluate its own performance. New York will be self-scouting this week, so don't be surprised to see the coaches reviving some things from earlier in the season. As for Sunday, defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has to address the issues in his secondary. CB Jayron Hosley, S Stevie Brown and S Antrel Rolle all made noticeable errors. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride was forced into relying on the passing game because of an early deficit, but you have to wonder if the Giants would have run more if they weren't trailing 14-0 before the midway mark in the second quarter. Previous game's grade: D+
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