Back to the drawing board for Perry Fewell and the New York Giants' defense.
In the season-opening home loss to the hated Dallas Cowboys, on a night meant to celebrate February's Super Bowl victory, the G-Men's defense was thrashed by Tony Romo, public enemy No. 1, second-year running back DeMarco Murray, and some guy named Ogletree.
The Cowboys' quarterback was 22-of-29 for 307 yards with three touchdowns and one interception, which yielded a tremendous 129.5 QB rating.
Murray bulldozed his way to 131 yards at a 6.6 yards per carry clip and relative unknown Kevin Ogletree had the game of his life, with eight catches for 114 yards and two scores.
Eli Manning didn't have an awful game, but he wasn't provided the legitimate chance to spark some of his typical fourth-quarter magic as New York's defense struggled mightily to get off the field (other than after a Cowboys' touchdown).
Yes, it's only Week 1, so Giants' fans, don't worry. There's plenty of time to mend the mistakes and rebound to once again become the bend-but-don't-break unit that was instrumental in the world championship a season ago.
Here's the blueprint.
1. Find More Depth
Another year, another battle with the incessant injury bug. Prince Amukamara is hurt, again. Terrell Thomas is on IR. Fourth cornerback Michael Coe, who started last night, injured his hamstring in the second half.
Justin Tryon, the team's No. 5 defensive back, was victimized immediately when he stepped onto the field, and looked completely out of sorts when the Cowboys built their lead, especially on the game-sealing touchdown from Romo to Miles Austin in the fourth quarter on 1st and 30.
Simply put, Big Blue can't move forward as a secondary or as a defense with reserve backups manning critical positions.
Whether they need to scour the waiver wire for a veteran or plug in other defensive backs to see how they fare against opposing wideouts, something must be done.
They can't rely on overcoming devastating injuries every year.
In a postmortem discussion with Bleacher Report Associate NFL editor and Giants fans Wes O'Donnell, I learned a little about what could potentially be the root of the problems in New York's secondary.
He wrote to me: "I said it before the game, communication in the secondary has always been a problem for Giants. Rolle is ALWAYS late."
There were a few instances in which Rolle did seem to arrive late from his safety spot, but his safety partner Kenny Phillips seemed to be the tardy one on Ogletree's long touchdown in the third quarter.
Austin's final nail in the coffin TD catch late in the fourth was thrown to Rolle's side, but the veteran simply overran the play, and Tryon made a putrid attempt on the ball.
Whether better communication would lead to vastly improved or only marginally improved play, the New York secondary clearly needs to be on the same page collectively, especially if backups are forced to stay in the lineup.
3. Keep Jason Pierre-Paul On The Outside
Jason Pierre-Paul didn't have a completely dominating game stat-wise, but he was tremendously powerful pushing back the Cowboys' offensive linemen all evening.
He often filled the interior lineman vacancy left by the injured Chris Canty, but Linval Joseph and Rocky Bernard showed enough penetration capability that the budding star should stay on his traditional position.
When playing against relatively athletic quarterbacks, Pierre-Paul's inside rush won't be enough. Many times last night, when Romo felt the pressure up the middle being applied by JPP, he simply scrambled to the outside and his receivers broke off their intended routes to find openings.
Sure, pressure from the outside could lead to signal-callers simply stepping up in the pocket, but JPP can utilize more of his natural ability rushing from the edge.
Continual disruption from the front four is imperative, especially with Corey Webster getting torched last night in man coverage.
Until the pressure is constantly forced, the Giants' cornerbacks mustn't be so aggressive jumping routes and biting on double moves.
4. Don't Panic
The Giants weren't perfect last year, and they probably won't be this year, either. Remember, similar injuries led to New York's defense being ranked No. 28 in terms of total aerial yards allowed and 22nd in average yards surrendered per drive.
In the end, Fewell was able to get ample pass-rushing production from his front four, a unit that will instantly improve when Chris Canty returns from injury.
New York has a handful of bad plays to watch on tape, correct, and develop a new plan to stop in the future.
With JPP, Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and some hungry defensive tackles, the Giants will apply pressure and force many quarterbacks into bad decisions that will lead to turnovers.
Fewell's a good defensive coordinator and has talent in his front four. With time, he'll fix the mistakes and, again, make the Giants a team with a respectable, if not special, defensive unit.
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