- Some of the problems with the Giants’ defense can be fixed. When Michael Boley returns, the middle of the field shouldn’t be quite as soft. Smartly, the Saints did most of their damage in the middle of the field. Boley’s return would also make it easier for the Giants to guard tight ends.
- When/If Chris Canty and Aaron Ross return, the pass defense will improve on two levels. Canty’s long arms make it hard for the QB to pass across the middle. Aaron Ross’ return would mean that Kevin Dockery will not have to be relied upon as much in the nickel. I like Dockery, but he’s just not nearly as talented as Ross, Corey Webster or Terrell Thomas. The problem is, there is still no timetable for Canty and Ross, although both say they are feeling better (stop me if you’ve heard that before).
- One problem that cannot be fixed is CC Brown. Brown was a good depth signing by Jerry Reese, and he is good enough to stick back there when the pass rush is working. But when the defensive line cannot get a sniff of the QB, Brown can be a liability in pass defense. Aside from his physical shortcomings, he seemed to make some mental mistakes as well. On Marques Colston’s third quarter touchdown, Kevin Dockery released Colston, thinking that he had Brown to pick him up. Unfortunately, Brown was not on the same page, and Colston caught the easy score. Why the Saints’ No. 1 receiver was being covered by Dockery is another question.
- I will not be giving out an offensive or defensive game ball this week. The only game ball will go to kick/ punt returner Domenik Hixon who amassed 281 total yards on nine returns. For the better part of last season and all of this season, I have been calling for Domenik Hixon to be the team’s return man. If not for Hixon, this game would have been even more embarrassing. His 303 all purpose yards (return yards + rush yards + receiving yards) are the most for a Giant. Ever.
Seeing what Hixon can do again makes me think two things:
1) Sinorice Moss does not have the instincts nor the burst of speed to ever be an effective return man.
2) If Hixon is ever taken off of return duties for a non-injury related reason, the entire coaching staff should be fired on the spot.
- Besides Hixon's great game, some bright spots were young receivers Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham. Manningham made a nice grab on a ball thrown a little late by Eli Manning, snatching it away from Darren Sharper for a touchdown. Nicks had a couple of nice plays in garbage time, including a 58-yard reception and a 37-yard touchdown catch from David Carr.
- Not that it likely would have changed the outcome, but the refs made a handful of bad to awful calls; none worse than the phantom holding call on Shaun O' Hara that negated a terrific scramble by Eli Manning and a great catch by Brandon Jacobs for a touchdown. There was also a ticky-tack pass interference call on Corey Webster. You could tell by Marques Colston’s bewildered smile that Webster didn’t interfere with him.
There was also a bogus offensive pass interference called on Domenik Hixon as well as a Saints horsecollar against Hixon that went un-called.
Again, these calls probably wouldn’t have changed the outcome, but that doesn’t take any blame away from the refs, who for one game, performed like MLB playoff umpires.
- Nine penalties for 110 yards is not acceptable. As I mentioned above, some of it was due to bad calls, but the majority of the penalties were self-inflicted. Tom Coughlin cannot be pleased, and he will let the players hear it this week. To me, the most disappointing penalties were the face mask and horse collar on the Saints’ kick returns. Those are totally avoidable.
- I also have a beef with a particular NFL rule that came into play Sunday. If a player steps out of bounds, they cannot be the first to touch the ball upon entering. So if that player, who cannot legally touch the ball, makes a catch, why is it a five-yard loss and a re-play of the down? It should be tantamount to an incomplete pass, which would just be a loss of downs. When the QB makes an illegal forward pass, it’s a loss of down. Why is it any different when a receiver makes an illegal catch? It seems like a flaw in the rule to me.
- Not that it made a difference, but Derek Hagan, you’re on the hands team for a reason: to use your hands. Lawrence Tynes kicked a perfect pop-up onside kick that went right into the hands of wide receiver Derek Hagan. But Hagan did his best Ron Dixon impression, and the ball bounced off of his hands and into the ground, where the Saints recovered. Obviously this play meant nothing, but it would have been nice for something to go our way.
Yes, this game looked bad. That’s because it was bad.
But there is some reason for hope. In a potential rematch, if a couple of the five blown calls go in the Giants’ favor and the Giants can manage to get healthy, they can definitely compete with the Saints. The coaching staff will make the necessary adjustments.
Remember, there were a couple of plays early on that really could have changed the landscape of the game: Corey Webster’s dropped interception on the first drive and Eli Manning missing Steve Smith by one inch on what would have been a long touchdown pass. If they were able to execute on those two plays, we would have been looking at a totally different game.