September 2007


I. Indignities

Depending on how one looks at it, there’s either a lot or not very much I can say about this game. The problem – and by “problem” I mean “defense” – has been pretty well documented in the papers the past couple days.

I’ll get to all that, but first, I want to share with you some observations from my depressing-ass day at Giants Stadium. I’ve been to the past three Giants home games; Sunday was my third consecutive dismal trip to the swamp.

Between the Eagles game last year (best remembered for the Trent Cole pick-six, and which should have been the coup de grace on our season if the NFC wasn’t such a complete mockery), the Saints game (um… which should have been the coup de grace on our season if the NFC wasn’t such a complete mockery), and this Packers game, it’s hard to say which was the worst: it’s like comparing slavery, the holocaust and Darfur: Each was uniquely awful in its own way.

An aggravating circumstance this past Sunday was the outrageous parking situation. Basically, because of the Xanadu complex and the groundbreaking for the new stadium, parking is scarce and only available to those with passes. Having gotten our tickets from Craigslist, my friend Wong and I didn’t have a pass, so we were directed out of the parking lot and handed a budget little xeroxed map that was supposed to lead us to supplementary parking.

I’m not sure if 1) the supplementary parking simply didn’t exist; or 2) the map was too unintelligible to make much sense of – it was basically a map of all the highways surrounding the Meadowlands with a confusing set of directions and no real destination – but after a frustrating and nerve-wracking 20 minutes of driving around, Wong and I spotted some people in Giants jerseys walking like refugees on the side of Route 120.

We passed by a hotel parking lot and saw a bunch of jersey-clad people get out of the car, so we came to the conclusion that no, there was no designated parking lot, but was rather an everybody-fending-for-themselves situation in parking lots of various roadside establishments.

A couple-hundred feet later, Wong and I spotted a Bank of America, and though there were no spots in the lot-proper, there was a little unused area adjacent to the parking lot – weedy grass, tire fragments, broken bottles – where other cars were parked, so we figured it was probably ok. We parked, contemplated how far away we were from the stadium, and hoped we wouldn’t get towed.

And then we walked. On the side of a highway, single-file through the contaminated New Jersey roadside grass, with cars whizzing by us, for around 25 minutes, we walked. At least there were other people walking with us to let us know that we were in the right place, and at least we got to the game on time, but the whole episode was the first of many indignities we Giants fans had to swallow. It sucked.

So, along with a lot of other shit, this organization needs to address the parking situation.

 

II. The Meadowlands Crowd is Dead

When I was a kid, I fell in love with this image of the Meadowlands as this cold, raw, raucous joint, the quintessential tough-place-to-play. But last Sunday, even before the game got out of hand, the place was completely dead, as it has been on many other of my trips to the Meadowlands.

It was a strangely laid-back, apathetic atmosphere, as if was inappropriate to get rowdy for a 1 o’clock game, and the game itself was secondary to enjoying a calm, sunny Sunday. Whatever a “college atmosphere” is, Giants Stadium on Sunday was the opposite of that.

And that’s when things were going well. After the Driver touchdown following Bradshaw’s fumble, the place rapidly and silently cleared out. By the end of the game, there were probably more Packer fans than Giant fans – when DeShawn Wynn scored his second touchdown with 4:22 remaining, the pro-Pack crowd produced a disturbingly loud roar. We were 0-2 and the Packer fans had taken over our place.

I. Props to Dave Diehl

All the talk surrounding the Giants this week has centered around injuries, the horrendous defense, and how good Eli looked. But here’s something important that got lost in the shuffle: Dave Diehl did very well in pass protection in his first regular season appearance at left tackle.

This is no small matter: coming into the year, this was one of the most important questions. And while Sunday night’s game certainly doesn’t give us a definitive answer, it’s at least a pretty good sign.

I went back over the DVR and watched Diehl on each of the game’s 44 pass plays. As far as I could tell (which isn’t that far, considering I don’t know the blocking schemes and couldn’t get such a good handle on the spacing from the standard sideline camera), Diehl did a pretty flawless job on all but five plays. That’s pretty good, especially considering he was going up against DeMarcus Ware on a lot of those plays, one of the league’s quickest pass-rushers.

Here are the blemishes to an otherwise excellent night:

–On two plays, Ware raced around him on a speed-rush and got a piece of Eli, but didn’t knock him down. His throw was affected on one of these two plays;

–At another point, Diehl allowed Ware to make a nice inside move and get close to Eli. This, along with some other mild fuck-ups along the line, forced Eli to slide right in the pocket and not see a wide open Amani on the left side. With his options limited to the right side, Eli tried to squeeze a throw in to Plax, but Plax fell down, and the pass was intercepted by Jacques Reeves;

–On another play, he seemed to get crossed up on an assignment, helping Seubert with a double-team while a blitzing safety ran unblocked from the corner and forced Eli to dump a short pass to Toomer for no-gain;

–And he honored the legacy of his predecessor at left tackle by flinching for a false start.

But the good far outweighed the bad. Against many of Ware’s speed-rushes, Diehl intelligently rode him outside past the pocket. On others, he showed some good awareness of space and angles to compensate for his less-than-ideal quickness. Not once did he get overpowered.

So it was a good first audition for Diehl, who is hopefully on his way toward confirming Jerry Reese’s belief in him. He’ll face a pretty stern test this week against the Packers, who will rotate Cullen Jenkins – who at over 300 pounds, is a run-stuffing stud who can rush the passer as well, notching 6.5 sacks last year – and KGB, who isn’t nearly as quick off the edge as he used to be but can still get after the quarterback and represents a change-of-pace from Jenkins.

 

II. Ward Gets the Nod

Len Pasquarelli reports that Derrick Ward will start at tailback this week. This is obviously no surprise; we all would have been pretty disappointed if Droughns had been named.

Pasquarelli’s a great reporter and an incredibly prolific writer – you can tell by the sheer length of his articles how much he loves what he does. But since nobody else is gonna call him out for this mistake, I’m going to:

“A hard charger with a low-to-the-ground build, Ward lacks Jacobs’ long run ability, but is a physical runner between the tackles.”

Wrong on the last two points. If he’s anything, Ward is a home-run threat – witness his 44 yard-burst last week, twenty yards longer than any play Rueben Droughns had from scrimmage last year. And if he’s not anything, it’s a between-the-tackles runner. He’s quick and fast, but, hard and low to the ground as he may run, lacks tackle-breaking and pile-moving power.

I will continue my plea for the G-Men to realize what a talent they have in Ahmad Bradshaw, and hope they will work him into the rotation as soon as possible. It looks like they’re coming around a bit, as he took some snaps with the first team yesterday.

Bradshaw’s best trait as a runner is his instinctiveness: he’s not, he’s not big, he’s just good. At least he was at Marshall, and I think he will be in the pros.

While re-watching the game, I noticed on one of his kick-returns – the one he took down the right sideline to the 41 – that he deliberately changed his speed to lull a defender asleep before exploding past him. It was really a pretty slick little move and to me, speaks of a quality that is a lot more meaningful than whatever his 40-time is.

Think of running the football like pitching: it’s not how fast you run, but where you run, as well as your ability to prevent defenders from getting good reads on tackles (pitching analogy still applies). If you need an example of this, look no further than Tiki Barber, who told Ben McGrath of The New Yorker that he hardly ever ran full speed while enjoying the best seasons any Giants running back ever has.

 

III. Madison will Replace R.W. in the Starting Lineup

I know people are pretty down on R.W., but let me point out that both egregious touchdowns he allowed were probably not entirely his fault. I’ll refer back to my recap post on this one:

 

–T.O.’s first Touchdown early in the Third Quarter:

To give some context, it’s not as if Dallas wasn’t gonna score on this possession anyway: On their previous three plays, they had put together gains of 14, 21, and 18 yards.

Still, their touchdown was particularly bewildering.

It looked as if R.W. was in press coverage against T.O. on the right side. He bumped him and then ran with him, understandably a couple of strides behind. Only there was no over-the-top help, and T.O. was wide open to catch the touchdown pass.

Press coverage against T.O. with no safety help in sight? It had to be a blown coverage. Either way, the ‘Boys extended their lead to 24-16.

–Sam Hurd’s Touchdown late in the Fourth Quarter:

The coup de grace.

Romo drops back and hits Sam Hurd on an inside dig. Hurd doesn’t break stride as he streaks to the endzone unmolested (strange word, yes).

Who’s fault was this? I don’t know, but it certainly didn’t look like it was R.W.’s fault for getting beaten by a half step on an inside move.

Maybe it was Pierce’s fault – he didn’t get enough depth in his drop zone.

Maybe it was James Butler’s fault – he was nowhere to be found after Hurd caught the ball, and was easily eluded as Hurd took it the distance to bury the G-Men. 45-35, Cowboys.

 

Besides, it’s not as if Madison is so great, or even the least bit competent. On the bright side, at least Webster seemed to be absent from a lot of the ugliness Sunday night.

 

IV. The Short Giants Career of Robert Douglas is Over

He’s been replaced on the roster by some guy named Madison Hedgecock, who was waived by the Rams a couple of days ago. Isn’t Madison a really trendy girls name these days? It’s hard to have much of an opinion on this one.

 

IV. Injury Updates:

Eli: He threw at practice yesterday. It’s gonna be a game-time decision – it’s all about the swelling, along with his strength and range of motion.

Osi: I guess the same goes for him, but it’s looking pretty unlikely that he’ll play. He had some quote about not feeling good about playing if he hasn’t practiced. Time to get on your shit, Mike.

Jacobs: Out 3-5 weeks

Gibril: Apparently something happened with his quad, but he practiced on a limited basis Thursday.

An injury to our only experienced safety is the last thing we need. The only other safeties on the roster are Michael Johnson and Craig Dahl, a rookie 7th rounder and a rookie free agent, respectively. Are we sure cutting Demps, who was having a good camp after a good last few games last year, was the right thing to do?

Tynes: He didn’t kick in practice on Thursday, but he’ll be good to go. By the way, 3-for-3 with a 44-yarder last week? Not bad.

Wilkinson: He’s gonna get some snaps after coming back from a subluxed kneecap (which, in case you didn’t know, is a slight dislocation. I’ve had around seven of these, no exaggeration). Gerris has kind of become a forgotten man, but he’s closer than people think to being counted on as a contributor.

Dockery: He left the Dallas game with an ankle injury that literally hasn’t been reported on since. According to the official injury report, he hasn’t practiced this week.

I. Eli:

Even though there’s still no consensus on what, exactly, Eli’s injury is – did he separate his shoulder or just bruise his A/C joint? And what is an A/C joint anyway? – the practical upshot is beginning to clear up a little.

Basically, Eli has some swelling and some pain, but suffered no structural damage. For this reason, it seems as if he won’t risk any further injury if he plays.

So the questions now are: how bad is the swelling? Will the swelling preclude him from playing this week (or next week, or even in three or four weeks)? And how much pain can he endure?

I don’t think anyone knows the answer to these questions right now. It basically all depends on how Eli’s body reacts.

My best guess is that as of now, the swelling is pretty bad, but the Giants can at least hope that it can be brought down in time for Sunday’s game. But that’s a best-case scenario. There also exists the possibility that the swelling won’t go down for a really long time, and, high pain-threshold or not, Eli won’t have the range of motion needed to make the necessary throws.

Let me take the time right now to second Mike Garafolo and commend Eli for his toughness. There’s been a lot to criticize Eli about these past couple of years, but he is nothing if not tough.

The reason the severity of his injury came as such of a shock is because Eli totally downplayed it at the time and after the game. Think about this: he’s never missed a game, he never writhes in pain on the ground only to be perfectly fine a few plays later, and he never blames poor performance on injuries.

It’s been a rough beginning, but I’m hoping for a happy middle and end to the Eli in Big Blue story. Maybe not a Peyton-esque happy ending, but a good career nonetheless.

And maybe this toughness, along with other overlooked qualities that have either not emerged yet or that people have chosen to disregard, will endure Eli to G-Men nation as the years go by.

At this point, it’s obvious that he’s not Peyton or anything close. Maybe only after everyone realizes this once and for all can we stop harping on who he isn’t and start appreciating him for who he is.

**

Back to reality. We’re 0-1, and there’s a chance that the Hefty Lefty will start at quarterback Sunday against a not-bad Packers team and possibly beyond. All the warm and fuzzy talk coming out of camp – “happy horseshit,” as my high school football coach would say – was great, but we’re facing a pretty dire situation in Week 2.

Which brings us back to Lorenzen, and the obvious question: why the fuck don’t we have a better backup quarterback?

I don’t want to bury the guy too much, but after watching a lot of him this preseason and of course on Sunday (though that’s not a fair basis for judgment), it appears his only NFL-caliber skill is his strong throwing arm. In every other area that I can get any sense of – throwing accuracy, throwing touch (!), and pocket presence – he seems pretty terrible.

Is it possible that the Giants brass deliberately chose a backup quarterback who is a complete non-threat to the beleaguered Eli? It sounds a little crazy, and I’m usually the last person to propose this type of shit, but what if, say, A.J. Feeley was our backup Q? Or even Brian Griese. Or Jeff Garcia?

Eli is already not Peyton, and that’s bad enough in the eyes of a lot of people. But if there was a credible backup behind him? That would be the last thing he needs.

 

II. Osi:

All the attention on Eli has overshadowed the coverage of Osi’s injury, which is now being labeled “irritation” in the lateral meniscus of his left knee.

First, we were told he was out for the year. Then we were told it would be at least two months. Then we were told it was a day-to-day.

Basically, we know even less about Osi’s injury than Eli’s.

But make no mistake: while obviously less significant than Eli’s, his injury is a huge deal and would be dominating the headlines any other week.

Our secondary is pretty bad – that’s a given. So our only hope of having a not-awful pass defense lies in our pass rush, which can potentially be very good if we have the trio of Osi, Strahan, and Tuck healthy.

But if we lose Osi for an extended period of time, the chances of us having a good pass rush decrease significantly. Yes, we still have Strahan and Tuck, but what are the odds that the two of them will both stay healthy and be good? Realistically.

I’m really fucking tired of having our best defensive players on the sidelines. We’re in trouble if he’s out.

**

On a related note, Arthur Staple reported on his blog that Coughlin did not rule out the possibility that Kiwanuka could return to defensive end if Osi were to miss an extended period of time.

Personally, I’d be disappointed if they aborted the Kiwanuka at linebacker experiment so quickly. Yes, I too was discouraged by his performance the other night, but please, people: it was only one game. A little perspective, please.

The guy is still a phenomenal athlete who is terrific in space. He can become a good linebacker yet, but it will take more than one game.

 

III. Jacobs:

This one is definite. He’s out 3-5 weeks with a sprained MCL. As I wrote in my post-game post (unintentionally using the same word with different meanings), the question of Jacobs’ next injury might be more a matter of “when” than “if.”

“It’s an oft-made point, but Jacobs’ body-type and running style leave him extremely vulnerable to hits like the one that sidelined him tonight. I’ve always compared him to Jeremy Shockey, who has the same long-limbed build and high-contact style. Think of how nick-up prone Shockey is right now, and imagine how much worse things would be if he were carrying the ball every play like a running back?”

So now we get to see Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw. Ward has a nice little quick burst, but doesn’t seem to have any power. Bradshaw has always excited me as a runner, but his two fumbles (none of which were lost) against the Cowboys last week are cause for a lot of concern.

And maybe we’ll see a little Rueben Droughns as well. He’s pretty bad, but he won’t kill us as part of a running back trio.

 

IV. Other Injuries:

–Barry Cofield hyperextended his knee but will be fine this coming week. I’m not sure how that makes sense, but whatever.

–It’s pretty unbelievable that William Joseph is still on the Giants. The disappointments continue for him: he was placed on IR with a back injury and is out for the year.

I. Eli and His Health:

What’s Eli’s health status? That’s obviously the million dollar question.

The defense was horrendous tonight, but the offense was great. Not as great as the defense was horrendous, but great nonetheless. And nobody was better than Eli: he made all the reads and all the throws, time and again taking the offense downfield in adverse situations and turning what could have been a blowout into a winnable track meet.

His stats speak for themselves. So do his body language and the way that he inspired confidence that the game was within reach even as the Pokes kept scoring.

Now, it would obviously be ridiculous to get over-exuberant about Eli right now (especially considering the injury). The guy has been a notoriously fast starter, finishing each of his three seasons by folding in ugly fashion. But we Giants fans really have no choice but to hang our hats on the guy. Tonight’s performance, his excellent preseason, and the flashes he’s shown in the past give us reason to do so.

His one mistake tonight was the interception by Jacques Reeves on that comeback to Plax. Plax fell down on the play, but Reeves jumped that route pretty good – I think he would have made that play even if Plax hadn’t fallen down.

But whatever. I’m sure we’re all fine with a 4:1 touchdown to interception ratio.

And I’m sure that we’re all most definitely not fine with what we’ve seen from Jared Lorenzen, who was pretty God-awful all preseason and, in only a series of work, managed to look pretty horrendous tonight against a prevent defense.

First, he vastly overshot an open Plax on a fly pattern on 3rd down; then, on 4th down, he basically ended the game by mysteriously sliding before the first down marker. Granted our chances of winning at this point were slim, but the bizarre short-of-the-marker slide was the nail in our coffin.

So we’re back to the question of Eli’s health. After watching all the post-game news conferences, I’m optimistic that he’ll be back next Sunday.

Here’s what I heard:

From Colonel Tom:

“On the two-point play he went down on his shoulder. His shoulder started to stiffen up. He came in and threw a touchdown pass, but after that we just felt like we needed to make sure that we got him iced down so we could have the best chance of getting that under control as fast as possible.”

From Eli:

“It feels just a little tight and a little sore right now. I think I just bruised it. So, I’m gonna get an MRI tomorrow but I was still able to throw on it. I threw the last touchdown to Plaxico on that last drive with it so, I feel like I can still make all the throws. It’s just a little tight right now, a little sore.

“As the time went on it just got a little more sore and tightened up…. When they got the final touchdown, it was a situation where I didn’t want to go in there and make anything worse.”

Ok, I’ll accept this. And I have no problem that we basically conceded the game after the backbreaking Sam Hurd touchdown: given our defense’s inability to make a single play all night, there was really no way we were winning that game.

But Eli’s health will be the story of the week. We need him back as soon as possible.

 

Ia. More on Eli: A Post-Script to the Eli-Tiki Bitch-Fest:

I haven’t really touched on Tiki v. Eli or Tiki v. Coughlin. To me, it’s pretty obvious that Tiki’s has been a pretty substantial tool in recent weeks.

Now, please bear in mind that I would never say that Tiki is a tool: I’m merely saying that he’s being a tool, in the same way that Crash Davis said the home plate umpire made a cocksucking call and didn’t call him a cocksucker.

Those who read this blog regularly know that I love Tiki, and so long as he doesn’t murder a member of my immediate family, I always will. Check out my borderline homoerotic love poem to him, or my study of his 234-yard game against the Redskins last year, which rivals O-Dawg from “Menace II Society” in the pantheon of obsessive attention to slow-mo detail on a taped recording.

But he’s been acting like a schmuck, no doubt. For more on this perspective, check out Deadspin’s Will Leitch’s “Kindly Plea for Tiki Barber to Shut the Hell Up.”

But tonight, both on the national NBC telecast and then later on Mike’d Up, he appeared to be trying to back away from his previous dick comments.

Here’s what he said on Mike’d Up about Eli:

“If you watched this game today, he carried himself with a confidence and a wherewithal and an “I’m gonna put you guys on my back.” And it showed. I mean, the four touchdowns, and a couple of huge throws to Plaxico and Amani. You can see that the leadership qualities and the attn to detail and the things that it takes to take your team to another level are there.”

So there you go. Tiki went too far about Eli during the preseason, then added fuel to the fire by vigorously defending himself. To his credit, however, he took the opportunity tonight to try to make things right. Let’s leave it at that and start talking more important things.

 

II. Other Injuries

Osi and Jacobs. Wow. If not for the awesome performance of our offense, tonight’s game would have been some Murphy’s Law shit: The quarterback goes down, the running back goes down, and our best pass rusher goes down. What an absolute fucking disaster.

The injury to Osi (something with his lower leg; he’s going for an MRI tomorrow) occurred on the Cowboys first drive, and spelled disaster for the rest of the night. Our lack of pass rush wasn’t our only problem, but it made our already struggling safety/linebacker pass defenders look even worse.

I haven’t poured over the DVRd game yet, but Strahan did not look ready – the combination of he and Awasom was pretty silent on the left side. Tuck, moving over to the right side, was quiet as well (save for the third quarter sack when he broke out with the baby-cradling dance).

Without any semblance of a pass rush, Romo was able to pick us apart with impunity. He didn’t even have to avail himself of his athleticism – his best attribute – to put up the best quarterback numbers of the week against us.

As for Jacobs (knee-sprain), who knows how long he’ll be out for? And who knows if/when this will happen again?

It’s an oft-made point, but Jacobs body-type and running-style leave him extremely vulnerable to hits like the one that sidelined him tonight. I’ve always compared him to Jeremy Shockey, who has the same long-limbed build and high-contact style. Think of how nick-up-prone Shockey is right now, and imagine how much worse things would be if he were carrying the ball every play like a running back?

Jacobs looked pretty good tonight (6 runs for 28 yards); it would definitely be a blow if he got hurt. Ward looked really good and clearly has some talent, but remember that his numbers are dubious considering they were achieved when the Cowboys ahead the whole time he was in and were therefore geared up to stop the pass.

So after the first game, we’re left with an 0-1 record and three injuries to three of our most important players.

 

III. The Defense

Where to begin here?

We gave up 45 points. We couldn’t stop the run, rush the passer, or guard their receivers. It was an absolute disaster in all phases of defense. There is absolutely nothing for us to hang our hats on as we pick up the pieces for the rest of the season.

It would be kinda ridiculous for me to cite specifically infuriating plays; after all, most of the plays the Cowboys ran were pretty maddening for the G-Men faithful. But fuck it. Here are some plays I can’t stop thinking about:

 

12:01 in the Second Quarter: 1st and 10 from the Cowboys 44:

Romo fakes the handoff to Marion Barber, then looks downfield to survey the scene before determining that nobody is open. Fortunately for Romo, Barber is wide open on the left side: somehow, outside linebacker Matthias Kiwanuka has lost sight of Barber and has abandoned his responsibility in the left flat.

Barber catches the ball, eludes the out-of-position Kiwanuka, and doesn’t stop running until he’s tackled at the 27. It’s 1st and 10 for the ‘Boys after a 29-yard gain, and it’s the inexperienced Kiwanuka’s fault.

10:06 in the Second Quarter: 4th and 1 from the Giants 18:

Pierce, Butler, and Webster all miss tackles (Butler most egregiously), as Barber bounces an off-tackle run outside and turns the corner for the 18-yard touchdown. 10-6 Cowboys.

4:07 in the Second Quarter: 2nd and 17 from the Giants 12:

Jason Whitten, who killed us all game but especially in the first half (5 catches for 78 yards) leaks into a soft-spot in the zone created by two inexperienced outside linebackers: Kawika Mitchell, who inexplicably drifted away from Whitten, who appeared to be the only man in his zone; and Matthias Kiwanuka, who was too late getting over to make any kind of play on the ball.

Romo zipped a nice throw in there to put the ‘Boys up 17-6.

12:07 in the Third Quarter: 1st and 10 from the Giants 22:

To give some context, it’s not as if Dallas wasn’t gonna score on this possession anyway: On their previous three plays, they had put together gains of 14, 21, and 18 yards.

Still, their touchdown was particularly bewildering.

It looked as if R.W. was in press coverage against T.O. on the right side: he bumped him and then ran with him, understandably a couple of strides behind. Only there was no over-the-top help, and T.O. was wide open to catch the touchdown pass.

Press coverage against T.O. with no safety help in sight? It had to be a blown coverage. Either way, the ‘Boys extender the lead to 24-16.

1:18 in the Third Quarter: 2nd and Goal from the Giants 9:

A strong interior pass rush forces Romo to the outside. Unfortunately, Kiwanuka, who had outside contain responsibility on the play, took an inside angle to Romo and gave up the outside edge. Romo took advantage and ran around the bend for the easy touchdown. Cowboys 31-Giants 19.

11:52 in the Fourth Quarter: 2nd and 11 from the Giants 47:

Once again, Romo has all day to throw. He sits back and hits T.O. dragging across the middle of the field. James Butler misses another tackle, and the Cowboys go up 38-22.

But more than anyone else, it was Gibril Wilson’s fault. Playing underneath, Wilson was way too late to react and get back in his drop zone, which gave T.O. a lot of space to maneuver against the overmatched Butler.

Another easy score for the Pokes.

3:11 in the Fourth Quarter: 3rd and 7 from the Cowboys 49:

The coup de grace.

Romo drops back and hits Sam Hurd on an inside dig. Hurd doesn’t break stride as he streaks to the endzone unmolested (strange phrase, yes).

Who’s fault was this? I don’t know, but it certainly didn’t look like it was R.W.’s fault for getting beaten by half a step on an inside move.

Maybe it was Pierce’s fault – he didn’t get enough depth in his drop zone.

Maybe it was James Butler’s fault – he was nowhere to be found after Hurd caught the ball, and was easily eluded as Hurd took it the distance to bury the G-Men. 45-35, Cowboys.

**

As preposterous as the phrase is might seem after tonight, let me look on the bright side when it comes to our defense:

1) The D was so horrendous, in part, because Osi went down and Strahan was clearly not ready. We’ll see what happens with Osi’s injury, but Strahan should be back in his old form soon. Our pass rush has to get better because it can’t possibly be any worse.

2) The above plays represent the tip of the iceberg, but if you look at these plays, you will notice that many of the culprits were either young or inexperienced guys starting their first games for this team at their respective spots.

James Buter looked bad tonight, but it’s his first start at strong safety; Kiwanuka looked bad, but he’s still learning to be a linebacker; Mitchell is an inside linebacker by trade, and made a critical mistake in his first game as on outside ‘backer; and Gibril is a strong safety playing his first game at free safety.

3) Like many of the players, the scheme is new too. We’ll learn it and get better at executing it. Hopefully, our performance tonight will be as bad as it can possibly get.

The D has to improve. Right? RIGHT?!