By Curt Macysyn
Play-makers make plays. It is a simple philosophy, but one that wins football games. Last night’s Monday Night Football contest between the New York Giants and the upstart Detroit Lions was a clear case in point. The Lions have more play-makers on their roster than the New York Giants at this point, and the team from the Motor City played up to their potential in a 35-14 drubbing of the G-men before a nationwide audience on ESPN.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford tossed two first quarter touchdowns to Calvin Johnson and ran for one more, as Detroit kicked off the Jim Caldwell era with a 35-14 runaway win at Ford Field. The Lions dominated every aspect of the contest from start to finish, as the only blemish on the victory was rookie kicker Nate Freese’s missed 43-yard field goal late in the second quarter.
Jerry Reese’s roster has become the Daffy Dan’s of the NFL, lots of quantity, but not much quality. On a team that needed an infusion of talent at many positions, the idea that third round draft pick Jay Bromley can be inactive, means that the roster has been misjudged once again this season.
Offense Grade: D
Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. By that definition, this Giants offense is insane. It is hard to imagine that the results will get any better for New York as the season wears on. Poor blocking, dropped passes and penalties have been occurring on a regular basis for a long time, so some players in key positions may not have the capacity to do any better.
Last night, Will Beatty was a revolving door at left tackle, allowing second-year defensive end Ziggy Ansah to continually disrupt the play. Rueben Randle had two catches for three yards, so the idea that he may turn into a good secondary target for Eli Manning decreases more with each passing week. Even the two turnovers by Manning were predictable; one when his receiver (Larry Donnell) apparently did not pick up the hot read, allowing DeAndre Levy to come up with a juggling interception.
The second interception came as Manning was flushed from the pocket after another missed block by Beatty, and tried to throw across his body. That pass was intercepted by safety Glover Quin, a player who will not be compared to Charles Woodson any time soon.
If there was a flicker of hope for improvement, it was the fact that tight end Larry Donnell had five catches for 56 yards and a touchdown. New running back Rashad Jennings had 56 yards on the ground; averaging a paltry 2.9 yards per carry. On the other hand, it was not like Jennings or Andre Williams had much help from an overmatched offensive line.Victor Cruz had two catches in six targets and had a measly 24 yards receiving.
Jerrel Jernigan had four catches on the evening and drew a pass interference call at the goal line that set up a Giants’ score. But Jernigan, Donnell, Jennings, Cruz, Randle and even Corey Washington dropped Manning passes last evening.
But it all begins and ends with the offensive line, and the Giants need to see what Adam Snyder can do quickly, or else an 0-6 start to this season may become a distinct possibility.
Defense Grade: D
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is a top rung quarterback, and Calvin Johnson may be the best receiver in the game. Both played like it last night as Stafford torched the Giants defense for 346 yards through the air. He completed 68.8 percent of his passes and ran five yards for a third quarter touchdown. Calvin Johnson looked like his nickname, Megatron, as he ran past, over, under and through the Giants beleaguered secondary for 164 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Shutdown cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie could not shut down Johnson, and safety Stevie Brown looked one step behind the play all night.
The Giants did a decent enough job stopping the run, as Detroit only averaged 2.5 yards per carry. Robert Ayers, Jr. had New York’s only sack of Stafford on the evening, and he played with some emotion throughout the contest. Cornerback Prince Amukamara had a solid game in the defeat; coming up with eight tackles and two passes defended. But the rest of the secondary was below average in coverage all night, starting with Antrel Rolle and Rodgers-Cromartie colliding on Johnson’s 67-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter.
Jason Pierre-Paul showed some flashes in the game, but he needs to be a dominant force for the Giants on the defensive line. Moral victories are not enough, and the defense could not contain Matthew Stafford in the pocket, as he continually was able to escape trouble with his legs.
The defense also does not look like it will be able to provide turnovers that this team desperately needs to jump start the offense.
Special Teams Grade: C+
Kicker Josh Brown made two points after touchdown, and his kickoffs were solid all night. The special teams gave up a partial block on a Steve Weatherford punt, and this is an area that bears watching in future games.
Preston Parker had two punt returns for 30 yards, and he appears to be a solid return man, who the Giants can depend upon. Quintin Demps had one kickoff attempt for 14 yards on a kickoff that should have downed in the end zone.
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Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past two seasons for Examiner.com. Born and raised in northern New Jersey, Curt has followed and covered the New York Metropolitan sports scene for 35 years. He attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, NJ and is a graduate of Rutgers University, New Brunswick. His work can be found on aExaminer.com.