By Curt Macysyn
Many football coaches like to measure their squads in four game increments, knowing that the full season will cause the typical team’s performance to ebb and flow over the course of 16 games. Veteran coach Tom Coughlin and rookie head coach Todd Bowles do not have that kind of luxury, as they both command teams that are unpredictable and inconsistent on a weekly basis. Therefore, when the New York Giants (5-7) hosted the New York Jets (7-5), no one could reasonably predict what to expect.
Both teams made mistakes and both teams played well in spurts, but It was Gang Green who outlasted Big Blue in overtime as the G-men could not answer Randy Bullock’s 31-yard field goal in the extra frame. The Jets downed the Giants 23-20 at a boisterous MetLife Stadium on Sunday. Josh Brown missed a 48-yard field goal which would have extended the extra period, his first miss of the 2015 season.
For the G-men, the typical downfalls were to blame as questionable coaching decisions and a porous defense once again prove fatal. The season, and perhaps Tom Coughlin’s tenure as head coach, appear to be winding down.
The Giants got Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg back on the offensive line, but lost left tackle Ereck Flowers to an ankle injury, as the offense sputtered for most of the afternoon. Of course Odell Beckham had a big day, as he had six catches for 149 yards and a touchdown. OBJ had another touchdown within his grasp, but it was stripped by Calvin Pryor right before the half. Tight end Will Tye had three catches, including a beautiful 45-yard catch down the seam, as he and Beckham provided the only offense on the afternoon.
The running game seems to be going in reverse, as the Giants had a paltry 71 yards on the ground (3.1 yards per carry), with Orleans Darkwa’s 23 rushing yards leading the team. Manning was inconsistent all afternoon, completing just 53 percent of his passes (18 for 34) with a touchdown and an interception. Quite frankly, the Giants seem to play better with Pugh at the left tackle spot, while Bobby Hart was not a liability on the right side subbing for the injured Marshall Newhouse.
Grading the defense is always a difficult task, as the Giants’ have limited personnel with which Steve Spanuolo has to work. Once again, the defense could not shut down the opposition with a touchdown lead and time running down in the fourth quarter (sound familiar?). The Jets tandem of Brandon Marshall (131 yards, 1 TD) and Eric Decker (101 yards) could not be contained in the passing game, as quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick took turns harassing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara. Even running back Bilal Powell had 91 receiving yards on the afternoon, including a 31-yard center screen pass for a touchdown in the second quarter.
Once again, Landon Collins struggled in pass coverage and overall the Giants missed plenty of tackles on the afternoon. The defense did stop the Jets from paydirt in overtime and limited the damage to a Randy Bullock field goal, which gave the Giants’ offense another shot at winning the game. The Giants did find a pass rush this afternoon, as Big Blue took down Fitzpatrick three times in the game. The proof is in the pudding as Big Blue gave up a whopping 463 total yards to a Jets’ offense that cannot be confused with the Patriots or Saints.
Special Teams: C
Special teams giveth and taketh away as well. Dwayne Harris 80-yard punt return jump started the scoring for the Giants, when the offense could not get going. Unfortunately, normally reliable Josh Brown missed a makeable 48-yard filed goal in overtime; so in essence, Brown lost the game for the Giants. His kickoffs gave the Jets four separate opportunities for returns, including a 35-yard return by Antonio Cromartie. Four of Brad Wing’s five punts landed inside the 20-yard line, so Wing did his job and never relinquished field position for the G-men.
The coaching staff will likely take the bullet for this loss, but that would not be a fair assessment of the game. It is hard to imagine what play calls might work on offense, since the offensive line and running backs can never establish a rushing attack. Yes, the decision to go for the first down on fourth and two early in the fourth quarter was a poor choice by Coughlin, if only because he should not have trusted his defense with a lead of any size. Very simply, at that point in the game, Coughlin needed to dictate that the Jets score two touchdowns to win, instead of scoring a touchdown and field goal to tie.
There were also the typical number of dropped passes for the offense, and poor tackling and missed assignments by the defense that cannot be controlled by Ben McAdoo or Steve Sapgnuolo. Spagnuolo’s scheme got some pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick, but there were far too many missed tackles on the afternoon. Coming into the game, we knew that the safety position would struggle, but neither Prince Amukamara nor Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had a good game; which cannot be blamed on the coaches. Ditto to Josh Brown missing the 48-yard field goal, it cannot be blamed on the coaches.
When a team struggles, then individual play calls, the game plan or clock management will always come into question, but this team has proven that it cannot take care of business between the white lines. End of story.
Gang Green raised its record to 5-8 against the Giants, as the Giants had their five game winning streak against the Jets snapped. The Jets last beat the Giants in the regular season on Oct. 31, 1993 by a 10-6 score. Next week, the G-men head to south Florida to face off against another AFC east foe, the Miami Dolphins, at Sun Life Stadium.
Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past four seasons for Examiner.com, and he is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA). Born and raised in New Jersey, Curt attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, N.J. and is a graduate of Rutgers University – New Brunswick. Follow him on Twitter @CurtMac23 for the latest NFL and New York Giants news.