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Wait, what? That’s not how it was supposed to go down. The Giants and the Jets had inverse results this week – Big Blue took down the SuperEagles on the road, while Gang Green collapsed in the Black Hole. It was a colorful weekend all around. But what does this mean for both squads going forward?
First, the winners. Let’s get this out of the way early – Andy Reid is a terrible coach, possibly the worst in the league, and there’s no doubt that the Giants should send him a box of chocolates as a thank you. He will surely devour them. The Giants “goal line stand” was nothing like the one that reinvigorated their 2007 season and culminated in some big game in Arizona or something, I forget now. This goal line stand was more of a goal line shoot-yourself-in-the-leg, a Plaxico Burress if you will. It was the stuff that firings are made of, and something that the Eagles should play during the exit meeting with Andy Reid at the end of this season if they miss the Super Bowl.
Four attempts to gain one yard at the goal line and all four are handoffs, none to LeSean McCoy, who may be the best young back in the league not named Darren McFadden (more on him later). That’s just bad coaching, and while it is nice that the Giants D was able to stone the Eagles without faking a single injury, it’s not like they had to guess very hard.
Offensively? Not bad. Eli had an elite day by his definition, but he should barely get credit for any of those passing touchdowns – Victor Cruz was entirely responsible for the two he caught, and had an absolutely stellar day catching the ball, running for extra yardage and fighting on the goal line against the alleged best cornerback in the league. Brandon Jacobs rumbled in for his TD, and the fantastic play calling by Kevin Gilbride lead to Ahmad Bradshaw’s touchdown that put the game out of reach. Bradshaw actually averaged more yards per touch than McCoy – 6.95 to 5.22 – and the two headed rushing attack the Giants employ is sort of working, for better or for worse.
The Giants run D was pretty pathetic most of the day – Michael Vick was surprisingly ineffective running the ball, but McCoy gashed the Giants for 128 yards on 24 touches. The interceptions were gift balls – one a deflection, two were absolute jokes from Franz, er, Mike Kafka, who made an appearance on Monday Night Football last night. Vick was sacked only twice, but both times were by Jason Pierre-Paul, who may be blossoming before our very eyes.
What is the opposite of blossoming? Wilting? Atrophying? That’s what Antonio Cromartie was doing in Oakland on Sunday. He had quite possibly the worst game by a defensive back I’ve ever seen – you can get burned for 4 touchdowns and still not be as bad as Cro. The four penalties, the muffed kickoff, and the air guitar solo directly following his fumble made for the second worst performance of Cro’s career (here’s number one in case you forgot).
The rest of the Jets? They looked shook. They are a better team than Oakland, but on the West Coast, in an incredibly hostile stadium, against a team that remembers losing 38-0, with a Sunday Night Football date looming against the Ravens – maybe they were primed for a collapse. The Jets have been very schizophrenic during the Rex Ryan years – crushing the Pats by two touchdowns, and then losing by six touchdowns. Losing to the Dolphins, then beating the Steelers the next week. I have a feeling they’ll show up on Sunday, and I’m actually more positive on them coming off a loss than I am about the Giants coming off a win.
Why? Well, Mark Sanchez is kinda good you guys. He’s no Eli “Eli-te” Manning, but he’s getting to be a reasonable quarterback. A guy who can win games with his arm, lose games with his head, have his broken nose fixed on the same sideline where he was happily chomping on a hot dog just a few short years ago. His stats in this game were somewhat inflated by the 74-yard reception by LaDainian Tomlinson, but he played a vaguely competent game on the road against a sneaky decent team and only did a few things that made me want to throw a brick at a bus. The interception? Bad Mark! Very bad! The touchdown run? Good Mark!
The Jets defense was not as good, however. You can’t blame them too much given that Darren McFadden is freakin’ awesome, but they allowed Denarius Moore to score on a stupid little reverse and let Jason Campbell have the most Jason Campbell game ever – 18/27 for 156 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT, the kind of game where you go: “Say what you will about Jason Campbell, but he is certainly a player in the NFL.”
What does this mean going forward? Well the aforementioned Sunday nighter against the Ravens will be incredibly fun. Meanwhile, the Giants 4:15 clunker in Arizona is the stuff NFL nightmares are made of. Arizona is so bad that they couldn’t beat the Seattle Seahawks last week, even though the Seahawks were super distracted by the fact that it was the 20th anniversary of Nevermind.
If the Giants want any shot of a trademark second half collapse, this is a game they have to win. If the Jets want to actually win the Superbowl this year, they need to establish that they can beat the best AFC teams in convincing fashion. I’m not buying the Giants after their gift wrapped win in Philly, but I’m not selling on the Jets yet either – Week 4 will go a long way toward establishing the true character of these two teams.