The Giants’ 28-14 loss to the Washington Redskins in the season opener on Sunday is more likely a microcosm of what is to come, than an aberration.
The outcome of the game wasn’t unexpected, considering how many second and third string players head coach Tom Coughlin had to call on due to a plethora of injuries sustained by several starters during preseason, including four on the defense.
The law of averages was also working against the Giants. Coming into Sunday, they had defeated the Redskins five straight games. Nevertheless, it was the manner in which the Giants went down that was most telling.
They played like a team that seemed unfamiliar with each other, showing little rhythm on offense and often confused on defense. And with Coughlin manically ranting on the sidelines at his players and officials for a good portion of the game, he symbolized the lack of collective poise displayed by his team.
“I’m disappointed, as to be expected, in the loss,” said Coughlin at his press gathering on Monday. “We have to do a better job of preparing ourselves, practicing well and putting ourselves in game speed. I think, now that we have seen [the tape of the game], there can be some development and some drastic improvement.”
There are many areas in which the Giants must get better or they will be out of the playoff race early. Offensively, the normally potent rushing attack was held to 75 net yards and averaged an unacceptable 3.8 yards per carry.
The unit’s leader, Eli Manning, appeared uncomfortable and unsure at times. If Manning doesn’t play near the level of Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers this season, meaning he has to be superlative, the Giants have little chance of defeating the league’s top teams.
However, it won’t matter what Manning does if the Giants’ secondary can’t slow down opposing pass catchers. Although their defensive backfield has been decimated by injuries, there are no excuses for them allowing as many uncontested receptions as they did against an average Redskins passing game.
The Giants may be fortunate to have the 0-1 St. Louis Rams coming to town on Monday for their home opener (8:30 p.m. kickoff). The Rams have also been besieged by injuries after losing to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. Meanwhile, Michael Vick and the Eagles will be up the following weekend in Philly.