(Photo credit Charlie Riedel/AP)
In middle school, grades were equated to a certain range of excellence. E stood for Excellent, G stood for Good, I stood for Needs Improvement, and U stood for Unsatisfactory.
In previous years, the Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) would fall under the category of Needs Improvement. The Chiefs were always a team that could give you a challenge, but always need that something extra to legitimize themselves. Enter quarterback Alex Smith and head coach Andy Reid and all of a sudden, the Chiefs are undefeated and have twice the number of wins in 2012.
In previous years, the New York Giants (0-4) would fall under the category of Good. They were always a good team and while they would fall into this inconsistent pattern towards the second half of the season, they almost always found a way to get into the playoffs and twice, win a Super Bowl. They weren’t excellent, but they were good. Enter nobody and all of a sudden, the Giants haven’t won a game the entire 2013 season.
So, as of Week 4, the Chiefs have a grade of Excellent. And the Giants? A big fat U for Unsatisfactory.
As Sunday’s game against the Chiefs underwent, the deep ball thrown by Eli Manning to Victor Cruz for a 69-yard touchdown seemingly put the Giants back on the map. Then, like a good deed gone unnoticed, the touchdown faded into darkness. Is it Manning’s fault? Coughlin? Who is to blame? Here are the grades and you be the principal and decide who you want to give a pass, detention, suspension, or expulsion.
Eli Manning: Good
If there was a way to calculate effort, Manning would be at the top of the list. You can’t knock him for not trying. He is working with an inexperienced running game; something he hasn’t done his entire career. The absence of Ahmad Bradshaw was realized when Da’Rel Scott fumbled a handoff from Manning that was placed well.
Aforementioned was his one highlight of connecting with Cruz and without it, Manning would probably have a different grade. But he is the main reason that Giants haven’t fully imploded yet.
Therefore, Manning gets a free pass for another week.
Giants running backs: Unsatisfactory
Nevermind Da’Rel Scott’s fumble, but where was David Wilson and Brandon Jacobs?
Brandon Jacobs,you know, the guy we brought in to fix our little running problem. The guy who has been pretty much a no-show since he arrived back with the Giants.
David Wilson (Photo by Anthony Causi)
Wilson was once again a non-factor against the Chiefs and as a result, all of the three Giants running backs are looking like the replacement referees of 2012.
Verdict: Jacobs is expelled. Scott is suspended. Wilson is on detention for the fourth straight week.
Giants wide receivers: Needs improvement
Boy I wanted to give a grade of Good, but Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle brings the grade down.
Victor Cruz, alone, is excellent. Cruz is 3rd in receiving yards and tied for 4th in receiving touchdowns. There is no question he is earning his stout contract he signed for over the offseason.
Nicks, on the other hand, doesn’t look like someone who is fighting for a contract. Yes, Manning couldn’t get the ball to any of the receivers in Week 3 because the Giants offensive line were out to lunch, but he had some opportunities to make a play against the Chiefs and he couldn’t capitalize. Randle hasn’t really backed up the talk about him during workouts and training camp.
That being said, Cruz is the star student of the class, Nicks and Randle are in detention.
Giants offensive line: Unsatisfactory
This is the only thing I hate about this grading system because if possible, I would go lower than unsatisfactory for the Giants offensive line.
More than half of the starting offensive line were rookies, unestablished and inexperienced to protect a Pro Bowl quarterback like Manning. Penalties still hindered and weakness to the pass rush saw no improvement.
Short and sweet: OL needs a makeover, therefore suspension.
Giants defensive line: Needs improvement
The loss of Chris Canty and Osi Umenyiora were seen against the Chiefs as Smith looked extremely comfortable in the pocket.
The anchors, Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck, are both playing hurt and are not playing to form.
Bottom line, the quarterback just looks cozy in the pocket, something the Giants haven’t been known for defensively.
Grade: DL is on detention
Giants linebackers: Good
A bright spot to the Giants woes is that their linebackers are actually not that bad.
Starting with the linebackers, Spencer Paysinger played a great game against the Chiefs and is working really well with Mark Herzlich. While the Giants have given up over 30 points in each of their four games, the linebackers aren’t exactly contributing to that problem.
So, for now, the linebackers get a pass.
Giants defensive backs: Needs improvement
You can’t knock on the Giants secondary given that their star safety is out for the entire year, but they have given up an abundance of points to their opponents.
To give credit were credit is due, they did obtain 2 interceptions from Smith, but aside from that, there has been weak coverage against opposing wide receivers.
Amukamara hasn’t fused into the “best cornerback in the league,” that title still belongs to Richard Sherman. Speaking of Sherman, did you see him run without a shoe?
One silver lining was the performance of Trumaine McBride against the Chiefs. If he keeps up the same coverage play as he did against the Chiefs, this grade may be re-evaluated.
But, for now, the Giants defensive backs are in detention
Giants special teams: Needs improvement
Well Dexter McCluster certainly displayed the weakness of the Giants special teams, but aside from weak tackles, Josh Brown and Steve Weatherford haven’t played up to par.
Weatherford’s punt was the kickstart to McCluster’s punt return touchdown and in the waning seconds of the first half, Brown’s missed field goal changed the complexion of the game. Instead of heading into halftime tied, the Giants trailed and continue to trail the rest of the way.
Hate to sound like a pee-wee coach, but every play matters.
As a result, special teams is in detention.
Giants coaching staff: Needs improvement
This is a public service announcement to Giants fan. Stop throwing Tom Coughlin into the molten lava that is the “hot seat.
It isn’t Coughlin’s fault the Giants are 0-4. There are many variables that Coughlin has no control over such as injuries and mistakes made by players on the field. Yet, he is the one who must discipline his players to not make the mistakes they make and adapt to the circumstances given. He has the players on his side because the players are aware it is their responsibility that the Giants are losing, not his.
Kevin Gilbride and Perry Fewell are definitely on the radar of Jerry Reese, but again, were not given much to work with.
That being said, the coaching staff needs to enact some change in order to improve this team.
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The trend you see here is that the New York Giants as a whole need improvement, but a team that shouldn’t be 0-4, which makes their performance as a team, unsatisfactory. The Chiefs presented this being a team that has immensely improved with the changes in their organization.
It’s simple. The Giants have stayed the course while the rest of the NFL has adapted. You have the New England Patriots, the Seattle Seahawks, the San Francisco 49ers, the Miami Dolphins, and even the Cleveland Browns as of late have adapted. The Giants need to join the fray and adapt just like the rest of the NFL.
Well, with the exception of the Jacksonville Jaguars.