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Giants try to fix their defensive shortcomings

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The Sports Xchange

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — As if giving up 52 points and 614 yards of offense wasn’t bad enough for members of the New York Giants defense, on Monday they re-watched the tape of what was easily one of the worst meltdowns in franchise history. The hope was that the Giants defenders could spot and correct the numerous mistakes that allowed Saints quarterback Drew Brees to march his offense up and down the field at will.

“It hurts,” said safety Brandon Meriweather of reliving the horror show he was a part of Sunday. “If you ask anybody else and they tell you it didn’t, then that means that their heart wasn’t in it. Any time you go out and you have a good game plan and they throw for seven touchdowns, that has to hurt.”

The problems on defense were numerous, but generally speaking, the players and head coach Tom Coughlin spoke about miscommunications, blow assignments, missed tackles and failure to honor the fundamentals of playing defense.

After the game, two members of the defensive secondary expressed frustration over the communication issues.

“I mean with the Saints, they call a lot of plays and get on the field fast and run them. That’s their goal: for their offense to line up fast to get our defense off balance,” said cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

“And when they are doing that, we as a defense are looking at the sidelines looking for our calls. And when it’s not coming in fast enough, it’s a challenge.”

Coughlin, as he usually does after a loss, declined to point fingers at the defense or anyone in particular. Rather, he said the focus is on regrouping and playing the best football to ensure that the team remains in first place in the division.

“You go back to fundamentals, you go back to some basics that obviously we struggled with a little bit,” he said of the coaches’ upcoming plan. “When issues arise, you’ve got to deal with them. So we will make sure those things get ironed out.”

Meriweather doesn’t doubt that the defense will learn from Sunday’s debacle and make things right.

“No, I’m not, I’m not concerned,” he said.

“I think we have a lot of veteran players that understand football and at the end of the day, we are going to pull it together. I wholeheartedly believe that, so, no, I’m not worried about taking one step forward and one step back.”

REPORT CARD VS. SAINTS

–PASSING OFFENSE: A minus. Quarterback Eli Manning had an award-winning performance, throwing a career-high six touchdowns passes while completing 73.1 percent of his pass attempts for 350 yards — all this while facing about a dozen or so pressures, no less. Odell Beckham Jr. was also golden, catching three of those touchdown passes while recording 130 yards on eight catches. However, the failures of Rueben Randle and Dwayne Harris to come up with catchable passes on the last drive helped to eventually doom the Giants.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: C. In a tale of two halves, Orleans Darkwa, the fourth man on the running-back totem pole, outrushed Andre Williams, Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen, who combined for 9 yards on seven carries versus Darkwa’s 23 yards on four carries. When Darkwa had to leave the game due to a back injury, Jennings picked up the slack, picking up 44 of his 54 yards after contact, according to Pro Football Focus. Williams continues to struggle in the rotation; he finished with 7 yards on five carries.

–PASS DEFENSE: F. When your defense can’t get any pressure on the quarterback, your cornerbacks can’t break up any passes, and your so-called 11 “best” players allow 511 passing yards and seven touchdowns, and the opposing quarterback completes 80 percent of his passes, that’s worthy of a big, fat “F” written in permanent red ink.

–RUSH DEFENSE: D. For the fourth week in a row, the Giants allowed 100-plus yards on the ground to an opponent. Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins was solid inside, but he was probably the only one who showed up against the run. Meanwhile, defensive tackle Markus Kuhn got 36 snaps and did absolutely nothing with then, not even denting the stat sheet for half a tackle.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: C plus. A week after being the hero, the special teams were the goat thanks to the punt down the middle of the field that led to the eventual facemask penalty to set the Saints up in field-goal range to win the game. The good news is that kicker Josh Brown looked like his old self on kickoffs after struggling the last few weeks. There were also a few solid plays, such as the punt-coverage team downing a Brad Wing punt inside the 5 and just barely missing a second one.

–COACHING: F. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo had no answers for what the Saints did to his defense. In fact, there was some grumbling afterward about communication issues on defense. Ben McAdoo’s insistence on sticking with a four-man running-back rotation is not doing this team any favors. Tom Coughlin meanwhile continues to make some head-scratching decisions, starting with the one on the final punt of the game, which went down the middle of the field instead of out of bounds, as they had done for most of the game. Then there was the clock management on the Saints’ drive in which Coughlin, claiming to not want to help the Saints with getting a score on the drive — a damning statement against the defense, by the way –could have helped his offense by using a timeout to leave it with more than a minute left instead of 36 seconds.


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