First Impressions: Bucs 30, Giants 10

November 23, 2021

Just in case anyone was wondering what it looks like when a really good team, say the defending Super Bowl champions, which started the season 6-1, but are all fired up after losing a couple of games in a row, plays a not-so-talented team which is probably feeling just a little too good about itself after unexpectedly winning 2 of three, it was what we saw last night Tampa where it got ugly pretty quickly and never did get much better enroute to a 30-10 loss to the Buccaneers.

In fact, the Giants might have had some hope in this game if the intensity factor was reversed; the way it was they had no chance and in many ways the final score actually flattered the Giants as the Bucs kind of took their foot of the accelerator in the 4th quarter. Let’s review: the Giants got their lone TD on a 5-yard drive following an interception; they had just 15 first downs and barely 200 yards of total offense and converted just 1 of 9 third downs and turned the ball over 5 times including a couple of failed 4th downs.

And the Giants’ offense was the ‘strength’ of the team on this night. The defense, which apparently never, ever did get their wake up call, was just downright pathetic. They were shredded for 25 first downs and 275 yards in the first half alone. They couldn’t stop the run; they got no pressure at all on Tom Brady. And it wasn’t like he had a clean pocket all night, it was literally antiseptic. It also wasn’t primarily a case of the Giants being unable to get off the field on third down as they barely ever even got the Bucs into third downs!

As we said it was ugly! The kind of game you burn the tape and move on. And I keep reminding myself that the Giants still were 3-4 in the most difficult part of the schedule so maybe it is a little premature to start firing everybody! Of course, the Giants then went out and fired offensive co-ordinator Jason Garrett, who was going to be our #1 dud of the game below. So in that sense it’s about time.

Only time will tell whether replacing Garrett with Fred Kitchens will make a big difference, but it is hard to imagine how it could hurt. And it’s not the play-calling per se that’s the issue, but the design of the overall offense. Garrett just didn’t seem to have any clue how to use Kadairus Toney; he didn’t seem to have any idea how to use Evan Engram (whom he once said was developing into a solid two-way TE); and he didn’t seem to have any idea how to get the most out of Saquon Barkley, at least when the latter was healthy.

Bottom line, Garrett just didn’t seem to know how to put together a 21st century passing attack. Indeed, there were a couple of plays against the Bucs, in particular, the two failed 4th down attempts, where all you could was shake your head and ask yourself WTF was that! You know it just isn’t that complicated to scheme somebody open for a 2-3 yard gain on 3rd or 4th and short. And you know it because other teams do it all the time!

It is also a tad unfair to single out Garrett, or anyone for that matter, as a ‘dud’ in a game which the Giants were never going to win; however, there were several guys that stood out. Let’s start with MLB Tae Crowder, who was virtually invisible on the night at the best of times, but came up and completely whiffed – by a about three feet – trying to stop Brady from running for the first down on one of the first third downs the Giants got the Bucs into. I’ve heard of tacklers ‘not wanting any part’ of the likes of Derrick Henry or even the Buc’s Len Fournette, but 44-year-old Tom Brady, not so much!

Its been kind of a miserable year for CB James Bradberry, the Giants prized free agent signing of 2020 who had a Pro Bowl season last year, but has been picked on this fall. And he just didn’t seem to have any answer at all for his old Bucs’ rival Mike Evans, a guy he battled many times in his career with Carolina, on Monday night. Maybe it’s because he’s being asked to play of 8-10 yards off the LOS every play rather than get up into opposing receivers’ faces, but Bradberry was totally outmatched Monday night. Meanwhile, after a couple of really solid games, FS Xavier McKinney appeared to be caught out of position on just about every play last night, although again it probably didn’t help that the Giants had him playing 20 yards off the LOS on just about every snap.

It would also probably be unfair to single out anyone on the offensive line, which was really bad even by its own rather low standards, but Will Hernandez, who had been one of the more consistent OL guys this year, was really bad. However, let’s be very clear here, the interior of the Giants offensive line was pretty much dominated right across the board and nobody gets a pass.

And we could go on. The defensive line was simply blown off the LOS on multiple run plays and, as mentioned, got no pressure on the pocket until late in the game once the outcome had been decided. Meanwhile, somebody could tell me who #41 was (ok, I know!) and why he appeared to get so many snaps.

At the same time, even in debacle there were some bright lights (or at least lights that weren’t totally dim). DT Austin Johnson at least appeared to show up and actually made some stops at the LOS. Meanwhile, reserve DE Ray Johnson got his first career sack. There were also some sightings of DE Ellerson Smith, the Giants 4th round pick this year who spent the first half of the season on IR, in the regular defense and he didn’t look all that out of place, although as we have noted the bar wasn’t all that high!

We should also mention LT Andrew Thomas who made a reasonably successful return to the lineup after missing three games on IR. Thomas did give up a late sack, but for the most part battled Bucs’ DE Shaq Barrett to standstill. Of course, he also caught the first TD pass of his career for the Giants lone TD. It was actually a very good catch of a pass that QB Daniel Jones had to throw awkwardly as he was under duress. In fact, Thomas is now tied for second on the team in TD pass receptions, just one behind team leader Evan Engram who has two. Again, the bar thing!

So where to from here? Back to New York. Burn the Bucs’ tape; there’s nothing really to be learned from it. And gear up for the Eagles on Sunday to start the final stretch of the season in which the Giants final seven games are all against opponents that you feel you have a chance against. In fact, the Giants themselves are likely going to go into the final stretch hoping to win at least 4 of those final 7 games. Time will tell.