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How mighty Giants D has fallen
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The sight of JaMarcus Russell leaves the Raiders gasping for air.
The Giants like giving up plays via the air.
And the air might be out of the Cowboys' balloon.
We hand out our weekly Scheiners, Schein 9 style ...
1. Foaming at the mouthRemember the glory days when the Giants used to dominate on defense?
Oh, I am not talking LT, Parcells, Carson, Banks and Belichick. I'm making reference to the glory days of Steve Spagnuolo, the good times all the way back in 2007 and 2008.
What a difference a year makes, with overmatched defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan the face of failure in New York, the glory days replaced by the gory days of a defense that looks ill-prepared and lifeless. The Giants have allowed 20 points or more in eight straight games. And they rank 28th in points allowed. These are the New York football Giants we are talking about here.
It seems like a lifetime ago that the Giants were 5-0 and fans and media alike were thinking about a sustained run in the playoffs.
It's somewhere between sad and remarkable to think about how much this Giants defense has fallen. The Giants had everything to play for Sunday night after Dallas did its usual disappearing act in December. A win and the Giants were tied for first. A loss and the Giants remained on the outside looking in for the playoffs. And the defense didn't even bother to show up and make a play (other than Jonathan Goff's pick) to aid the cause. Eli Manning and the offense rolled up 512 yards of offense and never had a shot with the spotty defense.
In two games against the rival Eagles this year, the Giants gave up 85 points. That's unheard of for a team that prides itself on toughness and having an elite defense. That's an embarrassing nugget, but at the same time, the epitome of what has happened to New York this season.
Remember when the Giants defense could seize a moment and take a stranglehold of a ballgame? There were four specific sequences that hit home the embarrassment of the Giants on Sunday night. The Giants were down by a touchdown just minutes into the game, as Donovan McNabb drove the Eagles down the field in three minutes, hitting Brent Celek on a touchdown to cap it. When was the last time the Giants actually bottled up a tight end?
When the Giants offense rallied and took the lead at 31-30 after Domenik Hixon's catch and run for a touchdown, Sheridan's "defense" promptly gave it away, somehow leaving DeSean Jackson wide open to waltz into the end zone for a 60-yard touchdown to put Philly back up top.
And how about the final touchdown drive for Philly, a methodical, clock-killing march of 91 yards leading to Leonard Weaver's score? Do you remember a time under Spagnuolo that the Giants got shoved around like this on a consistent basis? And how come no Giants player went after the ball on the "forward fumble" at the end of the first half?
Sheridan takes the heat, and he will rightly lose his job at the end of the year. I think Tom Coughlin will hire Dick Jauron, his old friend from Jacksonville. It's very obvious, since Osi Umenyiora walked out of a meeting before the season started, that the players and Sheridan aren't on the same page.
But the players need to take some blame, too. Giants general manager Jerry Reese paid Chris Canty on potential, and he hasn't lived up. Reese also signed Rocky Bernard. Paging Rocky Bernard. Paging Mr. Rocky Bernard. Has he done anything? Free-agent linebacker Michael Boley got hurt for the first half of the year, and though he has made some tackles in recent weeks, Boley has contributed to the failures of covering the tight end. Osi got benched after horrible play. Justin Tuck is all banged up and not even close to the guy I voted for last year for first team All-Pro. Philly's offensive line manhandled the Giants on Sunday. Some people thought the Giants would have the best defensive line in pro football this year. Think about that. And the Kenny Phillips injury, as we predicted, took a young playmaking thumper out of the lineup at safety.
Yet somehow with Dallas living up to its choking reputation, the Giants still have a chance to make the playoffs.
But who feels good about anything right now? This isn't Giants football. They can't run consistently with Brandon Jacobs, who has disappointed after getting his contract. The offensive line hasn't lived up. And Sheridan has been a total bust, leading to a collapse of epic proportions.
Whatever happened to Spagnuolo anyway?
2. Rise and ScheinLoved the efforts of the Ravens, Dolphins and Jets to make things interesting in the AFC wild-card picture.
Chad Henne once again clicked with Davone Bess and Greg Camarillo, and Ricky Williams, despite a few fumbles, ran the ball with authority in a huge win in Jacksonville.
Baltimore got a gigantic day from Ray Rice and thumped the Lions.
The Jets used the best defense in the NFL (you read that correctly) to embarrass Josh Freeman from the first play, played it safe on offense with a healthy diet of Thomas Jones and improved to 7-6.
I predicted "video style" here on FOXSports.com that the Dolphins, Ravens and Jets would win last weekend. I'm predicting all three will win this weekend and in Week 16 as well. This can be a sensational race.
You know I've been on the well-coached Miami bandwagon for weeks after I wrote about them on FOXSports.com. I don't want to hear the schedule is difficult. They should win in Tennessee and beat the Steelers and Texans in Miami. Baltimore can beat the Bears and win in Pittsburgh. The Jets should handle the tough-minded Falcons and the Colts with nothing to play for.
3. Hide the women, children and Matt MillenIt sure looked like the effort wasn't there for Randy Moss against the Panthers. He didn't fight on an interception in Miami the week before. Moss was late and sent home last Wednesday. It's all rather disgraceful.
4. Backseat coachingSean Payton is undefeated. I always have "Saints-itis." I think the Saints are winning the Super Bowl.
But I get nervous when I see Payton eschew the field goal for a trick play up just three points. I mean, I get really nervous. Payton wasn't happy with me when I gave him a 5.5 rating when I evaluated the organizations in the NFL this past May saying: "Come on, Adam, you at least have to go 7. You aren't taking the girl home from the bar after midnight if she's less than a 7!"
5. Schein's anatomyDeMarcus Ware had a sprained neck and will miss the Cowboys game against New Orleans. First and foremost, we hope Ware is OK. But if Ware can't play down the stretch, Dallas can't win.
6. Weekly hot seatI get your e-mails every time I write Carson Palmer is a top quarterback in the NFL. I love the way he plays. But Palmer had a bad game against the Vikings. He meets the Chargers this week. I think Cincy has the formula to win in the playoffs. They can run, play lock-down defense and beat you with the passing attack. But Palmer has had some shaky games recently, fizzling against Minnesota last Sunday. The game against San Diego, loaded with bye-week and seeding implications, is a big test for Palmer to see how far back he truly is.
7. My guysBrandon Marshall: What a majestic performance by the Denver receiver, as he set a single-game record with 21 catches against Indy. And I loved his attitude post-game when he said he would trade it for a win. Good stuff from a guy who doesn't always get it.
DeSean Jackson: The Eagles weapon was dominant on Sunday night with six catches for 178 yards. His 60-yard touchdown right after the Giants took the lead at 31-30 was the ultimate dagger. Jackson's 72-yard punt return to make it 24-10 was also sensational. And how much fun was the chest bump with Andy Reid!
David Harris: The Jets linebacker doesn't get enough credit for being a star, and he'll be getting one of my first-team All-Pro votes at linebacker. Harris picked off Josh Freeman on the first play of the Jets' win in Tampa, setting a dominant tone for a needed win.
Wes Welker: The Pats receiver caught 10 balls, five on the go-ahead drive, to give him over 100 for the season.
Jon Vilma: The Saints stayed perfect largely because of their leader on defense, who had seven tackles and a key pick in the Saints' three-point win in Atlanta.
8. My goatsRandy Moss: I give Bill Belichick and Tom Brady credit for trying to put the fire out and rushing to Moss' defense after Chris Gamble said, "We knew Moss would shut it down" after the Panthers game. But it was pretty obvious Moss did shut it down, and it was the second straight week (look at the Vontae Davis pick) where you had to question his effort.
Jim Schwartz: Now, nobody thought the Lions would be good, but I certainly thought the Lions would be better. A 48-3 drubbing against a Ravens team that had gone 3-6 in their past nine? That can't happen.
Mike Tomlin: The Steelers have lost five straight and simply were pathetic in Cleveland. How does Tomlin kick to Joshua Cribbs? Pittsburgh has lost against Kansas City, Oakland and the Browns during this tumble. That's just awful.
Raheem Morris: How does your team get called for 12 men on the field when the clock is stopped? How do you throw the ball on the first play of the game when your rookie quarterback got picked off five times the week before? How does Morris hold this job?
Jim Mora: The Seattle failures are flying under the radar. Sure, Matt Schaub caught fire. But the Texans have been bad the past few weeks. How does your team not compete in Houston?
9. Three and out• Our exclusive weekly spot with John Madden on Sirius NFL Radio is a treat. This past week, Madden said he texted a friend during the Browns' win against Pittsburgh and wrote, "This isn't pro football." Madden is bothered by the lack of fundamentals on defense and said there is no truly great defense in the NFL this year. Madden remains adamant teams should play their starters for 16 weeks for league integrity and to get you ready for the playoffs, citing the 2007 Giants as a main example. And yes, Madden loves to send text messages. Troy Aikman taught him how to text at the Hall of Fame a few years ago. That's the nugget of the year!
• The Chargers' win in Dallas shouldn't be minimized because of Dallas' knack for awful play in December. San Diego is clicking. The Chargers have won eight straight, including five on the road during the streak. Philip Rivers was great. The goal-line stand was impressive. Nobody in the AFC wants to see the Chargers come playoff time.
• Are the Rams still in the league?
You can watch Schein and Chris Carlin on Loud Mouths, weeknights at 6 ET on SNY (DIRECT-TV 639).
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