When I was in New York last week, the message I left with the Giants was to have some fun playing this game. It’s a very long season, and you have to enjoy what you’re doing out there. This was a great team win for the Giants. They all seemed to be playing together against the Texans. I believe they finally all understand what their roles are.
This happened to me when I played there. Whenever you get a new defensive coordinator, you have to figure out what your role is and what Perry Fewell expects of you and how he expects it to be done -- and everyone has to be on the same page with that. The past couple of weeks, it seems everyone is getting a better understanding of exactly what they need to do on defense. The defense has played great two weeks in a row.
The offense today looked like it clicked against the Texans. Last Sunday night, Eli Manning and the offense definitely had some issues dealing with the Bears. But the Bears are a pretty good defense. The offense picked it up in the second half against the Bears, and I think it carried over into Houston. Overall, I thought this was a team win, but I do believe the offense went into that game thinking, “We have to put a lot of points on the board in order to beat Houston,” because the Texans do have a good offense.
Still, I do believe the Giants defense has surprised everybody. I mean, the Bears last week and Houston today.
This all turned around so quickly for the Giants because of confidence. It is amazing what one win will do for a team. One win will sometimes make a player wake up, and I think that’s what happened with the Giants.
Suddenly, the Giants look like the team to beat in the NFC East. I do think with Michael Vick being injured now with the Eagles and Kevin Kolb being in there has changed the dynamics in the NFC East a lot. I don’t see Philadelphia, without Vick, making a push for the division lead. Yes, the Redskins right now look better, but I still don’t know what to expect from them.
The Redskins have been hanging in there, and in their past two games, they have gotten it done. But this is also a team that lost to the Rams. One second they look bad, the next second they look great. Right now, the team that is playing the best is the Giants. The Cowboys proved again today that they are too inconsistent, losing at home like that to Tennessee. The Cowboys do have a lot of talent, but they are 1-3 now and headed to Minnesota. That will be an enormous game for both teams next Sunday. It could swing their seasons.
Falcons take control
Atlanta is a well-balanced team on both sides of the ball. It runs the ball extremely well, and Matt Ryan is smart and safe with the ball. Defensively, the Falcons are creating a lot of turnovers. They had three more takeaways today against the Browns, giving them 13 on the season, and I think they have started to realize that’s what they have to do. This is the style of football they have to play to win.
They are 4-1 now and leading the NFC South. In that division, having to go against the Saints, who really play the same type of football, the team with the least amount of turnovers is probably going to run away with that division.
I think the way the Saints lost today in Arizona just shows how vulnerable they are. It seems a bunch of injuries have set in with the Saints, and sometimes when you are the champ, you really start thinking you can just go out there and turn it on.
I think they went to Arizona expecting to play against a Cardinals team that they thought would kind of roll over for them because they are the champs. But they rudely found out the Cardinals still do have some good defensive players who decided to show up.
The Cardinals played with a lot of heart today. I’m sure the Saints, facing an offense with a rookie quarterback in Max Hall, saw the film and came away saying: “We’re going to attack him. We’re going to make him do things he’s uncomfortable doing.” And not that Hall did anything outstanding, but he did enough to win.
The Cardinals also got a little lucky, too. Hall was competing, trying to make a play, and he fumbled near the goal line and big Levi Brown was ready, running right there to scoop up the loose ball for a touchdown. In the first half, he was the only Cardinal to score a touchdown, and he’s an offensive lineman. I mean, how lucky is that?
Now, I wouldn’t go as far as to say the Saints are in trouble. I think they are still talented enough to get it together. I don’t see them as a team that we have to panic over. But I do know they aren’t in the position right now that they thought they would be in, having won a Super Bowl.
I do believe the injuries to Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas and a couple others are why they are 3-2. Drew Brees had a lot of confidence in those two players. He knew exactly what he had in those two. Now, when you have to play with a guy like Ladell Betts, who is a very good player but you just got him off the street, it isn’t exactly the same.
I mean, there is no way Brees has the same rhythm and timing with Betts he had with those other two. Brees, Bush and Thomas have been around for years together, and they were in training camp all summer, too. There is no way you can duplicate that special feeling a quarterback has with a player he knows intimately well.
Bush is a really dynamic football player. There was a reason why he was such a high pick in the NFL draft, because he does things that everybody can’t do. He’s been a mismatch for any linebacker, and I know that Brees has to miss him. He’s lost his safety valve.