EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 7, 2011

Hector Longo's Two-minute Drill

Hector Longo

BIG SHOWS

1. Wes Welker - Pay the man! Caught nine passes for 136 yards despite attracting Jennifer Lopez-level attention from the Giants' secondary. They were all over him. And Welker got better with every stick. He's a monster.

2. Rob Gronkowski - Love the grit he showed. As things got cooking in the fourth, Gronkowski became the go-to guy. Caught 8 for 101, but 4 for 66, including his TD, came in the fourth.

3. Brandon Spikes - Look, I think the guy is one-dimensional. He can come forward and stuff the inside run. But coincident or not, things were going just fine with this defense until he and his four solo tackles left the game with what the Pats reported as a "knee" injury in the second half. When Gary Guyton and Tracy White were forced into action all hell broke loose.

NO SHOWS

1. Kyle Arrington - Eli Manning attacked him any time he was caught in single coverage. When they went zone, he struggled, too, with Victor Cruz abusing him.

2. Jerod Mayo - I can hear the apologists already talking about how this defensive captain is a gamer, just to be on the field with his knee injury. The kid played 60 minutes at linebacker and had zero solo tackles.

3. Chad Jackson, er Johnson, er Ochocinco - Whatever. He's laughably bad. Five targets and no catches. The fact that he is on the field is an indictment of the talent level on this roster.

4. Albert Haynesworth - A game-changer he isn't. Seriously, I am going to say this. Any snap he takes away from any other Patriot is an egregious error by the coaching staff.

5. Pat Chung - Unless the bones in your foot/ankle are protruding not just through the skin but through the tape job, the socks and your cleats, there is no way you can come off the field on the Giants' final drive. You're supposed to be a leader, and you beg out to put Sergio Brown in? Because you have an "ow-ey?" Didn't anyone ever explain the difference between pain and injury to you? A gamer, you ain't.

6. Sergio Brown - And what does Eli do as Chung hobbles to the sideline on his own power? Well, first he salivates. Then he finds whoever Sergio is covering and draws a 20-yard pass interference penalty, making it first-and-goal from the 1. Game over.

GRADING THE GROUPS

OFFENSE

Line (C) — I mean, Matt Light getting torched on the edge is becoming a Sunday staple. The lines rushed four. The Pats committed six or seven to protection, often using Nate Solder at tight end. And the Giants managed a pair of sacks and three more hurries. No chance of opening holes on the run. The Giants lined up 10 across in the box all day.

Backs (B-) — Not a lot of room to move out there with Giants swarming the box. BJG-E (12-52) ran hard. And Danny Woodhead was OK, too. But there's just no big-play capability here. Woodhead, like most little guys, has slowed down. Kevin Faulk a healthy scratch? Hmm. Meanwhile, Shane Vereen is active but doesn't touch the field.

Receivers (B) — Can't squeeze much more out of Wes Welker and the two tight ends. They are dynamite. But they aren't enough with teams compressing the field more and more. There are a lot more hands and arms in every passing lane because nobody on this team can get down the field. What does it say about Chad Ochocinco (0 catches), Julian Edelman (0 grabs) and Taylor Price (inactive) aren't on the field, forcing tiny RB Danny Woodhead to line up at the X-receiver?

Quarterback (B) — It's just tougher for this guy to throw the football these days. Defenses have caught on to something, crowding the line and backing into the middle of the field. Still, he engineered three fourth-quarter scoring drives and put this group in position to win.

DEFENSE

Line (C-) — Albert Haynesworth and Brandon Deaderick drew holds. Whooped-dee-doo! They held Brandon Jacobs to 72 yards rushing and couldn't get in the same zip code as Eli Manning with a four-man rush. Not Vince Wilfork's best day with one tackle. And Jacobs zoomed right by him on the way to his 10-yard TD. Deaderick, Kyle Love, Mark Anderson, Ron Brace and others are a bunch of JAGs (just another guy) who make you long for the days of Seymour, Wilfork and Warren up front.

Linebackers (D) — Brandon Spikes tried. And he had four solo tackles before injuring his knee. That said, he's still dreadful vs. the pass and celebrates much too vociferously and much too early. Zero tackles for Tommy Two Sacks, Jerod Mayo. Looked slow. Gary Guyton played little, which proves that Bill Belichick and his staff are watching films of past games. Rob Ninkovich is being misused in coverage instead of playing in the pass rush.

Secondary (F) — It's so tough to grade these guys. I mean I have a heart, too. But this group has sunk to pathetic levels. "I guess we got tangled up," said Sergio Brown, who was "surprised" at his abysmal, game-changing, absolutely-deserved pass interference penalty. The corners are depressing, week in and week out. James Ihedigbo at safety makes you long to see Buddy Farnham out there. But it's not their fault they have no talent. It's truly sad.

Special Teams (D-) — A missed chip shot, 27-yard field goal attempt accentuates the night. Nothing from the kick-return game. Nothing from Julian Edelman in the punt-return game. And the coverage was average at best.

Coaching (C+) — Bottom line is that this guy, through his own fault maybe, is working with a roster blessed by mediocrity.

Thinking inside the box

The Pats played much of the game in three-tight-end sets with Nate Solder in the game, helping out on the pass protection.

My question this morning is did Bill Belichick employ this strategy out of necessity because he felt his O-line needed help with New York's front four? Or did he do it because he realized that Chad Ochocinco, Julian Edelman and Matt Slater, plus inactive Taylor Price, simply add nothing to his passing game?

Switching gears, but staying in the box for a minute, if I owned BenJarvus Green-Ellis or Stevan Ridley in fantasy football, I'm selling fast.

The Giants, like Pittsburgh last week, stacked the box with nine or 10 bodies and one-deep safety look, essentially eliminating the run game from the equation.

Expect to see more of the same unless Belichick locates a deep, outside threat on the street between now and December.

Who are you?

An hour after the game, a horrifying Pats corner Kyle Arrington, still singed by the on-field roastings, actually has the guts to Tweet? Arrington Tweeted: "Don't hop on the bandwagon later. #Fakefans."

My only response to that is, who are you?

Listen to me on this one

This is a bad, bad, pathetic, horrifying loss. Why? Because the Giants aren't a good football team, and they were truly banged up.

This New York team is 6-2, and mark my words here, will not make the playoffs. Look at their schedule ahead. The Giants will be 9-7 at best.

Why Belichick is better?

He's not. In fact, I believe Tom Coughlin is one of two, maybe three coaches in the game right now who are on the same level as Bill Belichick.

Look, the Pats made some changes. Defensively. Until Belichick realizes that it's more than just a couple changes, New England is going to struggle.

Five final through as we look ahead

1. I didn't spend a ton of time in the Pats locker room post-game, but the way this team is handling adversity doesn't give me a warm feeling. A lack of character is bubbling here. Watch out.

2. You can feel the frustration in Tom Brady as he surveys the field and sees nothing but opposing defenders blanketing his receivers. It feels like 2006.

3. New England goes into the Jets game needing New York to give them the game. Until this week, I actually felt the Pats could win there. Now, the only way will be if the Jets lose - with unforced turnovers and bad mistakes.

4. I asked at least four Giants off the record if New England still was something special. One chose not to respond. One said yes believably. The others kind of chuckled and asked what I thought. That's not a ringing endorsement.

5. We're at the halfway mark. Can we officially mark pickups Chad Ochocinco, Albert Haynesworth and Shaun Ellis as a serious waste of time and money?