Monday, September 23, 2013
Big Blue Morning: Uh-oh-and-three
By Dan Graziano ESPN.com
Your daily morning check-in on news and notes about and of interest to the New York Giants
The news of the day: The Giants have started a season 0-3 for the first time since 1996, and they did so with their worst loss of the Tom Coughlin era -- a 38-0 humiliation at the hands of the previously 0-2 Panthers in Carolina. NFL history under the current playoff format gives the Giants less than a 1 percent chance of reaching the postseason at this point, and that doesn't even take into account that their next three games will come in a 12-day stretch from Sept. 29 to Oct. 10 and include two road games against teams (Kansas City and Chicago) that haven't lost yet. They are in a serious hole, and their chances of climbing out of it are preposterously slim. Even if Sunday's seven-sacks-allowed game was a rock-bottom performance, as it very well may have been, there may be too many deep-seated problems to overcome before these Giants can even get back to respectability. They have been outscored by a combined total of 61 points in their three games. Only the Jacksonville Jaguars (minus-64) have a worse scoring differential so far.
Behind enemy lines: The Panthers may have saved their coach's job with the big win over the Giants on Sunday, and Ron Rivera can thank a defense that stifled Eli Manning and the Giants from the start. Carolina safety Robert Lester, who was on the University of Alabama's 2011 national championship team, compared Sunday's defensive effort to that season's 21-0 title-game victory over LSU, in which the Crimson Tide allowed 92 yards of offense and only five first downs. The Giants had 150 yards and 10 first downs, so he's not that far off.
Around the division: The Redskins lost as well, and they're 0-3 too. It's the first time in NFL history -- for which the Giants and the Redskins have been around since basically the beginning -- that both of these teams have started a season 0-3. Robert Griffin III isn't getting much help from his teammates as he works to shake off obvious rust. With the Eagles 1-2 after Thursday's loss to the Chiefs, the division looks like a mess except for the first-place Cowboys, whose only loss is by a point on the road in Kansas City and who walloped the Rams on Sunday to improve to 2-1.
Around the league: If you read me regularly, you know where I come down on the issue of drunken driving as a problem that society at large and the NFL specifically fails to take seriously enough. I don't think it's right that the 49ers' Aldon Smith got to play Sunday. And after the game was over, it appears the 49ers felt kind of the same way. Here's hoping this extremely talented young man gets whatever help he needs and that his story helps convince at least one (and hopefully many more) people to just call a cab.