It was ugly. It was discouraging. It was embarrassing for just about everyone involved.
There is obviously plenty to pick on after a performance like the Giants (1-7) put on tape in Week 9. So here are this week’s initial Ups/Downs without the benefit of film review.
Have to start with the downs after a game like that.
Ben McAdoo and Steve Spagnuolo -- The blame falls on both the head coach and defensive coordinator when the defense looks so incredibly unprepared and disorganized. Throw in special teams coordinator Tom Quinn, too, with the way his unit faltered. But the Giants defense was blowing coverages left and right and Rams receivers were running wide open deep downfield with regularity. It was an awful defensive display that saw Los Angeles score on eight of its first nine possessions and hit six plays of over 30 yards. McAdoo said blame falls on his shoulders. Well, Spagnuolo in this case, too.
S Landon Collins -- The All-Pro safety had a rough afternoon. Particularly a rough first half, when he struggled in coverage. It appeared as if Collins was responsible for the middle of the field on Sammy Watkins' 67-yard touchdown and the deep area of the field on tight end Gerald Everett's 44-yard reception. Collins isn’t the best out in space in coverage, but struggles to this degree were uncharacteristic. That may have been the worst half of his young and promising career.
QB Eli Manning -- His numbers weren’t terrible but there were too many critical mistakes in the first half for a veteran quarterback who is the team's highest-paid performer and needs to carry this injury-ravaged group. He had a fumble and interception in the opening half. That led to 10 points. He also missed a wide-open Sterling Shepard deep down the middle of the field for what likely would’ve been a 75-yard touchdown and failed to connect with an open Tavarres King on consecutive plays in the end zone late in the first half. Manning and McAdoo admitted these are plays that can’t afford to be missed at the NFL level.
RB Orleans Darkwa -- He continues to run hard and well despite the Giants’ offensive struggles. Darkwa finished with 16 rushes for 71 yards (4.4 ypc) and caught a pair of passes out of the backfield. Pro Football Focus had 51 of the 71 yards coming after contact. That’s impressive. He also forced three missed tackles. Darkwa’s confidence continues to grow and he’s proving to be a capable starter at the NFL level.
TE Evan Engram -- He’s also making plays. Make it three straight games (every one since Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall went down for the season) that Engram reached the end zone. Sure this was late in the contest when the game was already way out of reach, but Engram made big catches throughout, including a 26-yarder down the seam with a defender on his back. He also would’ve had another big gain earlier in the contest if Manning hadn’t overthrown him. Engram does have to cut down on the drops though. He had a few Sunday.
DT Damon Harrison -- Amidst the Giants defensive struggles and confusion, Harrison remained a force in the middle of the defense. Todd Gurley hit a 36-yard run on the edge on his first carry and still finished with 3.7 yards per carry in the game. Harrison’s interior push was a part of that. He finished with seven tackles.