The collapse of the New England defense has been one of the biggest surprises and disappointments in the first quarter of the NFL season.
But not THE biggest surprise and disappointment.
In our Talk of Fame Network poll last week, we asked listeners and readers to vote on the biggest disappointment a month into the season, and the collapse of the New York Giants was the runaway winner. The winless Giants received 26 percent of the vote to outdistance NFL officiating at 20 percent and that woeful New England defense at 19 percent.
The Giants brought Super Bowl aspirations into the fall, but five weeks into the season they have already vanished. New York is already 0-5, having lost to Dallas, Detroit, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay and the Los Angeles Chargers. Not only did they lose the game to the Chargers, they lost wide receivers Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall with season-ending injuries.
With the next two games at Denver and home against Seattle, the Giants could be sitting at 0-7 at their bye. This from a team that advanced to the playoffs as a wild card last season and gave quarterback Eli Manning a deeper set of weapons by drafting tight end Evan Engram and signing Marshall in free agency.
The three Talk of Fame Network hosts – Ron Borges, Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge — were split in their voting.
“I knew the NFL bottom feeder was going to be New York,” Judge said. “I just didn’t know it was not going to be the Jets.”
“The winless Giants are shocking to some,” Borges said, “but why did anyone think they would be anything special? So the real shock is a defense Bill Belichick imported big-money players to improve but thus far stunk.”
New England won its fifth Super Bowl last season with a Top-10 defense that allowed a league-low 250 points. The Patriots added Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore and veteran middle linebacker David Harris to that group this season.
But the Patriots now have the worst defense in the league, allowing the most yards and second-most points. They have already been dinged for 42 points by the Chiefs and 33 apiece by the Texans and Panthers in a 3-2 start. New England never allowed more than 31 points in any game on the way to that Lombardi Trophy in 2016.
Gosselin cast his vote for NFL officiating. The 17 officiating crews are calling penalties at a record clip, an average of 14.1 for 118.8 yards per game. Ten years ago, NFL officials were calling only 11.4 penalties for 89.9 yards per game.
“The best officials should be invisible,” Gosselin. “You see them on the field, but they aren’t out there trying to commandeer the game.”