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@greggray24 @KevinTheNYRBlog @Josh-CK It's not about benching Richards. Been there, done that--and it's like there are great options to replace him with. But adjustments should be made. He's been atrocious on the PP, and it seemed like he singlehandedly dragged down his line Saturday night. If he's going to be this defensively weak, then I think you do need to make some line changes, so that he has two defensively stout wingers--not one--one either side of him. Moreover, if he continues to stink it up, then, yes, you have to start skipping some of his shifts. This is the SC, for ____ sake.
4 months, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://nyrangersblog.com/
Terribly sad news. And a reminder to all of us that these are human being we're talking about, not video game figures. I'm as disappointed with the performance of our stars as anyone, but I'll never relate to those who boo and mock them on home ice. If they steal a win tonite--which I rate as extremely unlikely--I hope the fans on Sunday bring a different energy win or lose. I'm with Filip Bondy--if you want to boo anyone, boo Sather for putting this team together.
5 months, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://nyrangersblog.com/
@steverino44 Good question. I also wish you would do more breaking down of prospects, explaining precisely why you see Martin as less likely to become dominant than, say, Lewan. Moreover--and don't get me wrong, I love this site, you're the best blogger on the NYG hands-down--but interesting you mention the 2010 draft, since you absolutely panned the JPP pick, giving him the dreaded "7" grade. Yes, I'm sure there were "boom-or-bust" caveats at the time. But the point is, the NYG knew he was rough but saw the potential for dominance there--as compared with more all-around solid DEs like Derrick Morgan, who went next to the Titans.
5 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://ultimatenyg.com/uncategorized/versatility-vs-dominance.html
I haven't seen enough of Schofield to know what to think. But the sense I get is that he's a tweener with lots of speed whom they're targeting primarily as a situational pass rusher. Very high rating in that category by PFF. I wouldn't write him off as journeyman or call this signing "insane" just yet. May show they've done their homework.
7 months, 2 weeks ago on Giants New Signings, Joseph Signs with Vikes
My thoughts exactly. I've been too busy today to follow what I'm sure are the many attempts to exonerate Sherman, whether by claiming he was provoked by Crabtree, or implying it's somehow "racist" to believe that even, perhaps especially brutal sports like football and hockey should give way at the end to a gentlemanly code of conduct and sportsmanship, or that it's OK to talk smack, even after the game's over, so long as you can "back it up." I don't agree with any of it, but let's just address Sherman's postgame attempt to pin this on Crabtree. But if that's all it was, why did you have to run over to Kaepernick after the INT and make a slashing hand gesture to the throat? Because he "disrespected" you by throwing in your direction? When simply trying to make a play in the course of a football game constitutes "disrespect," the term has lost all meaning. I was really appalled by Sherman's classlessness in winning and hope that Peyton and the Denver WRs can figure out a way of teaching him a thing or two.
On another matter entirely, I'm very encouraged by everything I've read about Ben McAdoo, in particular the excellent piece by Connor Orr in yesterday's "Star-Ledger." I find the argument that Eli's not cut-out for an offense that would rely more on West Coast principles to be frankly absurd. First of all, there will still be plenty of opportunities to throw the long ball. It's not as if Aaron Rodgers hasn't dissected us with many such throws in the past. More to the point--even if Eli isn't the most accurate passer in the world, he's certainly accurate enough, especially if properly coached, to complete the slants and screens and seam routes that we've been calling for. Think about it--when have we typically seen Eli at his best? When did we first realize, years ago, even before the SB run of '07, that he was better than his often pedestrian statistics, with his low completion percentage and high number of INTs, indicated? In the TWO-MINUTE DRILL. In NO-HUDDLE SITUATIONS. At times when there was more emphasis on quick plays, picking up yardage any way possible, not overthinking things, improv, improv, improv. I strongly believe that the right coach, a coach who sees this asset in Eli's game and is willing to exploit it, can make a huge difference. Obviously, TC is still the coach, but the sense I'm getting from the various things he's said since the hire, and from the fact he's made further changes to the coaching staff since, that he's on board. And I don't have problems with many of the things often described as central to KG's offense in isolation. Power running, play action, looking to go vertical--these are all good in moderation. The problem comes when you don't develop the short-yardage, RB and TE-oriented passing and YAC offense to go with it. When you go 4-wide empty backfield and try difficult-to-complete 20-yard fade routes on 3rd and 2. You get the point.
9 months ago on Richard Sherman
I wouldn't go after Politi. He was actually, along with D'Alessandro, one of the voices calling for change. I don't think he's saying anything you yourself haven't said, which is that the people responsible for personnel bear a great deal of the responsibility for the utter ineptitude of this year's OL.
In any event, would be curious to hear who are some of the prospective OCs you'd like to see the team go after and why.
9 months, 2 weeks ago on 10 Years of Coziness with Kevin Gilbride
Just listened to Mara's press conference during my lunch break. Have to say, was pleasantly surprised by a lot of what he had to say. Thought there was some definite ground being laid to dismiss Gilbride, among others. When a trained lawyer like Mara, who's very good at being careful with his words, expresses pique about the fact it took so long to realize that Jernigan could play, and then doesn't step back from his criticism when given the opportunity, that's significant. I also noted how open he seemed to bringing back Sullivan. Again, he could have shot that down, even if behind the scenes there were conversations--but he didn't. Interesting, and--for the time being, at least--encouraging.
I'll also say one more thing. I know people gripe about the ownership from time to time on this blog, and that's fair. But, folks, I'm also a fan of the Mets, Knicks, and Rangers. And so I've come to realize the hard way that having an owner as smart, stand-up, articulate, classy, and committed to winning as Mara shouldn't be taken for granted. Obviously, that's only one piece, but it's a big piece. I also happen to live in DC…if you want to know how much worse things can be.
9 months, 3 weeks ago on NYG 20 WAS 6
Brilliant summation as always. The only thing the 7-3 record in the last 10 games demonstrates is that the team didn't give up on their coach. They continued to show up when a lot of other teams would have packed it up. But the quality of this team is better illustrated by its point differential than by its record. This is a team that scored 294 pts and gave up 383. That's a -89 point differential. Here, by the way, are the point differentials of the other 7-9 teams:
(1) Tenn (-19)
(2) Det (+19)
(3) StL (-16)
So, the reality is that we're talking about a team that was much, much worse than its mediocre record would indicate. They were more in the 4-12 or 5-11 range than 7-9. And if they had faced Foles in the second Eagles game and Rodgers in the GB game, 5-11 is what they would have been. They also had a luxury that St Louis, for example, didn't--playing in a division where they got to play the Skins twice.
So, this should be the basis for evaluation. I hope Gilbride is given the heave ho, though I'm less sure than I was two weeks ago that he would be let go. Only a few reporters (thanks, Politi and D'Alessandro) have gotten on that bandwagon. It's true, KG's offenses have never performed even close to this poorly in the past, but that's not the point. Don't tell me that the Giants set team records for points scored in the past five seasons prior to this one. Comparing NFL offenses of today to those of the past is like comparing the proverbial apples and oranges. You practically have to throw for 4,000 yards a season at this point to be considered a top (not even elite) QB. Besides, the issue with Gilbride has always been adjustments, decisionmaking, scoring in the red zone. He never managed to create an offense that could consistently, methodically move down the field and score. Enough said.
Whatever happens with the coaches, I'm sure they'll zero in on trying to fix the OL in the offseason. It can't be as bad as this year, I think--I hope. So, we'll have to keep fingers crossed on Eli. Most people on this blog seem to think that Eli's the least of our worries. I thought the same for the first 10 games or so of the season. But, piss poor as his protection has been, as much as his RBs and WRs and TEs have let him down, Eli's play these last few games has been troubling. He's fallen back into habits we haven't seen since pre-SB '07. I hope coming back with a fresh slate next year will prove just what the doctor ordered. But I worry that if he gets off to a shaky start again, he might not recover. We'll see.
People thought I was being overly optimistic last week when I said I thought it was a near certainty that GIlbride would be let go. Well, after yesterday's debacle, you can definitely see a change in the press coverage. Once that happens, the end is typically near. How things will play out with the other coordinators, and even with TC himself, remains to be seen. But, however counterintuitive it might sound, performing as ineptly as they did on offense yesterday was, in my book, a good thing, so long as it cemented in ownership's mind the need for a change. JR should in no way be let off the hook, as his failure to draft enough OL and to draft them well lies at the very root of the offense's problems. But a better, more innovative and flexible offensive coordinator would have adjusted. This team isn't in the league of the Seattles and San Franciscos and wouldn't be even if they had better coaching, IMO--at least this season. But they shouldn't be bottom-feeders either. At the very least, the Giants need someone who can come in and help Eli get back to 2011 form.
10 months, 1 week ago on SEA 23 NYG 0
I agree with you about Nicks not being easily replaceable. The problem is you'd be paying him on the hope he can be the Nicks of '09-11 and not of the past two years. For whatever reason, he's not getting the separation he used to. Is it injuries? Dissatisfaction with how he's being used? I don't know. But you're absolutely right, IMO, about the difficulties of winning without a true #1. It's just hard to know if he really is one anymore.
Maybe I'm not as cynical as other people here, but I'm fairly confident that KG will be let go. Even when they ran off a string of wins, and won 5 of 6, the offense underperformed. I think the front office will see Eli's play this year as extremely troubling and decide that they can't bank on KG fixing what's wrong. Coughlin may be back, even Fewell (sadly) may be back, but Gilbride and Quinn, IMO, will be sent packing.
10 months, 2 weeks ago on SD 37 NYG 14
Amen. The ineptitude of this offense is the main storyline of the season. The slowness with which they play--even when they're down four scores and time is fast running out--is simply mind-boggling. No pace, no urgency at all. A new offensive coordinator is a must. But the problems with personnel run deep as well. The line is a disaster. Perhaps moving Beatty to guard will help, but I'm not so sure. In the past, to the extent he's succeeded, it's been more based on finesse than power. And I don't even recall if Boothe is signed for next season. Then you have to fill Diehl's spot…it's a mess. But the receiver core is also in iffy shape. Nicks is almost certainly gone, and while letting him walk is certainly justified based on this year's performance, I'm not convinced Randle can step into the shoes he once wore. Maybe--all the more reason a new offensive coordinator is needed to find out. And after Randle and Cruz…nada. Nothing at tight end either.
But I'm curious why you'd spare Fewell the axe. The defense was dreadful today, and while they've certainly played better the last two months--and have been strong against the run throughout the season--the fact is, whenever they've been matched against a top-flight QB who can attack them underneath, they've been toast. Again, the personnel is deeply flawed here too. You watch the speed and ferocity of the LBs in the SEA-SF game and realize they're playing a different game.
The sad thing about Nicks is that when he was healthy, or motivated, he was a true #1 WR, and players like that don't grow on trees. Big and physical enough to hold his own on the outside, great route runner, outstanding hands. Not super speedy, but as he showed in playoffs two years ago, he had that extra gear, so that he could take a simple crossing route to the house. And for the first few years at least, he seemed to be a total professional, without the diva quality that made Plaxico and so many top-flights WRs so maddening. Randle may turn out to be good, but I've seen nothing yet to indicate he has Nicks's overall skill set. And Cruz, invaluable as he is, is a slot receiver.
Pat Traina's weekly analyses for BR this year have been first-rate. There have been so many games over the years where the offensive playcalling has driven me batty, but last Sunday's game may have taken the cake. The only consolation was that I never really believed this team had what it takes to make a serious run. The OL just isn't good enough, in my opinion. And Eli just looks out of sorts. I couldn't agree more with Andy's postgame wish to see if another offensive coordinator can help him turn his career around.
10 months, 3 weeks ago on Odds and Ends at 4-7
Hear, hear. I was also vexed by Reese's press conference (I didn't the hear the interview with Francesa). Obvoiusly, he's not going to (nor should he) take sole responsibility for where this team is right now, but his answers were so evasive that it felt insulting. I do think he bears a huge share of the blame for the state of the OL, and while Beason seems to have had a big impact in a small sample, let's hold off before we declare the LB position stabilized. Let's also be honest in admitting that the fact Beason seems to have made such a difference thus far is an indictment of Reese's neglect of MLB to this point. (And by the way, has anybody noticed how strong a rookie season Kiko Alonso is having?) The only thing I question is whether it's the Giants' fault that JPP waited so long to have surgery, Is it possible that they wanted him to do it sooner, but he resisted? I just don't know.
Btw, Pat Traina has a very good analysis of Reese's missteps in her latest column on Bleachers Report. In the past, I've been lukewarm about her writing about the Giants, both the content and the quality. She always struck me as a bit too much of a homer, too quick to defend the organization when it deserved to be called out. But I've been extremely impressed with how incisive her recent writing for BR has been.
11 months, 3 weeks ago on The Sound of Denial
@CommanderShepard @capt george I concur. While I think it's time for a change, I don't think it's fair to claim that everything the Giants have achieved during TC's tenure was in spite of him. Far from it. If you look at the entirety of TC's coaching career, you find three times--'96, '07, and '11--where he took an underdog team much further in the playoffs than anyone had predicted. That's impressive. It's also fair to say that he was never able to take a favored team (the '99 Jags, the '08 Giants) all the way. And the number of times the Giants have slipped down the stretch during his tenure also has to be factored into any assessment of his career. But to make so much of the '08 Giants losing that game to Philly--as if that tells you everything you need to know about TC--is, IMO, extremely harsh. Look at how many top-ranked teams have lost in the divisional and conference championship the last 5-10 years. How different, really, is that Giants-Eagles game of '08 from the Giants-Packers game of '11? Is Mike McCarthy a lousy coach because his 15-1 juggernaut couldn't beat a 9-7 squad that had to win its last two games to make the playoffs? Did the Giants win that game "by the skin of their teeth"? That's not how I remember it.
1 year ago on CHI 27 NYG 21
Again, echo chamber, but I've gotten so tired of the constant back-and-forth over whether Eli or the receiver (last night, Randle 2x) was responsible for the miscommunication and TO that resulted. The problem is an offensive strategy that simply relies too much on the QB and receivers reading defenses the same way and making extremely risky throws on that basis. Eli's problem with INTs obviously isn't only a function of this strategy. He's always had issues with footwork, accuracy, forcing balls when he shouldn't (though, before recently, he'd improved in all these areas). But the fact is that there simply isn't enough emphasis (again, echo chamber) on the underneath game, on both sides of the ball. Look at how Cutler killed us last night with quick slants, screens, passes to the TE, etc. It's just so frustrating. It's even more frustrating to read a report this morning that TC has essentially been given option to return if he so chooses. Look, I admire TC a great deal. We haven't won as consistently as we should in his years as coach, but two SB runs are nothing to sneeze at. But it's time for change, arguably in the FO as well, which bears as much if not more culpability for where things are at this point. We need fresh thinking on offense and defense--coaches who are better at making adjustments, better as putting players in a position to succeed. The offense has to find a better balance between the vertical passing game that we once thrived at and the kind of small ball that keeps the chains moving. The defense is uninspired, though the main issue seems to be a dearth of talent (or at least declining talent) in personnel. I blame Gilbride more than Fewell, because the problems on offense, the holes on OL and RB notwithstanding, seem more fixable.
Great writeup. I couldn't agree more about the need to come to terms with the offensive identity that makes the most sense for the team they have. They can and must run the ball--and it's essential they find somebody who do can do a more credible job of eking out yards on short-distance downs. Brown was great at that last year, while Jacobs pretty much sucked at it toward the end of his NYG career (which, turns out, may not be over just yet). But this should be a pass-first offense that mostly operates out of the shotgun with a minimum of three wide. That's what's right for this team, and frankly, the nature of the modern-day NFL increasingly demands it.
I agree that Wilson's speed and elusiveness can be a tremendous asset, and that it's wrong to treat his two fumbles, while devastating in yesterday's game, as evidence of a particular weakness in his game. What concerns me more than the fumbles at this point are (in order) his blocking, vision, and overall feel for where he should be given the play or the moment. But the blocking is numero uno. You simply can't run a wide-open pass offense that relies on 3 WR and a TE as receiving options without an RB who can pick up rushers and blitzers (while also knowing when to peel off and provide the QB with a checkdown option). Bradshaw's vision was never great (though it was better than Jacobs'), and he never came close to Wilson's burst (though he was pretty darned shifty his first few years), but he became, in my opinion, a stellar blocker. And if Wilson can't step up in this regard (and the Giants can't find someone who can) there's going to be trouble.
In terms of the D, I thought they performed extremely commendably yesterday, much better than I anticipated going in. Dallas scored two offensive TDs and 3 FGs. And 10 points came off TOs when the Giants were pinned deep in their own end. Neither of the TDs was the kind of wide-open breakdown in coverage that became the norm last year. While the pass rush was inconsistent, they were not dominated at the line of scrimmage and got stronger as the game went on, which speaks to their improved depth and quality. The DEs mostly held the edge; the DTs provided some push. The secondary also did well in coverage and, for the most part, in tackling. TT wasn't a shutdown corner before he got injured, and certainly won't be now, but he provides a physicality that was missing last year. The LBs are a weak link, and--beyond the TOs, are one factor in the ToP disadvantage--but here's the thing: the Giants will only win this year if the offense performs to expectations. They are not going to be a defensive juggernaut. You want the defense to avoid giving up big plays, mostly hold the opposing team to FGs, and show an ability to get stops when necessary. The Giants did that yesterday. There's obviously room for improvement, but this is a game they should have won if they hadn't been so damned sloppy.
One last thing though in terms of the LBs. I wish they would try out Rivers at MLB. He seems pretty clearly to be an upgrade over Herzlich against both the pass and the run and over Connor at least in the former.
1 year, 1 month ago on Dallas 36 NYG 31
I had a feeling going in this was going to be a tough game. The Skins have been in every game they've played this year. I'm sure advanced stats would show they're much better than their record. I hope you're right that better speed at LB will help us against this offense (and give props not only to RGIII but to the Shanahans for turning this offense from one of the worst year in year out to one of the best overnight). But that didn't seem to be the main issue in the first half. As a viewer, I've rarely felt so uncertain play to play whether the QB or the RB has the ball--and that hesitation has a lot to do with why Albert Morris was over 100 yards by halftime. But I guess one thing today's game showed is how methodical offenses based on the run can be both a blessing and a curse. The Skins opened with a 17-play drive and only got 3 points out of it.
I'm just glad we got out of this with a win. Losing to our third division rival in a row would have been very tough. I'm just hoping we can win again next week to go 2-2 in the division. Better we should lose a game or two to the AFC North than in conference and certainly in division.
2 years ago on NYG 27 Washington 23
What happened to the WR Randle from LSU? Did Wonder miss him? Or did I?
2 years, 5 months ago on Welcome to the 2012 NFL Draft- Round 1 | April
@ultimatenyg @plektor We don't play JAX this season. We're on schedule to play the AFC North, not South in 2012. But I agree that Ross is the quintessential "4."
2 years, 7 months ago on Aaron Ross Cashes Out | March
Everything you say makes sense, and yet, at the end of the day, I still think this was a risk worth taking for the Redskins. It's true that, for all the accolades, RG3 has yet to play a down of pro football, and, with someone who's likely to run as much as he is, injuries are always a concern. But he's also one of the most highly regarded QB prospects with an amazingly diverse skill set. And in the NFL of 2012, it's very, very hard to build a winner without a franchise QB. The last team to win the Super Bowl with a game manager (Brad Johnson) was TB in 2002. I don't doubt that there will be another team like the 2000 Ravens at some point that will prevail on defense alone--but this will be the exception, not the norm. And so, if you believe that RG3 is the real deal, and you're close enough to have a shot at nabbing him, I think you roll the dice. I also don't buy that a good front office can earn its chops by drafting well in lower rounds. You could argue that the 2005 was one of the Giants best drafts in recent memory--even though they didn't have a first or fifth round pick. They got Corey Webster, Justin Tuck, and Brandon Jacobs 2, 3, and 4.
With regard to Eli, I agreed, at the time, that it was too much to pay. Eight years later, it's fair to say we made out fine--but part of the reason I was upset is that I wasn't convinced Eli was a far superior prospect to Roethlisberger and RIvers. This year, things are different. Had the Skins not made this move, there wasn't another QB of the same caliber to pick. Obviously, RG3 could disappoint and one of the lesser prospects could excel--Aaron Rodgers had to sit around for 24 picks in 2005, Brees was a second-round pick, etc. But given the advance billing for RG3 there's reason to think he'll be what they're hoping.
2 years, 7 months ago on St. Louis Rams Griffin Heist | March
In general, I think teams SHOULD be more cautious about making deals at the trade deadline. You're deep in talks, and everyone knows it; you start worrying that you can't arrive at the deadline empty-handed; and before you know it, you've made a deal you'll end up regretting sooner or later. If the NYR win the Stanley Cup this year, it will be because they are able to continue the winning formula that's worked most of this season--a grind-it-out style that wears opponents down and out-of-this-world goaltending. They'll not going to turn into an offensive powerhouse simply as a result of trading for one very, very good winger who, to my mind, is still short of great. Might he make a difference on a few power plays? Perhaps. But I'm not convinced adding Nash will be what gets them over the proverbial hump. And, then, if you don't win it all this year, would it seem worth it to have traded away so much promise and added to salary cap diffculties for years to come. I don't think so. Again, if the NYR window for winning it all was short, I might say go ahead and roll the dice. But I believe they're only at the beginning of their window. And it would be a shame to shorten that window for the sake of very uncertain benefit.
2 years, 7 months ago on Rangers Looking at Other Options | February
Many thanks to you, Andy, and to all the great writers who make this the best damned blog in football. Win or lose, I always can't wait to read your recaps. Just a tremendous mix of sharp, candid analysis and...well, if Coughlin can say it, I will too--love for this franchise.
Four Super Bowls. Was only 12 when they won the SB for the first time, but can well remember the pre-1986 years when I marveled that a team, like the Steelers, had won FOUR Super Bowls. (Fond memories of the Super Bowl mornings spent watching NFL Films Super Bowl highlights, back when you could fit them all in the 12 hours or so before the game started.) Granted, that's more than 25 years ago: the Steelers have now won 6, the Cowboys and Niners 5. But there's still something special about reaching that number. I'm just glad God saw to it that I'd be a fan of at least one winning organization. What a thrill the last six weeks have been.
2 years, 8 months ago on Comfortably Numb | February
One more point. I think that, all things considered, Eli Manning played a great game. Certainly, he's had better games in terms of accuracy and decision-making, but given the miserable conditions, and given the absolute beating he took--can't remember a worse beating than maybe one of his games (e.g. the Raven game) his rookie year--it was a profile in courage. That said, when you hear the radio talk show hosts and commentators go on and on about his throwing 58 times without a turnover, you wonder just how closely they watched the game. The Niners should have intercepted Manning, by my count, at least 2x. And he did fumble the ball in 1Q, but the Giants, fortunately, recovered it.
I want to be clear that even if the Niners has intercepted Manning those two times--and even if the Niners had gone on to win--I still would be saluting his performance today. It just bothers me how people who are paid to analyze this stuff closely make their decisions about whether to give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down on the basis of outcomes alone without looking any deeper. Because you know that if the Niners had held on to those throws, these same people would be laying the defeat at Eli's feet.
2 years, 9 months ago on NY Giants 20 SF 49ers 17: The Giants are Super Bound! | January
One of the rare games that plays out almost entirely as anticipated. You figured the Giants would struggle to run the ball and that, as a result, over the course of the game, the Niners rush would have more and more success teeing off on Manning. You figured the Giants D would have to make stops to keep them in the game. And you figured that the turnover differential would be absolutely crucial. And it was.
Major props to the Giants special teams--perhaps to Weatherford most of all. One could make a case for him as yesterday's MVP. 12 punts, most of them excellent, but no bigger play, honestly, than his saving of that snap at game's end. I know the Niners couldn't seem to move the ball from the late Q4 on, but I just don't see how the Giants would have been able to recover from missing a 31-yard FG to win it.
Overall, I thought the reffing was top-notch. There were some questionable calls, but one absolutely huge one went our way. It appears they got it right on the Bradshaw fumble, but it was very, very close, and could easily have gone the other way.
Don't mean to carp today--there will be two weeks for that--but the Giants need to figure out in the next two weeks how to prevent a resurgent Wilfork from flattening David Baas. All the OL seemed to struggle from the 3Q on--the tackles in particular. But I feel better about the tackles chances against NE's edge rush. (It's gotten better, but it still doesn't come close to SF's.) But there were times yesterday when Baas seemed to be the worst player on the field. If the Giants don't convert on that 3rd and 15 for a touchdown, his holding penalty on 1st and goal maybe becomes one of the crucial plays of the game.
This should be more than a 5-game suspension (which isn't to say it will be). Frankly, I don't see any mitigating factors here. You have a clearly defenseless player with his back turned in McDonaugh who gets brutally ridden into the boards. We've seen how much time players have lost to concussions. Who knows what's going to be with Crosby? In my opinion, this should be, minimum, 10 games. And, frankly, the way to stop this stuff quick would be to say that if a player sustains a head injury as a result of a cheap shot, you, the offender, will not play again until (at a minimum) that player is cleared by doctors to play. If that's two weeks, fine. If it's a year, tough.
2 years, 9 months ago on No Status on McDonagh After Hit From Behind | January
You forgot to mention two memorable events in this game:
(1) Early in Q1, Jerry Rice caught a pass on a crossing pattern over the middle and then began streaking down the field toward the endzone. No one was going to catch him. SF was going to break out to an early lead. And then, maybe five yards or so from the endzone, out of the blue, for no apparent reason whatsoever, Rice fumbled the ball. No one hit him. No one knocked the ball loose. He just dropped it. The Giants recovered--if memory serves, in the endzone--and it was all G-Men from there.
(2) Joe Montana wasn't just "unable to finish the game." Jim Burt absolutely leveled him on a pass deep in SF territory late in Q2. Montana's pass was intercepted by LT who took it in for a pick six and made the score 28-3 at the half. People somtimes forget about the Burt hit because of the even more devastating one by Leonard Marshall in the NFC championship four years later. But it was brutal.
2 years, 9 months ago on Giants versus 49ers: January 4, 1987
I am also concerned about how our offense matches up against their D. It's hard to see how we'll be able to run the ball with much effectiveness. With few exceptions, the holes just haven't been there this year, even against teams that aren't so stout against the run. It used to be that Bradshaw's vision and cutback ability were so outstanding that he could gain plus yardage even when the blocking fell apart. But this year--I hope simply because of his injury--he's seemed a step slow. It often seems like he just misses getting out of trouble. And Jacobs is just so inconsistent. One game, even one series he puts his head down and runs with authority, the next he's tiptoeing and moving too must east-west. And I'm worried that if Eli has to throw too much it will allow the SF pass rush to tee off on him and either knock loose the ball or bait him into turnovers.
To me, the keys of this game are as follows:
(1) We have played outstanding defense the past three weeks against teams far more prolific on offense than the 49ers. Yes, the Niners definitely showed something with their two late drives, but if we commit ourselves to stopping the run, play press coverage to disrupt their timing patterns, rush the passer with authority, and TACKLE IN THE OPEN FIELD we have the ability to give them a lot of problems.
(2) We are a big-play offense. When you've had four games in a row of TDs over 60 yards (and a Hail Mary thrown in), well, that's what you are. And we can't go suddenly risk averse on Sunday. But because of my confidence in our defense, and because of what may be very adverse weather conditions, I think a major emphasis has to be put on avoiding turnovers. Don't emulate the Saints by making things any easier for the Niners. So more small ball, more three-step drops to avoid the rush (unless, for whatever reason, SF decides to imitate the Pack by sending 3 rushers way too often). More emphasis on securing the ball and not taking unnecessary risks--especially on special teams. On a kickoff, I'm fine taking the ball at the 20. On punts, just catch the ball above all else. On INTs, don't necessarily try to hit the home run in terms of a pick six (a la RW McQuarters) unless it's a slam dunk. (Sorry for the mixed metaphors.) On runs, yes, try to eke out additional yards, but be smart about it.
The turnover battle is just so key in my mind. Look at the Saints game. Look at our game not only against GB on Sunday but against SF earlier in the year. We had more yards than them that day, more time of possession, more first downs--but they won the turnover battle, and they outplayed us on specials. We have to do everything we can this time to make sure that doesn't happen.
2 years, 9 months ago on Packers Tip Their Cap and Call The Giants Their Daddy | January
(3) I've said before that one of the things I admire about this site is the lack of bitching about the refs. With that said, one has a right to expect that in the playoffs, when so much is on the line, the calls will be at least justifiable. This is two weeks in a row of astonishingly sophomoric work by the refs. And, frankly, Leavy has an ugly track record. I've seen some pretty bad Superbowls in 30 years of watching them, but the 2006 game between the Steelers and the Seahawks took the cake not only in terms of awful play on both sides, but in terms of THE WORST REFEREEING I'VE EVER SEEN IN A SUPERBOWL. I was so outraged by the failure to reverse the Jennings fumble that never should have been reversed on the field to begin with that I slammed the floor so hard my wife basically called a technical on me (I had frightened the kids). Why is it that the NHL (no one's definition of a brilliantly run business) finds it so easy to go to the league office in Toronto for reviews that take under a minute and are almost always accurate while the NFL continues to adhere to this ridiculous system? Why can't obvious things like whether a defensive player hit a QB with his helmet be reviewed? Had the Giants lost this game the reffing would be a bitter pill to swallow.
2 years, 9 months ago on NY Giants defeat Green Bay and Bill Leavy, 37-20 | January
Tremendous win. For the NYG to have won on the road at Lambeau twice in four years--and to have beaten a 16-0 and 15-1 team in that same period--is a huge accomplishment and one of which the franchise can and should be genuinely proud. There is so much to say, and you have pretty much said it. A few points: (1) I want to give huge props to the LBs and DBs for their play in coverage today. Were there a lot of dropped passes? Yes. Did Rogers miss on a shocking number of throws (for him)? Absolutely. And, yes, this year unlike last (the Philly game), Osi's hand got there just in the nick of time or else that's a TD to Jennings. But, still, how many times did Rogers roll out of pressure and make you expect he was about to find someone wide open 30 yards down the field...and he didn't? Yes, he ran a lot, picked up a lot of first downs on 3rd and long with his legs. And that was frustrating. But better than him airing it out. The Pack seemed to have no vertical game today. And while the DL played reasonably well they did not dominate. The guys in coverage held up more than we had reason to expect. Kudos. (2) Look, what can you say about Eli and his receivers today. All three of them were huge. Thank you, Andy, for reminding me how big that 19-yard pass was to Manningham on the third play of the game. Every playoff weekend you figure there's going to be at least one surprise--not even necessarily an upset, just some unit performing better (or worse) than anyone expected. And I had this sneaking feeling going into the game that the Pack D might play better than we thought. And then you saw Manning roll away from the pressure and throw an absolute dart to Manningham on the sideline and you're absolutely right, I breathed a sigh of relief. And Eli... BTW, watch him on that run by Bradshaw late in the fourth, the one that set up Jacobs' TD, I swear he all of a sudden appears in the picture blocking downfield. But looking forward to SF, I have to say that I'm concerned about the running game. Today's numbers weren't impressive and actually don't reveal how bad the running game looked. With the exception of the Jacobs TD, there never seemed to be a big, solid gain that was actually the result of BLOCKING, not just managing to stay on your feet in spite of everything breaking down. Even last week, the running plays that worked were generally the result of counters. My fear is that this could be a big problem next week. The Niners have a pass rush that scares me--if it's not Justin it's Aldon Smith--and if the Giants become one-dimensional they may get their yards but they'll also be vulnerable to turnovers. And with the weather forecast looking very wet at this point (granted, it's still a week away) this could really hurt us.
You might be right--I was thinking the same thing. This was a totally different situation from earlier in the season in the Giants-Packers game. At the time, some people criticized the Giants for scoring too early and leaving a little less than a minute on the clock for Rogers to march the Pack down the field for the winning FG. But in that case the Giants were down by 8. They needed a TD and a successful 2-point conversion just to tie it up. In that case, in my mind at least, you do what you have to do to get the TD and hope your defense can stop them. But here, all they needed was a FG to win. NO had one TO and the 2-minute warning. Still, that, arguably, might have left too much time on the clock. If it's 3rd down and 2 minutes left, even if NO has no TOs left, they'll still get the ball back with about a minute left. And then all they need is a FG to win. It took NO all of 36 seconds to go 88 yards for a TD. (Remember when this was considered a big deal?)
So I'm not sure if this was, statistically at least, a no-brainer today. But you can certainly imagine a situation where it would be. And it's almost impossible to imagine a player doing the smart thing and going down within the 5-yard line. First of all, because it's so counterintuitive. But also because you can be sure that if something went wrong with the FG (a la Romo 2006) the player who could have scored a TD and didn't would be slammed by all the media hacks and ignorant fans for life.
Whether the Niners were the "better team" on the field today, you can't help but be impressed by the magic Jim Harbaugh has wrought. This is essentially the same team that was mediocre to worse for years. And in one year he has them in the NFC championship. I can't think of any other sport where coaching matters quite as much as football.
2 years, 9 months ago on The NFC Championship will go through the 49ers | January
I'm not saying there aren't certain parallels bet 07 and 11. You're right--that would be absurd. I guess what I'm saying is that there are parallels that are relevant (like fact Giants seem to be finally figuring it out entering the playoffs) and parallels that are meaningless (like fact Giants lost to Pats and Pack be same score).To assume latter matters is magical thinking. As to whether history repeats, let's leave that to a philosophy of history blog.@CommanderShepard @dbs50
2 years, 9 months ago on Comparisons Between 2007 and 2011 | January
(2) I've been thinking about our defense and which players need to step up big on Sunday for us to have a chance of slowing the Pack down. I completely agree with the general view on this site that press coverage with lots of bumps and chips and physical play by the cornerbacks and linebackers is the way to go. With all the 4/5 receiver packages they play, no doubt a rookie like Prince will be out there more than one might like--and I think it's been shown: the simpler we keep things for now, the more physical we allow him to be, the better. But the players I think need to step up the biggest are the DTs. Canty, Joseph, and Bernard have really upped their game the last few weeks--Canty in particular. We need them to play even more out of their mind this week. And here's why--as great as our DEs are, if you can block the guys up the middle, a QB as savvy and elusive as Rodgers will be able to evade the pressure more often than not. A quick step here, a quick step there, and bam! The ball is out of his hands and on its way into a tight spot down the field. Or maybe he just tucks the ball in and runs for 15-20 yards. But when the pressure come right up the gut, when the guards and center are being pushed back constantly, then even an elusive QB will have trouble. Then they lose confidence in their line and the pocket. And when you have pass rushing DEs as outstanding as JPP, Tuck, and Osi, it means that when the DTs collapse the pocket, the QB often has no where to go. They try to spin away from the pressure only to end up in the DEs grasp.
Look, there are obviously a lot of players that have to excel on Sunday for us to win. Again, what impressed me so much about the 2007 game was how it was truly a team effort on defense--everybody made plays (I still can't get over Pierce's holding off three blockers to prevent what should have been an easy TD on a screen), everybody hit hard, everybody played real mean. We need that again. But I do think the DTs are key. And I've been so encouraged by the play of Canty in particular that I have some hope. I also think it would help if one LB--say Kiwanuka--played the game of his life and just was all over the field making plays.
Let's go Giants!
I also don't get the 2007 comparisons. The only significance they have in my mind is psychological. That is, the fact that the Giants have traveled this hard road before--and that many of the key players who did it are still on the team--makes it easier for them to believe that it can be done again. But history, contrary to the adage, does not repeat itself, and the fact the Giants did it in 2007 shouldn't obscure how difficult and unlikely it was that they would win that year. I also believe that this year's Packers and the Saints (assuming they win, which is far from guaranteed) pose far more challenges than the Cowboys and Packers of 2007. But we'll see.
A few points:
(1) I watched the 2007 Giants-Packers game again the other night on NFL network for the first time since that very cold night four years ago. The thing that struck me was just how thoroughly we outplayed them. This wasn't like the Cowboy game, where we kind of managed to hang around until we could start getting to Romo with regularity; or the Patriots game, where we played outstanding defense, but still played them more or less even. The Packers only stayed in that game because of our mistakes. By the fourth quarter, we were really stifling them, just crushing them on defense. Again, take away the Webster slip, and the first of the McQuarters' fumbles, that ridiculous Snee holding penalty, and obviously the two misses by Tynes and this game isn't all that close. What a performance, considering the conditions.
Excellent analysis. In my mind, the biggest mistake the Giants made in their home playoff against the Eagles three years ago was their mulish adherence to a vertical passing game plan on offense when the elements (and Eli's own erratic play) favored small ball. Yes, there were lots of other problems that day--missed FGs, the inability of the defense to get off the field on some crucial 3rd and longs--but the failure to make adjustments on offense was, in my mind, the main issue that day. We were, top to bottom, a far better team than PHI that year and should have won not only that game, but arguably the Super Bowl. We're a far cry from that now, though our personnel is better suited to the vertical game than it was back in 2008. Still, I agree entirely that using small ball--successfully--is crucial to the Giants' chances on Sunday. The Giants cannot afford to be dominated in time of possession like they were in the Jets game (perhaps KG's worst called game all season), because the Falcons are far superior offensively. And the Giants will undoubtedly struggle to run on the Falcons, because they are both stout up the middle and quick in the LB core of Lofton and Weatherspoon. They play a lot of Cover 2 zone, and clearly will be focused on Nicks and Cruz. They want nothing more than to get us in third and long and ballhawk. The key is to avoid those third and longs and take the quick slants and flares that will likely be there.
2 years, 9 months ago on Small Ball is Big for Football Success | January
Agreed. Put blame where blame is due on that play--on Nicks. It was a well-thrown slant. The ball was in his hands and he dropped it, and it wasn't the first time the last two weeks. I love him, but he's gotta catch that ball. Meanwhile, at the time there was still over 8 minutes to go in the game, and the Giants had a 13-point lead. They overcame that kind of lead with 5 minutes to go two weeks ago. So it's not as if they were in a place to start running out the clock. @capt george @CommanderShepard @xtian
2 years, 9 months ago on When the Rest of the NFC East Was Pathetic | December
Dead on, as always. Frankly, I think that at this point, win or lose, Coughlin will almost definitely be back. They would have to completely not show up this Sunday night--and I mean completely--for there to be a chance of his dismissal. And maybe if they have a seesaw game that features no defense and results in a close Giants loss--maybe, they'd force Coughlin to fire PF as the price of staying on. But I doubt it. They'll point to the injuries and say the performance of the D wasn't acceptable but still they were shorthanded all year and....
The past two weeks have also provided a sober reminder that PF isn't the only problem. There's also the guy running the offense. There have definitely been things in KG's offense I've liked this season, but the playcalling this weekend came close to Jan '09 vs the Eagles bad. The long pass on 3rd and 1 well into the 3Q was the tipping point for me. You're in a close game; your defense has gotten better over the course of the game but has still been out on the field too long and could benefit from some rest; and, still, you go for a risky throw rather than a surer bet to keep the drive alive on third down. I like the aggressiveness they've shown in their passing offense this year, but there's a time and a place. Saturday confirmed that KG just doesn't correct enough mid-course.
I can't help but root for the Giants this weekend. It's not just about the playoffs, and the fact that as long as you're alive you can still dream; it's that it's a long, long wait until September. But I just can't see this team making it beyond the second round, at the most. (Against the Lions, I have a hard time seeing them advancing beyond the first round.) They're just too soft. You're not going to completely shut down high-powered passing games like those of the Pack and the Saints, but you need to wear them down, and you need to control the trenches. I never--NEVER--have confidence this year that the Giants can stop the run on 3rd and short. It seems like even when they keep the gains limited the other team's OL always gets push and the runner gains at least three yards. The biggest mistake the Jets made on Saturday was abandoning the running game. Let's see if the Cowboys make a similar error.
2 years, 10 months ago on When the Rest of the NFC East Was Pathetic | December
I think a key to the game will be the Giants coming out extremely sharp (unlike the Skins and Eagles games) and aggressive on offense and scoring touchdowns early. For once I would like to see the Giants resort to misdirection and trick plays. (Honestly, when's the last time you remember the Giants running a flea flicker?) But the main thing is to get Eli in rhythm from the start. The Giants have more firepower--and if they can get out in front early, and if they ditch the zone and bring pressure, then I do believe they can fluster Sanchez. The thing is--this isn't a game you want to fall behind in and have to mount a comeback to win. Not just because the team's confidence will be shaky following last week's debacle--and the best thing to boost that confidence will be to score early and score often. It's also because I think the Jets will be much more difficult to come back on than the Cowboys (or the Redskins, for that matter), mainly because their secondary is substantially better, which means the blitzes will have a better chance of working. So, in my mind, while there's a lot riding on both coordinators' game plans, to me early on the key is Gilbride. Can he stay a step ahead of the Jets D, especially early? Can he take advantage of what I imagine will be overaggressiveness on the part of an extremely amped up Jets team? That might well be the difference.
I've already said that I think changes need to be made to the coaching staff whatever happens these last two games. I do not share what seems to be the deep contempt for Coughlin felt by many on this wonderful blog--but eight years is a long time, and when there is a pattern, year after year after year, of getting out to a fast start only to finish no better than .500 the last eight games (and usually worse) it's time for a change. And so part of me is ambivalent, knowing that the Giants put such a high premium on stability and would be inclined to keep things as is if they win out and make the playoffs. At the same time, I'm a fan, and when, despite a season of mediocrity, you're fortunate enough to have your fate in your own hands with two difficult but winnable games to go, it would be a shame to squander it.
2 years, 10 months ago on Giants vs Jets Preview | December
Wouldn't be the first time. Vividly remember the Jets knocking the Giants out of the playoffs in 1988 on a late drive that ended in a TD pass from Ken O'Brien to Al Toon. Was particularly devastating in that the Giants, I believe, would have won their division with a victory; they came in to the game 10-5. And it had been a real grind-it-out 10-5. They lost a terrible game to the Niners the second game of the season when very late in the game, after the Giants had just gone ahead for the first time that day after a drive for a TD, Joe Montana, on 3rd and long, hit Jerry Rice on the right sideline for a TD of 75+ yards. Another terrible loss to the Eagles at home after they blocked what would have been the winning FG for Philly, only to see Clyde Simmons scoop the ball up and run for a touchdown! But the Giants kept clawing back, despite injuries. One of the great games that year was in NO, when the Giants, without Simms, and with LT playing with a dislocated shoulder (yet recording multiple sacks regardless), inched out something like a 13-12 victory. So the Giants came into the last game of the season with everything to gain--whereas the Jets had already been eliminated from the playoffs--and yet they coughed it up anyway. And there were no great teams in the league that year--SF won the Super Bowl with a regular season record of 10-6, identical to the Giants. @jfostergiants
2 years, 10 months ago on WAS 23 NYG 10 | December
I don't agree that TC is a bad head coach who "stands for...underachievement." The man has had enough success over the course of his career that he deserves a better epitaph than that. That said, it is time for a change--even if they manage to win their final two games and make it into the playoffs. (I would be shocked if they did.) I live in DC and, while I didn't expect the Skins to win, I'm not shocked either. Part of the reason I'm not shocked is that the Skins have been in almost every game they've played and are defensively tough and aggressive. But part of the reason I'm not shocked is that the Giants have become a soft team. That has to change. Again, I don't care if they win the next two games and eke in to the playoffs. What has happened to the two traditional pillars of NYG football--a tough-nosed running game and a snarling, attacking defense--is unacceptable. And it's not simply a question of being short some key guys.
But while I think there needs to be a change in coaches and coordinators top to bottom, I also think Jerry Reese and the front office shouldn't be excused for this mess. They bear A LOT of responsibility, in my mind. What they have allowed to happen to the OL and the defense at practically every position save DE is maddening. David Diehl shouldn't even be a reserve at this point, let alone a starter at LT. McKenzie can't keep up any more either. Petrus has potential, but his pass blocking at this point is dreadful. Baas was a terrible signing. The defense is even worse. Let's be frank--none of the linebackers they lost in preseason had distinguished themselves yet. This isn't just about injuries and having to put in rookies before they're ready. Sorry--just don't see Jonathan Goff and Clint Sintim making the difference this season.
I'm sure Reese will be kept on and given a shot to hire his own guy. But, boy, has his star faded.
One more thing I have to get off my chest. I know there are people who like the fact Rolle has some swagger and think the problem is that he needs a head coach who will let him let it all hang loose. I just want him to shut the ---- up already. The guy can't cover, he's missed open-field tackles all year. Last week he threw Webster under the bus, today it was Prince. He should look in the mirror, and start to focus on raising his level of play (dramatically) and keeping his mouth shut.
@Arthuro I don't have a problem with the Giants playing close games involving 4QT comebacks per se. People forget how for most of the '86 season--in particular during the middle stretch when they played one very good team after another--the Giants' games almost always went down to the wire. The Monday night Skins game at Giant stadium the night the Mets won the WS; the game against Dallas at home; or against Minnesota on the road; and, of course, the biggest of them all, arguably, the Monday night game against SF. The Giants really only started crushing teams starting the following week against the Skins at RFK. I still vividly remember the SI cover later that week, with a picture of Bavaro and the caption "Real Giants." So it's not so much that the Giants are in close games, as it is how they've played, especially on defense, for the vast majority of them.
2 years, 10 months ago on The Giants and the NFL after Week 14 | December
I agree that it's hard to see the Giants going anywhere with their problems in the secondary and pass coverage more broadly. Bad as most defenses are these days, the Giants' D is especially putrid. They had something like 2 3-and-outs the whole game--the very first Dallas possession and the penultimate one (which should have ended in a Miles Austin TD and with that any hopes of the playoffs for the Giants). I very much want Fewell out of here, and have no love lost for Gilbride either. That said, while the Giants were terrible in the red zone for most of the game, they've been much improved in that regard this year. I know they haven't been as good as they were the first half of the season, but still, they've put up 35 points or more two weeks in a row. I don't see red zone problems making the difference in this season. But, there's still three games to play. The amazing thing is, I can see the Giants winning all of them--and I can see them losing all of them. Yes, even to the Redskins. For all their problems, the Skins will be one of the better defenses, maybe even the best defense the Giants have faced since the 49ers. If they come out flat, like in the Eagles game; if they can't stop the run, which has been much better under Helu the last three weeks (I live in DC); if they give Grossman all day to throw, we will be very vulnerable to an upset. The Skins have been competitive in pretty much all of their games since Grossman has returned to the lineup. They are itching to play the spoiler. So the Giants better not look ahead. Not only is this an easier match than the Jets the following week--it's also, because of the in-conference factor, more important.
2 years, 10 months ago on Coordinators and the Giants Destiny | December
(3) The running game has definitely been improved by Diehl's moving back to LT and Petrus playing LG. And Boothe playing center, ironically. The reason seem to be that they're getting more push at the line cause they're bigger and stronger. But I can't compliment Diehl on his pass blocking last night. Ware and whoever else was rushing on that side bascially either blew him back and got around him with ease. Credit the running backs for (generally) good blocking and Eli for outstanding pocket presence. Nevertheless, the two offensive tackle positions are now a definitely weak spot--and that spells problems.
(4) Finally, to the defense. It's appalling. Forget the schemes, the strategy, all of that--what we have here is a basic failure to mold and teach and get players on the same page. You look at what Phillips is doing with Houston's defense, minus their best (at least one of their best) players on D in Mario Williams, and you see how much of a difference in football over and above all other sports good, smart coaching can make. How are veterans like Webster and Rolle confused as to who's covering whom, whether they're in man or zone, two weeks in a row? This is not to let the front office off the hook. They've failed miserably in neglecting the LB position. But there's enough there to be far more competitive than they've been. It's gotten to the point I'm surprised when they're able to stop a team on 3rd down. That's pathetic.
So of course I want the Giants to make the playoffs and win the division. My concern is that if they do the ownership and front office will see no reason to make a change, will chalk up the poor defensive play to injuries and what not, and we'll have to deal with this for another year. Fewell must go--even if the head coach stays. And if Spags gets let go, the NYG must go all out to get him back as coordinator.
2 years, 10 months ago on Giants 37 Cowboys 34 | December
Excellent review--always look forward to reading these, win or lose. A few points:
(1) The play-calling in the red zone for most of the game was indeed dreadful. Eli's incredible success running the no huddle makes me wonder how much of it is the pace and how much of it is the fact that Eli is more autonomous. Honestly, I wish they would let him free-lance more, especially when they're knocking on the door. But the predictability...sheesh. The number of times they wheel out the shotgun draw! Generally, for that play to work, you need superb blocking, a running back that can quickly find the hole and weave between the tackles--but above all you need surprise. Because it's a play where the running back is basically starting from a static position rather than building up speed to take the handoff. Yes, it worked on the 2-point conversion at the end, but at that point, I think anything would have worked on Dallas' defense.
(2) There's been a lot written about the Giants' ability to run last night. But one of the consequences of that success seems to have been overlooked. The Giants won the time of possession last night by ten minutes. This was HUGE, because Dallas would probably have tacked another 14 points or so on the board if the Giants weren't able to sustain long drives.
(3) One of the things I love about this site is that there's no bitching about the refs. Over the season (heck, generally over individual games) these things tend to even themselves out. (Remember the Cards game, anyone?) That said, the NFL rules committee has got to get together at the end of the season and come up with a 10X less convoluted definition of what constitutes possession in the end zone. To me, at no point did Jennings appear to have the ball securely in his hands before Prince smacked it out. Why going to the ground should matter while remaining upright shouldn't also boggles the mind.
2 years, 10 months ago on Packers 38 Giants 35 | December
(2) Eli, obviously, made a very bad decision on that second-quarter pick-six. It's not simply the fact that those points ended up making the difference in the game. It's that the mood of the game shifted at that moment. I won't call it a turning point--the Giants fought back all day, and tied things up at 35 with a minute left. Slate cleared. What it did do, however, was suggest--rightly--that would be a game in which the Giants would spend their day struggling to stay in it rather than opening comfortable lead. The latter seemed very much possible after the Giants had so thoroughly dominated the 1st quarter on offense--both passing and running--and had looked impressive on defense. With that said, the great leap forward Eli has taken this season is remarkable. He is fortunate to have a talented group of receivers, but through all the injuries and the changes he has been brilliant. I am 37, and have followed the Giants closely since 1981. I've never seen a Giants QB have anywhere near the season Eli is having--and that includes some of Phil Simms's best (the first 12 games of 1990, 1993). If he can keep this up down the stretch, whatever happens, we can go into next year feeling like we have one of the best of the game. (Of course, as Philip Rivers shows, you can move down the ladder just as easily as you move up.)
(1) Yesterday's game was certainly encouraging on the heels of Monday night's debacle. And it's true that the NYG control their destiny and that neither the Cowboys nor the Jets are in the class of the Saints and Packers. But I'm having a hard time adopting a glass half-full approach to where we are with four left to go. Many have looked to the Patriots 16-0 game in 2007 for an analogy to yesterday's game. Perhaps, but I'm also reminded of another game, this one from the year before in 2006, against the Cowboys. Eerily similar--the Giants were in the thick of a three-game losing streak after starting 6-2; they fought the Cowboys hard all day, playing a much better game than they had played the previous three weeks, and tied the game at 13 on a Manning-to-Burress TD with not that much time left on the clock. But enough time for Romo to throw a bomb to Witten that set up the game-winning FG for the Cowboys. Look, I'm a professor of history, and am fully aware that those who make such analogies tend to home in on any hints of similarity they can find while papering over difference. But in this case I think it's important to remember that teams can go in very different directions after losses that feel like "good losses" featuring definite improvement. The Giants responded in '07, not so much in '06.
One more thing. TC says the Giants played hard last night, it's just that the result was bad. I didn't see it. I saw no intensity, no urgency. Their first hard hit came in the first quarter when KP leveled Graham. Webster--one of their best players--seemed to have given up by the late third quarter. But what bothers me most is Justin Tuck's demeanor. I'm not questioning whether he's playing injured or not, though it's unclear to me exactly how the stinger he sustained in the preseason is keeping him back three months later. What I find depressing is the body language. For God's sake, you're one of the leaders of this team, certainly of the defense. You're playing a game that may very well end up determining whether you make the playoffs or not. So what if you're limited? You've proven yourself in the past. You have credibility. Before the game is out of hand, get up, prowl the sideline, push your teammates on defense to play harder and smarter, to give more. Look at Ray Lewis this past weekend! But everytime the camera panned the sideline and focused on Tuck, he was just sitting there, looking glum, morose, totally wrapped up in his own disappointment about his play. Frankly, he looked tired. He looked lethargic. He looked like he'd rather be anywhere else than on that field. And the way he's been speaking to the media lately only confirms my sense that something is off here. It's one thing to be honest--to admit that, yes, the recent history of second-half swoons is on your and everyone else's mind. But where's the resolve? Where's the confidence that you're going to lick those demons and play your damnedest? I don't hear it. The guy right now seems like belongs on a therapist's couch more than on a football field.
2 years, 10 months ago on Saints 49 Giants 24 | November
Little to add that hasn't already been said here. I agree that Ballard bears a good share of the blame for not breaking up the interception early. I agree that none of the Giants' RBs--including Scott--look fast enough to get around the edge at this point. Above all, I agree that this was just a complete disaster on defense. There's no one thing you can single out because nothing worked--man, zone, rushing 3 or 4 or blitzing--it was just a colossal fail. Having said that, I do think it would have made sense to come out in much more of an attack mode on defense. People talk about how many if the Giants had scored on their first drive instead of turning it over things might have played out differently. I don't buy it. The Giants came out smoking on offense at the start of the 2nd half and scored a touchdown. They were down 11, but given that they'd already shown an ability to move up and down the field with ease, they were very much in the game. One stop, one more good drive that produces points, and maybe the pendulum swings in their direction. And they just let them march down the field and put up another 7 points. But maybe, just maybe if they had started the game really bringing it on defense, and taking the risk of giving up a big play, maybe if they could have put Brees down on his keister a few times early, maybe, just maybe they rattle him. It's true--after the cover-2 and cover-3 worked so abominably the first few drives, the Giants did use more press, and Brees beat them regardless. Here's the thing, though--by that point, Brees is already in a zone. He's a rhythm passer. He's already keyed in. He's ready for whatever you throw at him. Whereas if you chase him around from the start, maybe it takes him a lot longer to get cozy. I felt the same way after the Packers game last year. By the time the Giants started playing mroe press in the second half, it was too late--Rogers was already on fire.
I'm with you, of course. I've been a Mets, Knicks, and Rangers fan all my life; the Giants are the winningest team I root for. Last year, after the loss to the Eagles, I promised myself that for the sake of my own peace of mind I would take off the rest of the season, but of course, there I was, a week later, watching the Giants get absolutely whupped by the Packers. @CommanderShepard
2 years, 11 months ago on Eagles 17 Giants 10 | November
Onto the defense. In general, I wish Fewell would work in more blitzes and stunts rather than read-and-react cover 2, but there were two points in the game where, in my mind, the failure to bring massive pressure was truly absurd.
The first point was at the very start of the game. I realize that Young was making mistakes and throwing bad balls even without facing much of a rush, but this was the moment when the team should have done all it could to frustrate and flatten him--to take the risk that maybe he would be able to complete a big play for the reward of driving him out of the game. Instead, they opted for containment, and while this did not hurt them much early on, by the end of the first half it was noticeable that Young had settled in and gotten rid of some of the rust. He feels confident that his line is going to protect him, and that he can focus more on reading defenses (which he needs lots of help with) and not worrying about getting crushed.
The second point was after the Giants had just tied things up in the fourth quarter after looking moribund for the first three. Again, the crowd is loud, the adrenalin is flowing, you know that if you get one stop here all the Eagles' self-doubt about their ability to close out games is going to come rushing back at you. And you get a great stop on a couple of runs--McCoy is going no where. But then, on long-distance situations, when Young goes back to pass, you rush three and trust rookie linebackers to figure out whom to pick up in the zone, and how to stay with them for more than 3 seconds. I was particularly galled by the sequence of downs when Kiwanuka tackled McCoy for a six-yard loss on first down making it 2nd and 16. Here's the perfect time to ratchet up the pressure, to pin the Eagles back even deeper. But no, they give Young time to pass, and he completes a thirteen-yard pass to Avant (an amazing catch, I know) to make it a manageable 3rd and 3. Way to go, cover 2.