Sep 282006

September 27, 2006 New York Giants Injury Report: Not practicing yesterday were WR Plaxico Burress (back), TE Jeremy Shockey (ankle), LB Carlos Emmons (pectoral muscle), DE Michael Strahan, WR Tim Carter (ankle), WR Sinorice Moss (quad), OC Shaun O’Hara (knee), DT Barry Cofield, and S James Butler (knee).

HB Derrick Ward (broken foot) has begun to workout on a limited basis.

“Carlos is going to be out probably three weeks with a strained pec,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “There was a small tear and that is why there is a healing process. There is an amount of time involved.”

“(Burress and Shockey) were kept inside because of medical treatments that they were going through and it was felt that they would be better if they were not to stand for the whole two hours,” said Coughlin. “(Shockey’s ankle) is quite swollen. It is quite swollen, so that is why the recommendation to stay inside…(He needs) rest and treatment.”

“I feel good,” Burress said. “I have a little smile on my face, because I haven’t been able to bend over and put my shoes on for the last eight days. I’m a lot better. The soreness is going away. I’m working on getting stronger in my core section. I’m looking forward to coming back full speed and a hundred percent.”

Notes and Quotes: According to The Star-Ledger, the players worked out yesterday by the Giants included quarterbacks Bradlee Van Pelt and Kent Smith; running back Robert Douglas; tight ends Dwayne Carswell and Eric Edwards; wide receives Troy Bergeron and Kevin McMahan; defensive ends John Chick, Darrell Lee, and Bernard Thomas; linebackers Frederick Brock, Andre Frazier, and Rod Davis; and defensive backs Julian Battle, Michael Stone, and Donald Strickland. The Giants did not sign any of these players.

MLB Antonio Pierce on the Giants’ defense: “I’ve said it since the beginning of camp: When you have 22 eyes seeing the same thing, you’ve got something. We can’t have guys running two or three different defenses on the same play. We’ve got a lot of work to do now, but it’s fixable. It’s just opening your eyes a little bit more.”

LB LaVar Arrington on the Giants’ coaching staff: “Honestly, I trust these coaches. And I think that a huge part of me coming here was because of how I felt about these coaches. And that doesn’t change, that hasn’t changed… (Defensive Coordinator) Tim (Lewis) was just being attacked in that (media) interview (on Tuesday). I didn’t sleep well. So many times coaches take the brunt of our mistakes…I know these coaches are doing the best that they can to put us in the position to win the game. There’s no coach putting us in the wrong positions.”

HB Tiki Barber on the state of the Giants: “I think we’ll be okay. Obviously, you go through some turmoil after the debacle we had in Seattle. But I think we’ll rebound and we’ll be fine. (The morale) is solid, mainly because we have a good leader in Coach Coughlin. He gave us a pretty good speech this morning that I think was right on point. He addressed all the issues and told us exactly what we needed to hear going into this bye week, and hopefully it gets everybody’s mind off what has happened the last couple of weeks. It was the right message – we have to stay together as a team. It’s easy to get distracted and start splintering. He’s not going to let that happen, and I don’t think the veteran leaders are going to let that happen.”

Sep 272006
Seattle Seahawks 42 – New York Giants 30

Game Overview: I’m not going to write a typical game review this week. For one, I don’t think most people would read it because it would be too depressing. Secondly, I want to share my thoughts on the state of the team.

Things are not as bad as they seem right now. Keep in mind a few important facts:

  1. The Giants played two very close and emotional games to start the NFL season. And the game against Philadelphia was extremely physical. As I pointed out in my game preview, I expected an unavoidable letdown against Seattle, one of the top teams in the NFL. And this was THE GAME that Seattle focused on in the front part of their schedule. Do you honestly think they were fired up or all that focused to play Detroit or Arizona? On the other hand, New York’s attention was certainly focused on the Colts, then Philadelphia, then Seattle – and in that order.
  2. The pass defense of the Giants has simply been dreadful the first three weeks. However, the Giants have faced three of the finest quarterbacks and passing attacks in the NFL in the first three games with a completely revamped back seven on defense. Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb, and Matt Hasselbeck have been in the same system for years. They have taken advantage of the Giants’ lack of cohesion and chemistry. And to make matters worse, Philadelphia and Seattle broke with their own tendencies. The Eagles went with a no-huddle offense and Seattle ran 4-WR sets with routes that they had not demonstrated before (this according to their own quarterback). What has been more worrisome is that the Giants’ Pro Bowl defensive ends have been missing in action, but I don’t expect that to continue.
  3. The Giants are 1-2, but they are only one game out of first place. They are 1-0 in the NFC East. If they rebound and beat Washington after the bye, they will be 2-2 and 2-0 in the NFC East. In my mind, if the Giants can come out of the first six games at 3-3 or 4-2, they will be in good shape. The defense will start improving and the games will become easier as the level of competition now declines.

Why did the Giants get clobbered against Seattle?

  1. They could not match Seattle’s intensity. The nitwits out there will say that is the fault of the coaching staff. The truth of the matter is that it is extremely difficult to play three very emotional games in a row against top-flight competition and do well, especially when you have a relatively young and immature team. It’s similar to the situation in 1993 when the Giants played a really tough game against Dallas at home and lost in overtime, then came from behind to beat the Vikings in the first round of the playoffs, and then got slaughtered by the 49ers in the second round of the playoffs. The Giants simply could not match the intensity of their opponent. Seattle played a powder puff to start the season and a very average team in the second game.
  2. The Giants turned the ball over four times in the first half. No team is going to be able to do that and win. As fine as Eli Manning played in the fourth quarter again, his two first quarter interceptions were killers as they gave the ball to the Seahawks at the Giants’ 15- and 27-yard lines. Those interceptions handed Seattle two touchdowns and immediately put the defense on its heels. As I mentioned in my Seattle preview, Manning still hasn’t played two full seasons as a starter. We’ll continue to see outstanding play from him mixed with mistakes (and sometimes killer mistakes). WR Plaxico Burress also caused two turnovers with one drop and one fumble. Before one knew it, it was 21-0 and then 35-0, completely eliminating the threat of the ground attack – which is a crucial element of the New York offense. The game just snowballed on the Giants. It happens.
  3. The Giants did a great job of stopping the run as HB Shaun Alexander was held to 47 yards on 20 carries. That’s outstanding. The problem – again – was the pass defense. Regardless of how you feel about Defensive Coordinator Tim Lewis and his schemes, a huge part of the problem right now is that the Giants’ defenders are losing individual match-ups too. Strahan and Umenyiora are not beating the tackles in front of them. When the defensive backs are close to the receiver, they are not making plays on the football. That’s not a coaching problem. However, I expect that to change as the comfort level with the defense improves and the caliber of the competition declines. What is worrisome – and I have pointed this out since the first game – is that Giants’ defenders are allowing too many uncontested passes in the secondary. Is that the scheme? Is the system too complicated? Or is it unrealistic not to expect breakdowns in a completely revamped back seven against top-flight passing attacks? Or are the players simply too stupid? Your guess is as good as mine. I don’t think the coaching staff or the players are as bad as they have looked on defense. And I expect we’ll see improvements after the bye. But the Giants absolutely need Strahan and Umenyiora to step it up.

The good news is that the Giants are still a good football team. Manning is becoming one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. He just needs to cut down on the mistakes. Burress, Toomer, Carter, and Shockey are hard to defend. Barber and Jacobs are a great 1-2 running back duo. And the offensive line is a quality unit. The Giants are going to score points.

Defensively, as I’ve said, the key is to get the pass rush going. If Strahan and Umenyiora continue to struggle, I would start spelling them more with Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka. LaVar Arrington is not playing well and may have to be benched. We may see Gerris Wilkinson shortly. Corey Webster has played some outstanding opponents and will get better as long as he remains confident. Personally, I think what is needed is simply a taste of success. I think if the Giants’ defense can put together an outstanding effort soon, that will help their confidence and turn things around. The run defense has been good and the upcoming quarterbacks on the schedule are not Manning, McNabb, and Hasselbeck.

Don’t turn your back on this team yet. If the Giants go 2-1, in the next three games, they will be in good shape.

(Box Score – New York Giants at Seattle Seahawks, September 24, 2006)
Sep 272006

September 26, 2006 New York Giants Injury Report – Carlos Emmons to Miss Time Again: The Star-Ledger is reporting that LB Carlos Emmons has suffered a small tear to his left pectoral muscle. The paper says Emmons is expected to be out 3-4 weeks. Last season, a tear to Emmons’ right pectoral muscle eventually caused him to be placed on Injured Reserve.

New York Giants Work Out 17 Players: The Daily News is reporting that the Giants worked out 17 players yesterday. The Ledger says many of these players are tight ends or players who could be converted to that position. Former Broncos’ TE Dwayne Carswell was one of the players as were quarterbacks Bradlee Van Pelt and Kent Smith.

The Giants normally bring in a lot of players to workout during the bye week and The New York Post reports that no signings are expected.

Sep 262006

September 25, 2006 New York Giants Injury Report: Contrary to the statements made by FOX during the Giants-Seahawks game, Plaxico Burress was not benched because of his play but because he was experiencing back problems. “Plaxico, as I mentioned (on Sunday after the game), injured his back against Philadelphia,” Head Coach Tom Coughlin said. “(He) injured his back in practice on Wednesday, spent Thursday and Friday trying to recover, went into the game and because of the injury – it’s all related – was ineffective in his play and that’s why he came out.”

Immediately after the game, Plaxico said, “My best wasn’t good enough…I let my team down when I had two turnovers. If I hadn’t made those turnovers, we probably could have won the football game. Those things I put on me. I’m not going to sit there and make excuses. I chose to go out there and play and that was the outcome. I just have to come back, get on the practice field, get some rest and come back and make some plays…I couldn’t ask for a better time for the bye week to get some treatment and get healthy and get to doing what I do. I just have to get healthy and get on the practice field. I’m not worried about anything else. My thing is just staying healthy, getting on the practice field and everything else will pretty much take care of itself…You best believe when I come back in two weeks, I’ll be ready.”

TE Jeremy Shockey had additional x-rays taken on his right ankle yesterday. “It’s tender,” Shockey said. “It’s definitely sore. I’m going to do a lot this week to get healthy. The doctors said the best thing for it is rest.”

Coughlin did not have an update on LB Carlos Emmons, who suffered a pectoral injury in the game. A pectoral injury forced Emmons on Injured Reserve last season.

Jeremy Shockey Apologizes for Post-Game Comments: Man-child TE Jeremy Shockey apologized yesterday for his post-game comments on Sunday when he said the Giants were out-played and out-coached.

“First and foremost, I’d like to say I’m a team person,” said Shockey yesterday. “I’m very team-oriented and what I said was not a team thing to say. I do let my emotions get to me at times. That’s just the competitive nature in me. I don’t like to lose – I don’t like to lose at anything…I’m a very hard person on myself and everybody in this locker room is hard on themselves as well. The most important thing here is that we have a couple of weeks off so everybody can get healthy. It’s very important for us to get better in these next two weeks. We have a division game (against Washington). Our number one goal as a team is winning the division. I didn’t mean to bring distractions, because I know it occurred. Again, I am a team person. My competitive nature and persona got the best of me there.”

QB Eli Manning called Shockey’s comments “unacceptable.” “I think we know that’s not the case (that we were out-coached), that’s not true,” Manning said. “We got out-played, but it wasn’t coaching. Everything they did, we’ve seen and we were prepared for. We were in good situations a lot of the time, we just weren’t making the plays. I think (Shockey) was just emotional after the game and I think he knows he made a mistake…You don’t want something like that to affect the season. It’s the third game. We are 1-2. Things could be worse. We have to figure out a way out of this jam and get back to playing good football. We don’t need anything to affect the chemistry of the team and the coaches and get everybody on a bad page. We have to keep everybody in a good mood and upbeat and figure out a way to get better.”

“I just thought (Shockey) was upset,” WR Amani Toomer said. “I don’t think there’s truth in (what he said). He kind of just says what he feels at the time. I think if you would have talked to him today, I think the cooler head would have prevailed.”

“I don’t see a problem with coaching or leadership,” said HB Tiki Barber. “On any given play an individual will make a mistake that costs us dearly. It’s not as if it’s team-wide. It is individuals making mistakes. And it’s demoralizing in many ways. We need to regroup in this bye week and figure out how to play consistently. Otherwise we’ll be average and sitting at home come playoff time.”

“It’s 1-2. Thirteen games to go,” said DE Michael Strahan. “Geez, you (press) guys. Don’t panic! Relax.”

Coughlin would not elaborate on his conversation with Shockey regarding his post-game comments. “Shockey and I talked,” Coughlin said. “Jeremy and I talked and what we did discuss and what we decided will remain private.”

“I’m concerned because there’s nothing to be gained by pointing the finger,” said Coughlin. “If you’re truly a team and you’re in it together, we win or lose together. We don’t make a point of pointing the finger at anyone. When we lose, I lose. I take the responsibility for the loss. That’s my job. Everything else should be, if there is something that needs to be said, my door is always open. Come on in, sit down and talk to me. I’d be glad to talk to you about it.”

“I don’t think anybody is worried that everybody is fighting against each other,” OC Shaun O’Hara said. “We’re a team. We’re going to stick together as a team, from the players in the locker room to the coaching staff to the organization. We’re in this together and we’re going to handle everything like a team will, and that’s in house to take care of everybody and that’s just fine. We all know what really went on. It’s not about Jeremy Shockey. It’s about the New York Giants losing a game. I don’t care who said what, that’s what it’s about. I think everybody wants us to become some big soap opera: 1-2, the Giants throw in the towel and that’s it, the season’s over. And it’s not. If we beat the Washington Redskins here at our house, we’ll be 2-2…This is not ‘Days of Our Lives’ and now everybody’s on their death bed. This is the New York Giants played a crappy game and we know why we played a crappy game. That’s the best thing. Seattle was just man-to-man a better team (Sunday). We screwed up. We’re playing bad football. And that’s something we can correct. That’s something that we’re going to correct. We’re not sitting crying about everything. We’re going to handle our business.”

Notes and Quotes: The assistant coaches will be available to the media from noon to 1:00PM today.

QB Eli Manning is not a proponent of the Giants using the no-huddle offense as part of their bread-and-butter because he feels it makes the Giants more of a finesse team. “That’s not our type of offense,” said Manning. “That’s not our style.”

Sep 242006

Turnovers, Shoddy Defense Lead to Insurmountable Deficit as Seahawks Clobber Giants 42-30: The Giants made it somewhat interesting in the fourth quarter with 27 unanswered points, but this weekend New York could not overcome three quarters of inept football as the Seahawks trashed the Giants 42-30. The Seahawks led 35-0 at one point in the first half and 42-3 by the end of the third quarter. The 32-point halftime deficit was the largest in the 82-year history of the Giants. The Giants turned the football over four times in the first half and the defense allowed six touchdowns.

The Giants are now 1-2 and one game out of first place in the NFC East behind the Philadelphia Eagles.

“We got outplayed, and out-coached. Write that down,” said TE Jeremy Shockey after the game.

“Our pass coverage was practically nonexistent,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “Turn the ball over like that and not be able to stop them, not to get anything done until the second half. Makes no sense to me…We just handed it to them.”

“Right now,” MLB Antonio Pierce said, “we’re a horrible team.”

Seahawks’ quarterback Matt Hasselbeck threw five touchdown passes. But the game started off well for the Giants as Hasselbeck’s first pass of the game was intercepted in spectacular fashion by CB Corey Webster, who otherwise had a disappointing day. However, QB Eli Manning made a poor decision by forcing a ball to a well-covered WR Plaxico Burress. The pass was intercepted and returned 37 yards to the Giants’ 15-yard line. HB Shaun Alexander, who was held to 47 yards on 20 carries, scored from two yards out as the Seahawks took a quick 7-0 lead.

Things quickly got worse. Two false starts on the offensive line and an 11-yard sack ended the next Giants’ possession. The Seahawks then put together an 8-play, 47-yard drive that gave them a 14-0 advantage midway through the first quarter. New York’s third possession ended in disaster too as Manning’s deep sideline pass intended for WR Amani Toomer was intercepted by the safety and returned 26 yards to the Giants’ 27-yard line. Four plays later it was 21-0 and the first quarter wasn’t even over yet.

The Giants’ defense settled down somewhat on the next two Seattle possessions, but the next two Giants’ drives were sabotaged by penalties – yet another false start on the offensive line and an offensive pass interference penalty on Burress. Later in the second quarter, a well-thrown pass to Burress was knocked into the air by the receiver and intercepted by the Seahawks. Twelve plays and 63 yards later, the Seahawks went up 28-0.

The poor play by Burress continued as he fumbled away the ball after a 23-yard reception. It was the second fumble for Burress in two games. Burress was then benched for the rest of the game by Head Coach Tom Coughlin. Seattle then drove the field quickly, marching 64 yards in seven plays to take a 35-0 lead late in the second quarter.

The only redeeming moment in the first half was PK Jay Feely’s 46-yard field goal to end the half.

The Giants went three-and-out on their opening possession of the second half. Seattle put together a perfect drive for them by taking nearly 10 minutes off the clock and methodically moving 70 yards in 17 plays for a 42-3 advantage late in the third quarter.

The Giants made the final score more respectable by driving 79 yards in 10 plays with Manning hitting Toomer in the back of the endzone for the score. On Seattle’s ensuing possession, Hasselbeck’s was hit as his threw and his errant pass was intercepted by DT Fred Robbins, who made a heck of an athletic play to come up with the ball. On the very next snap, Manning hit a wide open WR Tim Carter for the 25-yard score. Hasselbeck’s very next pass was then intercepted by CB R.W. McQuarters and returned 27 yards for a touchdown. In just over four minutes, the Giants had scored 21 points and had cut the score to 42-24. The problem was there were less than 10 minutes left in the game.

Seattle was able to pick up a key first down with a 3rd-and-8 draw play to the fullback to take more valuable time off the clock. The defense forced a punt. Manning then led the Giants down the field in nine plays and 94 yards to cut the score to 42-30 with less than three minutes to go. The two-point attempt failed and the onsides kick was recovered by the Seahawks.

Seattle ran three plays on offense and by the time the Giants got the ball back, there were less than 22 seconds left in the game. After two completed passes, the game was over.

Manning finished the game 24-of-36 for 275 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions. HB Tiki Barber was held to 64 yards on 14 carries. The leading receiver for the Giants was actually David Tyree with five catches for 72 yards and a touchdown. Burress caught only one pass for 23 yards. He fumbled the ball away once and caused an interception on another play.

The Giants’ defense did a nice job against the Seattle ground game, but Hasselbeck was not sacked once. And he completed 24-of-33 passes for 227 yards and five touchdowns and three interceptions.

Post-Game Notes: LB Carlos Emmons left with a pectoral strain and didn’t return.

Inactive for the game were QB Tim Hasselbeck (third quarterback), HB Derrick Ward (foot), WR Sinorice Moss (quad), OT Na’Shan Goddard, OT Guy Whimper, DT Jonas Seawright, LB Brandon Short, and S James Butler (knee).

Sep 232006

September 22, 2006 New York Giants Injury Report -– Injury Concerns at Receiver: CB Sam Madison left practice yesterday after the individual drill period with a foot injury. He is listed as “probable” for the game against the Seahawks.

WR Plaxico Burress (back) missed practice again. WR Tim Carter (ankle) did not practice yesterday after returning to practice on Thursday. Both are listed as “probable” for the game. “I tweaked it in the game (against Philadelphia) a little bit in the third quarter and it just tightened up on me,” Burress said. “I’ll be all right.”

TE Jeremy Shockey (ankle) practiced for the second day in a row and remains “probable.”

The news is not good with WR Sinorice Moss (quad). “He’ll be shutting down again, until someone tells me further,” said Coughlin. “I don’t know how lengthy, I don’t think anybody does, but the last experience was not a good one…As far as I know, (the quad injury is exactly the same place it was).” Moss was downgraded from “questionable” to “out.”

S James Butler (knee) did not practice all week and has been downgraded from “questionable” to “out.”

HB Derrick Ward (foot) has not practiced since fracturing his foot early in training camp and he will not play.

Sep 222006

September 21, 2006 New York Giants Injury Report: WR Plaxico Burress (back) did not practice yesterday. “It tightened up before practice,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “I think he’ll work (on Friday). We’re expecting that.” Burress is officially listed as “probable” for the game against the Seahawks on Sunday.

TE Jeremy Shockey (ankle) returned to practice and remains “probable” for the game. “He looked pretty good,” said Coughlin. “Hopefully he’ll make progress again (on Friday).”

“I am very glad the bye week is this early,” Shockey said. “It seems to me I have been very depressed the last couple of weeks, more at myself than anyone else, because I was hurt in a preseason game against the Patriots. I have to move on and get better.” Shockey is not happy that the Giants’ coaching staff played him in the preseason finale.

WR Tim Carter (ankle) also returned to practice. He is “probable.”

WR Sinorice Moss (quad) and S James Butler (knee) did not practice again and remain “questionable” for the game. Moss told the press, however, that he will not play. “I’m not disappointed, I’m frustrated,” said Moss. “You’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do to get back. It’s a strained muscle. You sit down and you rest it.”

Notes and Quotes: Eagles’ PK David Akers, LT Luke Petitgout, and HB Brandon Jacobs have all been fined $5,000 each for the sideline altercation at the beginning of the game last weekend. Akers intends to appeal his fine.

WR Plaxico Burress on his decision to play for the Giants: “I’m just getting started. I couldn’t have made a better decision. I got a tight end that can get up the seam; got a great running back; got a great receiver on the other side of me; got a quarterback who can really be great.”

Sep 212006

Approach to the Game – New York Giants at Seattle Seahawks, September 24, 2006: If I’m looking at this game objectively – without wearing my blue-colored glasses – then I think this is going to be an extremely difficult game for the Giants to win. The Giants are coming off two extremely close, emotional football games. Last week’s game – a divisional game on the road – was exceptionally draining for the players both physically and mentally. In my opinion, it’s going to be tough for the Giants to be able to elevate their game to match Seattle’s intensity. If they can, they really will have shown us something.

It’s a big game that could have playoff ramifications down the road. The players and coaches need to put all their effort into one big, last push before the bye week. Then they can catch their breath. The bye is coming at a perfect time if you ask me.

Giants on Offense: It’s time to get the ground game back on track. The Seahawks defensive front is athletic and quick, but somewhat undersized inside. I would pound the ball between the tackles like the Giants did in the opener against the Colts. If HB Tiki Barber is still showing ill-affects from his deep arm bruise, I’d quickly get HB Brandon Jacobs in the game and play a very physical game. The man on the spot inside will be LG David Diehl, who will be facing the very quick DT Rocky Bernard. Diehl had problems with a similar type of player in Mike Patterson of the Eagles. RG Chris Snee will face DT Chuck Darby – 6′, 270 pound fireplug who Snee should be able to maul. DT Marcus Tubbs provides solid depth in the rotation. Both the Giants’ offensive tackles are coming off bad games, after playing exceptionally well in the opener. LT Luke Petitgout faces DE Grant Wistrom, who is a decent-all around player but a guy who isn’t one of the quicker weakside ends in the league. He’s good against the run. RT Kareem McKenzie faces the more dangerous pass rusher, DE Bryce Fisher, who accrued nine sacks last year.

The strength of the Seattle defense is their linebacking corps. Second-year MLB Lofa Tatapu is a stud who makes plays all over the football field. Leroy Hill is a good pass rusher. And adding Julian Peterson was a major move for the Seahawks. He can cover, rush, and play the run. He and TE Jeremy Shockey had a good battle going against each other in the 2002 playoff game. It’s unfortunate that Shockey (ankle) will likely be severely limited. If I’m Tom Coughlin, I might try to get Visanthe Shiancoe more involved in the passing game this week. I wouldn’t try to run too much to the outside on Seattle’s defense. Blitz pick-ups by the line, backs, and tight ends will be critical as all three of these guys are good pass rushers.

The right corner is Marcus Trufant. He’s a solid player, but WR Plaxico Burress may be able to do some things against him. Kelly Herndon will face Amani Toomer. This is another match-up that may work in the Giants favor. Unfortunately, it looks like Sinorice Moss (quad) will not be a factor for some time. WR Tim Carter (ankle) will play. SS Michael Boulware is a converted linebacker. FS Ken Hamlin is aggressive, but can be exposed in coverage.

It will be interesting to see how Eli Manning performs this weekend. Just like last year after the Denver game, many fans and pundits are claiming that Eli has “now turned the corner.” The reality is that Manning still has not played two full seasons as a starter. He’s still young and inexperienced and he still will make mistakes. What will be fascinating to watch is if last week’s heroics have any kind of impact on him this week in a game against a very good defensive team that can rush the passer.

Giants on Defense: This group really needs to gets its shit together. Mike Holmgren comes from the same ex-Green Bay passing system that Andy Reid of the Eagles adheres to where vertical and horizontal spacing between the receivers (i.e., the “West Coast Offense”) is key to try to exploit holes in the coverage. Holmgren and his very good quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck, have to be licking their chops to get after the Giants’ linebackers and defensive backs based on what they have seen from the first two games. Fortunately for the Giants, starting TE Jeremy Stevens is out and his back-up, TE Itula Mili, will be limited. I look for the Seahawks to try to exploit the Giants’ linebackers in coverage more with HB Shaun Alexander (an excellent pass receiver) and possibly even FB Mack Strong this week. Look out for a trick play involving QB Seneca Wallace, who can be used as a receiver as well.

Seattle upgraded their receiving corps by trading for Deion Branch of the Patriots. How much he plays and where is not really known. Holmgren could try to put him in the slot or outside – he will probably end up in the slot as he is smaller, but very quick. Nate Burleson usually lines up at split end and would normally be covered by Sam Madison. This is a good match-up for the Giants as Burleson isn’t a burner and can have problems with aggressive corners. The key is tackling him after the catch. Darrell Jackson is the flanker. Jackson is not big or fast, but he is quick, runs very precise routes, and gets open. He’s Hasselbeck’s favorite downfield target right now. Corey Webster will be on the spot against him. Bobby Engram comes of the bench and can provide match-up problems. He’s another receiver who lacks size and speed, but who has a feel for making plays. Hasselbeck actually throws more to him than Burleson. Nickel corner R.W. McQuarters needs to play well this week. Seattle will likely go three wide and sometimes even four wide against the Giants. In the later case, we may see more of Jason Bell on the field and possibly even Frank Walker.

To help the secondary, it is essential that the Giants start generating a quality pass rush up front. It has to start with Michael Strahan, who will face RT Sean Locklear, who is not very big and more of a finesse player. Osi Umenyiora played well against LT Walter Jones, arguably the best left tackle in football, last year, but Osi has yet to really elevate his game this year. The Seahawks miss Steve Hutchinson at left guard. Inside, Chris Spencer, who is more of a center, will start there for the injured Floyd Womack. This is a match-up where the Giants need Fred Robbins to standout. RG Chris Gray is very experienced and savvy, but he’s nearing the end of the line and isn’t very powerful. Barry Cofield should have an easier time of it this week. Still, I’d like to see the Giants send some more blitzes from the linebackers or safeties in order to disrupt Hasselbeck’s timing.

The obvious key to this game defensively for the Giants is stopping the Seattle ground game. Shaun Alexander is coming off an MVP season and he can absolutely take over a game if he gets going. However, the run blocking for him up front has not been as strong this year. This is a game where the Giants’ linebackers, LaVar Arrington, Carlos Emmons, and Antonio Pierce, can really make an impact. The strength of their game is playing the run. Of course, this will be the toughest test to date of the Giants’ interior defense, specifically the defensive tackles, as Seattle is a much more power-oriented, between-the-tackles-type running attack than the Colts or Eagles.

Giants on Special Teams: The kickoff coverage unit will face ex-Giant Willie Ponder. He’s already broken a 41-yarder this year. Let’s hope he doesn’t get revenge on his old team. The punt returner is Jimmy Williams. Punt coverage has to do a better job this week and it is time for David Tyree to start earning his paycheck. Seattle probably noticed that the Eagles came close to blocking a few punts last week too and the Giants need to be careful there.

The Giants’ own return game – both kickoff and punt returns – has been dreadful. The blocking needs to improve and Chad Morton needs to attack up the field.

Jay Feely? He’s got some demons to exorcise here.

Sep 212006

September 20, 2006 New York Giants Injury Report: TE Jeremy Shockey (ankle), WR Tim Carter (ankle), WR Sinorice Moss (quad), S James Butler (knee), and HB Derrick Ward did not practice yesterday. Head Coach Tom Coughlin said that tests did not reveal any further damage to Shockey’s ankle. “You play in the game, you get knocked around, somebody falls on it, you set yourself back, you recover and you move forward,” said Coughlin. “That’s kind of the way it’s been for the two games.”

Shockey and Carter are listed as “probable” for the game against the Seahawks.

Moss aggravated his quad injury that caused him to miss most of training camp and all of the preseason. He and Butler are listed as “questionable.”

Ward will not play.

LB LaVar Arrington missed practice due to the death of a grandfather. FB Jim Finn missed practice because his wife was giving birth.

QB Eli Manning Named “NFC Offensive Player of the Week”: QB Eli Manning was named the “NFC Offensive Player of the Week” for his performance against the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday. In that game, Manning completed 31-of-43 passes for 371 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception as the Giants overcame a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to win 30-24 in overtime. In the fourth quarter and the overtime, Manning completed 21-of-26 passes for 238 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Manning completed all eight of his passes in overtime.

“It’s an honor, but I don’t know if it’s truly deserving,” Manning said. “We had a lot of players in this last game and stepped up and made some big plays for us. When you get an award like this it’s really an offensive award. It’s for everybody, because for one person to have a good game, the whole team has to play well.”

Article on WR Amani Toomer: The Quiet Giant Who Catches Passes, Not Praise by John Branch of The New York Times

Notes: According to The Denver Post, ex-Broncos TE Dwayne Carswell and QB Bradlee Van Pelt are expected to work out for the Giants next week.

Sep 202006
New York Giants 30 – Philadelphia Eagles 24 (Overtime)

I watched the game this week with a small group of BBI faithful – rnargi, JOrthman, McKee, and DCYankee. By the third quarter, we were sitting around pretty depressed with the Giants trailing 24-7 and simply looking atrocious. McKee said what we were probably all thinking, “Maybe we just suck.” I replied, you know what, that’s going to be the title of my game review this week. As fate would have it, we ended up watching one of the most memorable games in New York Giants’ history. When Eli hit Plax for the game winner in overtime, we all jumped for joy, hugged and high-fived each other, saying the same thing, “How the (expletive deleted) did we win that game?”

There are a lot of reasons why the game turned around quickly in the fourth quarter. But in a nutshell, the Eagles made far too many mistakes and the Giants finally made some plays. Were the Giants the better team on the field on Sunday? Probably not. As McKee wisely also said, “We have now lost a game we should have won and won a game we should have lost.”

There is plenty to bitch about regarding the Giants’ performance. I will cover that below. But let’s just take a long moment to savor this game. It’s usually the Giants who are at the losing end of this kind of miracle comeback – but not on Sunday, against the Eagles, one of the team’s most-despised rivals. The Eagle players and fans were laughing and celebrating for the bulk of the game. The Giants were on the absolute brink of a 0-2 hole heading into a tough game in Seattle. Not only did the Giants wipe those smiles of the Eagles’ faces, more importantly they provided themselves with some wiggle room in terms of the tough early schedule. This win doesn’t guarantee anything. There are plenty of concerns, especially on defense, with this team. But if the Giants do go on to do some bigger and better things down the road, this is the game that everyone will point to as perhaps the decisive moment in the season.

It was a classic and one of the greatest moments in Giants’ history. Savor it.

Coaching: According to the coaches and players, it is the players who are making Defensive Coordinator Tim Lewis’ schemes look bad. “In the first half we weren’t close, we weren’t close with our coverage,” said SS Gibril Wilson. “I don’t know why we weren’t close, but we do have to clean it up.”

“It’s (defensive players) really not doing their jobs,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “You’ll see, if you look at one play, you’ll have someone out of position, or someone not involved in the coverage the way they’re supposed to be. Or the rush is not taking place exactly where it’s supposed to be. So it might be one phase of the defense is not in the position that you’re supposed to be in.”

The Giants rushed only four players – the down four – for the bulk of the game and got very little pass pressure. And despite playing seven back in coverage, some of the Eagles’ primary weapons, such as TE L.J. Smith, were left wide open much of the day. It doesn’t make any sense. McNabb was as comfortable as a quarterback could be in the pocket. Personally, I would blitz more. Unless the Giants get a lot better on defense very quickly, this victory may unfortunately be regarded as the high point of the season.

Offensively, it was tough to do anything after the game’s initial drive because the Eagles controlled the line of scrimmage. Both the run blocking and pass blocking was sub par. Like the Giants, the Eagles mainly rushed only their down four and played everyone else back in coverage (though the Eagles did blitz more later in the game). The major difference in this game was that the Giants could not block the Eagles’ down four defensive linemen but the Eagles could block the Giants’ down four. The Giants also had a huge problem getting a hat on MLB Jeremiah Trotter who really savaged New York’s running game.

My biggest issue with the play-calling were the consecutive plays called on 3rd-and-2 and 4th-and-2 early in the fourth quarter when the Giants were at the Eagle 41-yard line. I felt that the Giants telegraphed these plays as passes simply by their formation. In my opinion, if you know you are going to go for it twice, use Brandon Jacobs at least one of those times on a running play.

But give Tom Coughlin credit for punting late in the game when the Giants were still down by 10 points. I thought that was the wrong move at the time. Also give him his due for recognizing that the Eagle defenders were dead tired by the end of the game and sticking with the run, despite it not working well all game. The runs by Tiki Barber and Jacobs in overtime were very instrumental in the victory. And the Giants kept the Eagles from making a lot of substitutions by staying with the no-huddle – something that is much more effective when the other team is spent.

Quarterback: While I am sure someone is going to find something to complain about this week about Eli, I won’t. Despite the poor pass protection that allowed eight sacks and countless hits, despite the absence of a running game, despite the hostile environment, Manning orchestrated an amazing 17-point comeback in the fourth quarter and then led his team on an 85-yard game-winning touchdown drive in overtime. He was battered and bruised, but not beaten. Manning’s numbers were fantastic – 31-of-43 for 371 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. However, the interception came on a play where the ball hit the intended receiver (Barber) in the hands.

Some of the highlights? Manning did a nice job of moving up into the pocket and to his right in order to avoid the rush on a key 3rd-and-8 play on the Giants’ opening touchdown drive. His 20-yard strike to WR Plaxico Burress on 3rd-and-18 on the Giants’ first touchdown drive of the second half was a superb pass. Later on this drive, Eli then found Burress for another 23 yards on the play where Burress fumbled and the ball was recovered in the end zone. Manning threw an absolutely perfect pass on the 22-yard touchdown to WR Amani Toomer with three and a half minutes to go in the game. Then, with less than a minute to play and no timeouts, starting from his own 20-yard line, Manning completed four passes for 48 yards – the biggest being his 22-yard throw to WR Tim Carter. It was a fantastic pass in a tough situation with Eli remaining calm and composed. Eli had a defender hanging onto his legs and had to loft the pass over one defender and in front of another – truly an amazing throw.

On the game-winning drive in overtime, Manning found Toomer three times for 22 yards and TE Visanthe Shiancoe for another nine yards. Then came the game winner. Facing an all-out blitz, Manning correctly read the defense, bought himself an extra half-second by drifting backwards, and lofted a wonderfully accurate deep ball to Burress despite the NEED to throw off his back foot because he had an Eagle defender in his face. It was a statement play in a statement game and will be long remembered by Giants’ fans.

Wide Receivers: An incredibly productive day by the Giants’ wide receiving corps. Toomer caught a career-high 12 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Burress caught six passes for 114 yards and the game-winning score. Carter made two huge plays – the first was hustling down field and recovering Burress’ fumble in the end zone for a touchdown; the second was his 22-yard reception during the last-second, game-tying field goal drive.

Toomer scored from 37 yards out on the Giants’ initial possession of the game on a broken coverage by the Eagles. Toomer scored again late in the fourth quarter from 22 yards out, doing a fantastic job of keeping his feet in-bounds despite being near the end line. This score cut the Eagles’ lead to 24-21 with three and a half minutes to play. He also had a nice 11-yard run-and-catch two plays before this score. Toomer later caught a 10-yard pass on the last desperate field goal drive in regulation and then had three catches on the game-winning drive in overtime. Many of his heroics came when he was suffering from severe dehydration.

Burress made a big play on the touchdown-scoring opening drive by coming up with a 16-yard reception on 3rd-and-8 despite very tight coverage. Plaxico made a huge 20-yard catch on 3rd-and-18 on the Giants’ first scoring drive of the second half. He then caught a 23-yarder over the middle, but fumbled the ball on the play. Fortunately for the G-Men, this ended up being a positive as the fumble was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown by Carter. Of course, the most memorable play was Burress’ 31-yard game winner.

The big negative on Carter was his idiotic holding penalty in overtime on a 6-yard Brandon Jacobs run despite the fact that Jacobs had already blasted past the area of the hold. This penalty could have cost the Giants the game. Still, without Carter’s two big plays earlier in the game, the Giants don’t win.

Running Backs: Yes, the run blocking wasn’t there, but Tiki Barber (21 carries for 51 yards; seven catches for 57 yards) just didn’t look like himself. Barber was creamed by LB Jeremiah Trotter on a blitz pick-up early in the game; plus, he had x-rays taken on his arm after the game – so he probably was playing hurt. He appeared to run very tentatively without any burst and was easily brought down. He also badly missed a blitz pick-up on the play where Manning was flagged for intentional grounding. Not one of his better games. That said, Tiki’s 24 yards on six carries on the game-winning overtime drive were instrumental in the victory.

Brandon Jacobs (five carries for 35 yards) looked sharper and I would have used him more. His 9-yard run on the game-winning drive was a big play.

FB Jim Finn had an 11-yard reception on the second touchdown drive of the game.

Tight Ends: There are two problems with Jeremy Shockey. One is that he right ankle is clearly a major problem as it is limiting his game. Secondly, for whatever reason, the Giants are doing a horrible job of getting him involved in the passing game. For the second game in a row, Shockey did not have any first-half receptions and only had two for 17 yards by game’s end. Shockey did drop a pass on the opening drive and committed his second false start in two games. The false start really hurt as it took away a first down run and the Giants were forced to punt two plays later. His only significant play of the game was his 8-yard reception on the final field goal drive in regulation. His ankle was so bothersome that he did not play in overtime.

Visanthe Shiancoe only had one catch, but it was big one – a nine-yarder on 2nd-and-10 from the Giants’ 45-yard line on the game-winning drive. He also made two other huge plays – one was jumping on Eagles’ SS Michael Lewis near the goal line on Plaxico’s fumble, preventing Lewis from recovering the football; the other was recovering a fumble by Eli Manning in overtime. I thought the false start on Shiancoe was a bad call since the Eagles – I felt – induced him to jump by coming across the line first. That’s supposed to be a penalty on the defense.

Offensive Line: As good as the offensive line played against the Colts in the opener, they were as bad as they could be against the Eagles. Now not all of the Eagles’ eight sacks were on them – due to Eli’s inability to find an open receiver or the receivers’ inability to get open, Manning held onto the ball far too long on a couple of plays that resulted in sacks. But, even discounting these plays, there were far too many physical breakdowns that led to quick pressure that ended with big hits on Manning and sacks. And for the bulk of the game, Barber had very little room to operate when running the football.

LG David Diehl gave up one sack to DT Darwin Walker and another to DT Mike Patterson (another sack by Patterson was really caused by Eli stepping too far up into the pocket). LT Luke Petitgout was beaten twice by DE Trent Cole for sacks. RT Kareem McKenzie gave up three and a half sacks – two and a half to DE Jevon Kearse. RG Chris Snee was flagged with a holding call and gave up a couple of late pressures (the personal foul penalty on him was BS). OC Shaun O’Hara was flagged with his second illegal snap penalty in two games.

Defensive Line: It seems to me that Tim Lewis’ strategy early on in the season has been to rely on his front four to pressure the passer and play more guys in coverage. This is what teams with very good pass-rushing defensive lines (such as the Eagles) often do. However, the problem with this strategy is right now is (1) the Giants defensive backs and linebackers are not getting the job done in coverage, and (2) the Giants’ defensive line is not getting to the quarterback. That’s a really, really bad combination. The Eagles dominated the line of scrimmage for most of the game, especially in pass protection. Not only did QB Donovan McNabb have all day to throw, but he often had a perfect pocket formed around him while calmly scanned the entire field. It was beyond infuriating as a Giants’ fan to watch. Defensive ends Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora need to pick up their respective games and fast. Those are the Giants’ two money players on defense and they are not getting the job done.

Ironically, for the second week in a row, I felt the defensive tackles played better than the ends. Fred Robbins played the run well and did apply some pass pressure early in the game. He almost sacked Donovan McNabb for a safety. Barry Cofield didn’t get any heat on the quarterback, but he was very solid against the run. He also batted a pass away. William Joseph didn’t stand out.

To his credit, Strahan did play the run well and he did get some heat on McNabb late in the game. Umenyiora had the Giants only sack of the game and it was mainly a coverage sack.

Justin Tuck saw snaps both at defensive tackle and defensive end but did not stand out. Mathias Kiwanuka, playing linebacker, came on a late dog up the gut and almost got to McNabb before he released the football.

Linebackers: Another bad game for the entire unit. The pass coverage is simply dreadful. How the (expletive deleted) do the Giants keep allowing the opposing tight end – a primary receiver in the passing attacks of both the first two opponents – to get so wide open? It’s as if the Giants were surprised that the Eagles were throwing to L.J. Smith. I counted FIVE PLAYS where Smith was wide open for gains of 30, 24, 20, 14, and 19 yards. There was no one around Smith on these plays. Unbelievable!

Carlos Emmons probably played the best game of the starting trio. He was badly embarrassed by HB Brian Westbrook on the latter’s 12-yard touchdown run despite the fact that Emmons had good position on the play (he just wasn’t quick or fast enough to stay with Westbrook). To his credit, he got in on a lot of tackles (11) and also forced the key turnover of the game by stripping HB Brian Westbrook of the ball late in the fourth quarter.

Antonio Pierce is playing like a very ordinary player as is LaVar Arrington. Pierce did tackle Westbrook for a 1-yard loss in the second quarter and played the run well on the consecutive 3rd-and-3 and 4th-and-1 plays where the Eagles failed to convert in the fourth quarter. Arrington was very shaky in run defense and missed a tackle on the halfback in the flat. He also missed a tackle on McNabb late in the game.

Defensive Backs: CB Sam Madison had a rough game. Early on, he almost came down with an interception in the end zone against WR Dante Stallworth, but the pass was ruled incomplete. He also played Stallworth well deep on another deep pass thrown in his direction. However, Madison was badly beaten in press coverage by Stallworth for 20-yard touchdown. He also inexcusably gave up a 33-yarder to Stallworth on 3rd-and-14 earlier on this drive. Late in the second quarter, Madison was cleanly beaten by Stallworth on four shorter passes – three of which were completed and one of which helped to set up a late field goal. Madison really settled down in the second half as Stallworth didn’t do anything against him. And Madison made a huge open-field tackle on a 3rd-and-12 pass to the fullback in the flat when the Eagles were trying to run out the clock. If Madison doesn’t make that tackle, the Giants lose the game.

Corey Webster was in fine position on the 23-yard touchdown pass to WR Reggie Brown, but did not make a play on the football. Webster had decent coverage on an 11-yard completion on a 3rd-and-2 slant to Stallworth earlier on this drive. Other than these two plays, he was quiet – which is usually a good thing for a corner. R.W. McQuarters was beaten by rookie WR Hank Baskett for a 25-yard completion on 2nd-and-13. McQuarters did have nice coverage on a 3rd-and-11 pass intended for Smith that fell incomplete. However, McQuarters gave up a huge 13-yard catch to WR Greg Lewis on 3rd-and-7 late in the game that could have proven to be exceptionally costly.

Safeties Will Demps and Gibril Wilson were invisible for much of the game as the Eagles passed for 256 yards in the first half alone. Both probably share at least some responsibility in L.J. Smith’s big receiving day. And Gibril was beaten badly by the back-up tight end for what should have been an easy touchdown but the Eagle dropped the ball. He also missed a tackle on a screen. However, Wilson did make some plays late in the game, none bigger than his 4th-and-1 stuff of HB Correll Buckhalter in the fourth quarter. He also helped to disrupt a 4th-and-1 pass play late in the second quarter by knocking the intended receiver on his ass within the 5-yard chuck zone. Demps recovered a fumble that set up the Giants’ third touchdown of the game. Demps also did a nice job of reading a screen play to Smith in overtime and tackling the tight end for a 3-yard loss.

Special Teams: The good news is that Jay Feely was much better this week. His 35-yard field goal that sent the game into overtime was a little too close to the left upright for my liking, but it counted and it came in a very big pressure situation. His kickoffs were better this week except for one that was inexplicably squibbed along the ground at the beginning of the third quarter.

Kickoff coverage was solid with the Dexter Wynn being limited to 19 (Reggie Torbor on the tackle), 20 (Torbor), 21 (Mathias Kiwanuka), and 15 yards (Torbor). Great coverage game by Torbor!

Jeff Feagles punted well (43.5 yards-per-punt average on eight punts) early but had some mediocre efforts later in the game. His directional kicking in the first half was impressive. However, his 38-yarder in overtime came at the wrong moment. And the Eagles came damn close to blocking a few of his punts. The punt coverage team gave up returns of 6 (David Tyree on the tackle), 22 (Torbor), and 14 yards (Brandon Jacobs after Torbor missed an early tackle). The 22-yarder helped the Eagles tack on a field goal at the end of the first half and the 14-yarder could have ended up costing the Giants the game had the defense not held its ground. David Tyree needs to step it up.

Chad Morton’s four kickoff returns went for 31, 8, 24, and 23 yards. R.W. McQuarters returned one kickoff for 17 yards. Gerris Wilkinson was flagged for holding on McQuarter’s lone kickoff return.

Morton only returned one punt – for zero yardage. McQuarters had one punt return for six yards.

(Box Score – New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles, September 17, 2006)