by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Marty in Albany
The Giants were in shorts and shells on this pleasant sunny morning. The scariest thing about the practice was that an ambulance and another car with medical personnel drove up just as I was driving out. It was either for a player or for one of the fans. I estimate that about 1,200-1,500 fans were in attendance.
The best thing about the practice was that DT Fred Robbins played and showed good mobility. He batted away a QB Eli Manning pass in the 11 on 11′s and later, he made a 360 spin move. The fact that he can both jump and spin gives me a lot more optimism about Fred than when he first arrived at camp looking huge and being put on the PUP list.
In the next series of plays when QB Andre’ Woodson came in, big DT Anthony Bryant made a similar 360 spin move. IMO, Bryant was inspired when he saw Robbins do it with the starters. Bryant didn’t get any penetration, but the offensive player had grabbed Bryant’s jersey and the spin move twisted Bryant’s jersey from front to back. The play would have resulted in a very obvious holding penalty if had referees been present.
The Giants continue to concentrate on kickoff drills. There were a dozen at the beginning of practice. The lion’s share went to WR Sinorice Moss, but three went to HB Danny Ware, who muffed one. The Juggs gun was used to simulate the kickoffs. I could not help but notice that the Juggs gun gets considerably more height and hang-time on its kickoffs than K Lawrence Tynes gets on his. I wonder if Tynes is jealous.
OG Kevin Boothe is healthy again and played with the first team in place of OG Chris Snee. Tutan Reyes filled in at LG with the second team. OT Guy Whimper was at RT and OT William Beatty at LT with the reserves.
I am very disappointed with QB Eli Manning. He continues to be slow in getting the Giants to the line of scrimmage. During the season, Eli routinely got the team to the line with about 10-12 seconds remaining on the clock, while opposing QBs got there with 15-17 seconds remaining. The result was that Eli frequently threw passes with 0 seconds left on the clock. During the practice, the buzzer sounded at least three times before Eli had a chance to deliver the pass.
Eli did not throw any interceptions – nobody did, but they often threw the ball long after they would have been sacked by the defense. There were times when no receivers were open and the QBs either held onto the ball, or threw it out of bounds. Speaking of out of bounds, the out pass, the one where Amani Toomer used to drag his toes over the sideline, is a pattern that I have not noticed in the 2009 Giants arsenal.
With CB Corey Webster and CB Aaron Ross not playing, the offense was still not able to complete many deep passes. CB Terrell Thomas has his moments. He made a fine pass defense on a pass to WR Domenik Hixon, but he also made a blatant interference penalty.
The best reception of the practice was a deep sideline pass from QB David Carr to WR Ramses Barden who was covered perfectly by the defender. Ramses had enough height to grab the perfectly thrown pass that went over the defender’s up-stretched arms. A similar sideline catch was made by WR Derek Hagan over CB Terrell Thomas on a pass from QB Eli Manning. Unfortunately, these good plays were few and far between this morning.
Adam Koets continues as the backup center and he continues to make poor snaps. He delivered a low shotgun snap to QB Rhett Bomar.
QB Rhett Bomar is still playing with the fourth string. He is not completing any passes. QB Andre’ Woodson looks marginally better as a passer. I’m guessing that it is playbook overload and that the speed of the game has not yet slowed down for Bomar.
Who says the Giants are not big tippers? Today we had tips by DT Fred Robbins, a very athletic diving tip by LB Clint Sintim, and a tipped by DE Maurice Evans.
Ron and Gail from Inside Football were kind enough to give me a copy of the NFL referees 2009 Officiating Presentations For Media and Networks, a 55 page handout that I presume was part of a show and tell for the Giants beat writers, performed by the four NFL referees that I met on Monday. Needless to say, BBI was not invited.
Apparently, some of the handout was part of a “PowerPoint” presentation. I’m almost thankful that I was not invited. “PowerPoint” done wrong – and it usually is – is the equivalent of water-boarding done right. Good “PowerPoint” illustrates a few key points of your talk. Then you turn it off so the audience focuses on you. Done wrong, you present every facet of your entire talk on the screen and nobody in the audience knows whether to listen to you, look at the screen, or look at the handout in their laps.
I’m guessing that before long, the beat writers were ignoring the presenter and were texting their stories in, or writing them in the margins of their handouts. A review of the first few graphs and charts in the handout would make me want to leave the room. If I were forced to review them all, I would be willing to confess to war crimes.
The handout does have some useful information that I will summarize below. It also contains personal and business data about the officials which, in my opinion, is inappropriate to make public or put in the hands of the media, and it shall remain undisclosed by me.
The handout contains an overview and a brief chronology of NFL officiating and a list of the recent rule changes (that are more clearly explained almost anywhere else you care to look).
The most interesting part is the 2009 Miscellaneous Playing Rules Positions.
Overtime: The Committee considered various alternatives to the current overtime rule but was unable to agree on a proposal. It notes that (a) no formal playing rule proposal was submitted by a club, (b) there was virtually no support for a change in the responses to the Competition Committee Survey, and (c) members of the NFLPA also indicated that they preferred the present rule. The Committee believes that the current system eliminates ties in a manner that sustains excitement through the end of the game since it can end on any play, as was originally intended.
However, the Committee is concerned with the statistical data for overtime games. During the last two seasons, both teams had possession of the ball at least once in overtime 56.7% of the time. The team winning the coin toss won 63.3% of the games and won the game on its first possession 43.3% of the games. Of the 13 games won on the first possession, 12 were by field goals.
This is in sharp contrast with the data from 1974 through 1993, when the kickoff was at the 35-yard line [thus giving much less advantage to the receiving team – MiA note]. During that period, both teams had possession 74.6% of the games. The winner of the coin toss and the loser each won 46.8% of the games (6.5% of the games finished in ties), and the team winning the toss won the game on its first possession only 25.4% of the time.
Offensive Holding: The Committee reviewed all aspects of offensive holding including the rule itself, the mechanics of covering the play, and the consistency of the calls that are made.
Concerns have been raised over the decline in the number of holding calls that have been made since 2005. The Committee looked at a multitude of plays and acknowledged that holding is one of the most difficult calls to make.
Intentional Grounding: The Committee determined that once the quarterback is out of the pocket, requiring the pass to land “at or beyond” the line of scrimmage, as opposed to “near or beyond” eliminates any vagueness associated with the rule.
Kicking Balls [supplied for the game]: The number of balls that are to be made available for each game will be reduced because a smaller number is all that is needed.
Instant Replay: The handout had some interesting information. In 256 games there were 315 reviews based on 229 coaches challenges, the rest being official reviews. There were 117 reversals or 37%, the same percentage as in 2007. The percentage rate has remained pretty steady since 1999, but 37% is the highest rate.
According to the NFL’s statistics, the average review took only 49 seconds and resulted in an average game delay of 2:40. There were 76 games that were played without any reviews. I don’t think that I watched any of those games.
There were no figures for reversals in 2008, but from 1999 through 2008 the Giants were 34 for 80, Dallas was 29 for 64, Philadelphia was 13 for 42, and Washington was 19 for 45.
False Starts – A Dirty Little Secret?: In 1987 there were 300 false starts called throughout the NFL. This number steadily rose each year (except 1994) until it had more than doubled by 1998. There was a slight dip for three years and then it climbed to a peak of 852 in 2005. By 2008 the number had fallen to 653, but that is still more than double the 1987 figure.
Why are there so many false starts? Are the offensive players forgetting the snap counts? Nah. Perhaps it is because there is too much fan noise in the stadium for them to hear? Well if that is true, have the fans developed louder voices since 1987 when there were only 300 false starts? I don’t think so. My conclusion is that either by the design of the stadium and/or with the help of amplification, the home teams are creating an artificial amount of noise to help their defenses. If that is what they are doing, then the NFL is certainly turning a blind eye to it.