Dec 312009
 

Injury Report – Brandon Jacobs’ Season is Over; Chris Canty Suffers Knee Injury in Practice: HB Brandon Jacobs will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his injured knee next week. He will not play on Sunday against the Vikings so his season is officially over.

The Daily News is reporting that Jacobs does not have ligament damage, but a partially torn meniscus. The surgery will clean out the torn cartilage that has apparently been bothering him for months.

“I’m hoping that this is corrected by the scope,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin.

DT Chris Canty also injured his knee on one of the last plays of practice. The injury is believed to be an MCL sprain to his right knee, but the true extent of the injury will not be known until an MRI is taken. Canty was wearing crutches after practice and his season may be over too.  “To be honest with you, I don’t want to talk about it,” said Canty, who has suffered from a various assortment of injuries this year (hamstring and calf).

Aside from Jacobs, not practicing yesterday were CB Corey Webster (knee), CB/S Aaron Ross (hamstring), HB Ahmad Bradshaw (ankles/foot), WR Mario Manningham (shoulder), and RT Kareem McKenzie (knee).

WR Hakeem Nicks (hamstring), LG Rich Seubert (knee), and DT Fred Robbins (lower leg) were limited in practice.

“(Robbins)  is sore today,” said Coughlin before practice. “He is going to go individual and see how much he can do. He may do a few snaps. But he does have some swelling in the lower leg. Fortunately there was no fracture. But he does have swelling and he is sore.”

QB Eli Manning (foot) practiced fully.

Notes and Quotes: Steve Smith (7), Nicks (6), Manningham (5), and Kevin Boss (5) all have at least five touchdown receptions. This is the first time the Giants have had four different receivers with at least five touchdown catches apiece since 1963, when five players reached that total: Del Shofner (9), Frank Gifford (7), Joe Morrison (7), Joe Walton (6) and Phil King (5).

Head Coach Tom Coughlin on WR Ramses Barden: “We are looking forward, believe me, to spending a lot of time with Barden (in the offseason).  Because I think he has shown us, in the scout squad, as much as Mario (Manningham) did a year ago, that there is a lot to work with there.  And we are excited about that.  Whether or not he has to play in the game to show us more – yes, it would be nice.  But we have seen plenty on the practice field.”

Coughlin on HB D.J. Ware: “Of course he had the unfortunate incident (elbow injury) at the very beginning of the season.  Then he came back and got nicked again (concussion).  So he really hasn’t had the time or the extended – to be honest with you, in special teams when he was back, he didn’t do much.  He didn’t provide us with a lot.  And Gartrell (Johnson), when given the chance, flies around.  So Danny is – we are trying to make him understand a lot of things about consistency and about what our expectation levels are, no matter what spot we are in.  And hopefully he is going to learn that.”

Coughlin on DT Chris Canty: “He is a force inside and we are continuing to try to develop him to the point where he is even more of a force.”

Dec 302009
 
Carolina Panthers 41 (7-8) – New York Giants 9 (8-7)

by The Hack for BigBlueInteractive.com

Game Summary: In the immortal words of Clark W. Griswold Jr, “Hallelujah. Holy shit. Where’s the Tylenol?”

Three days after Christmas on a gloriously sunny and balmy winter’s day in the Meadowlands, New York took the field at Giants Stadium for the very last time with visions of playoff games dancing in their heads. Or did they? Maybe they had visions of offseason golf trips traipsing around in there instead. Whatever they were thinking about, it sure as hell wasn’t football because very few Giants played any on this last game in Giants Stadium.

What the hell WAS that out there on Sunday?

Keeping Carolina off balance with a dizzying array of short passes, the Giants drove methodically down the field on their first drive, and on first and 10 from the 26 yard line, Eli Manning and Steve Smith got the home crowd rollicking with a seemingly easy as pie touchdown pass. Indeed, not a single Giant fan in the world wasn’t thinking, “That was EASY! The rout is ON!”

BUT…on the play Madison Hedgecock threw his man to the ground and was called for holding, nullifying the touchdown. No matter, Eli Manning hoisted the team on his shoulders and hit Mario Manningham for a first down to the 14-yard line, converting a third and 14.

BUT…Manningham fumbled the ball, and Carolina recovered. The Giants never did, and the rout was indeed on, only going the other way. Within a few minutes, the Giants were down 10, and by halftime the deficit was 24. Within four plays of the second half, the score was 31-0.

Eric from BBI asked me not to write a review for this week. His exact words were, “No one’s going to read it,” and frankly I’ve noticed that the reviews of the wins are read three to one and considering the debacle that this game truly was, I’m inclined to agree. Actually, the game was so one sided that my network actually shifted from the game and I never got to see the fourth quarter. Some of you would say I’m a lucky man. I’m inclined to agree with that, too!

So instead of reviewing the game, I’m in the process of doing a season retrospective of the entire team that I will post prior to Wild Card weekend. Suffice it to say that very few guys played well on Sunday. Eli Manning and Steve Smith showed up. Michael Boley made 11 tackles; Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka had eight each.

Neither line played particularly well, with the offensive line giving up four sacks and making Eli run for his life half the time and the defensive line got no pressure on a backup QB with two prior starts to his name.

So there you have it, and now for the first time since late in the 2004 season, the Giants have absolutely nothing to play for this coming Sunday, and nothing to look forward to afterwards. The streak is over. Four straight season in the playoffs – three ‘one and dones’ and one magical Super Bowl Championship – are over. Now, this season is over, a season that started off promisingly at 5-0.

Everyone knew that losing Kenny Phillips was a huge blow, and after holding our breaths through the first three games without him and winning with ease, we were wary to look through the rose-colored glasses and say that they were going to survive it. In reality, that was the real downfall of the team – the moment we heard that he was done for the year.

As Dave in DC would say, “Stay Thirsty, My Friends.” Start dreaming about free agency and the draft.

(Box Score – Carolina Panthers at New York Giants, December 27, 2009)
Dec 302009
 

BBI Online Live is an internet radio show dedicated exclusively to coverage of the New York Giants. The show is co-hosted by Eric Kennedy of BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) and John McDevitt of Side Kick Productions. This week’s guest was New York Giants beat reporter for The Star-Ledger Mike Garafolo. Eric and John will react to the New York Giants 41-9 loss to the Carolina Panthers, which ended the Giants playoff hopes, and discuss the upcoming regular-season finale against the Minnesota Vikings.

Dec 302009
 

12/30/2009

By Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com

Approach to the Game – New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings, January 3, 2010: The Giants have one game left to play, but the season is basically over. So I will use this article to outline my thoughts on what the Giants need to do in order to make the playoffs in 2010.

Coaching Staff: The defensive problems are not all his fault, but Bill Sheridan has to go.  It pretty obvious that he does not INSPIRE – and that is the key word here – confidence and passion.  Actions speak louder than words.  Heading into the regular-season finale, the Giants have allowed 383 points (28th in the NFL).  After Sunday’s game, that total will likely be over 400 points!  Yes there have injury issues at all three levels of the defense, but there is no excuse for this unit to be one of the very worst in the NFL, and THE very worst in red zone defense.  Defensively, the Giants had discipline and confidence issues all year.  They went from a cocky bunch to a demoralized rabble.

The #1 challenge of the offseason is for Head Coach Tom Coughlin to hire the right defensive coordinator.  With the Giants, he does not have a very good track record of hiring coordinators.  John Hufnagel and Tim Lewis were fired for good reason during/after the 2006 season.  Bill Sheridan should shortly be fired.  Both of Coughlin’s special teams coordinators have been average at best.  This is not a strong coaching staff.

So does Coughlin play it safe and hire a safe candidate like the respected but older Dick Jauron?  Or does he roll the dice and try to find a younger but more unproven candidate?  Regardless, he had better get it right this time.

As for Coughlin himself, much of the blame for the performance against the Panthers must rest with him.  His team was not ready to play despite having all the motivation in the world to play well.  Most damning is the fact that, at least publicly, Coughlin admits he doesn’t know what is wrong.  It’s his job to know what is wrong and to make sure performances like Sunday don’t happen.  He needs reinvigorate himself and do a better job, or step aside for someone who can.

The Panthers game wasn’t “just another loss.”  It was one of the worst performances in franchise history in one of the franchise’s most important games.  Games like that get people fired.

Defensive Line: What was supposed to be the unquestioned strength of the defense, and perhaps the entire team, was an abysmal failure in 2009.  Justin Tuck suffered a serious shoulder injury early and was never the same.  Jay Alford was lost before the season started.  Chris Canty missed almost all of training camp and the entire preseason; he never did really adjust to the 4-3 defense.  Fred Robbins was coming off serious offseason knee surgery and looked like a shell of himself.  Barry Cofield was coming off less serious knee surgery, but more was expected out of him.  Rocky Bernard – an excellent player in Seattle – was a free agent bust.  And the biggest enigma of all was Osi Umenyiora.  Umenyiora was an impact football player in 2007.  He missed all of 2008 with a knee injury.  In 2009, he got benched.  Was it the knee?  Or is there a bigger problem there?

The only player on the line who had a “good” year was Mathias Kiwanuka, and it remains to be seen if he will develop into the type of weakside edge rusher that scares other teams.

Let’s start with the givens.  Tuck, Kiwanuka, and Canty will be major cogs in 2010.  Tuck just needs to stay healthy – he’s been hampered by injuries the past two seasons.  Kiwanuka is a player.  Canty flashed enough, despite his limited 4-3 experience, to indicate he will be an asset (it’s interesting to note how much double-team attention Canty received from other teams).

Now come the question marks.  Absent an uncapped free agent period, does unrestricted free agent Barry Cofield return?  One would think we’ve probably seen the end of Fred Robbins and possibly Rocky Bernard’s tenure with the team.  Jay Alford returns but he is coming off of major knee surgery and wasn’t all that dynamic a player before he got hurt.  The #1 personnel need on this team may be a defensive tackle who can push the pocket.  Those are VERY difficult to find.

At end, everything depends on Umenyiora.  If he is on a permanent downward track, that’s a huge hole for the Giants to fill.  The Giants need at least three quality defensive ends.  If Umenyiora is traded (while his market value is low), the Giants need to draft a replacement high, possibly even in the first round.  The best thing for the Giants would be for a reinvigorated Umenyiora to return to form.

Linebacker: Like Canty, Michael Boley’s play was seriously compromised by missing training camp and the preseason.  He was starting to look like an impact player before a second injury sabotaged a chunk of the regular season.  But he’s the prototypical 4-3 weakside linebacker – a guy who may be a bit light against the run, but who can cover.  The Giants need him, especially against the Eagles.

The question marks start with the other positions.  Ideally, the Giants need a kickass, fire-breathing, run-stuffing, TE-covering middle linebacker who can inspire and lead the defense.  Good luck with that.  Can such a player be found in the draft?  Can a rookie come in and truly lead a veteran defensive unit?  Antonio Pierce is likely done with the Giants, but I wouldn’t completely discount a return, if for nothing else, insurance purposes.  But can Antonio accept possibly being a backup?  I’m not sure.  Jonathan Goff might be the eventual starter, but can the Giants really risk counting on his development?  It’s too bad he didn’t play earlier.

The strongside linebacker tends to be a 1- or 2-down player so the spot is not as critical. But Danny Clark will be unrestricted and the Giants should make no effort to re-sign him.  Is Clint Sintim better suited for linebacker or defensive end?  That remains to be seen.  The Giants will likely need to bring in a cheap veteran here as insurance.

Defensive Backs: I think the Giants are in great shape at cornerback with Corey Webster, Terrell Thomas, Aaron Ross, and Bruce Johnson.  Absent an uncapped offseason, Kevin Dockery probably won’t be back so the Giants will likely add another corner.

One of the most glaring weaknesses on the whole team is safety.  Pray – and I do mean pray – that Kenny Phillips can not only return, but return to form.  The Giants desperately need him.  It would not be shocking to see none of the other safeties on the roster being on the final 53 next season.  The Giants NEED to add 2-3 QUALITY safeties via free agency and the draft.  If they don’t, they’ll never match up well with the Eagles who have two very young and very explosive wide receivers.

Defensive Summary: A lot of needs – probably too many for one offseason.  The Giants will have to be very good and very lucky in free agency and the draft to address issues at defensive tackle, linebacker, safety, and even perhaps defensive end.

Whomever the Giants bring on defense, special consideration should be given to players with fiery leadership qualities. There is an obvious leadership void on the defensive unit.

And, again,  most importantly, the need a QUALITY defensive coordinator.

Quarterbacks: Eli Manning is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and has officially entered his prime.  The big question is who will be the primary back-up next year: unrestricted free agent David Carr, another veteran, or Rhett Bomar.

Running Backs: I don’t think things are as dire here as some suggest.  Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw are good running backs.  But both do have injury histories that suggest possible future complications.  Nevertheless for 2010, both will still be integral parts of the offense.  Jacobs is the hammer; Bradshaw the big-play guy.  The suggestion that either can’t put up big numbers anymore is ludicrous.

They do need relief however.  D.J. Ware had a horrific season.  He got hurt on the very first play of the season and never did seem to get back in the flow of things.  Then he suffered a serious concussion.  By the end of the year, he was surpassed on the depth chart by a rookie.  Does Ware get one more chance in 2010?  He has talent but he did not produce when called upon.  With Jacobs out against the Vikings, this is a great opportunity for Ware to redeem himself.

One of the early tragedies of the season was the Achilles’ injury suffered by promising rookie running back Andre Brown.  Can Brown truly recover from an Achilles injury and be the same player?  Gartrell Johnson seems to have some talent, but we did not see enough of him.

Madison Hedgecock was limited by injury.  He should rebound but the Giants will likely bring in some serious competition this year as he did have an off year.

Wide Receivers: Who would have thought that this position would end up being one of the strengths of the team?  The Giants have good players here and a lot of them.  Steve Smith, Mario Manningham, and Hakeem Nicks developed so well and so fast that Ramses Barden wasn’t even needed.  He will get his shot in 2010.  I really hope the Giants can re-sign Domenik Hixon as he is an impact player on special teams and a very good reserve receiver.

Tight Ends: Kevin Boss continues to evolve into one of the better tight ends in the NFL.  He was a bit too inconsistent as a blocker in 2009, but he will continue to work at it.  What the Giants really need is a blocking tight end.  The offensive line gets too much of the grief for the Giants’ running game woes in 2009; the tight ends didn’t do a great job of controlling the edge on outside-the-tackle runs.

Offensive Line: Contrary to most, if the Giants went into 2010 with Diehl, Seubert, O’Hara, Snee, and McKenzie starting, I’d be absolutely fine with that.  I think these five are still very good players.  Now that said, William Beatty was so impressive as a rookie that one has to think he is going to press a starter.  He looks like the ideal candidate for left tackle.  If he does win that job, Diehl could move to right tackle or left guard.  The #1 “wish list” item here would be for a big, athletic center/guard to groom behind O’Hara.

Offensive Summary: As long as everyone returns healthy, the Giants are in really good shape on offense.  I think they need a blocking tight end.  Another center/guard-type would be ideal.

Special Teams: The Giants can live with Lawrence Tynes, but also could do better.  Jeff Feagles had his worst season as a Giant.  He says he hasn’t decided on whether he will return or not.  He already admitted he wasn’t in good enough shape.  Replacing a punter is not as easy as it seems.  This may be one of the hardest positions to fill if Feagles does not return.

Big key here is keeping Domenik Hixon in the fold.  Finding some young linebackers and defensive backs who can kickass in coverage will help.

Dec 302009
 

Shaun O’Hara Voted to the Pro Bowl: Center Shaun O’Hara was the only New York Giant to be elected to the Pro Bowl this year. This is the second year in a row that O’Hara has received that honor. He is the first Giants’ offensive lineman to go in consecutive seasons since guard Ron Stone in 2000 and 2001 and the team’s first center since Bart Oates in 1990 and 1991.

Coaches (1/3 of the vote), players (1/3 of the vote), and fans (1/3 of the vote) determine who is elected to the Pro Bowl.

“I couldn’t have done it without the guys next to me – Rich (Seubert), and Chris (Snee) and Dave (Diehl) and Kareem (McKenzie) and without my whole unit,” O’Hara said. “In addition to them, (Offensive Line Coach) Pat Flaherty has been instrumental in my development as a player.”

Last year, the Giants sent seven players to the Pro Bowl.

Not elected to the Pro Bowl, but voted alternates include:

  • LT David Diehl – first alternate
  • RG Chris Snee – first alternate
  • WR Steve Smith – first alternate
  • Returner Domenik Hixon – third alternate
  • DE Justin Tuck – third alternate
  • QB Eli Manning – fourth alternate

Harry Carson Continues to Criticize Defensive Players: Harry Gives ‘Em Hell Again by Ralph Vacchiano of The Daily News

Article on OT William Beatty: NY Giants Rookie Offensive Tackle William Beatty Says Facing Carolina Panthers Defensive End Was A ‘Blessing’ by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

Articles on the Giants’ Upcoming Offseason:

Notes: The Giants are 7-1 when they score first and 1-6 when their opponents score first.

Dec 292009
 

New York Giants Officially Out of Playoff Contention: The loss to the Carolina Panthers, combined by wins by the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys, has officially ended the Giants’ post-season playoff aspirations. The Giants will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

Injury Report – Brandon Jacobs Ailing: One of HB Brandon Jacobs’ knees is bothering him. “He is sore,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “I hope it is something that he can overcome in a week’s time, but he is sore, his knee is swollen…He has had some issues along the way that he has had to deal with.”

Article on How the Giants Can Improve Next Season: The Five-Point Plan That Will Fix The New York Giants For 2010 by Gary Myers of The Daily News

Article on DE Osi Umenyiora: As Giants Sift Wreckage, Coughlin Backs Umenyiora by Joe LaPointe of The New York Times

Quotes: Former Giants’ linebacker Harry Carson on the Giants’ defensive performance against the Panthers: “I love all of the players individually off the field but they all stunk up the place between 1 and 4pm. These guys left their hearts, pride and passion in the locker room or perhaps already forwarded those intangibles to the new stadium in advance of next season’s opening. They made a second string quarterback look like a Pro Bowler and a backup running back put up career numbers with over 200 yards rushing. I was embarrassed to see what I saw on the field. I went into the locker room after the game and one of the players apologized for the poor play of the team. He did not have to do that but I appreciated it. The reality is all players have an “off” day but off days cannot come when you are closing your building in front of your home fans on a beautiful December day.

“I don’t need an apology but Giant fans who root for the team week in and week out deserve better. One thing I do know is Wellington Mara probably rolled over in his grave with what was presented as Giants football by this team.”

Dec 272009
 

A Disgusting and Shameful Performance: Shame on the New York Giants. Shame on their coaches, shame on their players, shame on the entire organization. In the final game the Giants played at Giants Stadium, in a must-win situation with a playoff berth on the line, the Giants were absolutely destroyed by a team with a losing record and nothing to play for. The Giants fell 41-9 to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

If the Dallas Cowboys defeat the Washington Redskins later tonight, the 8-7 Giants will officially be eliminated from playoff contention.

It was one of the worst and most embarrassing defeats in franchise history. And all of this with many New York Giant legends of the past on hand, including Lawrence Taylor and Harry Carson.

LT and Harry must have shaken their heads repeatedly as an emotionless Giants’ defense missed tackle after tackle and was shredded for 416 yards, including 247 net yards rushing. The Panthers converted 10-of-15 third-down attempts and no-name reserve QB Matt More finished the game 15-of-20 for 171 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Offensively, the Giants could not run the football at all until the game was out of reach. HB Brandon Jacobs rushed for a total of 1 yard on 6 carries. The Giants turned the football over four times, including two interceptions and two fumbles.

Lowlights of the game are available at NFL.com.

After the game, DE Osi Umenyiora publicly vented his frustration: “I couldn’t really explain what I’m feeling right now, disappointment is an understatement, in everything, the way everything has played out this year has been absolute nonsense, very disappointed, disheartened, discouraged, whatever you want to call it. I feel all those emotions. On a day like this, for us to come out and perform like that is unbelievable to me. I don’t even know what else to say.”

When asked where the game got away from the Giants, Umenyiora responded, “I don’t know, man. What did I play, five snaps today? I don’t know, I don’t know what happened. I thought I was the problem. It’s an unbelievable situation, man. Last game at Giants Stadium, probably as a Giant, just the way everything has unfolded has been unbelievable. I never would have dreamt this in a million years, but it is what it is, we live and we learn.”

When asked if he had ever been part of an up-and-down season, Umenyiora replied, “I can’t even sit here and answer any more questions. I’m about to say something that would get me really messed up, so I’m just going to leave now. You guys have a good day.”

Post-Game Notes: Inactive for the Giants were CB Corey Webster (knee), CB Aaron Ross (hamstring), RT Kareem McKenzie (knee), G Rich Seubert (knee), HB Danny Ware, WR Sinorice Moss, WR Ramses Barden, and TE Scott Chandler.

The Giants lost four of their last six home games.

Dec 272009
 

Articles on Giants Stadium:

Article on QB Eli Manning: Eli Manning Puts Up Winning Numbers As NY Giants Try To Hit The Jackpot by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

Dec 262009
 
New York Giants 45 (8-6) – Washington Redskins 12 (4-10)

by The Hack for BigBlueInteractive.com

Game Summary: Once again, the New York Giants had their backs squarely against the wall, and once again they responded as if their lives depended on it. In fact, their playoff lives indeed did depend on it. The Giants rolled into Fedex Field to take on the rival Redskins, who were playing their best football of the season over the last month, down two more starters on defense and a key offensive lineman. Following the wins by the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles earlier, the Giants had to keep pace or risk missing the playoffs for the first time in five years. The only thing that had gone the Giants’ way on Sunday was a last second loss by Green Bay, who still sit one game ahead of the Giants in the standings but whom the Giants hold the tiebreaker over.

The Giants made short work of the Redskins, scoring on their first four possessions while completely dominating Washington on defense. The Giants have not looked this good on both sides of the ball since week five against Oakland. All three phases of the game played above average games. Leading 24-0 at halftime, the Giants cruised to the victory with David Carr at QB for the last quarter.

New York employed a ball control offense against Washington, eschewing the deep pass for plays with a higher probability of success. As Troy Aikman likes to say, the Giants “stayed ahead of the chains,” ensuring second and third down plays were at a manageable distance which in turn kept the Washington defense off balance.

On defense, the Giants got sustained pressure on QB Jason Campbell from their front four and employed successful blitz packages all night long. The fact that they got sustained pressure from the front four made it slightly puzzling that they kept employing zone and fire blitzes, but for the most part they worked and rarely did the Giants get beat on them.

With their eight win of the season, the Giants assured themselves of their fifth straight year without a losing season. For old timers on BBI, these truly are the salad days. For the young BBI’ers, you are very lucky to enjoy this. This has not happened since 1954-1963 when the Giants put together a ten year stretch without a losing season. The Giants still have an opportunity to make the playoffs for a fifth straight season, again, something that hasn’t happened for Giants fans in many, many moons.

Tale O’ The Tape: For the third week in a row, the Giants offense completely dominated the opposition, scoring a total of 107 offensive points in that span against the NFC East. Impressive.

Against the Redskins, the Giants offense generated four scoring drives for 24 points on their first four possessions. In that span, the Giants ran 40 plays, rolled up 236 total yards, and ate nearly 23 minutes off the clock. The Giants converted their first seven third down opportunities, failing on only two for the entire half. The Giants also scored on their first two possessions of the second half, making it five touchdowns and a field goal on their first six possessions. Impressively, the Giants only punted twice and had a third possession end running out the clock at the end of the game.

Defensively, the first quarter was scintillating. New York allowed Washington to run just three plays for -3 yards, taking just 1:26 off the clock. This was absolutely what the doctor ordered, and the trend continued at a less blistering yet still overwhelming pace for the rest of the half, as Washington converted just two first downs on 21 plays.

The second half didn’t get a lot better for the Redskins as the Giants continued to dominate both sides of the ball. Washington did come out and score a touchdown on the opening drive of the second half, as for once the Giants defense didn’t get sustained pressure on QB Jason Campbell and S Aaron Rouse kept the drive alive with a holding penalty on a third and 10 play.

However, the offense responded with a touchdown of their own and then the Giants defense scored on Washington’s next drive, as Campbell threw a pick six. The Giants converted on three of four possessions inside the green zone, scoring a field goal on the fourth. They were also three for three in goal-to-go situations. The defense allowed two touchdowns on two trips inside the green zone by Washington.

The most eye popping statistic is that the Giants converted 11 of 15 third down opportunities.

Offense: The Giants offense was clicking on all cylinders Monday night. New York ran 60 plays: 30 rushes and 30 passes. They ran with power and authority, despite being down two offensive linemen following the first drive of the game. Reserve G Kevin Boothe replaced G Rich Suebert after HB Ahmad Bradshaw rolled up on his leg on his first touchdown run of the night, and T William Beatty started in place of injured T Kareem McKenzie. Even still, the Giants rushed the ball as well, if not better, than they have all year and they did it against a very good Washington front seven.

The passing game was on for most of the night as well. New York used the short passing game, targeting the tight ends and running backs on 12 out of 30 passes attempted on the evening. When the Giants did go to the wide outs, they didn’t try to go over the top but instead exploited zones underneath the safeties and seams on the hashes.

Last week, the Giants missed several opportunities to score points that could have won the game against the Eagles (NOTE: I am NOT blaming the offense for that loss, simply extolling the fact that there were more points to be had) due to turnovers and other mistakes. This week, the Giants made no glaring mistakes on offense and as such never let the Redskins gain any hope of getting back into the contest.

Of note for the statistic nuts over in The Forum, here’s couple of nuggets for you to chew on. A lot has been made about the Giants moving from a running team to a passing team this year and the statistics bear that out to an extent. Last season, the Giants averaged more than 157 yards per game on the ground, number one overall, while they averaged just over 198 yards per game through the air, good for 18th in the league.

This season, yes, the Giants have thrown for more and run for less. They’re averaging 124 yards per game on the ground, but more than 254 through the air. That’s good for 10th in the league on both sides of the ledger. That suggests good balance, and the proof in the pudding is that they’re averaging more than a point per game better than they were last year. Interestingly, the Giants are also averaging more than a minute better in time of possession per game (33:19 per game, second in the NFL) this year, as well.

This is one of the most prolific and balanced offenses fans of the New York Giants have ever seen from them.

The Quarterbacks: For the second week in a row, Eli Manning threw for three touchdowns. Manning was a surgeon on Monday night, carving up the Redskins defense underneath and short outside the numbers. Eli hit ten different receivers on the night, finishing 19 for 26 for a total of 268 yards, the three touchdowns, and no interceptions in three quarters of play. David Carr mopped up following the Giants last touchdown.

Manning’s QBR was 144.4 on the day, raising his season average to 96 (by far a career high), good for ninth in the league and fifth in the NFC. Manning has had eight games with a QBR over 100 this year, and he set a career mark with his 26th touchdown on the season.

As noted, backup QB David Carr mopped up in the fourth quarter, going 3 for 4 totaling 27 yards. Carr did endure a delay of game penalty, but he also completed the final third down of the day leading to the victory formation at the two minute warning.

The Running Backs: The best news of the night regarding the running backs is that there was no early fumble. In fact, there were no fumbles on the night. Interestingly, Danny Ware was inactive while Gartrell Johnson got the nod for third RB of the night.

The Giants came out passing as usual, but quickly reverted to the power running game, and for once alternated Jacobs and Bradshaw during a series instead of using each for an entire series.

Brandon Jacobs ran early and often, getting 12 of his 16 carries in the first half. Though the Giants continue to try to get Jacobs wide against the wishes of most of the fans in The Corner Forum, one or two were actually successful on Monday night. Unfortunately, three or four were not. Jacobs finished with only 52 yards for a 3.3 ypc average. Jacobs caught one pass for two yards, and won the undercard of the night against Albert Haynesworth on points.

HB Ahmad Bradshaw was a focal point of the Giants offense on Monday, carrying nine times for 61 yards and two touchdowns. Bradshaw also caught three passes (all three were middle screens) that went for 24 yards. He continues to somehow play solid, inspired football despite a broken foot and two sore ankles.

Gartrell Johnson mopped up on the last drive of the fourth quarter, gaining four yards on two carries.

Fullback Madison Hedgecock had his third solid game in a row. It seems that he’s more in sync with what the rest of the line and tight ends are trying to do, and the holes are now there for the running backs to exploit. The Giants are still having trouble at times getting Jacobs wide, but that’s probably more to do with the fact that the opponents know that the Giants want to do that, and therefore have figured out how to defend it better. Also, it’s simply not Jacobs’ strength to move lateral and then turn upfield. That said, it’s good to see Hedgecock getting closer and closer to his old self.

The Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: WR Steve Smith extended his season reception record to 90 catches after catching five balls for 40 yards and a touchdown. He now leads the NFC over Larry Fitzgerald by one reception. Smith still needs 251 yards in his final two games to set the franchise mark for single season reception yardage. Smith continues to trail WR Sidney Rice and now Dallas’ Miles Austin in total receiving yardage this season.

WR Hakeem Nicks was on pace for another huge day, catching two passes for 62 yards before going out of the game late in the first half with a mild hamstring strain. Nicks is currently fourth among rookies with 38 catches, but he’s first overall in yardage (685), first in average gain per catch (18 yards), and tied for first in touchdowns (6). It’s safe to say that Nicks is in the hunt for “Offensive Rookie of the Year.”

Mario Manningham got out of the dog house with three catches for 44 yards and a beautiful 25 yard touchdown where he split the defense down the right sideline off a pump fake to the left before throwing to Mario who was alone between the numbers and the sideline. The Redskins had seven in coverage on the play, but Eli faked S Laron Landry and MLB London Fletcher to the center of the field, leaving a cocoon for Manningham to settle in, in between three Redskins defenders. It was one of the prettiest Giants passing plays of the entire year.

Domenik Hixon and Derek Hagan also had big catches, and Hagan’s 25-yard touchdown catch was very similar to that of Manningham’s.

TE Kevin Boss had another stellar game on Monday night, as he and the other tight ends were targeted a total of seven times. Boss turned in 57 yards receiving, and was again a huge factor in the running game making Pro Bowl caliber blocks on several big plays.

The legend of Bear Pascoe began on the very first offensive play of the game, as he caught Eli’s first pass of the night. Later in the drive, H-Back Travis Beckum caught his only pass of the night, as well. Both saw significant time, but Pascoe was in during many two TE sets and blocked fairly well for a man with his limited experience level.

The Offensive Line: The Giants began without RT Kareem McKenzie and lost LG Rich Seubert on the last play of their first drive on Monday night. Much discussion in The Corner Forum centered on how well both rookie T William Beatty and reserve G Kevin Boothe played in place of the two key veterans. Despite having two new linemen in the game at the same time, there was no loss of cohesiveness and there were no obvious communication issues. In fact, an argument could be made that the way Boothe played, especially while pulling, he may deserve consideration for more playing time even if Seubert comes back soon. Boothe was blamed for giving up a sack to NT/DT Albert Haynesworth, but a closer look at the play indicates that he actually did his job well, not getting any help from David Diehl and Manning himself, who moved into the area that Boothe was influencing Fat Albert.

Overall, the line gave up just two sacks, and two quarterback hits. That’s a significant win against a very aggressive and talented Washington front seven, and even more significant when you consider two regulars were out.

The Defense: Last week, I suggested that the defense hadn’t played nearly as badly as many people on BBI thought they had played. Clearly, they gave up way too many points and gave up too many big plays. Overall, however, they didn’t play a bad game. They played badly on a handful of plays. Going into the Redskins game, the Giants were down two more players as CBs Corey Webster and Aaron Ross were out with injuries, leaving them with four starters on the bench.

This week, the Giants did not give up the big play. Consistent and relentless pressure from the front four (augmented with plenty of blitzes) kept Washington off balance all game. Jason Campbell ended up leading the Redskins in rushing with 36 yards on two scrambles. Discounting those yards, the Giants defense once again stymied the oppositions running game, allowing just 53 yards on 15 carries.

The Redskins attempted to use quick outs, ins, rubs, and screens to gain yardage and for most of the day it didn’t work. As mentioned, the pressure led to five sacks, 12 quarterback hits, and two interceptions (a third interception was tacked on by the special teams off a fake field goal attempt by Washington), and the Redskins never got into a clear rhythm on offense.

The only criticism of the defense regarding Monday would be the decision to continue to go after Campbell with all out blitzes on the first drive of the second half by Washington. Considering how well the front four were doing, it didn’t seem to make sense to sell out and give Washington a chance to get the easy dump off for a big gainer, and that’s exactly what happened. The aggressiveness was understandable, but why Chase Blackburn was in there to blitz was a questionable as he proved once again all he can do on a blitz is engage someone.

The Front Seven: The front four, no matter the configuration, (Kiwanuka, Tuck, Umenyiora, Bernard, Canty, Robbins, Cofield and on occasion Boley and Sintim) were ferocious in their pass rush and completely shut down the Washington rushing attack. Everyone knows that the axiom the Giants live and die by is “it all starts up front,” and on Monday night, it started and ended up front as they thoroughly dominated the game.

Kiwanuka, Umenyiora, Tuck, Cofield and Robbins combined for 10 quarterback hits and four sacks. The line also had more 30% of the defensive tackles. Mathais Kiwanuka, however, was the standout on a day when the entire line was stellar. Interestingly, Chris Canty did not register a single statistic, but it appeared he did a solid job of holding point on the line, influencing the running game away from his spot most of the night.

Not to be outdone, the linebacking corps also had a very good game. Michael Boley had an excellent game on the edge, both rushing the quarterback and covering the backs and tight ends. Newly starting MIKE Jonathan Goff continues to improve, as he got in on four tackles (one was a bone jarring hit on Redskins HB Marcus Mason), had a sack, a tackle for a loss, a QB hit, and one pass defensed. He still needs to learn to read the receiver’s eyes and turn for the ball when it’s approaching.  For the second week in a row, if he had a ball hit him that he didn’t know was in the air. Those will eventually turn to interceptions, but for now it’s just nice to see a MIKE linebacker on the Giants stick with a receiver downfield.

Danny Clark played his usual game, following up the play and taking up space. He managed one tackle, and was replaced later in the evening by Clint Sintim. Sintim made one tackle, and also made one mental mistake, vacating his gap, allowing the Washington running back to exploit a huge hole for the Redskins’ longest running play of the night on a third and 1 situation. Sintim will also continue to improve and it’s good that he got some meaningful reps on Monday.

Bryan Kehl also got into the mix and played much of the fourth quarter, making 3 tackles. The kids, it appears, are starting to contribute and overall they’re looking pretty good.

The Secondary: So Corey Webster and Aaron Ross are out. Kevin Dockery and Terrell Thomas started at corner, with Aaron Rouse and Michael Johnson manning the middle. Bruce Johnson, DJ Johnson, and CC Brown came in on nickel and dime packages. Surely, this was a disaster waiting to happen, right? Wrong!

Kevin Dockery had his best game of the year after spending several weeks in the doghouse, recording five solo tackles (most at or near the line of scrimmage) and one pass defensed. Terrell Thomas also had a very solid game, recording four tackles and defending two passes. Thomas also showed impressive speed to track down FB Rock Cartwright who got loose for a 51-yard gain on a screen.

The Redskins threw just 15 times to the wide receivers, and completed just seven of them. That’s a shut down job. Washington threw a lot of screens to their big emerging star – TE Fred Davis – and the running backs, and though they completed a lot of them, the Giants managed to keep them in front of them for the most part, only getting burned big one time.

The safeties only got in on 5 tackles, as Washington didn’t try to exploit the middle of the field much at all. On one play, however, Michael Johnson proved yet again that he doesn’t play fundamentally sound football as he went for a high shoulder kill shot on Fred Davis near the goal line instead of lowering and driving through him. On the play, Davis had Boley beaten down the seam but was able to get enough of Davis to break up the play before Johnson came in for the hit. He dropped the ball, but through no real cause of Johnson. If he had held on, Johnson’s pitiful attempt would have resulted in a game-changing touchdown just before the half for Washington.

Clearly, the Giants played a complete game for the first time since Oakland on defense, and they were rewarded with the win.

Special Teams: Special teams were a big part of the defensive win this week, as they consistently held Washington to marginal or worse starting field position all night. There were no big returns by Washington on any of the eight kickoffs from Lawrence Tynes.

Only one kick of the eight reached the end zone, but not one was returned beyond the 26 yard line and the average start for Washington on kickoffs was their own 21-yard line. Called “hidden yardage,” this game proved just how important it is to make the opponent have to drive the majority of the field on every possession. Chase Blackburn, Domenik Hixon, D.J. Johnson and Clint Sintim made for some nice special teams tackling on Monday.

The Giants only had to punt twice, and again, good coverage led to little return yardage for Washington.

As for the return teams, the Giants got adequate punt and kick returns all night.

Coaching: Once again, Kevin Gilbride called an outstanding game, choosing to attack with short and intermediate passes augmented with a strong ground game. The screen pass was integrated into the offense more than usual, as was the use of the tight ends in the middle of the field. The Giants fooled the Redskins, never really trying to go over the top of the defense and instead using a high percentage passing game and strong running attack to eat up smaller chunks of yardage at a time, and control the clock. Staying “ahead of the chains” and keeping third downs manageable, the Giants were able to confuse the Redskins defense enough to convert 11 of 15 first downs. You don’t do that without calling a great game.

On defense, there is no doubt that the communication issues of the past couple weeks were gone. The Giants seemed ready for everything the Redskins tried to throw at them, and other than one gap loss by Sintim there didn’t seem to be any players out of position or playing the wrong coverage on many plays. Hopefully, this becomes the norm and the Giants are finally understanding their assignments.

Offensive Player of the Game: Eli Manning once again had a stellar game, but this week I’m giving the nod to HB Ahmad Bradshaw for his combined 105 yards rushing and receiving and two touchdowns.

Defensive Player of the Game: Mathias Kiwanuka wants to get paid, and he’s playing like it. He was a one-man wrecking ball swinging from a GIANT crane on that defensive line out there last week. That’s the line we thought we’d see all season.

(Box Score – New York Giants at Washington Redskins, December 21, 2009)
Dec 262009
 

December 25, 2013 New York Giants Injury Report – Four Doubtful for Panthers Game: Not practicing yesterday and all week were CB Corey Webster (knee), CB/S Aaron Ross (hamstring), HB Ahmad Bradshaw (ankles/foot), RT Kareem McKenzie (knee), and LG Rich Seubert (knee). Bradshaw is “probable” for the game against the Panthers on Sunday but the other four are “doubtful.”

Limited in practice again was WR Hakeem Nicks (hamstring); he is “probable” for the game.

QB Eli Manning (foot), LB Michael Boley (triceps), LB Jonathan Goff (hamstring/ribs), LB Chase Blackburn (ribs), CB Kevin Dockery (ankle), S C.C. Brown (hamstring), and PK Lawrence Tynes (hamstring) practiced fully. All are “probable” for the game.