Dec 312010
 
 December 31, 2010  Posted by  News and Notes

Giants Put Will Blackmon on IR; Sign Another Return Specialist: The Giants placed CB/Returner Will Blackmon (knee) on Injured Reserve yesterday. To fill Blackmon’s spot, the Giants signed CB/Returner Brian Witherspoon who has spent time with the Jaguars, Lions, and Panthers.

“We worked him out a couple – three weeks ago,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “He worked out very well. He is very quick and fast. He will be a nice addition.”

December 30, 2010 New York Giants Injury Report: WR Hakeem Nicks (broken toe), OC Shaun O’Hara (foot/Achilles), DE Dave Tollefson (knee), CB Corey Webster (ribs), and CB/S Brian Jackson (knee) did not practice.

“I think (Webster) will make it,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “I wish he would have practiced today. Hopefully he will practice tomorrow.”

O’Hara said yesterday that he thinks he will need offseason surgery on his ankle. “I’m just hoping that it feels better by tomorrow,” said O’Hara. “The pain is there and has been there all year. Now, it’s to the point where I’m limited and I’m struggling to run or even push off. The pain is manageable and I was able to deal with that. Now, it got to the point with the swelling that I was ineffective.”

HB Ahmad Bradshaw (ankle), DE Justin Tuck (chest), DE Osi Umenyiora (knee), DT Chris Canty (neck), and S Antrel Rolle (ankle) practiced on a limited basis.

Article on the 2010 New York Giants: Ex-Giants: Coughlin’s Team Lacks Fire by Johnette Howard of ESPNNewYork.com

Articles on Upcoming Giants-Redskins Game:

Articles on the Giants’ Running Game:

Articles on Wide Receivers Devin Thomas and Michael Clayton: It’s Better to Receive, But Pair Just Want to Help by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Editorial on Head Coach Tom Coughlin: Tom Coughlin Should Stay as Giants Coach After Eli Manning and Defense Let Big Blue Down by Mike Lupica of The Daily News

Quotes: OC Shaun O’Hara on the speculation that Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s job is in jeopardy: “I get extremely annoyed and disgusted when I hear that stuff said about our coach. Coach Coughlin does not deserve to be treated that way. There isn’t a better, more prepared coach than Tom. It irks me to no end when I read stuff written that would even bring up discussions. Whatever the reason may be. If it’s just to sell papers, that’s blatantly irresponsible. We have no room for it. There’s none of that thought going through people’s minds here. You’d find a lot of people feeling the same way.”

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Dec 302010
 
 December 30, 2010  Posted by  Game Previews and Reviews
Green Bay Packers 45 (9-6) – New York Giants 17 (9-6)

by The Hack for BigBlueInteractive.com

Game Summary: The New York Giants took Lambeau Field on Sunday with absolutely everything to play for.  Following a bewildering and humiliating loss to the Eagles a week earlier, the Giants had an opportunity to erase the bad taste of losing the NFC East by taking care of business in Green Bay and securing a playoff spot.

As always, prior to the game all the discussion out of the Giants camp was that the team was ready, there would be no hangover, and even S Anrel Rolle went so far as to guarantee a victory.

Despite these claims, the Giants came out as flat as a team could come out in a game that had everything on the line.  On neither side of the ball did the Giants come out with fire or enthusiasm, and that’s troubling.  It just doesn’t seem possible for a team to be that flat in a game of this magnitude.

A big case in point was the way that Green Bay, who has no running game to speak of, was able to establish the run for a total of 73 yards in the first half.  It may not seem like a big number, but the fact is that Green Bay did enough with the run in the first half to keep the Giants’ defense honest which opened up the passing game for QB Aaron Rogers.

Early on, the Giants were unable to get Green Bay off the field on 3rd down, as well.  The Packers converted 5 of 8 opportunities in the first half, including their second touchdown.  That was typical of the day, however, as the Packers also converted 5 of 6 Green Zone opportunities including a perfect 4-4 in goal to goal situations.

Frankly, I didn’t think the Giants had the psyche to bounce back from their devastating loss to the Eagles last week.  I fully expected a loss, and I expected it to be a bad one.  As Giants fans, we’ve become accustomed to late season collapses and the Giants have rarely had that gut check game where they come out and avenge a bad loss from the previous week.  It just seems that the Giants don’t have it in them to forget the past and stop the bleeding.

Just look at how the game started.  After a series each feeling each other out, the Giants allowed a 1 play 80 yard touchdown on a simple slant across the middle where Antrel Rolle lost Jordy Nelson and had no help from the deep safeties.  On the very next drive, Eli Manning inexplicably ignores a wide open Ahmad Bradshaw underneath for what would’ve been a first down and instead threw deep into the teeth of the Green Bay defense with no receiver in sight for an easy Packer interception.  Several plays later, Green Bay scored their second touchdown and was up by 14 points.

Even though the Giants did come back to tie the game at 14 late in the second quarter, one still had the sense that this game was going to be all Packers.  Both Giants’ touchdowns came from well outside the Green Zone.  On the day, New York produced 10 ‘drives’ of 5 plays or less.  No drive was over 7 plays.  As such, the Giants had no time of possession to speak of, losing that battle 37:01 – 22:59.

Then there were the turnovers.  Continuing a mantra repeated since week 1, there is no way on the face of the earth that a team can commit as many turnovers that the Giants routinely make and win football games against good teams.  This week, there were 6 more.  Eli Manning threw 4 interceptions (3 on 3 straight drives).  Not to be outdone, Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs each pitched in with fumbles on promising drives.  Green Bay turned those turnovers into 24 total points.  The 6 turnovers were the most by a Giants team since 2004 against Baltimore, Eli Manning’s rookie season and the game where he had a 0.0 QBR.

Finally, it’s hard to understand what went wrong with the Giants defense.  As mentioned, Green Bay was able to convert more than 45% of their 3rd downs.  They scored at will in the Green Zone.  The Packers rolled up 515 total yards of offense, with 119 coming on the ground.  The Giants allowed the Packers wide receivers to have a free release from the line of scrimmage all day long, and Aaron Rogers burned the Giants over and over with quick drops and slants over the middle that worked over, and over, and over again.

In the end, it all came down to Green Bay, in an absolute must win situation, coming out and playing the game they needed to play and the Giants didn’t.  We’ve seen this movie before, and many of us feel we know how it’s going to end.  New York has a very small opportunity to get into the playoffs.  They need to beat the Redskins on Sunday while having the Chicago Bears defeat these very same Green Bay Packers.

Frankly, I don’t see how the Giants will even beat the Redskins.  Green Bay has 15 players, including their #1 RB and #1 TE, on injured reserve.  Even so, they nearly beat the New England Patriots last week with a no name QB and this week they pounded the Giants.  What I’m saying is, injuries or not, teams need to overcome.  Green Bay has done so.  The Giants have not.  On Sunday, the Giants were missing their Pro Bowl caliber slot receiver and little else. No excuses.

Offense: The Giants offense was out of sync all day, primarily because for the second week in a row they could not muster any semblance of a rushing game.  On the day, the Giants ran just 21 times for 90 yards (4.3 ypc average), but those numbers are skewed because Manning had a 12 yard scramble in that number and the 21 yard run by Jacobs ended in a fumble.

Despite the comeback in the second quarter, there was never that moment when momentum had palpably changed.  Both touchdowns were off long passes, and one was a jump ball that wasn’t exactly a high percentage play.  At no time did the Giants take the ball and will it down the field the way the Packers did repeatedly on the day.

The Giants did have their share of good plays on the day.  One play in particular that was very interesting was on their second drive of the second half.  Kevin Gilbride added a new wrinkle where he faked a bubble screen on the outside to Ahmad Bradshaw.  When the corner closed to take on Bradshaw, WR Hakeem Nicks slipped down the sideline for a very easy reception and pick up of 27 yards.

Quarterback: Eli Manning is obviously out of sync with his wide receivers, and frankly it’s unbelievable that at this point in the season with the route trees obviously not being understood, that things haven’t been simplified or at least modified.  Manning was horrible on Sunday, throwing 4 more interceptions.  Granted, one was off the hands of HB Ahmad Bradshaw and one should’ve been over ruled as out of bounds, but none the less Manning made poor decision after poor decision all day long.

As Troy Aikman pointed out in the broadcast, it very well may have been that WR Hakeem Nicks was supposed to break off his route to the inside and if he had would’ve been in position to make the catch on Eli’s first interception.  Besides the fact, it’s baffling that Manning did not check down to an absolutely wide open Ahmad Bradshaw on the play.  To compound matters, the interception occurred just 3 plays after the Packers scored on a 1 play, 80 pass.  That’s a killer.  You just can’t be careless with the football in that situation.

On the day, Manning was just 17 – 33 for 301 yards, 2 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.  Manning’s QBR for the day was a paltry 63.6.  Nearly a third of Eli’s yardage, however, came on just 1 play.

Eli Manning became just the second QB in Giants history (Y.A. Tittle being the other) to throw for 30 touchdowns in a season.  Congratulations.  Unfortunately, he’s also thrown 24 interceptions and lost 6 fumbles.

What a year.

Running Backs: Neither Ahmad Bradshaw nor Brandon Jacobs were able to really get anything going all day, and both had killer fumbles that stopped promising drives.  On the day, Bradshaw managed just 31 yards on 12 carries.  The Giants attempted a lot of inside handoffs to Ahmad, but there simply wasn’t any room for the diminutive one to maneuver.

The Giants went to the well once too often when on a 3rd and 2 from the Green Bay 41 yard line, New York attempted a direct snap to Bradshaw.  On the play, WR Mario Manningham was unable to contain CB Charles Woodson who penetrated and made the strip behind the line of scrimmage.  The resulting fumble was recovered but Green Bay and that was the beginning of the end for the Giants on the day.

Bradshaw was used often in the passing game, including a couple very well executed screen passes.  On the day, Bradshaw was targeted 6 times making 5 catches for 41 yards.

HB Brandon Jacobs also found tough sledding on the day, rushing for 47 yards on 8 carries, but it was his fateful 21 yard carry that resulted in the most improbable fumble recovery by an opponent in recent memory.  Jacobs didn’t have a ball thrown his way all game.

As for FB Bear Pascoe, he had one of his worst days at his position, struggling while trying to get to the second level and also missing several blocks on the edge.

Wide Receivers: It makes no sense whatsoever that missing a slot receiver can send the rest of the receiving corps into utter chaos.  Time and time again, Hakeem Nicks, Derek Hagan, and Mario Manningham were in a position other than where the ball was thrown.  Granted, several good catches were made by group but it’s downright maddening that this group cannot seem to grasp the route trees and get on the same page with their QB.

Eli Manning attempted to lean on WR Hakeem Nicks, but was only able to complete 4 of 9 passes thrown his way for 93 yards and a touchdown.  Nicks also made two horrid penalties, one a needless pass interference penalty on an underthrown ball that negated a big gain and the second on a hold of the CB on an 8 yard run by Bradshaw.

Mario Manningham was also unable to get into a rhythm despite catching a jump ball and going the distance for an 85 yard touchdown.  Manningham caught 4 of 6 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown.  As mentioned, Manningham was ineffective in the running game as a blocker, as well.

Derek Hagan, who really looked as though he was coming along a few games ago, has obviously not gotten on the same page with Eli yet.  On a 3rd down play in the 3rd quarter, Hagan was expected to run a slant and Eli was looking to get him the ball.  On the play, Hagan stuttered, stopped, stuttered, and stopped again to the point where Eli had to throw the ball away over the middle of the field in the end zone.  After the play, a visibly upset Kevin Gilbride ripped Hagan as he left the field, presumably for not completing his route.

TE Kevin Boss dropped two catchable balls.  The second was huge as it would’ve converted a 3rd down just before the half inside Green Bay territory.  Had the Giants been able to pull off a field goal or a touchdown on that drive, the second half may have been a different story. (This is an example of what Eric from BBI means when he says that an 8-8 season could be a 12-4 season if a few plays go the other way.)

Travis Beckum continues to do absolutely nothing for this football team.

Offensive Line: Much debate has been made over the return of Shaun O’Hara to center and returning the other linemen to their original positions.  A case can certainly be made that this move has backfired.  In the two games prior to the move, the Giants ran for a combined 410 yards (197 vs Washington and 213 vs Minnesota) and in the two games since, they’ve rushed for a combined 190 yards (100 vs the Eagles and 90 vs Green Bay).

On Sunday, O’Hara simply could not handle Green Bay DT B.J. Raji.  Raji abused O’Hara in both the passing and running game.  One has to wonder if Rich Seubert could’ve managed to neutralize him more effectively.

RT Kareem McKenzie also had  very tough time negating OLB Clay Matthews who came off the edge at will and was a constant thorn in Eli’s side.  On the day, Eli was sacked once and hit 4 other times.

Defense: Granted, the Giants’ offense did the defense no favors by controlling just 22 minutes of clock on Sunday, but the New York Giants defense allowed 515 yards of total offense – the highest total allowed by a Giants’ defense since 1980.  Aaron Rogers, playing his first game since suffering a concussion, riddled the secondary for 404 yards and 4 touchdowns.  This was the same defensed that ranked #1 in the league against the pass just two short weeks ago.

To confound things, this was one game going in where the Giants had to feel they wouldn’t need to overload to stop the run.  Green Bay is one of the worst running teams in the NFL and they should have been able to be contained with a normal alignment.  Instead, using the fullback and straight into the teeth of the defense running, the Packers were able to keep the Giants off balance enough to open up the outside quick hitting passing game with crosses and drags.

Finally, it’s troublesome that the Giants continued to play a cover 3 shell while the Packers continuously hit their slants for 8-15 yards a pop.  It was maddening, as a fan, to sit and watch the corners playing consistently 10 yards off their receivers only to see the receiver slant in, catch the ball 5 yards down field and running for an additional 5-10 yards.

Front 7: On Sunday, there was Justin Tuck and everyone else in the front 7 for the Giants.  The entire defensive line besides Tuck were no shows.  Osi Umenyiora hardly even got onto the stat sheet.  Chris Canty, Rocky Bernard and Barry Cofield did next to nothing in the middle, as they were completely dominated at the point of attack.

There were no bones about what Green Bay wanted to do with their running game.  They lined up, handed the ball to their plodding full back, and watched him plow through the center of the Giants defensive line for solid yardage each time.   Twice, Kuhn powered in for impressive touchdowns that should have been stopped at the line of scrimmage.  It was by far the worst game of the year for the middle of the line.

Not to be outdone, the Giants’ linebacking corps was non-existent on Sunday.  MLB Jonathan Goff was in on 9 tackles, but was out of position in the passing game more often than not.  On the 3rd Green Bay touchdown, in which Rogers stepped up and to his right, away from pressure from Tuck, Goff went to his right to attack the line of scrimmage presumably to try and chase the QB down the line of scrimmage and ran RIGHT past TE Donald Lee who settled in the end zone for the easy pitch and catch for the touchdown.  Why Goff ignored him is beyond reason.

This game was once again a reminder that if the front 4 cannot get to the QB, the linebackers are exploitable across the middle and that’s exactly what happened.  Despite sending 4 or 5 max against Rogers and playing the soft shell over the top, the linebackers and third safety (Deon Grant) were unable to fill the zones and throw off the timing between Rogers and his receivers.

Secondary: It’s impossible to understand what the true game plan was and whether it was simply a bad plan or poor execution, but it’s safe to say that the Giants’ secondary had a horrible game, nearly from the get go.  The 80 yard touchdown on a simple slant to Jacoby Jones is inexcusable.  Granted, those plays happen, but the Giants never recovered and allowed that play to be hit several other times for good yardage, there were two other throws that would’ve resulted in touchdowns had the receiver caught the balls.

Both Corey Webster and Terrell Thomas were torched almost all day long.  Aaron Rogers was throwing impossibly accurate passes into impossibly tight spots, so the fault is not completely on the corners, but they never made a play.  Not one.

Kenny Phillips was a tackling machine, but he also lost contain on a receiver in the end zone that resulted in Green Bay’s second touchdown.  One thing that’s been missing this year in the middle is Phillips’ ability to change the game from his safety position.  He’s solid, but I fully expect him to step it up after having another full off season to recover from his serious knee injury.

Antrel Rolle talked a lot of talk last week but came up very small in this game.  It’s time for Rolle to be quiet and let his play on the field do his talking.  On the stat sheet he was given credit for the forced fumble on Nelson, but that was Aaron Ross who made the hit to jar the ball loose.

Special Teams: It’s hard to believe, but other than the absolutely ludicrous decision to allow Hakeem Nicks return a kickoff, there’s no special teams gaff to speak of this week.  Coverage teams were good, return teams were better, and other than a couple questionable snaps that were handled expertly by holder Sage Rosenfels nothing bad happened.  P Matt Dodge’s first punt, a shank that went out of bounds at the Green Bay 20, was putrid but would’ve been welcome last week.  After that, however, Dodge was fine.

Coaching: As Star-Ledger beat writer Mike Garafolo said in his piece the other day, it’s very difficult to fault the coaches for this loss.  While I have some serious questions I’d like to ask Perry Fewell about why he deployed his defense the way he did, I think the answer is that he thought there was no way Green Bay would have any success running the ball.

This one’s on the players.  The coaches don’t fumble, they don’t throw stupid interception after stupid interception.  They aren’t the ones who seemingly can’t execute a simple in or out route based on pre-snap reads.

The only two questions I have of HC Tom Coughlin were his insane decision to allow Hakeem Nicks return a kickoff, especially when D.J. Ward was doing a fine job on his own.  The other was the decision to challenge the Jacobs fumble going out of bounds.  It’s obvious now that he didn’t have the looks we had on TV, but still you have to understand that it’s your last challenge and losing it means no more the rest of the way regardless of what happens.

Offensive Player of the Game: I’m stumped here.  I guess I’ll go with Manningham for coming down with that 85 yard touchdown pass.  Frankly, no one on offense deserves this honor.

Defensive Player of the Game: Justin Tuck had a terrific game, but he’s not superman and can’t do it alone along the line of scrimmage

Final Word: First I hope everyone has a very Happy New Year and I’m with all of you as we hope against the odds for the chips to fall the right way on Sunday and we get into the tournament, where we all know anything can happen.

Secondly, I want to apologize to those that were expecting a more comprehensive review of the Eagles game.  You guys were right, you expect a review each week and you deserve one each week.  There are a lot of people, including Eric and I, who thought that no one really cared for a review after a crushing loss such as that one.  We were wrong, and I promise that I’ll never forgo a review for an article like last weeks again.

(Box Score – New York Giants at Green Bay Packers, December 26, 2010)
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Dec 302010
 
 December 30, 2010  Posted by  Game Previews and Reviews

By Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com

Approach to the Game – New York Giants at Washington Redskins, January 2, 2011: This is a confusing and depressing time to be a Giants fan.  Less than two weeks ago, the Giants were 8 minutes away from a crushing, statement-making defeat of their arch-nemesis Eagles.  The win would have all but guaranteed the Giants the division title, regardless of what happened in Green Bay.

One of statements I absolutely detest on BBI is when a poster says BEFORE a game, regardless of the quality of the opposing team, “There is no excuse for losing this game.”  That’s a stupid statement.  Any team can beat any team.

But there is NO EXCUSE for allowing an opposing team FOUR touchdowns in EIGHT minutes in ANY contest, but especially one of such magnitude.  Sorry Giants, but you blew it, you know you blew it, and now you have to suffer the consequences.  You could have redeemed yourself last weekend against Green Bay, but you didn’t.  You made this mess.

To me, the Green Bay loss is at least understandable.  To lose like the Giants did against the Eagles was a body blow any team would have had a hard time recovering from.  Jim Fassel’s 2003 Giants never really did recover from the 2002 meltdown in San Francisco and that season started nine months later.  I was hoping against hope that the Giants would be just mad enough, and a Green Bay team just weak enough, for the Giants to pull it off.  But the Packers brought their “A” game and played with greater confidence, intensity, and urgency.  The Giants’ morale, already mortally wounded a week earlier, sank further once the defense couldn’t stop the Packers both before and after halftime.  Then came the turnovers.  The ones by the running backs were the most harmful.  The ones by Manning were the icing on the cake.

The great thing about football – and sports in general – is that, usually, the team that wins deserves to win.  The last two weeks, the Giants have not deserved to win.  Congratulation to the Eagles and Packers, you deserved it.  Giants, you came up short.

Which brings us to the most important question?  What happened?  We all know what happened, but do we really know why it happened?  It is not so important that we fans or the media figure it out, but the Giants’ organization had better figure it out.  The danger is they come to the wrong conclusions – that they are too dismissive of potential structural problems and merely blame fate.

There are three popular issues that fans are focused on right now: (1) the disappointing finishes to many recent seasons, (2) the quality of the coaching staff, and (3) the quality of Eli Manning.

Regarding the first point, I have a hard time making sweeping generalizations about all of the Giants’ seasons from 2004 to 2010.  In these seven seasons, not every season was a “collapse.”  But six of the seven can be categorized at the very least as “disappointing finishes.”  In a sense, that is true for every team that does not win a Super Bowl.  And taken overall, the Giants’ performance during this time period is impressive: 1 NFL title, 2 division titles, and 2 Wild Card appearances.  Assuming the Giants don’t make the playoffs this season, making the playoffs five of seven seasons is very good.

What sticks in people’s crawl is how some of those seasons ended.  Though many will simply say it is excuse-making, injuries to core players, some of the most important on the team, were significant factors in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2009.  The Plaxico shooting in 2008 derailed what looked like a sure Super Bowl season.  My personal take is this:

  • 2004 and 2005 were not collapses.  The Giants were hit very hard with injuries in both seasons.  And the Giants decided to sacrifice 2004 to get Manning started.  In 2005, the Giants were expected to be a last place team and ended up winning the division.  But injuries ravaged that team.
  • 2006 was a bad collapse.  The Bears and Titans games were lost in very strange ways that caused the downward spiral as injuries then kicked in. And the Giants weren’t even competitive in some games, like the one against the Saints.
  • 2007: World Champions.
  • 2008:  I said it as soon as he shot himself.  The hopes of winning another championship plummeted as soon as Burress was gone and Hixon was not a #1.  Toomer was at the very end.  Steve Smith was not Steve Smith yet.  The Eagles bragged after both losses in the Meadowlands how the absence of Burress completely changed how they defended the Giants.  If Burress doesn’t shoot himself, I think the Giants play the Steelers in that Super Bowl.
  • 2009: For various reasons, the Giants’ defense was so bad in 2009 that I can’t even comprehend how anyone can say this was missed opportunity.  Injuries to both running backs and the offensive line sabotaged the running game.
  • 2010: There are no injury excuses.  Yes, the Giants were without Steve Smith and Mathias Kiwanuka, but the Giants should have been able to overcome those.

Of the seven seasons, 2006 and 2010 are the most damning to me, and both really turned in games where the Giants’ could not maintain three-touchdown 4th quarter leads.

Moving on to point #2.  I’m a fan of Tom Coughlin.  I admit it.  I was not always, but as Giants’ fan for over three decades, I feel a special sense of loyalty to a head coach who brings home a Super Bowl trophy.  It’s kind of blood bond.  And it was the way that team did it.  Some fans want to say, “Well if it wasn’t for 2007, then Coughlin’s teams really haven’t done anything.”  What kind of crap is that?  How can you discount perhaps the most amazing playoff run in NFL history?  Against top competition?  In four games the Giants were all expected to lose and lose badly?  Yeah sure, it was luck. (sarcasm off)  Don’t be an idiot and minimize what YOUR team did.  It will be remembered for generations.

There are five currently active who have won Super Bowls.  And Tom Coughlin is one of them.  Yes, Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden may get back in the game soon, but I’m not convinced either of those guys is better than Tom.  Cowher has lost a lot of home playoff games on teams that were favored to win it all.  And his only Super Bowl win came against the Seahawks in possibly one of the worst Championship Games ever played (and with the aid of officials).  Stack that against beating the “best team in the history of football” and the “best coach since Lombardi” in 2007 by Coughlin.

The other thing is that change is not always good.  And often ends up being worse.  There is absolutely no guarantee that the Giants’ next head coach will be better than Coughlin.  Most coaching changes in the NFL don’t work out.  It’s just the nature of the game.  Of 32 teams, only one can hold up the Lombardi Trophy each season.  There is only one Bill Belichick and he coaches for another team.

Now that said, I do believe that a head coach’s relationship with a team can turn stale and that sometimes change is needed.  Are the Giants there yet?  I honestly don’t know.  One obviously does not want to pull the plug too late.  But one also doesn’t want to go through a chaotic transition period if one does not have to.  Fans forget what a coaching transition usually means.  It’s not usually as smooth at the transition the Steelers or Colts went through.

Eli Manning.  I fully understand that head coaches and quarterbacks bear the brunt of fan and media criticism when things are not going well, but it astounds me how vilified Eli Manning is by Giants fans and non-Giants fans.  Other than 2010, he has gotten better EVERY single year he has played.  He has been to the Pro Bowl (justifiably earned) and won a Super Bowl MVP (justifiably earned with two 4th quarter TD drives against Bill Belichick).  He carried his team offensively through the entire 2007 playoffs and was the best quarterback in either conference during those playoffs.  He followed up 2007 with a Pro Bowl performance in 2008.  He was one of the few bright spots on the Giants in 2009.  For a quarterback who many, including myself, never thought would be terribly accurate, he has become a 63 percent completion percent passer in a vertical, down-the-field passing attack.  Only five active quarterbacks have a Super Bowl ring and Eli is one of them.  The New York spotlight doesn’t bother him and he has a proven knack for bringing his team back from behind.  The guy is not a rapist or dog-killer.  In 2010, a down season, he has thrown for almost 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns.  The problem?  Obviously the turnovers.  Two years ago, the Giants set an NFL record with the fewest turnovers in a season.  The Giants have to figure out what is going on.   I probably have got about 40 years left in my life.  I’m pretty darn sure that when I die, Eli Manning will be regarded as the greatest quarterback in Giants’ history.  You guys and gals had better appreciate the man.

One final rant that we all hope is not true. Super Bowl victories are a rare, rare commodity. Peyton Manning, for all his accolades, may only win one in his lifetime. Ray Lewis may only win one. Most of the current stars and coaches in the NFL will not win any. Coughlin and Eli may have won their only one. It doesn’t mean there isn’t more glory in the future, but reaching that summit is a rare, rare thing.

OK…let’s move on to the game this weekend.

Giants on Defense: Something is missing.  The Giants’ defense has played very well for most of the season, but the last five quarters were a disaster and there were issues in games against the Colts and Cowboys.  The Giants do have a very good secondary and defensive line.  And the linebackers have played better than most expected.  But the defense does not intimidate other teams.  And when things start to go wrong, confidence plummets.  Why???  The Giants need a Ray Lewis-type – someone who has a commanding personality and imprints it on this defense.  But where do you find that???

What about the Skins?  Stop the run.  Watch Cooley and Moss.  Same as usual.

Giants on Offense: The Giants’ three worst rushing performances this year have come against the Eagles, Eagles, and Packers.  Ouch.  Obviously, some of that is based on the quality of the competition.  But one also wonders if the move back to rusty/ailing Shaun O’Hara was poorly timed.  What is clear is that Jacobs and Bradshaw hurt the Giants badly with fumbles (again) last week.  Hold onto the freaking football!  I’ll discuss these areas more once the season is over and when addressing team needs.

Why is Eli Manning throwing so many interceptions?  Partly it is on the receivers.  Partly it is on Manning, both in terms of making bad decisions and trying to do too much.  Nicks and Manningham will run better routes next year with another offseason under their belts.  And the potential return of guys such as Smith, Barden, and Cruz will help.  But is there something endemic to the Giants’ offense that causes these problems?  It obviously wasn’t a problem two years ago.  But why is this happening?  One can’t be put into a position to lose a guy like Steve Smith and have all of these picks happen.

Even if Hakeem Nicks plays (doubtful), the Giants have to get their running game going against the Skins.  I assume Boothe will be back at left guard and Seubert at center.  Smash mouth with the big offensive line.  Try dumping the ball off more to Bradshaw and Boss.  Get Travis Beckum involved. The Skins will role their coverage to Manningham.

Giants on Special Teams: Changes have to be made here, possibly starting with the special teams coordinator.  For as much time as the Giants spend on special teams, they shouldn’t be this bad (and I’m not talking about the punter).

Brandon Banks is limited by a knee injury, but the guy is a dynamite return man.

Coaching: Perhaps the biggest loss in the offseason was the loss of Quarterbacks Coach Chris Palmer.  He was a steadying influence on Eli just like he was on Tony Romo in Dallas.  When he left, Mike Sullivan was moved from receivers (which seem to have suffered) to quarterbacks coach.

Prediction: I tell you, I think the Redskins can win this game.  The Giants sound like a defeated and beaten group.

It was absolutely unacceptable to see how the Giants finished up 2009 against the Panthers and Vikings.  Both teams could have scored 60 points on the Giants had they wanted to.

What if the Redskins blow out the Giants, and the Giants finish the season with two embarrassing losses for the second season in a row?

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Dec 302010
 
 December 30, 2010  Posted by  News and Notes

December 29, 2010 New York Giants Injury Report – Nicks Has Broken Toe: HB Ahmad Bradshaw (ankle), WR Hakeem Nicks (broken toe), OC Shaun O’Hara (foot/Achilles), DE Justin Tuck (chest), DE Dave Tollefson (knee), DT Chris Canty (neck), S Antrel Rolle (ankle), CB Corey Webster (ribs), and CB Will Blackmon (knee) did not practice.

“We’re going to have to see how (Nicks) does,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “He can’t play today…I doubt (he plays on Sunday).”

“(O’Hara is) sore today and won’t work and he did see the doctor yesterday and we’ll have to see,” said Coughlin.

“(Webster is) sore but I think he’ll be okay for tomorrow,” said Coughlin. “He won’t be able to work today but I think we’ll get him for tomorrow.”

DE Osi Umenyiora (knee) and CB Brian Jackson (knee) practiced on a limited basis.

Buccaneers Tried to Sign OC Jim Cordle Off of Giants’ Practice Squad: According to The Star-Ledger, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tried to sign OC Jim Cordle off of the Giants’ Practice Squad, but Cordle decided to stay with the Giants because the team raised his salary and he likes working with Offensive Line Coach Pat Flaherty.

Article on the 2010 New York Giants: Reeling Giants Must Rediscover the Art of Intimidation by William C. Rhoden of The New York Times

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Dec 292010
 
 December 29, 2010  Posted by  News and Notes

Four New York Giants Make the Pro Bowl: The following Giants were elected to the 2010 NFC Pro Bowl team:

  • OL Chris Snee (starter) – third appearance
  • OL Shaun O’Hara – third appearance
  • DE Justin Tuck – second appearance
  • S Antrel Rolle – second appearance

Six Giants were named as alternates:

  • QB Eli Manning (third alternate)
  • HB Ahmad Bradshaw (second)
  • WR Hakeem Nicks (third)
  • OL David Diehl (fourth)
  • DE Osi Umenyiora (second)
  • DT Barry Cofield (fifth)

S Antrel Rolle on WFAN: The audio of yesterday’s interview of S Antrel Rolle on WFAN is available at CBSNewYork.com.

Article on the 2010 New York Giants: One Last Chance for Giants by Aditi Kinkhabwala of The Wall Street Journal

Article on the New Stadium: New Meadowlands Rubs Fans the Wrong Way by Kevin Armstrong of The Daily News

Notes: The Giants lead the league in throwing interceptions (24) and losing fumbles (17). Just two years ago, the Giants and Miami Dolphins set an NFL record with only 13 turnovers in a 16-game season. The Giants’ franchise record for turnovers in a season (58) was set in 1963.

Quarterbacks Eli Manning and Y.A Tittle are the only Giants to throw at least 30 touchdown passes in a season.

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Dec 282010
 
 December 28, 2010  Posted by  News and Notes

New York Giants Playoff Scenario: The Giants can still make the playoffs if they defeat Washington in their regular-season finale on Sunday and Chicago beats Green Bay.

Giants-Redskins Game Moved to 4:15PM: The Giants’ regular-season finale against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field has been moved from a 1:00PM start to a 4:15PM start as part of the NFL’s flex scheduling program. The game will still air on FOX.

Giants Stuck in Wisconsin: The Giants were scheduled to return to New Jersey Sunday night, but due to the East Coast snow storm, the Giants were forced not only to stay in Wisconsin on Sunday night, but last night as well. The team is expected to return home today.

DE Justin Tuck on WFAN: The audio of yesterday’s interview of DE Justin Tuck on WFAN is available at CBSNewYork.com.

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Dec 262010
 
 December 26, 2010  Posted by  News and Notes

Another Late Season Collapse: Last Sunday, the Giants were eight minutes from being in a great position to win the NFC East. Today, they are on the verge of missing the playoffs for the second season in a row. The Giants were soundly beaten by the Green Bay Packers today 45-17 at Lambeau Field.

The Giants were badly out-played on both sides of the football.

Defensively, the Giants did not bother to show up. The Packers accrued 515 total net yards, including 396 net yards passing, and 119 net yards rushing. The Packers scored three touchdowns on their first six drives of the game. The Giants were able to maintain pace offensively in the first half by scoring two touchdowns of their own. At halftime, the Giants trailed 21-14.

In the second half, turnovers and continued poor defense doomed the Giants. In the Giants’ first seven possessions of the second half, the team turned the football over five times, including two fumbles and three interceptions. The Giants only managed a field goal while the Packers scored another 24 points.

QB Eli Manning was 17-of-33 for 301 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. Both halfbacks Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw fumbled the football away. The Giants allowed four passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns on defense.

Lowlights of the game are available at NFL.com.

Post-Game Notes: Inactive for the Giants were WR Duke Calhoun, WR Darius Reynaud, TE Jake Ballard, OL Will Beatty, OL Mitch Petrus, OL Jamon Meredith, DE Dave Tollefson (knee), and CB Will Blackmon (knee).

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Dec 252010
 
 December 25, 2010  Posted by  News and Notes

December 24, 2010 New York Giants Injury Report - Blackmon and Tollefson Out: CB/Returner Will Blackmon (knee) and DE Dave Tollefson (knee) did not practice yesterday. Both have been officially ruled out of the game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

“I think the way (Blackmon’s knee) is right now is that it’s somewhat manageable, but it does flare up and when it does flare up it’s an issue,” said Coughlin. “The last time he was out for a while and it’s the same kind of thing.”

WR Mario Manningham (heel), WR Devin Thomas (hamstring), LT David Diehl (illness), OC Shaun O’Hara (foot), OL Shawn Andrews (back), and DE Osi Umenyiora practiced fully. All six are officially “probable” for the game.

Article on the Upcoming Giants-Packers Contest: Regrouping Giants Have Singular Focus For Pack’ by Steve Serby of The New York Post

Article on WR Steve Smith: With Smith Out, the Giants Lose a Leading Man by Mark Viera of The New York Times

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Dec 242010
 
 December 24, 2010  Posted by  News and Notes

December 23, 2010 New York Giants Injury Report: CB/Returner Will Blackmon (knee) and DE Dave Tollefson (knee) did not practice yesterday.

“Just normal wear and tear – no incident,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin of Blackmon. “But toward the end of practice yesterday he kind of slowed down a little bit.”

DE Osi Umenyiora (knee) practiced on a limited basis.

WR Mario Manningham (heel), LT David Diehl (illness), OC Shaun O’Hara (foot), OL Shawn Andrews (back), and WR Devin Thomas (hamstring) all practiced fully.

Article on QB Eli Manning: Shivering Then and Shaken Now, Giants Look to Manning by Mark Viera of The New York Times

Article on the Giants’ Defense: Past is Past; Fewell Focused on Pack by Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com

Article on the Giants’ Special Teams: Giants Coordinator Tim Quinn, Punter Matt Dodge Take Responsibility for Punt, and Move On by Zach Berman of The Star-Ledger

Article on DE Dave Tollefson: Like Mother, Like Son: Giants’ Dave Tollefson Shares Football Bond With His Mom by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

Article on the Giants Dealing with Cold in Green Bay: Keeping Warm a Challenge for the Giants in Green Bay by Aditi Kinkhabwala of The Wall Street Journal

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Dec 232010
 
 December 23, 2010  Posted by  Game Previews and Reviews
Philadelphia Eagles 38 (10-4) – New York Giants 31 (9-5)

by The Hack for BigBlueInteractive.com

Game Summary: At least once a year following a game, I have an email conversation with Eric that goes something like:

Me: “Hey Eric, I can’t believe that game.  What a letdown.  I can’t believe I have to review this.”

Eric: “Don’t bother reviewing it.  No one’s going to read it.”

Me: “No, I have to do a review.”

Eric: “Seriously…don’t bother.”

Monday was that day this year.  Like every member of BBI, I watch the games from an emotional standpoint and live and die with every play.  After letting the game settle for a day (or two if it was particularly poor), I rewatch from an emotionally detached point of view and concentrate on the mechanics of the game itself.  Because I’m a Giants fan and not a professional journalist, there are games that are very difficult to objectively review.  Keeping in mind that there is little objectivity within the membership of our little community (!), it’s even harder to review a debacle like the one that occurred this past Sunday.

At any rate, for the first time I’m going to heed Eric’s advice.  This game has been looked at from every angle imaginable and I’m certainly not going to add any new insight that changes anyone’s perspective.

What I can’t understand is how these epic meltdowns seem to happen to the Giants with regularity.  Sure, teams blow leads and sometimes lose close games that could’ve gone either way anyway.  Games like the 2003 September game against the Cowboys when after hitting the go ahead field goal with only 11 seconds left, K Matt Bryant kicked the ball off out of bounds, giving the Cowboys the ball at their 40 yard line with no time taken off the clock.  Every Giant fan on the planet knew that K Billy Cundiff would kick a game tying field goal (he did, a 52 yarder) and the Giants would eventually be saddled with a loss in overtime (they were when Cundiff hit his 7th field goal of the game).  We’re Giants fans.  Those games are a dime a dozen.  They hurt, no doubt, but anyone who’s watched this team from about 1965 on realizes that we’re going to have to live with those.

Things like what happened in the game Sunday, however, those are the very bitter pills to swallow.  The big, nasty, get stuck in and dissolve in your throat horse pills.  These are monumental failures that stick with you forever as a fan.  And you’re reminded of them often, either by friends, fans of other teams, or ESPN Sportscenter.  If you think back to the previous three losses that go into this category (Minnesota scoring 10 points with less than 2 minutes remaining in 1997, San Francisco erasing a 24 point deficit with less than 19 minutes remaining in 2003, and the Titans scoring 24 fourth quarter points to come back from a 21 points down and win in 2006), each time there had to be an absolute perfect storm of events to occur just as they did in order for the comebacks to be successful.

While there are no ties to the teams of the past, these meltdowns continue to happen.  Every time it begins, each of us has that familiar New York Giant sense of foreboding.  You have that moment when, deep in your soul, you say to yourself (and only to yourself), that this can’t be happening again.  Surely, they’ll respond and stop this rally.  While watching these events, you know exactly what has to happen to stop the wheels from falling off.  We preach through the TV to the players: just fall on the onsides kick, just pick up one more first down, just keep the ball on the ground and run clock, just make the tackle in bounds, just stop this 3rd and 18, just stop this 4th down attempt.  But it never happens.  Play after play is made by the opposition as if the Giants are powerless to stop them.

Can anyone think of another team that has so many games that have gone so horribly wrong that their fans actually refer to them by a nickname?  Cleveland has one, “The Fumble”.  I’m sure other teams have one or two as well.  But the Giants, they have a whole hat full.  “The Flipper Game”, “The Miracle at the Meadowlands”, “The Trey Junkin Game”, “The Emmitt Game”, “The Minnesota Game”, etc.  Heck the Giants have played the Vikings a hundred times but all you need to do is say “Remember the ‘Minnesota Game’?  That was unbelievable” and every Giants fan in earshot will know exactly what you’re talking about.

In speaking with Eric on Monday, I realized that it may be for this very reason that things like winning Super Bowl 42 are such an emotional high.  Seeing as we’ve had these depths of despair so many times over the past 4 decades, it makes the highs seem incredibly, impossibly lofty.

Let’s face it, despite these colossal let downs, the Giants have been to nearly 10% of all Super Bowls and won 3 of them.  They’ve won 4 NFC Championships.  By this measure, the Giants are more successful than the majority of NFL franchises.  After all, the Giants were able to pull out of the futility that has engulfed franchises like the Detroit Lions and Arizona/St Louis Cardinals for half a century.  They also don’t have to endure the stigma of not being able to finish off fantastic seasons like Philadelphia, Cleveland, and the Buffalo Bills.  As such, the complete misery that Giants fans have to go through following the baffling losses that the Giants endure such as the game this past Sunday can be tempered by the knowledge that somehow, someway, at some point, they’ll overcome and bring us another Championship.

Will the Giants ever build a ‘dynasty’?  It seems unlikely.  If history is a guide, the Giants will always be a fair to good team with excellent and poor seasons sprinkled in.  They’ll get their shot at a Championship every now and then, and they’ll be looking up from a 5-11 season every once in a while as well.

These are our New York Giants, BBI.  Now let’s hope they leave Lambeau Field having given us the same feeling they gave us on Sunday January 20, 2008.

Merry Christmas, enjoy any time off you may have upcoming and look for a more favorable review next week!

(Box Score – Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants, December 19, 2010)
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