Dec 232011
 
 December 23, 2011  Posted by  News and Notes

December 22, 2011 New York Giants Injury Report: The following Giants did not practice yesterday: HB Ahmad Bradshaw (foot), HB D.J. Ware (knee), WR Mario Manningham (knee), TE Jake Ballard (knee), DE Osi Umenyiora (ankle/knee), and LB Mark Herzlich (ankle).

“(Bradshaw) practiced yesterday and did a lot so we backed off today,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin.

“Tomorrow (Ware) should bounce back,” said Coughlin.

“Soreness (with Manningham’s knee),” said Coughlin. “I would call him day-to-day.”

“(Ballard) is day-to-day but he hasn’t worked this week,” said Coughlin.

“Osi probably won’t make it,” said Coughlin.

WR Devin Thomas (neck), TE/FB Bear Pascoe (ribs), H-Back Travis Beckum (chest), OC David Baas (neck), and S Derrick Martin (back) practiced on a limited basis.

Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Thursday Press Conference: The transcript and video of yesterday’s press conference with Head Coach Tom Coughlin are available at Giants.com.

Player Media Q&As: The transcripts and video of yesterday’s media Q&A sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Article on the Giants’ Defense: NY Giants’ Leadership Around the Locker Room Nothing to Shout About by Ralph Vacchiano of The Daily News

Article on the Giants’ Tight Ends: Giants’ Travis Beckum, Bear Pascoe Set to Fill in for Jake Ballard Against Jets by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

Article on OC David Baas: Giants’ David Baas Returns, Though Offensive Line Has Been Strong Without Him by Jorge Castillo of The Star-Ledger

Article on CB Prince Amukamara: Giants’ Prince Amukamara Vows to Persevere After Benching by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

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Dec 222011
 
 December 22, 2011  Posted by  Game Previews and Reviews

By Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com

Approach to the Game – New York Giants at New York Jets, December 24, 2011: The Giants are lucky.  Damn lucky.  This team has lost five of its last six games.  For most NFL teams, that would spell doom.  Their seasons would be over.  But after 14 games and a .500 record, the Giants still control their own destiny.  They can still win the NFC East and host a playoff game if they win their last two games.  It’s unbelievable when you actually think about it.  So don’t think of this team as cursed or down on their luck.  The opposite is true.  They are damn lucky.

Why is this team so frustratingly inconsistent?  Everyone has their own opinion.  My view is this team – and 2009 and 2010 teams – simply are/were not that good or well-coached in certain key areas.  All three teams fell victim of high expectations generated from strong first-half starts. But it’s important to keep in mind that 2010 and 2011 teams were not preseason favorites.  For example, even usually optimistic fans were predicting the 2011 Giants would finish anywhere from 7-9 to 9-7.  Right now, it looks like those fans were right on the mark, but they seem to have forgotten their original predictions.

Media and fans need to take a step back and really look at the talent on this team.  Where are the Giants truly strong?  In my opinion, the strong elements of the team are the quarterback and the young (and because they are young, inconsistent) receiving corps.  Except for a couple of hiccups, Eli has had a great regular season.  His best ever.  Victor Cruz and Jake Ballard have been unexpected miracles.  Hakeem Nicks is one of the better receivers in the game.  And Mario Manningham – despite continued mental lapses and a troublesome knee – still draws respect from opposing teams.  Ironically, special teams have been pretty good too, anchored by the solid performance of both kickers.

But everywhere else, the Giants have been average at best or well below average at worst.  The offensive line in transition never really came together.  The blocking at tight end and fullback have also been inconsistent and often poor.  The running backs don’t really scare anyone and Bradshaw’s wheels are broken again.  Defensively, outside of JPP, the much-hyped defensive line has been a bust for yet another season.  The linebackers remain unproductive.  The secondary is paper thin and really vulnerable once the Giants go to their nickel and dime packages.  The safeties never seem to make plays on the football.  Some of these problems have to do with injuries.  Everyone knows about Justin Tuck, Terrell Thomas, Jon Goff, Osi Umenyiora, and Prince Amukamara.  Injuries to these players have hurt.  But season-ending injuries to lesser-known players have also had an impact.  The loss of Justin Tryon and Michael Coe forced an unprepared Amukamara into the lineup early.  Marvin Austin could have helped a pass rush that is now only a one-man show (JPP).  And overall – as I’ve complained about before – who are the defensive leaders of this team?

So the Giants have a QB and some receivers.  They are average or weak everywhere else.  And folks wonder why the Giants are inconsistent???  Those who say coaching is what makes the Giants average or weak at other positions don’t have a lot of credibility.  Another coach isn’t going to miraculously regenerate Tuck, Umenyiora, Thomas, Goff, Bradshaw, Beatty, and Baas nor give veteran experience to Joseph, Williams, Amukamara, Sash, Ballard, and Hynoski.

Eli and the young receivers keep the Giants afloat.  They keep the team competitive and have brought the team from behind in six of the team’s seven victories.  That’s both a blessing (evidence of resiliency and a very good quarterback) and a sign of structural problems (“good” teams don’t have to come from behind in almost every game in the 4th quarter).  When the QB and the receivers play average football (see the Redskins game), the Giants lose.  Why?  Because the rest of the team isn’t good enough to take up the slack.  That’s not opinion; it’s fact.

I should have seen the Redskins game coming.  The Giants were coming off of two emotionally-draining games against the then-undefeated Packers (who they almost upset) and Cowboys (one of the great come-from-behind wins in team history) to play a dog at home and before the much-anticipated game against the Jets.  I’m sure there are many in Las Vegas who knew the Giants were a dangerous pick in this spot.  And again, Eli is carrying this team.  No quarterback can play perfect football for a 16-game schedule.  Not even Aaron Rodgers as we saw last week or Drew Brees against the Rams.  When your passing game is off, you better have a good defense.  The Giants don’t.

The Giants peaked in 2007 and 2008.  They won one NFL title in those two years and might have won a second had Plaxico not shot himself and the defensive line not started to wear down.  In 2009, the Giants had arguably the worst defense in the NFL.  That was not just coaching (Sheridan); the Giants were terrible up the middle at DT, LB, and S that year.  In 2010, the Giants surprised everyone with a strong season that was sabotaged with an epidemic of injuries to the wide receivers and offensive line.  In the end, the Giants were down to their fourth-string center and signing guys off the street to start as Manning’s key targets.  2011 has been a year of transition, hampered by injuries to many key players and an unusually heavy reliance on rookies and second-year players.  The defense and running game have been in steady decline since 2008.  Talent, injuries, inexperience, and coaching have all been the problems.  It also must be said that declining talent is not the responsibility of the head coach, but the general manager.  Jerry Reese’s hands are dirty in this mess too. He’s made some really questionable decisions in free agency.

Which brings us to coaching.  Coughlin’s Achilles heal in New York has been his historically poor performance in picking coordinators.  John Hufnagel, Tim Lewis, and Bill Sheridan were the wrong hires.  It appears Perry Fewell isn’t working out either.  Though better this year, Tom Quinn’s special teams are rarely “special.”  Coughlin did hire Kevin Gilbride, who has done wonders this year despite the problems with the blockers and running backs, and Steve Spagnuolo.  Bill Sheridan was hampered by talent issues on defense (remember the garbage players at safety?) and so has Perry Fewell.  But Sheridan was obviously over his head and the fear now is that Fewell is too.  It seems like each week the Giants are breaking new franchise records for defensive ineptitude and that started last season against the Colts, Eagles, and Packers.  It’s one thing to get beat; it’s another to get embarrassed.

If the Giants lose to the Jets on Saturday, the team will miss the playoffs for the third year in a row.  The team will also have lost six of its last seven games and may lose seven of its last eight.  Under those circumstances, the pressure on ownership to make a change will be immense.  It’s always easier to fire the coach than the players.  So the fate of not just the Giants’ season, but the fate of Tom Coughlin, may very well rest on the outcome of this game.  This fact makes a dramatic game even more dramatic…New York versus New York…Christmas Eve…playoffs on the line for both teams…the fate of a Super Bowl champion head coach.  This game is HUGE.  It may determine the direction of the franchise for the bulk of the rest of the decade.

There are a lot of reasons why I can see why the Giants will lose this game.  Again, outside of the quarterback and receivers, the Giants just aren’t very good.  Losers of six of their last seven, the team has no momentum.  The defense is one of the worst in the NFL.  With David Baas returning, the Giants are going to mess with their offensive line probably at the wrong moment (remember how this worked out last year when the injured O’Hara returned to the starting lineup before the Eagles game?).  And it the football Gods could simply torment us by having obnoxious Jets fans with low self esteem rub our noses in it as Plaxico Burress’ fourth touchdown reception wins the game in the final seconds and idiots start claiming Mark Sanchez is better than Eli.

But there are three reasons why I think the Giants will win this game.  First, Eli Manning.  Second, the Jets just aren’t that good.  And three, the football Gods are going to toy with our emotions one final time.  We’ll win this week for no other reason than the 2011 Giants are setting us up for one final gigantic letdown in Week 17.  And it will put ownership in a more difficult dilemma of what to do with an 8-8 team that just missed the playoffs for the third year in a row.

But regardless of what transpires, just keep this in mind: the Giants are damn lucky to still be alive and to be still controlling their own destiny.  If they don’t win the final two games, they truly are not deserving of a playoff berth.  And players, coaches, management, and most importantly, ownership, needs to recognize that and make some changes.

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Dec 222011
 
 December 22, 2011  Posted by  News and Notes

December 21, 2011 New York Giants Injury Report: The following Giants did not practice yesterday: HB D.J. Ware (knee), WR Mario Manningham (knee), TE Jake Ballard (knee), DE Osi Umenyiora (ankle/knee), and LB Mark Herzlich (ankle).

HB Ahmad Bradshaw (foot), WR Devin Thomas (neck), TE/FB Bear Pascoe (ribs), H-Back Travis Beckum (chest), OC David Baas (neck), and S Derrick Martin (back) practiced on a limited basis.

Coach Media Q&As: The transcripts and video of yesterday’s media sessions with the following coaches are available at Giants.com:

Player Media Q&As: The transcripts and video of yesterday’s media Q&A sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Article on Head Coach Tom Coughlin: Now is Time to Save Tom’s Job by Steve Serby of The New York Post

Article on Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride: Giants’ Kevin Gilbride Keeps Buddy Ryan’s Infamous Punch in the Past by Steve Politi of The Star-Ledger

Article on the Giants’ Tight Ends: Hobbled Tight Ends Put the Giants in a Bind Against the Jets by Mark Viera of The New York Times

Notes: The Giants have an NFL-low two runs of at least 20 yards all season. Their current eight-game streak without a 20-yard run is their longest since 1995.

Washington converted 8-of-15 third-down opportunities, the fifth consecutive Giants opponent with a success rate of at least 50 percent. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the first time that’s happened since the 1970 merger.

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Dec 202011
 
 December 20, 2011  Posted by  Game Previews and Reviews
Washington Redskins 23 (5-9) – New York Giants 10 (7-7)

by rnargi for BigBlueInteractive.com

Game Summary

We’ve all seen this show before.  The Giants had everything they want right in front of them coming off a huge win at Dallas to put them back in first place.  New York just needed to beat the hapless Washington Redskins, losers of 8 out of 9 coming into this game, to keep pace with Dallas, eliminate the Eagles from playoff contention, and guarantee a win-and-in showdown on New Year’s Eve against the Cowboys.

You can’t even say that the unthinkable happened.  There can’t be a Giants fan on the planet that wasn’t worried that the Giants were going to blow this one.  This has happened three times now this season.  The Giants lost at home to a Seattle team that was playing bad football when they visited New York, and again to an injury riddled and demoralized Philadelphia squad that looked to be playing out the string at that point.  So why should anyone have thought the Giants would bring there A game on Sunday against the Redskins?  And we all know that this isn’t an anomaly.  New York finds a way to blow these games every single year, at home, in big settings.  Corner Forum contributor SoZKillA started a thread listing these head shakers if you care for a reminder.

There is no explanation for this.  There are no excuses.  Hands down, the Giants should have beaten the Redskins.  Instead, despite Washington turning the football over on two of their first three drives, New York never got into the game and lost in convincing fashion, 23-10.  And the score was a lot closer than the game actually looked.

Unbelievably, New York still controls their own destiny.  Now, however, they must beat both the New York Jets and the Dallas Cowboys to win the division and host a Wild Card game at home.  Think about that for a second.  Because they haven’t been able to beat teams that they are clearly better than (on paper, at least), New York now has to beat six consecutive teams with winning records to win the Super Bowl this season.  Ironically, at least three would have to come at home where they simply and inexplicably do not play very well.  Does anyone else believe in these rainbows and unicorns?  Yes, it’s happened before.  The Giants came back from the dead in 2007 and won it all but this team just feels a lot different than the 2007 team.

The game on Sunday was a disaster on both sides of the ball, particularly in the first half.  New York’s first five possessions were pathetic.  They ran just 17 total plays (drives of 3, 4, 3, 2 and 5 plays) gaining just 50 yards and three 1st downs.  New York punted 4 times and suffered a turnover on those drives.  Their final drive of the half wasn’t exactly a thing of beauty either, as Manning managed to get the Giants into field goal range despite themselves and get 3 points on the board.  New York did not convert a 3rd down in the half (0-4).  One stat that is truly unfathomable to believe is that New York didn’t cross into Washington territory until 33 seconds remained in the half!

The defense wasn’t much better.  Despite picking off Grossman on two of his first three drives, they still allowed Washington to dictate the pace of the entire first half by allowing three drives of nine plays or more and seven plays on another.  Those drives accounted for 17 points (the defense did hold Washington on a 4th and 1 late in the 1st half), 193 yards, and 14 1st downs.  Fourteen!  The defense simply could not get off the field, yielding six 3rd down conversions on nine attempts in the first half (and another 4th and 1).

The second half wasn’t much better.  The Giants held Washington, in full ball control clock eating mode, to just two field goals but the offense continued to sputter.  When they finally did start moving the ball, they couldn’t finish.  No one can say they didn’t have their chances to pull this game out of the fire, but if we’re all being honest what would be taken from it?  Yes, the Eagles would have been eliminated and that would have been nice.  But it just doesn’t seem that this team has whatever it is that it takes to be consistent winners.

The two statistics that really hurt on Sunday were turnovers and penalties.  The Giants forced two early turnovers and got absolutely nothing out of either ensuing possession.  Meanwhile, the Redskins were able to turn three Eli Manning interceptions into 10 points.  The Giants were penalized eight times for 75 yards including three personal foul penalties.  Washington was penalized just twice all game for 48 yards, but one was a long interference call that ended up not hurting them.  It was apparent from nearly the beginning of the game that Washington was playing with greater discipline, focus, and determination.

I had an email exchange with Eric from BBI a few weeks ago after the Eagles game where I said that I thought the season was over, that the wheels were about to fall off.  Eric’s responded that as bad a loss as it was, he felt that the Giants would get to 6-6 and then could go on a run.  His fear was that they’d get to the final game of the season and then break our hearts.  It looks like it might actually happen.

Offense

After two straight games in which the offense was clicking on nearly all cylinders, New York’s offense was pathetic on Sunday.  For much of the first half, they couldn’t even get out of their own way.  New York committed penalties, dropped passes, didn’t establish or sustain any sort or running attack and therefor no rhythm.  In the second half, it wasn’t that much better.  Poor execution caused two interceptions.  Poorer execution allowed another goal line drive go for naught.  It’s been talked to death, but it honestly felt like this game was over when Hakeem Nicks dropped a sure, easy peasy lemon squeezy touchdown pass that would have put the Giants up by a score of 7-3.  Momentum is a funny thing, and if Manning and Nicks hit on that play, the Redskins may have folded the tents early.  Instead, it was as if the Giants knew they were snake bitten on the day and they were unable to put together even one routine drive all game.

In a game with everything on the line, New York had their worst 1st quarter of the season, gaining just 29 yards, ironically all on the ground.  New York had just 3:58 time of possession in the quarter.   On the day, the Giants converted just three of nine 3rd down opportunities.  What may have gone under the radar is the fact that the Giants actually outgained Washington in yardage (324 to 300).

Quarterback

Eli Manning has had two rough outings this season and both came at the hands of the Washington Redskins.  That’s not to say that he had a particularly bad outing, he just didn’t get a lot of help and was victimize twice on interceptions that really weren’t his fault.  Eli started off slowly, missing on his first six attempts.  Even that’s a little misleading because two of those throws were flat out drops (Nicks and Ballard) and two others he simply got rid of the ball because no one was open.  Manning did everything he could to bring the Giants back in the fourth quarter once again, but twice he was turned away at the goal line.

Manning completed 23 of 40 passes for 257 yards, no touchdowns and 3 interceptions.  Manning’s passer rating was a season worst 45.5 (91.7 on the season) and his Total QBR was a horrid 7.1, the first time he’s been under 50 all season (50 is considered the median).  Manning is still ranked 9th in the league at 61.1.  Manning is also currently the third ranked QB in the NFL with 4,362 yards.

Running Backs

New York had moderate success running the ball early in the game, but because they got absolutely no help from the passing game it was hard to stick with it after the game started to get away.  After starting with three straight incomplete passes on their first drive, New York got the running game going on their next possession but didn’t stick with it.  It’s hard to fault them for trying to pass because Washington was stacking the box and Manning did throw two balls on the drive that should have been caught.  The first was a drop by Ballard that would have been a first down and the second was the awful drop by Nicks on what should have been a long touchdown.

Ahmad Bradshaw rushed just 10 times but for 58 yards and a touchdown.  Brandon Jacobs ran 8 times for 33 yards.  That’s 91 total yards at a 5.1 ypc clip, but again only 18 carries isn’t going to do it – a significant factor in the huge disparity in time of possession between the two teams.

Though he played sparingly, Henry Hynoski had another solid game.  He did catch 2 passes for 13 yards, including a very nice catch and run for a first down where he ran through the defender for the last 5 yards.

Danny Ware didn’t get a carry but had an eventful play in which he was unable to maintain control of the football at the goal line and ended up having a touchdown reversed.  I usually don’t interject in these reviews from a personal standpoint but this call has me absolutely baffled.  It appeared from all replays that he had control with both feet on the ground when the ball across the plane of the goal line before he bobbled it.  I could be wrong, but that’s how it looked to me.  If so, why wasn’t this a touchdown?  And the Greg Jennings play from two weeks ago is a touchdown?  Consistency simply isn’t there with this particular rule and it makes a case for centralized replay challenges ala the NHL.  Even if Ware’s second foot wasn’t down, how does that ball get spotted at the 2 yard line?  It just didn’t make any sense.

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

Eli Manning threw to his wide receivers 27 times, but completed only 14.  That wasn’t all on Manning.  Hakeem Nicks couldn’t find the handle on several passes and ended up with just 5 catches on 12 looks for 73 yards.  Nicks dropped two sure touchdown passes and had a third that he actually caught nullified by a penalty.  Inconsistency along the entire corps caused too many down and distance problems that the Giants were unable to overcome.  Nicks is now ranked 10th in the NFL with 1,098 yards.

Victor Cruz was targeted 9 times but only caught 5 passes for 44 yards.  Cruz is seeing a lot more press and double coverage as teams are now trying to slow him down at the line.  Cruz is still ranked 4th in the NFL with 1,194 yards receiving.

Mario Manningham is in his contract year and is playing as though he isn’t expecting to get another from the Giants.  While Mario caught 3 passes including a nice 34 yard completion, he also made one of the biggest gaffes of the game when he turned what Eli Manning thought was going to be a corner post route inside, leaving no one but CB Josh Wilson in that area to make the easy interception.  That play was the dagger.  If the Giants score on that drive they are down 23-10 with over 12 minutes to play and the game is back within reach.

TE Jake Ballard drop one critical pass that would’ve converted a 1st down and had only one other look all day, a 15 yard completion late in the game on a play where he ended up hurting his knee.  Ballard may be out a while according to published reports.  Bear Pascoe had a couple catches but again was simply horrible blocking for the run and the pass.

Offensive Line

When they were asked to do it, the offensive line did a pretty good job opening holes for the running game, leading the Giant backs to a 5.1 ypc average.  Unfortunately, they weren’t asked to do it nearly often enough as the Giants passed twice as much as they ran (43 passing plays, 18 running plays).

Pass protection was a problem.  David Diehl continues to struggle at left tackle.  He had a crucial holding penalty on the touchdown to Nicks that was called back.  Though over the past two weeks Kareem McKenzie has been better, he still has had more trouble than normal in pass blocking.

Kevin Boothe snapped the ball better on Sunday, so the Giants have THAT going for them…which is nice…other than that he was unable to get into the second level on a back door screen pass to Bradshaw that went nowhere.  In fact, the Giants’ offensive line has looked pretty poor on screen passes all year.

Defense

The only thing that’s going to stop opposing receivers from running through the New York secondary while playing zone is if the NFL allows them to install toll booths.  Not to be outdone, the defensive tackles were blown off the ball consistently and were unable to stop the Redskins in short yardage.  Washington ran the ball often and effectively enough to keep the Giants guessing and they were burned by play action passing several times because of it.  The linebackers were consistently out of position in the running game.  They overran, committed to and were unable to shed blockers, and were a non-factor anywhere near the line of scrimmage.  Watching the film, Washington was consistently able to get to the second level and take on the backers and keep the Redskins ahead of the chains.  When you consider that the Redskins were without several key members along the line as well as their top two tight ends, it was extremely embarrassing to watch.

The balance that Washington established on offense allowed them to convert 8 first downs via the run and 9 via the pass (they also were awarded 2 more on penalty).  Continuing a trend that’s occurred all season long, New York allowed 8 of 15 third down conversions and 1 of 2 fourth downs.  Most of that was done in the first half, as the defense did bear down in the second half but by then the game was for the most part out of hand.

Front 7

New York’s front 7 consisted of Jason Pierre-Paul and very little else.  Jason had an insane day as he was in on 16 tackles including a sack and another play for a loss.  JPP also hit QB Rex Grossman 3 of the 8 times the Giants were able to get to him.  Interestingly, JPP did most of his damage against the run.  Justin Tuck looked like he was giving everything he could.  Early on, he got good penetration and dropped RB Roy Helu in the backfield but it was apparent from the way he got up that he was hurt.  Tuck’s been taking a lot of heat, but he keeps putting himself on the field and giving it a go.  Some say that maybe he should sit out, but the fact is the Giants need him as they really have no options unless they move Kiwanuka, who is already getting more than a hatful of snaps at DE, back full time.  Tuck was in on 7 tackles but was unable to really mount any pressure whatsoever on Grossman.

The two biggest disappointments on the line were the defensive tackles.  Both starters, Linval Joseph and Chris Canty, were unable to mount inside pressure on Grossman nor stop the Washington running game after first contact.  It was amazing to see the Skins backs make yard after yard after first contact.  The inside of the defensive line simply couldn’t stack anyone up.  Rocky Bernard was the only real force inside, but again, he wasn’t able to make plays at the line.

The linebackers were in on a lot of tackles, but that doesn’t indicate whether they played well or not.  Most of the tackles were at the second level or back further in the secondary.  Michael Boley looks healthy and was the Giants’ second leading tackler as he was in on 12.   Kiwanuka spent about a third of his snaps at DE.  Jacquian Williams was once again torched underneath in pass coverage and had just 1 tackle.

Secondary

Not everything in the secondary is the fault of the defensive backs.  Frankly, coverage by the linebackers has been too inconsistent and they’re still playing with too many guys in and out at different positions.  The Redskins found the chink in the armor this week by going at rookie CB Prince Amukamara often enough and with such success that he was benched at halftime.  Prince is simply not experienced enough to be playing as much as he is right now.  Hats off to Grossman, he made the Giants pay by going after him any chance he could get.

Antrel Rolle would be an All Pro if his play could match his mouth.  Rolle is intimating that he’s not playing at full strength, but there is nothing being reported regarding any injury.  Rolle was unable to make several key plays.  The first was allowing WR Santana Moss turn a sure 5 yard gain into 16 on a 3rd and 17, which would have stopped Washington’s first touchdown drive.  Following the play the Redskins converted the 4th and 1 and went on to the touchdown.  He was guilty another big lapse when he came in for Amukamara and allowed a 17 yard out pattern to Gaffney.  Rolle is simply unable to play cornerback at this point in his career.  Again, he’s being asked to play out of position and it’s affecting him and the team. Injuries and ineffective play of others is leading to these decisions.

Aaron Ross wasn’t very effective either, allowing several completions.  The only bright spots were Corey Webster who had an interception that should have set the tone for the day on the very first play from scrimmage, and Kenny Phillips who had an interception at the start of Washington’s third drive.  Webster also had a pass defensed in the end zone late in the game that prevented another Washington touchdown.  It was indeed a nice play, but celebrating and carrying on with your team down 20 points with 5 minutes to go is bush league.

Special Teams

Last week, the special teams were better than reported in this section.  Frankly, the special teams have been the least of the Giants’ problems for the better part of this season.  Steve Weatherford has established himself as one of the premier punters in the NFL.  Unfortunately he punted on the Giants’ first three possessions on Sunday and four times overall.  He had one touchback, another out of bounds, and another downed inside the 20.  The punt coverage was outstanding on the one that was returned, netting -2 yards.  Kickoffs by Lawrence Tynes have also been outstanding this season, and on Sunday only two were returned for a total of 27 yards.  A squib kick at the end of the first half wasn’t.

As for the return game, the Giants were unable to return either of the two Washington punts.  Both Jerrel Jernigan and Da’Rel Scott did admirable jobs returning kicks, Jernigan returning two for 55 yards and Scott two for 49 yards.  Both could use a little more wiggle on returns as they seemed to actually run in to tackles.

Tynes missed a 44 yard field goal and hit on a 40 yarder right before the end of the half.

Coaching

The Giants didn’t seem to be ready for this game.  HC Tom Coughlin has an uncanny knack of rallying the troops in the face of adversity, but with everything in front of them they simply didn’t execute on Sunday.  As Corner Forum contributor Fat Man in Charlotte pointed out in a thread, how does one define “flat”?  The Giants got two interceptions on Washington’s first three drives, but were unable to convert these turnovers into points.  You don’t come out flat and make big plays.  The Giants offense, however, couldn’t convert and a case could be made that the game plan was flawed.  New York tried to beat Washington through the air early and quickly got out of sync offensively leading to a huge time of possession lead for Washington.  This game was a classic trap game in the making, coming off a huge win on the road against the team in front of you to the worst team in the division at home.  Coughlin also had another head scratching challenge that smacked of desperation.  Whoever told him to challenge that play should not be allowed to council the sidelines again if they indeed had the same replays that they showed on TV.

It’s apparent that Perry Fewell has no answers.  Players have said that the communication issues in the secondary were solved, but all of us saw Santana Moss running free across the field and into the end zone for an easy as pie touchdown that torched three Giants defenders.  This time it appears Amukamara was at fault.  Fewell called zone coverage against Rex Grossman for the majority of the game despite the fact it’s the one look that Grossman can actually play well against.  This is it, there are only two games left and both must be won.  Again, in crucial times including the crucial 3rd and 17 in which Moss gained 16, the Giants are going with a 3 man rush that is simply not working.  With no pressure against a passive zone defense, the opposition is carving it up.  Does Fewell think that it’s just going to start happening?  Ditch it already, Perry!  Let your guys man up and send pressure.  There’s no use in not trying, because what’s being called now isn’t working.

Final Thoughts

If the Giants have a rear view mirror, it’s time to rip it off the windshield and just look forward.  Nothing can be done about the past.  It’s all about the Jets and the Cowboys.  Can the Giants do it?  Who knows.  The same team that puts up 35 on Green Bay and 37 on Dallas could only muster essentially 3 points against the going nowhere Redskins.  The Giants have given up an astounding 144 points over the past four weeks.  That leaves very little confidence that anything is going to turn around now.  But we’re Giants fans.  We never give in until we’re out of it.  There is no more time for talk, excuses, or anything else but playing smart, error free football and win games.  Merry Christmas everyone.

(Boxscore – Washington Redskins at New York Giants, December 18, 2011)
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Dec 202011
 
 December 20, 2011  Posted by  News and Notes

Jake Ballard May Miss Some Time: TE Jake Ballard injured his knee against the Washington Redskins on Sunday and may miss some time. “We are going to look at this day-to-day but we expect that he will (miss some time),” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “It is a good medical guess right now but we hesitate to say if he is out and how long he is out or anything like that. I would think at this point in time he is going to miss some time…I am hoping it is not a season ender. No, it is not one of those. It depends on how fast the knee will come around and we are just going to have to wait and see…It is an old PCL injury that he has had before.”

The problem for the Giants is that H-Back Travis Beckum missed the last game with a chest injury and TE Bear Pascoe is also nursing a rib injury. “(Pascoe) does have a rib injury,” said Coughlin. “He’s going to have that checked out and we’ll see how much that affects him when we prepare to practice tomorrow.”

WR Devin Thomas suffered a burner in the game against the Redskins. “Devin…thank God has been cleared and it appears it was a burner and so hopefully he will be ready to practice this week,” said Coughlin.

Meanwhile, Coughlin is not optimistic that DE Osi Umenyiora (ankle) will be back. “I’m very concerned because we were hoping we’d have him back,” said Coughlin. “Again, we’re going to take it day to day, but we’d have to have some major improvement here to be able to say that he could go.”

Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Monday Media Conference Call: The transcript of yesterday’s media conference call with Head Coach Tom Coughlin is available at Giants.com.

Player Media Q&As: The transcripts yesterday’s media conference call sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Player Interviews on WFAN: Audio of yesterday’s interviews with the following players is available at CBSNewYork.com:

  • DE Jason Pierre-Paul (Audio)
  • DE Justin Tuck (Audio)
  • S Antrel Rolle (Audio)

Article on the Giants-Redskins Game: Giants-Redskins Game Review: Questioning Coaching After Second Loss to Skins by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

Article on Former Giant Antonio Pierce: Ex-Giants Linebacker Antonio Pierce Reminds Former Team It’s Time to Stand Tall Together by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

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Dec 182011
 
 December 18, 2011  Posted by  News and Notes

Giants Lay Yet Another Egg at Home, Swept by Redskins: The New York Giants fell to the Washington Redskins 23-10 earlier today at MetLife Stadium. With the loss, the Giants’ record falls to 7-7, one game behind the 8-6 Dallas Cowboys with two games left to play in the regular season. It was yet another terrible performance by the Giants at home in a game with everything to play for.

The Giants have lost five of their last six games, and their last three homes games. The Giants can still win the NFC East if they win their last two games of the regular season. But if the Giants lose to the Jets and Dallas defeats Philadelphia next Saturday, the Giants will be eliminated from the playoffs.

The Giants had more first downs (22 to 19), total net yards (324 to 300), and net yards passing (233 to 177). However, the Redskins, out-gained the Giants in net yards rushing (123 to 91), time of possession (35:00 to 25:00), and won the turnover battle (3 interceptions to 2). The Giants’ defense also allowed the Redskins to convert 8-of-15 third-down opportunities.

“We didn’t play well,” said HB Brandon Jacobs. “We were disappointed in each other. We disappointed our fans. We just have to play better. We didn’t want it bad enough the first time we played these guys and we didn’t want it bad enough this time.”

“Obviously the one word that comes to mind is disappointing, a little bit embarrassed,” said DE Justin Tuck. “Knowing what we had at stake, it is disappointing.”

“I mean, we can point a lot of fingers but it’s still not going to change the outcome,” said S Antrel Rolle. “They were the best team today, hands down.” Before the game, Rolle said the Giants would beat the Redskins 99 out of 100 games.

Washington received the football first and on the Redskins’ very first play, QB Rex Grossman was intercepted off a flea flicker by CB Corey Webster at the Giants’ 33-yard line. A personal foul penalty by DT Chris Canty pushed the Giants back to their own 18-yard line. The Giants went three-and-out after three incomplete passes.

On Washington’s second possession, the Redskins drove 52 yards in 10 plays to set up a successful 30-yard field goal. Redskins 3 – Giants 0. The Giants blew a chance to go up 7-3 on their next possession when WR Hakeem Nicks dropped what should have been an easy 54-yard touchdown pass on 3rd-and-6. The Giants got the ball right back, however, when Grossman was intercepted again on the very first play of the Redskins’ third offensive series, this time by S Kenny Phillips at the Giants’ 27-yard line. However, the Giants went three-and-out again and were forced to punt.

The Redskins then put together an impressive 13-play, 82-yard drive that ended with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Grossman to WR Santana Moss for a 10-0 advantage early in the second quarter. On the Giants’ fourth possession, New York gave the ball right back to Washington as QB Eli Manning was picked off at the Redskins’ 33-yard line. The interception was returned 26 yards to the Giants’ 41-yard line. Nine plays later, Washington went up 17-0 on a 6-yard touchdown run by FB Darrel Young.

The Giants gained one first down and punted on their fifth offensive series of the first half. Up to this point of the game, the Giants’ offense had only accrued three first downs and 50 net yards.

Washington drove from their own 25-yard line to the Giants’ 32-yard line on their final possession of the half. But with just over a minute to play, Grossman’s 4th-and-1 deep pass fell incomplete. The Giants finally managed to put some points on the board by moving the ball 46 yards in six plays to set up a 40-yard field goal by PK Lawrence Tynes with two seconds on the clock.

At the half, the Redskins led 17-3.

The Giants received the football to start the second half but promptly turned the ball over when Manning was intercepted at the Giants’ 34-yard line. The Redskins could not gain a first down but the great field position allowed them to kick the 43-yard field goal to give them a 20-3 lead. “I had a poor pass to Hakeem on the interception – just underthrew it a little bit,” said Manning. “I knew when I let it go it was going to be a little under-thrown.”

The Giants drove from their own 20-yard line to the Redskins’ 18-yard line on their second series of the half, but on 3rd-and-6, Manning was sacked and then Tynes missed the 44-yard field goal. Washington then responded with a 10-play, 59-yard drive that resulted in yet another field goal for the Redskins, this time from 25 yards out at the start of the fourth quarter. Redskins 23 – Giants 3.

The Giants quickly drove to the Redskins’ 13-yard line in four plays on their third possession of the half, but Manning’s 1st-and-10 pass was intercepted in the end zone for a touchback. There appeared to be miscommunication between Manning and WR Mario Manningham on the play. “Had a fade route out there (with Manningham),” said Manning. “They were doubling our tight end and Z so I was going to throw it to the back corner of the end zone. That’s where we always try to hit those. I guess he went inside at the last second so it made it a little bit too easy of a play for the defensive back.”

The Redskins went three-and-out and punted. The Giants drove from their 25-yard line to the Redskins’ 2-yard line. On second down, Nicks dropped another touchdown. On third down, instant replay overruled what had been originally ruled a touchdown catch by HB D.J. Ware. Then on 4th-and-2, Manning hit Nicks for an apparent touchdown, but the play was nullified by a holding call on LT David Diehl. On 4th-and-goal from the 12, Manning was sacked for a 13-yard loss with just under nine minutes to play.

The Redskins’ offense was able able to gain two first downs and take almost five minutes off of the clock. The Giants scored on their final possession of the game, driving 76 yards in 13 plays. HB Ahmad Bradshaw scored from three yards out with 33 seconds left in the game. Too little, too late.

Offensively, Manning finished 23-of-40 for 257 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. Bradshaw carried the ball 10 times for 58 yards and a touchdown. Jacobs ran for 33 yards on 8 carries. Nicks caught 5 passes for 73 yards but had costly drops.

Defensively, DE Jason Pierre-Paul was credited with 16 tackles (11 solo), 1 sack, 2 tackles for a loss, and 3 quarterback hits. LB Michael Boley had 12 tackles (10 solo) and a quarterback hit. Both Webster and Phillips had interceptions.

“I felt good this week about our week of practice,” DE Dave Tollefson said. “Defensively, I felt really good. We had energy. Game plan was great. We just came out here and really just let a team drive down the field. The big plays were not as bad as they’ve been in the past, but we didn’t stop anybody. Even the drives that we got them off the field, they had a couple first downs.”

Highlights/lowlights of the game are available at NFL.com.

Injury Report – TE Jake Ballard Hurt: TE Jake Ballard left the game with a knee injury. “They are going to do all the tests on the knee,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin.

WR Devin Thomas left the game with what is thought to be a stinger. “Devin Thomas is going to go through a series of tests to determine, as I understand it, precautionary stuff,” said Coughlin. “It sounded as if it was a stinger versus a disc. They will have to see the tests and determine all that stuff.”

Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Post-Game Press Conference: The transcript and video of Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s post-game press conference are available at Giants.com.

Post-Game Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video of post-game media Q&As with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Post-Game Notes: Inactive for the Giants were H-Back Travis Beckum (chest), OC David Baas (neck), OT James Brewer, DE Osi Umenyiora (ankle/knee), DT Jimmy Kennedy, LB Mark Herzlich (ankle), and S Derrick Martin (back).

The Giants were swept by the Redskins for the first time since 1999.

The Giants did not score a touchdown in the first half for the fifth time this season and the fifth time in seven games.

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Dec 182011
 
 December 18, 2011  Posted by  News and Notes

Article on QB Eli Manning: Giants’ Eli Manning a Master of Keeping Control, Thinking Quickly as the Play Clock Ticks Down by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

Article on DE Jason Pierre-Paul: Giants’ Jason Pierre-Paul is a Reluctant Rising Star in the NFL by Dave D’Alessandro of The Star-Ledger

Article on CB Prince Amukamara: NY Giants Rookie Cornerback Prince Amukamara Focusing on Football Now, Not Royal Roots by Ebenezer Samuel of The Daily News

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Dec 172011
 
 December 17, 2011  Posted by  News and Notes

December 16, 2011 New York Giants Injury Report: The following Giants did not practice yesterday: H-Back Travis Beckum (chest), OC David Baas (neck), DE Osi Umenyiora (ankle/knee), LB Mark Herzlich (ankle), and S Derrick Martin (back). All five players have officially been ruled out of the game against the Washington Redskins.

HB Ahmad Bradshaw (foot), DE Justin Tuck (toe), LB Spencer Paysinger (hamstring) and S Kenny Phillips (knee) practiced on a limited basis. Tuck is officially “questionable” for the game against the Redskins; the other three players are “probable.”

“(Tuck) did ok,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “I don’t think there was any setback.”

Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Friday Press Conference: The transcript and video of yesterday’s press conference with Head Coach Tom Coughlin are available at Giants.com.

Giants.com Q&A With Head Coach Tom Coughlin: The transcript of this week’s Giants.com Q&A with Head Coach Tom Coughlin is available at Giants.com.

Article on the Giants’ Offense:

Article on FB Henry Hynoski: Giants Rookie Henry Hynoski Boosts Run Game by Creating Big Holes by Jorge Castillo of The Star-Ledger

Article on DE Jason Pierre-Paul: Pierre-Paul’s Football Education, Far From the Big Time by Sam Borden of The New York Times

Article on LB Mathias Kiwanuka: Giants’ Kiwanuka Still Adjusting in Another Transition to Linebacker by Mark Viera of The New York Times

Article on CB Prince Amukamara: Prince Getting Help From Teammates by Matt Ehalt of ESPNNewYork.com

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Dec 162011
 
 December 16, 2011  Posted by  Game Previews and Reviews

By Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com

Approach to the Game – Washington Redskins at New York Giants, December 18, 2011: You can feel the momentum changing in the Giants’ favor.  Could it be that the Giants are beginning to peak at the right time?  One could certainly make that case for the offensive side of the football.  The passing game is hitting on all cylinders right now and except for the perennially-injured Travis Beckum, Eli has all of his targets healthy.  This is a far cry from last season when the Giants were left with Mario Manningham and a bunch of free agents signed off the street.  The running attack is also coming off arguably its best performance of the season too with Brandon Jacobs running well against a very good front seven in Dallas.

And shhhh!  Quietly, the special teams are having a very steady season.  Yes, the return game is still disappointing, but the Giants are getting strong seasons out of both their kickers and the coverage units have performed fairly well except for the major breakdown against DeSean Jackson last month.

We all know what the problem is – the NFL’s 30th ranked defense.  It’s a defense that can’t stop the run or the pass.  It’s confused and clearly lacking confidence and leadership.  It’s a defense that is putting a tremendous amount of pressure on the offense to perform at a high level each and every week.  And that’s not always possible (see the Eagles game in the Meadowlands).  Can the Giants win the NFC East with this defense?  Can they make a playoff run?

This Redskins team already beat the Giants once this year and gave the New England Patriots fits last week.  The Giants are coming off two emotionally-draining games and will need to dig deep to find fresh reserves of energy and intensity for yet another week.

Giants on Offense: Eli Manning is single-handily carrying this football team.  Without him, the Giants are probably a 2- or 3-win team.  Six of the Giants’ seven victories have been fourth-quarter comebacks led by Manning.  He also tied the game with under a minute to go against Green Bay and was a play away from beating the Seahawks (slip by Cruz) and tying the 49ers.  At the age of 30, he has become the very definition of a franchise quarterback, an elite play-maker who elevates the performance of his entire team.  Eli is carrying this team and it’s something to behold.  Since Y.A. Tittle had a defense, I don’t think anything like this has ever happened in Giants’ history.

The amount of pressure on Eli to perform at a high level on almost every play is immense right now.  The season came perilously close to ending last Sunday night.  The Giants were 12 points down on the road with under six minutes to play.  Can Eli keep this up?

The Redskins have a very respectable 3-4 defense (11th in the NFL).  It’s well-coached and Washington has two outside linebackers who can rush the passer – Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan.  It will probably help the Giants’ offensive line that they are playing a 3-4 defense for the third week in a row.

The Giants need the left side of the offensive line to pass protect better than it did against the Cowboys and RT Kareem McKenzie will also be challenged by the quickness of the outside linebackers.

If the line plays well – along with the tight ends and fullback as blockers – the Giants should be able to move the football against Washington and score.  Their secondary is suspect and the Giants have a lot of offensive weapons.  It will be interesting to see if Brandon Jacobs will run with the same type of authority he did against the Cowboys.  That was his best game in quite some time.

Remember…turnovers are the great equalizer.  Don’t lose the turnover battle!

Giants on Defense: The Redskins moved the ball surprisingly well last week against a Patriots’ defense that is also struggling.  QB Rex Grossman can still surprise you with good plays and rookie HB Roy Helu has injected new life into Washington’s ground game.  But the Skins will be missing TE Fred Davis and their offensive line is a bit of a mess.

I can’t tell you how angry I am with the Giants’ defense.  It truly is pathetic.  Yes, injuries are a problem.  Umenyiora remains out and Tuck is playing like a journeyman.  Once again, the high praise given to the defensive line in the preseason was misplaced because these guys can’t stay healthy.  Chase Blackburn was sitting on his couch a few weeks ago and now he’s starting.  Jacquian Williams is not the player he will be with more experience.  In the secondary, some folks ask what is wrong with Prince Amukamara.  What is wrong?  He’s playing on a surgically-repaired broken foot that is not completely healed.  He only started running a few weeks ago.  He missed all of camp, the preseason, and the bulk of the regular season.  He’s not in shape (football or otherwise) and he certainly has not had enough reps to be mentally prepared for the NFL.  Losing Terrell Thomas was huge, but losing replacements such as Justin Tryon and Michael Coe was also big.  Fortunately, the Giants will have Kenny Phillips back this week at safety.  But they may be without Tuck and Umenyiora is taking his own sweet time.

That all said, this defense seems to be reaching new lows every week.  The defense is giving up yards and points at unacceptable levels.  It’s bending and breaking.  It can’t get off the field on third down, it can’t stop opposing teams in the red zone, and it can’t hold a lead with less than 60 seconds on the clock.

One “leader” keeps whining about how hurt he is…we get it Justin, you have a lot of boo-boos.  Either shut it down, man up, or shut up.  The unit’s other “ball-hawking leader” has two interceptions in two seasons and is yapping the Giants could beat the Redskins 99 times out of 100 games.  The defense lacks personalities.  It lacks accountability.  It lacks leadership.  Most damning, it lacks production.

And where is Perry Fewell in all of this?  On Thursday, four days after the Cowboys game, the defensive players still can’t agree who messed up on the 50-yard touchdown to Dez Bryant.  Fewell said on Thursday he would talk to the players to make sure they knew.  Thanks Perry, get right on that will ya?  And if you watched the sights and sounds video from the game, you see Prince Amukamara coming to the bench, confused about the coverage on the play where he gave up a 74-yard reception.  Grant is heard chewing him out.  Where are the position coaches?  And Fewell walks right by simply saying, “Keep your heads up!”  Great!

The mental breakdowns seem to be accelerating, not diminishing.  The confidence is waning.  Perry’s reaction…well Green Bay has a bad defense too.  Holy shit!

Giants on Special Teams: The Giants’ unit is performing at an acceptable level.  An unsung hero last week was Lawrence Tynes with six touchbacks in the game.  Be wary of Brandon Banks of the Redskins.  He is a very dangerous punt and kick returner.

The return game has to get going.  The Giants are long overdue to break a big return.

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Dec 162011
 
 December 16, 2011  Posted by  News and Notes

December 15, 2011 New York Giants Injury Report: The following Giants did not practice yesterday: HB Ahmad Bradshaw (foot), H-Back Travis Beckum (chest), OC David Baas (neck), DE Justin Tuck (toe), DE Osi Umenyiora (ankle/knee), LB Mark Herzlich (ankle), and S Derrick Martin (back).

“Hopefully (Tuck) can do something tomorrow maybe but we will see,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin.

“We thought (Umenyiora was making progress) but evidently he is not going to make it this week,” said Coughlin.

“It takes quite a lot to keep me out and I want to be back. I don’t think there’s a definite reason that would keep me out for the rest of the season,” Baas said. “I feel like the way this has been responding, if it wasn’t responding as well as it has been, maybe that would be a different answer. I feel like right now I’m very encouraged by how it’s doing and I feel like the doctors hopefully feel the same way. We have to make sure we’re talking each and every day, which we are, and making the best decision.”

LB Spencer Paysinger (hamstring) and S Kenny Phillips (knee) practiced on a limited basis.

Coach Media Q&As: The transcripts and video of yesterday’s media sessions with the following coaches are available at Giants.com:

Player Media Q&As: The transcripts and video of yesterday’s media Q&A sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Articles on QB Eli Manning:

Article on HB Brandon Jacobs: Jacobs’s Downhill Runs Put Giants on Upswing by Mark Viera of The New York Times

Article on the Giants’ Run Defense: Giants Aim to Improve Run Defense with Washington Redskins Coming to Town by Jorge Castillo of The Star-Ledger

Articles on the Giants’ Secondary:

Article on the Giants’ Special Teams: The Giants’ ‘Special’ Motivation by Aditi Kinkhabwala of The Wall Street Journal

Article on Former Giants’ Head Coach Jim Fassel: Years Later, Still Waiting for a Second Chance by Sam Borden of The New York Times

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