Sep 302012
 

Hakeem Nicks Ruled Out: WR Hakeem Nicks (knee/foot) did not travel with the team yesterday to Philadelphia and has been downgraded from “doubtful” to “out” for tonight’s game against the Eagles. There is still no word on the type or severity of his knee injury. The knee swelled after Thursday’s practice.

As reported earlier, also not playing tonight are OT David Diehl (knee), LB Keith Rivers (hamstring), and CB Jayron Hosley (hamstring). S Antrel Rolle (knee) and CB Michael Coe (hamstring) are “questionable” for the game.

NY Post Q&A With HB Andre Brown: Serby’s Sunday Q&A with… Andre Brown by Steve Serby of The New York Post

Article on FB Henry Hynoski: Fullback May Soon Have More Carries Than Nicknames by Sam Borden of The New York Times

Article on DE Osi Umenyiora: Giants’ Osi Umenyiora Says He Is Not Doing As Well As He Should Be by Jenny Vrentas of The Star-Ledger

Article on S Will Hill: New Hill to Climb by Ebenezer Samuel of The Daily News

Sep 292012
 

September 28, 2012 New York Giants Injury Report – Nicks Doubtful; Hosley Out: Not practicing yesterday were WR Hakeem Nicks (foot/knee), OT David Diehl (knee), LB Keith Rivers (hamstring), and CB Jayron Hosley (hamstring). Nicks is officially listed as “doubtful” for the game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night. Diehl, Rivers, and Hosley have been ruled “out” of the game.

Not only is Nicks doubtful, but the team said the Nicks is now experiencing swelling in his left knee. That would be a new injury in addition to his right foot issues. Apparently, Nicks banged his knee in the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the knee swelled after his first practice back on Thursday. It’s not clear how serious the knee injury is.

S Antrel Rolle (knee) and CB Michael Coe (hamstring) were limited in practice. Both are “questionable” for the game.

HB Ahmad Bradshaw (neck), CB Corey Webster (hand), WR Domenik Hixon (concussion), and DE Adewale Ojomo (hamstring) fully practiced. All four players are “probable.”

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

Giants.com Q&A With Head Coach Tom Coughlin: Coughlin Corner: Preparing for Eagles by Michael Eisen of Giants.com

Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video clips of media Q&As with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Article on the Giants’ Offense: Don’t Muddle the Huddle by Joshua Robinson of The Wall Street Journal

Sep 282012
 

September 27, 2012 New York Giants Injury Report: Not practicing yesterday were OT David Diehl (knee), LB Keith Rivers (hamstring), CB Jayron Hosley (hamstring), and S Antrel Rolle (knee).

WR Hakeem Nicks (foot) and CB Michael Coe (hamstring) were limited in practice.

HB Ahmad Bradshaw (neck), CB Corey Webster (hand), WR Domenik Hixon (concussion), and DE Adewale Ojomo (hamstring) fully practiced.

Bradshaw talked about the neck injury he suffered against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “I actually took a hit and felt tingling in my hands so then it happened again and that’s when I sat out,” said Bradshaw. “I can’t say it was one certain hit that it happened; I can’t say it won’t happen again. I’m prepared for it, and obviously I can’t worry about that…It’s pretty much like an inflamed disc. It’s just sitting right on the spinal cord, I guess. The swelling went down and I feel fine now. There’s no setbacks, no problems.”

Michael Strahan Nominated for Hall of Fame: Michael Strahan, who played defensive end for the Giants from 1993-2007, has been named as one of the 13 first-year eligible modern-era candidates for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2013.

The additional Hall of Fame nominees with ties to the Giants are quarterback Phil Simms; running backs Ottis Anderson, Tiki Barber, Brian Mitchell, and Herschel Walker; tackle Lomas Brown; center Joe Fields; cornerback Everson Walls; punter Sean Landeta; place kicker Morten Andersen; coaches Bill Parcells, Dan Reeves, Bill Arnsparger, and Marty Schottenheimer; and former general manager George Young.

The complete list of candidates for the Class of 2013 consists of 127 nominees. From that list the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee will choose 25 candidates who will advance as semi-finalist nominees. That semi-finalist list will be further reduced by a mail ballot to 15 modern-era finalists. The Class of 2013 will be selected from the list of the 15 modern-era finalists.

The actual voting for the Class of 2013 will be conducted at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee’s annual meeting on February 2, 2013.

Giants Tried to Claim Offensive Tackle: According to The Star-Ledger, the Giants tried to claim OT Joe Barksdale off of waivers from the Oakland Raiders. However, he was awarded to the St. Louis Rams. The Giants and Rams were the only two teams to put in a claim for Barksdale.

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

Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video clips of media Q&As with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Q&A With Bob Papa: 5 Questions for… Bob Papa by Justin Terranova of The New York Post

Giants Online: The video of this week’s edition of Giants Online is available at Giants.com.

Articles on the Giants-Eagles Game:

Articles on the Giants’ Running Backs:

Sep 272012
 

September 26, 2012 New York Giants Injury Report: Not practicing yesterday were WR Hakeem Nicks (foot), OT David Diehl (knee), LB Keith Rivers (hamstring), CB Jayron Hosley (hamstring), and CB Michael Coe (hamstring).

S Antrel Rolle (knee) was limited in practice.

HB Ahmad Bradshaw (neck), CB Corey Webster (hand), WR Domenik Hixon (concussion), and DE Adewale Ojomo (hamstring) fully practiced.

PK Lawerence Tynes Named “NFC Special Teams Player of the Week”: PK Lawrence Tynes has been named the “NFC Special Teams Player of the Week” for his performance against the Carolina Panthers last week. In that game, Tynes was 5-of-5 on field goal attempts, including from 49 and 47 yards out.

Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Wednesday 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: Transcripts and video clips of media Q&As with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Articles on Halfbacks Ahmad Bradshaw and Andrew Brown:

Article on the Giants’ Offensive Line: Giants’ O-line to Be Tested by Art Stapleton of The Bergen Record

Quotes: TE Martellus Bennett on his performance thus far this season: “I’m probably the only person who’s not impressed with the way I’ve been playing, I think there’s a whole lot of room for improvement…(I can improve at) everything. Technique, and just my whole game. I’m not happy with my whole game right now, so I’m just working on getting better as a player.”

Sep 262012
 

By Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com

Approach to the Game – New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles, September 30, 2012: Stating the obvious, this is a big game.  The Giants are 0-1 in the NFC East with five more division games to play.  Falling to 0-2 in the division would not be good.

The Giants have a weird history with the Eagles.  It’s been well documented that each team has a tendency to dominate the win-loss record over the other for long stretches.  Currently, the Eagles have won seven of the last eight games against the Giants.  Before that, the Giants had won six of eight.  And back and forth and back and forth.  The good thing is that for the Giants is that even some of the most traumatic losses suffered to the Eagles have actually spurred the team to great heights.  “The Fumble” led to George Young and two NFL Championships.  The meltdown in the Meadowlands in 2010 led to “Finish” and the 2011 NFL Championship.  Meanwhile, the Eagles win in the regular season but have very little to show for it.

The Giants-Eagles match-up is a great one.  The players don’t like each other.  The fans don’t like each other.  The games are often close and memorable.  It’s the NFL at its best.

The Eagles are a very talented team.  They have some explosive weapons on offense.  And their defense is vastly improved in the front seven.  Like the Giants, they dramatically improved their linebacking corps, and also like the Giants, they are very deep on the defensive line and can get after the quarterback.  But the Giants have one big advantage and that’s at quarterback.

This game will likely come down to who makes the fewest mistakes and who makes more plays in the fourth quarter.

Giants on Offense: The bad news for the Giants is that the Eagles’ defense got a lot better in the offseason.  They added veteran DeMeco Ryans at middle linebacker and impressive rookie Mychal Kendricks at strongside linebacker.  On the line, they added guys like Fletcher Cox to an already deep and talented group.  They did trade CB Asante Samuel in the offseason and that’s a move that should help the Giants as Samuel had given New York more problems than the other Eagle corners.

The Eagles can rush the passer.  This will be a far stiffer test for the Giants’ revamped offensive line than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Carolina Panthers.  David Diehl (knee) may return this week, but if I’m Tom Coughlin, I don’t tinker with the Beatty-Locklear combination at tackle right now.  Obviously, the key match-ups are the Philadelphia ends against the Giants’ tackles.  That means Jason Babin and Brandon Graham against Locklear (or Diehl) and Trent Cole and Daryl Tapp against Will Beatty (or Locklear).  Inside, the Eagles can be tough too with defensive tackles Cullen Jenkins, Derek Landri, and Fletcher Cox.

The Eagles will attack up front.  They have a pass-rush focused defense but on their way to the passer, they often disrupt the run too.   In Week Two, HB Ray Rice of the Ravens did run for 99 yards on 16 carries (6.2 yards per carry average) on the Eagles’ defense.   Most of that damage came in the first half (7 carries for 78 yards) as the Eagles’ defense clamped down on Rice in the second half (9 carries for 21 yards).  On the other hand, last week, HB Ryan Williams of the Cardinals had greater success running on the Eagles in the second half (8 carries for 65 yards) after a big lead than he did in the first half (5 carries for 18 yards).

So the key questions for the Giants are these: do the Giants come out running the football on first down or do they come out throwing?  And when they run the football, do they go with the hot hand in Andre Brown or go back to the established veteran in Ahmad Bradshaw?  (Tom Coughlin says Bradshaw will start).

Regarding the first question, who the hell knows?  Is the Giants’ offensive line (combined with Martellus Bennett and Henry Hynoski) for real?  Or did they look better against lesser competition in the Buccaneers and Panthers?  Or is there a structural weakness in the Philadelphia defense (the wide gaps left by the linemen) that beg for the Giants to pound the rock?  Obviously, in a perfect world, Giants’ fans would love to see the running backs gain six yards a pop, setting up play-action passes to Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, and Bennett.

Regarding the second question, Bradshaw is the safer bet because of his experience in blitz pick-ups (especially against this blitz-crazy defense).  But I think Brown’s no-nonsense, north-south running is better suited to attack the Philadelphia defense.  If Bradshaw struggles early, it will be interesting to see how quickly Brown comes off the bench.

My early game plan would be this: combine quick, short passes to the wide receivers, Bennett, and running backs (including Hynoski) with between-the-tackle/off-tackle running plays.  Move the chains.  Later attack the Eagle cornerbacks deeper down the field.  The Giants obviously are not intimidated by the Eagles’ cornerbacks, but my worry is how much time will Eli have to throw the football?  In other words, I don’t trust this offensive line yet.  Get rid of the ball quickly.

I hope the Giants don’t get too cute with the running game.  I’d run between the tackles or off tackle – I wouldn’t do a lot of running laterally against this defense.  Even if David Wilson plays – and the Giants love to run Wilson outside – I would cross the Eagles up by having him run up the gut or off tackle.  (Besides the Giants are making it too obvious when Wilson comes into the game that it is an outside run).

Most importantly, don’t turn the football over.  The team that loses the turnover battle is most likely the one that is going to lose the game.

Giants on Defense: The Eagles are putting up very respectable offensive numbers: fifth overall in yardage gained and very balanced (eighth overall in rushing and passing).  Their biggest problem has been turnovers, particularly by the quarterback.  QB Michael Vick has thrown six interceptions and fumbled the ball five times (losing three) in three games.  HB LeSean McCoy has also fumbled the ball away twice.  The Eagles also have problems finishing drives (31st in scoring).

So the narrative is obvious.  The Eagles are sloppy with the football.  Take advantage of their sloppiness.  But if the Eagles don’t turn the football over, they can be very dangerous on offense.  When the ball is on the ground, the Giants have to be the one coming up with it.  If Vick throws a ball to a New York Giant, he must catch it.

The Eagles’ offensive line is not good and on paper the Giants have a big advantage with their defensive line against that unit.  However, as DE Justin Tuck correctly stated this week:

“It is not like we are licking our chops,” Tuck said. “We know that Philadelphia is going to pose a huge challenge for us. Normally, they find a way to put it together against us. We got a lot of film to look at to get together a game plan and hopefully slow down their weapons, just like other teams have so far this year.”

And that’s been the problem for the Giants in too many games against the Eagles ever since that 12-sack effort back in 2007.  Heading into many games since then, one expected the Giants’ to dominate up front by the Eagles’ offensive line did enough to hold the Giants’ marquee linemen at bay in order to win the game.

New York needs to change that this week and kick some ass up front.

The Eagles have not been running the football enough with McCoy.  I expect that to change on Sunday night.  In the past, when Reid has been criticized for not running the ball the previous week, he will come out and do so the following week (including in games against the Giants).  Moreover, I can’ t imagine that Reid is going to want Michael Vick to continue to get pounded the way he has thus far this season.  So the defense must focus on stopping the run.  And they also have to be very wary of screens, slants, and misdirection (reverses, trick plays, etc.) early designed to take advantage of the Giants’ aggressiveness up front.  The backside ends must be on guard and not pursue too hard down the line.

When the Eagles pass, Giants’ fans tend to focus on DeSean Jackson for obvious reasons.  But the Giants have done a pretty good job on Jackson the receiver in recent years.  That’s not to say that he’s a key match-up issue for New York.  But Vick throws to TE Brent Celek and McCoy are top targets in the passing game.  So are wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant.  This is a game where the Giants really could use Keith Rivers (hamstring), but it’s probably questionable at best if he plays.  Michael Boley and Jacquian Williams will have to pick up the slack in coverage.  Hopefully, the Eagles don’t get some bad mismatches on Chase Blackburn.

In the secondary, the Giants need a strong game out of Corey Webster.  Prince Amukamara will be really tested for the first time this year.  Injury/availability concerns remain with Jayron Hosley (hamstring) and Michael Coe (hamstring).  If Hosley and/or Coe can’t play, the Eagles may cause match-up problems for the Giants by forcing Justin Tryon on the field.  The key is to take away Vick’s first read.  If you do that, he tends to get confused and start scrambling and make mistakes.  Don’t give him easy completions to his first read and the Giants should be OK.  It would be nice if Kenny Phillips or Antrel Rolle came up with a pick.

Lastly, don’t be shocked if Vick doesn’t make it out of this game either due to injury or benching.  If he does come out, the Giants must not let rookie Nick Foles spoil the night.

Stop the run.  Take away the first read.  Hold onto those turnovers.

Giants on Specials: I think the Giants hold a big advantage here on specials.  New York has two of the best kickers in the game.  And I think the Giants are close to breaking kick and punt returns.  Don’t be shocked if the Giants win this game on special teams.

Sep 262012
 

New York Giants on WFAN Radio: Audio clips of yesterday’s WFAN Radio interviews with the following players are available at CBSNewYork.com:

Sights and Sounds from Giants-Panthers Game: Check out the sights and sounds video from the Giants-Panthers game at Giants.com.

Article on DE Justin Tuck: Giants Don’t Forget Eagles’ Antics by Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com

Notes: The Giants had 1,009 total yards in their last two games, their highest two-game total since October 1967.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, HB Andre Brown’s rushing totals and WR Ramses Barden’s receiving totals were the highest by Giants players making their first NFL start since the 1970 merger.

QB Eli Manning has passed for 200 yards or more in 22 straight games, tying him with QB Drew Brees of the Saints for the second-longest streak in NFL history. QB Dan Fouts of the Chargers holds the record with 45 straight games.

TE Martellus Bennett is the first player in Giants’ history with a touchdown reception in each of his first three games with the team.

LB Michael Boley has intercepted a pass in each of the first three games, the first Giants player to record a pick in three consecutive games since CB Phillippi Sparks in 1995. Boley is the first Giant with interceptions in each of the first three games of a season since CB Terry Jackson in 1978.

Sep 252012
 
New York Giants 36 (2-1) – Carolina Panthers 7 (1-2)

By rnargi for BigBlueInteractive.com

Game Summary:

Last week in my review I said and will quote here,

“There’s just something about this team that you can’t put a finger on.  When is the last time the Giants dominated from start to finish?”

Well, so much for that!  The New York Giants put an absolute old fashioned thumping on Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers last Thursday at Bank of America Stadium outside of Charlotte.  The Giants dominated from the opening snap and never looked back, making for a very stress free Thursday night viewing experience for Big Blue fans everywhere.

Not many people gave New York much of a chance coming off an incredible comeback victory against Tampa Bay the Sunday before.  Many pundits saw the short week, going on the road against a good Carolina team, with several key parts missing, dooming the Giants.  Not so, as the 2009 draft class and others stepped up for injured starters and excelled beyond the wildest of expectations.

All three phases of the team clicked on Thursday as the Giants dominated on offense, defense and special teams.  On offense, New York scored on eight of ten drives, punting only twice and not turning the ball over.  On defense, the Giants forced Carolina to punt on their first three drives and recorded an interception in the first half.  After the special teams recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half, the defense allowed the only sustained drive of the evening for Carolina (for a touchdown) before recording two more interceptions.  Finally, the special teams recovered a muffed punt late in the fourth quarter to essentially end the game.

On the night, New York outgained Carolina by nearly 100 yards, ran 13 more offensive plays, had more than twice the rushing yards, and won the time of possession battle by more than 12 minutes.  New York continued to struggle a bit in the green zone, converting six attempts into three touchdowns and three field goals.  The Giants were a bit better in goal to go situations, where they scored touchdowns on two out of three situations.

With the Giants leading 20-0 at the half, and extending that to 23-0 after recovering a fumble on the second half kickoff, even the most ardent New York fan must have had that jittery feeling because of the missed opportunities in the green zone.  Sure enough, Carolina drove 80 yards for their only score of the game but it took 13 plays and 6:24 off the clock.  When the Giants put their fourth field goal on the board after the next drive, Fat Man and his crew were breathing easy in Charlotte!

Back to the 2009 draft class, which to this point had really only produced elite WR Hakeem Nicks, how about the performances by LT Will Beatty (2nd round, 60th overall), WR Ramses Barden (3rd round, 85th overall) and Andre Brown (4th round, 129th overall)?  Granted Brown bounced around and had been cut a number of times by a number of teams before coming back to the Giants and making the squad out of preseason this year.  All three were thrust into the starting lineup with the Giants chanting the mantra of “next man up.”  Each contributed mightily to the win and raised eyebrows throughout Giants land as well as around the league.  Beatty, after missing half the year last season with an eye injury and the first game this year due to back issues, is back starting at left tackle now that RT David Diehl is injured and Sean Locklear has switched to his more natural right tackle position.  Brown was subbing for the injured Ahmad Bradshaw after a strong performance in relief last week against Tampa.  Most impressive may have been WR Ramses Barden who was in for the hobbled Hakeem Nicks.  Many people feel that this is the last chance for Barden with the Giants.  New York has two of the best receivers in the game with Nicks and Victor Cruz, and highly touted rookie Rueben Randle is waiting in the wings.  Barden was a beast on Thursday night, looking like Plaxico Burress against Green Bay CB Al Harris in the 2007 NFC Championship game.

It was a strong showing by the understudies, and bodes well for the future of the Giants this season as they get some of their people back.

Quarterback:

After an amazing fourth quarter against the Buccaneers gave the Giants their first win just four days earlier, Eli Manning picked up right where he left off.  Despite knowing that Carolina was going to try to take Victor Cruz away from him, Manning hit Cruz on the first play from scrimmage.  The tone was set, as Manning threw to eight different receivers but put Carolina on notice that Cruz would be in the mix.

Manning was patient and deadly on Thursday night, completing 18 of 24 passes (75%) in the first half for 192 yards and a touchdown.  In the second half, Manning completed 9 of 11 before yielding to David Carr following the Giants’ last touchdown with 9:40 left in the game.

On the night, Manning completed 27 of 35 passes for 288 yards and 1 touchdown.  His passer rating was 110.2 while his QBR stood at a scintillating 93.1 out of 100.  Manning leads the league in yards with 1,011.

Manning spread the ball around well, throwing to his wide receivers 20 times (completing 16) and going to his backs and tight ends 15 times (completing 11).  As noted, Manning hardly ever forces a pass any longer and has no problem going to the check down back or tight end when necessary.

The play of the night for Manning may have been his touchdown pass.  On the play, the Giants were in a 3rd and 3 situation at the Carolina 14 yard line.  The Giants showed a three wide receiver set.  Two receivers were split to Eli’s right with a single receiver, tight end, and Andre Brown to Eli’s left.  In the shotgun, Eli set the play, looked to his right and gave Cruz a hand signal, then took the snap.  Carolina showed a single safety to the right of Eli and brought the MIKE linebacker on a blitz.  Brown stoned the blitzer at the line of scrimmage while Eli held the outside linebacker on the weak side along with the safety long enough for Martellus Bennett to win his seam route against the down low safety.  Manning’s pass was out of the reach of the closing free safety and the trailing safety that was supposed to cover Bennett couldn’t get back into the play.  The ball was right on the numbers for Bennett, easy touchdown.

Manning was never under much pressure and was sacked just once.  According to the broadcast, the Giants had run 90 plays between sacks.  After the game, the set of NFL Network were making light of the fact that Manning had just one tiny grass stain on his entire uniform.

Running Backs:

Andre Brown got his chance to be a starting running back in the NFL and played like he never wants to be known as anything but for the rest of his career.  Brown keyed the entire night with his second carry.  Brown took the handoff and broke an attempted tackle by LB Jon Beason and followed outstanding downfield blocking by WR Victor Cruz and TE Martellus Bennett for 31 yards.  On the night, Brown gained 113 yards on 20 carries for a 5.7 ypc average.  His 77 first quarter yards were the most gained by a Giant in the first quarter since Tike Barber many years ago.  Brown ran very hard, finishing his runs falling forward and carrying players with him.  More impressively than his determination when hitting opposing tacklers, Brown has good patience.  He broke several runs after waiting for the hole to develop.  Brown also got into the end zone twice on 1 yard runs, and I’d be shocked if he’s not the goal line back from here on out regardless of Bradshaw’s return.  In one and a half games, Brown is ranked 18th in the NFL in rushing with 184 yards.  That’s more than such standout running backs as Darren McFadden, Michael Turner and Stephen Jackson.  Only five players in the league with more than 32 carries have a better yard per carry average than Brown, too.

Brown also caught three of five passes thrown his way for 17 yards.  Brown was solid in pass protection, but did allow the one sack on Eli.  There was discussion on the game thread over at The Corner Forum that seemed to blame that play on Sean Locklear, but it appeared the play was meant to be blocked just as it was, leaving Brown on Carolina DE Frank Alexander.  The replay indicates that Brown was locked up one on one, but did not attack, letting Alexander gain a head of steam and power through him.  It’s my opinion that the sack was on Brown.

RB Da’Rel Scott got the mop up duty in the fourth quarter, gaining just 9 yards on 6 carries.  Rookie RB David Wilson only managed one carry in a game where many thought he’d get a decent amount of looks.  Wilson caught one pass for three yards.  As long as Bradshaw and Brown are healthy and running well, Wilson will be able to pay his dues and learn his craft from the sidelines and in practice.  It’s apparent the Giants are unwilling to trust the rookie in pass protection at this point.

FB Henry Hynoski had another excellent day paving the way for Andre Brown, consistently opening holes at the second level.  Hynoski also caught two passes for 15 yards.

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends:

With the absence of WR Hakeem Nicks with a sore foot, WR Ramses Barden was pressed into duty as the number two wide receiver on Thursday night.  As mentioned, this may be his last season to make it as a Giant and Thursday night was his chance to make a statement.  Boy, what a statement he made!  Barden got involved early and often, seeing the most throws from Eli Manning with 10, catching nine.  Barden’s haul resulted in 138 yards with a long of 23.  The slant and deep in was deadly as Manning and Barden seemed to hook up at will inside.  Barden we excellent using his big frame to box out the cornerbacks and also was able to get off press coverage which has been the knock on him since he came into the league.  Four of Barden’s receptions were for 20-23 yards.

WR Victor Cruz saw a lot of double coverage yet still managed to catch 6 of 8 passes for 42 yards.  Cruz’s specialty is converting first downs and three of his catches on Thursday moved the chains.

Rookie WR Rueben Randle was the primary third receiver on Thursday, seeing the field on 27 offensive plays.  Manning rarely looked his way, and Randle caught just one pass out of three thrown his way.  Considering Manning’s success with his other receivers, tight ends and backs, there was no real need to go Randle’s way often.

TE Martellus Bennett had another solid game and set a Giants record when he scored a touchdown for the third straight game since starting with New York.  Bennett was called for a holding penalty on a nice run by Brown but other than that looked solid in the running game.  Bennett earned the wrath of Eli by not continuing a route in which Manning threw deep while Bennett stopped.  In all, Bennett caught 6 of 7 balls for 73 yards and a touchdown.

Offensive Line:

I said it last week and I’ll say it again: I don’t think that the Giants should change up this offensive line when David Diehl comes back.  In the entire game, only RT Sean Locklear gave up a significant pressure, and it appeared that it should have been a sack.  On the play, Eli managed to get rid of the ball but Manning’s knee looked to have already hit the turf.  I was surprised that Carolina didn’t challenge that play.

The entire line was solid in the running game, as holes that opened early and late were exploited by Brown.  With the strong blocking coming from the TE position as well as from Hynoski, the Giants look like a well-balanced football team for the first time in ages.  Corner Forum contributor Bobby Epps had an interesting observation in which he noted that it’s been a full year now that LG Kevin Boothe, C David Bass, and RG Chris Snee have been playing together.  Bass was outstanding on Thursday, arguably playing his best game of his Giant career.  Boothe has to be down around 40 pounds and he’s been very good at getting to the second level.  There are no two ways about it, Snee has lost a step but he had a much better game Thursday as well.

The surprise is Sean Locklear.  Eric from BBI pointed out that anytime you take a journeyman who had little playing time with the Washington Redskins it seems you’re asking for trouble.  It’s clear that without him, however, the Giants would be in deep trouble.  He’s been solid as Kareem McKenzie’s replacement.

Will Beatty was terrific and I can’t see any scenario other than injury that he’s not the starting left tackle for the Giants for many years to come.

Defensive Front 7:

Despite the injuries the Giants were looking to overcome on offense, my biggest worry going into the game on Thursday night was how the defensive line would hold up against the option running offense presented by Cam Newton.  My worries were for naught, as Carolina ran for just 60 yards, with only 6 coming from Newton.

The key was the strong play of the defensive ends.  Cam Newton is very good at the read and react option to the halfback in which he waits for the end to commit then decides whether to continue the hand off to the half back or pull it back and keep it.  Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul consistently held contain and blew up those plays.  It appeared they had made up their minds to force Newton to make the hand off instead of letting him get outside on the edge with the ball, letting the linebackers and safeties make the tackle on the running back.

We are extremely spoiled as fans to now have another elite defensive end to root for and count on as a New York Giant in Pierre-Paul.  JPP had another monster game, registering two passes knocked down at the line of scrimmage, both of which he nearly intercepted.  Although Tuck and Umenyiora didn’t register a lot of tackles, their play influenced what the Panthers could and couldn’t do on offense.  Both were effective if not flashy.  Umenyiora did get his first sack of the year.

I mentioned last week that it was worrisome that DTs Linval Joseph and Rocky Bernard were being asked to eat up a ton of minutes in the middle.  Both still played a lot of minutes but were spelled a lot more this week by both Markus Kuhn and Marvin Austin.  In his first game ever, Austin played 17 snaps but did not register on the stat sheet.  I plan to key on him more in the next game.

The Giants linebackers were led by Michael Boley, who registered his third interception on the young season.  Boley was in on 6 tackles and combined with JPP for a sack.  Boley also knocked down another Newton pass.  The Giants rotated all of their linebackers on Thursday night, as Spencer Paysinger, Mark Herzlich, Chase Blackburn, Mathais Kiwanuka and Jaquain Williams all saw playing time.  Combined, they registered 6 tackles.  On the night, the Giants hit QB Cam Newton just three times (in the pocket) with the two sacks.

Secondary:

New York played solidly in the secondary, yielding 19 completions on 33 passing plays.  Newton completed just 16 of 30 passes.  Most importantly, the Giants defensed seven passes, five by the back 7, including the three interceptions.  Again the Giants were banged up when CB Corey Webster broke his hand and S Antrel Rolle left with a lacerated knee.  Webster again had his ups and downs as he was called for a pass interference penalty which in my opinion was more a factor of where the ball was thrown than anything truly illegal that Webster did.  Webster was engaged with the receiver at the top of the route, and the ball happened to be outside of the players and both were caught flat footed, making it appear that Webster was interfering.  I thought it would have been a good non call.  Later, Webster was also called for holding downfield.  One play that needs to be noted was the tackle that Webster made on RB DeAngelo Williams on the first Carolina possession.

On a first and 10 play from the Panther 49 yard line, Carolina was going no huddle with two receivers split wide and one TE.  Newton was in shotgun with William 3 yards behind him and Mike Tolbert just to Newton’s left.  On the snap, Newton pulled the ball back from Tolbert who was destroyed by JPP and rolled left.  CB Jayron Hosley took Newton head on at the 50 and dropped him, but just as he was hit Newton pitched to Williams further left and outside.  WR Steve Smith tried to block Webster, who got off just in time to get an arm between Williams’ legs and trip him up for just a seven yard gain.  That play very well may have gone for a touchdown had Webster not been able to trip him up.  If the Panthers had scored there, it could have been a completely different game.

Hosley and CB Prince Amukamara both played a lot of minutes and played well.  When Antrel Rolle went out with his knee injury, former Colt and now reserve safety Stevie Brown came in and instantly picked off Cam Newton in the end zone and returned it out to the 43 yard line.  S Will Hill also had a pass defensed at the goal line just before the Brown interception.

Before going out, Rolle led the Giants in tackles with seven solo.

Special Teams:

It’s safe to say after several years of up and down play by the Giants special teams, they have become a solid unit.  New York recovered a muffed punt and a fumble on a kickoff return, leading to two of Lawrence Tynes’ five field goals.  Tynes continues to be perfect on the season.

P Steve Weatherford only punted twice on the night, with no yardage returned.  The kickoff coverage teams again did well, giving up a long of 28 on nine kickoffs with three touchbacks.  The return teams never really got a shot at anything as the only returns on the night were 19 yards on a kickoff return by David Wilson and one punt return for 6 yards by Rueben Randle.

Coaching:

After the game, many of the Giants gave all the credit for being ready for the unpredictable Carolina offense to HC Tom Coughlin and DC Perry Fewell.  The Giants played with great discipline on defense and with deadly precision and toughness on offense.  OC Kevin Gilbride called a masterful game, and after hanging with the running game despite the loss of Bradshaw last week it was good to see he stayed with the program this week and trusted Brown with the ball.

Final Thoughts:

The Giants played a nearly perfect game on Thursday night, dominating in all three phases and turning a potent Carolina offense into mush.  The fact that they were so dominant on offense with four key members missing was a little surprising, but maybe it shouldn’t have been.  The talent of Brown and Barden had always been evident if not on display.  To see it on display was a beautiful thing to watch.

The Giants still have injury issues to deal with and will need their full complement, particularly on defense, when they go up against the Philadelphia Eagles this weekend.  Though I despise Thursday night games and the short week it brings, to have 11 days between this and the next game can only do the Giants good.

(Box Score – New York Giants at Carolina Panthers, September 20, 2012)
Sep 252012
 

September 24, 2012 New York Giants Injury Report: Not practicing yesterday were HB Ahmad Bradshaw (neck), WR Hakeem Nicks (foot), WR Domenik Hixon (concussion), OT David Diehl (knee), LB Keith Rivers (hamstring), CB Jayron Hosley (hamstring), CB Michael Coe (hamstring), and S Antrel Rolle (knee).

Head Coach Tom Coughlin made the following comments regarding the injured players:

  • “There are still issues (with Bradshaw), yeah. If it was just pain, he’d be going.”
  • “No, it’s not (with Rolle). He wasn’t supposed to go today. He was to be treated and then Wednesday would be his day.”
  • “I hope we can see some progress (with Diehl) and maybe have him this week.”
  • “I think (the rest) did (help Nicks). It certainly didn’t hurt him.”
  • “(Hixon has) been cleared and hopefully he’ll be able to go Wednesday.”
  • “(Hosley and Coe) did not work. They’re a little bit better, but a little bit compared to what, so we’ll see.”

According to various press reports, Bradshaw learned later in the day that he has been cleared to resume practice.

Nicks, who missed the game against the Panthers, talked about his injury. “We had to be smart,” said Nicks. “It’s still early in the season. It was just too quick of a turnaround. Coaches and the team trainers and the doctor decided go ahead and sit this one out, so that’s what I had to do…I don’t think it was a setback. I think it was more of a cautious situation where it was just too quick of a turnaround on the foot, all that pounding on the foot that I did that last game…I definitely anticipate playing (against the Eagles on Sunday).”

CB Corey Webster (broken hand) practiced with a cast. “(It’s) obviously very cumbersome in practice,” Coughlin said. “That’s because they are overboard with the safety issue as far as practice goes. I’m expecting that it won’t be quite that way at game time. The cast will be smaller. He’s going to be able to run and do all of those things, but it’s going to be very cumbersome for him in practice because of the size of the cast he’s got.”

Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Monday 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: Transcripts and video clips of media Q&As with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Article on QB Eli Manning and the Running Game: Eli Manning Making All the Right Decisions for the Giants by Jenny Vrentas of The Star-Ledger

Sep 232012
 

Article on Head Coach Tom Coughlin: Tom Coughlin’s Makeover as a Coach Detailed on ‘A Football Life’ by Jenny Vrentas of The Star-Ledger

Article on General Manager Jerry Reese: Giants’ Reese Wins With Patience by Ralph Vacchiano of The Daily News

Article on WR Ramses Barden: WR’s Big Night Includes Big Hug for Eli by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Article on DT Marvin Austin: Marvin Austin: ‘I’m an NFL Player Now’ by Matt Ehalt of ESPNNewYork.com

Article on TE Bear Pascoe: Giants’ Bear Pascoe Inherits Rodeo Passion by Kate Fagan of ESPN.com

Sep 222012
 

September 21, 2012 New York Giants Injury Report: Some detail was provided on the following injured players yesterday:

  • CB Corey Webster (broken hand): “He can play with it. He can play with it,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “His presence out there is very important to us. I’m thinking he will be okay.”
  • CB Jayron Hosley (hamstring): “It’s feeling good, a little sore,” said Hosley. “I’ll be good. I had an ultrasound showing nothing, so that’s a good thing…Nothing major. Good thing it wasn’t a full tear or anything like that, so that’s good…I think (I’ll play against the Eagles). I’m confident in that.”
  • LB Keith Rivers (hamstring): “Feeling better, better than yesterday,” Rivers said. “It was just running. It’s a hamstring so, tricky like that.” However, Rivers said he is not sure he will be ready for the next game against the Eagles. “It’s been very frustrating,” Rivers said. “Frustrating is putting it mildly. You work really hard to show off what you did in the offseason and to have a little nagging injury hamper everything is really frustrating.”
  • S Antrel Rolle (knee lacerations/bruise): “I don’t think he’s going to miss any time,” said Coughlin.
  • HB Ahmad Bradshaw (neck): “I have no idea (if he will be ready for the game against the Eagles),” said Coughlin. “He’s going to have to pass the doctor’s like the rest of them. I’m thinking he will. He’s a tough guy.”
  • WR Hakeem Nicks (foot): “We’ll see. We’ll see (if he can play against the Eagles),” said Coughlin.

Eli Manning Wins “FedEx NFL AIR Player of the Week”: QB Eli Manning has been named the “FedEx NFL AIR Player of the Week” for his performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday. In that game, Manning completed 31-of-51 passes for 510 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions.

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.

General Manager Jerry Reese’s Post-Game Media Session: The video from General Manager Jerry Reese’s post-game media session is available at Giants.com.

Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video clips of media Q&As with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Giants.com Interview with HB Andre Brown: The video of a Giants.com interview with HB Andre Brown is available at Giants.com.

Giants on WFAN: Audio clips of yesterday’s WFAN interviews with the following players are available at CBSNewYork.com:

Article on the 2012 New York Giants:

Article on QB Eli Manning: Manning Delivers – With His Mouth by Ian O’Connor of ESPNNewYork.com

Article on QB Eli Manning and WR Ramses Barden: How Elite? Eli Manning Makes Magic With Good-Guy Backup Ramses Barden by Greg Hanlon of CapitalNewYork.com

Article on HB Andre Brown and WR Ramses Barden: Upon Further Review; Next Man Up by Michael Eisen of Giants.com

Article on TE Martellus Bennett: Bennett Looks Like Real Deal at Tight End by Stan Olson of ESPNNewYork.com

Article on CB Prince Amukamara: Prince Amukamara Shows Giants Teammates ‘Fire’ After Unnecessary Roughness Penalty by Jenny Vrentas of The Star-Ledger