Dec 312014
 
Mike Sullivan, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (August 29, 2013)

Mike Sullivan – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The New York Giants have announced that they have rehired Mike Sullivan as the team’s quarterback coach. Sullivan was the quarterbacks coach for the Giants from 2010-11 before he was hired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as their offensive coordinator in 2012. Sullivan replaces Danny Langsdorf, who joined the Giants as their new quarterback coach in January 2014, but who was just hired as offensive coordinator by the University of Nebraska.

Before Sullivan became the Giants’ quarterback coach in 2010, he served as the team’s wide receivers coach from 2004-09. Sullivan was the offensive coordinator in Tampa Bay under Head Coach Greg Schiano for two years before Schiano was fired. He remained with the Buccaneers as a consultant in 2014.

“It’s great to be back,” Sullivan said. “I can’t wait to get started.”

“Mike Sullivan is a quality football coach and is an outstanding positional coach and did a great job for us as a receiver coach and as a quarterbacks coach,” Head Coach Tom Coughlin said. “He was the first thought that I had and we were fortunate in that the timing was right to get him back here. We’re very pleased to be able to bring him back home.”

Sullivan has never worked with Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo, who joined the Giants last January.

“I know of Ben and I know a lot of folks that speak highly of him, including some other people that I’ve worked with,” Sullivan said. “He had asked around about me and, fortunately, had heard some good things. We had a good conversation and, of course, I’m close with (wide receivers coach) Sean Ryan, (offensive line coach) Pat Flaherty and (tight ends coach) Kevin M. Gilbride. He has a comfort level with those guys and they were able to tell him what I’m about and how I work. I hit it off real well with him on the phone. He seemed like a great guy and did a heck of a job trying to change so much with a new system, new scheme and really got Eli doing a lot of good things. I’m just really excited to get back in the fold there and work with Eli.”

In the two seasons during Sullivan’s first tenure as quarterbacks coach, QB Eli Manning completed 61.9 percent of his passes for 8,935 yards, 60 touchdowns, 41 interceptions, and a passer rating of 89.2. He had career-high totals of 31 touchdown passes in 2010 and 4,933 yards the following season, when the Giants won their second Super Bowl with Manning as quarterback.

“Mike worked very well with Eli when he was the quarterbacks coach,” Coughlin said. “We all wished him well when he went off to be an offensive coordinator, but we were sorry to see him go.”

“I have a great working relationship with coach Sullivan,” Manning said. “It will be good to have him back on the staff and back in the quarterback room. When he was here, we did a great job getting the game plan together and communicating. We did good work in the offseason, so it will be good to have him back and get back to work.”

“The greatest memory was obviously the run that we had in 2011 and winning the Super Bowl,” Sullivan said, “and the type of football he played and the competitiveness and resilience and poise. It was just such a great experience and I learned a lot from him. We had a lot of great experiences, and that’s certainly something that I’ve always tried to draw upon in later years. I’m just really excited about doing everything possible to help him be the best that he can be and help us win.”

Sullivan will now have to learn McAdoo’s offensive system, which is much different than the one employed by former offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride (2007-13).

“He’ll have these next couple of months where he’ll be with the coaches and he’ll get familiar with everything,” Manning said. “Coach McAdoo is in our meetings a good bit, so we’ll all get together and he’ll have time to learn everything and get up to speed and he’ll learn it quickly and we’ll move forward.”

“Mike has been with us a long time and he’s a quality, quality person with a wonderful family, and he is versatile,” Coughlin said. “He’s a West Point grad. He’s smart. He’s disciplined. He does it all. He’s a worker. He has an outstanding work ethic and he’s a very positive guy. He’s a very positive and uplifting guy.”

  • 2015-Present: Quarterbacks Coach, New York Giants
  • 2014: Consultant, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • 2012-2013: Offensive Coordinator, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • 2010-2011: Quarterbacks Coach, New York Giants
  • 2004-2009: Wide Receivers Coach, New York Giants
  • 2003: Offensive Assistant, Jacksonville Jaguars
  • 2002: Defensive Quality Control Coach, Jacksonville Jaguars
  • 2001: Defensive Backs Coach, Ohio University
  • 1999-2000: Defensive Backs Coach, Army
  • 1997-1998: Defensive Backs Coach, Youngstown State
  • 1995-1996: Outside Linebackers Coach, Army
  • 1993-1994: Wide Receivers Coach, Humboldt State University
Dec 312014
 

Don Chandler, New York Giants (1963)

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By Larry Schmitt with contributions from Daniel Franck and Rev. Mike Moran

When most Giants fans think about a kicker making a clutch kick in a pressure situation, they most likely recall Matt Bahr or Lawrence Tynes kicking the Giants to the Super Bowl. There was a time when the odds would have been against those seemingly effortless kicks being successful. The game of football has evolved most significantly in the way goals are scored from the field. When the American Professional Football Association (APFA) was formed in 1920, the ball was larger and drop kicks were the favored method for field goals, while placements were typical for most points-after–touchdowns. Misses were common though, teams would often make just a few field goals over the course of a season and point-afters were never taken for granted.

The players who attempted these kicks did not come in off the bench. They were four-down players who played on both sides of the ball. When an offense was stopped on third down, one of the backs, or even a lineman, dropped back for a punt or field goal attempt. If the field goal was missed, he did not sulk back to the sideline; he lined up in his defensive position and continued to play.

The Giants entered the NFL in 1925 with Jim Thorpe, one of the most famous football players of his day, on the roster. Aside from his exploits as an athletic runner and fierce tackler, Thorpe was a legendary drop kicker. Thorpe’s tenure with the Giants was brief, being aged and out of shape, he lasted only three games before being released. New Yorkers never saw him attempt any of his famous drop kicking exploits in the Giants red and blue. But they were once treated to a drop kicking exhibition between Thorpe, then of the Cleveland Indians, against Charles Brickley of the New York Brickley Giants at the Polo Grounds in December 1921 four years before the NFL’s New York Giants were formed.

Charles Brickley and Jim Thorpe – Courtesy of Rev. Mike Moran

The occasion marked the first professional football contest in New York City and took place at halftime. Each man was good on six of twelve attempts. Brickley took the honors of the longest successful attempt from an impressive 60-yards out. In the actual game, Thorpe was good on a 40-yard attempt and also drop-kicked a point-after in the Indians’ 17-0 triumph. Unfortunately, the added attraction of Thorpe’s drop kicks was not enough to keep the fledgling New York franchise afloat, and Brickley’s Giants disbanded after the game.

The APFA/NFL followed the college football rulebook for its first 12 seasons. In college, placements were required for point-after attempts through 1922. Beginning in 1923, a player could choose between a drop kick or placement attempt. Place kicks could only take place behind the line of scrimmage while a drop kick could take place from anywhere on the field (the NFL abolished this seemingly obsolete rule in 1998.) The ball at this time was much broader around its circumference and closely resembled a rugby ball. This facilitated drop kicking as the ball bounced true as it descended on end to the ground, and also allowed for a greater surface area for contact on the kicking foot. The kicker would either kick the ball with the top of his foot or instep as it hit the ground or just after it bounced.

From 1920 through 1926, the goal posts were on the goal line in front of the end zone and there were no in-bounds lines (later known as hash marks) on the field. This combination often caused attempts to be made from wide angles, greatly increasing their difficulty. To help alleviate this, the goal posts were moved to the end line at the back of the end zone in 1927, but the added distance proved to be nothing more than a different challenge. Drop kicking for distance was never an issue, controlling the flight of the ball was the premier challenge.

The goal posts themselves had the same dimensions as today. The crossbar was 10 feet above the ground and 18 feet, four inches in width. Missed field goals resulted in the defensive team taking over possession of the ball on the 20-yard line, regardless of where the ball was kicked or the previous line of scrimmage (essentially a touchback.) Kickoffs were off a tee from the 40-yard line.

The record for the longest drop kick field goal is 45 yards by the Canton Bulldogs’ Wilbur “Pete” Henry, who connected on two in a game against the Toledo Maroons on December 19, 1922. However, there are three unofficial 50-yard drop kicks that remain off the books because they could not be verified. The first was by Henry in November 1922. Then John “Paddy” Driscoll of the Chicago Cardinals had one in September 1924 and another in November 1925. Henry’s official record of 45 yards remained the longest successful kick of any kind in professional football for 12 years.

Mixed Styles, Unpredictable Results

The very first points in New York Football Giants history (the Giants owned by Tim Mara) came via a drop kick field goal off the foot of Matt Brennan on October 15, 1925 at Frankford Stadium. The 15-yard kick gave the Giants a 3-2 second quarter lead over the Yellowjackets, but the Giants went on to lose 5-3. The next day at the Polo Grounds, Thorpe missed a 48-yard drop kick field goal in the third quarter of a 14-0 loss to the Yellowjackets. Thorpe was released later in the week and then played two games with the Rock Island Independents where he failed to register any points.

The Giants first win came two weeks later, a 19-0 triumph at the Polo Grounds over the Cleveland Bulldogs. Dutch Hendrian registered the first successful point-after for New York, a second quarter drop kick. This was somewhat unique in that most point-after attempts were from placement, a tendency that endured from the early college rules. Hendrian had the first multi-field goal game for the Giants on November 11 versus the Rochester Jeffersons at the Polo Grounds. He drop-kicked two goals over in the first half from 35 and 25 yards out.

The Giants fielded a competitive team their inaugural season, and finished fourth overall with an 8-4 record. As was the case with most teams, the kicking duties were handled by a group of players. Small rosters and restricted substitution demanded versatility by all team members; specialized talents were a luxury decades in the future. The more a player could do well, the more valuable he was to his team.

The most valuable player of the 1925 Giants was fullback Jack McBride. Although official statistics were not recorded until 1932, game accounts indicate McBride was usually New York’s leading passer, and either first or second in rushing along with fleet- footed halfback Hinkey Haines. McBride handled the bulk of the Giants kicking. His point-after in the 7-0 win over the Buffalo Bisons on November 3 at the Polo Grounds was the first successful placement for the Giants, and his 30-yard field goal versus the Dayton Triangles on November 29 was New York’s first placement from the field. McBride led the Giants with seven point-after conversions during their inaugural season.

The early part of the 1926 season highlighted how no kicks, whether dropped or placed, were ever sure things during this era. The season opener saw McBride good on two placement point-afters and Paul Hogan good on a drop kick point-after in a 21-0 win at the Hartford Blues on September 26. The Giants 7-6 win the following week at Providence on October 3 versus the Steamroller was preserved by a blocked drop kick point-after attempt in the third quarter. New York suffered back-to-back 6-0 losses to Frankford on October 16 and 17 that featured 42- and 32-yard placement field goals by Johnny Budd at Frankford Field, but the next day at the Polo Grounds he failed on his point-after try.

The early NFL record for consecutive point-afters made was by Henry, who converted 49 straight attempts from 1920 through 1928 while playing for three teams that included a brief tenure with the Giants in 1927, although he did not register a kick while with New York. The second longest streak was 26 straight by Elmer Oliphant of the Buffalo All-Americans in 1921. Although McBride never had a streak approaching those two, he did convert 15 point after placements during the 1926 season while Hogan drop-kicked three more. McBride also converted New York’s only field goal, a 25-yard placement at Ebbets Field against the Brooklion Horsemen – an amalgam of the NFL’s Brooklyn Lions and the AFL’s Brooklyn Horsemen – on November 25.

The shape of the ball gradually changed over the course of the decade. Drop kicks became increasingly rare as the circumference of the ball narrowed to facilitate the nascent passing game. The college football rulebook listed a circumference around the middle of 22.5 inches and 23 inches in length for 1928. The size was reduced to 22 inches around the middle and 22.5 inches in length in 1931. This change greatly impacted drop kicking as the end became more pointed. Not only was the required true bounce more difficult to obtain, the spin of the ball coming off the foot changed, which negatively impacted accuracy.

McBride handled the bulk of the kicking chores for New York the next two seasons. The Giants lone field goal in 1928 was Bruce Caldwell’s drop kick on October 28 at Yankee Stadium, providing the margin of victory in a 10-7 decision over the rival New York Yankees.

Bruce Caldwell drop kicking a field goal at the Yankees in 1928.

The most sought after players in the single platoon era were known as Triple Threats, a player who could run, pass and kick (tackling on defense was a given, calling them a quadruple threat would’ve been redundant.) Two players who fit this rare mold were fullback Ernie Nevers and tailback Benny Friedman.

The Giants obtained Friedman in 1928 when Mara purchased the entire Detroit Wolverines franchise, and immediately installed him as the face of the Football Giants and centerpiece of the team. Friedman was deservedly renowned for his ability to manipulate the bloated ball of its day through the air, but he was the Giants primary kicker as well. He passed for a professional record 20 touchdown passes in 1929, ran for two others and kicked 20 point-afters from placement.

Tony Plansky converted an extra point on November 3 at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Bears, and a drop-kick field goal on December 1 at the Polo Grounds versus Nevers and the Chicago Cardinals. This game at the Polo Grounds took place three days after the oldest record standing in the NFL record book was established. On Thanksgiving Day at Wrigley Field, Nevers ran for six touchdowns, a standard that has been tied twice. The mark that has proved unattainable though was the total points of 40, as Nevers drop kicked four point-afters. He accounted for all the point in the Cardinals 40-6 win over the Bears.

Nevers scored two touchdowns and dropped a point over in the game at New York, but Planksy dropped the decisive kick over from 42-yards as time expired for a 24-21 Giants win, and in the process also set the mark for the longest field goal in franchise history at the time. Planksy’s 1929 conversions are the last recorded drop kicks in Giants history. Friedman led New York in point-afters again in 1930, and also registered New York’s only successful field goal of the season. The last minute placement from 42 yards gave the Giants a 9-7 win versus the Stapletons at Staten Island on November 2, and also tied Plansky’s record for length.

Friedman suffered a severe knee injury in 1931 and missed the second half of the season. He left the Giants during the off season after a contract dispute to play and coach for the upstart Brooklyn Dodgers. Versatile wingback Hap Moran assumed the role of place kicker for the Giants, leading the team with eight point-afters and the team’s only field goal of 1931.

Hints of Specialty

The Giants found another versatile back to help fill the void left by Friedman in 1932, and he was very familiar to the Giants, having lost him in a recruitment competition to Staten Island a few seasons earlier. Ken Strong was a phenomenal talent – he was once compared to Thorpe and Nevers by Grantland Rice – and was one of the last pure Triple Threats. As a whole, New York had a down year in 1932. There were a mere seven point-afters registered on the season and not a single field goal – they were shut out from the scoreboard entirely four times.

The NFL created its own rule book in 1933. In addition to relocating the goal posts forward to the goal line, in bounds lines were placed 10 yards in from the sidelines. This assured plays from scrimmage would originate closer to the center of the field and reduced the instances of downs being wasted merely to move the ball away from the boundaries.

That season Strong recorded the first free kick field goal in Giants history. On November 26, at the Polo Grounds against Green Bay, Dale Burnett made a fair catch of a short punt by the Packers on the 30-yard line. Knowing of the rarely-used rule, and unable to resist the opportunity for an uncontested attempt by a skilled kicker, Coach Steve Owen immediately called for a free-kick field goal. Strong’s attempt was true and through the upright, giving the Giants their final points in a 17-6 win. Strong’s kick was believed to be the first-known free-kick field goal for many years until it was recently discovered that George Abramson of the Packers made a 35-yard free-kick field goal at Comiskey Park against the Chicago Cardinals on November 8, 1925. Strong’s kick is now recognized as the second free-kick field goal in NFL history and remains the only one converted in Giants history.

In 1934 the ball also shrank to its final dimensions: 21.25 inches in circumference and 21.5 inches in length. This prolate spheroid was aerodynamically designed for passing, and inadvertently caused a significant shift in the kicking game.

With drop kicking now all but gone, save for a very few holdovers, the preferred method of place kicking was the straight-ahead approach. This featured similar leg mechanics as the drop kick, and likewise provided comparable accuracy and distance. The major difference between the two methods is that in the placement kick, the foot is pointed upward when contact is made with the ball. In the drop kick, the foot is pointed downward (essentially the same motion and alignment as a punt). Strong, who exclusively placekicked in the NFL but occasionally drop kicked in college, noted his thoughts on the differences between the styles in his 1950 book “Football Kicking Techniques”. He said the shape of the ball was an overrated argument against the drop kick. In fact, he said drop kicking provided the offensive team the advantage of a tenth blocker, who was lost as the holder for placements. Strong said placements were the preferable method in inclement weather.

The changes had an impact on the field. The improved distance aspect was proven without a doubt on October 7, 1934 when Detroit’s Glenn Presnell set the NFL’s new distance record with a 54-yard field goal in a 3-0 win at Green Bay’s City Stadium. He led the NFL with 13 point-afters and 64 total points (boosted by five touch downs) that season.

New York tailback Harry Newman shared the kicking responsibilities with Strong for two seasons, and set a team record that would stand for nearly 30 years when he connected on three field goal attempts at Fenway Park against the Boston Redskins on October 7. Newman’s performance was clutch as well. He tied the game 13-13 early in the fourth quarter, and then sent the winner through with less than four minutes to play for the Giants 16-13 victory.

Strong reset New York’s longest field goal standard by two yards on October 21 in a 17-7 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at the Polo Grounds with a 44-yard placement. However, his signature performance came two months later in the NFL Championship Game on December 2. Strong’s 17 points (two touchdowns, two point-afters and a field goal) were a critical factor in the Giants upset of the 13-0 Bears for the Giants second NFL title, and was the franchise post-season standard for 69 years.

Strong did the Bears in again the following season. In the middle of the third quarter at a rainy Wrigley Field, New York and Chicago were tied 0-0. Strong exhibited composure repeatedly under challenging circumstances, while also nursing a separated shoulder. The Giants mustered a drive on the sloppy field, but stalled at the Chicago 15-yard line. Strong’s initial field goal attempt from 22 yards hit the left upright, but the Bears jumped offside and the Giants received a new set of downs on the 10-yard line.

The Chicago Daily Tribune described the sequence that began with a fourth-and-goal from the six: “Strong went back to the 14-yard line and made a place kick, but both lines jumped offside and the field goal did not count. Strong again stood on the 14 and kicked. Both sides were again offside and his perfect placement was wasted. On the next attempt Strong barely got the ball over the bar. His teammates had been considerate enough to stay onside this time, however, although the Bears were pushing them around when the ball was snapped.” Once in the lead, Giants head Coach Steve Owen depended on Strong’s leg for punting, as the Giants engaged in a field position battle with Chicago and prevailed 3-0. Most surprisingly, Strong outdueled the NFL’s most highly regarded kicker of the time, “Automatic” Jack Manders, who missed all three of his field goal attempts.

After the 1935 season, Strong left the Giants for the New York Yankees of the new rival AFL. During that period, with their own kicking situation in flux, the Giants were victimized by one of the all-time great drop-kickers, Earl “Dutch” Clark. On November 18, 1936 at the University of Detroit Stadium, Clark drop-kicked a field goal and three point-afters in the 38-0 Lions victory. These were the last successful drop kicks against the Giants in the regular season.

Tillie Manton was one of three New York players to kick field goals in 1937. The one he made on September 26, 1937 at Forbes Field ranks among the highest in degree of difficulty in team history. In the middle of the fourth quarter of a 7-7 game, the Giants embarked on a 68-yard drive that stalled on Pittsburgh’s 5-yard line. The ball was set for play on the in-bounds line, which were only 15-yards in from the sideline. On third down New York attempted a play to move the ball toward the center of the field, but the Pirates overloaded their defense and forced a field goal attempt at an acute angle, as the goal posts were located on the goal line. The New York Times game summary described the situation: “Manton had to try for his winning field goal from far over on the side of the field. Had it been much farther over, Tillie would have had to boot from the Pittsburgh bench. The angle was simply horrible, and when the Giants craftily went off side to lessen the angle by bringing the ball back, Pittsburgh just as craftily refused to accept the penalty. The Manton kick had to be perfect and straight as a die to click. Fortunately it was.” This impressive kick would be New York’s last fourth quarter game winner for 13 seasons.

Ultimately, the heir apparent to Strong proved to be another multi-talented back. Ward Cuff came to the Giants in 1937 with no prior kicking experience, but he was tutored personally by Owen. Cuff only kicked two field goals his rookie season while he fine-tuned his new skill. A milestone was set by a member of the old guard that year. On September 19 Detroit’s Clark made the last recorded drop kick field goal in professional football history – a 17-yard attempt in the second quarter of a 16-7 win over the Cardinals.

The next season, Ralph Kerchival of the Brooklyn Dodgers registered the final regular season drop kick point-afters on November 13 against Philadelphia at Ebbets Field. Kerchival registered six total points in the Dodgers 32-14 win with three point-afters and a field goal. Interestingly, Kerchival converted the field goal and first two point-afters as placements, but drop kicked the third point-after. The New York Times speculated Kerchival drop-kicked the final point “just to prove his versatility.”

Cuff assumed the role as the Giants primary kicker in 1938, and he led the league with five field goals and 19 point-afters as the Giants won the Eastern Division title. His two field goals and two point-afters provided the edge as the Giants won their third overall championship, and became the first team two win two NFL Championship games, 23-17 over Green Bay in a hard fought contest.

Ward Cuff (14) and Ken Strong, New York Giants (1939)

Cuff shared the kicking duties with Strong in 1939, who returned to the Giants from exile for one season. The AFL folded after the 1937 season. Strong was barred from the NFL but played for the Giants farm team in Jersey City in 1938, then rejoined the big-league Giants for the 1939 campaign. He suffered a back injury early in the season at Washington and remained a kicking specialist the remainder of the year. Once one of pro football’s last Triple Threats, Strong emerged as one of the very first specialists. (Christian “Mose” Kelsch of the 1933-34 Pittsburgh Pirates is the first documented kicking specialist, although he did occasionally perform as a back and had 11 carries over two seasons.)

Cuff’s biggest day took place at the Polo Grounds on October 22 in front of the second-largest crowd in pro football history at the time. He was three-for-three on field goals and added a point-after, to give the Giants a seemingly comfortable 16-0 fourth quarter advantage over the Bears. However, Sid Luckman shredded the Giants normally stout defense. Nevertheless, while Chicago scored two quick touchdowns on only four plays, the Giants held on for the 16-13 win.

The 1939 Eastern Division Champion Giants were known as a “money team,” who pulled out close games with big plays at crucial moments. Cuff was one of Owen’s “money men,” and his seven successful field goals that season established a franchise high and helped further that reputation. Bears Owner and Head Coach George Halas later recognized Owen’s early emphasis on specialty as an important influence on overall strategy, “Steve was the first to stress the importance of defense and the advantage of settling for field goals instead of touchdowns. Every team strives today to do what Owen was doing twenty years ago.”

The new mark for the Giants longest field goal surprisingly came off the foot of Len Barnum. His 47-yard kick at the Polo Grounds against the Cardinals on November 11 eclipsed the standard twice set by Strong in 1934 and 1935 by three yards, and was the longest kick in the NFL in 1939.

Cuff led the NFL in field goals two more times in his career as a Giant, and broke Friedman’s point-after mark with 26 in 1943. Cuff was traded to the Cardinals after the 1945 season, and left as New York’s all-time leading scorer. The Giants retired Cuff’s #14 in 1946 [though it was temporarily brought back into service in 1961 for Y.A. Tittle.]

The NFL’s final successful drop-kick took place in the NFL Championship Game at Wrigley field on December 21. Ray McLean of the Bears tallied Chicago’s final point in a 37-9 win over the Giants when he drop-kicked the point after. The last drop-kick in pro football until the 2005 season took place on November 28, 1948 in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC), but it was not by design. San Francisco’s Joe Vetrano lined up for a placement point-after in Kezar Stadium against Cleveland. The snap was low and the holder lost control of the ball. Amid the chaos, Vetrano scooped the ball, evaded the rush and successfully drop-kicked the ball through the uprights, a magnificent ad-lib performance.

Owen and the Giants took advantage of the war era’s relaxed substitution rules and lured Strong out of retirement in time for the 1944 season. It proved to be a fortuitous move for both sides. Strong led the NFL in field goals and the Giants won the Eastern Conference. Perhaps to underscore his intended role as a specialist, Strong insisted on not wearing shoulder pads or a helmet during games. Strong set the franchise record for point-afters with 32 in 1946 as the Giants again won the Eastern Conference. Strong retired for good after the 1947 season. Over the course of his final four seasons as a kicking specialist, he converted 102 of 104 point-after attempts in an era when misses were still commonplace. Strong’s #50 was retired in 1947 and he was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967.

On October 7, 1945, a record that may prove unbreakable was set by Green Bay’s Don Hutson. In the second quarter of a game against Detroit at the Wisconsin State Fair Grounds, Hutson caught four touchdown passes and kicked five point-afters. The record 29 total points scored in one quarter still stands today. Hutson added two more point afters in the second half, bringing his total to 31 points on the day, which at the time was the second most points scored by an individual in a game after Never’s 40 point game.

Len Younce, an All-Pro tackle, was New York’s primary kicker in 1948. He struggled on field goals, converting just one of seven, but was 36 for 37 on point-afters which broke Strong’s record. Looking to improve in the field goal department, a unique specialist joined the Giants in 1949.

Perceived Handicaps as an Advantage

“The Toeless Wonder” Ben Agajanian is one of the most unique and influential kickers in pro football history. After losing four toes on his right foot in an elevator accident when he was in college, Agajanian had a cobbler fabricate a squared-off cleat for kicking. This actually may have provided an advantage for him as with the straight-ahead style he was able to get more surface area of his kicking foot onto the ball than other kickers. Agajanian broke his arm in a 1945 preseason game with Pittsburgh and became a kicking specialist for the remainder of his career. He spent two seasons with the Los Angeles Dons of the AAFC before joining the 1949 Giants.

Agajanian had an excellent first season in New York. He set the Giants field goal record with eight, and his 35 point-afters were just one short of tying Younce’s 36 from the previous season. However, he was released after the season. A kicking specialist was considered an impractical luxury on a 32-man roster. Versatility was still the rule of the day.

End Ray Poole filled the role capably for the next three seasons. Being a lineman, he had good range off his strong right leg, but he endured accuracy issues his first season. He did, however, prove himself to be reliable under pressure. On November 5, 1950, Poole capped off a furious come-from-behind effort at the Polo Grounds against Washington. New York trailed 21-14 late in the fourth quarter when they mounted an 89-yard march to a touchdown. Poole’s point-after tied the game at 21-21 with two minutes to play. Poole kicked off, and the Redskins made an ill-fated attempt at a razzle-dazzle play. Tom Landry intercepted a lateral following a pass completion on the Washington 41-yard line. Charlie Conerly completed a pass to the 33-yard line and Poole made the winning kick from 40 yards with four seconds on the clock.

Poole’s field goal accuracy greatly improved in 1951 and the Giants reaped the benefits. He established the new team mark for field goals in a season with 12, while tying the record for three field goals in a game twice during the season, and a third time in 1952 before retiring.

New York’s kicking duties in 1953 were shared by multi-purpose backs Randy Clay and Frank Gifford, who combined to covert three of 12 field goal attempts. A new coaching staff, headed by Jim Lee Howell, and rosters expanding to 33 created another opportunity for the specialist Agajanian, who had returned from retirement to kick for the Los Angeles Rams in 1953. During that season, Baltimore Colts Bert Rechichar set a new record for field goal length when he connected on a 56-yarder at Memorial Stadium against the Bears.

Agajanian seemed determined to redefine exactly what it meant to be a specialist. He maintained a house in California and wanted to be with his family and keep an eye on his private business interests as much as possible. Agajanian proposed to Howell that as a pure kicker he did not need to be present for the full week of practice. Howell complied, and Agajanian flew home on Sunday nights and returned to New York on Thursdays throughout the regular season.

No one had ever seen anyone as meticulous with his craft as Agajanian, which is probably why he was befriended by the analytical Landry. Agajanian broke down every aspect of kicking to a science. He was the first to insist the center snap the ball to the holder with the laces facing forward, even noting the number of revolutions the ball should make during its flight. He instructed holders on how to simultaneously turn the ball as they set it to the ground, straight up-and-down. Agajanian would only have the holder set the ball on an angle if there was a strong wind.

He also designed the bowed-line formation, with the outside blockers at the wing position, to kick-protect. Later, during his 24-year career as a kicking coach, Agajanian would develop the three-steps-back, two-steps-to-the-side set for the sidewinder approach to the ball. Landry said Agajanian did more to advance kicking than any other individual in history.

The acquisition of Agajanian in 1954 paid immediate dividends for New York. Agajanian advanced the Giants single-season field goal record to 13, and he twice kicked three in a game. Prior to the 1956 season, team management became disenchanted with his absence during the week and rescinded his traveling privileges. Agajanian retired from kicking, but agreed to coach his potential replacements Gifford and rookie punter Don Chandler during training camp. They struggled with the additional responsibilities during the first three weeks of the regular season and the Giants acquiesced on Agajanian’s demands and brought him back to New York. Not only did Agajanian retain his special dispensation to leave for the West Coast during the week, but he was reprieved during games as well. Chandler continued to handle kickoffs, as he possessed had a powerful leg. Agajanian’s role was refined to handling only field goals and point-afters.

Agajanian wore a tennis shoe on his planting foot and removed the cleats from his specialized kicking shoe to neutralize the effects of the frozen Yankee Stadium field during the NFL Championship Game against the Bears on December 30. His two first quarter field goals gave the Giants a 13-0 advantage on their way to a 47-7 rout, New York’s fourth championship and first in 18 years. He was cited in The New York Times game summary for his performance: “Then, too, there was 38-year old Ben Agajanian, whose exclusive assignment with the Giants is place-kicking. His talented toe accounted for 11 points. He booted five of six conversions – the lone failure was his first as a Giant – and two field goals.”

Ben Agajanian, New York Giants (1957)

During his final year with New York in 1957, Agajanian kicked the franchise’s first 50-yard field goal. The fourth quarter kick on October 13 not only broke Strong’s 17-year old record for the Giants longest field goal, it proved to be the longest field goal ever made in Washington’s Griffith Stadium. Agajanian retired to the West Coast after the season. He left the Giants with two team records aside from the longest field goal: the most point-afters with 160 and the most consecutive point-afters with 80. Agajanian was New York’s third highest career scorer with 295 points, after Strong’s 351 and Cuff’s 319.

Agajanian was again lured from retirement, this time by the Los Angeles Chargers in 1960. He kicked for five more teams until retiring for good in 1965, where he then embarked on a long coaching career. There have been several earnest attempts to get Agajanian elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in recent years, but he has yet to receive the honor.

There were big shoes to fill following Agajanian’s departure. It was appropriate that they were filled by another kicker who wore a square-toed cleat.

A Star is Born

Pat Summerall was born with his right foot backward. Doctors performed an operation where the foot was broken, turned around and reset. It seemed unlikely that Summerall would become pro football’s first universally-celebrated kicking specialist when he was included in a trade with defensive back Linden Crow between the Chicago Cardinals and the Giants. Summerall was a two-way end who also had some kicking ability, but was erratic. He had never had a season where he converted 50% of his field goal attempts and often missed point-afters.

His mentor was Landry, who while serving as the Giants punter had spent time on the practice field with Agajanian. He observed Agajanian and engaged in discussions dealing with their respective crafts. Landry mentored Summerall his first camp with New York, and the new kicker acknowledged that as the turning point of his career. “Landry made sure that the center knew exactly how many times the ball had to spin between leaving his hand and being caught by the quarterback, so that when he put it on the ground, the laces would be facing away from me. That was the level of precision, and professionalism between teammates, that we were held to. Landry paid attention to every kick and every detail of what I was doing. He said if you miss to the right, this is what you’re doing wrong. If you miss to left, this is what you’re doing wrong. And when you practice, make sure you have someone who knows what’s going on because it doesn’t do any good to practice bad habits.”

The attention to detail paid off, as Summerall became a household name making big kicks in pressure situations, even if it was a role he did not necessarily relish. “I’m thinking if we keep making first downs they won’t have to call on me. Sometimes the pressure is terrible. If you miss, there’s no second chance. It’s as tough as being a pinch hitter in baseball.”

Summerall’s first climactic field goal served as an overture for New York’s now legendary 1958 season. At Yankee Stadium on November 9, the Giants engaged in a back-and-forth battle with the Colts, who were without Johnny Unitas. Having just yielded a touchdown that tied the game 21-21 in the middle of the fourth quarter, the Giants advanced. A mix of Gifford rushes and Conerly passes set the ball, 4th-and-3, at the Baltimore 21-yard line. The snap and placement were imperfect, but Summerall delivered. “When I saw the laces were facing the right sideline I knew I had to kick the ball a little to the left,” said Summerall. “The ball always fades to the side with the laces.” The kick went through at 2:40 and the Giants defense held on for the win.

This just set the stage for the dramatic season finale on a snow-covered field against the Browns (story here).

Summerall had one of the great seasons for a kicker in 1959. He had five games where he kicked three field goals, including a 9-3 win over the Cardinals where he accounted for all the Giants points. He also had another occasion where he was relied upon to finish a come-from-behind surge. On September 23 at the Los Angeles Coliseum, New York trailed the Rams 21-17 entering the final period. Summerall’s 14-yard field goal cut the lead to 21-20 with 13:30 left to play. The teams traded punts for the rest of the period before the Giants began their final advance. Conerly passed New York to the Los Angeles 11-yard line where the drive stalled with under two minutes on the clock. Summerall was good on his 18-yard attempt and the defense preserved the 23-21 victory.

Charlie Conerly (42) and Pat Summerall (88)

In 1959, Summerall became the first Giant to lead the NFL in field goals (20) since Strong in 1944. He also established a team record with 90 total points by a kicker. Summerall’s final season in 1961 saw him set a new franchise mark with 46 point-afters, of which the final 129 point-afters were made consecutively without a miss.

Double Duty

As is their tradition, the Giants looked to the familiar as they embarked upon a new era. Strong was brought in to mentor Chandler and Jerry Hillebrand during training camp. Typically, the straight-ahead kicker would line himself up approximately one-and-a-half yards behind the holder. On the approach, the kicker would take a short step forward with the kicking foot, a long, hopping step with the plant foot to generate forward momentum, then swing the kicking foot at the ball with the ankle locked and the foot in an upward facing position.

There was some frustration on Strong’s behalf as Chandler refused to lock his ankle, yet he repeatedly was good on his attempts, even from long distances. Despite his unorthodox style, Chandler was awarded the job, possibly to Strong’s consternation. Chandler said later, “Basically my technique is all wrong, I cut across the ball too much. They pointed it out to me when I was a rookie, but decided not to change me because I was getting good results.”

Ken Strong, New York Giants (1962)

Strong said, “Don has the most powerful leg drive I’ve ever seen. The most important thing I had to do was help him build confidence. Some years ago some other coach told him he would never become a good place-kicker because of the way he whips his foot across the ball. We had to get that idea out of his mind. After that it was just a matter of showing him the right steps and follow through.”

As punter and kicker, Chandler helped to save one of the Giants 36 roster spots. But he did more than that as his success as a kicker was both immediate and profound. He tied the Giants record for three field goals in a 29-13 win at Franklin Field in Philadelphia on September 23. In the rematch with the Eagles at Yankee Stadium on November 18, Chandler eclipsed the record when he made four field goals in a 19-14 win. Chandler kicked four more field goals in the Eastern Division clinching 26-24 win at Wrigley Field against the Bears.

Chandler became the first New York kicker to surpass 100 total points with 104 in 1962. He set a team record with 47 point-afters and added 17 field goals. As impressive as those marks were, they did not last long. In 1963 Chandler had 106 total points on 18 field goals and 52 point-afters, a franchise standard which still stands today.

A game ball was awarded to Chandler after his four-field goal effort in a 33-6 win at Cleveland on October 27. His workload on the day – aside from the four field goals – included three point-afters, eight kickoffs and two punts. On December 1 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Chandler set another team record with a 53-yard field goal. The kick came midway through the fourth quarter and tied the game with the Cowboys at 27-27. It also tied for the third longest field goal in NFL history at the time. New York went on to win 34-27. Chandler said, “I could have kicked a field goal from 60 yards today. The wind was that strong. My kick was good by at least 10 yards.”

Chandler slumped in 1964 after his back-to-back great seasons. He missed more field goals than he made and totaled just 54 points. After the season, Chandler requested a similar travel allowance for 1965 that had been granted Agajanian in the past. Chandler wanted time during the week to be at home in Oklahoma to attend his insurance business. Instead he was traded to Green Bay.

The Giants kicking situation in the 1965 season was an unmitigated disaster. Four players combined to convert four field goals in 25 attempts – a 16% success rate that wouldn’t even be considered adequate in the 1920’s. The step New York took to rectify the situation was a bold one, and it changed pro football forever.

The Catalyst for Revolution

Pete Gogolak was already a player of significant renown. He was an innovative place kicker on the Buffalo Bills AFL championship teams in 1964 and 1965. He led the AFL in field goals in 1965 and converted nearly 63% of his field goals overall. What distinguished him though was his angular approach to the ball. He became known as the first “sidewinder.”

However, Gogolak was not the first sidewinder in football. There were a handful of college players with a soccer background (as did Gogolak) in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s who experimented with the style, but they were mostly regarded as an eccentric curiosity and none advanced to the pro level.

After playing out his option with the Bills, Gogolak became a free agent. The AFL teams had a gentleman’s agreement not to sign one another’s players, but there was no such agreement between the rival leagues themselves. The Giants were the first team to contact Gogolak, and they offered him a contract that more than doubled his previous season’s salary, while the Bills offered just a modest raise. “I signed with the Giants and made three times as much as I made with the Bills. I signed for $35,000. They gave me a four-year, no-cut contract. Then you know what happened. The AFL started calling NFL players and the war started, and basically a few months later the two leagues merged. So maybe I started something. I not only started the soccer-style kick, but maybe I started the merger.”

Gogolak’s contract was the highest salary ever paid to a kicking specialist at that time. Wellington Mara stated that Gogolak’s agent assured the Giants that Gogolak was indeed able to be signed without any complication. Mara said, “We honor contracts of other organizations just like we honor the ones in our own league. We would not have talked to Gogolak, or any other player, without his becoming a free agent.”

Outrage from the AFL was expected, but not all within the NFL were congratulating the Giants on their coup. The Bears influential owner George Halas carefully stated his thoughts: “Legally there’s no question that the Giants had the right to sign Gogolak. But I think it was a mistake in judgment because of what it’s leading to [inferring a salary-escalating competition between the leagues]. But I also think this can be corrected in the future.” When asked if a mutual agreement could be established between the leagues, Halas said, “I don’t know, but I think it’s the logical thing to anticipate.”

Contrary to popular belief, Gogolak was not the first player to change leagues. In 1961, end Willard Dewvall left the Bears and signed with the Houston Oilers, but that move received little attention as Dewvall was not a player of Gogolak’s stature. Also, a player leaving the established NFL to an upstart league was not a new phenomenon. Many NFL players jumped to the AAFC in the 1940’s and to the Canadian Football League (CFL) in the 1950’s during bidding wars. The 1960’s NFL was still dominated by owners who had survived the hardships of the Great Depression and World War II by being frugal. But this unprecedented transaction of the NFL taking a player from a rival league at a significantly higher salary implied an acknowledgement of legitimacy toward the AFL. A future movement toward integration had become inevitable.

Political and business implications aside, Gogolak’s contributions to the game on the field are no less important. He was clearly a different breed. During practices he was segregated from the rest of the squad, and used a soccer ball as well as a football during warm ups. As a pure specialist with no other positional responsibilities, he admitted he often felt like an outsider. “It’s the way it’s always been for me,” he said. Head coach Allie Sherman was unconcerned. “He knows what it takes to get ready, that’s good enough for me,” said Sherman.

Part of his routine was refining the “touch” he felt was required by his craft, rather than lifting weights and running drills as other kickers in the past had done. Gogolak differed from contemporary kickers physically as well. He had a small frame that some perceived as frail. They thought he might be snapped in half if he ever attempted to make a tackle. Plus nobody understood how a little guy like that would be able to kick a ball as far as a larger man like Lou Groza, who had been an All-Pro tackle for the Browns early in his career.

Initially, scouts and coaches were skeptical of Gogolak and those who soon followed his path. Many doubted that these smaller men would be able to hold up over the course of a season or meet the demands of kicking off and making long-range field goals. In the traditional straight-ahead kicking style, with the toe of the kicking foot strikes the ball, the velocity behind the launch comes from the strength of the kicking leg, specifically the quadriceps muscle. This in part explains why larger men were successful at straight-ahead place kicking. It required minimal mobility in the direct approach to the ball, and it maximized their power potential.

The sidewinder approach (today known as soccer-style) offers two differences that over time became recognized as advantages: surface area and angular momentum. Gogolak explained his sidewinder style as being analogous to swinging a golf club. The sidewinder contacts the ball with the instep of his kicking foot. This gives him more ability to control the initial trajectory of the ball as it leaves his foot, a desirable effect when kicking through the wind. He also is afforded more margin for error in the event of a mis-strike or a last second adjustment if there is an errant snap or unstable hold. This explains the sidewinders’ superior accuracy.

The greater range might initially seem like a paradox, but it too is grounded in physics. The power originates from the torque created at the hip socket. This is where the golf club analogy applies. As the sidewinder approaches the ball from an angle, his first step toward the ball is with his kicking leg. His second step is a long stride with his plant leg. As the plant foot is set, the hip of the kicking leg is fully opened (externally rotated) with the knee deeply bent and the heel of the kicking foot pulled back. As he swings the foot toward the ball, the hip closes as the knee straightens, creating tremendous angular (or rotational) momentum from the full weight of the leg directed at the ball. This phenomenon is termed foot velocity.

With the increased surface area of the instep contacting the ball, the impact creates more force being directed into the ball. More directional control also creates more potential power. More muscle mass would ultimately detract from a sidewinder’s kicking ability. A minimal amount of strength is required; mobility and flexibility are maximized with this style.

Superior kicking ability did not often translate to more wins for the Giants during Gogolak’s tenure. Gogolak has more games played than any other Giants kicker, is the Giants all-time leading scorer and is first in the categories of point-afters and field goals made. Yet, he has only two game-winning kicks to his credit. The Giants teams of his era ranged mostly between mediocre and terrible.

Regardless of the team’s performance, Gogolak’s impact rippled through pro football quickly. After his first season in New York, his brother Charlie Gogolak was signed by Washington and Jan Stenerud by Kansas City. The sidewinder style of place kicking had taken root and in less than 10 years the straight-ahead style would be rendered near obsolete, with only a few aged veterans lasting into the 1980’s. All the kickers coming up from college used the new approach and were highly effective.

Gogolak was inducted into the Army in 1967, but was granted dispensation to have the weekends during the season off duty to play for the Giants. Once out of the Army in 1969, New York experimented with him as a dual specialist, as Chandler once had, as both the punter and place kicker. Gogolak’s kicking accuracy declined. After a Week 2 loss in Detroit where Gogolak missed two field goals, he was relieved of punting duties and New York spent the year rotating four different players at punter.

Tom Dempsey, a straight-ahead kicker for New Orleans, kicked a 63-yard field goal at Tulane Stadium on the game’s final play for a 19-17 win over Detroit on November 8, 1970. His record was considered unbreakable for many years. It was not tied until 1998 and was eventually eclipsed by one yard in 2013.

In 1970, Gogolak broke Summerall’s team record for field goals in a season when he connected on 25 attempts. He also recorded his first game-winning field goal when he broke a 24-24 tie at RFK Stadium with 1:52 to play for a 27-24 win over the Redskins on November 29.

Pete Gogolak, New York Giants (September 19, 1970)

During the 1972 season, his running streak of 133 consecutive point-after conversions came to an end. It was a franchise record and the fourth longest streak in pro football at the time. He also set a team record with eight point-afters in a 62-10 win over Philadelphia at Yankee Stadium on November 26.

Gogolak had another game winner that season in Yankee Stadium against the Cardinals, but his most pressure-packed kick came the next year in a game the Giants did not win. It was also the franchise’s last appearance in Yankee Stadium.

New York’s defense yielded a touchdown to the Eagles and trailed 23-20 with 1:52 to play on September 23. The Giants quickly advanced from their 15-yard line to Philadelphia’s 11-yard line on four pass completions, and used their final time out in the process. Two incompletions preceded a pass caught at the six-yard line with the clock running and the team scrambling. Center Greg Larson told The New York Times, “When I got to the line there were 14 seconds left but the Philadelphia players were taking forever to get back.” Gogolak saw four seconds on the clock “and got scared,” he said, as he set. The 14-yard kick salvaged a tie as time expired [there was no overtime in regular season play until 1974]. “It was a short kick, but it was a pressure kick. It’s the first time I’ve ever kicked a field goal on the last play of a game.”

Gogolak received the ultimate acknowledgement from the NFL prior to his final season in 1974 – they adopted new rules in attempt to minimize the soccer style of kicking he brought to pro football. The goal posts were returned to their pre-1933 location on the end line. Now that the hash marks were lined up with the uprights, field goals were becoming too commonplace and it was deemed necessary by the rules committee that the degree of difficulty needed to be increased. This was also true for kickoffs, which were moved back from the 40-yard line to the 35 to reduce the number of touchbacks.

After a 1974 season where his percentages dipped, Gogolak was released by the Giants during the 1975 training camp in favor of the younger, and cheaper, George Hunt. Gogolak said the rule changes did not directly affect his on-field performance, and that he had opportunities to play for other teams. But he said if the Giants cut him, he would simply retire and pursue the next phase of his career, rather than continue football.

The straight-ahead style of place kicking officially came to a close when Mark Mosely retired from the Browns after the 1986 season. The last straight-ahead kicks in the NFL occurred on September 13, 1987 at RFK Stadium. The Redskins starting kicker Jess Atkinson was injured during a first quarter point-after attempt. He was relieved by punter Steve Cox, who sometimes substituted on kickoffs and long range field goals. Kicking straight ahead, Cox was three-for-three on point afters in the game and also added a 40-yard field goal.

Every field goal and point-after in the NFL has been made with the sidewinder approach ever since, including Dough Flutie’s drop kick point-after made on January 1, 2006. Flutie used a never before seen hybrid technique on the attempt. After receiving the snap, he used the traditional three-step approach to the point of the kick, but did so diagonally and booted the ball over the crossbar with his instep. It was the perfect blend of Thorpe and Gogolak. The kicking game, for one poignant moment in time, had come full circle.

Dec 312014
 
Odell Beckham, New York Giants (December 7, 2014)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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Odell Beckham Named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month: New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham has been named the “NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month” for his performance during the month of December 2014. In December, Beckham caught 43 passes for 606 yards and seven touchdowns.

Injury Update on S Nat Berhe: Safety Nat Berhe left the season-finale against the Philadelphia Eagles with a knee injury. Behre told The Bergen Record on Monday that the MRI showed merely a sprain and no ligament damage.

Articles on New York Giants President/CEO John Mara:

Articles on Head Coach Tom Coughlin:

Article on New York Giants Vice President of Player Evaluation Marc Ross: Giants’ Marc Ross on radar again as possible general manager candidate after Odell Beckham selection by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Article on Former Giants Quarterback Coach Danny Langsdorf: Danny Langsdorf explains decision to leave Giants for Nebraska offensive coordinator job by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Articles on the 2014 New York Giants:

Article on the Upcoming New York Giants Offseason: Jerry Reese says Giants won’t spend ‘a huge amount’ this offseason by Tom Rock of Newsday

Dec 302014
 
John Mara, New York Giants (October 19, 2014)

John Mara – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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New York Giants President/CEO John Mara (Video)

Thanks for coming by today. Obviously I am very disappointed about this past season. Sick about it, as a matter of fact. Certainly not what I expected or what any of us expected. 6-10 is an embarrassment. With that being said, I do think there is some reason for optimism going forward. We had some young players really develop who we are excited about. We have had two pretty strong drafts in a row that we feel good about. We were still 6-10, so obviously we have a lot of work to do.

[Chairman & Executive Vice President] Steve Tisch and I still feel very strongly about Tom Coughlin as our head coach. That is why, as many of you have already reported, we have asked him back for next season. We still believe in him. I believe the players still feel very strongly about him and the one thing that struck me during the season, even as bad as things got during that seven-game losing streak, they still played hard for him. There was no lack of effort there. They were still very attentive during practice and on the sidelines and their effort never waned, even though the results were not what we had hoped for.

I think that one of the things that really hurt us this year, in addition to the injuries, which I will get to in a second, is we obviously have a couple draft classes here that have been largely unproductive for us. When you combine that with the number of injuries we had, particularly with certain key positions, that is a deadly combination in the National Football League. I am very frustrated about the number of injuries that we have had. It has been two years in a row now that we have led the league in putting players on [injured reserve] and number of games lost by starters. We spent so much time last offseason addressing that and talking about how we are going to fix that going forward. We made adjustments to what was being done in the weight room. We had the GPS tracking system. For some reason, here we are again leading the league in that category. We cut down the number of soft-tissue injuries and then, all of a sudden, we get all these broken bones and torn tendons and torn biceps. I just don’t have an answer for that right now. Obviously we will spend a lot of time on it this offseason, talking about that and looking at ways that we can improve upon that.

I still believe, very strongly, in Jerry Reese and our organization. We have a lot of quality people working here. We have had two very strong drafts in a row. We need to have another one. I think with that and with another year under this new offense, we have a chance to be a good team next year. Obviously, that is a tough sell right now when you go 7-9 and 6-10, but I still have a very strong belief in this staff and in this organization. I think we are going to be a good team next year, but we need another strong draft. We need to make certain improvements on both sides of the ball, which we will address this offseason and then we will move forward.

It has been a very difficult year for our fans. It has been even more of a difficult year for me because I do not stomach this very well, as some of you may have noticed. It is going to be a long offseason. I do think there is reason for optimism. I think we will be a much better team next season, but we are going to have to prove that. Just talking about it is not very convincing right now, when you are coming off the season (at) 6-10. As I have said before, we still believe in this coach, this staff and in our organization. We are ready to move into this offseason and put the type of team back on the field that our fans deserve. So if you don’t have any questions…

Re: anticipating any changes on the coaching staff?

A: That is a discussion we are going to have going forward, but that will be Tom’s decision.

Q: Last year, you talked about fixing the offense… Is the defense something in your mind that has to get straightened out?

A: In my opinion, yes. That will be a discussion that we will have. Our defense did not play well this year. There is no secret about that when you finish 28th or 29th or wherever we finished. They had opportunities in a lot of games this year to make a key stop at the end of the game, and they didn’t do it. There is no question that has to be a focus going into next season. You look at the number of players that we got hurt here. We had three or four corners hurt. We were playing in a lot of those games with guys we had signed off the street, which is not the ideal situation. Again, that is no excuse for going 6-10 and, believe me, I am not under any illusions about where we are right now. I am aware of what teams we have beaten over the last two years and what teams we have lost to. We have a lot of work to do.

Q: In the past, you have been reluctant to let a coach go into a lame duck season… What will you do with Tom and his contract?

A: I have to talk about that with him. I am not so sure that will be the situation anymore. I need to talk to him about that first. We haven’t had that discussion yet. He is going to be back.

Q: The decision to bring Tom back, how much of that was based on the fact that a man has won two Super Bowls deserves the benefit of the doubt that other coaches don’t earn?

A: There is no question that was a big part of the decision. More importantly than that, I still believe we can win with him. If I didn’t believe that, then it wouldn’t have mattered how many Super Bowls he won in the past. It would be senseless to go forward with him. I look at how hard the players played for him and how attentive they still are. I look at his energy level and how much he still wants to win and how driven he is. That is what convinced Steve and myself to move forward with him. We have some talent deficiencies at certain positions. There is no question about that and that needs to be addressed and we will address that going forward.

Q: What was your evaluation of [Offensive Coordinator] Ben McAdoo this season?

A: I thought he did a nice job for us. We had kind of a slow start where we didn’t really move the ball very well. I thought towards the end of the season our offense started to come alive and I am excited about that going forward, but we still have some work to do there. No question that they made improvements this season. The quarterback certainly played better, especially towards the second half of the season.

Q: At the end of the Jacksonville game, I don’t know if you consider that a low point, but could you walk us through what you were thinking in terms of Tom and if it reached a point where it was a lot closer to him not being back?

A: To be honest with you, when I am sitting on the bus after the Jacksonville game, I wanted to fire everybody, from the people in the equipment room through upstairs because that was a low point for me. We had that three-game streak there – San Francisco, the Dallas loss was a gut-wrenching one for me, and Jacksonville was an embarrassment. That is why I learned a long time ago that you don’t make those judgments during the season. You try not to make stupid comments during the season or give votes of confidence or anything like that. I was just happy that none of you approached me in the locker room after the game because I may have said something that I would have regretted for a long time after that. That was a low point for me, but again, I learned a long time ago that you have to wait until the end of the season and look at the whole picture in a more rational frame of mind before you make decisions. That is what we try to do.

Q: When you talked about Ben before and the progress he made, how much did that play in the decision to keep Tom because of the fact that you didn’t want to mess up what seemed to be growing with Eli [Manning] and the offense?

A: That’s a factor, but I can’t say that was the main factor. I still believe in Tom. I still believe in him as our leader going forward. Steve, I know, feels the same way and that was most important factor.

Q: What were you looking for after the Jacksonville game?

A: I wanted to see us win, number one. I am sitting on the bus after the Jacksonville game wondering if we were ever going to win a game again. I wanted to see how the players would respond to that because that certainly was a low point for this franchise for many, many years. They responded pretty well to it. They still had a lot of fight in them, as did Tom. I was pleased with how they responded. I am aware of who we played. I saw the intensity in practice and the intensity on the field and the fact that they stayed together. That was a big thing for me, too. You didn’t see throughout the season, as bad as it got, you didn’t see anonymous quotes coming out of the locker room complaining about the coaching staff. They stayed together pretty well all season. They did that last season, too, and I think a lot of that comes from the head coach.

Q: Can you clear up something that got misreported or misinterpreted… When Ben McAdoo came here, did you have any discussion with him about him being a coach-in-waiting?

A: Absolutely not. I laugh when some of you write some of that stuff. A year ago, I didn’t know Ben McAdoo from Bob McAdoo. Some of you have written that we brought him in here and anointed him as the next head coach. The first time I met him was after Tom had hired him and I went down and introduced myself and welcomed him here. Tom interviewed a number of candidates last year for the offensive coordinator position, but the final decision was always going to be his. I think he made a good choice.

Q: Aside from the obvious emergence of Odell Beckham Jr., what are the reasons for optimism that you saw this season?

A: It is not just Odell. This last draft class, I thought, was pretty productive this season. I think [Weston] Richburg is going to be a good player. Andre Williams showed some great promise. Devon Kennard. I think [Jay] Bromley is going to be a good player and I am probably leaving guys out. The [2013] draft class is going to be a very productive class for us, too. We’ve got some good, solid, younger players to build off of right now, and if we can have another strong draft and just get back half of the [unrestricted free-agents] that got hurt this year and make it through a season, I think we have something to build on. If we get all of them back, then we really have something to build on, but this is the NFL. People are going to get hurt. Why it happens to us in such extraordinary numbers, I don’t know. I am just hoping that we are due to have a change in luck in that area, and hopefully that will happen next year.

Q: What did it mean to you to watch what Beckham became over the course of the season?

A: It was exciting to me. The energy and passion that he brought to our team was pretty startling. I was very frustrated for a while. He missed all of training camp and then he is missing the first four games of the season and we haven’t even seen him on the field. I have no idea what we have. Then, all of sudden, he starts making plays and it was pretty exciting. For me, you would have to go back to 1981 before we were that excited about a rookie coming in and what he could possibly mean to this franchise. I hesitate to say that because I do not want to put that much pressure on him, but he certainly has brought a lot to this organization.

Q: You mentioned the talent deficiencies… Were the draft classes from the last couple of years what sold you on Jerry’s plan to build a good future?

A: Jerry has been here a long time and I have watched him run our draft for many years. I always had that belief in him, but certainly there were a couple drafts in there, 2011 and 2012, where we didn’t quite get the production that we want out of it. We needed to do well in 2013 and 2014. I think we did. We need to do it again, obviously, because when you are 6-10, you obviously have a lot of holes to fill.

Q: In retrospect, how do you view last offseason where you spent a lot of money and the success of that?

A: It is hard for me to give you a rational answer on that because they all got hurt. Those guys are some good players, but they all ended up getting hurt. Even Rashad Jennings, who I think is a very good back and was hurt for a good part of the year. It is hard to pass a final judgment on that just yet. As I said, if we can just get half of them back healthy next year, I think we will be a much better team.

Q: Last year, you said the offense was broken…

A: I know and I have come to regret that because that is all you ever write. I am trying not to come up with any headline-grabbing remarks.

Q: How would you describe the state of your defense right now?

A: We need to improve the defense. They did not play well. We were ranked where we were ranked. When you give up the number of game-winning drives that they gave up, we obviously have a lot of improvement to make there.

Q: It is up to Tom to make any coaching changes… Will you discuss it with him?

A: We will discuss that with him. I will give him my opinion, but it has always been the case in this organization that the head coach makes the final call on assistant coaches and whether he needs to make any changes, contrary to popular belief. I am glad you brought that up. Tom was not forced to part ways with Kevin Gilbride last year. That was a discussion that Tom and Kevin had. The first discussion that Jerry and I had with Tom after the season, we walked into Jerry’s office and Tom came in and said to us that Kevin was going to be retiring. Before we said anything to him. This notion that we forced him to fire Kevin Gilbride is absolutely not true.

Q: Do you have any preference in terms of what you would want to see?

A: I will express that to Tom first, and again he will make the final call. You don’t tell a head coach that has been around as long as he has and has had the success that he has and who has the respect around the league that he has to make certain position changes. He knows better than we do.

Q: What kind of confidence do you have in your franchise quarterback and what do you see for the future?

A: He certainly had a much better year this year. I think he can still get better with another year under this new offense and we need to give him a little bit of help, particularly on the offensive line, I believe. I still think we can win a championship with Eli. There were some games where he didn’t play as well, but by in large, his body of work over the course of the season, I thought, was pretty good. He gives us some reason for optimism next year.

Q: How much do you think about the head coach positon long-term and is it hard to balance that against the year-to-year…?

A: I think about that all the time. Listen, I am certainly aware of who is out there, but right now, I think Tom gives us the best chance to win going forward. How long that is going to last for, I don’t know. He is going to be our coach next year.

Q: You might let [Coach Coughlin] coach under a one-year [contract] or you might not?

A: That has been our policy in the past, but that is not set in stone. I will talk to him about that.

Q: Has he expressed to you how much longer he does want to coach or is he taking it year-by-year?

A: He has not expressed to me a certain time period. I just know that he wants to coach next year. Knowing him as I do, I would have to assume that he wants to coach longer than that, too. We really haven’t had that discussion.

Q: If Tom decides to keep his staff in tact the way it is now, how do you as an owner justify that when you went 6-10 and had a strong finish at the end to get to that point?

A: I don’t know that I need to justify that to anybody. Tom is a Super Bowl-winning, potential Hall of Fame head coach. It shouldn’t be up to me to tell him that he needs to change position coaches or coordinators. I think he is more qualified to make that judgment than I am. He knows that his legacy is kind of on the line here now. He doesn’t want to have three losing seasons in a row. If he thinks he needs to make a change and he thinks there is somebody better out there, then he will go do it.

Q: I am talking more as a whole though. You had the losing season and you didn’t make any significant changes to the organization at all.

A: You are assuming that we are not going to make any changes, and I don’t know whether we are or not. If we don’t, then we will go forward with the staff that we have and try to provide them with some better players.

Q: When you look at the defensive shortcomings, do you have a sense of how much of it was personnel, injuries or coaching?

A: That is hard to say. That is really hard to say. We lost some of our best defensive players during the course of the year. There is no question about that. Some guys may be getting a little older that need to be replaced. We certainly need to put some better players out there. I am not going to say our schemes were unsound or anything. It looked to me like we were prepared to play every week. I think if you ask the players that, they felt like they were prepared to play every week, but the results weren’t there for a number of different reasons. We are going to have to have that discussion going forward.

Q: In a situation like this, do you individually sit down with [Defensive Coordinator] Perry [Fewell]?

A: No, I would sit with Tom and Jerry Reese.

Q: Do you have a sense of how you want to proceed with Jason Pierre-Paul as far as his contract?

A: We would certainly like him back, but it would have to be at the right price, something that makes sense for us. He certainly had a great finish to the season and showed the type of player that he can be and that he will be going forward. I would be very surprised if he was not a Giant next year.

Q: What about Antrel Rolle?

A: We would like to have him back, but again, at the right price. I could say that about anybody. We would like them all back at the right price. What that is, depends on the circumstances.

Q: You have talked about the fan base being disappointed, but what about the boss? What does your mom say about all this?

A: She is not very happy with me right now, believe me. She suffers through this probably even more so than I do. I am on notice as well.

Q: After the Jacksonville game, did she want you fired?

A: Not just after the Jacksonville game.

Q: With JPP, would you consider using the franchise tag?

A: That is certainly one of our options and we really haven’t fully discussed that yet. I have no idea what his agent is going to do. Actually, I do I have a pretty good idea of what his agent is going to be asking for and whether we want to do that or franchise him is something we will have to fully discuss.

Q: Is there anything in the works with Eli’s contract?

A: He has another year left and I assume we will have a discussion with his agent at some point. Again, it would have to be at the right price for us.

Q: But you would like for him to extend?

A: Yeah, we would like him to retire as a Giant. That is where he should be. We still think we can win a championship with him and he is still playing at a high level. Of course, we would like to keep him.

Q: Would you describe next year as a win-or-else proposition for a lot of people in this franchise?

A: I do not think that is an unfair statement.


Head Coach Tom Coughlin (Video)

The first comment I’ll make is about our final team meeting (yesterday), which we met with our team and all our IR guys and all the coaches, etc. The first thing we did was analyze the Philadelphia game and there were various things that I pointed out. Obviously, you’re not going to win very many football games when you get a punt blocked and get an interception and they say, ‘wait a minute it’s a penalty and we’re going to give the other guy the ball on the whatever yard line’ and then you throw a pass and get it in the end zone and get called for holding. There were some errors there, things that have to obviously be cleaned up before you go forward. There was good excitement, good progress and we felt good about going into the game. Unfortunately, we didn’t win it.

The second thing we did was we went over the rules of the CBA and the dead period, the next few months here in terms of making the players understand what they can and cannot do and what we as coaches can and cannot do, which was very important because they have to understand the amount of football we can talk is very limited by the CBA. And then the importance of the systematic progress of the weight program as handed to the players as they leave here. The importance being that we stressed to them that there is a process by which you go through, but you must get started on this. We, as a team, in my opinion, we need to be a stronger football team and I felt that we needed to obviously start much prior to the nine weeks we’re allowed for our offseason program in this day and age. So we emphasized the strength program and the approach to it and how the calendar will affect their ability to get back to work and taking the first two or three weeks and making sure their body is healthy and then beginning in a light process and moving on into where they should be before they report. So we did cover that.

And then I spoke to them about the fact that I was proud of the way they hung together. There couldn’t have been any more adversity than we faced during the course of those seven weeks, but they stayed together, they supported one another, they fought for each other and I was proud of that and I mentioned that to them. I thought they demonstrated maturity and professionalism in doing that. And then I mentioned discontent. Discontent is the first necessity of progress. We must be determined to come back even stronger from this situation we find ourselves in and do not be accepting. Don’t be accepting of where we are because this certainly isn’t where we want to be.

I know you have no questions for me, just having followed the owner, so thanks very much Pat for this lineup the way it is.

Q: What more can you do to get a handle on the injury situation?

A: We’re going to practice at dark, so then we can get a few more reps in… It’s a good question. We depend an awful lot on the strength program and obviously that’s been reduced. The player really, really has to prepare a lot more on his own. We’ve done the science. We’re going to continue to do it. Our medical staff is the best in the league, in our opinion. We have the GPS system. We listen closely to the expert in that area and we do monitor a player accordingly. As John [Mara] mentioned, we have cut down on our soft tissue injuries. However, there are bones and there are tendons and muscles and knees that didn’t listen to the GPS program, so we’ll continue to do our work in that area.

Q: Do you make any changes in the strength program?

A: We certainly did, a lot of changes. But still at this coming time of the year there are segments here where you can get into the very heavy weights progressively moving towards the season when you do back off, but the strength development part of it would be in the offseason.

Q: Can you talk about being back next year?

A: I never considered not being back. As I said the other day, it’s business as usual for us. We’re into the massive evaluation process where everything is being evaluated from top to bottom and we’ll continue that. That will take us quite a while, to be honest with you, as we move through going back over everything, with the coaching staff obviously being a part of that.

Q: John Mara told us that on the bus back after the Jacksonville game that he wanted to fire everybody.

A: Well, we stopped the bus on that bridge and we were all going to jump in the water anyway. Quite frankly and honestly, everyone wants to talk about the defense. What did the defense have to do with losing that one? The ball was on the ground, they pick it up and run it into the end zone twice. You all thought I was making jest after the game when I said we could have knelt down in the second half and won it. We could have knelt down in the second half and won it instead of handing the ball to them and letting them run in the end zone. They ran it in from midfield and they ran it in when the ball rolled in the end zone after the sack fumble. You’ve got to understand that while we’re going to be very critical of everything, don’t forget that there are four major areas that our defense is in the top 10. Can you imagine being fourth in the league on third down? We are. Turnovers, red area, red zone… All year long we were in the top four or five in the red zone. Sacks, and so on and so forth. You have critical areas of defensive football. Quite frankly, the numbers in those areas are outstanding. Now the other numbers are not and I agree. I have a problem with that. But I think you’ve got to balance things off when you start talking about… Don’t throw it all into one bucket because it doesn’t belong there. How did get all the way back in sacks? We went forever without any sacks. We’re fourth. How do you do that? How do you get all that done? How about turnovers? We’re tied for 10th in turnovers. How did that happen? We talked about it all year long. When are we going to get some? We’re tied for 10th. You’ve got to take it all into consideration.

Q: Given all of that, can you say whether Perry Fewell will be back as your defensive coordinator?

A: I’m evaluating everything. That’s what I say.

Q: How much do the injuries factor into it?

A: It’s never an excuse, okay? It’s not an excuse. But it is a fact and the facts have to be dealt with.

Q: Do you believe the components are here to turn this around quickly?

A: I believe we’re going to be a better football team next year. What does turnaround mean? Winning season? I certainly hope so. Why am I here? I’m here because I want to win. What do you think I’m doing? Sitting up in the office with my feet up? The competitive spirit… You’re in this to win. You’re in this to try to beat the other guy. You’ve got to win in your division. You’ve got to beat Philadelphia and you’ve got to beat Dallas now. We win three games in a row and there’s some bounce again in people’s feet. I’m excited about getting in there and talking to our team in a little different version than I have to talk to them after losing seven games. We’re here to win. That’s what this thing is about – the competitiveness of winning. I’m as sick and disappointed as anybody in the last few years, but you know what? How are you going to do anything about it other than fight and swing and get back out there and try harder? What else are you going to do? Are you going to go crawl in a corner? No, I’m not going to do that.

Q: How do you view the job Perry Fewell did with the defense this season?

A: Perry had his hands full. There’s no doubt about it. Our staff did, when you want to look at the facts. But regardless of that, first and goal against San Francisco with the score 16-10. That’s a pretty good football team being held to 10 points. I understand the last drive against Dallas. That’s happened a couple of years in a row. We have some issues, no doubt. And you’d like to be able to think we can solve them, but you can look at the other things, too.

Q: You seem going out of your way to defend Perry?

A: I’m trying to introduce balance. That’s all. If you’re going to look at the bad… and I see it, too. How about the first four plays the other day? We spent a week working on stopping that stuff and they ran the bootleg like we’ve never seen it before. I saw that, too.

Q: Can some of those defensive problems be helped by a stronger offensive line?

A: By an offensive line that can run the ball and keep the other team on the sideline? Sure. It all fits. There’s no better example than Dallas this year. Everybody has had great stats because they’re running the football.

Q: Where do you put the emphasis on upgrading personnel?

A: That hasn’t been thoroughly talked about, but when I say we’d like… We’ve got to be able to run the ball and defend the run. How about defending the run? Do you think we’d be better if our (defensive) line was better defending the run? Probably. You do have to do a few things that you would like to have a little bit longer opportunity, whether it be training camp with more than one practice a day to get all of this stuff in. But yeah, that’s one area. I’d like to run the ball better and I’d like to defend the run better. That would be a pretty good start. If you stop the run and you do attack the quarterback and you do have a team that really didn’t do much for a while and then all of a sudden finishes fourth in sacks, you might have a chance to defend the pass a little better. It’s happened before.

Q: It seems at times the defense was a little frustrated with how things were going. Do you feel they responded well to Perry all year long?

A: Yes, I do.

Q: What are your thoughts on special teams?

A: The area where you’re dissatisfied there is we didn’t cover punts very well and I think there are couple of reasons for that and our return game was just a little better than average. But if you look at the body of work, we improved in every statistic, in every area from 2013 to 2014 and, of course, you can’t go without saying our kicker had an outstanding year. He kicked a 53-yard field goal at the end of December in MetLife Stadium. Okay, it was 50 degrees and it’s normally 15, but it still happened and the guy did do a good job with all of those things. We had the outstanding kicks, a variety that we’re prepared for, who knows when you’re going to need it. I called it historical. Let’s kickoff from the plus-35. When have you ever done that? I’ve never seen that one and we recovered that ball and we had the other one against San Francisco with just the little middle kick that [Mark] Herzlich pulled the ball out. We tried to get the hideout play in the other day. When you’re pushing the buttons, let’s try to score this way. I’m not down on the way things are coached and the variety of things that are ready to go. We thought we had a bunch of returners here and all of a sudden, we started losing them. Preston Parker, who had some problems with ball security, ends up being the guy and he’s a tough son of a gun, but he had to take that duty pretty much over himself. Over the course of the year, I think with Odell [Beckham Jr.] in the punt return area and you saw Rueben [Randle] back there… Rueben was there a year ago, a guy that when you think you’re in a game, that’s a fair catch game. Rueben is going to catch every ball and is going to give you great ball security. I think we could anticipate being better in the punt return area in another year. Our kickoff coverage team was outstanding. We’ve been very good at that. There are always ups and downs and certainly we’d like to have better field position. We talk about field position all the time and turnovers from our special teams outfit. We got one in St. Louis that put us up 10-0 and that was a nice way to start. We certainly would have liked more.

Q: Would you prefer to have an extension in your contract?

A: A 10-year extension? Yes. I would like to have that. I don’t think he’s going to speak to me about that one.

Q: What goes into the decision making process when you’re evaluating coordinators and your coaches?

A: I think that you can tell many times when the way in which the process takes place is not being handled the way it should be, the fundamental part of it. You’re talking about a guy… Perry is a very good football coach. He’s been doing this a long time. He’s had his ups and downs. He’s had his ups and downs right here with this franchise. We’ve gone from here to here. A year ago we were eighth. Same guy, same coaches – eighth in the league. This year we’re 29th. But he’s a good football coach and if I felt that it wasn’t being properly introduced, taught etc…. But I haven’t finished.

Q: Would you have any problem coaching in the last year of your deal? Is that anything that would be an issue?

A: Walter Alston, maybe. Some of you guys don’t even know who he is. Twenty-one one-year deals, not bad. Motorcycle rider. Hell of a manager. What else you want to know? Managed in Brooklyn. Couldn’t hit the ball very well.

Q: Going back to what you said about needing to run the ball better and stopping the run, do you have the ingredients now to accomplish that?

A: Well, we need a little help, there’s no doubt. We have a draft, we have an offseason. Hopefully, we can add to it. Got some young defensive linemen. Got some young offensive linemen. Got to get better in some spots. Got to be stronger.

Q: How do you look at Jason Pierre-Paul and Antrel Rolle and their free agency? Would you want them both back?

A: I heard what John said and we’d like both players back. I know that there are issues. There are cap issues, always.

Q: You mentioned the Cowboys earlier. Is that sort of a model for rebuilding an offensive line? Is that what you’re looking for?

A: My point was the balance. They rush the ball, rush the ball. They do a heck of a job. The quarterback is well-protected. But not forcing anything because he’s pretty sure next time you hand it to that guy [DeMarco Murray], you’re going to get at least five. That helps, that helps.

Q: What do you think about Eli learning the offense this year?

A: I thought he progressed well. I thought early on, we didn’t have the numbers that we wanted to. We weren’t doing as well as we would have liked to. We stayed with it. We hammered our way through a lot of that. Eli got better and better in the offense. I’ve said before that this is exactly the way…if he can sit down and write how he would like to be in charge of an offense, this is it. Because he pretty much has control of everything, and by not huddling, he tells pretty much everybody what to do. And he’s good at it. Our protections were fine. When we had pressure coming, he adjusted the protection and he would slide away from the unblocked rusher and delivered the ball in the direction that it needed to be delivered in. I think from the second half on, the offense showed itself a little better. Still inconsistent with the run. One week we would run it well, the next week we wouldn’t. That’s an issue, but still I think there’s no question about the improvement from last year to this year just in Eli’s numbers alone. So I think he enjoys this system. I think he looks forward to taking this offense further, improving. We had a bunch of yards, but we still don’t feel like we’re getting enough points.

Q: John Mara called you a borderline Hall of Fame coach, but you know you’re legacy is on the line with what still happens here. Do you agree?

A: I don’t know. I’m not going there. I don’t think about that kind of stuff. My legacy. Year to year, how I’m viewed as a coach? Yeah that bugs me. It bothers me for sure. I don’t want to be associated with losing. That’s not why I came here, that’s not why I’m here. We’ve done a pretty good job with the exception of these last couple of years where we dipped. I didn’t expect to be 6-10 this year. We expected to be back on top. I didn’t know what the final numbers would be, but that’s what the expectation was. I don’t like that “borderline” stuff. What do you mean?

Q: I apologize. The word was “potential.” Is that better?

A: Not really.

Q: Do you want to get inducted now?

A: Can you do it?

Q: It has been two straight losing seasons. What does it mean to you that ownership just stood up here and said “we still believe in Tom?”

A: Well, I’m greatly appreciative of the support that I have received from ownership. Like I said, I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about the alternative. So I’m not trying to be a smart aleck or whatever, but when I say business as usual, that’s what we’re trying to do. Do I feel the support? Yes, I do and I’m greatly appreciative of that. Quite frankly, that’s the only reason I’m here is because Mr. Mara and Mr. Tisch still believe this is the best way to go.

Q: Do you view next year as a make or break year? That’s sort of what John said.

A: Every year is. Every year. Don’t put words in my mouth, and I’m not going to say that in those terms. Why would you do it for any other reason? You’re supposed to win. So win.

Q: Do you have an idea in your head how much longer you would like to keep coaching?

A: Probably 10-12 more years.

Q: There have been some flashpoints throughout your tenure here. 2006, maybe you’re not coming back, then you win the Super Bowl the next year. Even in ’11, 7-7 and you…you kind of had that losing streak. We don’t know what’s going to happen and you come out of it. You ever think there is something in your makeup or in the way you coach that lets you get to that point but makes you come out of it?

A: You’re trying to be nice now with ‘flashpoints.’ Nice choice of words, thank you. I’ve sort of been asked that before and I don’t have a great answer for that except that I’m standing on the edge of the cliff.

Q: What does it look like?

A: It’s not adrenaline. What’s the cliff look like? I usually look the other way.

Q: You never make it about you. You say that all the time. But after winning the two titles, how much of your desire to continue coaching is driven by just wanting to see Eli win his third one, wanting to see Victor win his second, and want to see some other guys win their first?

A: That’s the goal every year. The goal is to get to the winner’s circle every year. That’s why you do it, you really do. You know what, I take every team at the beginning of the season and that’s the goal. What other goal is there? Once you say that, win the world championship and win the Super Bowl, you have to talk to them about how you get there. Obviously, you can’t get there if you can’t function within your own division. But that’s the goal, that’s what drives you.

Q: When the question was how much longer you wanted to coach, you said 10 or 12 more years.

A: That’s not real, I’m just being facetious. Probably eight or nine.

Q: I was going to ask if that was a serious question but since you took care of that. Do you have an answer, do you know?

A: No, I don’t have an answer. Because there’s so many factors involved. Which factor do you want to get involved in? Judy’s health, my health, etc. All of those things are factors. But I’m not very good at golf. I’m not very good at a lot of stuff.

Q: Danny [Langsdorf] is probably leaving. What did he say to you? What does that do for you guys as a team and what do you say to him on his [first year here]?

A: He is leaving. It’s his choice. You don’t expect someone to be here for a year, but that’s his decision. Wish him well. Let’s go.

Q: Are you bringing someone in from the outside? Is Sean [Ryan] going back to coach the quarterback position?

A: I don’t know. I’ll think about that. Sean did a very good job this year. Very good job. And he is a very good football coach. Matter of fact, he had a lot to do with third down. We were 43 percent on third down. I need to look around and get a sense for where we are.


General Manager Jerry Reese (Video)

Good Morning. Six and 10, obviously we are all disappointed. Like always, our goal is to come in the season, have a winning season, get into the tournament. Haven’t done that in the last few years, that is not our standard. We want to apologize for that, number one, to our fans, who, no matter what, they come out and really give us their best. We want to apologize for that. Moving forward, I want to try and accentuate what the positive things are because there are plenty of people who can talk about what the negative things are. What disappoints me the most before I try to get to the positive things are that, during the season, we had plenty of chances to win some games. We were in a lot of games and we didn’t close games out. That was the most disappointing thing for me. People like to throw the injury thing in there. Everybody has injuries, that is a part of the league.

We had chances to close games out as an offense, as a defense, even on special teams. We didn’t close some games out, so that was disappointing. It is a learned behavior that I think when you have a chance to close teams out, you can step on their neck, you have to do that. If you don’t, it’s hard to win in this league. You can go back and look at our schedule and look at the second half of some games, we were ahead, or close, or leading in some games, and we didn’t close games out. Again, we had all three phases of the game, we could’ve closed some games out and we didn’t do that. The positive things are, I do think we are going in the right direction. I heard John Mara, I heard Tom Coughlin, I don’t want to try to repeat everything they said, but I do think we are going in the right direction. I think we can have a really good football team going into next year. The draft class, I know there has been some personnel issues, and I am responsible for that. I take full responsibility for all of the personnel issues. We did have a few things that happened to set us back some…on our roster. Again, in spite of all of that, we had plenty of opportunities to win games, and we didn’t close teams out, we had an opportunity to do that. You have to do that in this league.

Q: Any regrets about drafting Odell Beckham Jr.?

A: No, he’s got a chance to be a good little player.

Q: How good can he be?
A: He is good. The best thing about him is he’s got a gifted skill set. His number one trait that sets him apart from a lot people with a superior skill set like he has, he is what we call a ‘dog’ around here. He’s got that ‘dog’ mentality, his passion, and as you can see, you almost have to calm him down a little bit with how he plays. He is a gifted young football player, he has the chance to be a really good player for us for a long time, we hope.

Q: Why do you believe next year could be different?

A: The reason I think that is because we were so close so many times during this season. Again, I say this every single year. When we win Super Bowls, or when we are 6-10, it is a really close margin between winning teams, teams that are in the playoffs, and teams that are not in the playoffs. It is a learned mentality, I think, a learned behavior that you have to close games out. We were so close so many times, our offense could’ve closed some games out, the defense could’ve closed some games out, special teams could’ve closed some games out. We have been really close. Again, teams that are not in the playoffs, it is not a big difference in those teams and those that are playing in the playoffs. The ball can bounce a certain way; I have said this plenty of times, the ball can bounce a certain way, you can get a call go your way, or a call not go your way. All of those things come into play, but at the end of the day, you have to good personnel, you have to have good coaches, you’ve got to have a little bit of luck. I say that every single year, and we had a little bad luck. We are still trying to research why can’t we stay more healthy during the year and we will continue to sift through that and see how can correct that even more.

Q: When you look at the record this year, even though it was a little worse than it was last year, do you still feel that you need to make wholesale changes, or is it a matter of just tweaking things moving forward?

A: Well, not wholesale changes. Last year we had to turn the roster over and we are not going to go out and spend a huge amount like we did this past offseason in free agency. (Last year) the roster was getting a little older, so we did have to turn the roster around. There are some new faces. Offensively, I thought we would jell a little bit quicker than we did. We saw flashes later in the season of what we think the offense can be. Defensively, we had some new faces, we lost some players on defense. I do think that if we can get players back, we can have another good draft, we will definitely do some things in free agency, but we are always going to try to upgrade our roster at every position, every year.

Q: How do you look at the confidence that you and Tom Coughlin received from ownership?

A: I am grateful to be here, regardless. From being a young scout, I’ve been here for 20 years, from being a young scout to being where I am now. I am always grateful for this organization, they took a chance on me, and I can never repay them, and I am always going to give them my best, you can count on that.

Q: You spoke about being close in games, some bad breaks, and the injuries, but you have had two losing seasons in a row.

A: You can make stats say what you want to say. You can say, well, we had a bunch of winning seasons before we even had a losing season. You can say that if you want to. You can say we won a couple of Super Bowls in the last few years. You can make stats say whatever you want to say. Do we want to be here right where we are right now? Absolutely not. We are going to try everything under our power to make a difference going into next season. I know the people upstairs, I know they work their behinds off, I know our coaches work their behinds off, I know our personnel people work their behinds off, and we are going to continue to try to make a difference going into next year. I don’t think we are that far away because I do think we have a nice mix of young players along with some veteran players that we can get to where we want to go.

RE: On improving next season.

A: We are trying to upgrade at every position on the team. Offense, defense, special teams, we are trying to upgrade everywhere.

Q: How much discussions have you had with Jason Pierre- Paul and his agent?

A: I sat down with all of the unrestricted free agents yesterday and that is the only conversation I have had. I haven’t talked to Jason Pierre-Paul’s agent yet at all.

Q: Why did you decide not to try and negotiate something before the season was over?

A: It wasn’t the right time for us to do that.

Q: What do you think of Jason Pierre-Paul ‘s season this year?

A: I think at the beginning of the season he wasn’t playing like he played at the end of the season. The second half of the season, he came on really strong and played like we thought he should play. The guy has some ability to be a game changer. We didn’t see enough of that in the first half of the season.

Q: How important was it for him to stay healthy for a whole season after the last two years?
A: It is a combination of all of those things. He has had some injury problems and we’ve seen the guy be a dynamic player, and he still is a young player. We know that ability is there. What we have to do is sit down and have a conversation with his agent. I know you guys talked to John Mara and Tom Coughlin about these things already, but it has to make sense for us, it has to make sense for him, like any free agent.

Q: Will you consider restructuring Eli Manning’s contract?

A: We will keep all of our options open.

Q: Do you have any problem with him playing out the last year of his deal?

A: We will keep all of our options open.

Q: Do you anticipate any changes on your staff and have you received any requests from other teams to talk to anyone for other jobs around the league?

A: No, I haven’t had anybody call about our staff, no. Everything is evaluated at the end of the year, personnel staff, everything is evaluated.

Q: How much longer can Eli Manning play at a high level, do you think?

A: I don’t know. Who knows? Eli Manning is not a baby, I don’t think he is an old man, but he is not a baby anymore. I do think he can still play at a high level. For how long? Who knows how long?

Q: Technically, Tom Coughlin is in charge of his staff. You are in charge of yours. When does it get a little blurry? If you really want somebody in the draft, and Tom Coughlin really wants somebody else. Do you pull rank?

A: No, what we try to do in our draft room, and all of our decisions around here, we try to come together as a staff. We want everybody to be on board and sometimes it doesn’t happen that way. We talk about it and the final decisions we make, we live with it. We don’t look back and we just live with it. It is our decision, it is not my decision, it is not Tom Coughlin’s decision, it is our decision.

Q: Has there been a time when you say “this is our pick and I don’t care who wants anybody else?”

A: No, we try not to do that. I don’t think it is like that around here. Everybody has an opinion, personnel, our coaches  write reports. Of course, our personnel staff, myself, we come to a consensus on who we like and it is rarely a situation where somebody gets on the floor and we are going to pick this guy and that’s it.

Q: When John Mara stood up there last year, he talked about making changes in the draft and taking less risk on guys. Have you made adjustments and did you see that this year?

A: In personnel, it is like I just said. We always talk about taking risks, and we talk about personnel. Everybody is involved, and sometimes we take risks, we know we are taking risks on some guys. We took a risk on Mario Manningham and he turned out to be a pretty good player for us. We took a risk on Ahmad Bradshaw. Sometimes, it is just a part of personnel. You don’t bat 1.000 in personnel. You want to get more right than you get wrong. When you pick late in the draft, we picked late a couple times in the draft, that is why call it “row” (instead of round). I have said this to you guys before, I am not trying to make any excuses why some personnel didn’t work out. It is just part of personnel. Sometimes they work out, sometimes they don’t. We call them ‘rows’ because the 32 guys in the first row, they are all not first round picks, so if you are picking 32, most likely those guys down at 32, some guys you would like to have in the second, third round. It is a privilege to pick down there. It is a lot easier to pick 12 and above than it is when you are picking at 32.

Q: Have you taken less risks now in the last couple of years?

A: The less risks, I am not sure what you are saying when say, “take less risks.” All players are risks. Sometimes it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and you get it out there on Sunday, it is not a duck. It is all a risk.

Q: It seems like last year you made it a point of emphasis to draft team captains and that paid off for you this year. Is that something you anticipate, you might consider?

A: We are not cavalier here; we try to whatever is best for this organization. We try to pick the best players available, and whatever it takes. if it takes a conscious effort of taking captains or taking whatever, we are willing to do that. We just want to get this team back in good position to be a playoff team, win our division, be a playoff team, and win Super Bowls. That is really what our goal is and never changes.

Q: Do you have an idea if you are going to have enough room to bring back Jason Pierre-Paul, Antrel Rolle and Eli Manning?

A: We will do what we have to do. The evaluation process is ongoing right now. We will do what we have to do and everybody will be evaluated and we will make it work.

Q: Is using the Franchise Tag on Jason Pierre-Paul something you will consider?

A: We will keep all of our options open.

Q: Do you express your opinion to Tom Coughlin about the coaching staff?

A: I have my opinion. Tom Coughlin and I talk every Monday. As you all know, we talk every Monday and we don’t sugar coat talk, we talk about the good, we talk about the bad, we talk about the ugly. I think that is why we have a great relationship because we don’t try to BS each other in our Monday conversations. We talk about what really happened and I think is a great conversation and I give my opinion about everything.

Q: Are comfortable with the fact he has the final call?

A: Am I comfortable? Yeah, of course, I am comfortable. John Mara said this, when a coach has been as successful as Tom Coughlin and has been in the National Football League as long as he has been in the National Football League, he should have the right to pick his coaches. He should have the right to do that. He has been able to do that. I give him my opinion on what I think, I believe John Mara gives his opinion, Steve Tisch gives his opinion on what he thinks, but the head coach with the caliber head coach Tom Coughlin has been and still is, he has the right to pick his coaches.

Q: Why is Tom Coughlin still the right man to coach this team?

A: Again, John Mara said it and we talked about it, he knows how to coach. He is a teacher, you have to coach the players and you have to coach the person when you are coaching in the National Football League. Tom Coughlin knows how to do that. John Mara said it as clearly as you can say it, during the bad time of the season, the players kept playing, they played all the way through. You can tell quickly if a team is not going to play for a coach, you can tell, and that never happened.

Q: How much will fixing the offensive and defensive lines be a priority this off season?

A: Everything is a priority. We are going to try to upgrade every component.

Q: How do you look at Victor Cruz, especially for next season? Do you think the injury will take a while? Or do you expect to have the old Victor back?

A: It is a significant injury that he has. You never know how he is going to come back from that. We are hoping that he is definitely going to come back and be the Victor Cruz that we know. You never know with the significant injury he had. We are hopeful that he will come back and be the Victor Cruz that we like, but you never know.

Q: Do you approach it like you did David Wilson, where you were prepared in case he didn’t make it back?

A: (You do that with) any guy that has a significant injury. That was a significant injury, just like David Wilson had a significant injury. You’ve got to prepare as if, “what if Victor Cruz doesn’t come back?” That is always in the back of your head. If you are a personnel guy, or a General Manager, that is always in the back of your head. What if this guy doesn’t come back and be the player that we think he is?

Q: There was probably some discussion of selecting an offensive lineman in the first round last year. What was it about Odell Beckham that you put him over the top in terms of being the choice?

A: I think I said this back during the draft. In this league, you have to have weapons. I said we think this guy is a weapon. That was pretty apparent. In the SEC, you see this guy line up and you saw those good players in the SEC, they back up when this guy lines up to their side of the field. We thought he was a game-changing kind of weapon and it is hard to pass those guys up. He was the highest guy on the board when we picked.

Q: Do you look at next season being a win-or-else season?

A: Every year. Tom Coughlin said the same thing. When you win Super Bowls, it is what have you done for me lately? You have to continue to win, it is hard to do it in this business because the league is built on a cycle. If you win, you are penalized for winning, so you have to fall back and pick last in the draft, you lose some coaches. That is how the cycle goes, but our job is to beat the system. That is what we pride ourselves on, beating the system, staying on top, staying relevant.  I heard someone ask Tom about every four years, you should start to be able to build your team back up after you have had some down time. We should be at a point where our team is being built back up because we are going to have a top 10 pick this season, last year we had a top 12 pick. You get better players, it’s a little bit easier to pick up front in the draft than it is to pick in the back of the draft, but you would much rather be picking in the back of the draft, obviously.

Q: Your favorite phrase has been “best available.” When you’re drafting higher, does that become less significant because they’re all great athletes?

A: We’re always conscious of where we think our need is. But we always try to pick the best player available. If you can get a combination of your need and what the value is, it’s an easy pick for you.

Q:… it’s either a need or a best available?

A: Maybe some people though we try to pick the best player available on our board.

Q: When you’re 6-10 and you compare it to the Super Bowl rosters, do you see a dramatic difference in talent, preparation, or play? And if so, is there a specific part of the team?

A: I’m not sure what you’re asking me. I think you’re saying is the personnel on a 6-10 team close to the 2011 team or the 2007 team? I don’t think there’s a huge difference. Our two championship teams, I don’t think that was the best personnel we had. Our two championship teams, if that means anything, I don’t think that was the best personnel we had.

Q: Other than Victor Cruz, is there anyone that’s on injured reserve that you’re concerned about moving forward?

A: Well, all the guys on IR, we’re concerned about. Geoff Schwartz, Jon Beason, I can go on. There’s so many, I can’t think of them off the top of my head right now. We had a bunch of corners to go down. Prince…

Q: Anybody you think might not be ready to start OTAs or training camp?

A: We’re hopeful for all of the players. We’ll have a medical meeting here in the next day; actually, today we’re having a medical meeting to see what the status is on all of our players. We’re hopeful. I heard John say “half the guys back.” But injuries are just part of it, guys. That’s no excuse. Again, we had plenty of opportunities during the season in spite of all the injuries. We had plenty of opportunities to close teams out. With our offense, to close some teams out. With our defense, to close some teams out. Even with our special teams. Josh (Brown) had a tremendous year, but he still missed a field goal in Jacksonville. If he makes the field goal, we win that game. Our second Dallas game, we’re inside the 30 right there and we miss a pass and it’s intercepted and goes the other way. Our defense during the Dallas games, all you have to do is pick up a stop right there, we’re going to win. It’s a learned behavior, that’s what bugs me the most about our season last year. We had some chances to close some teams out and we didn’t do it. I think that’s something we’ll talk about in this offseason. We had a chance to close teams out because we were there in spite of all the injuries and attrition that happened to roster. We were there. That can be attributed to our coaching staff and our players. They’re fighting and trying to put themselves in position to win games. We had some opportunities to do that and we just didn’t do it.

Q: What do you think is lacking that the learned behavior hasn’t been acquired?

A: This is part of it. When you turn your roster over, you have a lot of new faces on your roster. Some teams that we had under Coach Coughlin had been here for some years and we had a pretty tight roster. We didn’t have to make a lot of changes. We get a new group of guys, they have to learn that. They have to learn how to play together and have that mentality with each other. Somebody’s got to rise up right here, right now, on defense: “We have to make this stop right here.” I don’t know if we had enough players to do that. Offensively, on special teams: “I’m going to make a play right here on special teams. A big play right here.” I think it’s a thing that grows when players are together longer and most of these players on the roster will be back next year. I think it’s something we have to learn and grow as a team.

Q: When you assess the roster, personnel-wise, obviously you want to upgrade in every spot. Are there any spots you look at and say, “You know what, we’re good there,” where you don’t have to worry about that?

A: You’re an injury away from not being good anywhere. That’s why I say we try to continue to upgrade every chance we get at every position possible.

Q: Does that make the challenge of rebuilding even more difficult?

A: Obviously, if we think we have some issues on the offensive line, but we’re not going ignore our offensive line, then ignore our running back position or our safety position, or our defensive line position, or our tight end position. That’s why, as a personnel person, you try to upgrade in as many places as you can, as often as you can. Injuries happen, attrition happens and you want your roster to be as deep as possible.

Q: What is the importance of continuity, when you talked about guys learning to play together? Are you more inclined to keep the core of this group together heading into next year, especially getting some of the guys back from injury, to see what they can do and what they can actually be?

A: I think it’s going to be a good core of guys here, regardless, coming back. There’ll be some changes, like always. There are always changes every year and there will be some this time. We definitely want to keep a good core of players because you can’t turn your roster over every single year. You have to try to keep a core of guys that you can build around.

Q: There were a bunch of guys maybe at the end of the roster last year, that were draft picks that didn’t really play much. How long do you hold out hope those guys will work out? Is there fine line there?

A: We try to give guys a chance to fail. If you give them a chance to fail and they fail, that’s fine, we made a mistake. But you have to give guys a chance to fail first before you push them out the door.

Dec 302014
 
Andrus Peat, Stanford Cardinal (October 18, 2014)

Andrus Peat – © USA TODAY Sports Images

December 30, 2014 Bowl Games: 2015 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch

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by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

NOTRE DAME

*#78 – LT – Ronnie Stanley – 6’5/315

Two year starter. One year at RT, one year at LT. Similar situation to Greg Robinson last year, an underclassman that has not been talked up much by the main talking heads this year but also a guy that scouts have been raving about. Stanley, if he comes out, has a legit shot at being the first OT taken in this draft. Potential top 3 overall grade here. He is a great run blocker with a powerful first few steps. Looks unbeatable at times when you consider the strength and movement skills. Gets sloppy with his footwork and hand placement but his weaknesses are little things that can be corrected. He is an elite prospect if he comes out.

#18 – TE – Ben Koyack – 6’4/261

Was primarily a blocking TE over his first three years. Used as a TE, FB, H-Back. I like his ability to be a complete TE in the NFL. The physical side is there. Really good effort blocker with plenty of strength to his game. Shows soft hands, long arms, toughness as a receiver. Limited upside and he isn’t the prospect that Niklas was last year but he can stick in the NFL for sure. 4th or 5th rounder that can be depended on to fill a role.

#74 – RT – Christian Lombard – 6’5/315

Has played plenty of RT, RG, even a little bit of LT over his career. Had an injury shortened 2013 (back). Came back strong in 2014 and cemented himself as a classic ND offensive line prospect. Quality run blocker that shows limited athletcism as a pass blocker. I think his future is inside, the foot quickness just isn’t there for him to play OT. The issue with him inside however is a lack of quality knee bend. He does’t play a low game. I don’t like his potential but we can get drafted late.

*#91 – DT – Sheldon Day – 6’2/285

Junior that hasn’t declared. I expect him to return, he had a rough 2014. He played DE in the old 3-4 scheme, made gthe switch to 4-3 DT this year. Many thought he would break out in to a pass rush machine but it didn’t happen. He gets overwhelmed and controlled at the point of attack too easily. He is an interesting player, can show signs of being a guy that OL have a hard time blocking with his quickness and low center of gravity but he is a one trick pony at this point. He sprained his MCL in November as well. Overall a disappointing year for him and I can’t imagine his grade being anything better than a 4th rounder.

#2 – CB – Cody Riggs – 5’9/185

Undersized and lack of presence in man coverage. Has some good movement ablilty. Light feet and can change direction well with the action in front of him. Limited cover man when he has to turn his backs, a little too tight-hipped for a player his size. Late rounder that has been unspectacular his whole career.

Other Notables:

#33 – RB – Cam McDaniel – 5’9/194
#77 – C – Matt Hegarty – 6’4/300

LSU

#70 LT – La’el Collins – 6’5/315

One of my favorite OL prospects in the nation. Could have come out last year and I would have had a top 20 grade on him. Former LG, made move to LT prior to 2013 season. He is a punishing, controlling OL. He looks a lot leaner this year and moves a lot better, but still has the road grader mentality. He can beat defenders multiple ways. Really adjusts well, good reaction. He is a true leader, looks out for teammates and takes a lot of pride in being the enforcer. I love guys like that and he has all the ability. He may finish in my top 10 overall. Should be a top 20 pick when all is said and done at worst.

*#59 – DE – Jermauria Rasco – 6’3/247

Disruptive two year starter. Was constantly around the action in the two games I saw. Would like to see more of this kid. Reminds me of the other edeg rushers we’ve seen out of LSU over the past few years that have been OK at best in the NFL. May not have the frame for a 4-3 DE. The first step quickness is there but he doesn’t do much afterward to beat a blocker consistently. I like the hustle though. 5th or 6th rounder.

#26 – S – Ronald Martin – 6’2/220

Physical, versatile safety. Can fly in to the box and make the tackle. But also a much better cover safety than you would think. Showed the range to play in deep coverage. Fast reaction and makes plays on the ball. Little under the radar safety here that I think could work his way in to the first 5 or 6 rounds.

Other Notables:

#18 – RB – Terrence Magee – 5’9/217
#27 – RB – Kenny Hilliard – 6’0/232
#43 – FB – Connor Neighbors – 5’11/229

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GEORGIA

#51 – ILB – Ramik Wilson – 6’2/232

One of my favorite MLB prospects in the nation. 235 tackles, 17 TFL, 5 sacks over past two years. He isn’t a compiler by any means. Wilson is all over the field and I think he may be one of the best athletes in this LB class. He shows a big time presence as tackler, consistently delivers a violent pop to the ball carrier. Shows a lot of range to the sidelines, he can run with anyone. He does struggle in coverage, not the same athlete when dropping back as he is when playing the run. But for a 4-3 LB prospect, Wilson is a good one. Possible 2nd or 3rd rounder.

#5 – CB – Damian Swann – 5’11/178

2 year starter, has a knack for being involved in big plays. 11 INT, 10 FF, 5 FR over past three seasons. Play to play, Swann is an average CB prospect. He moves well but doesn’t do some of the smaller but important things. High and sloppy backpedal, gambles too much, won’t read the action. Still an interesting prospect that can likely be had on day three. There is something about him that I like. Defenders that are constantly around the action can end up being good players in the league. Swann fits in to that discussion.

#52 – ILB – Amario Herrera – 6’2/231

Four year contributor, solid inside linebacker. Limited range though and he just seems to be a step behind anything outside of the tackle box. Could be a very good 3-4 ILB prospect but I think he is limited otherwise. Sound tackler, led UGA in 2014 with 112. Not a 3 down guy. Late rounder.

#31 – WR – Chris Conley – 6’2/206

Leading receiver in 2014. Not a special athlete by any means but it’s hard not to appreciate how smooth he is. Very reliable hands, good body control. Excels near the sidelines and in the end zone. Has some sneaky speed to him too. Comparible to a WR I really liked in the 2014 Class that flew under the radar, Kevin Norwood, whom is making his way up the depth chart in Seattle right now. Conley is a guy that gets it, quality football player and really good kid off the field.

#82 – Michael Bennett – 6’3/202

Another less than stellar athlete that is a smart enough receiver to make an impact. Led UGA in receptions in 2014. Tough as nails over the middle. Struggles to separate but he has a good chance of coming down with the ball in traffic. Physical guy that will out-perform guys drafted ahead of him. Late rounder but a guy that can be reliable to find a role for himself and perform it well.

#61 – C – David Andrews – 6’2/295

Third year starter, leader of the OL. Makes all the line calls. Smart and a hard worker. Talent wise I don’t see anything here to warrant much. The coaches rave about him and his quiet but vital impact on their running game. I have failed a few years in a row with a few centers that were a lot better than where I had them graded, so I want to put him in here. Andrews Can swing his hips in to the hole well, always appears balanced and strong. But there aren’t any overly impressive traits to his game.

Other Notables:

#61 – DE – Ray Drew – 6’4/276
#14 – QB – Hutson Mason – 6’3/202

LOUISVILLE

#9 – WR – DeVante Parker – 6’3/209

The best player in this game. First round caliber WR, some say he should be a top 15 guy. I don’t have him in the same breath as Strong/Cooper/White but he’s a quality prospect. Missed 6 games in 2014 but still finished as the team’s leading receiver with 35 catches for 735 yards. Had a couple dominant performances. Big play threat. Long and lean but strong upper body.

#70 – LG – John Miller – 6’2/325

Over 40 career starts. Team captain. Thumper that is at his best as a straight ahead run blocker. Miller has the typical body of a guard, bowling ball type that packs a lot of power. Shows signs of dominance here and there. Doesn’t move to his left very well. He can react well but the foot quickness isn’t always there. 4th-5th rounder at best.

#79 – LT – Jamon Brown – 6’5/326

Mammoth left tackle that has played some at RT as well. Lost weight prior to the 2014 season and it certainly made a difference as a pass blocker. He appears to be more fluid moving to the outside, he can move pretty well. The power presence is there, strong hands and a long reach. Brown is a guy that looks worse the longer the play goes but he is good right off the snap. I think he is a RT in the pros but he can be a good one, starting caliber eventually. 4th or 5th rounder.

#18 – TE – Gerald Christian – 6’3/242

Started off at Florida, played for Lousiville in 2013 for the first time. Has some really explosive traits to his game, can be a big play threat from the TE spot. Aggressive blocker, may need more strength. I think he can be an important piece to a passing game in the league. A lot of talent but some quality football skills as well. Late rounder worth going after for sure.

#10 – RB – Dominique Brown – 6’2/216

One of my favorite under the radar RBs in the nation. Really explosive downhill speed. Missed 2012 with a knee, came back strong in 2013. He has tools to work wth and a nice skill set that looks pretty far developed when it comes to pad level, lean, and ball security. Maybe doesn’t have the vision/awareness yet. Late rounder I would gamble on.

#94 – OLB – Lorenzo Mauldin – 6’4/244

Was a 4-3 DE prior to the 2014 season. Team made a switch to the 3-4 and he is now at OLB, a better spot for him in the NFL. He can change direction with ease, really athletic lower body from a flexibility and quickness perspective. He has a high ceiling and I think he has an outside shot at being a 1st rounder. May not be as strong as some teams want but he can rush the edge. High potential here, I’ll have him graded out in the top 50 overall.

*#8 – S – Gerod Holliman – 6’2/213

Nation’s leader in INTs with a stunning 14 in just 12 games. Some will look at the stats and say he is up there with Landon Collins as the top S in this class. I don’t think he’s that good. We see several prospects over the years with big INT numbers that simply aren’t that good. He obviously has the ball skills and he can play to his size in coverage. But he isn’t a physical guy and his tackling is poor in every game I watch. He may be a 1st rounder but hell be a 3rd rounder on my board. Still a solid prospect, just not elite at all.

*#3 – CB – Charles Gaines – 5’11/174

Hasn’t declared yet. Haven’t heard anything but I think he is worth talking about. One of the best movers of the CB class. Looks like he plays on ice skates. Really easy change of direction guy with the deep speed as well. There is a physical style to him but teams will question if he is strong enough, and rightfully so. I like Gaines but will need to see more before I label him a 1st rounder.

Other Notables:

#26 – RB – Michael Dyer – 5’9/215
#53 – RG – Jake Smith – 6’3/305
#6 – WR – Eli Rogers – 5’10/182
#11 – DE – BJ Dubose – 6’5/263
#48 – OLB – Deiontre Mount – 6’5/243

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MARYLAND

#97 – DT – Darius Kilgo – 6’2/310

3-4 Nose Tackle type. Has some sneaky short area quickness to him, can be an anchor. Limited player though, 5th or 6th rounder for specific schemes.

#6 Deon Long – WR – 6’0/195

Hidden weapon here that has good movement. Can run himself open and catch the tough passes. Circuitious route to where he is now but there is some hidden talent here.

Other Notables:

#40 – OLB – Matt Robinson – 6’2/240
#47 – ILB – Cole Farrand – 6’3/245
#14 – CB – Jeremiah Johnson – 5’11/195

STANFORD

*#70 – LT – Andrus Peat – 6’6/312

My favorite LT prospect in the nation. Hasn’t declared yet Has true “Blue Goose” potential Dominant physical guy but has the feet to skate his way to the edge. He can block anyone the league throws at him.

#7 – WR – Ty Montgomery – 6’2/220

Versatile player with a tool set that scouts drool over. Great speed and quickness. Has elite yard after the catch potential, good return man. Underwhelming 2014 season will knock his grade down. Inconsistent hands. Could be one of the bargains of the 2015 class if he can be had in round 3.

#58 – NT – David Parry – 6’2/303

Noticed him early in the year and is one my favorite DT prospects in the nation. Wrestler-type with his low center of gravity and easy quickness. Tough guy to block that can make a big impact in any scheme. Might be a late rounder be he may make my top 75 overall.

#9 – OLB – James Vaughters – 6’2/258

May be resticted to the 3-4. Power player with a long frame, a lot of muscle. Smart player that can move quick in a phone booth. Could be an impact guy in the NFL.

Other Notables:

#91 – DE – Henry Anderson – 6’5/295
#8 – S – Jordan Richards – 5’11/210
#2 – CB – Wayne Lyons – 6’1/196
#17 – ILB – AJ Tarpley – 6’1/238

Dec 302014
 
Danny Langsdorf, New York Giants (August 3, 2014)

Danny Langsdorf – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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New York Giants Quarterbacks Coach Danny Langsdorf is leaving the team in order to become the offensive coordinator at the University of Nebraska. Langsdorf joined the Giants’ coaching staff in January 2014 when Sean Ryan was demoted to wide receivers coach. Langdorf had been the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Oregon State University from 2005-2013.

Under Langdorf’s tutelage, quarterback Eli Manning had one of the best seasons in his career. Manning finished the season with 4,410 yards (second-highest total in franchise history), 30 touchdowns (one shy of his career-high in 2011), and 14 interceptions (13 fewer than he threw in 2013). Manning’s completion percentage (63.1) was a career-high. His passer rating of 92.1 was the second-highest of highest of his career (93.1 in 2009).

For a complete listing of the current Giants coaching staff, see the New York Giants Coaching Staff section of the website.

QB Eli Manning on WFAN Radio: The audio of Monday’s WFAN Radio interview with QB Eli Manning is available at CBS New York.

Article on New York Giants President/CEO John Mara: NY Giants must tell Tom Coughlin and Jerry Reese: win now or else by Ralph Vacchiano of The New York Daily News

Articles on the 2014 New York Giants:

Articles on Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell:

Articles on QB Eli Manning:

Article on RB Andre Williams: Giants’ Andre Williams tries not to get psyched out as receiver by Kevin Kernan of The New York Post

Article on WR Odell Beckham: The ‘biggest’ challenge now awaiting Odell Beckham by Kevin Kernan of The New York Post

Article on OT Justin Pugh: Giants’ Justin Pugh insists he’s a better player … and a tackle, not a guard! by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Sights and Sounds from Giants-Eagles Game: A sights and sounds video from the Giants-Eagles game is available at Giants.com.

Dec 292014
 
Odell Beckham, New York Giants (December 28, 2014)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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Philadelphia Eagles 34 – New York Giants 26

Game Overview

This game was not only a microcosm of the season but the past few seasons. The Giants can throw the football, but they can’t run it. The defense and special teams stink. The Giants can’t beat a team with a winning record. And they can’t beat the Eagles.

Offensive Overview

The Giants gained over 500 yards of offense and passed for 429 yards, the latter being the fourth highest in franchise history. They had 78 offensive snaps and controlled the time of possession by almost 10 minutes (34:37 to 25:23).

The Giants scored on 4-of-7 first-half drives and and 2-of-7 second-half drives, but only managed two touchdowns as New York was 1-of-3 in the red zone.

The Giants were 7-of-18 on third down (39 percent). The running backs only gained 76 yards on 25 carries (3 yards per carry).

Quarterback

Eli Manning completed 28-of-53 passes for 429 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception for a 78.3 QB rating. The yardage total is obviously impressive (4th highest in team history), but he only completed 52 percent of his passes, threw into double coverage some, and was lucky a few of his passes were not picked off.

That said, the lower completion percentage was not only a question of inconsistent accuracy, but some dropped passes, some non-calls by the referees, and a strategy to take more shots down the field.

“Now was the percentage the way you’d like it? Probably not,” said Tom Coughlin after the game. “But there were some deep shots that we wanted to take. We wanted the one-on-ones and we wanted to take some shots and we did. Unfortunately, most of them were not completions and they go in the book as incomplete. But it was part of what we wanted to do.”

Examples of some of the negative plays? On the second Giants’ possession that ended with a punt, the Eagles blitzed Eli up the middle and he somehow missed spotting Rueben Randle and Larry Donnell in the middle of the field as he threw the ball away deep (Eli was lucky intentional grounding was not called). On the following 3rd-and-9 play, Manning badly overthrew Odell Beckham.

Eli missed some opportunities like on this incomplete play.

Eli missed some opportunities like on this incomplete play.

Trailing by eight with over three minutes to play, the Giants had one final chance to tie the game, but Eli’s deep pass to Rueben Randle was picked off.

“It was just underthrown,” said Manning. “Rueben read the coverage right. They were jumping the outside route. He converted it to a go. I just couldn’t get enough on the throw. I saw it clean. They were in a quarters coverage. There should have been a window out there to hit the throw to Rueben. I couldn’t step into the throw. The ball floated up a little bit. I left it a little inside and let the safety make a play on it. It wasn’t a bad read. It was just kind of a poor throw based on the circumstances.”

Running Backs

Same old story…lots of run attempts…very little productivity. And this against the 17th-ranked defense against the run. Andre Williams carried the ball 15 times for 43 yards (2.9 yards per carry) and one touchdown. Rashad Jennings carried the ball 10 times for 33 yards (3.3 yards per carry). Williams caught all three passes thrown in his direction for 19 yards, while Jennings caught 3-of-5 passes for 21 yards.

Williams did have a nice 9-yard run on 3rd-and-1 on the opening touchdown drive and an 8-yard run on the first FG drive. And Jennings had a nice 16-yard reception on 3rd-and-13 in the first quarter and an 18-yard run in the third quarter. But too often it was only 1-3 yards per attempt, or worse, a negative-yardage play.

Part of the problem may be the use of differing blocking schemes.

“We were dabbling a lot between schemes, whether we were outside zone, whether we were a zone team or a power team, what fit our personnel the best,” Williams said. “As we continue to learn the offense and learn what we’re good at, we’re bound to get better…I think we’re capable of both. I just don’t know if we knew when and where we were supposed to do what. It all comes with newness, new faces, and new players. Everything was new this year, especially for me. I think that played a big role.”

Wide Receivers

It was the Odell Beckham (12 catches for 185 yards and one touchdown) and Rueben Randle (6 catches for 158 yards) show. And both could have had an even bigger day as Beckham was actually targeted 21 times and Randle 13 times. As productive as these two were, the Eagles also had an unbelievable 11 pass defenses in the game.

The Eagles got away with obvious pass interference on Beckham on a few plays, including deep shots in the first and second quarters. Beckham had a nice 22-yard sideline reception on the Giants’ first FG drive on 3rd-and-5. Three plays later he had a 17-yard reception. Beckham had two catches on the Giants’ second-half field goal drive, including a spectacular, leaping 16-yard reception on 3rd-and-and-20 that set up the successful 53-yard field goal. Later in the quarter, Beckham had a shot at a perfectly-thrown deep ball down the middle of the field by Manning but the safety knocked the ball out of Beckham’s arms. Three plays later, Beckham could not come down with another deep pass, this time along the right sideline. Of course, the big highlight was Beckham’s 63-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown.

However, that was basically it for Beckham. “He was sick on he sideline,” said Coughlin. “He was ill and was vomiting and so on and so forth. They held him. He didn’t come back with a lot of strength right there.”

Randle made a great 43-yard catch despite double-coverage on the opening touchdown drive and followed that up on the next play with an 18-yard reception down to the 1-yard line. In the second quarter, Randle made another big play with another athletic 36-yard grab on 3rd-and-7. Three plays later, he caught a 25-yard pass. These plays helped the Giants get into FG range. However, the drive stalled when Randle was flagged with an offensive pass interference (pick) penalty.

Also on the downside, Randle really should have have come down with three more catches, including a 3rd-and-9 pass in the second quarter and a 3rd-and-11 pass on the play before the blocked punt. On the Giants’ third-quarter drive that ended with a 53-yard field goal, Randle had a key 24-yard catch-and-run on 3rd-and-2. After a 15-yard catch by Beckham, Randle appeared to have caught a 34-yard touchdown pass but a holding penalty wiped out the play. Then the inconsistency returned as Randle dropped the very next pass.

The only other receiver targeted in the game was Preston Parker, who caught 2-of-4 passes thrown in direction for 20 yards. He had a key 13-yard reception on 3rd-and-10 two plays before Beckham’s 63 yard catch-and-run.

Tight Ends

Larry Donnell caught 2-of-6 passes thrown in his direction for 26 yards. On the Giants’ first FG drive, Donnell didn’t do a very good job of picking up a pass rusher on an incomplete 2nd-and-5 pass. One play later, Manning tried to hit him deep on the end zone, but he couldn’t make the play and the Giants settled for three points. On the following drive, Donnell got wide open on a 3rd-and-5 play but dropped a pass thrown behind him and the Giants had to punt. Donnell did have a 10-yard catch on 3rd-and-5 in the third quarter. Eli went deep to Donnell again in the fourth quarter but couldn’t connect.

Adrien Robinson could not make a play on a deep pass opportunity.

Offensive Line

Pass protection was pretty good as Eli Manning was not sacked and only officially hit three times. That was quite an improvement over the first Giants-Eagles game when Manning was sacked eight times, especially when you keep in mind that the Giants took a lot of deep shots down the field in this game.

Run blocking remains a sore spot as the Giants only averaged three yards per carry on 25 attempts against the NFL’s 17th-ranked run defense.

For example, on the first play of the second NYG drive, OC J.D. Walton and LG Weston Richburg allowed the Eagles’ nose tackle to run right past them to nail Jennings for a 3-yard loss.

Jennings has no chance as NT runs by Walton and Richburg.

Jennings has no chance as NT runs by Walton and Richburg.

Here you see Fletcher Cox shove Walton back into the backfield, disengage, and nail Williams for no gain.

Fletcher Cox abusing J.D. Walton.

Fletcher Cox abusing J.D. Walton.

After Jenning’s 18-yard run in the third quarter, Walton got shoved back again on a 3-yard loss. Then he made matters worse by getting flagged with a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty. Two plays later, Walton was flagged with a false start and the Giants found themselves in a 3rd-and-29 situation, largely due to Walton.

Of course, the huge offensive line mistake was the holding penalty on LT Will Beatty that wiped out Rueben Randle’s 34-yard touchdown. The Giants had to settle for a field goal instead.

Even late in the game when the Giants were down by 8 points in the fourth quarter, and the Eagles probably looking pass first, the Giants couldn’t run it. Look how neither Walton nor Beatty can get any movement at the point-of-attack.

Both Walton and Beatty stonewalled and Jennings is bottled up.

Both Walton and Beatty stonewalled and Jennings is bottled up.

Defensive Overview

Just another dreadful performance. The Giants’ defense gave up 27 points, 23 first downs, 426 total net yards, 262 passing yards, and 164 rushing yards. The Eagles converted 7-of-16 third-down attempts (44 percent). And Philadelphia gained 20 yards or more on EIGHT plays.

The defense allowed the Eagles to score two touchdowns on their first two possessions, allowed the Eagles to drive the field at the end of the first half to set up an easy field goal, and couldn’t stop the Eagles in the second half once the Giants had twice cut their lead.

Yet after the game, Coughlin – at least publicly – seemed borderline delusional about the play of his defense against an Eagles’ offense led by Mark Sanchez of all people.

“I thought our defense battled,” said Coughlin. “Their first score was right down the field and score, but once we settled down, we did a decent job of holding them. I’m not sure what the number of punts were or anything like that. We did have some three and outs, which was very good and put ourselves in position…Defensively, again, I say we had a good plan, the plan was well taught. I thought we did a pretty good job, although you always say you’re going to try to stop the run. They had a lot of run yardage as it turns out.”

Defensive Line/Linebackers

Really shitty run defense once again against the Eagles as Philadelphia gouged New York for 164 yards, averaging over 5 yards per carry. The pass rush was not as consistent as the team’s four sacks suggest.

The best of a mediocre bunch was Jason Pierre-Paul (5 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 tackles for losses, 2 QB hits). The Giants didn’t get much out of Kerry Wynn (3 tackles) and Damontre Moore (1 tackle) at defensive end. Cullen Jenkins (1 tackle) also played some end but was largely invisible.

The tackles played very poorly, especially Johnathan Hankins (2 tackles, 1 QB hit) and Mike Patterson (4 tackles). Their defense on the goal line early in the fourth quarter was embarrassing as the running back jogged into the end zone untouched. Markus Kuhn (3 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 QB hit) was a little better, but not much.

The linebackers just didn’t make enough plays although Mark Herzlich flashed statistically with 7 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 tackle for a loss. He did sack Sanchez and made a nice tackle short of the first-down marker on a 3rd-and-2 run. Jameel McClain had eight tackles and one pass defense in the end zone at the end of the first half. Spencer Paysinger played but didn’t show up on the stat sheet.

On the first running play by the Eagles – a play that picked up 23 yards – JPP, Patterson, and Hankins were all blocked and McClain overran the play.

JPP, Patterson, and Hankins blocked; McClain overruns the play.

JPP, Patterson, and Hankins blocked; McClain overruns the play.

On the very next snap, both McClain and Herzlich bite badly on the play fake to the left as WR Jordan Matthews crosses wide open behind them to the right en route to his 44-yard catch-and-run TD.

Linebackers leave big hole in coverage by biting on play-action fake.

Linebackers leave big hole in coverage by biting on play-action fake.

On 2nd-and-15 on Eagles’ next possession, note how Hankins and Moore are easily blocked up front and no other linebacker or defensive back is anywhere near the line of scrimmage to help out against LeSean McCoy on an 8-yard run.

Moore and Hankins blocked and no one else there to stop McCoy.

Moore and Hankins blocked and no one else there to stop McCoy.

After Eagles pick up first down on 3rd-and-7, Wynn fails to account for Sanchez on a read option (and McClain is completely driven away from play) on 15-yard run by a nimble-footed quarterback (sarcasm off).

Kerry Wynn bites on play fake and Sanchez runs around him for 15 yards.

Kerry Wynn bites on play fake and Sanchez runs around him for 15 yards.

And then there is this little gem where the Giants’ defense appears unbalanced towards the side with fewer players. Everyone bites on McCoy’s first step to the left before he cuts back to the right and there is NO ONE on the perimeter of the defense to stop the run and McCoy gains 21 easy yards. This was a big play on the Eagles’ touchdown drive that put Philadelphia up 31-19.

No one outside to stop McCoy on 21-yard gain.

No one outside to stop McCoy on 21-yard gain.

How bad was the defense? With the Eagles up by 8 points with 4 minutes left to play, and Philadelphia facing a 3rd-and-18 from their own 8-yard line, the Giants should have been prepared for a draw play. Instead they gave up 17 yards on the draw and almost a first down.

Defensive Backs

Mark Sanchez completed nearly 64 percent of his passes for 292 yards and two touchdowns. WR Jordan Matthews caught eight passes for 105 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown pass. The other wideouts to catch passes were Jeremy Maclin (3 catches for 49 yards) and Riley Cooper (2 catches for 37 yards). The tight ends caught 5 passes for 57 yards and a touchdown.

Mike Harris (10 tackles, 1 interception, 1 pass defense) was beat by TE Zach Ertz for 18 yards on Philly’s first offensive snap. Two plays later, Stevie Brown (3 tackles) looked pathetic and slow trying to make a tackle on WR Jordan Mathews, who is not known for his speed, on his 44-yard touchdown catch-and-run. On the next possession, Harris was beat by Ertz again for 10 yards on 3rd-and-7.

Chykie Brown (6 tackles, 1 pass defense) had good deep coverage on Cooper on the Eagles’ second drive, but he was later flagged on this same drive with a questionable and game-altering 41-yard pass interference penalty on a play where Stevie Brown picked off Sanchez at the NYG 9-yard line. Three plays later, on third-and-goal, TE Brent Celek scored on a 1-yard TD reception by beating Harris who got caught up in the goal line congestion. Harris missed a tackle on McCoy after a short pass early in the 4th quarter on a play that picked up 15 yards and then got beat by Matthews on an 8-yard slant down to the 1-yard line. Chykie Brown got flagged with an offside penalty on 3rd-and-13 that helped the Eagles move a bit closer for their last field goal.

Antrel Rolle (8 tackles) just doesn’t seem to be making plays anymore against the run and the pass. On 1st-and-goal from the NYG 6-yard line, Mark Herzlich gambles on Mark Sanchez keeping the ball on a read-option play. Instead, RB LeSean McCoy has the ball. In my opinion, Rolle has to cover the gap on the potential cutback run more aggressively than he did. Instead, Rolle only makes the tackle after McCoy gains five yards down to the 1-yard line.

Antrel Rolle needs to make the play sooner in the hole on the goal line.

Antrel Rolle needs to make the play sooner in the hole on the goal line.

Late in the third quarter, Rolle had McCoy all alone but let him get away for an 11-yard gain.

Rolle has McCoy 1-on-1 but lets him get away on 11-yard run.

Rolle has McCoy 1-on-1 but lets him get away on 11-yard run.

Rolle also committed a 15-yard face mask penalty on the Eagles’ last scoring drive.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (2 tackles) gave up a big 20-yard completion to Maclin on 3rd-and-16 on the Eagles’ FG drive right before halftime. He also didn’t make much of an effort to get off a block on Matthew’s 44-yard touchdown. Quintin Demps (3 tackles) didn’t make any plays.

But what really drives me nuts are plays where receivers are simply left wide open, either from flaws in the defensive schemes and/or mental mistakes by the players.

Note how no one is anywhere near two Eagles receivers on this 3rd-and-7 play where Matthews picked up an easy 24 yards.

It's 3rd-and-7, not 3rd-and-27.

It’s 3rd-and-7, not 3rd-and-27.

And no one covers Jeremy Maclin on a short crossing route that picked up 25 yards.

Easy pitch-and-catch again for Sanchez and his receiver.

Easy pitch-and-catch again for Sanchez and his receiver.

And at the end of the first half, the corner and safety (Rolle) were nowhere to be found on a 22-yard completion to Cooper.

Seriously?

Seriously?

There were a few positives, but not many. Chykie Brown knocked away one pass. Harris did pick off Sanchez and returned the ball to the Eagles’ 49-yard line and tipped away a pass intended for Ertz in the end zone at the end of the first half.

Special Teams Overview

The punt blocked for a touchdown early in the third quarter was a difference maker. Punter Steve Weatherford’s other six punts averaged 41.8 yards, but only a 33.7 net. The Eagles returned two punts for 15 yards with a long of 13 yards. Zack Bowman made a nice play on one return by tackling Sproles right away.

Josh Brown was 4-of-4 on field goals, including kicks of 38, 20, 36, and 53 yards. Five of his seven kickoffs went for touchbacks. The Eagles returned one kickoff 29 yards and the other only went for 11 yards.

I have no idea why the Giants were trying to draw the Eagles offsides with a hard count on a fake FG attempt since the penalty would not have helped them there. Instead, Weatherford was flagged with a false start.

The Giants did not return a punt as all seven were fair caught by either Rueben Randle (5) or Odell Beckham (2) – bad job by the Giants in holding up the Eagles’ gunners.

Preston Parker’s three kickoffs were returned to the 24, 19, and 20 yard lines. He fumbled his first kickoff return but was fortunate the loose ball was recovered by Mark Herzlich.

(Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants, December 28, 2014)
Dec 292014
 
Julian Talley, New York Giants (August 10, 2013)

Julian Talley – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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Giants Sign 11 Players to Reserve/Future Contracts: The New York Giants have signed 11 players to Reserve/Future contracts. Nine of the 11 were on the team’s Practice Squad:

  • FB Nikita Whitlock
  • WR Julian Talley
  • WR Juron Criner
  • WR Chris Harper
  • OT Michael Bamiro
  • DE Jordan Stanton
  • LB Unai Unga
  • CB Josh Victorian
  • S Thomas Gordon

The team also signed CB Bennett Jackson, who was on the Practice Squad/Injured List with a knee injury and street free agent P Robert Malone.

The Giants signed Nikita Whitlock to the Practice Squad in December 2014. Whitlock, who played defensive tackle in college, was originally signed by the Cincinnati Bengals as a rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft. He was cut by the Bengals in their final round of cuts and then signed by the Dallas Cowboys to their Practice Squad. The NFL suspended Whitlock in November for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) and the Cowboys terminated his Practice Squad contract. Whitlock was converted to fullback by the Bengals and he flashed in the preseason as a lead blocker with good size.

Julian Talley was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Giants after the 2012 NFL Draft. He did not make the team, but the Giants brought him back for another go in 2013 and 2014. Talley spent most of the 2013 season on the team’s Practice Squad, but was signed to the 53-man roster in mid-December. He played in two games in 2013 but did not have a catch. Talley is a tall, thin receiver with good overall athletic ability. He lacks ideal speed, but is smooth and fluid with decent hands.

Juron Criner was signed to the Practice Squad in September 2014. Criner was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders waived him on August 26. In 13 games with the Raiders, Criner has caught 19 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown. He is a big receiver with good overall athleticism, but he needs to develop better technique and consistency.

Chris Harper was signed to the Practice Squad in October 2014. Harper was originally drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the 4th round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Harper did not make the team and has since spent time with the 49ers (2013) and Packers (2013-14). Harper played in four games with the Packers in 2013 and was cut by the team in August. Harper has a nice combination of size (6’1”, 230lbs) and athletic ability. He is a tough, physical receiver with good speed and hands.

Michael Bamiro was signed to the Practice Squad in November 2014. Bamiro was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles after the 2013 NFL Draft. He spent the 2013 season on the Eagles’ Practice Squad before being waived in August 2014. Bamiro is a very raw player with an intriguing combiation of size (6’8”, 340 pounds) and overall athleticism.

Jordan Stanton was signed to the Practice Squad in August 2014, cut, and then added to the Practice Squad again in December 2014. Stanton was originally signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft. Stanton earned All-Colonial Athletic Association accolades for recording 56 tackles, 11.5 for loss, 8 sacks in 2013. Stanton has decent size and flashes some ability, but he did not really standout in the 2014 preseason.

Uani Unga was signed to the Practice Squad in late December 2014. Unga suffered a serious injury to his right knee (ACL, MCL, and meniscus) his last year in college in 2013. Unga lacks ideal size and overall athleticism but he is a smart, instinctive, physical, and competitive football player who plays the run well.

Josh Victorian was signed to the Practice Squad in November 2014. Victorian was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2011 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. Since then, he has spent time with the Patriots (2011), Saints (2012), Steelers (2012-13), Texans (2013), and Lions (2014). He has played in 12 NFL games, four for the Steelers with one start in 2012 and eight for the Texans in 2013. Victorian has average size and lacks ideal overall athleticism, but he is a hard working, instinctive football player.

Bennett Jackson was signed to the Practice Squad in August 2014 and placed on the Practice Squad/Injured List in October 2014 with an undisclosed knee injury. The Giants drafted Jackson in the 6th round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Jackson converted to cornerback from wide receiver at Notre Dame and could project to safety. He has good size and decent speed for a corner, but may lack ideal quickness for the position. He is a good hitter and tackler. Jackson was a team captain at Notre Dame and a good special teams player.

Thomas Gordon was signed to the Practice Squad in December 2014. Gordon was originally signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft, but the team waived him in August. Gordon lacks ideal height, but he is well-built and a decent athlete. He is a good run defender who hits and tackles well. He started 38 games at Michigan.

Robert Malone played 31 games for Tampa Bay, Detroit, and the Jets from 2010-13. He has 157 career punts for a 44.5-yard gross average and a 37.8-yard net average.

Articles on the New York Giants Special Teams:

Dec 292014
 


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Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin to Return, But Some Assistants Might Not: According to The New York Daily News and The New York Post, Jerry Reese will not be fired by team ownership and will return as general manager of the New York Giants for the 9th season.

In addition, according to ESPN, The Bergen Record, and The New York Post, Tom Coughlin will not be fired and will return as head coach of the Giants for the 12th season. ESPN is also reporting that Coughlin will meet with team President/CEO John Mara at 3:00PM on Monday to discuss potential coaching staff changes.

Unconfirmed BigBlueInteractive.com sources have said that Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell and Special Teams Coordinator Tom Quinn will be let go.

December 29, 2014 New York Giants Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video of Monday’s media Q&A sessions with the following players are available at BigBlueInteractive.com and Giants.com:

Article on Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell: Perry Fewell’s status with the Giants uncertain, but players show support for the defensive coordinator by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Article on QB Eli Manning: Giants’ Eli Manning wants to improve timing with his receivers in second year of new offense by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Article on RB Andre Williams: Andre Williams thinks the Giants need to pick an identity and run with it by Tom Rock of Newsday

Article on OT Justin Pugh: Justin Pugh wants to stay at right tackle for Giants by Tom Rock of Newsday

Article on LB Jameel McClain: Jameel McClain believes Giants are positioned to make a run in 2015 by Tom Rock of Newsday

Article on the New York Giants Cornerbacks: Giants defensive backs want a chance to gel…and be healthy by Tom Rock of Newsday

Dec 292014
 
Kevin White, West Virginia Mountaineers (November 29, 2014)

Kevin White – © USA TODAY Sports Images

December 29, 2014 Bowl Games: 2015 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch

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by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

TEXAS A& M

#70 – RT – Cedric Ogbuehi – 6’5/305

The next Aggie left tackle that will end up in the first round, making it three in a row for the program. Has played RG, RT, and LT. Surprisingly, he showed the biggest signs of struggle this year at LT. Because of injuries to the OL, they moved him back to his more natural position, RT a few weeks ago. He struggled with a couple vital components to the position, mainly being body control and hand strength. He isn’t the top 5 prospect that many thought he would be prior to the season, but we are still talking about a top 25 guy. Teams still draft right tackles in the first round and rightfully so. All said and done I still think he’ll be called at some point in round 1 and play a Michael Oher type RT.

#51 – LT – Jarvis Harrison – 6’4/325

Interesting story here. Has been moved to LT from his guard spot. Coaches say it was because of injuries elsewhere on the OL but Harrison appears to be a better LT than Ogbuehi. He is a very good athlete, better than Ogbuehi. May not be that tall but he has length. All said and done I think he plays LG in the NFL but wouldn’t surprised if a few teams like him at LT. I only saw him in the beginning of the year and at the end. He was night and day different because his offseason was hampered by calf/shoulder issues. I just think he was out of shape when I first saw him. He looked great late in the year and I look forward to a tough matchup for him here.

#84 – WR – Malcome Kennedy – 6’0/205

Slot receiver, didn’t have the 2014 that many were hoping for. I don’t see the high upside here althought a lot of guys think he’ll be drafted somewhere in the top 150 overall. He is a quick twitch athlete that catches the ball in traffic. Gets open quickly. I just don’t see the route running ability. Better athlete than football player type. Had it easy in that offensive scheme. Maybe a top 250 overall guy on my board.

#85 – TE – Cameron Clear – 6’6/270

Quite the opposite of Kennedy. I think he has the potential to be a much better NFL player than college player. He was mainly a blocker in their scheme and a very good one at that. Problem for him is that the A& M offense is sp spread-heavy that his role wasn’t used a lot. But when he is on the field. Clear played at a high level. There are some ball skills and movement ability to his game that is hidden. I think he can be a player. Late rounder worth taking a shot on because at the very least, he will be a good blocking TE.

#29 – CB – Deshazor Everett – 6’0/193
Under the radar cover corner, three year starter. Has the height/length/speed that teams love to gamble on at the position. Has a lot of experience in man coverage, can hang with anyone downfield. Tighter hips than you would think for such a good athlete. Needs work on skill aspects of the position but the top tier athleticism is there. He is the kind of guy that will workout well and boost his stock a couple rounds. Still more of a 4th/5th round type at best but there is a lot of upside there.

Other Notables:

#31 – S – Howard Matthews – 6’1/215
#5 – S – Floyd Raven – 6’2/200

WEST VIRGINIA

#11 – WR – Kevin White – 6’3/211

If I had to pick one prospect that boosted his stock the most via level of play this season, it’s this guy. He has height, length, and ridiculous hand size. He is one of those guys that you watch over the course of a few weeks and find it really difficult to pinpoint an actual weakness in his game. White is every part of an elite WR prospect and should be taken in the top 15 overall, if not top 10. He had a pretty indirect path to where he stands now but if anything, it may help his draft outlook across the league. His size as I noted is near a top tier grade. But White shows tremendous ball skills and ability after the catch as well. May not have the elite speed, but he always seems to play faster than the defense, including Alabama week 1. White is one of my favorite WRs in this class and still has a shot at finishing at the top.

#5 – WR – Mario Alford – 5’9/177

The other half of the WR duo. Not the prospect that White is obviously, but Alford is a very good player himself. Undersized but very fast and explosive. Some are comparing him to Stedman Bailey but he isn’t as polished. Needs to run better routes and catch the ball better. I actually think he compares more to Tavon Austin with his movement ability. Not a first rounder but still a guy that can do a lot for an offense based purely on his speed/quickness/agility. 4th or 5th rounder.

#67 – LG – Quinton Spain – 6’5/335

Under the radar OL that I’ve been talking up since the beginning of the season. Fifth year senior. Huge frame. Has plenty of experience at LT and LG. I think his NFL future will be inside where he just seems more comfortable. His weaknesses are exposed in space. Classic road grader that can make a lengthy highlight film full of knockdown blocks. Drives guys through the ground. Really good at getting his paws inside and locking on. He is a quick decision maker, reacts well to the blitz and stunt games. His biggest issues derive from being out of shape, which is a bg concern for me. He needs to be lighter. He is rotated in and out of the game a lot. He also gets top heavy and will get lazy with his technique. Still a guy that may be worth a gamble late in the draft. He can be a good one.

#4 – DE – Shaquille Riddick – 6’6/242

Potential diamond in the rough here. Played his whole career at Gardner-Webb until 2014. Had 6 sacks and 9 TFL. Nothing dominant by any means but he is tools-rich and plays the game hard. He can bend well and cut the corner, plays with strong hands. Good tackler, good pursuit. His issue is body related. He has gained 75 pounds since high school but there is still more that he needs to put on. He has wide receiver legs, definitely needs more girth there. Can his frame handle another 20+ pounds. Interesting edge athlete here that I would think should be taken in the top 200 picks.

Other Notables:

#64 – RG – Mark Glowinski – 6’5/305
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OKLAHOMA

*#3 – WR – Sterling Shepard – 5’10/195

Junior that has not yet declared. Someone told me is going, someone told me he is staying. I trust both guys so I really have no idea. He is worth talking about though. Really explosive route runner with good top end speed. Will remind Giants fans of Victor Cruz. He is a shorter guy but there is some thickness to him. Big play threat that can get behind a defense and compete for the ball. Love his ability to get open. Really quick mover and fearless in traffic. If he comes out he has a shot to be a 2nd or 3rd rounder.

#79 – RT – Daryl Williams – 6’5/325

Huge frame. One of my favorite RT prospects in the nation. I think he is made for the NFL. Big and tough, a lot of functional power to his game. He can get low enough and really drive block. Defenders are tossed around by Williams when the body control and balance are there. Effective against linebackers in space. His wide-ness certainly helps. Sure he struggles with some speed to the outside but nothing that should kill his grade. I like him a lot…similar to Phil Loadholt who I loved years back. I’ll have him graded higher than most, somewhere in the top 60-90 overall.

#71 – LT – Tyrus Thompson – 6’5/320

Most like Thompson more than Williams, calling him a potential rise between now and the draft. I’m not huge on him. He does have the size/length/foot speed to play LT. Very athletically gifted. I just don’t like the lack of power and strength to his game. Too often I saw him driven back by bigger defenders. Really thin lower half that I think limits his potential power output. I would label him a 6th or 7th rounder at this point. Not sure what I am not seeing that others do.

#10 – TE – Blake Bell – 6’5/252

You may remember Bell as a rushing QB for the Sooners. Very popular with the fans. He was a short yardage back that could throw a little. He switched over to TE to help the team out and may have carved himself a spot in the NFL. Good power and functional strength. Doesn’t offer much speed wise but he does a lot of little things well. If he gets drafted it will be late. Late rounder with limited upside but a lot of teams, including NYG, like guys that made a position change late in their career.

*#19 Eric Striker – OLB – 6’0/221

Junior that hasn’t declared yet. He gets a lot of national hype but when you really sit down and grade him, he’s not much of an NFL prospect. He blew on to the national scene against Alabama last year in the bowl game where he abused Kouandijo for 3 sacks and more QB hurries. I think that was simply a tough matchup for Kouandijo more than anything. You don’t see edge rushers in the NFL playing at 220 pounds. Striker is an OK prospect and I think he can contribute, but he isn’t nearly the star that some make him out to be. If he comes out I think he is looking at a mid-round slot. Just not sure teams would know what to do with him.

#98 – DE – Chuka Ndulue – 6’3/289

Steady contributor over the years with over 30 starts. Not a big guy but does a lot of the dirty work really well. Most likely a 3-4 DE prospect but could possibly slip inside the 4-3 scheme. He is really quick in short spaces. Really strong, low center of gravity. These guys are a headache for blockers. Ndulue won’t ever be an elite guy but he can be a contributor to a good NFL defense is the scheme is right. 6th or 7th rounder that I like a lot for some teams.

Other Notables:

#48 – FB – Aaron Ripkowski – 6’1/257
#74 – LG – Adam Shead – 6’4/339
#77 – RG – Dionte Savage – 6’4/335
#10 – SS – Quentin Hayes – 6’0/193

CLEMSON

#3 – OLB – Vic Beasley – 6’2/235

Fifth year senior. One of the top defensive players in the country. Has a legit shot at being a top 10 pick. Incredible first step and ability to bend and turn the corner. 41.5 TFL over the past two years. Almost always gets the initial advantage off the snap because of the explosion and underrated strength. Beasley needs to add more weight and by the look of his frame, he may be close to maxing out. We’ll see though. Not a fit for every scheme and he might be a situational player in the NFL. Not sure he can play all three downs. That said, his pass rush potential is really high and in this league, he’ll get taken early because of that. 1st rounder for sure, maybe top 10 but I will have him somewhere in the 20-25 range I think.

#50 – DT – Grady Jarrett – 6’1/295

This 1st Team All ACC defender won’t get the attention while walking off the bus because of his lack of size and length. Jarrett may stand close to under 6 feet tall with short arms but has been a consistently productive player for three years in a row. He is a bowling ball inside that can be a horror to deal with for linemen throughout a game. His low center of gravity and good usage of knee bend and power from his base can be a handful for blockers to deal with. His best fit is in a scheme where he can penetrate the inside gaps with minimal anchor responsibilities. 4th or 5th round.

#43 – MLB – Stephone Anthony – 6’2/245

1st Team All ACC defender that builds his game off of awareness, strength, and tackling ability. Anthony is a quality inside run defender with quick, powerful downhill ability. While he is athletic enough to play in the NFL, he may not be considered a 3 down linebacker. This brand of NFL defense has taken a slight step backward but he can still carve a nice niche for himself at the next level. Smart defenders with strength, power, and downhill ability will always be in demand. Possible starter for some schemes but most likely a special teamer and situational defender. Guys like this are usually taken in the 5th or 6th round.

#26 – CB – Garry Peters – 6’0/190

Had a strong 2012 season and created some hype, but injury riddled 2013 set him back. 2014 treated him well, earning 1st Team All ACC over the likes of PJ Wlliams (FSU) and Kevin Johnson (Wake Forest). Peters is as smooth as it gets. Really good awareness and reaction time. Has the length and height to factor. My question is speed and physicality. Can be match up one on one in man coverage? I think he may be a zone-only corner but I’ll be curious to see how well he runs. 5th or 6th rounder that could get in to day 2 with a few good workouts.

#93 – DE – Corey Crawford

More traditional DE prospect than Beasley, but doesn’t have half the potential. Height/length/strength are all there but he isn’t explosive off the snap. He doesn’t play the game with any sort of skill set. Kind of slow reacting, unaware. He does get his fair share of QB pressures though and he can anchor his position against the run. Not a bad prospect but I don’t see the upside. 6th or 7th rounder.

Other Notables:

#67 – RT – Kalon Davis – 6’5/340
#68 – LG – David Beasley – 6’4/329
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ARKANSAS

#86 – DE – Trey Flowers – 6’4/268

A coach-favorite type guy. Really clean off the field, team captain type. Gets a decent amount of attention nationally but lacks the superstar ability. He doesn’t have the quick pop out of his stance, struggles to reach the corner and get by a good OT. Flowers does play the game low and strong with good mechanics though. He is really consistent and reliable. One of the better run defending DEs that I’ve seen this year, something that is still really important to NFL coaches. Flowers won’t be a star but I guarantee he out-performs a few DL that get drafted ahead of him. Most likely a top 100 guy, maybe a little lower but not much.

#47 – MLB – Martrell Spaight – 6’0/228

Every year I get sort of attached to a LB prospect before his name gets out there. This year, it’s been Spaight, the SEC’s leader in tackles. He was a JUCO All American in 2011 and 2012, and spent most of 2013 as a backup and rotational LB. He broke in 2014 and I still think people overlook him. Not that tall, not that fast, not that big. But Spaight plays the game with his eyes as good as any LB in the country. He is always moving in the right direction with balance and power. He consistently finds his way to the action. Spaight is a limited athlete that shows weakness in coverage but I’ve noticed an improvement from September to now. He is a football player, plain and simple. He may go 5 rounds without hearing his name called but I’ll have him in the top 100 overall, maybe top 65.

#23 – CB – Tevin Mitchel – 6’0/188

Has been in and out of the starting lineup for a few years, but emerged as their top CB in 2013 and some things have clicked for him. He moves well with the action in front of him. Quick reaction, good eyes. Doesn’t have the deep speed to hang with the fast WRs. Limited scheme wise but he can play. Late rounder.

#74 – RT – Brey Cook – 6’7/328

Mammoth right tackle with almost 30 career starts. Already has the NFL body from head to toe. Really strong hands. Sound technique and skill set. His feet are made for the RT spot only but they move well enough. He has such a long reach and good balance, he can get away with being on the slow side. He delivers a powerful punch and his hips are quick as a run blocker. I like him more than most. He’ll go somewhere day 3, might finish top 150 on my board.

#11 – TE – AJ Derby – 6’5/245

One of my favorite darkhorse, diamond in the rough prospects. Former QB at Iowa and JUCO. Started 1 game at QB for Arkansas in 2013. Made the move to TE in 2014 and his athletic ability caught my eye. Showed some big time speed and accleration on a TD against Alabama that stands out. He can play strong when blocking but is obviously still rough around the edges. Late round project that I think will pay off for someone.

Other Notables:

#34 – OLB – Braylon Mitchell – 6’3/231
#27 – S – Alan Turner – 6’0/205

TEXAS

*#90 – DT – Malcom Brown – 6’3/320

Junior that hasn’t declared yet. Many expect him to. He is married with 2 kids. Might be the top prospect in this game. Brown shows dominant traits to his game. Really powerful and explosive off the ball and he can toss guys aside with ease at times. Plays a little hot and cold but his upside can’t be denied. All around DT that can fit in to any scheme.

#3 – OLB – Jordan Hicks – 6’1/234

Finally Hicks tapped in to his sky high potential in 2014. Has always been a source of excitement and disappointment for the Longhorns. Physically gifted, former top tier HS recruit. Showed all the football skills you want out of a LB with Strong calling the shots. He can do everything. Pursue the run, blitz, pass rush, cover. A true 3 down LB. Struggles a bit with the action coming right at him but he played his way to a top 100 pick, maybe even top 75.

#6 – DB – Quandre Diggs – 5’10/195

I had high hopes for Diggs in 2013 as he was replacing Kenny Vaccaro after showing gamebreaking ability in 2012. He hasn’t gotten to the level I thought he would but I still think be an impact guy. He is a really quick mover that plays zone and man equally well. Really aggressive player. Diggs doesn’t tackle well and he is constantly guessing/gambling. Easily fooled. I’m not sure where he plays in the NFL but he’ll be drafted somewhere day 3.

#88 – DE – Cedric Reed – 6’5/272

Quality edge rusher, has had a productive career. Lacks the quick twitch you want and there isn’t a lot of staying power to his game. He is crafty with refined rush moves but there isn’t anything about him that stands out. Most likely drafted but late.
#9 – WR – John Harris – 6’2/218

This will be my first time scouting Harris. Led Texas with 64 catches/1,015 yards. Size and long speed are both there. Had a couple games where he took over.

#28 – RB – Malcolm Brown – 5’11/225

Part of the Texas loaded backfield. Hasn’t lived up to the hype but he always showes glimpses. He has all the ability as a rusher. Big, strong, fast. Runs high and doesn’t see the running lanes well though. He’ll get drafted late but needs to show he can do more than run the inside gaps if he wants anything in the first 5 rounds.

Other Notables:

#8 – WR – Jaxon Shipley – 6’0/190
#80 – TE – Geoff Swaim – 6’4/250
#33 – LB – Steve Edmond – 6’2/258