BBI Guest Contributor

Oct 092013
 
 October 9, 2013  Posted by  Game Previews and Reviews
Trumaine McBride, New York Giants (October 6, 2013)

Trumaine McBride Just Misses the Interception on a Big Play for the Eagles – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Philadelphia Eagles 36 – New York Giants 21

by Joey in VA for BigBlueInteractive.com

Game Review: Just when I think I’m out, they drag me back in. Not even an 0-4 start filled with penalties, injuries, fumbles, interceptions and flat out bad performances could deter me from one more week of hope. Just one more Sunday to get on track, get on a roll and show the NFL that the Giants are not dead just yet. After Sunday’s loss to Chip Kelly and his ridiculous visor, which I hate coincidentally MORE than Andy Reid and his Michelin Man in Black costumes, I have signed the DNR for this season. Do Not Review, alas, I am forced to by a cruel and relentless taskmaster known only as “Eric from BBI”. Unlike Michael Corleone, I won’t be back for a terrible trilogy ending train-wreck, I will stick with the same formula of poorly timed jokes, bad shtick and barely coherent analysis that has come to define the 2013 Game Reviews.

Things started off well enough, with the Giants actually rushing for a TD on their opening possession after an inspired three and out from the league’s worst defense. Missing Linval Joseph and Corey Webster, the G-Men came out flying, double covering DeSean Jackson on 1st and 3rd downs to force an Eagle punt and provide a glimmer of hope. Eli and company came out firing, seemingly ready to put their early season struggles to bed, but it turns out that struggles were like a pushy 4-year old, only going to bed momentarily before baffling you for hours with odd excuses as to WHY they refuse to go to bed. After Rueben Randle let a deep post bounce off his fingers, Hakeem Nicks came up with a 49 yard gain on the exact same play and put the Giants in position for David Wilson’s 5-yard TD scoot and a quick 7-0 lead. That lead SHOULD have stayed a TD after the Giants came up with a 3rd down stop, but Tom Coughlin inexplicably took a 3rd down penalty to give the Eagles a 3rd and 20, but he had to know what every single one of us did…the Eagles would make that third down if it was 119 yards. You just don’t put the offense back on the field, it’s that easy. Stupid stupid stupid decision by Coughlin that leads me to a conclusion I have about the team I will share later. Sure enough, Perry Fewell decides that man coverage would do the trick, having everyone turn their back to Mike Vick, who ran untouched for 29 yards on an eventual Eagle FG drive that should have never been. That 7-3 lead would hold until about 8 minutes remained in the second quarter and Giant killer LeSean McCoy plunged over right guard for a 1-yard TD run and a 13 – 7 lead that would grow to a 19 – 7 bulge by the half. Despite facing Chip Kelly’s up tempo attack and giving up 19 first half points, the Giants defense seemed game, able to hold the Eagles to 4 FGs by clamping down in the red zone and playing an abundance of man coverage despite the loss of CBs Corey Webster and Aaron Ross.

After a crowd deflating 3 and out to start the second stanza, the Giants offense found a momentary rhythm, putting together back-to-back seven play drives that ended with former LSU Tiger Rueben Randle hauling in two Manning passes for an all too brief 21-19 lead that would be yet another short lived positive moment during this already too long 2013 campaign. As has been the case all too often so far, the doors again fell off, Eli Manning “threw” two ugly, costly INTs, that turned into 14 quick Eagle points and a 36-21 drubbing that left the Giants hopelessly 0-5 heading into mid-October. Despite knocking Mike Vick from the game and eliminating his drive-extending and alcohol consumption-inducing 3rd down scampers, the G-Men let Nick Foles slap them around well enough to come away with the win, tossing two TDs to go along with 197 yards. This is the worst coached, worst played Giant defense I have ever been witness to and it’s not even close.

Quarterbacks: Ho boy. What to say about old Easy E? Great long pass to Randle, dropped, followed up by the same long pass to Nicks for 49 yards on the Giants first TD drive. It’s his ability to go to the well that has made him so dangerous but it’s his inability to pull the ball down when it’s not there that is simply killing this team this year. Point where you want, fingers should be at Jerry Reese, Tom Coughlin, Kevin Gilbride, Perry Fewell and whoever our dashing special teams coach is (I admit, he’s a good looking fella…NTTAWT!) but this one is on Eli. At some point, after 10 years and two titles, someone somewhere has got to get it through his head to NOT kill his team when the play is breaking down. All that said, Manning is this team’s best chance at being competitive, he just needs to be given the freedom to run more up tempo, wide open plays and use his talented receiving corps to threaten defenses consistently. Manning brought the Giants back but served up two silly INTs that did the team in yet again.

Running Backs: RB David Wilson had a 5-yard TD run, but 16 yards on six totes just isn’t first rounder worthy, nor is a safety that never was as Wilson spun out of a tackle to get flung down in the endzone…and have the ball move to the 2-yard line. I will leave the officiating alone for now. The Giants suck enough that I just cannot get into the oddball officiating this league is now witnessing by the week. Assist to David Diehl on the play: he let TWO Eagles in the backfield on that disaster. Brandon Jacobs coughed up turnover #17 for the Giants on the year, leading to another failed drive, another Eagle score, more c for Tom Coughlin and more wondering as to why this team is NOT spreading the ball out and using shorter throws to augment the running game the way countless teams in this league do when the running game isn’t working. (Pssst…Hey Tom and Kevin, it’s not working).

Wide Receivers: Dear Kevin Gilbride and Son: I am a Giants fan in Virginia and I think Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz r gud so is Roobin Randles but they don’t get to catch enough I think so maybe try that? Signed your pal, Joey. The little kid in me wants to say it, and he’s right. When Hakeem Nicks goes for 142 yards, and has inside release free all game, why not throw it until his hands fall off? The quicker passes that were all but absent in weeks 1-4 peeked their heads out Punxsutawney Phil style but I assume the Gilbrides saw a shadow and ran back to the 7-step drop-a-thon that has harangued this offense all year. There were times when the long ball was working, no doubt, but the mix has to move more in favor of the quicker passes with this OL just not able to hold serve often enough. The Giants got back into the game in the 3rd quarter by spreading the field and using quicker passes to take the lead, but it went by the wayside eventually. WR Victor Cruz was absolutely the man to stop and give Eagle defenders credit, they did just that, holding Cruz to a very Chris Calloway like 48 yards on 5 catches. Fortunately for the Giants, they can spot WR talent and second-year man Rueben Randle was able to keep them in it, with 96 yards, 6 grabs and 2 TDs that gave the G-Men an actual lead in the 3rd quarter. It was Randle’s catch and run on a slant that gave the G-Men life, but it was short lived. If you were so drunk by then you didn’t believe it, trust me, we were AHEAD…yeah it’s true. Jerrel Jernigan is still on the roster, proof is in the boxscore, and he had 13 yards on 2 catches and returned two kicks. Small, slow and terrible is no way to go through life son. I am loathe to give #12 credit but he did manage a big 3rd and 4 catch on the drive that gave the Giants the lead late in the 3rd quarter.

Tight Ends: In honor of the Black Unicorn, Kevin Boss, the legend of Jake Ballard and the guy who netted us the Saints first round pick (that trade went through right?), I just cannot mention our TEs this week. Larry Donnell doesn’t suck eggs yet and that’s as nice as I can be at the moment.

Offensive Line: RG David Diehl may be super duper excited to play to prove all of his doubters wrong, but Diehl was barely able to maintain verticality for most of the game, getting dumped on his backside regardless of play, regardless of opponent, over and over again. C Jim Cordle cost the Giants a drive with a false start at the Eagles 30 that killed a promising drive. Cordle though, is playing better than I expected. Not great, but hey he’s no David Diehl out there! LT Will Beatty appears to have his “I was taken over by Pod People” weeks behind him.

Defensive Line: DE Jason Pierre-Paul finally played the run the way he did two years ago, shedding LT Jason Peters consistently to hold the POA and shut down the outside running of LeSean McCoy for a good part of the day. JPP threw in a batted down Vick pass to snuff out an Eagle drive late in the first. He’s showing signs, a little more each week, that he’s starting to trust his body and play with a little more of his trademark high effort. DE Justin Tuck was right on his game on the game’s first snap spotting a false start and by golly he was right, it was a false start. That was about all he did all day aside from looking forlorn and walking like George Jefferson or someone with a fake hip. Tuck looks disinterested most plays, I just see almost zero effort at this point. And don’t think his teammates don’t see the “team leader” doing that and taking their cues from Mr. Subway, or is it Mr. Tony Robbins, whoever it is he stinks right now. Giant DTs may be the only group playing good football this year. Without reliable run-stopper Linval Joseph, rookie DT Johnathan Hankins made an impact with five stops and was generally pretty stout play against the run. Along with Shaun Rogers, Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson, Hankins was part of the Giants best performing group of the game yet again. Sadly their DE and LB (tee hee) counterparts cannot say the same and refuse to stop the run to the outside, but dammit, we can stop the dive.

Linebackers: Apparently, linebackers play the middle of the field, have run and pass responsibilities and usually lead teams in tackles. Stop laughing. STOP right now I mean it. That is what I gleaned from watching several other games this weekend and it’s just bizarre. The 49ers, Saints, Texans, Bears, Bills, Bengals, Patriots, Lions, Packers…ok that’s five boxscores and nine teams of 10, I’m sick of counting but you get the point: our LBs stink. LB Keith Rivers was chasing Mike Vick though when he pulled his hamstring so we got that going for us, which is nice.

Defensive Backs: Will Hill, take a bow. Despite an early personal foul that I just can’t be OK with (it’s football for God’s sake, DBs are supposed to take aim and knock WRs off the ball, not ask them to politely consider not catching it), Hill was all over the field for the Giants, and was far and away the best defender on the field in his first action of the year. Most impressive though was Hill’s non-stop effort, something a lot of his mates could learn from. Hill was almost singlehandedly responsible for holding the Eagles to a FG after a 1st and goal early in the 2nd quarter. Hill knifed in on two McCoy runs to completely blow up each play and force an errant Vick pass on 3rd down. CB Trumaine McBride, take a shower, you stunk but only by a hair. With perfect position on DeSean Jackson, McBride whiffed on a pass that Jackson hauled in to set up a first down inside the Giants 20 on the Eagles first TD drive. It is plays like that have defined this year, just a hair off, here and there and this team falls to pieces instead of making the play. Hill and S Ryan Mundy combined for 26 total stops and shored up the woeful LB corps adequately enough to keep the team competitive until the 4th quarter. Just to be on par with the LBs, McBride let DeSean Jackson get behind him with 9 seconds left in the half to put the Eagles in position for another 3 points and a 19-7 lead that could have been 16-7 had someone…anyone on defense decided that with 9 seconds left DeSean Jackson may require more than a journeyman CB who can’t seem to get out of his own way. CB Prince Amukamara played solidly all day, but his questionable PI call against DeSean Jackson late in the 3rd quarter and his failure to prevent a 3rd down conversion loomed large on the Eagles FG drive that ultimately sealed the game.

Special Teams: The Ghost of Matt Dodge has been exorcised temporarily, P Steve Weatherford stopped admiring himself long enough in the mirror to finally punt the ball outside the numbers. Weatherford rebounded with a 42 yard average, a long of 58 and only 24 punt return yards by the Eagles on 7 punts. Someone improved, that’s good right? The return game was again punchless, which I’m hoping gets someone punched, anyone besides the fans. We’ve suffered enough gut shots this season and it’s not even cold yet.

Out on a Limb: I’m going out on a limb this week with what many will call conjecture but I’ve been there (not the NFL, but a good team and then a bad team back-to-back with many of the same players). This team has no faith in their coaching staff at the moment. Not Coughlin, I don’t think he’s lost the team, he’s done too much and won too much for that but I think the defensive and offensive players see things they don’t agree with in the play calls. It’s not quantifiable, and I’m sure it will get called a ridiculous notion, but hear me out. When your job is to watch film all week and study for a test (and make no mistake each Sunday is just that) and you see questions you had no idea were coming, you question your preparation. Why didn’t I see that? Why didn’t we practice that? How are we THAT unprepared for something? Take the offensive woes. Wilson and company cannot run, the OL cannot hold blocks long enough for the deep passing game to be effective consistently. So what would you, as a player want to see? The same game plan week in and week out KNOWING that your OL is struggling in all phases and that you have 3 talented WRs, a solid pass catching TE who can work the slot and a QB who excels in the hurry up and two minute offense? You know it, and I know it, and the players know it and each week it fails, they will lose faith and play by play you can see it on the field when they just don’t trust the play calls. It can make a few bad losses seem worse and it can snowball in a hurry as we have seen and unless something big changes. And it won’t. This team will be lucky to reach four wins with a roster capable of much much more.

Even after taking the lead with a spread 3-WR set, the Giants reverted to two TE running plays down 22-21 that derailed any momentum and led to another loss and likely a lost season. The momentum gained early in the 3rd quarter by spreading the defense out was lost by a return to using players who do not threaten a defense anywhere on the field.

(Boxscore – Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants, October 6, 2013)
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Oct 012013
 
 October 1, 2013  Posted by  Articles, History
Ray Flaherty (1), Mel Hein (7), Butch Gibson (11), Bill Morgan (27), Red Badgro (21), Dale Burnett (18), Bo Molenda (23), Ed Danowski (22), Ken Strong (50), New York Giants (1934) - Photo Courtesy of Rev. Mike Moran

Ray Flaherty (1), Mel Hein (7), Butch Gibson (11), Bill Morgan (27), Red Badgro (21), Dale Burnett (18), Bo Molenda (23), Ed Danowski (22), Ken Strong (50), New York Giants (1934) – Photo Courtesy of Rev. Mike Moran

The 1934 New York Giants

by Larry Schmitt for BigBlueInteractive.com

The New York Giants surprising victory over the Chicago Bears in the 1934 NFL Championship Game is noted in professional football’s lore as “The Sneakers Game.” Most fans today are vaguely aware that the underdog Giants switched to sneakers at halftime, gained better traction on a frozen field and walked off victors after a fourth quarter romp.

What many people do not remember is how dominant the 1934 Bears were and how shocking an upset that game was. The 1934 campaign also served as portent for two future Giants teams: the 1990 and 2007 Super Bowl Champions.

The Streak Starts

The year before the championship run, the Giants dealt the Bears a 3-0 loss in November 1933 at The Polo Grounds. Notable not only as the Bears’ final loss that season, but for the unusually difficult circumstances imposed on Giants FB/K Ken Strong. After being stopped inside Chicago’s 5-yard line, Strong kicked an 11-yard field goal. The Giants were penalized for a false start, Strong was good again from 16 yards, but the Giants were penalized for another false start. The third attempt from 21 yards was good, and after a scoreless second half, the field goal proved to be the margin of victory. The Giants and Bears went on to win their respective divisions in the newly realigned league and met in the NFL’s first official championship game. Chicago won 23-21 in a game that featured six lead changes and ended with a game saving tackle by Red Grange on the final play.

New York Giants Center/Linebacker Mel Hein in 1933 - Photo Courtesy of Rev. Mike Moran

New York Giants Center/Linebacker Mel Hein in 1933 – Photo Courtesy of Rev. Mike Moran

There were two major factors responsible for transforming George Halas’ 1934 Chicago squad from very good to almost invincible.  These were the addition of rookie HB Beattie Feathers and the concept of putting a man-in-motion laterally to the line of scrimmage prior to the snap of the ball.

Feathers proved to be the ultimate backfield compliment for the bruising FB Bronko Nagurski. Feathers had speed to get around the ends, and once Nagurski took out the first level of defense, Feathers would kick into the next gear. Feathers was the NFL’s first 1,000-yard rusher that year, gaining 1,004 on only 101 carries, an amazing 9.9 yard-per-carry and a league leading eight TDs. {Feathers also happened to be a bit of an eccentric, he disliked socks and played barefoot in his cleats.} Nagurski brutalized defensive fronts with plunges between the tackles, usually unblocked. Giants Head Coach Steve Owen noted with admiration, “He’s the only man I ever saw who ran his own interference.”

Halas and assistant coach Ralph Jones boasted the NFL’s deepest playbook with over 150 plays. Among the usual wing variations was the T-formation. The T had been around since the early 1920’s, but three things set the Halas/Jones version apart from the standard versions in use at the time: wider splits by the offensive line, the quarterback taking the snap from under center, and the man-in-motion. Defenses were confounded and slow to adapt. Halas recalled years later, “Our modern T-Formation with man-in-motion was the most successful strategy in football. Even so, very few coaches and players yet saw the lessons. They still continued with the wings and boxes. That was fine with me.”

Chicago had more going for them than concepts, they had size. The Bears front line was formidable, outweighing defenses on average by 20 pounds per man. Behemoths George Musso, Link Lyman, and Carl Brumbaugh tromped the opposition. Chicago went 13-0 and outscored their victims by a whopping 286-86 margin, while playing just five games on their home field.

Meanwhile, the 1934 New York Giants started off slowly, dropping their first two games while scoring a meager six points in total. A five-game winning streak saw New York improve incrementally and build confidence. Their first encounter with the Bears came at Wrigley Field, and the Chicago fans watched a 27-7 whipping of the visitors.

The Giants recovered with a hard fought 17-3 win at home versus Green Bay, where TB Harry Newman rushed for 114 yards on an NFL record 39 carries. After the game, Newman quipped that none of the Giants other backs would take the ball from him because Green Bay tackle Cal Hubbard was knocking the stuffing out of them. With their confidence restored, the Giants prepared for a rematch with the Chicago juggernaut.

The Giants enjoyed the support of the largest crowd at the Polo Grounds since the 1930 game versus Knute Rockne’s Notre Dame All Stars. Giants had won 12 straight at home, and lead 7-0 after Ken Strong’s 4-yard run on the first play of 2nd quarter. The Giants added to their lead with a safety after Chicago’s return man fielded the ball on the 1 yard-line, ran backward and was tackled in the end zone. Chicago, however, assumed control of the game with their powerful lines.

The Giants lost their starting TB and leading passer. Newman was injured on a tackle by Bill Hewitt and Musso. Hewitt’s knee hit Newman in the back and he lied motionless on the field for several minutes. X-Rays later revealed two fractured vertebrae, ending his season.

Despite Chicago’s physical dominance, the Giants nursed their 9-0 advantage into the fourth quarter. Nagurski and Feathers churned out yardage on a long touchdown drive to cut the lead to 9-7. The Giants were in position to run out the clock when an untimely error foiled their bid for the upset win. Carl Brumbaugh recovered a Max Krause fumble on the Giants 33-yard line with less than two minutes to play. “Automatic” Jack Manders sealed the Giants fate when he connected on a 24-yard field goal with seconds left on the clock giving the Bears a 10-9 win.

Chicago swept their remaining three games to complete the first undefeated and untied regular season in NFL history (13-0), while the Giants finished 2-1 in their last three games with rookie Ed Danowski ably filling in for Newman. The Giants finished the regular season 8-5. Their season ending loss at Philadelphia was costly. All Pro end Red Badgro fractured his knee cap and would be unavailable for the championship match. The Bears also lost HB Feathers to a shoulder injury.

Mr. Everything

The player the Giants counted on most to shoulder the load with the depleted backfield was FB/LB/K Ken Strong, who incidentally came into the championship game with an injured ankle of his own. Strong was a multi-talented local hero, and graduate of NYU.

The Giants thought very highly of Strong, who boasted many of what would be considered today as “impressive measurables.” He was a powerful runner who ran the 100 in less than 10 seconds and was an effective lead blocker, could kick 45-yard field goals and punt 70 yards. It’s no wonder famed sports writer Grantland Rice selected Strong as an All Time HB alongside the legendary Jim Thorpe.

In 1929, Giants Owner Tim Mara instructed head coach LeRoy Andrews to offer Strong $4,000 to play for the Giants. The duplicitous Andrews offered Strong $3,000 – with the intention of pocketing the difference. Strong signed with the rival Staten Island Stapletons instead. (This unscrupulous practice of skimming player contracts cost Andrews his job during the 1930 season.)

New York Giants Ken Strong Kicking and Bo Molenda Holding in 1934 - Photo Courtesy of Rev. Mike Moran

New York Giants Ken Strong Kicking and Bo Molenda Holding in 1934 – Photo Courtesy of Rev. Mike Moran

Strong also had a promising baseball career on the horizon. The Detroit Tigers thought so highly of him that they traded five players and $40,000 to the New York Yankees for his rights. Unfortunately, while playing in the minors, Strong broke his wrist running into an outfield wall. His surgery was botched when the physician removed the wrong bone from his wrist, ending his baseball career. The Stapletons’ franchise folded after the 1932 season and the Giants were pleased to finally acquire the player they had coveted in time for the 1933 season. “It was a big boost when Strong joined the club”, Giants center Mel Hein recalled, “I had read about him in Grantland Rice’s stories and, frankly, I was a little doubtful when he was compared to Ernie Nevers and Bronko Nagurski. But when I saw him in action I became a believer. He was that good.” Strong’s first season in a Giants uniform was impressive. He led the NFL in scoring as the Giants won the NFL Eastern Division and was named to the All Pro team. He went on to score a touchdown and three extra points for the Giants in their 23-21 loss at Chicago in the NFL’s first championship game.

NFL Championship Game Redux

Noting the state of his team with substitute players at key positions, as well as the prospect of facing an awesome Bears team that had physically battered the Giants twice during the regular campaign, Owen somewhat optimistically said, “I know it doesn’t look so good, but we’ll give ‘em a battle.”

The Giants had high hopes of a record turnout on the heels of the large crowd that had attended the regular season matchup. Six thousand temporary field level seats were installed after box seats had sold out in advance. The Maras had their fingers crossed for a walk-up turnout to fill in the upper deck and bleachers. A nor’easter the night before kept most last-minute ticket buyers at home, but the turnstile count of 40,120 was still quite good for that era.

Jack Mara called Owen early that morning, “It’s bad, you can’t even walk without slipping. I don’t know what we’re going to be able to do.” Upon inspecting the field himself, Owen half-jokingly asked Danowski, “Think you can pass downfield to someone sliding on his belly?” Danowski replied, “With Musso on my neck and me sliding too?”

Once the frozen tarp was pried form the field, the game began with the Giants surprisingly moving the ball down the field. The promising drive ended with Danowski throwing an interception, but the New York defense held its ground. Bo Molenda blocked the Chicago punt and Strong put the first points on the board with a field goal. Chicago reestablished their physical dominance and controlled the remainder of the first half.

1934 New York Giants

1934 New York Giants

If the Giants left the field feeling dejected, as some of the freezing fans expressed their disappointment with boos, the Bears walked off frustrated. Although they lead 10-3, the damage could have been far worse. Nagurski had two touchdowns called back on penalties in the second quarter that were both followed by missed field goals from inside 30 yards – the first Manders misses from that range all season. Aside from Bill Morgan, who Owen would cite for having “played the finest game at tackle I’ve ever seen,” the Giants had been beaten on almost every block on offense. The results on defense were not much better, as Hein said, “Nagurski was three-yarding us to death.”

Few, if any of the Giants, players were aware that help was already on the way. On the advice of End Ray Flaherty, Owen had dispatched part-time equipment man/Manhattan College tailor Abe Cohen on a quest for basketball sneakers to give the Giants better traction on the slick Polo Grounds playing surface. Flaherty had recalled that while playing at Gonzaga his team had switched footwear with great success on a frozen field at the University of Montana.

Cohen arrived in the Giants locker room just before the start of the second half with nine pairs of sneakers, all he could manage to carry. Tackle Bill Owen was the first to try a pair out, and reported to brother Steve that the rubber soled sneakers were an improvement over the plastic-bottomed cleats. Halas was not impressed as he watched the Giants change footwear on the sidelines, and was overheard commanding his players to step on the Giants toes.

The early returns were not immediately apparent however. Strong lost the toe nail from his right big toe when it split in two on the kickoff. Danowski had started the third quarter with his cleats, but after slipping on two rushing attempts he switched to the sneakers. The one Giant able to play well with the cleats was their best player, Hein. Nevertheless, despite the change in footwear, the Bears were able to add a Manders’ field goal during the third quarter and extend their lead. The 13-3 score felt like an impossible deficit to overcome to Tim Mara, who did not foresee the turn of events that were about to unfold, “Everyone was thinking of going home, and to tell you the truth, I was seriously thinking of joining them.”

The tide slowly began to turn the Giants way just before the end of the quarter. Danowski, now with good footing, found a rhythm and completed successive passes to receivers who were able to get separation from slipping defenders. An errant pass was intercepted near the Chicago goal line, but the Giants defense was stout, forcing a punt that Strong returned 25 yards to keep the Giants momentum surging. Danowski completed three short passes, two to Flaherty, one to Strong, and rushed on a keeper, then capped the drive with a 28-yard scoring pass to Ike Frankian, cutting the Bears lead to 13-10.

Danowski intercepted a pass on defense, enabling Strong to exhibit his athletic talents in the game’s pivotal play. As he took the handoff from Danowski toward left tackle, Strong headed upfield, cut to the sideline, reversed field {a move that would’ve been impossible in the cleats} and raced into the end zone for a 17-13 advantage. That 42-yard rushing touchdown remained a Giants post season record until Joe Morris scored from 45 yards in 1986 against San Francisco. Halas exhorted his team to rise to the challenge and reestablish their authority, but one player feebly replied, “Step on their toes? I can’t even get close enough to those guys to tackle them!”

The Bears did finally manage a drive that crossed into New York territory with a heavy dose of Nagurski rushes. On a fourth-and-two, Morgan fought off a block and dropped Nagurski short of a first down. Strong then closed another successful New York drive with an 11-yard sweep around right tackle. Officials paused the game to give the police time to clear delirious fans from the field. When play resumed, Strong was denied his PAT attempt when holder Bo Molenda mishandled the snap and had his drop kick attempt blocked. Following another Giants defensive stand, Danowski finished off the day’s scoring with an 8-yard touchdown run. The 27 point outburst by the Giants remains an NFL fourth quarter post season record to this day.

A secondary hero who remained somewhat in obscurity might have been Giants trainer Gus Mauch. Upon noticing the Giants water buckets had frozen early in the third quarter, he shared whiskey with players in paper cups filled from his flask, ostensibly to keep them warm. After the Giants had taken the lead 17-13 and his flask had emptied, Mauch walked over to the stands for a resupply from patrons. Members of the sideline staff urged Mauch not to give the players any more liquor in fear of them becoming inebriated.

Naugurski attributed the difference late in the game to the footwear provided by Cohen, “They were able to cut back when they were running with the ball and we weren’t able to cut with them. We feel that everyone has to lose some time, but this is a pretty hard time to start. The Giants, though, were a fine ball team and their comeback in that second half was the greatest ever staged against us. Ken Strong, I thought, was the best man on the field.”

The formerly pessimistic Tim Mara was jubilant after the game, “I never was so pleased with anything in all my life. In all the other contests with the Bears, I always have hoped the whistle would blow and end the game. Today I was hoping it would last for a couple of hours.” Although Halas may have known deep-down that the Bears had the better team, he was gracious in defeat, “They deserved to win because they played a great game in that second half. The only bad break we got was when that touchdown was called back in the first half. It would have made the score 17-3 and put us way out in front. My team was under a terrific strain, however, trying to maintain a winning streak which extended over 31 games. After all, we’ve caused a lot of heart-aches, so I suppose we can stand one ourselves.”

Ed Danowski (22), John Dell Isola (2), Ken Strong (50), Len Grant (3), New York Giants (1935) - Photo Courtesy of Rev. Mike Moran

Ed Danowski (22), John Dell Isola (2), Ken Strong (50), Len Grant (3), New York Giants (1935) – Photo Courtesy of Rev. Mike Moran

Manhattan College basketball coach Neil Colhanan joined in the Giants revelry, possibly with a slight lament, “I’m glad our basketball shoes did the Giants some good. The question now is, did the Giants do our basketball shoes any good?”

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Sep 252013
 
 September 25, 2013  Posted by  Game Previews and Reviews
Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (September 22, 2013)

A Dejected Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Carolina Panthers 38 – New York Giants 0

by Joey in VA for BigBlueInteractive.com

Prologue: If you want an accurate, X’s and O’s analysis of what happened in Charlotte last Sunday go grab a newspaper, an iPad, a Galaxy, or cozy up to some doofus who loves sitting at Starbucks for hours doing nothing but trying to look hip and jump on NFL.com when he abandons his or her laptop to feign interest in the scone selection. You will find no in-depth play-combing search for truth or fundamental errors, you will find here what the Giants gave us, not much to hold on to and plenty to forget. This week’s review will be surly, short, full of bad wisecracks and just plain annoying, think of it as the Sean Avery of game reviews. This week, the Giants should have risen to the challenge of an 0-2 start filled with errors but tinged with promise if those mistakes were eliminated. Unfortunately the 0-3 banes of our existences indeed tossed us down a pit, leaving us wondering what will break first…their spirits, or their bodies.

Game Review: U G L Y you ain’t got no alibi, you’re ugly, hey hey you’re ugly. No BBI faithful, Goldie Hawn isn’t walking through that door and convincing Bubba Gump to play QB while Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson snap each other with towels after another improbable Wildcat win. If only. Ugly simply captures this team’s “performance” last Sunday in Charlotte in a way few other Webster’s entries can.

Ug-ly adjective \ˈə-glē\

1:  frightful, dire, offensive or unpleasant to any sense

2:  a:  likely to cause inconvenience or discomfort <the ugly truth>

b:  surly, quarrelsome <an ugly disposition>

— ug·li·ly  adverb

I will uglily attempt to recap this in a fashion not so offensive or unpleasant to any sense. 38-0. Treinta y Ocho a Cero. Holy sh*t to WTF? It doesn’t matter how you phrase the final score, but that frightful display has the Giants season in dire straits, and now we are all surly and quarrelsome, just waiting for the next shoe to drop. I shan’t waste your time with the bludgeon by bludgeon description of this 3 hour long slap to the face when it can be summed up by glancing really anywhere at the boxscore. Offensive yardage? Panthers 402 Giants 150. First downs? Panthers again, 27 to 10. Sacks? Panthers 7 Giants 1.

At the risk of sounding like an armchair fool because the men I am criticizing have Super Bowl rings and I have a doorbell that barely rings, I am going to weigh in here with what honestly looks to be the issue. The offensive players don’t trust what’s being called and don’t trust the game plan being given to them. Conjecture? Yes. Opinion? Definitely. Do I believe it? 100%. After rushing for a total of 73 yards in two losses, how do the Giants respond? By lining up with two TEs, one of whom can’t block, and a FB who has been brutally bad thus far, and they try slamming it down the Panthers throats.

Kevin Gilbride brings out Bear Pascoe and Henry Hynoski, two players NO ONE has to account for downfield; two players who the Panthers decided to go man against and bring the heat on Eli Manning to the tune of a six-sack first half and seven for the game. This is a QB who went down 20 times last year, already exceeding 1/3 of that in one game! This maddening desire to achieve “Balance” on offense isn’t possible with this group UNTIL you have a lead and can run to lean on the defense. That’s where your balance occurs, NOT by forcing two of your worst offensive players on to the field against a speedy LB corps that easily overmatched Pascoe and Hynoski.

I nearly blew an eye socket yelling at Jason Pierre-Paul to stop reading the dive fake and jumping inside to cover the A gap on three plays in a row that he was just run right past by a Panther player. I have said since the pre-season, our DEs jump inside too quickly, don’t read the QB and we get absolutely gashed on outside runs. Snowshoe Moreno did it twice to break our backs last week and it happened against Cam Newton and DeAngelo Williams to the tune of over 200 yards rushing given up. It was a gutless performance from start to finish.

GET YOUR BEST 11 ON THE FIELD ON OFFENSE!!!! Give Eli the keys to the car, sit down Pascoe and keep Myers in the slot as a big WR option and let’s see who can outscore us. Balance? You want to force balance and David Wilson down our throats while the best players we have block for him and act as very expensive decoys? Have at it folks, and welcome to a top 5 pick if someone doesn’t make that change soon. /rant.

Quarterbacks: It all starts and ends here with QB Eli Manning. As Eli goes, so do the Giants and he went to the ground far too often. Unable to do much, Eli finished 12/23 for 119 yards and 1 interception, and was dumped seven times by Panther pass rushers. (Anyone else hear Art Rooney after about the 3rd or 4th sack?…..niiine times…niiine times). Eli’s best play of the day was a 14 yard run for 10% of the Giants first downs on the day. Eli was harassed all day long, never able to get into a rhythm and not able to rally his troops this time as he was simply running for his life.

Running Backs: RB David Wilson’s first two carries would portend bad things to come, as the Giants tried two poorly thought out plays in a row. First was a two-TE, FB-lead over left tackle that ripped up 2 whole yards. On the next play, the old switcheroo, three WRs and a run up the gut that was snuffed out by the Panthers best player, LB Luke Kuechly. This maddening obsession with testing the defenses best players early on has been nothing short of comic disaster through three games. Wilson finished with 39 yards on 11 carries and again showed plenty of fight when fighting for extra yards but don’t expect much until the FB and extra TE come off the field. Wilson did manage a 17 yard TD run early in the 2nd quarter that was negated by an iffy holding call on LT Will Beatty, just about a perfect nugget of how the day went. An early swing pass to FB Henry Hynoski was the perfect example of what is wrong with this offense right now, you’re reaching for things the opponent may not expect instead of forcing them to stop your best players. Just for funsies, RB Brandon Jacobs declined to block his gap on the Giants first series, opting for an outlet route as Eli ate turf for one of seven times on the day. I think HB Da’Rel Scott tried to block DE Greg Hardy on a 2nd quarter sack, but he may have been looking for a contact lens somewhere near Hardy’s feet.

Wide Receivers: Against a team that lost 3-of-4 starters in the secondary, you may expect a field day. Instead of leaning on our best offensive trio, we go heavy, max-protect and try to hit the long ball against a Cover 2 defense designed to take away just that. With three DBs who are new starters, you have to expect the deep patrol will be fortified. Put the ball in the hands of your best players: Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, and Rueben Randle. Force the depleted secondary to reach down the bench for more DBs to trot out a nickel or dime defense and you’re talking about using the very bottom of the Panther roster to defend your best weapons. Randle, Cruz, and Nicks (bagel for the game) hauled in five catches for 65 yards TOTAL. The trio each had 100 yard receiving games in the opener, which certainly has me convinced that we need to search for “balance” and force a running game that isn’t there. On the plus side, Jerrel Jernigan made a catch to keep on his Sinorice Moss like pace for fewest catches in a career that never was.

Tight Ends: TE Brandon Myers opened the game as the lead blocker on an off-tackle run, after finally shaking off some passing game rust last week and looking like a decent mid-range target. Makes sense to have a tentative blocker start the game out…blocking. Once again, kudos to our offensive staff for completely fooling the Panthers by using yet another player in a role he’s not suited for. NO WAY they saw that coming! TE Bear Pascoe is technically a “move” TE, the same way a clam effortlessly moves along the ocean the floor. Maybe the elder Gilbride read the Tortoise and the Hare to Kevin Jr. the night before the game, and a crazy idea formed in their heads for how to attack the Panthers. It’s really the only explanation that makes ANY sense to me.

Offensive Line: Last week’s 23 yards on the ground look great after the 7 sacks coughed up this week. Just flat out awful all day long by everyone. Most alarmingly, the play of Chris Snee indicated another injury, which, if IR is in his future, would likely be the last game we see #76 play for the Giants. LT Will Beatty’s regression since pre-season has been head-shakingly bad. Beatty was run past on the Giants first possession by the solid but hardly unstoppable DE Greg Hardy, who snuffed out any chance Eli had to convert a manageable 3rd and 5. By the second drive of the Giants day, more of the same: long, slow developing pass plays, zero pass protection and you could almost hear the wheels coming off. Beatty’s pass protection was atrocious, but wait a minute folks, that’s not all. Not only did he get his QB pancaked but Beatty also, in this exclusive offer to the Panthers, held on a David Wilson run that could have knotted the game at 7 early in the 2nd quarter. That’s two, two two big mistakes for one low low price!

Defensive Line: DE Jason Pierre Paul played his worst game as a professional, consistently jumping inside on dive fakes, only to see plays race by his outside shoulder. The only highlight was when JPP clearly heard me yelling me at the TV to attack the mesh point (The QB) when Cam Newton looked to be running the read option. Every other time, he is either being coached incorrectly or simply has head up his ass and doesn’t care to fix it. How’s that for thought provoking analysis?

Early on, the DL was playing fast and playing physically, at least on the first series when DE Mathias Kiwanuka notched an early sack and dropped Cam Newton for a 15-yard loss. The inability to defend the edge showed up on the Panthers second drive, with JPP again jumping the A gap and completely abandoning his edge responsibilities, which is quite frankly the Achilles heel of our run defense going back about a full season and it shows zero signs of being addressed. Teams are running right to JPPs side, knowing he’s going to guess wrong and jump too quickly and leave a huge lane for opposing runners to exploit.

Linebackers: Technically we have them, but when your first four in tackles are a DT, SS, DE and CB, your LBs are not showing up. None of the starting trio made any noise or any impact plays, but then again no one on the roster did either this week.

Defensive Backs: As bad as CB Aaron Ross has been, he redeemed himself a bit with an early interception, jumping and out route to WR Brandon Lafell’s inside shoulder and giving the Giants a first down at the Panther 17. S Ryan Mundy had one of the few bright spots for the team with a picture perfect hit that broke up a Newton pass midway through the 2nd quarter.

Special Teams: Down 7-0, the Giants special teams capitalized on a Giant-like mistake when the Panthers coughed up the ball off the back of backup TE Richie Brockel (that’s a lot of prepositions). Even K Josh Brown got in on the shankfest, badly missing a 38-yarder with the game still technically within reach.

Cram it in your cramhole award: JPP was a popular early choice after being suckered inside on three consecutive runs to his side on the Panthers first scoring drive, but it’s got to go the entire team. You all stunk, stunk for four quarters on offense, defense, special teams, and coaching. The Giants are 0-3 and historically bad so far, looking more like an expansion team than one focused on a Super Bowl in their own backyard.

TWIP Note – Our first TWIP (This week in preview) note is to promise a better review if the Giants decide to shell out some effort against the 3-0 Chiefs in Kansas City. My apologies for the rambling and overly jokey nature, but I simply tuned out after it was 31-0 and re-watching was next to impossible.

(Boxscore – New York Giants at Carolina Panthers, September 22, 2013)
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Sep 192013
 
 September 19, 2013  Posted by  Game Previews and Reviews
Eli Manning, New York Giants (September 15, 2013)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Denver Broncos 41 – New York Giants 23

by Joey in VA for BigBlueInteractive.com

Game Review: Zero point zero. If Dean Wormer walked into the Giants meetings this week, he’d likely hand out his lowest of GPA’s, but it wasn’t over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor and it ain’t over now. The Giants were right there, right there, just as they were in Dallas a week ago…within range, a chance to compete and win a football game and they once again imploded when it mattered the most. After a Brandon Jacobs 1 yard plunge in the 3rd quarter that brought the Giants within a single point of their Super Bowl XXI opponent, the Denver Broncos scored 21 unanswered points and sent the Giants home with a lopsided 41-23 drubbing that put the G-men in an 0-2 hole. The pre-season sluggishness this team exhibited on offense has yet to be shaken off, not a very good sign for a team with so much veteran talent at key spots.

The Giants defense started with a thump and ended flat on its back after watching Eli Manning toss four back breaking interceptions. After a Justin Tuck thumping of RB Knowshon Moreno on the game’s opening play, Peyton Manning and his mates marched easily to the Giants six yard line, until the DL rose up again this time in the form of DT Cullen Jenkins, who knocked the ball free from rookie RB Montee Ball and gave Eli and company a chance to start with some momentum. Right on cue, Eli fed off the turnover and dropped a perfect 51 yard post into the outstretched arms of WR Victor Cruz and the Giants seemed to be shaking off the rust that plagued them a week ago in Big D.

After Jenkins’ strip, the defense found its bearings and had the elder Manning working for every completion, before the wheels came off in the 3rd quarter after more costly Giant turnovers. For most of the afternoon, the Giants were going toe to toe with a Bronco passing attack that had Baltimoreans drowning their sorrows in Natty Bo after a 7 touchdown thrashing on opening night. It wasn’t until a Knowshon Moreno 20 yard run over right end early in the 2nd quarter that the Broncos had their first end zone visit of the day. Red zone frustrations kept the Giants from doing much scoring, but they did manage three Josh Brown field goals in the first half while limiting the Broncos to 10 points and an all too familiar 10-9 halftime score.

After a first half in which each defense dared the other to run, John Fox and the Broncos finally accepted. Nineteen of the Broncos 53 yard scoring drive came on the edges yet again as Giant DEs were victimized on back to back to runs to open the second half. With Giant DBs now inching up to support the run on the outside, Peyton Manning finally found a crack in the armor (I would have said chink if I worked for ESPN but I’m smrt!) (sic). Manning worked the edges of the defense, first running Moreno then passes to WR Eric Decker before Wes Welker was suddenly the forgotten man and was left alone for an easy TD to start the second half.

Eli answered yet again, taking the Giants 81 yards to the end zone in nine plays, capped off by the odd sight of Brandon Jacobs wearing #34 and plunging up the gut for six. Manning took advantage of a very handsy Bronco defense, that was flagged for two pass interference and one defensive holding penalty on the drive. With a slim 17-16 edge, Peyton and company got lucky on a Demarius Thomas fumble that was recovered by Moreno and ended up with a 17 yard gain after Prince Amukamara jarred the ball loose and the Giants had a shot at a turnover. Manning quickly set his team and snapped the ball, giving the Giants no chance to review the play. Seven plays 63 yards later, Moreno found the goal line again, racing around right end for a 25 yard TD and a 24-16 Denver lead that would not be threatened again.

The Giants coughed up the ball on a bad Manning pass that glanced off the foot of WR Rueben Randle, and 5 plays later, Manning hit TE Julius Thomas for an 11 yard TD and a 31-16 lead. With a chance to climb back in it, the Giants offense stalled and was forced to punt to the 5’5” Trindon Holliday, who did his best DeSean Jackson impression and blew right through the Giants coverage team on the way to a 38-16 lead that ended up turning a solidly played three quarters into a 4th quarter disaster and an ominous 0-2 start for the boys in blue.

Quarterbacks: After hitting everybody’s favorite dancer with a 51 yard strike to start the game, Eli Manning had another forgettable afternoon. Manning had a few solid throws in a row as the Giants opened the 2nd quarter but was victimized by Hakeem Nicks and his middle finger on a big 3rd and 6 as the Giants were starting to heat up through the air. Eli contributed to the teams red zone woes by over shooting WR Victor Cruz on a play action pass in the end zone, and #10 then fired over TE Brandon Myers’ finger tips and the Giants were forced to settle for 3 yet again. With just 43 seconds in the first half, I’m sure I wasn’t alone in begging the Giants to sit on the ball at their own 15 yard line and go in down by one. After badly overthrowing Myers in the slot, Eli played Dr. Jekyll to his Mr. Hyde, hitting Hakeem Nicks on another deep in (dig) route for 34 yards. Knowing the Broncos were playing a lot of bump and run and trying to knock the Giants off of their routes, Eli didn’t stop working the ball downfield and it paid off with a 21-yard penalty on the heels of Nicks big gain. Unfortunately Mr. Hyde returned on the very next play and Eli badly overshot Hakeem Nicks and was intercepted by another 3 named Bronco, costing the Giants a chance to take the halftime lead. Never one to get down though, Eli drove the Giants to within a point of the Broncos, orchestrating a solid drive at the outset of the third quarter, taking advantage of a very aggressive and penalty-prone Broncos defensive backfield. Down 24-16 though, the dagger may have been another odd miscue, as Mannings pass for Rueben Randle ricocheted off the WRs shoe into the hands of a Bronco defender. Eli wasn’t awful, but 4 interceptions, despite one being a late first half heave and one flying off of a shoe, is not going to get it done when your team simply cannot run the football or hold on to it. The daring that makes Eli so great when it counts is the same daring that makes him maddening when the game is not on the line. We know what we have here, it’s just a matter of those around him doing more so he can do a little less.

Running Backs: RB David Wilson’s first carry was a solid 5 yard effort on a counter to the left, which was followed up with a 5 yard power by old and new Giant Brandon Jacobs and it looked like the running game may be coming to life. Jacobs displayed solid burst on his initial tote, falling forward for a first down, but followed that up with a ball bouncing off of his hands in the flat for an ugly incompletion that reminded me of oh so many reviews of days past. Idiotic TD dances aside, Jacobs’ return was much of the same before he left, a lot of noise, not much production and the announcers marveling at how tall he looked in practice. Give the big fella a pass this week, his OL did him no favors and he’s been out of the game for about for a year. Before this season ends, I promise you Jacobs does a few things to win a game. It may have been a 2-yard run, but David Wilson’s acrobatic Barry Sanders like hand spin late in the first half was the best 6 feet I’ve seen since the first time I saw a party sized sub. Da’Rel Scott chipped in a garbage time TD, but otherwise not much from the former Terp.

Wide Receivers: WR Victor Cruz opened the Giants afternoon with a 51 yard deep post that was perfectly thrown and ended the day with 8 grabs for 118 yards. Jerrel Jernigan may just never get it. On a 3rd and 13 inside the Giants 10, Manning set up outside and delivered a solid ball to Jernigan, who instead of going for the ball and fighting for what should be his, started to slide towards the ball which gave CB Antonio Rodgers whatever (I’m really sick of all of these stupid names, someone has to take a stand) the space he needed to reach over Jernigan and knock the ball away. Hakeem Nicks dropped a wide open dig route on a 3rd and 6 to kill a promising Giant drive, but a dislocated middle finger on the play gives him an out. Nicks did return and ended up with 83 yards on 4 catches but most of his damage was done underneath in the seam areas. Give the Broncos credit, they kept Nicks in check and in front of them for the most part, but that amount of attention should show anyone watching who teams fear the most, and it is Nicks. WR Rueben Randle appeared to have scored after Myers’ catch and fall, but as is the blue print, if you’re a Giant with the football just give it away somehow. Randle finished with only 3 grabs for 14 yards after posting 101 in the opening loss to Dallas.

Tight Ends: TE Brandon Myers seems to be waking up a bit. After a miserable pre-season, Myers seems to be getting his footing, with 6 grabs for 74 yards and a noticeable improvement in blocking effort. Perhaps footing is a bit generous as Myers took what could have been an easy TD and stumbled forward for a 27 yard gain instead of a TD. TE Larry Donnell finished with 31 yards and 3 grabs, but again, mostly after the game had been decided. Give Donnell credit for an athletic penalty on the Giants onside kick that ultimately failed, #84 looked great doing it, but as with most of the effort in this game, it came up a bit short.

Offensive Line: Twenty-Three Yards. Say that to yourself a few times, let it sink in. Twenty-three yards on the ground with a team that forces its opponent to match up with 3 and 4 WR sets and defend the deep ball to keep WRs Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks from eviscerating their defenses. Look no further than the Giants first play on their second possession in which C David Baas seems to forget that it’s a football game and watches as DT Kevin Vickerson blows past him to drop David Wilson for a 3-yard loss. And in case you’re wondering yes, THAT Kevin Vickerson…you know the guy on his 3rd team in 9 years with a total of 62 games played out of a possible 144. (That would be a .430 batting average, not too shabby). You mean the Kevin Vickerson who once made 14 tackles in a single season for the Tennessee Titans, the same one who returned an interception 4 yards once in 2010? Yeah, try blocking that guy! RT Justin Pugh didn’t fare much better against the unstoppable Robert Ayers, who tossed Pugh aside and dropped Brandon Jacobs for another 3 yard loss on the first play of the Giants 3rd possession. In Pugh’s defense, it’s not fair to ask a rookie 1st rounder to take on another .420+ hitter. In Ayers first four seasons he has ripped off 24 starts in a 64 game stretch….pretty…pretty….pretty good. Against players in their 30s who routinely start 40% of their teams’ games, you can only sit back and hope your OL is alive by night’s end. Perhaps more impressive than Ayers ability to start, was his White Goodman like celebration after dropping Brandon Jacobs like it was the Dodgeball Regional Semifinals. For good measure, Baas let Terrence Knighton throw him aside to make a stuff on David Wilson on the Giants’ first drive of the second half.

Overall, solid pass protection, abysmal run blocking against a cast of veritable super stars that the Broncos line up at DT.

Defensive Line: DL Justin Tuck started week two off by knifing in on the game’s first play from the DT spot and dropping K (no more stupid names just letters from now on) Moreno for a 3 yard loss. Tuck’s pass rush was mostly neutralized by the repeated bear hugs from Denver RT Orlando Franklin, but the vet still finished with 8 stops. I won’t blame Gene Steratore, mostly because I think he may have me whacked, but Franklin was using the Hillbilly Jim bear hug as his go to pass blocking move. On the Broncos first scoring drive, DE Mathias Kiwanuka had a bead on Manning, only to be suplexed out of the way by Franklin as Steratore’s crew stood by presumably oblivious to the Giants frustration and possibly ignoring a foreign object. It must be noted though, that the DL seems content to whine about being held instead of trying to create separation with some hand punch and keeping the OL from getting so far inside. Tuck was absolutely the culprit though on K Moreno’s first TD as he allowed, once again, the OL to get inside his pads and keep him from extending his arms down the line of scrimmage to push the play wide enough for help to arrive. This is fundamentally bad football on that play, Tuck simply has to be more aware of where he is and what his job is as the play side DE and he looked quite frankly bored on the play as Moreno scampered by. Franklin was later seen spooning Tuck on a pass rush as Manning misfired on a 3rd down late in the 2nd half.

Rough game for DE Mathias Kiwanuka who was brushed aside all too easily on Moreno’s 2nd TD of the day and was victimized repeatedly on edge runs right at him. Reportedly Jason Pierre-Paul played, but I saw no signs of it. Give credit again to Giant big men, DT Shaun Rogers, Linval Joseph and Mike Patterson. The big three made it tough sledding inside for the Broncos, forcing the Broncos to go wide if they had any designs on ground yardage. Rogers had a 3 play stint in the 3rd quarter with two QB hurries, two hits and one bear paw swatting of Moreno who fell forward after being pawed by the Sumo sized Rogers. Sumo..that gives me an idea…maybe I’ll bring that up next week but it involves hockey and guaranteed shutouts.

Linebackers: LBs Spencer Paysinger and Jacquian Williams started as the only two backers against the Broncos pass happy attack and in those roles both played well. Paysinger and Williams combined for 14 stops and had decent coverage, keeping TE Julius Thomas in check for the most part with 47 yards and limiting Wes Welker’s damage over the middle to 39 yards on only 3 catches. Williams and Paysinger however both got completely swallowed on both of Moreno’s TD runs and once again, it looked like a glaring lack of effort on their part. Both play well in spurts but those edge runs, all afternoon, just had the Giants defenders looking like they were beaten before the play started, color me confused. Mark Herzlich managed to look like Bambi on a frozen pond as Holliday zoom zoom zoomed (damn you Mazda jingles) right past the former Eagle to pay dirt.

Defensive Backs: The Giant DBs have to get a lot of credit here, they came to play with another big challenge. Miscommunication is simply killing this secondary. On the game’s opening drive, Prince Amukamara seemed to be sinking in a Cover 2, ready to leave the deep half for S Ryan Mundy, who hesitated and jumped inside to follow TE Julius Thomas. The problem was, that WR Andre Caldwell AND Thomas were both open, allowing Caldwell to haul in a 36 yard gain down to the Giants 6 yard line on the game’s opening drive. Essentially Mundy covered no one, Amukamara covered no one and the Broncos were in business as the Giants failed to execute a simple coverage switch. Fortunately for the Giants, Prince was able to knock away a deep pass to WR Eric Decker in one on one coverage on an identical play, the difference is, the Giants blitzed and #20 expected no help, and didn’t need any.

Overall, despite the final score, a workman-like effort by Antrel Rolle, Ryan Mundy and Terrell Thomas, who totaled 19 stops and kept the Broncos trio in front of them for the most of the day.

Special Teams: Trindon Holliday is fast, Josh Brown kicks real good. Give LS Zak DeOssie credit, he must have been praying to…well nothing he’s an atheist, that he’d nab a shoelace on Holliday as the former LSU sprinter was racing to a back breaking TD. Outstanding effort by the Giant long snapper, despite the horrific result.

Cram it in your cramhole award: I mentioned to our fearless Editor Eric Kennedy how often I now have to look up names of the players while I am writing these diatribes. This week’s award was close, I almost gave it to Antonio Rodgers-Cromartie because for farts’ sake, enough with the hyphens and no more Cromarties! The winner though is the heretofore known as Snowshoe Moreno. I have renamed him Snowshoe because every time I typed his name, Microsoft Word squiggly red underlined it and suggested the following words instead: Know Shon, Knows On, Knowhow, Know-how or Snowshoe. I think you’ll agree with my choice.

(Boxscore – Denver Broncos at New York Giants, September 15, 2013)
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Sep 112013
 
 September 11, 2013  Posted by  Game Previews and Reviews
Victor Cruz, New York Giants (September 8, 2013)

Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Dallas Cowboys 36 – New York Giants 31

by Joey in VA for BigBlueInteractive.com

Game Review: Apoplexy at AT&T – Like most of you, I would love to chalk this one up to some bad bounces, tough breaks and a summer of Eli Manning and his WRs not having the time to practice but I simply can’t. Since taking over the play calling and installing his downfield heavy but still run and shoot offense, I have rarely been critical of offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride. Three NFC East titles, two super bowl wins and offensive records obliterated will do that to a fan of this team, especially one who appreciates Gilbride’s ability to adjust in-game and give his QB the blue print to victory more often than not. What we witnessed on the evening is simply mind boggling from an offense with a 10 year veteran QB with 2 Pro Bowl caliber WRs, a dynamic HB and a third WR on the verge of becoming a bona fide threat. Simply put, Kevin Gilbride failed in the New York Giants season opening debacle in Dallas and his QB, while game as always, and proved that he’s still prone to silly mistakes, poor mechanics and game killing plays.

Against former Cowboy defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s attacking, multiple look 3-4, I would expect an early screen pass to slow down the overweight Gandalf’s aggressive schemes. The key with Ryan has always been slowing down the rush, and keeping the front 7 honest but the Tampa 2 is a different animal. Inexplicably, Gilbride planned to attack a sound conservative Tampa 2 with an array of head scratching play calls. From the first snap, it was clear that Gilbride either hadn’t watched film of Monte Kiffin and his base 4-3, or decided that he was smarter than everyone in the building. With a young OL starting two new players in LG James Brewer and RT Justin Pugh, Gildbride decided that slowing down a 4-3 base defense meant fooling all everything DE DeMarcus Ware instead of attacking the woefully thin Cowboy interior that was without anchor Jay Ratliff and was using the 254lb Ware as a rush end from the right side. Instantly, Ware proved why he is the best defender in the division by reading a poorly executed screen and picking off an ill-advised Eli Manning screen pass to HB David Wilson. One screen play down, one disaster – check.

Eli and company appeared to have cleared the first hurdle, with Hakeem Nicks cutting underneath the 2 Deep zone for a 57 yard gain but four plays later, on a 1st and goal from the 8 yard line, David Wilson was in the middle of mistake number 2, coughing up the ball and killing a chance to take the lead on a night when momentum would swing wildly both ways. The beefed up Giants defense stepped into the breach again though, forcing a 3 and out and giving Eli and company a new set of downs from the Giant 38 only down by 3 after the 2 big mishaps. Manning must have been getting football on his phone, and not wanting to miss a minute, so he allowed his defensive mates another chance to take the field by tossing the ball right to S Will Allen. Still refusing to let the offense down, the Giants D again rose up, with ex-Steeler Ryan Mundy channeling his inner Stevie Brown on a deflected interception, only to channel his inner James Brown 91 yards later and flail to the ground short of the goal line.

With the score knotted at 3-3, Dallas finally got its bearings on offense, chewing up 7 minutes over a 14 play drive that ended with a second Dan Bailey FG and a narrow 6-3 lead. The mistakes just kept on coming with FB Henry Hynoski dooming the Giants next drive with an illegal shift penalty on first down that resulted in a 4-play 3-and-out and another failed series. Nine plays later the Giants defense finally broke on a 9 play 71 yard drive that put the home team up 13-3. Eli and company would not go quietly after three early turnovers and a stout defensive effort. Three plays after falling behind by 10, Manning found his favorite deep target Victor Cruz alone on a 70 yard bomb that pulled the G-men within 13-10, where it remained until after halftime.

After a Cowboy three and out, you could almost hear a chorus of “I’m rubber you’re glue, bounces off me and sticks to you” being sung by David Wilson, Da’Rel Scott and Trumaine McBride. The three combined to cough up the ball 3 more times, leading to 21 more easy Cowboy points and a late rally that fell short despite another desperate fourth quarter charge by Eli and Victor Cruz. With 8:47 to go in the contest and down just 30-24 after falling behind by 17, the Giants defense rallied to stifle the Dallas Cowboys on consecutive drives and you could almost hear the oddly tight skin on Jerry Jones’ neck cracking under the pressure of another Giant miracle right in his big backyard. Fortunately for anyone within 10 feet of the 87 year old bodied, 40 year old brained and 1,000 year old skinned Cowboy owner, the Giants rally fell short as a screen pass (two screens and two disasters, check and check) bounced off of the arms of reserve RB Da’Rel Scott into the arms CB Brandon Carr who returned the ball 49 yards and pushed the Big D bulge to 36-24, effectively ending the “Apoplexy at AT&T”.

Quarterback: Two Super Bowl MVPs and numerous fourth quarter rallies will always endear Eli Manning to the Big Blue Faithful, but it’s his maddening ability to make boneheaded plays early in the game must have remotes flying in more TV rooms than just mine. After a so so pre-season in which Eli seemed off, his first play from scrimmage was a nightmare, dumping the ball to DE DeMarcus Ware and putting the G-Men in a 3-0 hole just minutes into their opener. As he is wont to do though, Eli eventually overcame another turnover of his own and two by David Wilson to get the Giants within 6 with just under 9 minutes to play. As ugly as this game got for the former Rebel, it was sprinkled with some hope in the form of a few haymakers to Victor Cruz, a 57 yard crossing route to Hakeem Nicks and even a 100 yard game from 3rd WR Rueben Randle. The killer though, despite 4 TDs and 450 yards is that game ended and began on the same play against the precise type of defense you DON’T want to run that play on. Despite the heroics to make it a game, Eli has to be smarter with the ball, especially on screens to RBs who not yet demonstrated any capacity to step up in a real game. His final pick to Carr could have been avoided if he had not thrown it so quickly and to Scott’s outside shoulder with a traditional cover 2 press behind it in which the CBs play the short third and are in prime position to make those plays.

I have to put those two screen failures directly at his feet, despite my agitation with the screen passes against this defense. Eli simply made two very careless plays that led directly to 10 points and ultimately the difference in the game. You can lay this at Wilson’s feet, Coughlin’s red face, McBride’s surprisingly springy humerus or bury it somewhere in the push broom that Gilbride manicures so precisely but in the end, when you’re the leader, the highest paid player and have appeared with a Banana in place of your manhood on SNL you make the plays when it counts.

Running Backs: Blessed with world class speed and athletic ability, HB David Wilson can somehow engage his body to launch his 205lb frame into the air for a standing somersault but cannot call upon that power to hold on to a 15 oz. football. Wilson finished his first game as a starter the same way he started his first game last year, on the bench lamenting turnovers and watching his team lose a very winnable game. He doesn’t care about us according to the Twitterverse so why waste any time on him?

FB Henry Hynoski missed most of OTAs and camp with a knee (presumably he has two) and it showed in the opener. Not to absolve David Wilson, but his first fumble came on the heels of a badly missed Hynoski block. Shortly after missing a block, Hyno looked like a legendary strong man on his first reception attempt, with the football playing the role of the cannonball. Apparently, Gilbride decided he hadn’t gone to the Hynoski well enough. After Mundy’s INT, at the Cowboy 8, Hynoski ran an what appeared to be FB pass disguised as a dive, but he didn’t touch DE George Selvie on his way out to sell the fake and Selvie ran down Eli Manning and pushed the Giants further from the goal line yet again. David Wilson whiffed on Selvie for good measure, but inside the 5 yard line, I am not asking my 205 HB to take out a 270LB DE in a phone booth as my FB skips past unaware. This is another example of why this team bogs down in the red zone, poor execution from plays that don’t play to our strengths.

HB Da’Rel Scoti was a gamer, pressed into action after Wilson coughed up fumble #2, but Scott’s failure to catch an Eli Manning screen play ended the game on an ugly note.

Wide Receivers: WR Hakeem Nicks is back. On the Giants second possession, the former Tar Heel took a quick slant 57 yards to the Cowboys 23 yard line. Nicks took advantage of the soft cover 2 and was able to race through it untouched, setting up the Giants after a miserable opening drive. Victor Cruz’s new contract comes with renewed expectations and #80 made his money with 3 TDs and 118 yards on only 5 catches. Cruz ignited the Giants finally with 1:05 left in the first half by running a go route right between the hash marks where CB Morris Claiborne bailed expecting safety help and his safety incorrectly assumed Cruz was headed down the sideline. Great route, great play call and great throw by Manning there to keep the Giants in the game going into the half. WR Rueben Randle also had a 100 yard game, which has you fantasy nerds digging up your waiver wires but three 100 yard WR efforts and 0-1 isn’t a result I’d be too happy with.

Tight Ends: New TE Brandon Myers didn’t sit down in the zone on his first target from Eli, causing an early misfire in the red zone but made up for on a 3rd and 11 with a terrific catch from Manning that fell 2 yards short of a TD. Myers ended the game with some garbage time yardage ended up with 66 yards and TD but his blocking was woeful, an ordinary effort from an ordinary player.

Offensive Line: Do I have to? Really? I praise LT Will Beatty all pre-season for his heads up play and he makes the cardinal sin of the screen pass from an OL standpoint on play one. Generally, the screen is run between defenders, the key being that the 1st defender on the edge has to be taken wide to create a throwing lane before the OL can release downfield to block. You can almost see Beatty realize that as he scuffled back to try to slow down DE DeMarcus Ware as he was shooting the B gap right into Eli’s lap but that small lapse doomed the entire play. LG James Brewer got his first start and allowed penetration on David Wilson’s first fumble, again not an absolution of Wilson but the margin for error on our red zone plays is razor thin and we saw a domino effect of Brewer, Hynoski and Wilson all botching the play. Not wanting anyone to feel too sad, C Kevin Boothe also botched his block on Wilson’s ill-fated fumble. With no one over his nose, Booth had to scrape off the DT and get to the second level to seal pursuit from the DBs and LBs, but inexplicably Boothe sort of amoebaed around until three defenders shot past him, realizing he was just there to say hi and not actually make a block. Brewer also gave up a quick pressure to DL Jason Hatcher that doomed a 3rd down play, but the new LG was adequate enough, albeit against a slew of backups at DT. Overall not a terrible effort by the OL, but it’s clear the timing isn’t there on running plays just yet and this group needs time to gel. RT Justin Pugh played solidly, not great, but I expect more from the right side in the coming weeks.

Defensive Line: Subway pitch man Justin Tuck put down his 5 dollar foot long (the sandwich you sickos) long enough to disrupt Tony Romo on the game’s first defensive series. Tuck lined up at LDT and tossed RG Mackenzy Bernadeau aside to rush the throw and hold the Cowboys to a field goal after starting on the Giant 15. The defensive line wasn’t able to get a lot of shots on Romo, but it appeared the plan was to contain him in the pocket and play disciplined gaps up front. There were a handful of stunts, but for the most part the front 4 were there to contain the edges and disrupt the pocket where possible. Give Romo and his mates credit though, 49 passes and only 2 sacks resulted from an abundance of shotgun formations and 3 step drops designed to get the ball out quickly and not let the Giants talented front take over the game. Overall the DL acquitted itself well, holding Romo to 263 yards and Murray to a very tough 86 on the ground. My biggest gripe is that I saw very little of our 6-5 and plus DEs getting their hands in the air when it was clear they were playing to contain Romo in the pocket and not let him have the edge to sprint out and extend plays.

The long awaited return of JPP didn’t bear fruit until a 4th quarter sack of Tony Romo, as Cowboy LT Tyron Smith was able to neutralize the former all pro single-handedly most of the evening. Again, it appeared that the play side DEs were instructed to hold the pocket and keep Romo in it, but even on those plays, Smith was adept enough to negate JPPs reach simply by getting his hands outside of Pierre-Paul’s shoulder pads and keeping him from using his wingspan to cut down Romo’s passing lanes. Credit Smith and his OL coach for that going on most of the evening, it’s not easy to keep rangy DEs like JPP and Mathias Kiwanuka from batting down there share of balls, when it’s clearly in their plan of attack to do so. Tom Brady’s throwing through a forest comment in Super Bowl 46 must have reached someone’s ears in Dallas. I don’t do it often, but hell of a job scouting what our DEs to well and making a point to almost totally negate it through the game. The bigger DTs made it tougher sledding for Cowboy backs, but no real impact plays from the trio of Joseph, Patterson and Rogers save for a late sack.

Linebackers: The Giants LB corps just reminds me of a party that no one really hated or no one really liked. You show up, see a few people, make note of some guys wearing jerseys in the 50s who just kind of hang around for 2.5 hours. That’s real football science for you kids! All terrible analogies aside, I see no impact at LB, not in the running game, and with a few Jacquian Willams passes defended aside nothing in the passing game. New MLB Dan Connor didn’t do much before bowing out with a stinger. Give Williams credit on the Romo Malachi Crunch that gave the Cowboy QB an apparent boo boo that had his wife upset, Jerry Jones frantic and NJ Governor and now traitor Chris Christie looking very heavy and overly tan for a man of his corpulence. Number 57 launched himself at RT Doug Free (who coincidentally looks like a Dave Attell on steroids) and gave Kiwi a clean shot at Tony Romo. Replacement Mark Herzlich led the front 7 in stops but it was his lax coverage on TE Jason Witten that allowed the Cowboys first TD.

Defensive Backs: Give credit where credit is due, and as a unit the Giants much maligned secondary played on hell of a game on Sunday night. Even without turnover machine Stevie Brown, the DBs were able to slow down the Cowboys fast break offense that features four legitimate game breakers who can beat you if you stop any of the others. Holding Dez Bryant to 22 yards on 4 catches and keeping Miles Austin to a 7.2 yard average is an impressive performance especially when coupled with the Giants inability to hold on to the football. Starting safety Antrel Rolle may have saved an early TD with an outstanding open field tackle on DeMarco Murray after the Giants blitz left him all alone in the flat against the dangerous ex-Sooner. Rolle has been vocal all off season about improving this defense and backed it up on Sunday night with 5 stops and generally sound coverage all night on a dangerous Dallas receiving corps. Rolle did however badly miss an open field stop on TE Jason Witten on a 3rd and 11 that allowed the Cowboys to convert but don’t forget that the other guys get paid too. New S Ryan Mundy started off with a bang, getting plowed by HB DeMarco Murray after a punishing 11 yard run, but made up for it with a 91 yard interception return and collapse.

CB Prince Amukamara played a little too soft on WR Miles Austin, allowing an early slant and first down, but Amukamara did a great job of re-routing a Cowboy WR, tipping the ball into the waiting arms of Ryan Mundy who apparently can only run 91 yards without oxygen. Nickel Back Terrell Thomas returned from a 2 year absence and almost took one to the house, jumping between Romo and his intended target to knock the ball harmlessly away. Thomas tackled well and competed all night, if he stays healthy it will be a huge boost to this group. CB Corey Webster presumably flipped a coin, it landed on heads and he decided this year he’d be good. Had it been tails like last year, there’s no telling which #23 we would see. Lined up over Bryant a good portion of the night, C-Web was smart, physical and sound, not missing tackles and staying in Bryant’s back pocket most of the night.

Special Teams: CB Trumaine McBride had the biggest special teams play of the night. Not big as in, “My that’s a big engagement ring”, more like “I remember thinkin to myself. Wow, that’s O.J. Simpson, he has a big f#*&in head man” (Charlie Murphy). Not even a melon like OJs is enough to make you get over the football bouncing off of McBride’s arm like it was an ejector seat from the old G.I. Joe cartoons. Kicker kicked, punter punted whoopee, we lost – I hate special teams when we lose.

Cram it in your cramhole award: Each week I will make fun of an opposing player, coach, owner, fan or all of the above depending on how much I’ve had to drink while writing this. This week, the award goes to…“He’s faking…hey ref..he’s faking..see he’s faking” – Cowboys idiot Jason Witten after DL Cullen Jenkins got his arm stepped on and had to leave with a burner. Maybe Cullen was faking it, but maybe you looked like the dork in class who rats out someone on the playground for putting dirt down your shorts instead of getting even. For record, I have not once put dirt down anyone’s shorts (that anyone can prove here, at Aquinas Catholic School or otherwise).

(Boxscore – New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys, September 8, 2013)
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Sep 042013
 
 September 4, 2013  Posted by  Game Previews and Reviews
Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin (August 29, 2013)

Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New England Patriots 28 – New York Giants 20

by Joey in VA for BigBlueInteractive.com

INTERIOR GILLETTE STADIUM-NIGHT

A lone hooded man, pantless paces in front of a full length mirror, a single beam of light cascading on his sweating brow.

There seems to be something troubling this man, struggles of years past etched painfully across his countenance. Three new prominent wrinkles, each earned through loss. After a few darting glances, he stops and stares intently into the mirror.

HOODED MAN

(muttering rapidly) Perfect season…18-0…we were 18-0..Moss..Brady..touchdown yes touchdown..19-0 is next…sack Eli..sack..Eli sit…sit…SIT DAMN YOU…he’s free…can’t be…Harrison..the ball it’s on his helmet!!! Ok still time…Burress..single covered…gimpy knee it’s ok it’s going to be ok…he can’t run…Manningham can’t beat us…won’t…stopped Nicks, stopped Cruz gonna win now……your ring?…Mr. Kraft…where is.your ring? He took THAT TOO??? (ok technically that was Vladimir Putin, just go with it here)…Tebow…I will unleash Tebow and all will be right again. (Screaming) You tell Tom Coughlin I’m coming and Tebow’s coming with me ya hear…TEBOW’S COMING WITH ME!

–SCENE

Ah, Bill Belichick and his seemingly endless supply of pettiness. I would imagine that watching Tim Tebow flail around like Garo Yepremian had the shabbily dressed hall of fame coach fuming, so in true Patriot style little Bill just had to twist the knife a bit. With a one point lead, 9 seconds on the clock and the ball at the New York Giants 9 yard line, Jesus H. Tebow threw hopefully his final NFL pass to stake the New England Patriots to a 28-20 lead which was in no danger of being lost. I suppose you play to the whistle, even in the pre-season, but that TD pass was vintage Belichick, useless, petty and vindictive. Hopefully that pass makes up for losing two Super Bowls to Tom Coughlin and having your owner’s Super Bowl ring purloined by Vladimir Putin over the summer.

Quarterbacks: Eli Manning’s pre-season, aside from a long TD pass to Victor Cruz has been forgettable. On the Giants’ first possession, Manning had two straight bad incompletions, one on a flutter pass to Hakeem Nicks that sailed high and another badly overthrown ball that hinted at miscommunication with either Hakeem Nicks or Brandon Myers. Even on Manning’s longest completion to WR Louis Murphy the ball seemed to flutter down the sideline, but there is no reason to think Manning won’t be ready come week 1.

Running Backs: HB David Wilson picked up 37 yards on 6 carries (6.16 per), including a 16 yard scoot around left end on the Giants first scoring drive. Wilson had a tough 6 yard run in the red zone, getting the Giants in a manageable 3rd and 2 at the Pats three yard line. Wilson is making little improvements weekly, I have no doubt that he’s about to explode onto the NFL scene and take this offense with him. If it wasn’t for bad luck yadda yadda yadda, Andre Brown is cursed. Brown wont’ be confused with Boris the Bullet Dodger anytime soon, because when there’s an injury around, Andre seems to find it. After a string of injuries that have derailed his NFL career, Andre Brown looked poised to be the #2 back in the Giants attack, but a broken bone in his leg will keep that from being a reality until most likely week 10 of the regular season when #35 is eligible to be off of short term IR and the Giants come back from a week 9 bye. Roster long shot Da’Rell Scott had a solid outing, running for 25 hard earned yards and picking up a 6 yard TD pass from fellow roster hopeful QB Curtis Painter. With Brown’s injury, Scott seems to be the next man up, but late word is that the Giants worked out former Cardinal Beanie Wells and ex-Steeler Jonathan Dwyer so Scott’s stay on the 53 may be short lived.

Receivers: After starting slowly, Hakeem Nicks finally found the end zone on a 3 yard slant, but he and Eli had two weird miscues on the Giants opening drive to continue a frustrating pre-season for the Giants offense. Hakeem still looks a bit timid to me out there, not quite favoring anything but not quite going full speed either. My gut keeps telling me that eating pizza is OK and it won’t make me fat, but it also tells me that Hakeem may not be 100% yet. I doubt the former and believe the latter. Louis Murphy got on the scoreboard with an athletic 37 yard leaping grab on a Manning duck in the first quarter, but overall another quiet game for the “knife”.

Tight Ends: TE Brandon Myers finally made his presence felt in the passing game, with 3 catches for 42 yards, including a well-run square in on 3rd and 4 that was good for 10 yards and a first down. Myers had to fight through some traffic and not tip off his route, which he did well by breaking down and selling an out just enough to create  separation for him to cut inside and pick up the first down. I have been hard on Myers’ blocking thus far and will continue to be but that play is a great example of why he’s here. Myers simply knows how to get open against tight interior coverage. What Myers still struggles with is in-line blocking, notably on a 1st and 10 from the Pats 11, he allowed LB Dane Fletcher to stand him up and toss him aside, shutting down RB David Wilson before he had a chance. Fletcher is a 245lb journeyman OLB, not a good sign when your starting TE is getting tossed around by middle of the road backups who are similarly sized.

Offensive Line:  Author favorite, LG James Brewer got his first start of the pre-season and played very well, albeit against the Patriots second teamers. Brewer’s natural bulk inside is a big asset in pass protection, he is simply a tough guy to get past on sheer size alone. The former Hoosier also displayed solid footwork and hand punch, adeptly shuffling laterally in pass protection against the Pats varied fronts and not getting caught flat footed by any blitzers. One of the biggest mistakes that young interior OL seem to make is to attack blitzers and try to seal them off, which often times leaves a big lane for a looping DL or delayed rusher to get through easily and shut down a play. By sealing off their gap and moving laterally (wide base, parallel to the line of scrimmage) instead of lunging too far forward, pass blockers are able to essentially pass off rushers down the line without allowing gap penetration. That type of cohesion though, takes time and with two new young starters that may be an area of concern early on in the season for Eli and the offense. That said, so far so good. Pugh and Brewer seem to be catching on quickly and I may be a fool for thinking it, but I think this starting 5 gives us our best chance up front to be effective running and passing the ball.

LT Will Beatty did an outstanding job on David Wilson’s 16 yard run late in the first quarter. With LG James Brewer pulling right to misdirect the DL, Beatty feigned a down block to pull the DE inside, who was then chipped by C Kevin Boothe who in essence ran a twist with Brewer. Beatty then turned outside and sealed off the play side LB giving Wilson the edge and the Giants a much needed shot in the arm on their lone first half touchdown.

Defensive Line: DTs Linval Joseph and Cullen Jenkins had little trouble early neutralizing the Pats running game and getting consistent push on the pocket. Unfortunately for Justin Tuck, he was victimized early by an end around that was good for 16 yards. Tuck didn’t bite on the offensive tackle blocking down and was in good position to make a play, but the Pats ran a delayed trap with their FB who was able to create the room WR Josh Boyce needed to get to the edge for a solid gain. As the game wore on and my pre-season patience was spent, DTs Shaun Rogers, Marvin Austin and Mike Patterson played plenty in the second half, presumably auditioning for Tom Coughlin. Unfortunately for Austin, Patterson and Rogers had more impact and won the roster spots, thus spelling doom for the former Tar Heel who spent more time in the training room than in the locker room during his inglorious run in blue.

Linebackers: After playing better last week, the LBs were again maddening. Keith Rivers showed good hustle early clamping down on an outside run, but following it up with getting caught looking inside on Josh Boyce’s end around. This group continues to be victimized by play action and misdirection, something that does not bode well in the NFC East. Mark Herzlich was again active against backups, with a total of 8 stops and an interception.

Defensive Backs: Starting safeties Antrell Rolle and Ryan Mundy both had big hits on the Patriots’ first drive, both down low on swing passes outside. The reason I mention that is two-fold: (1) Rolle seems to be moving without a hitch after his ankle sprain and (2) it appears that we may see more single high safety coverage this year. On back to back plays on the Pats’ opening drive, the duo was lined up in 2-deep coverage, but at the snap the safety who had more eligible receivers on his side slid down to a traditional strong safety alignment and the other bailed out to a cover-3 technique. Thankfully QB Ryan Mallett was off target on a couple of passes, because CB Prince Amukamara was clearly playing cover 2 press and watched as the WR flew past him. LB Jacquian Williams flattened out to the same area which is the indicator that it was in fact cover 3 with the CBs having deep third and the OLBs covering the flats and hook zones. Don’t think teams won’t see that miscue on tape and look to exploit it. The backend communication has to improve or this defense will be on its heels plenty this season, no matter who is back there on deep patrol.

Pre-Season Odds and Ends:

“Forget it Jake (BBI), it’s Chinatown (Pre-Season)” Pre-season does it to me every year. I get unhinged over unacceptable play, despondent over dreadful defense, perturbed at poor passes and I bemoan barely NFL caliber blocking from a chorus line of players who try as they may, just don’t quite have what it takes. Jake Gittes couldn’t change Chinatown and we can’t change the pre-season, no matter how maddening and pointless it seems at times. Consider the casualties: Victor Cruz’s heel, Andre Brown’s leg, Stevie Brown’s ACL, David Baas’ MCL, Andre Robinson’s foot, Aaron Curry’s comeback, Mark Herzlich’s starting job, David Diehl’s thumb, Marvin Austin’s potential and the 3 or 4 minutes each week you lose mucking through this rehash. It’s enough to make you swear off the pre-season. That is until next summer when you’re tired of re-runs, mosquitoes and everyone’s predictable vacation pictures on Facebook (“LOL Little Timmy Luvs the sand just like gammaw! LOL”-kill me) you will hunger for that first game and be right back here 4 weeks later wishing the backups would just go away already.

Running Backs: HB David Wilson is almost ready for prime time. Consider Wilson’s 24 pre-season carries as one game and you see an eye-popping 179 yards and a 7.5 yard average per tote. I can hear the “Take away that 84 yarder and..” crowd now, but even if we do Wilson is good for 23 carries for 95 yards and a solid 4.1 yard average. Make no mistake, Wilson will have defensive coordinators uneasy because of his ability to score any time he has the ball. Couple that with a QB who can threaten teams all over the field with an array of pass catchers and you may have one of the most explosive Giants offenses we have ever seen.

Tight Ends: If I didn’t outright predict it, I meant to. Not in a Dionne Warwick Psychic Friends way either, I honestly thought the Giants would end up carrying 4 TEs when I saw Brandon Myers and Adrien Robinson’s blocking this pre-season. Myers has neither the will or the ability and Robinson simply makes too many mistakes, which leaves us with old reliable Bear Pascoe to be the blocker at TE and the improving Larry Donnell to likely be the second blocker in the mix. Myers should be more Y receiver than TE, and give Eli a great security blanket in the intermediate areas of the field. A reliable target down low like Myers should be a great complement to the field stretching abilities of Cruz, Nicks, Randle, Murphy and Wilson.

Defensive Line: The revamped defensive line seemed to be as advertised, bigger, badder and meaner against the run, and hopefully led by resurgent DE Justin Tuck. After sitting out the opener, Tuck responded with three solid outings and finally displaying the type of solid run technique that vaulted him to elite status in 2010 and 2011. Tuck’s shoulder injuries cannot be understated here. The ability to extend your arms and keep OL from getting inside leverage is D-Line fundamentals 101, but Tuck was unable to do that for the better part of the past 2 seasons (I still blame Fat Flozell Adams for that) and his play and the defense’s suffered as a result. At his best, Tuck anchors the left side against the run, staying parallel to the line of scrimmage, preventing OL from getting to the second level and setting the edge against the outside running game. I watched Tuck very closely this pre-season and his technique is once again rock solid as was his performance. Joining the joyride is veteran DE Mathias Kiwanuka who in the place of the balky Jason Pierre-Paul has been perhaps the best defender on the team this preseason. Kiwi is back at end where he belongs, and has been turning running plays inside with picture perfect technique and leverage. A healthy and energetic #94 will play a big role for this defense as the season unfolds. New DTs Cullen Jenkins, Mike Patterson and Shaun Rogers (he didn’t play last year so he’s new to me) seemed to be the shot in the arm this interior sorely needed to reclaim the line of scrimmage. Fighting for a career, Patterson responded with a very strong pre-season, adding a 1.5 sack finale against the Patriots to secure his spot among the final 53. Time again that trio was able to maintain their gaps and collapse the pocket when needed, showing the flexibility to stuff the run and harass QBs into hurried throws. DT Linval Joseph won’t be alone this season as he was for most of 2012, with Chris Canty on the PUP for half the year and struggling for the remainder, and young ineffective contributors Markus Kuhn and Marvin Austin not giving him much help. Speaking of Austin, this pre-season marked the end of his frustrating tenure as a Giant. Armed with physical talents that few DTs possess, Austin fell victim to the injury bug for 2 years, and was out of football for nearly 3 when coupled with his suspension while at the University of North Carolina. With a full off season under his belt this was Austin’s last chance to prove he belonged in Blue but his bid fell short as Mike Patterson far outplayed him and rookie DT Johnathan Hankins was likely drafted to take his place.

Offensive Line: The Giants struggled through the preseason offensively and some of that falls at the feet of the now under fire Offensive Line. The original starting five of Beatty, Boothe, Baas, Snee and Diehl has become Beatty, Brewer, Boothe, Snee and Pugh, which may be an upgrade when all is said and done. LT Will Beatty was simply outstanding this preseason, injuries behind him, the former UConn Huskie has cemented himself as the Giants best OL and in my view one of the better LTs in all of football. He’s not at the pinnacle, but he’s not far behind after his strong pre-season showing. Beatty was active against the run, flawless against the pass and at times downright nasty, which is something we have yet to see out of the oft nicked tackle. RT Justin Pugh, the Giants mildly surprising first rounder, acquitted himself well after stepping in for the injured David Diehl and seemingly going from untested to battle hardened in a few snaps. The man Giant fans love to call T-Rex (by fans I mean me, short arm jokes are always funny) is as advertised, a polished technician with a little bit of attitude. Watching Pugh and RG Chris Snee should get fun as the season wears on and the two establish some chemistry up front. LG James Brewer is I admit, a personal favorite and his start against New England in the pre-season finale had me giddy. Giddy you ask? Yes, giddy. My job is stressing me out, families of fruit flies seem to be on every piece of produce that enters my house, I can’t keep basil from dying and I haven’t been on a vacation in 2 years. Watching an erratic but talented backup OL finally get his shot is what I call fun nowadays so quit laughing at my pain and read on. Brewer’s debut at LG was against backups, but I saw solid footwork especially in pass protection, where Brewer has tended to struggle. Brewer was aggressive and displayed the type of power that could get him a permanent gig up front. Having a wide bodied mauler at LG would do wonders for this running game, here’s hoping #73 continues his ascent and becomes a regular fixture on the offensive line.

Defensive Backs: CB Aaron Ross had a rough pre-season, watching an INT turn into a TD against Reggie Wayne, and committing a few dopey penalties along the way. Fellow CB Jayron Hosley had a solid interception return but overall was shaky, giving up a TD pass to T.Y. Hilton and at times looking lost yet again. Losing interception machine Stevie Brown will hurt, someone from the group of Terrell Thomas, Cooper Taylor and Will Hill has to step into the breach and make a contribution or the Giants will be hard pressed to compete for a post season berth.

(Boxscore – New York Giants at New England Patriots, August 29, 2013)
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Aug 272013
 
 August 27, 2013  Posted by  Game Previews and Reviews
David Wilson, New York Giants (August 24, 2013)

David Wilson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Jets 24 – New York Giants 21 (OT)

by Joey in VA for BigBlueInteractive.com

Author’s whiny excuse: Before we get started, please note that the NFL Network replay took us from 7:37 left in the half right after Justin Tuck’s INT to 2:00 left in the half with the Giants facing a 3rd and 2 form the Jet 2. That’s one Giant and Jet offensive series and 8 more plays of another Giants drive completely cut out the broadcast. If you notice something I left out that was impactful, please keep in mind it may have happened during this Heidi like interruption and fast forward. The stinking Jets…always the stinking Jets, now on with the show.

Game Overview: The Agony of Da Feet- Ok kids, it’s only pre-season but losing to the Jets always stinks. THE JETS!! I do not expect the Giants to make Rex Ryan happy unless they change the name of MetLife Stadium to Dr. Scholl’s Field and give away dirty insoles to the coach with the whitest teeth. Disturbing foot fetishes aside, Ryan saw his rookie QB Geno Smith toss 3 ugly interceptions and saw Mark “Where’s my Hair Tie” Sanchez get knocked out of the game by…wait for it, former 2nd rounder DT Marvin Austin. Throw in an 84 yard TD run by David Wilson on the game’s first snap and you have all the makings of another Jet excuse-a-thon. Yet somehow the Giants managed to boot away this game despite some highlight reel plays by the beleaguered Giants defenders and a Wilson run that even a Hokie hater on Long Island could appreciate. (No one in particular, just musing about David Wilson).

After Wilson’s electrifying TD run, the defense saw fit to short circuit the effort with 4 straight penalties on the Jets’ second possession leading the way for Geno Smith to toss a relatively uncontested 22 yard TD pass to Ben Obomanu, tying the score at 7. After two Giant punts and one Jet punt sandwiched in between, Prince Amukamara gave the Giants life by snatching the ball out of Ryan Spadola’s presumably Capicola covered hands to give Eli and company the ball at the Jet 44 yard line. The Giants would end up kicking themselves again for a missed opportunity as Eli led his charges to a second ugly 3 and out in a row. One ill-advised outlet pass to David Wilson for a loss of 4 and floated a ball out of Hakeem Nicks cut short any chance to capitalize on Amukamara’s turnover. Stevie Brown felt the agony of da feet, as his left foot got caught awkwardly in the MetLife turf, resulting in a torn ACL and lost season for the ball hawking safety from Michigan. I won’t harp on the curse of the Jets preseason game, but can someone find a witch doctor, shaman, monk, wizard, priest, rabbi or anyone who has ridden in the Mystery Machine to find and end this thing once and for all? Personally I take it as a sign that the Jets should be disbanded and sold for parts (dibs on Rex’s teeth, I need to replace some fence posts).

Granted the dog a** Jets won the game but not without using their #1 offense until the 4th quarter and using incumbent starter Mark Sanchez to mop up against guys who will be mopping somewhere in the not too distant future. No play summed up the Jets desperate need to feel good than “Solider” TE Kellen Winslow, (who doesn’t deserve to be called junior out of respect for his supremely more accomplished father), woofing up the Giants sideline after making one catch against backups in the 3rd quarter of a pre-season game. It’s war out there though, right Kellen? You’re a perfect Jet, big name, big mouth, and little production.

I think Carl Banks summed up the Jets’ chances the best when talking about Mark Sanchez “You go from a butt fumble to a shotgun snap that you just drop”. Butt fumble, we will always love you.

Quarterbacks: I hope Olivia said there’d be says like this, because Eli had one. Hitting only 8 of 20 passes for 83 yards and just looking off the whole night, the two time Super Bowl MVP had a forgettable night. Despite three first half interceptions from his defense and an 84 yard jaunt by his 2nd year HB, the Manning led Giants offense was only able to muster 10 first half points despite a first and goal at the 4 and 3 gift interceptions that gave his offense good field position against a shaky Jets defense that jettisoned its best player in lieu of paying him. Ten years in the league and 2 rings gives a guy a pass during the preseason, but this was ugly Eli at his ugly worst.

With his helmet on, backup hopeful QB Curtis Painter reminds me of the wide eyed Tobias Beecher, thankfully he doesn’t play like him. (NTTAWT!) Painter missed his first attempt to Jerrel Jernigan (which instantly had me hoping that Adibisi would slap him in the huddle) but actually played fairly well in his first extended action despite running for his life behind a backup preseason OL. Look, I know Seal Team Six faced mortal danger in killing Osama Bin Laden, but let’s see them line up behind a 3rd string OL in mop up duty in a pre-season game and see how tough they are. Despite 7 straight missed passes Painter finished a respectable 13 for 29 for 140 yards in just over a half. It’s probably not enough to unseat David Carr, but Painter was a gamer.

Running Backs: Emerging HB David Wilson had a Barry Sanders like game, with 92 yards on 5 totes with one electrifying 84 yard TD run that was the pinnacle of the Giants evening. So that’s 4 carries for 8 yards on his other efforts, but this type of hit and miss running will show up until Wilson matures on the field a bit more and is able to set his blocks and be more efficient play to play. In the meantime, having a back that can score from anywhere on the field should keep some safeties honest and open up the middle for Victor Cruz once he’s back and healthy.

Ryan Torain may not make the squad but it won’t be for lack of effort against the Jets. The former Bronco and Redskin ran punishingly every time he got the rock. I realize 33 yards on 7 totes isn’t Jim Brown territory but Torain was downright Dorsey Levens vs. the Eagles tough out there. Andre Brown essentially took batting practice in the 2nd quarter, running 7 boring times for 17 boring yards – expect more when the bullets are live.

Wide Receivers: Minus Victor Cruz, the Giants again struggled mightily through the air. Oft dinged WR Hakeem Nicks again looked off with his QB, collecting only one catch for 34 yards and generally looking out of sync. Roster hopeful Julian Talley pulled in 3 balls for 37 yards and looked decent doing so. Certainly a long shot, Talley showed good burst off the line and good body control in his routes. Not the biggest or fastest guy out there, Talley looked like a poor man’s Ike Hilliard to me. It may be his next to last game in blue but Talley turned in a solid 2nd half. Leading the way for the Giants offense is another training room regular, Jerrel Jernigan. The 5-8 former Troy product turned in a 5 catch 66 yard performance and even drew a double team over the middle on a couple of occasions. Jernigan though, short armed a pass in the red zone (read: gator arms) which to me is inexcusable at any level, especially for a guy looking to make a name with Victor Cruz sidelined. Jernigan has the quickness and appears to have the hands, but something is missing that may never surface with the talented but underperforming WR. Jernigan doesn’t seem to trust himself or want the ball badly enough at times.

Tight Ends: Brandon Myers may have caught 79 passes in Oakland last year, but his job will be to block at times, something he just does not seem to relish. On a counter play midway through the 2nd quarter, Myers was blocking the backside and instead of walling off the play, he meekly tossed a shoulder while turning sideways. That halfhearted shoulder lunge is the mark of a man who does not relish contact and does not want to be a good blocker badly enough. I’m not Myers, it’s hard to question the toughness of an NFL caliber player for a guy who sits at a desk but compared to his peers, Myers is not willing and looks very hesitant to get dirty blocking. Adrien Robinson again had his ups and downs run blocking, looking a little unsure of who to block and when in his time out there. It should come as no surprise the coaches are harping on backup TE Larry Donnell, who has the size to be the blocking TE this team will sorely need.

Offensive Line: The OL shuffle is underway and hopefully not done yet. Center Jim Cordle took over for the again injured David Baas and the returns were awful. Cordle was shoved back like a big sack of flour by DL Muhammad Wilkerson and Damon Harrison over and over and his footwork getting to the second level against the Jets big 3-4 was just not very good. Harrison led the Jets in tackles from the NT spot, not a good sign for a center hoping to win a job.

Justin Pugh continued his solid play, despite a false start to start the 2nd half which I still dispute (T-Rex can do no wrong to me). Pugh did have a shaky play as journeyman LB Antwan Barnes got inside of Pugh on a 3rd down, but the T-Rex was able to hang on long enough to keep Barnes at bay until OL Selvish Capers was kind enough to let him off the hook with an ole’ of his own that saw Painter get planted by former Giant DT Leger Douzable. The backups overall struggled as a unit, but Brandon Mosley and Stephen Goodin both appeared to be more settled than they were a week ago. Not great by any stretch, but watching all 3 games so closely it is apparent that some of these guys are really working and improving week to week.

Defensive Line: Perhaps aware that Rex would be watching below the knee closely, happy feet infected the Giants DL early in the game, with DTs Cullen Jenkins and Linval Joseph tiptoeing across the line early on back to back plays on the Jets’ first scoring drive. DE Mathias Kiwanuka is playing the best football of his career this preseason. Kiwi showed the ability to stack and shed on the Jets’ first TD drive, ignoring the down block of LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson, avoiding a pathetic crack back by WR Jeremy Kerley and maintaining gap integrity to pull down RB Chris Ivory for a 3 yard gain. Interestingly enough, the play was from the Pistol formation and Kiwi did not jump inside and follow Ferguson, but instead flattened out, read the QB and made the play once he saw QB Geno Smith did not have the football. The Giants DEs have eaten up the dive fakes out of the Pistol and cost the defense dearly by abandoning their gaps but that appears to be on the way to being cured, or at least was against Geno and Jets. For good measure Kiwi also flew down on a first quarter punt, forcing the Jet returner out after he’d turned the corner and appeared headed for a solid gain.

Is it a coincidence that Shallow Hal was on TV at the same time the Giants were facing the Jets? New Tony Robbins acolyte Justin Tuck must have seen Jets’ QBs as Tom Brady and envisioned that it was the Super Bowl, because #91 was…dare I say…back? Tuck showed up early, closing down a run to his side with near perfect technique, keeping his outside arm free and forcing RB Chris Ivory inside where he was dropped for a 3 yard loss. Tuck’s ability to stay low, keep his shoulders square to the LOS and string plays out is what made him a premier run defender in 2010 and 2011. That play disappeared for the most part with Tuck’s litany of injuries, but if Saturday was any indication the former Golden Domer may have a comeback year under his belt. Also of note with Tuck, he seems to be doing more hand fighting with OTs play to play, a sure sign his shoulder is up to par and he’s no longer limited physically.

DT Mike Patterson again flashed inside with 3 stops and no ground given against the run. Patterson is another defender who seems to be picking it up week by week. Patterson had great inside push near the goal line and almost tossed his man right into Geno Smith’s lap.

DE Adrian Tracy has yet to make a peep and it appeared he was responsible for Ben Obomanu on the Jets first half TD. Granted that’s a precarious spot for a DE but the Giants appeared to be in man coverage with Tracy trailing the backside WR who happened to find an opening for a relatively easy score. Put that one on Perry Fewell more than Tracy. That said Tracy sure does look like Li’l Osi out there, dodging blockers and avoiding plays like he was allergic to them. Backup DE Matt Broha took an inexcusable angle near the goal line to allow an easy Jet TD in the 3rd quarter but again, it was Jet 1s vs Giants 2s and 3s so don’t be overly concerned. Marvin Austin notched an actual sack and knocked Mark Sanchez out of the game, perhaps the light is finally coming on for the heralded UNC product. One more chance to make the roster against the Pats on Thursday, expect #96 to come out guns blazing to save his NFL career.

Linebackers: Spencer Paysinger, I apologize. I called for the hook after two so so games in which the 3rd year pro made tackles, but very little impact. Paysinger played with a lot more verve in game #3, stepping up into the hole to stuff Jet runs on 2 plays of the Jets’ first scoring drive and playing solidly down field in coverage on multiple occasions. Losing Michael Boley left a big hole for someone to fill and it appears that Paysinger is taking on the challenge to fend off talented backup Jacquian Williams. Keith Rivers had his most active day as well, notching 4 stops and similar to Paysinger, looking far more aggressive than he had in the previous two weeks. Dan Connor didn’t check in to the stat sheet, but was again consistently around the ball, which may not be enough to keep the job for long. Clearly my scorn inspires players as deposed starting MLB Mark Herzlich played an outstanding game, piling up 8 tackles and a sort of sack as Geno Smith tapped his feet out bounds for a Giants safety.

It was late in the 3rd quarter that LB Jacquian Williams finally gave the G-men a Spider moment, not backing down from WR Stephen Hill who was crying about being tackled too hard. Atta boy Jacquian, you don’t take no s#*t off nobody, good for you!

Backup LB Kyle Bosworth had an impact, notching 7 total stops and a few QB hits. I must admit, I held the movie “Stone Cold” with his uncle Brian against Kyle, but I am now willing to forego that 90 minute mistake and judge Kyle on his play only. Honestly, Bosworth may have made the roster with his play against the Jets, he was everything Aaron Curry never was, quick, physical, hungry and aggressive.

Defensive Backs: Aaron Ross may be happy to be back but he’s got a weird way of showing it, by picking up his second hands to the face penalty in as many weeks. Granted last week it was a facemask, but who am I to split hairs, especially when I make Larry David look hirsute? Ross is playing aggressively but he’s got to clean up the penalties or he’ll be encroaching on Frank Walker territory. Prince Amukamara gave up a quick out on 3rd down to Jeremy Kerley that ultimately led to a Jet scoring drive, but #20 quickly made up for it by ripping the ball out of WR Ryan Spadola’s hands over the middle two drives later and forcing Smith into his first of 3 interceptions on the night.

Slowly but surely new Giant Ryan Mundy is starting to show up. Tallying 3 stops, Mundy was active in the box and generally in good position down field. Losing Brown is a blow for sure, you can’t replace 8 interceptions easily, but Mundy may be another diamond in the rough DB find for this ever vigilant personnel department. How they keep unearthing gems from other teams is beyond me, but they clearly have the formula for filling in the roster.

The return of CB Terrell Thomas from two straight ACL surgeries was an encouraging sign, but watching him pull up and avoid contact on a screen play early in the 2nd quarter was not. At first Thomas seemed to be avoiding contact on the play, but as the game wore on Thomas got more and more comfortable around the football. T2’s progression unfolded as the game did, tentative at first and then more aggressive as the game wore on, it was a great sign from where I sit. Thomas has battled back physically to make it this far back and his only remaining hurdle was mental, which after initially playing it safe, was definitely cleared by halftime with Thomas accounting for 3 stops and showing up time and again near the play. Let’s hope his body holds up, it would be a huge boost to this team to have a player of Thomas’ talent in the secondary especially with the unfortunate loss of Stevie Brown.

Special Teams: Rookie RB Michael Cox may have the Danny Kanell, “IT” minus the penchant for trolling for his teammates significant others (hopefully). Cox doesn’t have blazing speed but averaged an impressive 26 yards per return, looking quick to the hole and aggressive running the ball back. He may not have Wilson’s home run ability but Cox may have won himself the full time job with his pre-season play thus far. Thank God or Jehovah or Buddah, whoever designed the universe for the feet of Josh Brown, which have single-footedly kept the Giants in all 3 games this pre-season. Brown missed a 53 yarder but hit on a 50 yarder and was 4 for 5, by far the most efficient Giant of the evening. Former Jet, P Steve Weatherford used his feet to drop 5 of 9 punts inside the 20 yard line and hopefully showed former Jet Special Team’s coach and whiner Mike Westhoff who deserves to still be in NY.

(Boxscore – New York Jets at New York Giants, August 24, 2013)
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 August 21, 2013  Posted by  Game Previews and Reviews
Andre Brown, New York Giants (August 18, 2013)

Andre Brown – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Indianapolis Colts 20 – New York Giants 12

by Joey in VA for BigBlueInteractive.com

Game Overview: Fingertips – Look no further than the opening kickoff if you’re searching for a one word summary of a mistake-filled and forgettable evening at MetLife Stadium. Fingertips. Colts rookie kicker Brandon McManus lobbed the opening boot off the crossbar in the Giants’ end zone, just out of reach and over the fingertips of rookie returner Michael Cox. It wouldn’t be the first time the Colts were just out of reach of their maddeningly mistake prone opponents.

Andrew Luck looked every bit the #1 overall pick of a year ago, completing 9 of 13 passes for 107 yards and 2 TDs, leading his Colts to scores on three straight possessions while the new look 3-4 defense minus pass rushing great Dwight Freeney, hassled Giant quarterbacks with 6 sacks. Reliable veteran WR Reggie Wayne proved that his fingertips were just fine with an impressive one-handed grab late in the first quarter and a failed Aaron Ross interception (that glanced off his fingertips) turned into six as Wayne followed the bouncing ball right into the end zone.

Chuck Pagano’s team, embarrassed on the road at Buffalo a week ago, rebounded by holding the potentially lethal Giants offense to zero touchdowns and a paltry 3.9 yards per play. More often than not on this night, the Colts were simply too much up front for the Giants aging and injury- riddled offensive line.

Apparently the Giants coaching staff finally watched the same tape we did, moving David Diehl to guard after his worst effort as a pro and inserting rookie RT Justin Pugh to the starting lineup only a week removed from a concussion that kept him out for nearly 1/3 of camp. David Baas’ MCL injury will precipitate some movement up front, but make no mistake, this was a demotion and a full-time changing of the guard at RT and the end of an era. Our little T-Rex is here to stay, let’s hope his puny little arms are up to the task of keeping up with an offense that has all the potential to be one of the NFL’s most dangerous this season.

Short Dino-Arms aside, injuries may have been the story of the night as WR Victor Cruz suffered a phantom heel injury that has his status in doubt for the season opener in Dallas. Ditto for C David Baas, who completed a litany of offseason surgeries only to have his left leg rolled up on and put his immediate future in doubt.

Quarterbacks: Eli Manning’s numbers were fair, 8 of 17 for 91 yards, but he had an ugly interception late in the first quarter on a 3rd and 1 that looked to be everyone’s fault. Manning’s pass was clearly intended for Hakeem Nicks on an inside release, the trouble is that new TE Brandon Myers was more like Michael Myers, showing up right where and when you don’t want him to with disastrous results. OK, perhaps a pre-season INT isn’t disaster but it’s never too early to predict doom and get the “Fire Gilbride” crowd riled up and in mid-season form. I like starting the overwrought over-analysis right away and be in mid-season form by the opening kick in Dallas. Chances are a new TE, a WR who skipped OTA’s and has missed significant practice time and a QB who hasn’t had time to work with them are to blame here. Eli did have a near touchdown flat out dropped by rookie WR Kevin Hardy, but a little more consistency out of this group isn’t too much to expect at this stage.

David Carr played the way David Carr plays in the preseason, meh. His numbers weren’t atrocious, he managed to hit on 7 of 11 passes for 57 yards, nothing to complain about and nothing to get excited about. Rookie QB Ryan Nassib is almost impossible to evaluate playing behind the team of Matadors that the Giants trot out in garbage time. Nassib managed 48 yards on 2 for 6 passing, both screens to Michael Cox, but again Nassib had no protection at all due to some of the worst backup OL I’ve seen this team trot out in years. If the names McCants and Capers show up on the final 53, be afraid, be very afraid.

Running Backs: Probable starting HB David Wilson showed off the burst that has Giants fans eagerly awaiting a full season of the fastest running back this franchise has seen (Herschel Walker doesn’t count, he was fading and old in his time here and don’t even breathe the words LeShon Johnson). Wilson managed only 34 yards on 8 carries but his 21 yard burst on the second play from scrimmage provided a glimpse of the explosion he provides on a simple counter play. Wilson added a nifty 16 yard reception on the Giants 15 play scoring drive in the 2nd quarter, breaking two tackles and scrambling for extra yards after contact.

Not to be outdone, HB Andre Brown had a tough 36 yards on 8 runs, continuing to show his power finishing runs and the short area quickness that fits this offense well. Rookie Michael Cox had an impressive 36 yard kickoff return in the 2nd quarter and hauled in 48 yards on 2 catches.

Wide Receivers: WR Victor Cruz pulled up lame in the end zone, causing salsa lovers everywhere to suffer a little heartburn until the X-rays came back negative. Prior to that Cruz drew a long pass interference penalty that set up an early red zone chance (yeah I said red not green, Coughlin’s not the boss of me!), proving again how dangerous he is even when he’s not catching the ball. Finally, the Nicks has come back to MetLife! Sort of. At times frustrating this offseason, WR Hakeem Nicks looked OK in his return from injury #274 to his lower body. Nicks pulled in 2 passes for 40 yards but looked tentative to me out there. The suddenness that makes Nicks so dangerous in his routes did not show up, but an off season of rust and not much time practicing may be more to blame but it’s something to keep our eyes on. Nicks was noticeably slower and more deliberate on both of his catches, color me slightly worried. Technically I have to mention Ramses Barden who had 4 catches but more head scratching plays again. On two of his grabs he was inches short of a first down and did nothing to reach for it either time. Carr threw a back shoulder fade to the 6-6 Barden who continued running out of bounds (NFL Rule Alert: Catching ball out of bounds is frowned upon) and made almost no effort.

Reuben Randle chipped in with 2 catches for 17 yards and new Giant Louis Murphy pulled in 3 balls for 20 yards on top of an ill-fated end around that gained a whopping six feet.

Tight Ends: TE Adrien Robinson may turn into a threat at TE in time, but his mistake loomed large on the Giants offensive performance on their opening drive. With a long 4th and 1 from the Colt 7 yard line, Robinson lined up left of LT Will Beatty with TE Brandon Myers to his left in a Jumbo set. At the snap, Robinson incorrectly tried to block down on DE Corey Redding who was already washed out by Beatty, which left a huge gap for LB Kelvin Sheppard to fire through and force RB Andre Brown wider than he wanted to go. Robinson should have reached the second level to seal off the backside LB but instead stepped inside, looked lost and did nothing on the play. For everyone upset at the play call, it was a good call with a good grouping matchup that the Giants just lost because Robinson completely missed his assignment and allowed penetration into the backfield. Just for a capper, Robinson threw in a false start late in the 3rd quarter to help snuff out another drive.

Offensive Line: Before we get to the ugly, let’s start with the good, it works at parties when you want to pick up a woman and it works when analyzing offensive line play. You work your way down and it feels less painful as the rejection seeps in. (For the record I am married and have no recollection of said events in my past). OT William Beatty doesn’t get the credit he deserves but his block on DE Cory Redding that sprung Wilson’s run was one of beauty. With Brandon Myers lined up to his left, Beatty was blocking the play side hole on the counter and waited for Redding to pick a side. Once Redding tried going right, Beatty sealed him off that way, creating a running lane for the darting Wilson to jet right through. Moving a big bodied DT playing end in a 3-4 isn’t easy but Beatty used Redding’s aggressiveness against him to position himself perfectly for the block and the biggest ground gain of the evening. It is one small move in one small play in a pre-season game, but it shows Beatty’s smarts and his familiarity with Wilson’s running style is improving. That’s a big plus for this running game getting back to where it needs to be. Beatty absolutely collapsed the right side of the Colts DE on the long pass interference penalty on the opening drive, but the ugly was that his man fell into LG Kevin Boothe’s man who rolled up on Baas’ left leg and put his early season in jeopardy. For good measure Beatty mushed CB Greg Toler after his 1st quarter interception.

RT David Diehl started poorly and continued that way all night. On a 2nd and one on the Giants 2nd possession he was tossed backwards by DL Ricky Jean Francois and a solid 2nd and 1 run turned into miserable failure faster than you can say T-Rex. Diehl got tossed aside by rookie DE Bjoern Werner on another red zone play that short circuited a drive. You all watched this game, I won’t beat a dead horse but Diehl is certainly ready for the glue factory at this point. I could almost hear him whispering “Oil Cann..oooiiill cannnn” as player after Colt player used him like a turnstile at a Justin Bieber concert. (They couldn’t rush past excitedly giggling fast enough). You’re a good man David Diehl, I have respected your toughness and team first attitude for years but, your best days at tackle are long gone. As of this writing, Diehl is now the LG and Boothe moves to center, I would look to whoever is behind Diehl at LG to have a shot to unseat him if he doesn’t acquit himself in a less athletically demanding spot.

Unproven backup center Jim Cordle did a fair job in Baas’ absence, but his inability to even hold his ground on a 2nd and 7 from the Colts 9 killed any chance David Wilson had of scoring or converting. Again the play was blocked well across the board but it was one badly missed assignment that wasted the effort of everyone else on the play. Overall Cordle did well enough given his limited work with the starters but LG Kevin Boothe may be the better long term option should Baas be out for an extended period. (Update: After writing Boothe has been moved to center for now). Fellow backup Matt McCants was putrid at LG, I see no way he makes this team honestly. If an offensive line is a construction site, left guard is the guy who holds the Stop and Slow sign as traffic passes. If you can’t do that, you probably need to find a new job and McCants has gone from LT to RT now to LG and he was awful.

First round pick Justin Pugh debuted at LT and negated his man on nearly every play. Just from this one outing you can see why teams would question his stubby arms and size, he doesn’t look the part. Watch him play though and you may not see elbows but you won’t see the man he’s assigned to making a peep, he simply swallows up whoever lines up across from him. (Several nicknames occurred to me, the Pelican, Hungry Hungry HipPugh, and the Anti-Diehl – they all stink). Technically Pugh gave up a sack on a 3rd and 7 late in the 3rd quarter but once again Adrien Robinson did nothing lined up at H-Back and David Carr was running away from a missed Brandon Mosley block.

Defensive Line: A second straight of week of solid DL play should be a sign of things to come. Starting at LDE, Mathias Kiwanuka blew up the first play from scrimmage and toyed with LT Anthony Castonzo on 3rd down, ruining any chance the Colts had of running the ball on their first drive. Kiwi looks bigger and more comfortable than he’s been in his time here and it’s only been two weeks, but don’t be shocked if #94 has a big year on this defense with the injuries to JPP and Justin Tuck at defensive end. New DL toy Cullen Jenkins continued his solid play, proving tough to move at either DT or DE against the run. DE Justin Tuck, who ended up hurt again, looked just OK to me. Similar to Nicks, Tuck looked a bit unsure of his footing out there which is a sign of a guy not quite healthy or not yet trusting his body after a series of injuries. Tuck did swat away a 3rd down pass and had a few pressures but he’s not quite there yet but seemed to be rounding into form.

The other ex-Eagle DT, Mike Patterson made his impact felt near the end of the first half, knifing into the backfield to force a poor throw which led to a Jayron Hosley interception and snuffed out a 4th potential scoring drive for the Colts in the first half. DT Linval Joseph was solid up front as was DT Shaun Rogers and there was even a Marvin Austin sighting! No I’m not watching Outside the Lines re-runs, he really made a play the box score even says so!

austin

Rookie DT Johnathan Hankins started the second half with a bang, holding the point on a run for nearly no gain on the Colts’ first possession and did a solid job overall but was pushed aside on two plays I saw simply because he got too high off the snap. Hankins has impressed me though, despite his mistakes his physical play shows up and he is a high effort guy who should be a key DL contributor as the Giants seek to re-establish the line of scrimmage. DE Adewale Ojomo did his best Charles Jefferson impression, clearly someone trashed Ojomo’s Trans Am before the game. On the Colts’ penultimate drive, they ran 4 actual plays (one was a punt, one a penalty) and Ojomo made the stop on every single one, finishing with a team high 5 tackles. I don’t know what he does during the first 3 quarters, but Ojomo sure does bring it in mop up pre-season time.

Linebackers: Toot Toot! After week one, many of us on BBI thought MLB Dan Dan the Drywall Man Connor should be given the nod after an iffy outing by Mark Herzlich and indeed he got the start. Connor only notched 3 tackles, but was much more active and aggressive than his predecessor. Connor’s instincts and quickness should upgrade the Mike position over the departed Chase Blackburn as he learns this defense. Connor should be one of your early sleepers for most surprising newcomer, (assuming you all keep a ballot like I do for funsies) he should do well in a 4-3 with so much size in front of him to keep him clean. If Marty Funkhouser is reading this, please move Jacquian Williams ahead of Paysinger sooner rather than later. Paysinger is fine cleaning up the garbage, but he simply waits too long for plays to develop and ends up hanging on for tackles downfield rather than attacking at all. Certainly his job isn’t to abandon his zone immediately but 52 looks like he needs some more aggression on running downs. Jacquian Williams simply shows up when you watch the game, notching two tackles and holding the POA of a handful of runs when he was down in the box. Third starter Keith Rivers wears #55 and appears to be rather fit. (Author’s Note: I refuse to over analyze the play of any more former top ten picks who do nothing to stand out – I’m talking to you David Carr, Aaron Curry and Keith Rivers- so I will merely give them the effort they gave the Giants on the field).

LB Aaron Curry plays for the Giants now, though I saw no evidence of that outside of giving up an outside run to…Matt Hasselbeck. Yeah, apparently that hot nutty chick from “The View”, her husband plays football, who knew? Anyway, that chick’s husband ran right past Curry as he bit on a dive fake, a recurring issue for this Fewell led run defense that we will not discuss here…yet.

Defensive Backs: CBs Jayron Hosley and Aaron Ross are neck and neck for most plays just missed thus far. Ross coughed up an interception falling backward that turned into a Reggie Wayne TD, and for good measure yanked Wayne’s facemask (with his fingertips) for a free 15 yards later on. Hosley broke well on a ball just over his…fingertips that T.Y. Hilton snagged for 18 yards and four plays later got turned around briefly as Luck’s pass just went over his…fingertips for a Hilton TD that put the Colts up 17-3. That’s 4 plays, about 7 fingertips, two TDs, one 15 yard penalty, an 18 yard gain and countless Giant fans with shaking heads (that’s SMH for you Twitterheads). Hosley did snatch up an INT late in the first half and did a solid job as a gunner on punt coverage.

Thankfully CB Prince Amukamara is no longer homesick about leaving Zamunda and is, in my opinion, on the verge of being a top 5 CB in this league. I said as much over the summer after his play late last season, and his play so far has backed that up. Always a physical guy, Amukamara had to overcome some rookie jitters and nagging injuries but #20 is finally playing as he did as a standout at Nebraska – with a fierce competitiveness for every ball and every tackle.

Special Teams: K Josh Brown went 4 for 4 with a long of 47 yards. Expect few nervous moments from Brown, he’s as dependable a kicker as there is in the league and still has plenty of power in his getaway sticks. Aside from RB Michael Cox bringing a kickoff out 36 yards, the return game was nothing to write home about, but with this many rookies around a mistake free night is a win on special teams. P Steve Weatherford was boringly efficient, which is a good thing, averaging 43.8 yards on 6 boots. Dear Michael Cox…BREAK DOWN on punt and kickoff coverage, or you’ll keep flying past the returner. Oh and my wife and niece think you’re totally cute so don’t get cut (they aren’t over losing DJ Ware yet).

Author’s Corny Addendum: Given my personal events of this summer, I have to comment on the Chuck Pagano story that was highlighted during this telecast. I lost my father in law to a 5 year battle with cancer and it was the hardest few weeks of my life watching someone I love succumb to that disease. That said, seeing how Pagano fought back and never once complained, all the while staying there for his team when he could was truly an inspiration. Cancers sucks, but in my experience with it over the past few years, it unveils fight and mettle in people you never knew existed. It is a scourge that we may never solve, but it won’t ever solve the unyielding human spirit to fight.

(Boxscore – Indianapolis Colts at New York Giants, August 18, 2013)
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Aug 122013
 
 August 12, 2013  Posted by  Articles, Training Camp
Michael Cox, New York Giants (August 7, 2013)

Michael Cox – © USA TODAY Sports Images

August 12, 2013 New York Giants Training Camp Report

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor djm

This won’t be a very detailed 2013 New York Giants training camp report but I figured I’d share my experience at camp today. I was lucky enough to catch practice today from the VIP area behind the end zone. First off, I Got to see the trophy case inside the Timex Center. Four shiny trophies all in a row. Awesome. We then ventured out to the area behind the End Zone where they had some food and drink available. Had some pulled pork on a roll, a hot dog and some cole slaw. Food was actually pretty damn good.

Players emerged to the cheers of many and went into their stretching and warm up routine. Being so close to them was pretty cool. As they were walking towards us the players acknowledged our calls and cheers. The best thing I took from the stretching phase was Shaun Rogers had the most awesome stretching routine I’ve ever seen…and when I say awesome I mean he basically goes through the motions in hilarious fashion. Everyone else is stretching things out in unison and then there’s big old Shaun kind of just kicking a leg out or moving an arm…pretty funny sight. He’s a gigantic man. This routine went on for a few minutes and then the players went into drills.

I managed to see Cruz, Randle and Wilson all fielding punts. All fielded them without a hitch. Paysinger was barking out cadence as the ball was snapped to the punter.

On to the fun stuff…I guess it was 11 on 11 drills? Not sure but the offense was going against the defense and everyone was wearing upper pads.

  • David Wilson had some nice grabs out of the backfield. I guess they would be labeled as swing passes? Sort of like the Jacobs TD in Philly, 2011. He had a few of those. He’s a natural pass receiver – very fluid. I didn’t really see him do much in the running drills. I kind of missed if he did run the ball at all. I saw one nice run up the gut but missed anything else.
  • Andre Brown had one run that stood out but I didn’t really see much else. At the end of practice he started singing an Eddie Money song. And I gotta say the dude has a good voice and I think GiantFilthy should get his jersey based on that info alone. First “he got a ring” and now Eddie Money? Guy’s a ham.
  • The guy I did notice was Cox. I got to see a lot of him. The difference between Cox and Scott was pretty easy to see. Cox had a number of nice runs…twisting and bouncing his way to daylight on a few occasions while Scott really didn’t stand out to me at all. Kind of hard to kill or praise a guy watching these drills but I saw Cox break free a few times while I can’t remember seeing Scott break free at all. Gun to my head I think Cox makes this team. Looks like he belongs.
  • Adrien Robinson. This dude was why I posted this report. I know it’s early but it looks like he has arrived. He made a number of nice plays today. Caught balls in traffic. Got separation. Used that big old frame of his very well and just absolutely shined out there today. Mike Pope has worked his magic once again. Adrien looks very very good. He’s a real big specimen and it looks like the game is slowing down for him. I was hyping Adrien up before practice to my father-in-law and after practice he was fully on board.
  • Speaking of weapons, Mr. Cruz looks dynamite out there. Caught everything in site and just makes it look so easy. His route running and cutting is second to none. Nothing else to say other than Cruz looks to be rounding right into regular-season form.
  • Nicks practiced and had one drop that I remember but also had a nice TD in the corner of the end zone on a sweet pass from Eli. Nicks beat Prince on the play. Nicks practiced all day and that’s all that matters.
  • Randle once again had another good practice. Had a few nice grabs over the middle, in traffic, and like Robinson really seems to be learning how to use that body of his to generate separation and shield himself from the defender.
  • I saw Pugh on the field wearing pads and a helmet but I actually forgot to look to see if he actually practiced? I didn’t notice him until near the end but he was definitely out there in pads and wearing the helmet. But when I saw him he was just standing with some other players watching the action. I would think he practiced since he was wearing the pads.  (Editor’s note: Pugh did practice).
  • Saw JPP walking around. Couldn’t see if he was running or anything but he was out there. Same goes for Webster.
  • Nassib had some nice balls today. And he wasn’t on the run when he threw those balls so that’s probably a positive step for him. He can definitely sling the rock. Really all the QBs had some decent throws but I saw Painter miss one or two that he’d probably like to have back.
  • Eli as mentioned had the perfect pass to Nicks and he was pretty much money the entire practice. Nothing to see here.
  • I really didn’t get a chance to see much of the defense. The only thing I did notice was Ross had a nice play on the outside, I think on Nicks and Fewell really seemed to enjoy that action as he ran all the way up to Ross and high-fived him. I saw Ross make 2-3 other plays as well. He’s happy to be home. Fewell really gets animated during practice as he is one of the loudest guys on the field. The other guy who gets fired up and seems to be having a good time is Marvin Austin. That’s really all I can offer on the D.
  • I saw the Rolle injury. It was a tough, physical play on the outside. I think he was covering Pascoe? They got tangled up on a pass to the outside and I think Rolle broke it up but sadly it came with a cost. He was in a lot of pain. He came over to the end zone area where we were and sat on a cooler while the trainers checked him out. He looked pretty miserable. I heard someone say ankle which is obvious by now…Barnes patted him on the shoulder and away he went on the cart. Fingers crossed.

That’s about it…I met and got Tuck and Wilson to sign a football. The football will now be a good luck charm never to leave my living room. Great day. Great weather. Only complaint was Rolle’s injury.

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Aug 022013
 
 August 2, 2013  Posted by  Articles, Training Camp
Victor Cruz, New York Giants (July 28, 2013)

Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

August 2, 2013 New York Giants Training Camp Report

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor JohnF

Hello muddah, hello faddah,
Here I am at Camp Granada.
Camp is very entertaining,
And they say we’ll have some fun if it stops raining!

Yeah, yeah, I know. Camp is at the Timex Quest Diagnostic Training Center (hopefully no medical testing kits!) now, not Camp Albany. Still, I’ve been to the Garden State before (I attended several games at Giants Stadium, and I have relatives in Bloomfield), so no big deal, right? So I figure, I’m going to Quest down and spend a day at camp!

So I pack up the usual gear…Small Giants Cooler, Duffel bag with Laptop, MiFi, notebooks, umbrella, large print edition “Art of War” (it’s hell on flies, bugs, and non Giant fans, Sun Tzu rules!), gum, old smelly towel, stale jokes, old digital camera, batteries, etc. I’m going to light up that metal detector like nobody’s business!

It has been a while, though…I should check directions. Should be easy in this age of GPS, Internet and Tom Tom’s…

2013 New York Giants Training Camp Report

Wait a second….W-a-i-t a s-e-c-o-n-d…let me try another map…

Ah, THAT’s better! I’ll get a nice early start in the Honda, get my Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (extra large, this is a longer trip), and ramble down the Thruway. Should be a piece of cake…

Why does this ALLWAYS happen when I get off of exit 15 instead of 16????

Ok, let me get a good seat in the stands, so I can see (I’m missing the hills back home already, sigh), and it’s time for

BITS AND BYTES COUNTDOWN EDITION

Oh, did I tell you I got an exclusive from Ralph V? Now, we all know Ralph is famous for his “doom and gloom articles” about the giants (see here), but let us look at his shot of the Giants much talked about “Countdown Clock”:

Enough of the small talk, let’s go!!

For those of you coming to camp, it’s a bit different this year. There’s a fence outside the complex; the gap in the fence is where Security checks your bags and wands you. They are actually very professional and nice, by the way. They let me know about the new game policy (won’t affect me since I don’t do game reports, so on the rare occasion I go down, I travel very light.)

Even so, it’s still feels disturbing when someone has to check you with a wand for a practice. I over heard the staff talking about all the push back they were getting over this.

I arrived later than I wanted to, so the prime spots (the two stands on my left) were full. I went over to the first stand on the right corner of the field (there are three over there, though the last one has obstructed view), facing the VIP tables on the opposite side which are outside the administration offices and kitty korner to the indoor playing field.

In effect, from my view there are three fields, and a small annex field that goes around the right side of the Timex Indoor Field. Yes, I said Timex, as they haven’t changed the huge print on that roof! So I’ll call the fields in front of me 1, 2, 3 (three being next to the VIP tables/administrative building), and the annex field continuing for about 30 yards from the end of field 1.

Enough of that! I scarf down my lunch, just in time to see the first players coming out to applause by the fans (5 minutes early, of course!) The QB’s lead the group, with Painter in the lead (oh, it’s great not to have to spell Perrilloux this year Eric…just sayin!) Cruz and Diehl were chatting as they come out.

The Oline was knocking around the sleds next the extreme right of the Timex Indoor (you could hear the banging from a distance). Mosley, Boothe, McCants and Browning were with the QB’s snapping the ball. I saw the Dline (boy they look bigger this year…not fat, just wide!). I think Michael Jasper lost his waist somewhere (or they found a living Lego player, as he was built like a box!).

Wow, who shrunk #27? Oh, that’s Stevie Brown with Jacob’s old number. Silly me!

Horn…er… Let’s try 184 days, 8 hours, 23 minutes till SB XLVIII!

The usual limbering up (wave arms, stretch, etc) on Field 3. Not so much to watch since Mitch Petrus isn’t around.

Weather Report: 86 degrees, partly cloudy, humidity 50%, wind supposedly at 10 mph (but it starts to gust a LOT later on!).

So, now everyone’s Jumping, Hopping, Skipping, then back to Leg Stretches.! I know most of the action will be on Field 3, since that’s where the camera towers are. They are sneaky, though, since they don’t bring the towers out till the last minute.

Hey, the NFL refs are here! With NFL approved shorts! Let’s check out the injured players…I see Kuhn stepping around horizontal pylons, moving pretty well for a big guy (he’s bigger this year, and yeah, he looks like Shockey’s lost brother). Must have been on the Schnitzel diet.

Hynoski is moving gingerly, but I can’t tell how well he’s walking, as he has some sort of rubber band contraption strung between his ankle. He’s not bending very well, and looks uncomfortable. T2, on the other hand, is stretching gingerly, but looks in a better mood.

184 days, 8 hours, 13 minutes till SB XLVIII

The team splits up into groups.

Field 1: LB’s are covering TE’s/RB’s.

Field 2: Dline is getting coaching; Austin looks lighter, but I still think he needs to grow the dreads back. Sampson would agree.

(Note here…I’m not anywhere near the action, so I can’t be as detailed as last year. Think of trying to report using binoculars from the stands in Albany near the Lacrosse Field all the way over to the field next to Western Avenue; but then not having that elevation, and looking either through a 10 foot chain link fence. The stands I’m on has a cover, but the cover has poles holding it up.

Also, with binoculars you have a limited field of vision, so I had a hard time seeing the action when they had 11 on 11).

184 days, 8 hours, 8 minutes till SB XLVIII

Field 1: Ok, the Defense is going into “circle drills”. Think of a diamond….on each corner of the diamond, you have a different drill. The defensive players rotate, so they are exposed to each drill.

Drill 1. Coach tosses ball to player who’s back pedaling.
Drill 2. Coach fumbles ball, player picks it up, runs with it and hands it to another coach.
Drill 3. Player blitzes dummy that looks like a QB, then picks up fumble.
Drill 4. Player fights off blocker, to fill hole in line.

Field 2: The QB’s are doing pitch and catch (QB’s to Receivers). The TE’s are in another group, where they practice technique blocks (influence blocks on other TE’s who pretend to be Dline guys); for example, blocking under a Dlineman shoulder to “influence” him to go in the direction you want, as he thinks he’s penetrating, but it’s not where he should be.

The Olinemen are doing crab walks across horizontal pylons.

Field 1: Now the QB’s are practicing play action fakes, using the RB’s..they either hand off or play action and throw. The TE’s and RB’s practice trying to catch passes head level or somewhat higher…you have to use your hands, no body catches!

Field 3: Olinemen now are practicing staying low through their blocks, using a metal bar cage that allows them to block through, but not raise their backs. DB’s in another group are back pedaling and breaking to a ball thrown by the coaches. The safeties are in another group…they are following the ball as the coach moves it side to side, working on their footwork. The LB’s are hitting a blocking dummy.

Field 1: More pitch and catch between QB’s and RB’s/TE’s.

Field 3 (Annex): The DL is hitting the blocking sled.

Field 1: The Oline is working on blocking DL twisting (two O Linemen with plastic shields are blocking 2 O Linemen who pretend to twist rush).
Field 1: The Safeties are working on inside coverage technique (WR doing a post or curl in). The LB’s are working on outside coverage (WR doing a flag, or curl to sideline).

Field 3: All the defensive players are gathered. It’s “O” vs “D”, with defensive players simulating offensive players by wearing red or yellow caps against the rest of the defense playing their normal positions. Looks like drop-back coverage and man to man drills.

Field 2: RB’s and TE’s hit the blocking dummy. More Oline practice against twist blitzes by the defense, or hitting LB’s in the hole.

Field 1: Way off to the corner, Weatherford, DeOssie and Brown are practicing snaps for FG’s or Punts.

Field 2: Just Dline and Oline now, coach is playing QB. They are doing a lot of pushing and grunting.

184 days, 7 hours, 48 minutes till SB XLVIII

Everyone goes to Field 3 (by the VIP’s).

Field 3: 11 vs 11, Offense vs Defense.

We start off with run only plays.

Eli hands off to Wilson up middle (x2).
Eli in shotgun shovel passes to Wilson.
Carr hands off to Torain (middle).
Carr hands off to Scott, OT Left through a nice hole.
Carr hands off to Wilson OT Right.
Carr hands off to Torain OT Right.

The NFL Refs become obvious, looking down the line for off sides. I scan left to the sideline, and see Nicks chatting with Corey Webster…both are not practicing, though both are smiling.

184 days, 7 hours, 28 minutes till SB XLVIII

Ok, I can’t see anything for a while. The players are lining up on Field 1 up and down, blocking my view. I think they are going through plays, as I see yellow and red caps.

Field 2: more snap practice with Brown, Weatherford and DeOssie.

Field 3: (way to the right) The DL/LB’s/Safeties are working together on drop back coverage. Now they break out the red and yellow caps, so it’s defensive “O” vs “D”, 11 on 11.

I look at the water station and Nicks and Snee (also not practicing). Snee has a large wrap on one leg (no, I’m not telling you which one). Nearby, Reese and John Mara are talking, but I don’t see Pat Hanlon (sigh, I wanted to do a style report!!!).

184 days, 7 hours, 18 minutes till SB XLVIII

Everyone to Field 3: 11 on 11, O vs D.
Eli pass to Wilson no gain up middle.
Nassib pass to Randle in the Left Flat (I notice Tuck is doing a lot of standing up and rushing).
Eli pass to Pascoe, nice touch pass over defender. Pascoe has good hands today!
Carr pass to Wilson, middle screen.
Eli handoff to Scott, OT Left stuffed.
Nassib pass to Barden, who does a nifty slide over the middle to catch a wormer.
Painter hands off to (can’t see) OT R stuffed.
Nassib throws ball away under pressure.
Nassib to (can’t see) OT R stuffed.
Nassib shows some nice touch on a pass to Carlos in L Flat.

KO’s (hmmm, didn’t see Punt returns, which is unusual in a TC practice). Brown is kicking across Field 2 to Field 3.

Wilson and Randle (up left sideline) with nice returns. Cox does a return, but gets shoved to ground (one of the harder hits today). Jernigan slithers up the right sideline for a return.

Brown then does FG’s on Field 2, starting at the 5, and working back (he hit all of them, though a couple tended to his left). One looked near 50 yds, just making it over the upright (with the NFL refs holding their hands up, good!!!).

Field 2: Oline is banging on Dline (or is it visa versa?)

Field 1: The crowd perks up as we see some long passing.

Eli with a nice bomb to Randle up the L Sideline.
Eli with a L Flat pass to Scott, then throws the next one away after pressure.
Eli tries a long middle seam pass to Myers, but a group of DB’s knock it down.
Carr tries a L Flat pass, almost picked off by J. Williams, who does pushups.
Carr launches a long pass up middle to Barden, but McBride with a nice knockaway.
Carr tries a L Flat, but Scott gets caught up in the “wash” and the ball falls to the ground.
Nassib nearly gets picked off by Charlie James in L Flat.
Nassib tries to hit Kevin Hardy, but a NICE cover by Laron Scott, who knocks the ball away.

Ugh.. the stands are shaking…it’s not those meddling kids behind me, in the playground is it? Nope..the “Hawk” makes its appearance. It’s gusting badly now, and it’s hard to see through the binoculars.

184 days, 6 hours, 53 minutes till SB XLVIII

Eli tries a long pass up the middle to Talley, but Prince will have none of it.
Eli then hands off OT Right to Andre Brown.
Nassib flips a pass to Wilson in the L Flat…then Wilson “flickers” up the L Sideline for a big gain. It’s hard to see this guy when he starts multiple cuts!

Eli hands off to Wilson OT Right, nice gain up the R Sideline.
Eli then throws the ball away, nobody’s open (but he does not see nobody, I guess…).
Carr with a pass to Scott in the Right Flat, no gain.
Carr passes to Scott up the middle.
Painter hands off to Torain, OT Right.
Nassib tries to pass to Scott, but Curry smells him out (can’t be too hard this late into practice) and stuffs the play, no catch.
Nassib tries to pass to Jernigan in the R Flat, but Caldwell (I think) skies over him to deflect the pass. This might make camp highlights.
Nassib (he’s getting a lot of work, eh?) passes to Cox up the middle.
Nassib tries a pass up the middle, but Bosworth with a nice defensive knock down of the pass!
Nassib with his best pass of the day, a pass to Talley in the R Sideline, lofting it over Mertile, who had no chance despite tight coverage.

Ok, time for 2 Minute Drill!!!

Eli’s back, and goes for Bear in the middle flat (and hits him!)
Eli to Randle in the middle flat.
Eli to Scott Right sideline.
Eli to Barden, who gets the pass in the right flat.
Time Out!
Eli to Bear in the Left Flat.

We start the drill again with Carr.

Carr to Barden, R Flat.
Carr to Kris Adams, L Flat.
Carr to Jernigan, L Flat.

(ugh, Hawk is back..the stands are really shaking!)

Carr, throws ball away with pressure.
McBride knocks down a Carr pass in the L Flat.
Carr to Jernigan who comesback in the R Flat.

184 days, 6 hours, 33 minutes till SB XLVIII

Hey, do I hear the Spinners?

Hey, y’all prepare yourself
For the Rubberband man
You never heard a sound
Like the rubberband man
You’re bound to lose control
When the Rubberband starts to jam

Yep, the rubber band stretch is out, end of practice. After the stretches, the team goes to a big group, then splits into smaller groups, who have their yell/chant, then break up.

Eli looked good today, Nassib is interesting, but he’s hesitating a bit…you can see him holding the ball for a split second or so when he has it by his head. Hopefully, this is just processing the speed of the game, and his delivery will be more natural.

No real impressions from the rookies, but I’ll leave that to the first pre-season game. The way practice is now, you really don’t get the hard hitting that pads used to inspire.

What you didn’t see after practice:

Bear working out with Keith Rivers, working on footwork.

J. Williams doing some extra work with Sam Madison (who was wearing shades, Red shorts AND a Red top…stylish!).

Myers, Childers and Sabino doing some football “pepper” next to the Timex Indoor.

Tuck kick a football like a soccer ball, (to his kid?).

Sam Madison coming to the fence (for autographs and chat), to a small group of fans. They were doing the usual “hey Sam, you were the best Dolphin player ever!”. Sam laughed and said Marino was.

Sam’s cool, I hope they hire him as full time coach.

*******************************************

This session of camp is over, it’s time to move on. The sun declines in the west, casting shadows that hint of fall, even though it’s still summer. I pack up the binoculars, put away the notebook where I scratched my notes. Camp isn’t over…but I have to go.

I’ve talked many times about football camp. For some of us, it brings back memories of our own time when you could smell the grass from the stains on your uniform, leather pads heavy with sweat, salt pills and wind sprints. Others remember a cool drink, sitting on the grass next to a tree and peering through binoculars, trying to pick out your favorite player, or getting that precious autograph or kind word from an athlete.

Every sport has its time. Baseball has spring training, and the promise of summer. Football has training camp, where its season starts, and you know fall is coming. Every player thinks he will make the team, or start. Every one holds on to hope; the promising rookie, the grizzled veteran, the coaching staff with their long hours away from their families. Every camp has surprises and disappointments, injuries to players, and players coming back from injuries.

Camp is where championships start, or where they might be lost. Every player is a story, and camp is a symphony of stories, common themes with endless variety under the master conductor, the head coach.

For fans…for us…camp is what we make of it. As fans, we can share a common experience, at camp, at the stadium, at home with friends and family. There’s something special that happens when people have a common cause, a common interest, and share a common history.

I’m back at my Honda Accord, time to turn the key and travel north, to home. Home, where the old ghosts are, ghosts of camp past. The Quest, in time, will spawn it’s own stories, it’s own ghosts. Stories never die, as long as there are fans around to tell those tales to other fans, young and old.

I switch on the radio, scan for a tune to match my mood. I hear snatches of a Springsteen song, fading in and out…

(well, it IS Jersey…)

We played king of the mountain out on the end
The world come chargin’ up the hill, and we were women and men
Now there’s so much that time, time and memory fade away
We got our own roads to ride and chances we gotta take…

Now the hardness of this world slowly grinds your dreams away
Makin’ a fool’s joke out of the promises we make
And what once seemed black and white turns to so many shades of gray
We lose ourselves in work to do and bills to pay
And it’s a ride, ride, ride, and there ain’t much cover…

Now on out here on this road
Out on this road tonight
I close my eyes and feel so many friends around me
In the early evening light
And the miles we have come
And the battles won and lost
Are just so many roads travelled
So many rivers crossed
And I ask God for the strength
And faith in one another

‘Cause it’s a good night for a ride
Cross this river to the other side

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