Dec 182013
 
 December 18, 2013  Posted by  Articles, The Salary Cap
Corey Webster, New York Giants (September 8, 2013)

Corey Webster – © USA TODAY Sports Images

CAP SPACE RANK
TEAM
PREVIOUS YEAR CARRYOVER
TOTAL CAP SPACE
1Cleveland$14,339,575.00 $24,206,764.00
2Jacksonville$19,563,231.00 $19,977,549.00
3Buffalo$9,817,628.00 $18,941,156.00
4Miami$5,380,246.00 $17,780,846.00
5Philadelphia$23,046,035.00 $17,216,344.00
6Carolina$3,654,825.00 $11,637,268.00
7Green Bay$7,010,832.00 $9,841,383.00
8Cincinnati$8,579,575.00 $8,187,854.00
9Tennessee$12,867,893.00 $6,927,090.00
10Tampa Bay$8,527,866.00 $6,901,956.00
11Denver$11,537,924.00 $6,445,644.00
12Arizona$3,600,110.00 $5,750,006.00
13New England$5,607,914.00 $4,160,574.00
14Atlanta$307,540.00 $3,170,482.00
15Seattle$13,265,802.00 $2,963,806.00
16Kansas City$14,079,650.00 $2,608,881.00
17San Francisco$859,734.00 $2,600,957.00
18Oakland$4,504,761.00 $2,535,286.00
19San Diego$995,893.00 $2,367,666.00
20Detroit$466,992.00 $1,755,729.00
21Chicago$3,236,965.00 $1,713,800.00
22Washington$4,270,296.00 $1,577,486.00
23NY Jets$3,400,000.00 $1,510,437.00
24Houston$2,422,689.00 $1,505,569.00
25Baltimore$1,182,377.00 $1,500,876.00
26Pittsburgh$758,811.00 $1,319,803.00
27Dallas$2,335,379.00 $1,304,694.00
28Minnesota$8,004,734.00 $937,149.00
29Indianapolis$3,500,000.00 $713,497.00
30New Orleans$2,700,000.00 $644,991.00
31St. Louis$247,347.00 $126,397.00
32NY Giants$1,000,000.00 $41,888.00

December 18, 2013 NFL Salary Cap Update: In a little less than two weeks, the final carryover figures for the 20 non-playoff teams will be in, of which the Giants will unfortunately be one. I’ll write up another league-wide team cap report update then in order to reflect those figures. The Giants rank 32nd out of 32 clubs at the moment. The Rams ceded the title of team with the least amount of available cap space to the Giants a few days ago when they restructured the contract of DE Chris Long to the tune $200,000 to be able to make it through the rest of the regular season with respect to operational cap expenses sometimes known as “fudge money.”

As per the NFLPA’s League Cap Report website, the Giants are $41,888 under the salary cap. They placed Corey Webster on I.R. two days ago, and promoted WR Julian Talley to the 53-man roster from their Practice Squad, followed by signing RB Kendall Gaskins to fill the Practice Squad vacancy created by the promotion of Talley. Talley’s cap number is $47,647. The Giants’ cap number prior to these three roster moves was $89,535 – also last in the league.

The Giants can’t make any other roster moves this week without having to be forced to restructure a player contract in order to stay under the cap. As long as nothing freakish happens in practice injury-wise, and they get out of Detroit game reasonably unscathed, they’ll make it through the season without having to tweak a contract in order to make it through the last two weeks of the season. They’ll be able to I.R. someone next week (just 1) since the prorated cost to sign a player will decrease compared to this week. If Detroit lays a physical beating on the Giants, then things could get ugly.

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Nov 202013
 
 November 20, 2013  Posted by  Articles, The Salary Cap

November 20, 2013 NFL Salary Cap Update: Here is the latest update for all 32 teams in the league with regard to available salary cap space (courtesy of the NFLPA’s League Cap Report website):

CAP SPACE RANK
TEAM
PREVIOUS YEAR CARRYOVER
TOTAL CAP SPACE
12Arizona$3,600,110.00 $5,780,006.00
14Atlanta$307,540.00 $3,184,011.00
26Baltimore$1,182,377.00 $1,504,228.00
3Buffalo$9,817,628.00 $19,069,281.00
6Carolina$3,654,825.00 $11,607,268.00
22Chicago$3,236,965.00 $1,794,800.00
8Cincinnati$8,579,575.00 $8,237,179.00
1Cleveland$14,339,575.00 $24,388,412.00
27Dallas$2,335,379.00 $1,462,282.00
11Denver$11,537,924.00 $6,650,879.00
23Detroit$466,992.00 $1,729,611.00
7Green Bay$7,010,832.00 $9,916,149.00
25Houston$2,422,689.00 $1,532,158.00
28Indianapolis$3,500,000.00 $1,101,439.00
2Jacksonville$19,563,231.00 $20,344,446.00
17Kansas City$14,079,650.00 $2,845,270.00
4Miami$5,380,246.00 $18,233,200.00
29Minnesota$8,004,734.00 $685,150.00
13New England$5,607,914.00 $4,423,986.00
30New Orleans$2,700,000.00 $682,491.00
31NY Giants$1,000,000.00 $251,536.00
20NY Jets$3,400,000.00 $1,950,056.00
16Oakland$4,504,761.00 $2,953,594.00
5Philadelphia$23,046,035.00 $17,158,574.00
24Pittsburgh$758,811.00 $1,576,037.00
19San Diego$995,893.00 $2,414,431.00
15San Francisco$859,734.00 $3,130,547.00
18Seattle$13,265,802.00 $2,818,454.00
32St. Louis$247,347.00 $103,482.00
9Tampa Bay$8,527,866.00 $7,170,367.00
10Tennessee$12,867,893.00 $7,138,089.00
21Washington$4,270,296.00 $1,945,457.00
Total cap numbers for all teams as of November 20th, 2013

As can be seen above, the Giants are $251,536 under the cap. They are ranked 31st in the league in available salary cap space. Only the St. Louis Rams have less room under the cap now than the Giants do with $103,482 in available cap dollars.

As I usually state, these figures are the closest that we can possibly know of publicly since the NFL Management Council is the only body that is truly 100% accurate. Those numbers are very difficult to get a hold of, as Jason Fitzgerald from OverTheCap.com has said over the past summer. The figures that the NFLPA shares on it’s public website are sometimes subject to data entry errors, and slow processing of actual numbers that have already been put in with the league itself. For our purposes though, they are sufficient (knowing where teams stand in proximity to each other as well as themselves in the recent past).

Incredibly enough, we’re coming up on week 12. There are only five weeks remaining in the regular season after this week’s upcoming games. With the season being approximately two thirds of the way over, the Giants have enough room to barely skate by. If they have a rash of injuries that forces them to place three or more players on Injured Reserve in the next two weeks, then they’ll have to make some more room under the cap. Hopefully that doesn’t happen.

The least amount of cap space that a player would cost after this week, from week 13 through the end of the season (5 weeks) would be $119,118. This figure is the result of prorating the bare league minimum of $405,000 for five weeks (I’m not counting this upcoming 12th week). The most that a player could count is $185,294. This figure is obtained by prorating the amount of $630,000 over the 5 weeks between week 13 & week 17. This figure of $630,000 is the minimum paragraph 5 salary for players with 3 years of experience, as per the table below:

 

NFL league minimum salaries for 2013

Players with four or more years of accrued service are also listed above. The reason they don’t count at the rates listed above is because of the Minimum Salary Benefit (MSB). What the MSB does is that it allows vested veterans (players with four or more accrued years) whose minimum paragraph 5 salary figures are between $715,000 and $940,000 in 2013 to still receive their salaries if they sign with a team, but only count against the cap at rate of $555,000 – the rate of a player who only has two vested years. That’s why I didn’t go above $630,000 when I was calculating the possible range of rates that the Giants would have to give players in week 13 if they were forced into signing someone due to injury to somebody on their active 53-man roster. For a more comprehensive look at how the Minimum Salary Benefit works. please click on the link below:

Teams don’t give out bonuses to anyone at this point that they’re bringing in off the street, or off of waivers after they’ve cleared it (a la Ed Reed and the Jets last week). If they happened to give a player a signing bonus of more than $65,000 then the MSB designation goes away. That’s not happening until the off-season, but it’s something to keep in mind as a general matter of fact regarding caponomics in the NFL. As transactions occur in-season, they almost always only are paragraph salary transactions, and usually involve players with less than 4 accrued season.

The following five players currently on the the 53-man roster who were in-season acquisitions either claimed off of waivers, or signed as “street free agents” are as follows (only Bradford wa claimed off of waivers): Brandon Jacobs, Peyton Hillis, Dallas Reynolds, Allen Bradford, and John Conner. Only Jacobs and Hillis are vested veterans out of this group. Termination Pay is potential problem with only Jacobs though out of these two since Hillis will receive it from the league as a result of being released by Tampa Bay after being on their 53-man roster on week 1 of this season. Here is an article on the subject:

Jacobs would have less incentive than usual to use his one-time only claim to termination pay if the Giants waive him for some reason in the coming weeks (doubtful since he’d sooner wind up in I.R. first, and because he has a salary split in his contract). The Giants would probably go to a player that is on the cheaper side of the options they have open to them if push actually came to shove. This is part of the reason that you see Practice Squad players being lured to sign on with other teams in-season, joining their 53-man rosters. This is why the Packers paid QB Scott Tolzien as if he was a member of their 53-man roster when he was on their Practice Squad.

The Packers promoted him to their 53-man roster on November 5th, as per this article from two weeks ago on NFL.com. As indicated in that article, Green Bay also increased Tolzien’s salary from the Practice Squad minimum of $6,000 per week to a base salary of player on the 53-man roster – $544,999 to be exact. This was done so as to make sure that he would not be tempted to sign elsewhere. If any more moves are made, they may very well be made with the Giants’ pro personnel department looking at players who stand out on other teams first before bringing in a “name player” to fill a hole. Let’s hope that the injury bug has taken a little vacation for this club for a while as they continue to try and climb back into the NFC East race.

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Nov 042013
 
 November 4, 2013  Posted by  Articles, History
Y.A. Tittle, Cleveland Browns at New York Giants (December 17, 1961)

Y.A. Tittle, Cleveland Browns at New York Giants (December 17, 1961)

Y.A. Tittle’s Incomparable 1962 and 1963 Seasons

by Larry Schmitt for BigBlueInteractive.com

The potential of a tree exists inside every seed. Unbeknownst to all, the seed of the Giants offensive explosion of the early 1960’s was planted in 1948 and began to take root simultaneously on opposite coasts during the 1950’s.

Frustrated by the Giants’ inability to adequately replace retired Mel Hein at center, Head Coach Steve Owen reluctantly conceded to integrate the burgeoning T-Formation into New York’s playbook. The Giants had almost exclusively run the A-Formation for over 15 years, which was Owen’s brain child. Deception and accuracy of the center snap was the key to its success, as the uncertainty of which member of the backfield would receive the ball kept defenses tentative. The T-Formation eliminated that problem as the quarterback received the snap directly from the center.

Owen had a great mind for defensive strategy. He strongly believed in power football and winning on the line of scrimmage, but struggled greatly to keep up with current trends in offensive football. Having recently invested in a quarterback via a trade with Washington, Owen created a position on his staff devoted exclusively for the purpose of tutoring Charley Conerly on the finer points of quarterbacking.

Specialist Allie Sherman received inspiration directly from the source. As a teenager he had read the Rosetta Stone on the subject: “The Modern T- Formation with Man-in-Motion” by Clark Shaughnessy, George Halas and Ralph Jones, and was eager to pass along that knowledge. Conerly had a magnificent rookie season under Sherman’s tutelage, setting a record with 22 touchdown passes for a rookie, which stood for 50 years until it was broken by Peyton Manning in 1998.

Owen, however, was impatient with the T-Formation and never fully committed to it. The Giants frequently reverted to the familiar and comfortable A-formation. After two seasons of decline in 1952 and ’53, Giants management made the difficult decision to relieve Owen of his position. The major impetus behind the move was Paul Brown’s juggernaut from Cleveland that had merged into the NFL from the AAFC in 1950. The Browns dominated the NFL’s American/Eastern Conference with creative offensive concepts that featured passing as a primary weapon. After being passed up for the head coach position for Jim Lee Howell, Sherman left New York and took a coordinator’s position in the CFL.

Vince Lombardi joined Howell’s staff as the offensive coordinator and brought Army Black Knights Earl “Red” Blaik’s T-Formation playbook with him. It was primarily a run-heavy offense, but still versatile. Lombardi added a wrinkle that used Single Wing blocking schemes for the offensive line. The pulling guards led the way for the multi-talented halfback Frank Gifford, and brought the Giants back on equal footing with Cleveland. The two teams clashed for conference supremacy for the next 10 seasons.

Sherman returned to the Giants in 1957 as a scout. When Lombardi departed for Green Bay following the 1958 campaign, Sherman took over the vacated offensive coordinator position. The results were immediate and profound. Conerly, at age 38 and in his 12th season, experienced a renaissance. He led the league in yards-per-attempt while throwing just four interceptions, and the Giants catapulted from 10th in points scored in 1958 to 2nd in 1959. Conerly enjoyed his finest season since his rookie year and was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player.

Integration

Howell retired after the 1960 season and Sherman finally received the head coach position he had coveted. Conerly was two years older now and the wear of 14 years in the NFL was becoming evident. In moves that surprised many, the Giants traded for two veteran players deemed past their prime by their respective Western Conference clubs.

The first move was getting a quarterback who was not much younger than Conerly himself: Y.A. Tittle. The 34-year old passer had begun his career in professional football with the AAFC Baltimore Colts in 1948. When the franchise folded after the 1950 season, Tittle went to San Francisco where he was a member of the 49’ers famed “Million Dollar Backfield” with Hugh McElhenny, Joe Perry and John Henry Johnson. Tittle’s signature play was the “Alley Oop” pass to receiver R.C. Owens, would run a deep route and attempt to out-leap the defender for the ball. However, new coach Red Hickey installed the shotgun offense in 1961, which was better suited for the younger and more mobile John Brodie.

Despite his age, Tittle still had a very strong arm and was an exceptionally accurate passer. His quick release was regarded as second only to that of Johnny Unitas. Tittle also was a resourceful diagnostician of defenses; he called brilliant games and possessed rare leadership skills. “Here was a 34-year-old quarterback,” Giants president Wellington Mara said. “But we knew he would be a top hand for us. He’s been in the league a long time and he knows defenses and he would fit in with our club real well.”

Next was a trade for a receiver fast enough to get down the field vertically in Del Shofner. Once timed at 9.8 in the 100, Shofner stretched the field like few other receivers from the split end position. Mara said the veteran receiver “fitted a need of ours precisely.”

On-field colleagues agreed with that assessment. Giants veteran receiver Kyle Rote said, “Other receivers may have better moves, but Del has great speed, wonderful hands and good leg drive.” Defender Dick Lynch said, “I couldn’t cover him man on man in 1958 or 1959. I couldn’t cover him in 1960 either. He’s as good as he ever was.”

Tittle was equally impressed, “We both came here at the same time, and we both were traded from West Coast teams. I’d never thrown to someone with the speed he had – along with such a good pair of hands.”

Y.A. Tittle, New York Giants (1961)

Y.A. Tittle, New York Giants (1961)

Tittle and Conerly began 1961 sharing the signal calling duties. The trend was for Conerly to start, then be relieved at some point by Tittle, who was still learning the nuances of Sherman’s complex, detailed system. Following a string of come-from-behind victories the starting job was assumed full time by Tittle. Fullback Alex Webster remembered, “Conerly was our leader. Then, when Tittle came in, we’d never seen anything like him before.” New York won the Eastern Conference, but lost badly in the Championship Game at Green Bay 37-0.

Fruition

Prior to the 1962 season, prognosticators predicted a fall off for the Giants. Sherman recalled a meeting with the press during the pre season, “Some said, ‘It’s a shame, Allie. You’re taking over a club that’s beginning to fall apart from old age.’ The Giants were supposed to be growing old. I could evaluate the performance of the old players over a stretch of three years. I could see how much they had slipped, if they had slipped at all. I could decide which old players to keep and which old players had to be replaced. You can’t replace players wholesale, you know. You have to do it gradually.”

There was turnover on the New York roster though. Conerly and Rote retired. However, one veteran returned from a season-long hiatus. Frank Gifford moved to the flanker position and complimented Shofner’s talents perfectly. The former halfback lacked Shofner’s speed, but he made up for it with elusiveness, deception and sharp route running. Gifford clicked with his new quarterback and complimented both his smarts and ability. “Y.A. is like a high school kid with a Univac brain and a great passing arm,” said Gifford. Shofner and Gifford would exceed 20 yards per catch in 1962.

Y.A. Tittle (14), New York Giants at Cleveland Browns (September 16, 1962)

Y.A. Tittle (14), New York Giants at Cleveland Browns (September 16, 1962)

The first game of the campaign was a disappointment. A limping Tittle tossed three interceptions in an ugly 17-7 loss at rival Cleveland. Potential morphed into results for Sherman’s creative, and sometimes ingenious, offense in Week 2’s impressive passing duel between Tittle and Philadelphia’s young hot shot quarterback Sonny Jurgensen. Although Jurgensen finished with the impressive stats: 33-of-57 for 381 yards, the Giants won 29-13 with Shofner hauling in two long touchdown bombs. The following week, Tittle threw for 332 yards and four scoring strikes at Pittsburgh in a 31-27 win.

“[The game] has changed a lot since I came up in 1948,” said Tittle as he reflected on his late career success. “It’s changed a lot since 1953. You spend 10 times as much time on preparation. You go over defenses and reactions and keys and how you read. You learn little things about the other team, or about certain players you didn’t even consider 10 years ago.”

This was the first season the Giants sold out every home game before the season started. The largest crowd to date showed up for the highly anticipated contest with the 4-1 Detroit Lions. The aerial fireworks may have been at a minimum versus the defensive power from the Western Conference, but the game was thrilling nonetheless. Tittle sat our much of first half, after being shaken up on a 1st quarter touchdown run. He returned to the field in second half, and led the Giants to a 17-14 victory. His gritty performance sparked a 9-game win streak.

Y.A. Tittle, New York Giants (1962)

Y.A. Tittle, New York Giants (1962)

Tittle struggled during practice that week, and was a game time decision to dress against the Eastern Conference leading 4-0-2 Redskins. After convincing Sherman he was fit to play, Tittle started poorly, completing only two of his first eight attempts. The Giants trailed 7-0 and faced a third-and-ten on their own 10-yard line when their fortunes turned. Tittle completed a short pass to Gifford for the first down, and a roughing the passer penalty on the defense was added on. Tittle hit on four consecutive attempts afterward, the final being a 22-yard touchdown to Joe Morrison. Tittle led the Giants on two more scoring drives before halftime, and the Giants took a 21-13 lead. Tittle’s already had 236 yards passing and three touchdown passes despite the cold start.

Washington kept the pressure on New York with a quick strike. The first play from scrimmage of the third quarter was an 80-yard Norm Snead-to-Bobby Mitchell touchdown completion, where Mitchell caught the ball, juked his defender and outraced the Giants secondary to the end zone. Tittle answered with a seven-play scoring drive, going five-for-five passing. The Giants led 28-20 and Tittle couldn’t miss. He reached 12 consecutive completions as the Giants lead extended to 35-20. On the next possession Tittle missed on a pass and failed to match Fran Tarkenton’s record of 13 straight. Unfazed, Tittle’s next throw was good for a 63-yard touchdown to Gifford. The Giants lead 42-20 and that lead grew to 49-20 in the fourth quarter on Tittle’s record-tying seventh touchdown pass.

Tittle had a chance to try for an eighth touchdown late in the game. Despite the vocal encouragement from both the Yankee Stadium crowd and Giants teammates, Tittle called for rushing plays to run out the clock in Washington territory, content with the 49-34 victory.

The humble closing belied the superlative virtuoso performance. Tittle completed 27-of-39 attempts, nearly 70%, impressive for any game, but even more so when his bad start is taken into account. The seven touchdowns tied the record shared by Sid Luckman, Adrian Burke, and George Blanda. The 505 passing yards were second only to Norm van Brocklin’s 554, and was just the third 500-yard passing game to-date. Shofner’s 269 receiving yards was the fourth highest single-game total at that time, and remains a Giants’ club record today.

Tittle and the Giants maintained the momentum from that afternoon through most of the season and established new standards across all passing categories as they won the Eastern Conference with a 12-2 record. In the season finale versus Dallas, Tittle threw six touchdowns and established an NFL record with 33 scoring strikes for the season. Unitas had thrown 32 in 1959 and Jurgensen tied that mark in 1961. (George Blanda threw 36 in 1961, but the NFL did not recognize AFL records until after the 1970 merger.)

His 3,224 yards easily eclipsed his team record 2,272 from 1961 and Conerly’s career high of 2,175 in 1948. This mark would stand until 1984 when Phil Simms threw for 4,044 yards in a 16-game season. UPI voted Tittle and the NFL’s Most Valuable Player for the season, but the Giants lost the NFL championship game to Green Bay 16-7.

Acclamation

The 1963 season began with Tittle out-dueling Unitas in a come-from-behind thriller in Baltimore. After falling behind 21-3 early in the second quarter, Tittle threw three touchdowns to bring the Giants to within 28-24 at the half. On his third quarter touchdown run to give the Giants the lead at 31-28, Tittle was injured and left the game. Ralph Guglielmi was 0-2 in relief, but the Giants held on for a 37-28 win. The Giants were no match for the Steelers the next week without Tittle and lost 31-0, managing a meager seven first downs.

Y.A. Tittle (14), Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants (October 20, 1963)

Y.A. Tittle (14), Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants (October 20, 1963)

Tittle returned in Week 3 and the offense did not miss a beat. The Giants went 3-1 after that loss, losing at home to unbeaten Cleveland, and never scored less than 24 points. The rematch with the 6-0 Browns was highly anticipated, but the standing room only crowd of 84,213 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium was silenced early when Jim Brown fumbled on his first carry and Sam Huff recovered for New York on Cleveland’s 30-yard line. The Giants settled for a field goal, but did not panic. In fact, the game plan was a departure from the usually vertical attack. Sherman’s reigned-in plan charged Tittle with managing the game with pre-snap reads and to win the time-of-possession battle. “We threw out the bomb,” Sherman said. “We never went for the long one. We wanted to control the ball. Short passes and running. That’s what we planned and that’s what we did. We showed how the Browns can be beaten.”

The Giants scored on all five possessions in the first half as Tittle changed the call on almost every play at the line of scrimmage. “They were in an odd line,” Tittle explained. “We expected them to be in a four-three most of the time, so I had to change off. If the crowd had been noisy, I might have had trouble. But they were pretty quiet.”

Tittle’s individual statistics were not flashy: 214 yards on 31 attempts and two touchdowns with one interception. As a team, the Giants totaled 387 yards on 78 offensive snaps; the Browns 142 yards on 38 snaps. Tittle received an ovation from his teammates on the New York bench when he was taken out of the game midway through the fourth quarter and the Giants comfortably ahead 33-0. It was well deserved because his decision making was the critical difference in the contest.

Y.A. Tittle, New York Giants at St. Louis Cardinals (November 3, 1963)

Y.A. Tittle, New York Giants at St. Louis Cardinals (November 3, 1963)

Wisdom and insight continued to serve the veteran signal caller two weeks later when he achieved a statistically perfect game for a passer in a 42-14 win over Philadelphia. Nobody knew it at the time though, the NFL’s contrived formula for passer rating was not rolled out until 1971. Although the formula has its share of critics – in particular the heavy weight it places on completion percentage – it can be a useful tool for determining a quarterback’s passing efficiency. How 16 completions on 20 attempts for 261 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions equals the number 158.3 is not easily explained without a deep background in calculus. Tittle attributed to his success to the variable of time and intuition.

“After every game people ask me questions about how I figured the other team,” he said. “You have to be in the league a long lime and remember things, and at last you get a feel about it. If you could learn it by studying movies, a good smart college quarterback could learn all you’ve got to learn in three weeks and then come in and be as good as the old heads. But they can’t. Because you look at seven or eight different teams each year and they have a different feel and a different look.

“You learn to look for little things. Not obvious things like the linebacker coming right up on the line of scrimmage. But say my tight end is split out a little, maybe four yards from the tackle. The corner linebacker should be right out there with him, playing right in front of him so he can chuck him at the line. But if he has cheated into the gap between the end and the tackle, I read blitz. Or maybe the weak-side safety is intent on the A back—the offensive back on his side. Instead of being relaxed and at ease, he’s crouched over, and maybe unconsciously he’s moved a step or two closer to the line of scrimmage. I read blitz again. That means the weak-side linebacker is coming. He’s the man who would take the A back in a pass pattern, and the weak-side safety is going to have to cover for him, so I read blitz from the way the safety is acting.”

Y.A. Tittle, New York Giants (1963)

Y.A. Tittle, New York Giants (1963)

New York confidently rolled into the season finale at Yankee Stadium with a 10-3 record. Their opponent was second place 7-3-3 Pittsburgh, who could take the Eastern Conference crown with a victory via win percentage (ties did not count in the standings at that time.) A win against the rugged Steelers would require all of Tittle’s tangible attributes: a strong arm, accuracy and experience. The intangible quality of being clutch: exhibiting the uncanny ability to make a big play at a defining moment when the outcome hangs in the balance, would be the catalyst for realization.

Brains and speed combined for New York’s first big strike. Already ahead 3-0, Tittle noticed a change in the defense. After attempting a sideline hookup with Shofner, the Pittsburgh cornerback was cheating toward the boundary, after starting the game playing off Shofner to guard against the split end’s speed. Reading the defender after the snap, Tittle lured him with a pump-fake to the sideline as Shofner streaked past. Tittle lofted a deep arching throw to Shofner who coasted for the 41-yard touchdown.

Shofner left the game in the second quarter with an injury, but the Giants controlled the first half and led 16-3 at the intermission. The Steelers surged in the third quarter and cut the deficit to 16-10 while their defense stifled the Giants’ offense. Faced with a precarious situation, third-and-eight on their own 24-yard line, Tittle collaborated with Gifford to pull New York out of its rut.

Gifford separated from his defender on a deep in-cut as Tittle stood tall in the pocket under a heavy rush. The pass was low and out in front, but Gifford stretched out with one arm. As he attempted to tip the ball to himself, it stuck in his hand, and fell to the ground with it secured for a completion at Pittsburgh’s 47-yard line. “I dived for the ball and I thought, ‘Well we blew it,’” Gifford recalled. “I stuck my hand out just to make the motion of going through with it – and the damn thing stuck in my hand!” While the 63,240 fans in Yankee Stadium erupted in bedlam, Tittle picked himself off the dirt. He never saw the remarkable catch as he was knocked onto his back after the release.

Tittle immediately went back to Gifford on the next play, moving to the Steelers 22-yard line with a sideline completion. The next play was a touchdown pass to Joe Morrison off a play action fake. The Giants regained the two-score cushion 23-10 and momentum that had seemingly been lost. New York held on for the Eastern Conference title with a 33-17 victory. Afterward, there was little doubt on the game’s turning point: “That Gifford catch was the end for us,” Steelers’ Coach Buddy Parker said. “It looked then like we were beginning to pick up and they were sliding. But you could see the whole club come alive after that play.”

The Giants lost the NFL Title Game in Chicago the following week 14-10, but the 1963 season was still a great success. Tittle broke his own NFL record with 36 touchdown passes – and threw a score in all 13 games he played while doing it – a feat that earned him the AP NFL Most Valuable Player award. Including the final game of 1962 and the first of 1964, Tittle threw a touchdown pass in 15 consecutive games, a New York club record that still stands today.

Appendices: Looking over Numbers

Despite playing in New York for only four seasons, Tittle still holds a place of prominence in the Giants annals. He is 17th in games played at 54, but vaults ahead significantly in the categories of performance. He is 7th in passes completed, 6th in passing yards and 5th in touchdowns thrown. Most impressive is his yards-per-attempt of 8.0, which is highest of all Giants passers who attempted at least 250 passes.

When looking over career statistics and assessing a passer’s efficiency, the most useful are yards-per-attempt and touchdown-to-interception ratio. Subjectively, 300-yard passing games are interesting. Usually when a quarterbacks throw for over 300 yards, the win-loss record hovers around .500. Y.A. Tittle was a remarkably undefeated during his Giants’ tenure when reaching that plateau. In essence, when the Giants needed Tittle to carry the team, he delivered. Another good indicator of Tittle carrying the Giants is the number of three-touchdown passing games he had. Tittle had 18 for the Giants in 48 starts – the team record until Phil Simms equaled it, but it took him 154 starts to do so.

YAT STATS1

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Oct 142013
 
 October 14, 2013  Posted by  Articles, History
1938 New York Giants celebrate their NFL Championship

1938 New York Giants celebrate their NFL Championship

The 1938 New York Giants

by Larry Schmitt for BigBlueInteractive.com

Anyone who watched NFL football during the 1980’s and 90’s is undoubtedly familiar with this phrase stated by John Madden, “Big players make big plays in big games.” Many of those “big players” would be later named to his All-Madden team the week prior to the Super Bowl, alongside some lesser known names who displayed characteristics that won the broadcaster over, like toughness, grit and heart. They were lunch-pail types who wore blood on their pants and their jerseys un-tucked. In December 1938 Madden was all of two years old, but there was a football team in New York with players fitting those descriptions, displaying all those attributes and more in the biggest game of the season.

The New Commodity

The quick-strike potential of throwing the football was starting to be realized by the mid 1930’s. Green Bay Packer founder Earl “Curly” Lambeau was one of the early proponents of the passing game, adding regimented passing drills into the team’s practices long before anyone else. His first great passer was Arnie Herber, who helped the Packers to pre-championship game NFL titles in 1930 and 1931by throwing passes to Johnny “Blood” McNally from the tailback position in the Notre Dame Box formation. Herber also led the NFL in passing yards and touchdowns in 1932 and 1934.

The catalyst for Green Bay’s quantum leap in the forward pass arrived in 1935. Don Hutson was the NFL’s first true wide receiver, and his arrival shook the NFL. On the first play of his first game, Hutson caught an 83-yard touchdown pass from Herber, which held up for a 7-0 victory against the Chicago Bears. The Herber-to-Hutson combination was as familiar to sports fans as Montana-to-Rice would be two generations later. The Green Bay passing game was so far ahead of its time, many of the standards Herber and Hutson set lasted 30 years or longer.

Although Hutson possessed good speed, it was the precision of his routes that enabled Lambeau to advance his concepts. Packer practices became a laboratory to experiment with route trees and the response of coverages. Herber loved throwing the long ball, when he and Hutson were in sync, defenses were rendered helpless. From his split wide position, Hutson lead the NFL in touchdown receptions every season from 1935 through 1938. In two of those seasons he also led the league in yards receiving. In 1936 Green Bay led the NFL in scoring and defeated the Boston Redskins in the championship game.

The Redskins relocated to Washington DC in 1937, and beat the Chicago Bears for the championship with a fourth-quarter-comeback by the NFL’s sensational rookie Sammy Baugh. Baugh was more than a great passer; he was a prodigy and became a star attraction for the league. As if to underscore his stature, the NFL created a new rule for the 1938 season: the personal foul for roughing-the-passer penalty was born.

1938 New York Giants Training Camp, Hank Soar with the ball.

1938 New York Giants Training Camp, Hank Soar with the ball.

By 1938, the New York Giants rivalry with the Redskins was white hot. From the time the NFL split into two divisions in 1933 through 1946, the Giants and Redskins battled for the right to represent the Eastern Division in the championship game. The schedule makers took note, and even added a little fuel to the fire by routinely scheduling their meetings at the end of the year, often with the season finale at the Polo Grounds in front of huge crowds. The Giants won the East in 1933, ‘34, ‘35, ‘38, ‘39, ‘41, ‘44, ‘46 and the Redskins in 1936, ‘37, ‘40, ‘42, ‘43 (after a playoff with the Giants) and’45.

Old Indestructible

The New York Giants had a respectable offense in their own right. Ed Danowski led the league in passing yards for the 1935 season, but this was balanced by a powerful rushing attack featuring fullback Tuffy Leemans and halfback Hank Soar. The Giants real strength came from the one player Head coach Steve Owen built both sides of the ball around: Mel Hein.

Hein came to the NFL from Washington State in 1931 with no notoriety at all. It was five years before the first draft and scouting was still largely regional. The Pacific Northwest was a long way from the professional league, whose furthest outpost toward the Pacific Coast was Wisconsin. Hein took it upon himself to write letters of interest to three franchises: the Portsmouth Spartans, Providence Steam Rollers, and New York Giants. Providence offered him a contract for $125 per game and Hein accepted it. However, upon meeting with Giant end Ray Flaherty who told Hein the Giants would pay him $150 per game; Hein wired the post office in Providence to return the letter of acceptance to him so he could get the bigger contract.

Early in his rookie season, injuries to the Giants line necessitated Hein’s promotion to starter, and his iron-man streak of playing 60 minutes in 172 consecutive games began. It did not take long before the rangy Hein made an impression on even the most distinguished opponents. “Even as a rookie in 1931 there was no one like him,” said the Chicago Bears’ George Halas, “Usually you look for the rookies on another team and try to take advantage of them. We tried working on Hein, but from the beginning, he was too smart.” Hein matched his intelligence with grit. Bears tackle George Musso, who outweighed Hein in the vicinity of 40 pounds, gave Hein a blow to his unprotected nose after a snap. He cautioned Musso to knock it off, but the warning went unheeded. Hein said, “So on the following play, I was ready. I snapped the ball with one hand and got him with an uppercut square in the face. I could tell he really felt it. He never tried it again.”

Mel Hein, New York Giants (1940)

Mel Hein, New York Giants (1940)

Hein was the lynchpin in Owen’s versatile A-Formation, which featured the line strong to one side and the backs strong to the opposite side. The uncertainty to which position the snap was directed is what made it effective. Hein’s unerring accuracy was critical. An early admirer of his work was future Hall of Famer, Alex Wojciechowicz. While playing college football at Fordham as one of the famed Seven Blocks of Granite, Wojciechowicz would attend Giants games on Sundays for inspiration. “Hein was my idol,” Wojciechowicz said. “Sometimes there would be only 10,000 at a Giants game at the Polo Grounds after Fordham had outdrawn them by at least two to one, sometimes four to one, but I always went to the Giants games because I wanted to get all the pointers I could get and Mel Hein was my man.”

Many years later, another coaching legend offered his adulation: ”Hein developed techniques of snapping the ball and blocking that have been passed on from center to center ever since,” said George Allen, who regarded Hein as the NFL’s all-time best center.

On defense, Hein was equally impressive. Chicago Bear Bronko Nagurski recalled Hein as being “the surest, cleanest and most effective tackler” he’d ever faced. When he wasn’t delivering a bone jarring hit, Hein was dropping into coverage. He was one of the few players capable of staying with Hutson, and snared 17 career interceptions. Hein was named team captain in 1935, and served in that capacity until his retirement a decade later. In 1938, Hein led a defense that over 11 games surrendered just eight touchdowns and a league-low 79 points in total. Those efforts earned Hein the first Joe F. Carr Trophy as league MVP.

Owen instituted the unique two-platoon system in 1937, where he’d change out nearly complete units of 10 players at the end of the first and third quarters. The lone exception was Hein. “He was too good to take out,” the coach said. Hein never missed a game, and only called a time out once. In 1941 he suffered a broken nose in a game against the Bears. After receiving an adjustment he returned and finished the game.

Hein played 15 seasons for the Giants, a franchise mark matched only by Phil Simms and Michael Strahan. Long after Hein’s playing days had ended, Giants patriarch Wellington Mara reminisced on Hein’s importance. Mara said that Hein was the number one player of the Giants’ first 50 years, and that he was equaled only by Lawrence Taylor.

Even in his final campaign at the age of 36, Mel was still playing every game from the opening kickoff to the final gun. “I can’t prove this with any statistics,” Hein once said, “but I may have played more minutes than anybody in pro football history.” Owen said, “He played longer than any other Giant, and was coached less. Coaching him was like telling Babe Ruth how to hit.”

Oakland Raider founder Al Davis, who worked alongside Hein as assistant coaches at the University of Southern California in the 1950′s, said, “He was truly a football legend and a giant among men. Mel was one of the greatest football players who ever lived.”

The Irresistible Force versus the Immovable Object

Hein and his 1938 New York Giants found themselves atop the NFL Eastern Division in mid November with a 6-2 record. The most satisfying moment for New York thus far was a 10-7 revenge-laced victory at Washington in October (the Redskins had embarrassed the Giants 49-14 in the 1937 season finale at the Polo Grounds.) A quirk in the unbalanced schedule brought Green Bay to the Polo Grounds at 8-2. Their schedule had been uninterrupted, while the Giants had taken two bye weeks in September to accommodate their professional baseball co-tenants.

The Packers brimmed with confidence after defeating their two closest contenders in the Western Division, the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions on the road. The game at Wrigley had been a tense, physical test of will, where the Green Bay defense rose to the occasion. The Packers led 21-17 at the half, and extended to a 24-17 lead in the third quarter. From there, the Packers stout defense held their ground with stand after stand, and kept Chicago off the scoreboard for the win. The final stats were unusually skewed against Green Bay. Chicago held significant advantages in first downs, 16-7, and total yards, 274-178. The 28-7 win at Detroit the following week was a costly one however; Hutson injured his knee and missed the game in New York.

Although still potent as ever on offense, Green Bay was in transition, personnel wise. Herber had shown signs of wear, so Lambeau implemented a tailback-by-committee system. Veterans Herber and Bob Monnett rotated with rookie sensation Cecil Isbell, and the results may have been better than ever. Hutson led the NFL in yards receiving and touchdowns yet again, and Isbell added a new dimension to the Packer attack. He led the team in both passing and rushing, as the Packers led the league in scoring, total yards and plays from scrimmage.

The Giants offense was effective, if somewhat more modest. The only category leaders for New York were halfback/kicker Ward Cuff in field goals and PATs, and tailback Ed Danowski with 70 pass completions. The latter, is somewhat misleading, however. Given that Green Bay’s trio of passers combined for 91 completions as a unit, and despite having the most completions, Danowski was just third in yardage. Defensively New York yielded the fewest points and yards, and while compiling the most interceptions.

The Giants needed that type of balance as they entered the second half of the contest of strengths against Green Bay deadlocked 0-0. Fittingly, the first points scored came on a safety for the Giants defense when full back Clarke Hinkle was tackled in his own end zone. The Packers regrouped, and took a 3-2 lead on a field goal. Green Bay’s offense found a rhythm, and moved the ball deep into Giants territory on their next possession, but missed a field goal attempt. On the Giants first play from scrimmage on the ensuing possession, Leemans slipped around right tackle, followed a block, then cut left and outran the secondary on a 75-yard touchdown gallop that brought the throng of 48,279 in the Polo Grounds to their feet. Green Bay controlled the ball the rest of the way, but the Giants defense put the game out of reach when Hein intercepted a pass and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown, sealing the crucial 15-3 victory.

Green Bay Packers at New York Giants (November 20, 1938)

Green Bay Packers at New York Giants (November 20, 1938)

New York played their local rival Brooklyn Dodgers to a 7-7 tie on Thanksgiving four days later, which meant their final game against the Redskins would decide the Eastern Division title. One of the largest crowds to watch the Giants play to that date, 57,461 rowdy fans showed up in full vocal force to root their team on against Washington, and they were not disappointed. New York thoroughly romped the Redskins 36-0. Although the line score might give the impression the Redskins gave up late, the opposite was true. The more points the Giants scored against their feisty but error prone foe, the more physical and nasty the action became. Every pile became a scrum, with pushing and shoving after the whistle that put the officials under great strain to maintain order. After the teams retired to their respective locker-rooms, the Giants physical condition could easily have caused them to be mistaken as the team on the wrong end of the score. There was very little celebration taking place, as the Giants were, bruised, battered and exhausted. The training staff had their work cut out for them to get their players ready for the championship game.

The Last Men Standing

Aside from Hutson favoring his injured knee, Green Bay arrived in New York rested and ready. The Giants were another story entirely. All Pros Cuff and guard Johnny del Isola sat out of practice all week. Many of the Giants who were able work looked like walking wounded after a disaster, wrapped in assorted bandages and tape. Giants’ trainer Francis Sweeney said, “I don’t think I ever saw so tough a team. They were all determined to play, and if some of them had been private patients, I would have sent them to bed or the hospital.”

Two things the Giants had going for them were their running game and Hein’s unique skill set. Owen devised a defensive plan for the championship game that emphasized patience. The onus was on Hein, whose responsibility was to stay near the line of scrimmage after the snap, diagnose the play, then pursue and tackle the ball carrier.

The crowd of 48,120 was smaller than the turnout for the Redskin game the week prior, but was still big enough to be the largest to attend a title game to that point. The game started as the defensive standoff the Giants had hoped for. An exchange of punts pinned Green Bay on their 12-yard line. New York stuffed rushes on first and second down, and on third down the Packers elected to punt (a common strategy in precarious situations at that time.) Future Giant head coach Jim Lee Howell broke through the line and blocked Hinkle’s punt, which the Giants recovered inside the 10-yard line. Green Bay’s rugged defense held and the Giants settled for a Cuff field goal and a 3-0 lead.

Tuffy Leemans (4) and Ward Cuff (14), New York Giants (1941)

Tuffy Leemans (4) and Ward Cuff (14), New York Giants (1941)

Following the kickoff, New York’s defense held again and blocked another punt, this time Jim Poole deflected an Isbell attempt. Starting from the Packer 30 yard line, fullback Tuffy Leemans caught a Danowski pass then rushed three times before hitting pay dirt from nine-yards out on a counter play for a 9-0 lead. The score held when Johnny Gildea hooked the point after attempt wide left.

Another exchange of punts found the Packers pinned deep in their own end of the field again. Lambeau opted to punt on first down, and the Giants received the ball at mid field with a chance to take a surprising and commanding lead. Disaster struck for New York when Leeman’spass was intercepted by Tiny Engerbresten, giving Green Bay not only the ball in favorable field position, but a much needed reversal of momentum. The Packers took advantage quickly. After rushing for a first down, Herber connected on a 40-yard touchdown bomb to Carl Mulleneaux, trimming New York’s lead to 9-7.

Green Bay seized control of the game. They forced the Giants to punt then began another march that seemed destined to end with another touchdown until full back Ed Jankowski’s fumble was recovered by Hein. New York slugged its way back up the field, until Danowski capitalized with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Charles Barnard, ostensibly giving the Giants a comfortable 16-7 just before halftime. Green Bay had other ideas though. Wayland Becker caught a short pass underneath the Giants soft coverage and navigated his way to a 66-yard gain, stunning the Polo Grounds’ faithful. Hinkle capped the lightning-quick drive with a one-yard plunge for the touchdown.

Despite having a 16-14 lead after 30 minutes of play, Owen felt a sense of dread heading into the locker room. Hein, who uncharacteristically left the game for several moments in the second period after getting kicked in the head, reassured Owen, “It’s working coach. I give them the short stuff and Hutson doesn’t beat us.” Whether Owen took the pep talk from his captain to heart is questionable. Aside from seeing his team manhandled for most of the second quarter, the injury situation worsened as blocking back Lee Schaeffer exited the game with a broken leg.

The third quarter began with Green Bay receiving the kickoff without the gallant Hutson, who rested his aching knee on the bench. Regardless, the Packers continued their surge without their best player, driving into Giants territory and took the lead 17-16 with 15-yard Engerbresten field goal. Gildea was inconsolable on the New York sideline, “All I could think was that my missed kick was going to cost us the title.”

The Giants received the kick off and began from their own 38-yard line. Half back Hank Soar was the featured man, rushing four times on cutback runs against the Green Bay slanting defense for 19 yards. After a sack on Danowski, Soar received a pass that left New York with a 4th-and-1 on the Packer 44-yard line. Owen sensed this might be his exhausted team’s last opportunity for a score and elected to gamble. Soar knifed into the line and fell forward for a two-yard gain to covert, allowing the Giants drive to continue. Five plays later, Soar caught a pass between two defenders in front of the goal posts, and dragged Hinkle across the goal line for a 23-yard touchdown, regaining the lead 23-17. “I was near the goal line, and when I came down with the ball, I had three of four Packers all around me,” said Soar. “Clarke Hinkle grabbed me by one leg, but I pulled and pulled and jerked loose and went in.”

1938 NFL Championship Game, Green Bay Packers at New York Giants (December 11, 1938)

1938 NFL Championship Game, Green Bay Packers at New York Giants (December 11, 1938)

Having already abandoned his normally conservative philosophy, Owen scrapped his platoon system next. He chose his best (and healthiest) 11 players and put them on the field for the duration of the battle of attrition. Green Bay drove to the New York 33-yard line, but their scoring opportunity was thwarted when Danowski intercepted an Isbell pass. An exchange of punts spanned the expiration of the third quarter and left the Giants at their own two-yard line. Danowski punted on first down, but the Giants did not gain much as the play netted only 33 yards.

Hutson returned to the field, and on the first play Green Bay went for the kill, but Cuff broke up Herber’s bomb in the end zone. Following a short run, Herber threw for the end zone but the pass was defended again. On fourth down, Herber completed a pass for the first down, but Becker fumbled and New York recovered.

The Giants could not move the ball and punted again. Green Bay, however, lost possession on an ineligible receiver call. Herber completed a pass to Milt Ganterbein at the New York 40-yard line. However, Ganterbein was ruled ineligible after stepping up to the line of scrimmage, the penalty for which resulted in the Giants receiving possession at the previous line of scrimmage, Green Bay’s 43-yard line. Lambeau vehemently protested the call, but to no avail. The Packers followed that mistake by giving New York’s struggling offense a first down via penalty (their first since Soar’s touchdown catch). The Giants could not capitalize, and missed an opportunity to go ahead by two scores when Cuff’s 36-yard field goal attempt sailed wide.

Isbell took charge for the Packers on their ensuing possession. He passed and rushed the ball to the Giants 46 yard-line, but the New York defense held from there on downs. Soar picked up a rushing first down across the midfield stripe, but the Giants punted for a touchback with just over one minute left on the clock.

After a 16-yard scramble, Herber completed a pass to Mulleneaux, who lateraled to Hutson. With a seemingly clear path to the end zone, Soar caught Hutson from behind, 40 yards away from the end zone. Time remained for just one final play. Owen sent a blitz at Herber, who heaved the ball into the end zone where it fell to the ground incomplete. The Giants were finally able to exhale with the 23-17 lead finally secured.

Not all the Giants were available to celebrate the victory however. Del Isola and Cuff were transported to the hospital with possible fractured vertebrae and Hein for a concussion.

Many Giants gave heroic efforts with their performances; Soar was the most impressive on the stat sheet. His 106 total yards came largely in the second half, 65 yards rushing on 21 attempts and 41 yards on three receptions. He recollected years later, “After [the score giving the Giants the 23-17 lead], Ward Cuff kicked the point and Steve took me out of the game, and he said, ‘I want you to go back in again. You call the plays and don’t call anybody’s plays but your own. You carry the ball every goddamned time.’ Well, they hit me with everything except the stands, and that was because they couldn’t move the stands. It seemed like six years before the clock ran out. I think that game was the biggest thrill as far as football is concerned.”

All the writers covering the game agreed with New York’s hero of the moment. Superlatives reigned supreme in the Monday papers:

Arthur Daley of The New York Times: “The play for the full sixty vibrant minutes was absolutely ferocious. No such blocking and tackling by two football teams ever had been seen at the Polo Grounds. Tempers were so frayed and tattered that stray punches were tossed around all afternoon. This was the gridiron sport at its primitive best.”

Arthur Boer of The International News Service: “It was mostly a barroom fight outdoors. Close to 50,000 innocent bystanders looked upon the resumption of gang warfare in America. It was terrific.”

Jack Mahon of The New York Daily News: “In a story book game that had the crowd roaring from start to finish, the Giants struck fast, built up an early lead, lost it, and surged back through the gathering shadows for a sensational touchdown – and victory! No movie director could have staged a better thriller.”

Owen attributed the victory to his player’s grit and a few small changes in strategy. “They tore us apart and ran through us the other time [the 15-3 regular season meeting], but not this time. Those kids of mine just made up their minds that famous Packer attack was going to be stopped. And how they stopped it!” He also revealed that he had changed the blocking assignments and tendencies on offense, “Then, too, we didn’t throw as many passes as usual. When we found out early in the game we didn’t have to pitch ‘em, well, we just didn’t.”

Those combined elements earned the Giants the distinction of becoming the first team to win two Championship Games, but their highest praise came years later from the man who fretted on the sidelines that day. After his retirement, Owen said the 1938 Giants were, “The finest group I ever coached.”

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Oct 122013
 
 October 12, 2013  Posted by  Articles, The Salary Cap
David Baas' Contract Details - Courtesy by OverTheCap.com

David Baas’s Contract Details – Courtesy of OverTheCap.com

Three Ways of Dealing with David Baas’s Contract: I’ve seen people ask me questions here on The Corner Forum about Center David Baas’s contract, and it’s impact on the team going forward. His contractual breakdown is pictured above, courtesy of Baas’s salary cap page from overthecap.com. Let me point out the three most likely ways how his contract can be dealt with (meaning ’86ed). Baas has two years left on his deal after this season. He restructured this past off-season, moving dead money further down into his last two years, making it more difficult to cut him. One way that the Giants could deal with his situation is to cut him after this season, and gain $1,775,000 in cap space this off-season. The second course of action that they can take is to wait until after 2014 to cut him, when they could gain significantly more cap space – $5,250,000 to be exact – and have less dead money on the books as well ($3,225,000 compared to exactly double that amount if the Giants cut him after this year).

This brings me to the third option…(somehow Heisenberg’s voice during his conversation with Gustavo Fring from Breaking Bad out in the desert is rattling around in my head as I type this).

If Baas continues to be a liability by not being able to stay healthy, or play well when healthy, then they might have to go with the first option – something which is becoming increasingly apparent. A third way that they could do this AND gain MORE THAN $1,775,000 in cap space would be by releasing him this off-season and designating him as a post-June 1st cut. Teams can do this with up to two players a year. The Dolphins did this with two of their own this past off-season when they designated Linebackers Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby as such; you can read about it by clicking HERE.

Teams that use this strategy won’t reap the cap benefits right away though. They have to wait until June 2nd to do so; however, the players who are released under this designation are free to sign elsewhere as free agency starts when more money is available, and teams are ready to flex their wallets, so to speak. This is advantageous to the player in that it gives them a much better opportunity to find a job elsewhere at a higher salary, instead of waiting until after June 1st when teams have shot their collective wads.

As of June 2nd, the team can then gain room from not only the regular cap savings (which after 2013 in Baas’s case would be $1,775,000), but they’d also be able to spread out the remaining dead money - provided the player has at least 2 years left on his deal and has not completed his 4th year with the club (as per the present CBA, NFL contracts can’t be prorated more than 5 years). If the Giants were to exercise this option with Baas this coming off-season, they’d be able to split up his Dead Money over the course of two seasons – 2014 and 2015.

That Dead Money amount, if he were to be released this off-season would be $6,450,000. The Giants would be able to evenly spread this amount out over those two years of 2014 and 2015. They would also GAIN an extra $3,225,000 in cap space in addition to the regular amount of cap savings mentioned above ($1,775,000) if they were to release him under normal non-post-June 1st standards. Their cap savings in this case would be $5,000,000 in 2014 with only $3,225,000 in Dead Money remaining on the books for 2014 – half the original amount. The other $3,225,000 will be added to the 2015 season’s Dead Money total.

This third option that I described in detail above will be seriously considered after the season, as the Giants evaluate Baas’s future on the team. Suffice it to say, due to a combination of his injuries and consequent sub-par performance in comparison to this contract, he won’t be here past 2014 at the LATEST. Hell, he’ll be lucky to be here next year the way things are going. To wrap this up, and paraphrase Heisenberg in the process, let me go on record as saying that as of this moment, I prefer option 3.

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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 032013
 
Eli Manning, New York Giants (December 3, 2012)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants Will Need to Make More Room Under the Salary Cap: Before I explain what needs to be done, let me display the cap numbers for all 53 players on the roster:

CAP # RANK
PLAYER
POSITION
2013 CAP NUMBER
1Eli ManningQB $20,850,000.00
2Chris SneeOG $11,000,000.00
3Antrel RolleSS $9,250,000.00
4Justin TuckDE $6,150,000.00
5Corey WebsterCB $5,345,000.00
6David BaasC $4,725,000.00
7Mathias KiwanukaDE $4,125,000.00
8Hakeem NicksWR $3,755,000.00
9William BeattyOLT $3,550,000.00
10David DiehlOT/OG $3,125,000.00
11Jason Pierre-PaulDE $2,825,000.00
12Victor CruzWR $2,530,000.00
13Steve WeatherfordP $2,500,000.00
14Prince AmukamaraCB $2,231,154.00
15Andre BrownRB $2,023,000.00
16Cullen JenkinsDT $1,816,666.00
17David WilsonRB $1,519,205.00
18Justin PughOT/OG $1,517,436.00
19Terrell ThomasCB $1,450,000.00
20Brandon MyersTE/H-BACK $1,125,000.00
21Zak DeOssieLONG SNAPPER $1,049,000.00
22Linval JosephDT $1,012,000.00
23Bear PascoeTE/H-BACK $892,500.00
24Keith RiversOLB $800,000.00
25Rueben RandleWR $748,166.00
26Johnathan HankinsDT $732,852.00
27Jerrel JerniganWR $723,813.00
28James BrewerOG/OT $663,023.00
29-30Trumaine McBrideCB $630,000.00
29-30Curtis PainterQB $630,000.00
31-38Kevin BootheOG $620,000.00
31-38Josh BrownK $620,000.00
31-38Dan ConnorMLB $620,000.00
31-38Louis Murphy, Jr.WR $620,000.00
31-38Ryan MundyS $620,000.00
31-38Mike PattersonDT $620,000.00
31-38Shaun RogersDT $620,000.00
31-38Aaron RossCB $620,000.00
39Jayron HosleyCB $616,250.00
40Adrien RobinsonTE $576,413.00
41Jacquian WilliamsOLB $574,670.00
42Da'Rel ScottRB $568,988.00
43-44Mark HerzlichOLB/MLB $560,000.00
43-44Henry HynoskiFB $560,000.00
45Spencer PaysingerOLB $556,000.00
46Brandon MosleyOG/OT $555,146.00
47Jim CordleC/OG $555,000.00
48Damontre MooreDE $548,813.00
49Ryan NassibQB $518,400.00
50Justin TrattouDE $480,000.00
51Cooper TaylorS $451,813.00
52Michael CoxRB $416,474.00
53Larry DonnellTE $405,000.00
$112,196,782.00

The total for the Top 51 cap numbers, as indicated above, is $111,375,308.

  • The total for the Top 53 cap numbers is $112,196,782.
Teams are operating under the Top 51 Rule until 4 pm ET on Wednesday. At midnight ET on Thursday, September 5th, regular season salary cap rules will be in effect. Regular season cap rules will include the following cap expenses besides those which are already in effect that include a team’s top 51 cap numbers:
  • The entire 53-man roster will count on the cap instead of just the to 51 cap numbers.
    • at minimum this will take up an extra $810,000 in cap room.
  • The Practice Squad will count.
    • at minimum this will count an extra $816,000.
  • Players on the Reserve/PUP List
    • Markus Kuhn’s 2013 cap number is $491,474.
    • He very likely has a salary split though which reduces his cap hit $177,000 down to $314,474.
  • Players on Injured Reserve.
    • The Giants have two right now: Stevie Brown (his cap number is $2,023,000) & Ramses Barden (who has a cap number of $620,000).
    • Barden is probably going to receive an injury settlement in the coming weeks though instead.
    • Right now, the total amount for the Giants is $2,643,000.

Teams will need to be cap compliant with regular season salary cap rules though by 4 pm ET on Wednesday, when league business hours cease. The Giants will need to make some moves based on the numbers I have below. First here is the Salary Cap breakdown with respect to the Top 51 Rule:

Giants' Cap Hits from player 1 to 53 as of 9-3-2013 - 5 of 6

Now here are the Salary Cap Calculation projections with the Regular Season Salary Cap Rules in effect:

Giants' Cap Hits from player 1 to 53 as of 9-3-2013 - 6 of 6
  • As can be seen in the Regular Season Salary Cap Rule projections, the Giants are going to over the cap if they don’t make a move or two.
  • The negative figure if $1,803,236 does not include additional cap space due to Andre Brown being placed on Temporary IR; his cap number will still count in full, but another player’s cap number will be added that which will cost around $555,000 for the season.
  • If you add that to the figure then you get $2,358,236.
  • In addition to this there are the Injury Settlement amounts.
  • If you estimate each one to roughly $100,000 per player for 8 players, then you get another $800,000.
  • The overage total would then be $3,158,236.
  • If you add another $1,000,000 in emergency funds/fudge money, then that total comes out to $4,158,236.
  • This amount of $4,158,236 is pretty close to how much cap room that the Giants will need to create by no later than 4 pm tomorrow, which is roughly 24 hours from the time of this post.
  • They will have to restructure or extend the contract of a player or two in order to create this cap room; the question then inevitably becomes who can they agree to this with on the team now?
There are three prime candidates that can help the Giants out: Chris Snee, Antrel Rolle, & Eli Manning. The Giants could also turn to Justin Tuck & Steve Weatherford, but they are not as ideal. Here are the contractual breakdowns for each of these five players courtesy of the Giants’ salary cap page from overthecap.com (click HERE to see the Giants’ page with the list of each player’s contractual breakdown):
Chris Snee - contractual breakdown as of May 26, 2013 Antrel Rolle - contractual breakdown as of February 18, 2013Eli Manning - contractual breakdown as of September 3, 2013Justin Tuck salary - as of 4-7-2013Steve Weatherford contract - July 10, 2013
  • Justin Tuck is in the last year of his deal, so the Giants’ only option with him would be to tack on a voidable year and create some cap room that way (they gave Osi Umenyiora this kind of deal last year, only not for the puupose of creating cap room), but then that would create Dead Money for the team on it’s 2014 salary cap, so that option is not the best.
  • Steve Weatherford’s contract would up to $738,750 in cap room, which wouldn’t be enough for the Giants to get by. It would help, and could be a complimentary option in addition to restructuring another big money player, but is not a primary option to create the necessary $4,158,236 in cap room, although it would reduce the total to $3,419,486 making it easier to restructure the deal of a guy like Snee, Eli, or Rolle.
  • Eli Manning’s contract could be restructured or extended to help this year, but it is more likely that the Giants will wait to change his contract around by extending him next year, giving the Giants the much needed room that they will need then to attempt and re-sign players like JPP, Nicks, and Joseph. I wouldn’t be surprised if they turned to Eli for help this year, but I think it’s more likely that they wait until next ear to do so, and instead turn to Snee or Rolle.
  • Antrel Rolle is a guy who does not like to get his contract restructured; he hasn’t had it changed since he has signed here a little over 3 years ago, so while he would be an ideal candidate for a restructure, it may not be the most realistic. An extension is possible with him, but may not be optimal due to his age. This then leaves us with one more option: Snee.
  • Chris Snee has consistently helped the Giants out in recent years when it comes to restructuring his deal. He did it last year by agreeing to having his contract restructured on September 8th, just before the Top 51 Rule ceased and the Giants’ season opener against Dallas at MetLife Stadium. I think he’s the logical choice to help out again this year.

Teams are allowed to restructure the contracts of players as many times as they like during a season. The one year rule of not changing a player’s contract that people sometimes misunderstand has to do with salary increases only, as former NFL agent Joel Corry of the National Football Post wrote to me in an email. This makes Snee eligible to help the Giants out again this year.

Snee has two years left on his contract, including this season. His $6,700,000 base salary this year can be reduced to as little as $840,000. This is the veteran minimum for a player who has 9 accrued seasons, such as Snee. The difference of $5,860,000 would then be divided in two, creating $2,930,000 in added cap space. It would also increase his 2014 cap number by $2,930,000 from $9,000,000 to $11,930,000 and would also decrease his cap savings amount in 2014 by that amount from $7,000,000 to $4,070,000.

The odds are that there will be two restructures, in any of these two combinations:

  • Snee/Rolle + Weatherford/Tuck
  • Snee + Rolle

All these permutations and combinations are a moot point unless the Giants go to the Bank Eli tomorrow. They could simply restructure or extend his deal now, and gain the room they need as a result. Eli’s cap number of $20,850,00 is by far the highest on the team. He has 3 years left on his deal, including this season, so there’s room for them to work with if they go that route. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the next 24 hours or so in this regard. During the season, the Giants can also go back to any of the same players that they restructured before (if they still have enough leeway in their contracts of course), and ask them for more cap help if the need should arise. One way or the other, we’ll see an announcement made about what happens with regards to these possible contractual restructures or extension(s) by Wednesday for sure.

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Aug 182013
 
 August 18, 2013  Posted by  Articles, The Salary Cap
Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (November 11, 2012)

Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

August 18, 2013 NFL Salary Cap Update: Here are the latest NFL salary cap space figures for all clubs throughout the league courtesy of the NFLPA’s Top 51 League Cap Report website.

Official Salary Cap Space – 8/18/2013

CAP SPACE RANK
TEAM
PREVIOUS YEAR CARRYOVER
TOTAL CAP SPACE
17Arizona$3,600,110.00$6,603,058.00
14Atlanta$307,540.00$7,469,186.00
20Baltimore$1,182,377.00$5,529,459.00
3Buffalo$9,817,628.00$21,910,064.00
7Carolina$3,654,825.00$13,803,380.00
29Chicago$3,236,965.00$922,767.00
5Cincinnati$8,579,575.00$17,091,631.00
1Cleveland$14,339,575.00$26,645,339.00
12Dallas$2,335,379.00$8,480,326.00
11Denver$11,537,924.00$10,249,438.00
22Detroit$466,992.00$5,013,453.00
8Green Bay$7,010,832.00$13,416,330.00
30Houston$2,422,689.00$763,445.00
18Indianapolis$3,500,000.00$6,566,134.00
2Jacksonville$19,563,231.00$22,691,605.00
32Kansas City$14,079,650.00$7,492.00
6Miami$5,380,246.00$16,187,685.00
24Minnesota$8,004,734.00$4,292,090.00
10New England$5,607,914.00$10,394,769.00
21New Orleans$2,700,000.00$5,173,260.00
27NY Giants$1,000,000.00$2,650,728.00
16NY Jets$3,400,000.00$6,676,562.00
19Oakland$4,504,761.00$5,976,452.00
4Philadelphia$23,046,035.00$19,341,101.00
23Pittsburgh$758,811.00$4,352,684.00
25San Diego$995,893.00$3,110,725.00
15San Francisco$859,734.00$7,116,765.00
26Seattle$13,265,802.00$3,090,007.00
31St. Louis$247,347.00$113,676.00
9Tampa Bay$8,527,866.00$11,588,471.00
13Tennessee$12,867,893.00$8,338,238.00
28Washington$4,270,296.00$1,338,440.00

If you would like to compare the figures listed to today to those which I posted two weeks ago for each club on Sunday, August 4th, then simply click HERE to do so. After you do that, take a look at the teams in the NFC East. The Giants have $2,650,728 in cap room as of now, making them one of the “almost running on empty teams” that I listed below. The Eagles (ranking 4th in the league) and Cowboys (ranked 12th) are in solid shape to start the regular season, while the Giants (who are ranked 27th) are on the border of having to make some financial moves to be able to have some breathing room under the cap. The Redskins (who rank 28th) definitely have to make a move or two with respect to the restructuring a contract or two in order to be able to operate in the regular season as well once the Top 51 Rule expires 18 days from now on Thursday, September 5th at 12:00 am New York time.

To make an automotive parallel, generally speaking, teams with less than $3 million worth of cap room are basically almost running on empty. Right now, according to this list, there are six clubs who fit into this category: the Giants, Redskins, Bears, Texans, Rams, & Chiefs. These six clubs, and possibly two of the clubs slightly ahead of them (the Seahawks & Chargers), will have to make some extra room under the cap in order to cover regular season operational expenses which are not included now, but will be factored in to the salary cap equation once the Top 51 rule expires in slightly less than 18 days. These factors include the following:

  • cap room for players on Injured Reserve.
  • players who have received Injury Settlements.
  • additional dead money as the result of players who are cut to reach the 53-man roster limit.
  • the 8 players on the Practice Squad ($6,000 a week x 17 weeks x 8 players At MINIMUM).
  • and of course all 53 players on the 53-man roster; right now only the top 51 players on the roster count (this will add two extra salaries to the equation).

Keep in mind that the roster moves that teams make going forward when the upcoming rounds of player cuts take place – the cut-down to 75 on August 27th, and the final cut-down to the final 53 on August 31st – will also factor in each individual club’s cap situation. If say for example the Chiefs, who have the least amount of cap space in the league, have a player who has a higher cap number than a similarly ranked player, but is better than him, he’ll very likely be the one to get released due to the club’s tight cap situation. Keep your eyes out for situations like this around the league, particularly from the eight clubs mentioned above, as we near the end of training camps and preseason throughout the league in the coming two weeks.

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Aug 152013
 
 August 15, 2013  Posted by  Articles, Roster Thoughts
Cullen Jenkins, New York Giants (August 10, 2013)

Cullen Jenkins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Offseason Breakdown: New York Giants Defensive Tackles

In part one, we covered how important the defensive line is to the overall defense of the New York Giants, and focused on the defensive ends. In part two, we’ll focus on the defensive tackles.

4-3 defenses usually employ two different types of tackles: a 1-technique (or nose tackle) and a 3-technique (or under tackle). The 1-technique tackle usually will see a lot of double teams from the guard and center and usually has to be the bigger, stronger, and stouter player. These types of players usually lack ideal quickness. The 3-technique is usually less stout, but the quicker, more active penetrator. If Linval Joseph and Cullen Jenkins start as expected, Joseph will play the 1-technique and Jenkins the 3-technique given their physical characteristics. Johnathan Hankins is better suited to the 1-technique while Marvin Austin is better suited to the 3-technique. Also keep in mind that in obvious pass rush situations, the Giants have moved defensive ends – including Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Mathias Kiwanuka – inside to rush from the tackle spots.

There are currently eight defensive tackles on the Giants’ 90-man preseason roster. At most, the Giants will be able to keep five defensive tackles on the 53-man regular-season roster.

Linval Joseph: Joseph was drafted in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Giants. He did not play much as a rookie but became a full-time starter in 2011. Joseph has an excellent combination of size (6’4’’, 323 pounds), strength, and athletic ability. He flashes as run defender due to his size and strength, and as a pass rusher because of his quickness. But one gets the sense that Joseph should be a more consistent, more dominating player than he has shown to date.

“Linval is really good,” said DT Cullen Jenkins. “He’s a strong man; really strong. I can’t even workout with Linval in the weight room. But he’s one of the first people in here every day. Out in practice he’s always busting his butt and you have to respect it. He’s got some bright years ahead of him and I think he can do a lot of things in the league.”

“From looking at Linval in all the practices you wonder why he is not a Pro Bowler,” said Jenkins. “He’s got a tremendous amount of ability, the strength he possess, quickness, speed. He’s had a couple dings here and there that have hampered him, but if he can stay healthy I think he’ll be a Pro Bowler.”

“I’m just ready to step up,” said Joseph. “I’m going to be the anchor of this team and I’m ready to go.”

Cullen Jenkins: Jenkins was signed by the Giants in March 2013 after he was released by the Philadelphia Eagles in February. Jenkins was originally signed by Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent after the 2003 NFL Draft. He did not make the team but spent time in NFL Europe and then re-signed with the Packers in 2004. From 2004-10, Jenkins played with the Packers until he signed with the Eagles in 2011.

Jenkins lacks ideal size (6’2’’, 305 pounds) and is on the downside of his career, but he still is a solid two-way defensive tackle who can play the run and rush the passer. Versatile, he has experience in the 4-3 as a defensive tackle and as an end in the 3-4. The Giants have also been playing him at defensive end in the 4-3. In the last four seasons, he’s averaged over five sacks a year. Jenkins is a tough guy who plays with an attitude.

“Cullen, I was with four years in Green Bay, he’s a very explosive guy, talented guy, has matured a lot,” said Defensive Line Coach Robert Nunn. “He’s a different guy than he was in Green Bay. He’s a guy that has gotten better and better as time has gone on, very explosive player both in the run game and the pass game and he is going to bring a lot of versatility to us. I think he can go inside, he can play outside, we can do some different things, which, in turn, will allow us to different things with some of our other guys. He really adds some versatility to what we’re doing…When we get to our pass rush stuff he can free up Justin and JPP and Kiwi to move around so there are several things he brings. The passion he plays with and the toughness, he’s another guy that plays tough. On Sundays, he’s a tough guy. We need that in that room.”

“I’m very impressed with Jenkins,” said Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell. “He is a seasoned veteran, a proven veteran and I just see that for him to come to our football team and bring the type of energy that he displayed down at his previous team and then bring that to us, I think that’s a positive for our defense.”

“We’re going to take advantage of his versatility,” said Fewell. “He’s very explosive. He’s much stronger than I initially thought he was and he is violent in his reactions and so that’s a good thing for us and it’s very pleasing.”

“He’s a tough guy to block no matter where he is,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “He’s very effective, very good. Moves well. Just gives us a nice piece of versatility to be able to play him basically wherever we need.”

“Once you hit 30, everyone starts talking about how you’re getting older and missing a step,” said the 32-year-old Jenkins. “I see it as a challenge. My whole career, my whole life, has been about proving people wrong.”

“Two things I’ve been working on: my strength and my quickness,” said Jenkins. “Quickness has helped me since I’ve been in the league and it’s one of the reasons I’ve put so much emphasis in making sure my weight stays at a good level for me this year. At the same time, I’m trying to get as strong as I can because getting older I know you have to put a lot more time into your body to make sure you stay healthy. These last few years that’s what I’ve been trying to do to make sure I stay on the field every week.”

Shaun Rogers: The Giants signed Rogers as an unrestricted free agent in April 2012, but he missed the entire 2012 season due to a blood clot in his leg. Rogers was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. In 11 NFL seasons, Rogers has played for the Lions (2001-07), Browns, (2008-10), and Saints (2011). He was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2004, 2005, and 2008.

Rogers is a huge (6’4’’, 350 pounds), powerful player. In his prime, he was a very strong run defender who could also push the pocket on the pass rush. However, the 34-year old Rogers is nearing the end of his career and it remains to be seen how much he has left in his gas tank. He started four games for the Saints in 2011 and finished with just 22 tackles and no sacks. Amazingly, Rogers has blocked 14 field goal attempts in his career.

Johnathan Hankins: Hankins was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Giants. Hankins is a big (6’2’’, 320 pounds), strong, run-stuffing defensive tackle with good athletic ability and agility for his size. He is a better run defender than pass rusher. Hankins is very stout at the point-of-attack and can take on double-team blocks. When he plays with leverage and proper technique, Hankins is very difficult to move off of the line of scrimmage. Hankins also has the athletic ability to pursue down the line and will flash occasionally on the pass rush with quickness and power.

“He has really surprised me coming in,” said Nunn. “I thought he did an outstanding job between when he started until now with his body. He’s worked, he’s trimmed up, he’s gotten stronger, if he continues to do that I think he’s another young player that’s going to contribute to us. He really has looked good.”

“He’s been running second team,” said Nunn. “He’s picked up everything physically and from a mental standpoint, he’s right where he needs to be. We’ll see what happens when we start shooting real bullets.”

“The two rookies we have on our D-Line have stood out,” said Tuck. “Hank is quiet and he is more polished. You can tell he’s obviously had a great coach and played big-time football (at Ohio State).”

Marvin Austin: The Giants have not received much in return from Marvin Austin ever since drafting him in the 2nd round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Austin missed his last season in college due to an NCAA violation. Austin then missed his second football season in a row when the Giants placed him on Injured Reserve in August 2011 after he tore his pectoral muscle. In 2012, Austin fell to fifth on the defensive tackle depth chart, behind 7th round rookie Markus Kuhn. Austin ended up playing in eight games, but only saw limited time at defensive tackle and finished the season with only eight tackles. He hurt his back in training camp before last season and had offseason knee surgery (torn meniscus) in January 2013.

Austin has good tools to work with. Although he lacks ideal height (6’2’’, 312 pounds), he is a very athletic tackle with fine size and strength. He moves very well for a big man and could develop into a very good pass rusher. However, to-date, he has trouble getting off blocks and simply has not made many plays.

“Marvin…he is another one who has had his best offseason,” said Nunn. “He’s been healthy for the first time. He’s never been able to go through a true offseason because of different ailments that he’s had. He’s where he needs to be right now, he just can’t disappear when the pads come on. He knows what he’s got to do. I’ve spoken to him about it. When the pads come on he’s got to produce. When he gets out there under the lights he’s got to produce. Right now, he’s got himself in the position to give himself the best opportunity since he’s been here of having a productive year.”

“I thought Marvin performed well this past Saturday (in the preseason game against the Steelers),” said Fewell. “He’s progressed each week in practice. He’s had a full offseason with the OTAs, which he didn’t have in the past. I look for good things from him this Sunday in the football game. This will be a really good opportunity for him to showcase his quickness and his abilities. I think Pittsburgh is really a big massive offensive line. Indy, they’ll play more to the strengths of Marvin and so it will be exciting to see him in this game Sunday.”

“He’s a defensive tackle that, really, we need to see him in the fashion that we anticipated when we drafted him,” said Coughlin. “He’s done well this camp rushing the passer and we really would like to see him do a good job against the run.”

Austin believes he will be fine if he can stay healthy. “It seems like one thing after another,” Austin said. “I’ve been hurt the whole time I’ve been here. I feel like as long as I can stay healthy, I’ll be able to help this team.”

“I’ve watched film with Cullen and Mike Patterson,” said Austin. “They’re very quick and good guys and I feel like I can play in that same mode as them. But one of the vets who has helped me and kept me honest, per say, has been Shaun Rogers. He always checks me out, looks at my technique and tries to help me with different stuff.”

Austin sees all of the new defensive tackles the Giants have brought in. “At the end of the day, the National Football League is about competition and is a business,” said Austin. “I haven’t performed since I’ve been here. They’re looking to see if I can play at the high level they drafted me, and they’re going to protect themselves. They’re giving me a chance to compete, and that’s all I could ask for.”

“If you sit there and dwell on it and be negative, you’re not going to help yourself,” said Austin. “You’re either going to stand up or sit down. You can be a man about it or a coward. That’s all it is. And this game is a man’s game.”

“You see the competition (at defensive tackle),” said Austin. “I want to make this team. I’ve got to show them what I can do. I haven’t shown them anything. Some things don’t have to be said.”

Mike Patterson: Patterson was signed by the Giants in April 2013. Patterson was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. In eight seasons with the Eagles, Patterson played in 115 regular-season games with 99 starts. Patterson underwent brain surgery in January 2012 to repair an arteriovenous malformation. He played in just five games in 2012 before being placed on the reserve/non-football illness list last year with pneumonia. The Eagles waived Patterson in February 2013.

Patterson lacks ideal size (6’1’’, 300 pounds), but he is a good athlete who can be disruptive with his quickness. He has experience in both 1- and 2-gap schemes. Tough, Patterson is a steady run defender and has 16.5 career sacks.

“I thought I was going to still be (with the Eagles), but you never know how things are going to turn out,” said Patterson. “I’m just happy I was able to land on my feet with the Giants. Even though I didn’t play that much last year, it wasn’t due to football injuries. It just came down to me getting sick and me recovering from my surgery. It was nothing to do with on-the-field stuff, so I know I’m perfectly healthy when it comes to playing football.”

Frank Okam: The Giants signed Frank Okam in May 2013 after he impressed at the rookie mini-camp as tryout player. Okam was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans. Okam has spent time with the Texans (2008-10), Seahawks (2010), and Buccaneers (2010-12). The Buccaneers released Okam in August 2012 and he did not play last season. From 2008-11, Okam played in 25 games with six starts.

Okam is a huge (6’5’’, 350 pounds), strong player with limited overall athleticism and agility. He is a run-stuffing nose tackle type who does not get much heat on the quarterback. Okam has very good tools, but he needs to become a more consistent effort player. Very smart.

Markus Kuhn: Kuhn was selected by the Giants in the 7th round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Kuhn is German and was only a one-year starter in college. Kuhn was an active member of the defensive tackle rotation last season before tearing the ACL in one of his knees. He was placed on Injured Reserve in November 2012. Kuhn played in 10 games with one start and finished the season with eight tackles and four pass defenses.

Kuhn has a nice combination of size (6’4’’, 299 pounds) and athletic ability. He is a high-energy effort player who can be disruptive with his quickness and intensity. Kuhn is a better run defender than pass rusher.

Kuhn has been on Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List since training camp started as he continues to rehab from his ACL injury. With training camp ending next week, it’s becoming more likely that Kuhn will start the season on the in-season PUP as well, meaning he will have to miss at least the first six games of the regular season. Then a decision will need to be made on whether to activate him, put him on Injured Reserve, or waive him.

Summary: It appears Linval Joseph and Cullen Jenkins will start. Based on the way the coaches and players are talking about Jenkins, he may have a much bigger impact on this team than first realized when he signed. Johnathan Hankins has been everything advertised. The real surprise is Shaun Rogers. He did not have a stellar year in New Orleans in 2011 and is now 34 years old, but he’s been receiving snaps with the first team and definitely seems to be in the team’s plans.

I have a hard time seeing the team parting ways with Marvin Austin at this point. He has a lot of talent and has been improving. Unless he flops the rest of the preseason, I think he’s going to be the fifth defensive tackle.

Markus Kuhn could probably be activated off of the PUP now, but I think the Giants realize that if they did so, they would have to end up cutting him. Look for him to be added to the regular-season PUP.

I think Mike Patterson and Frank Okam can play in this league, but it’s a numbers game for them.

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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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