Sep 272013
 
Share Button

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag
Drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?
Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin
Like a house of cards, one blow from caving in?

Do you ever feel already buried deep six feet under?
Scream but no one seems to hear a thing
Do you know that there’s still a chance for you
‘Cause there’s a spark in you?

You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July

‘Cause, baby, you’re a firework
Come on, show ‘em what you’re worth
Make ‘em go “Oh, oh, oh”
As you shoot across the sky-y-y

Baby, you’re a firework
Come on, let your colors burst
Make ‘em go “Oh, oh, oh”
You’re gonna leave ‘em all in awe, awe, awe

-          Katy Perry, Firework

Approach to the Game – New York Giants at Kansas City Chiefs, September 29, 2013:  There are a dozen ways I thought about taking this game preview since there are a lot of things I want to get off my chest, but most of those thoughts will wait for another day.

For now, let’s not address the big picture and the future – the personnel, personnel department, and coaching staff.

It’s still September. The leaves haven’t fallen from the trees yet. There is a lot of football left to played. There is still a chance if the Giants will only ignite

Giants on Offense: It’s time to ignite that light and shoot across the sky. It’s time for Kevin Gilbride to go back to his run-and-shoot days in Houston. Joey in VA talked about it in his game review. Shaun O’Hara alluded to it in his interview with The New York Post.  It’s time to force the defense to react to what you are doing rather than react to what the defense is doing. It’s also time to for the Giants to get their best 11 players on the field.

Eli Manning and Kevin Gilbride, New York Giants (September 8, 2013)

Eli Manning and Kevin Gilbride – © USA TODAY Sports Images

At this point, I don’t play it safe. I am aggressive and I attack. Take the initiative. Go four wide with Nicks, Cruz, Randle, and Murphy. Spread the Kansas City Chiefs out and go no-huddle or hurry-up. Consider letting Eli Manning call the plays. Don’t let the Chiefs collect themselves. Attack!

Is it risky? No doubt. The offensive line will likely be minus Chris Snee and David Baas and therefore green as grass. Even if there is talent in the line (which is questionable), there is little experience and no cohesion. That’s the main reason why I would eschew the run at this point. The line simply hasn’t played together enough to maintain any sort of consistent ground attack. Losing Henry Hynoski at this point may be addition by subtraction. Because he missed so much offseason work, Hynoski was a shadow of his former self. Bear Pascoe is not a threat as a receiver and just a so-so blocker. Having those two guys on the field was almost the equivalent of playing with nine starters as the defense could virtually ignore them. Brandon Myers can’t set the edge in the running game. You can use him as a receiver out of the slot, but I would use Murphy there instead.

The Giants’ are a finesse offense. There is no use trying to make them a physical team right now because they can’t be. They don’t have the horses to be physical. But they can be a damn good finesse team. The Giants can own the night and terrorize the enemy secondary. Attack! This strategy should invigorate the offensive team. It’s fun and will at least make things more interesting.

The huge weakness in this strategy? The bad offensive line has to give Eli at least a couple of seconds. And he is going to take a lot of hits. But you can be aggressive with a quick, short passing game too. Three-step drop or shotgun. Get rid of the ball quickly. Chiefs’ defensive coordinator Bob Sutton comes from the Jets and runs multiple defensive looks. The Chiefs have an NFL-high 15 sacks in three games. For a veteran offensive line, this is a tough scheme. No matter what, the young pups up front will be confused and over-matched. But if the Giants go max-protect, I think they play right into Sutton’s hands. It will take dangerous chess pieces off of the Giants’ chessboard and I’m not sure the Giants will be any less confused or overmatched. Make Sutton react to what the Giants are doing. You want to blitz your defensive backs Bob? Live by the blitz, die by the blitz. The added potential benefit, in the running game, is that by spreading the Chiefs out, the dangerous-in-space David Wilson could have more room to operate.

Play to your strengths New York.  Your strengths offensively are Eli Manning and the wide receiving corps. Attack!

Giants on Defense: The Kansas City offense is not scary. Their biggest strengths are RB Jamaal Charles and the fact that they haven’t turned the football over yet this season. Regarding the latter, that pace is obviously unsustainable and there is no better time than the present for the Giants to finally start winning the turnover battle. Stop Charles and get after the football.

The key with Charles is not only stopping him on running plays, but also focusing on him in coverage in the passing game. He’s their leading receiver. Once again, the Giants’ linebackers will be on the hot seat. Andy Reid will target the Giants’ linebackers in coverage.

A largely unimpressive passer, QB Alex Smith is surprisingly the Chiefs’ second-leading rusher. But you can get to Smith on the pass rush as he will hold onto the football. Wide receivers Dwayne Bowie and Donnie Avery are the main targets outside.

More than anything, the Giants need to bring an enthusiastic, nasty, and physical attitude to the game, “dog” as Antrel Rolle loves to call it. Don’t talk about it, do it. Football is still a violent contact sport. Hit and punish the other team. Get excited. F*ck up your opponent.

Giants on Special Teams: The Giants need a little of that headhunter mentality on special teams too. Let’s go. Make a play. Win the game with forced turnover or big return. Have fun out there.

Sep 252013
 
Share Button
Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (September 22, 2013)

A Dejected Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Carolina Panthers 38 – New York Giants 0

by Joey in VA for BigBlueInteractive.com

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

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

Ug-ly adjective \ˈə-glē\

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

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

b:  surly, quarrelsome <an ugly disposition>

— ug·li·ly  adverb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Boxscore – New York Giants at Carolina Panthers, September 22, 2013)
Sep 202013
 
Share Button
Justin Tuck, New York Giants (September 20, 2012)

Justin Tuck – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Approach to the Game – New York Giants at Carolina Panthers, September 22, 2013: First off all, hopefully stating the obvious, the sky is not falling. Yet. The New York Giants are 0-2, but the Dallas Cowboys are 1-1, Washington Redskins 0-2, and Philadelphia Eagles 1-2. There are 14 regular-season games left to play. The Giants will have to make up that loss to the Cowboys in the Meadowlands, but despite being winless, they are very much in the chase for the division title.

The immediate goal is to get that first win this weekend against the Carolina Panthers. Get to 1-2. Then get that second win against the Kansas City Chiefs and get to 2-2. Do that and the Giants will have weathered the early storm.

The problem for the G-Men is that their margin for error right now is very slim. The Giants should beat the Panthers, but on any given Sunday in the NFL, a lesser opponent can beat anyone. And an 0-2 New York Giants team had better not be too blase and it had better take care of business or it will be time to panic.

The negative-nellie will point to the fact that the Giants are 3-7 in their last 10 regular-season games. Eli Manning has regressed. The running attack is dead last in the NFL. The Giants have committed 10 turnovers in two games. The offensive line is not playing well. The defense, while improved, is still not dictating to opponents and the Giants only have two sacks.

The fan wearing rose-colored glasses will point to the belief that the Giants still have the best coaching staff, quarterback, and wide receivers in the division. Believe it or not, the defense may also be the best in the division. Barring injury, the offensive line should improve as it gains cohesion and that in turn should help the running game improve as David Wilson is still lightning in a bottle. The secondary and defensive tackles are playing well and the productivity of the defensive ends should pick up.

This game is not so much about who the Giants are playing but about the Giants themselves. The team needs to stop shooting itself in the foot. Cut out the turnovers and the Giants will be OK. “First you have to stop beating yourself before you expect to go out and beat the opponent,” says Head Coach Tom Coughlin.

New York Giants on Offense: The Panthers have been giving up a lot of yards (over 800) but not a lot of points (36). The Giants are facing a defensive opponent that is far stronger in the front seven than it is in the secondary. The problems for Carolina in the defensive backfield have been exacerbated by injuries.

So the Giants are a far more dangerous passing team and Carolina struggles much more defending the pass. What would your game plan be?

The Panthers know this as well. They’ll probably play a lot two-safety high coverage and dare the Giants to beat them on the ground. That’s what I would do. So the big question is do the Giants take advantage of that and try to get untracked running the ball against a good front seven? Or do they attack through air against a defense expecting it?

I would do the latter. I don’t think the Panthers can cover the Giants’ receivers. But if the Giants go with that strategy, the Giants need to keep Eli upright. RT Justin Pugh will face a tough test against against LDE Charles Johnson. RDE Greg Hardy is no slouch rushing the passer either. LDT Dwan Edwards (bothered by a thigh injury) and first-rounder RDT Star Lotulelei man the inside.

The Giants do need to run the ball some too in order to not put too much pressure on the passing game. They also need Eli to rebound from two disappointing performances.

“There is a balance,” says Coughlin. “One of those balances is run it better so we’re not throwing it 49 times a game. Let’s get this thing back into a reasonable number and then let’s run the ball so the play action passes allow us to have more people open. And then we have to take care of the football and realize, again, that patience is a virtue. Sometimes you’re not going to get the big play, you’re going to be able to get five and seven and eight yards and so on and so forth. And that’s fine, that’s what we want to do. We want to stay within ourselves, take what the defense gives us.”

That seems to suggest Coughlin thinks Eli has been forcing things down the field too much.

The Panthers are solid up front. And they are very strong at linebacker, led by impressive MLB Luke Kuechly. Kuechly is the type of linebacker Giants’ fans currently crave. Jon Beason (bothered by a knee injury) and Thomas Davis round out an athletic group that can hit and tackle. It is tough to run against this group.

“It’s shocking to us when we don’t play well,” says OG Kevin Boothe. “You can’t have zero and negative yard rushing plays and expect your offensive coordinator to continue to call running plays. If we can get positive yards (Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride will have) more incentive to call it, will be more likely to call it. We’re anxious to get out there and give it another shot.”

The Panthers are really beat up and undermanned in the secondary, having to rely on some players who were recently signed off of the street. I’d attack early and often through the air, even if there is an early turnover. Take the wind of the 0-2 Panthers, and then come back later in the contest with the ground game.

New York Giants on Defense: Carolina is not scoring a lot of points, but they can run the football.

“Their offensive team is sixth in rushing,” says Coughlin. “They’re fourth in the league on third down. They’re doing an outstanding job of that. Over the past two seasons, they’ve had the most plays in the league over 20 yards, so they do have that capability as well. They do not beat themselves. They only had seven penalties, two fumbles and an interception in their first two games.”

The three keys on defense are (1) stop RB D’Angelo Williams, (2) keep QB Cam Newton from hurting you on the ground, and (3) don’t allow WR Steve Smith to beat you deep.

The other guy to keep an eye on is TE Greg Olsen, who Newton has been looking for early and often through the first two games.

The #1 goal is really to stop the run. The Panthers probably won’t be able to do much damage between the tackles on the Giants, but they surely noticed the two big outside running plays the Giants gave up last week.

“Our defense was playing so well against the run for so long and (then) giving up two really cheap touchdowns outside,” says Coughlin. “Where were we? Where was the leverage? Where was the contain? Where were the people knifing in?”

The ends have to play far tougher at the point-of-attack, the defensive backs need to come up in run support, and the linebackers need to avoid blocks and flow to the ball carrier. Both in terms of run defense and dealing with Olsen in coverage, this is a big game for the linebackers. If Mark Herzlich struggles, I wouldn’t be surprised to see newcomer Allen Bradford replace him soon.

The good news for the Giants is that the Panthers’ offensive line is a bit shaky with additional injury issues and Newton will hold onto the football. So the pass rush should finally emerge this weekend as long as the Giants get the Panthers into obvious passing situations. Given Newton’s mobility, however, the first responsibility is to contain him. LT Jordan Gross is probably the steadiest of the group.

Stop the run. Contain Newton. Don’t let Smith beat you deep.

(Late Note: CB Corey Webster is “doubtful” for the game with a hip flexor injury).

New York Giants on Special Teams: Ted Ginn is a dangerous punt and kickoff returner. Steve Weatherford needs to bounce back from probably his worst performance as a Giant.

Sep 192013
 
Share Button
Eli Manning, New York Giants (September 15, 2013)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Denver Broncos 41 – New York Giants 23

by Joey in VA for BigBlueInteractive.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Boxscore – Denver Broncos at New York Giants, September 15, 2013)
Sep 132013
 
Share Button
Linval Joseph, New York Giants (September 8, 2013)

Linval Joseph – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Approach to the Game – Denver Broncos at New York Giants, September 15, 2013: Being 0-1 and playing a home game in Week 2 has a familiar feel to it for Giants’ fans. After all, that’s the way the last three seasons have started. But this time the Giants are not facing the lowly St. Louis Rams (2011) or Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012) in Week 2, but the Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos who are coming off a 49-point explosion against the NFL Champions.

The Giants will be 0-2 if they don’t play extremely well on offense, defense, and special teams on Sunday. Given the apparent state of the NFC East, that would not be a catastrophic start, but it would reduce the Giants’ margin of error in the upcoming road games.

My gut tells me the Giants are better than they looked against the Cowboys and the Broncos are not as good as they looked against the Ravens. I expect a close game. Hopefully, the Giants will channel some of those ghosts of the past when the heavily-favored Denver Broncos were upset by the Giants in the Meadowlands in 1998 and 2005, the latter being one of Eli Manning’s early dramatic come-from-behind victories.

Giants on Offense: Brandon Jacobs returns. His presence will likely pump up the fans and his teammates. Given his familiarity with the Giants’ offensive system, unlike most players signed right off of the street, he may play right away. It will be interesting to see how he performs. When the Giants released him in March 2012, he was a declining player. Jacobs barely played last year and missed all of training camp and the preseason this year. Fans should remember a couple of things: (1) despite his size, Brandon has never really been a good short-yardage runner, and (2) due to his lack of initial quickness, he’s the kind of guy who needs a play to be well-blocked in order to get going. Once he picks up a head of steam, he’s dangerous, but the line, tight ends, and fullback need to give him the room to pick up that steam.

For obvious reasons, the focus of much of this past week has been on David Wilson. I am in no way, shape, or form excusing Wilson, but he’s not the only reason why the Giants lost last Sunday night. Wilson wasn’t “careless” with the ball on either of his fumbles. But Dallas made a concentrated effort to rip the ball out of his hands and now he’s a marked man. The only way you overcome that is by holding onto the football. Also, a lot of focus has been on Wilson not blocking DE George Selvie on the goal line. As Joey in VA pointed out in his game review, the bigger issue was Henry Hynoski not chipping on Selvie. If your play design is counting on a 205 pound halfback to block a 270 pound defensive end, then the play is likely to fail.

Where am I going with this? By far, David Wilson remains the best running back on this team. Fans need to get behind him and support him. He has the skillset to change the way a defense plays the Giants. No other back on this roster does. Hopefully the fans won’t turn against Wilson and recognize that we need him.

David Wilson’s issues also overshadowed the fact that Eli Manning, despite mostly playing a stellar game last week, threw three interceptions. Two came on screen passes.

“One was a play action screen and you hope that the defensive end goes one way, while he ended up coming underneath,” said Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride. “We have some inexperienced backs who are just learning how to play the game so they didn’t float out. Should have just thrown it into the ground. The other one, the back just turned in when he should have just stayed where he was. The first one might have gone to the house, but it is what it is. We threw two interceptions on two screens, which is maybe the first time in 25 years in the National Football League. It wasn’t very encouraging. Think of it, when you’re throwing a ball, that’s an integral and very complimentary part of what you’re trying to do. We have to get the screen game going.”

On the first play, the defensive end wasn’t blocked correctly and Wilson may not have been in the correct position, but Manning can’t throw that pass. His second interception simply looked like a bad throw. And on his last pick, the back was in the wrong spot, but Manning also put too much mustard on that throw. My point? The Giants need Eli to play at an “elite” level (there’s that damn word again) and in order to do that, he’s got to cut out the 2-3 brain farts. 450 yards and three touchdowns might not matter if you throw three interceptions.

Up front, Chris Snee needs to play better. David Baas (MCL) may return to the starting lineup at center this week and Kevin Boothe may return to his left guard position. Justin Pugh is developing. But Snee is not playing up to his contract. I also hope Baas isn’t rushing it. He’s another guy who hasn’t played well when hurt (which seems to be all of the time). When you take into account the constant line-up changes on the offensive line, combined with Hynoski’s injury and the subpar blocking at tight end, it’s no wonder the running game is struggling.

Which brings us to something that is going to haunt the Giants all season if they don’t get it fixed: short-yardage. Once again, the Giants couldn’t gain the single yard they needed last week (the play right after Ryan Mundy’s interception). I don’t care if the opposing defense is geared up to stop the run. At any level of football, you have to get one yard when you need it, even if the other team expects the play to be coming. These short-yardage struggles will end drives and lead to punts and field goals instead of touchdowns. You want to be a tough, physical football team and not a bunch of pussies? Then get a yard when you need it.

As for the Broncos, with LB Von Miller (suspension) out, they are a bit of a no-name defense, but use multiple fronts, are fast and quick, and hustle to the football. The four sacks the Broncos had last week are a little misleading as the Broncos had problems in the first half getting pressure on the quarterback. The bigger danger is the confusing fronts leading to pass protection breakdowns. If the Giants play smart up front, Eli should have time to throw the football. The Broncos have an impressive array of blitz packages (Perry Fewell could learn something here). The fact that Denver likes to blitz a lot, we may see Brandon Jacobs having more of an impact as a pass protector.

The Broncos do have a couple of big bodies inside at defensive tackle. Terrance Knighton (335 pounds) and Kevin Vickerson (328 pounds) can be difficult to move out. With Miller out, the best pass rusher now may be reserve DE/LB Shaun Phillips (ex-Chargers). Champ Bailey (foot) may not play, but the Denver has some talent in the secondary. From what I could tell from watching them last weekend, they run very well. Their best defender is probably MLB Wesley Woodyard.

Giants on Defense: Peyton Manning will always get a defense’s attention. But the fact that he’s coming off of one of his best games ever, and an NFL-record tying seven touchdown passes, you know what the focus will be.

The strength of Denver’s offense is obviously their passing game and the temptation must be there for Fewell to play pass first. He did that against Peyton Manning and the Colts in 2010 and his defense got clobbered as a poor rushing team ran up and down the field on New York. Fewell says he won’t do that again.

“There were some things we prepared for and that we did that I wouldn’t do again,” said Fewell. “I felt like, from a planning standpoint, that we planned properly but it was not the best plan we could have come up with. Without trying to reveal a lot of things I learned, I would just say that we’re doing it differently. We’re doing it much differently because there’s some things that when you go into a contest and you have a plan against a guy like that and you come out and make some notes and try to improve on those notes that you made so when you take that test again you got your cheat sheet and you hope you’re much better.”

I don’t know about you, but that didn’t fill me with a lot of confidence. Neither does the idea of Mark Herzlich trying to cover the short-to-intermediate passing threats. I would play this game with only two linebackers on the field, and the linebackers I would use are Keith Rivers and Jacquian Williams. Terrell Thomas would be my third “linebacker.” Yes, that makes you vulnerable to the run (just like 2010), but I think the more linebackers the Giants have on the field on Sunday, the worse it will get for them. To be frank, Jerry Reese did a horrible job at this position in the offseason and it’s going to cost New York all season.

Peyton is going to play those mind games with the defense, and to be honest, I wouldn’t get caught up in that chess match. No Giant defender is going to out-think Peyton. Just line up and play aggressive, physical, and fast. Think too much and that will take away from your game.

“You need poise, you need to make sure that you’re aligned properly, that the communication is good, that you’re ready to go,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “(Peyton is)  looking for a weakness, but if you’re lined up properly and ready, then there’s no apparent weakness. It’s going to give you at least a pre-snap opportunity to be in the right spot. If you’re running around like a crazy person and expending all this nervous energy, not poised, not lined up, wondering, ‘What’s the signal,’ then he has the advantage.”

Peyton’s go-to guy is slot-receiver Wes Welker, who fortunately, the Giants are very familiar with. He runs the same option routes that Cruz does that gives defenses trouble. He’s going to get his catches. You have to make sure they are not down the field and you come up and tackle him right away. WR Demaryius Thomas is a Pro Bowler with an excellent combination of size and speed. WR Eric Decker is solid and TE Julius Thomas had a huge game last week with over 100 yards receiving and two touchdowns. In short, Peyton has a tremendous array of talent to throw to. Hopefully, CB Prince Amukamara (concussion) will play as he would likely face Thomas. The big match-up issue will be Welker. Thomas usually plays the slot and will likely be the one covering Welker, but Thomas isn’t the quickest guy in the world and could have problems with Welker’s quickness.

To state the obvious, much will depend on the Giants’ defensive line. Denver’s offensive line is very good, led by Pro Bowl left tackle Ryan Clady and Pro Bowl left guard Zane Beadles. Jason Pierre-Paul/Kiwanuka and Cullen Jenkins will be hard-pressed to make much noise against these two. The Giants need big games out of Justin Tuck and Linval Joseph. A few timely blitzes could help, but blitzing Peyton is risky business. Perhaps just as important as the pass rush, if the Giants do play more defensive backs, there will be a greater burden on the defensive line to stop the run more on its own. If the Giants can make the Broncos more one-dimensional while keeping more defensive backs on the field, then they have a greater shot at causing problems for Peyton.

Giants on Special Teams: Diminutive Trindon Holliday is exceptionally dangerous on both kickoff and punt returns.

“He’s very dangerous,” said Special Teams Coordinator Tom Quinn. “We’ll try to not let him touch the ball, which is easier said than done. We’ve got to be very disciplined in coverage. Every guy has got to do their job. You do have to attack him at some point. You can’t play on your heels. So it’s a huge, huge challenge for both our punt coverage and our kickoff coverage.”

If the Giants expect to give Brandon Jacobs some serious playing time, the Giants may want to consider allowing David Wilson to return kickoffs in this game.

Sep 112013
 
Share Button
Victor Cruz, New York Giants (September 8, 2013)

Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Dallas Cowboys 36 – New York Giants 31

by Joey in VA for BigBlueInteractive.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Boxscore – New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys, September 8, 2013)
Sep 062013
 
Share Button
Keith Rivers, New York Giants (October 28, 2012)

The Linebackers Must Cover Witten – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Approach to the Game – New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys, September 8, 2013: For true football fans, the start of football season each September has become one way in which we measure time, especially for those of us who are older. There are birthdays and holidays and other significant dates such as the start and end of school each year, but the football clock has its own special meaning to many of us. It symbolizes the end of summer and coming of cooler weather – football weather. And it inaugurates a new weekly routines and rituals that culminate on game day. To some of us, specific years not only mark time, but represent happy or sad memories from a specific NFL season. The years 1986, 1990, 2007, and 2011 have a vastly different meaning to a Giants’ fan.

So starts the 2013 NFL Campaign.  At least 16 individual game-day dramas are about to unfold for us.  I can’t predict the outcome, but I can tell you without doubt that the ride will be a rollercoaster. There will be ups and downs, misery and joy. One week we will feel like kings of the world and the next our co-workers won’t want to be around us on Monday. Each NFL season is quite an adventure, and like that overused quote from Forrest Gump, you’re never sure what you’re going to get.

Division games are so critically important. Last season, the Redskins went 5-1 in the NFC East. Meanwhile, the Giants split their divisional games with each opponent, finishing 3-3 in the NFC East. Each of those losses was a tight but ultimately disappointing affair that ended up costing the Giants the division and a playoff spot. Because there are so few games, each contest on the 16-game schedule matters, but none more so than division games.

Needless to say, the Giants-Cowboys opener is a huge game for both teams.

Giants on Offense: Dallas’ defense has completely changed. They have shifted from the 3-4 to the 4-3 defense. Such a dramatic transition can normally cause problems but the Cowboys are helped by the very experienced Monte Kiffin, who is now Dallas’ defensive coordinator. Kiffin ran Tampa Bay’s tough defense from 1996-2008, and he is joined in Dallas by his old compatriot, Rod Marinelli, one of the best defensive line coaches in the NFL.

Kiffin’s system is different than his predecessor’s.  It’s a bit more conservative but fundamentally sound, designed to prevent big plays. The Giants might have to be more patient against it, but growing pains to the 4-3 and some injury issues on Dallas’ defense could still present some big-play opportunities for the Giants.

Like most teams, the Cowboys have some strengths and weaknesses on defense. The heart of the unit remains play-makers RDE DeMarcus Ware and MLB Sean Lee, two of the very best at their respective positions in the NFL. Ware, who has now shifted from linebacker to defensive end, has 111 career sacks. And Lee is a hard-hitting, instinctive, play-making tackling machine. It will be critically important for the Giants to get a hat on both and sustain those blocks. The likely absence of FB Henry Hynoski (knee) could hurt with Lee.

Ware would normally line up over Will Beatty but it will be interesting to see if Kiffin has him challenge the rookie Justin Pugh. Dallas is also sure to test LG James Brewer with blitzes and stunts in an effort to confuse the big but inexperienced player.

That all said, Dallas is a bit banged up on the defensive line. LDE Anthony Spencer (knee) and DT Jay Ratliff (hamstring) won’t play. Their back-ups, DE George Selvie and DT Nick Hayden will start. That should help the Giants.  DT Jason Hatcher is tough however.

Led by Lee, the linebacking unit is probably the strength of the defense right now. WLB Bruce Carter and SLB Justin Durrant are athletic, the type of linebackers that Kiffin likes to employ in his Tampa-2 system.

The faces change, but as has been the case for years, the Dallas safeties are the weak spot in the secondary with Barry Church and Will Allen now starting. RCB Morris Claiborne, Dallas’ 2012 first-rounder, has not practiced or played all preseason. The Giants are sure to test him. LCB Brandon Carr is very solid. Orlando Scandrick is the nickel back. The corners are more naturally suited to press coverage, but Kiffin tends to employ more conservative zone coverage. It will be interesting to see if this leads to opportunities for Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, and Louis Murphy.

The big concerns for the Giants remain: can the revamped offensive line with two inexperienced players protect Eli Manning and provide running room for David Wilson? With Andre Brown (fractured leg) out, can David Wilson handle a bigger load? Can Da’Rel Scott adequately spell him as a runner, receiver, and pass protector? Ball security for both will be critical. The absence of Brown exacerbates the Giants’ woeful short-yardage and red zone offense. Can the Giants convert on third-and-short and score touchdowns in the red zone, especially against Kiffin’s bend-but-don’t-break defense?

The Giants will need Eli Manning to get out of his preseason funk, and to be frank, out-play Tony Romo.

Giants on Defense: The Dallas offense is similar to the Giants in that they have a lot of talent at the skill positions, but there are huge question marks on the offensive line.

It looks like Doug Free will still start at right tackle despite the Cowboys wanting to move him inside to guard. Inside, the Cowboys have a rookie center and two guards with questionable ability. LT Tyron Smith is their best player. It is absolutely critical for the self-acclaimed Giants’ defensive line to control the line of scrimmage, stuff the run, and get after Romo. If they don’t, the shaky back seven of the Giants’ defense could be exposed by a very talented group of receivers.

The first key will be stopping the run. It is believed that Offensive Coordinator Bill Callahan, the new play-caller, will operate a more balanced offense with an increased emphasis on the run. DeMarco Murray has given the Giants problems in the past and if he gets it going, it will be a long night. The Cowboys also have some decent backups in Lance Dunbar and Phillip Tanner (Late Note: Dunbar will not play due to foot injury). It’s imperative that Linval Joseph, Cullen Jenkins, Shaun Rogers, and Mike Patterson dominate the Cowboys’ interior trio, while Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, and maybe Jason Pierre-Paul (back) hold the edges. Obviously, the linebackers must be strong at the point-of-attack, while at the same time being cognizant of misdirection, something the Giants’ defense has been vulnerable to for quite some time.

If the Giants are able to limit Dallas’ ground game, the danger is not over. Guys like Tuck, Kiwanuka, and Jenkins are going to have to get heat on Tony Romo. Fans love to criticize Romo, but he is one of the most productive quarterbacks in the game and he has burned the Giants quite a bit over the years. Like all quarterbacks, the key is to get in his face and rattle him. Inside pressure in his face will help tremendously, but the Giants have to bring him down and not let him improvise. He’s at his best when improvising. I’ll say it again – bring him down!

WR Dez Bryant is one of the most dangerous receivers in football. He’s a size-speed match-up problem. Prince Amukamara will probably cover him for the bulk of the game. Do the Giants help out Prince? Don’t lose sight of the other guy who isn’t getting nearly enough press: WR Miles Austin. Austin has had a very strong summer and Romo likes to throw to him. Moreover, Austin has given the Giants’ fits over the years. He will be a very tough test for Corey Webster. Throw into this mix TE Jason Witten, still a very dangerous and reliable target for Romo. He’s Romo’s security blanket. He caught 18 passes in one game against the Giants last season. Dallas is sure to test the Giants’ linebackers and safeties in coverage with passes to the tight ends and backs. Wouldn’t you?

Giants on Special Teams: Dwayne Harris returns punts and kickoffs for the Cowboys, but obviously they will use Dez Bryant on punt returns in critical situations. As for the Giants, ball security by punt returner Rueben Randle and kick returner Michael Cox is concern #1. The rookie Cox could have first-game jitters.

Series Notes: The Cowboys lead the regular-season series, 57-42-2.

The Giants are 7-11 in prime time against the Cowboys.

The Giants are 0-5 in season-opening games vs. the Cowboys (1965, 1986, 1995, 2007, and 2012). They won the Super Bowl in two of those seasons (1986 and 2007).

Sep 042013
 
Share Button
Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin (August 29, 2013)

Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New England Patriots 28 – New York Giants 20

by Joey in VA for BigBlueInteractive.com

INTERIOR GILLETTE STADIUM-NIGHT

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

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

HOODED MAN

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

–SCENE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pre-Season Odds and Ends:

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Boxscore – New York Giants at New England Patriots, August 29, 2013)
Aug 282013
 
Share Button
Brandon Myers, New York Giants (August 24, 2013)

Brandon Myers – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Approach to the Game – New York Giants at New England Patriots, August 29, 2013: I don’t know about others, but I find it difficult to believe that training camp, the preseason, and summer are almost over and that the regular season is less than two weeks away. But here we are, only 11 days from the opener in Dallas. Are the New York Giants ready? Only time will tell.

The loss of Stevie Brown for the season hurts, but if the Giants can get some of their walking wounded back soon, and no one gets hurt in New England, then the Giants will be in decent shape from an overall health perspective.

But the big “ifs” there are getting the walking wounded back: Victor Cruz, David Baas, Henry Hynoski, Jason Pierre-Paul, Damontre Moore, Corey Webster, Jayron Hosley, and Antrel Rolle; and no new injuries in this last preseason game.

Head Coach Tom Coughlin says the starters will play 12-15 snaps against New England. Let’s see some solid execution on both sides of the football and get out healthy.

There are some tough roster decisions to make. Ideally, the Giants would like to carry more defensive linemen, quarterbacks, tight ends, and maybe even defensive backs than they usually carry. If they are going to do that, they will need to carry fewer players at other positions.

Quarterbacks: Eli Manning will see 12-15 snaps. Then Ryan Nassib should receive his first real opportunity to show us what he has, as he will be the #2 quarterback to enter the game. It’s not the same as playing with the starters, but he won’t be playing with the third- and fourth-team guys who never really gave him a chance in the first and second preseason games. It remains to be seen who Eli’s primary back-up will be: David Carr? Curtis Painter? The long-shot dark horse obviously would be Nassib and the Giants going with only two quarterbacks again.

Running Backs: David Wilson and Andre Brown will see the bulk of the work this season barring injury. Michael Cox has flashed as a kickoff returner and running back. I think they only real question here is do the Giants risk it by going light at this position with only three halfbacks, or do they carry a fourth (someone like Ryan Torain or another veteran not currently with the team).

Wide Receivers: If everyone was healthy, the Giants would be in good shape. But Victor Cruz is still gimpy and Louis Murphy has missed a lot of time with a mysterious leg injury. Anyone who says offseason work between quarterback and receiver doesn’t matter only needs to watch how Manning and Hakeem Nicks have been off all preseason. The Giants need to get Cruz and Murphy back on the field soon, and Nicks needs to get in sync with Manning now.

The real questions here are: (1) is there really anyone worthy of the #5 receiver spot? and (2) do the Giants risk it by only carrying five receivers? Jerrel Jernigan hasn’t taken the bull by the horns. He may win the #5 job by default unless there is a dark horse candidate (Kevin Hardy, Julian Talley). I personally would not carry six. If injuries strike, re-sign Ramses Barden. No one is going to pick him up.

Tight Ends: The early rumblings coming out of the OTAs and early training camp was how well the tight ends were doing. That positive press seems to have faded. Brandon Myers has been invisible in the passing game (hopefully hiding him?) and has not stood out as a blocker. Adrien Robinson and Larry Donnell look the part and could have an impact in the future, possibly even this year, but they don’t really seem ready for prime time just yet. Bear Pascoe is versatile and reliable, but he’s just a guy out there. I still think the Giants want to carry four, instead of three as they normally do, because I think they see the promise that Robinson and Donnell offer.

Offensive Line: David Diehl will be inactive for at least the first month of the season so he’s out of the picture. We have no idea when injury-prone David Baas will return. Perhaps the best line in the short-term and perhaps long-term is Will Beatty, James Brewer, Kevin Boothe, Chris Snee, and Justin Pugh. The big question mark here is obviously Brewer. He is big and athletic. I’ve seen him maul people and I’ve seen him effectively block defenders at the second level. But can he handle the complicated stunts and blitz packages teams will throw at him? When someone punches him in the mouth, will he fight back? Will he protect Eli? All of that remains to be seen. There will be growing pains with Pugh and Brewer, but will it cost New York games?

On the other hand, if Baas is out a few more weeks, and if this line miraculously performs well, do the Giants re-insert Baas into the lineup at a later date? What about Diehl?

As for the back-ups, I’m not sure I see much there other than Brandon Mosley. Maybe Stephen Goodin or Eric Herman have a shot, but I’d keep an active eye on on the waiver wire. In short, one more injury and the Giants are in deep dog poo.

Defensive Line: This is the area where I have no idea what the Giants are going to do in terms of the numbers.

You have to think that Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, Damontre Moore, Linval Joseph, Cullen Jenkins, Shaun Rogers, and Johnathan Hankins are going to make the team. That’s eight. Carrying nine or 10 would be tough, but a case could be made for carrying 11. Yet teams can’t activate 11 defensive linemen on game day. So isn’t that a misallocation of valuable roster spots? At the same time, Marvin Austin is improving and may be finally developing. And a guy like Mike Patterson really has more to offer in the short-term than Johnathan Hankins and possibly Austin. Patterson can play in this league, but can the Giants really carry six defensive tackles? Because Jenkins can play defensive end, possibly. But they would have to part ways with Adrian Tracy, Justin Trattou, Matt Broha, and Adewale Ojomo. How good really is Tracy? Or Trattou? Or Ojomo? Would the Giants be kicking themselves for releasing any of those guys down the road? Or not really? Keep in mind that a decision also has to be made regarding Markus Kuhn in seven weeks (assuming he is placed on the regular-season PUP). Can all of these defensive tackles really play? Perhaps they will need to part ways with Patterson despite the fact he can help them in the early going.

What to do? What to do? This last preseason game is huge for all of the on-the-cusp reserves.

Linebackers: I can’t recall the Giants ever going into the final preseason game with only six linebackers on the roster, but that’s where they are at right now. It would seem the Giants have already made up their mind who will be with the team. Could they go with only five? I don’t think so, especially when you consider linebackers are often core special teams players.

Defensive Backs: Like the defensive line, there are tough roster decisions to make here. With the season-ending injury to Stevie Brown and Will Hill’s 4-game suspension, the decisions are easier at safety. Antrel Rolle, Ryan Mundy, Taylor Cooper, and probably Tyler Sash will make the team. The dark horse possibility is David Caldwell, but Sash’s play on special teams may provide the advantage there. Still, it was telling that when Brown was lost, it was Hill, and not Sash who came into the game.

At corner, the sure-bets would appear to be Prince Amukamara, Corey Webster, Jayron Hosley, Terrell Thomas, and Aaron Ross. But Trumaine McBride has really flashed on defense and special teams. And Charles James seems to have some talent. Could Ross’ spot be in jeopardy? Will another team claim James if he is waived?

Special Teams: I like the kicking game. We know David Wilson is a dangerous kick returner and Michael Cox has flashed in that area. I think the punt returning spot is much more unsettled. Is the job Hosley’s? I think the Giants have a nice mix of headhunters on the coverage teams. This is an area where the Giants may actually out-play opposing teams.

Aug 272013
 
Share Button
David Wilson, New York Giants (August 24, 2013)

David Wilson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

by Joey in VA for BigBlueInteractive.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Boxscore – New York Jets at New York Giants, August 24, 2013)