Jacksonville Jaguars 16 – New York Giants 13
Overview: My immediate reaction to the Jack Golden-Fred Lewis fiasco at the end of the game was one of utter disappointment and anger. “Only the (freaking) Giants could lose a game like that!,” I yelled. A few more expletives and storming around the room helped little. Then I calmed down and put things into perspective – this was only a preseason game. It was game largely dominated by the Giants’ first and second teams against a Superbowl contender on their home turf – against a coach that doesn’t like to lose ever in the preseason. If it weren’t for a few dumb errors, the game would not have even have been close. “I’m not going to let one play ruin all the good things I saw out there tonight,” Head Coach Jim Fassel said. “It’s a disappointing way to lose a game, but there were a lot of positives. We came down here, faced the best team in the AFC last year, played them tough on the road. We played hard. That’s what I’ll take from this.”
The starting offense (especially QB Kerry Collins, WR Amani Toomer, HB Tiki Barber, and the offensive line) was particularly sharp. “It’s just another step in progressing,” said Collins. “We saw big-play potential tonight, and that’s good. Amani did a great job of getting to the ball. It was a freak play at the end, and a loss is a loss. But everybody has a good feeling. We’re on our way.”
Still, it would have felt much better had the Giants had won. Perhaps Head Coach Jim Fassel, his assistant coaches, and his players learned a valuable lesson against Jacksonville: when you have a team down, put them away and don’t give them any chance for hope at the end of the game.
Quarterback: Kerry Collins (10-of-19 for 110 yards., 1 touchdown, 1 interception) started off incredibly hot. The Giants racked up 203 yards of offense in the first half and much of this was due to the play of Collins. Indeed, if it weren’t for three dropped passes and a really bad call on a supposed incompletion to Amani Toomer, Collins numbers would have been pretty amazing. Collins drove the Giants 62 yards on their first drive, culminating on 22-yard touchdown pass to Toomer. He started the drive with a 19-yard pass to Toomer down the left sideline. What was amazing about both throws is that both were thrown while he was passing off his back foot – yet both were thrown where only Toomer had a shot at the ball. Kerry’s best looking throw of the night was probably his deep sideline toss to Ike Hilliard that Ike dropped – the ball couldn’t have been thrown any better in terms of touch and accuracy.
Collins and the first team Giants’ offense also continued to show their resiliency in converting key third downs to keep drives alive. Collins read the blitz well and found the open receiver. “I think the first unit was very aggressive,” said Collins. “No matter what happened with the penalties, we went back to the huddle and lined up. For a preseason game, I think we played well.”
Collins started the game going 4-for-5 (including the dropped pass by Ike). He then cooled off a bit. Part of this was due to two more dropped passes and a completed deep pass to Amani that was ruled incomplete. But he also tended to get a bit sloppy with his mechanics (i.e., throwing off his back foot when he wasn’t forced to) – something Phil Simms pointed out very nicely during the game. Worst of all is that we saw one of those bad decision-type plays that haunted him last year when he attempted to force the ball into a well-covered Howard Cross. The ball was easily intercepted. If Collins is truly to emerge as an elite quarterback, he must maintain the consistency of excellent play that he demonstrated in the first quarter, play with proper mechanics, and stop trying to force the ball. The other item that still worries me (and this is something I’ve harped on before and something that Simms also brought up) is that Collins sometimes doesn’t stand strong in the pocket. He sometimes feels pressure that isn’t there or doesn’t show that toughness to take the big hit in order to get the ball off. Still, this is a tad on the nit-picking side. The important thing is come away with is the realization that Kerry Collins looks like the real deal and that he should be up some great numbers this year if the Giants stay healthy.
The Giants didn’t pass much in the second half, preferring to get HB Ron Dayne untracked instead. When QB Jason Garrett (3-of-4 for 23 yards and one interception) did drop back to throw, I felt he did not do a good job of making quick decisions. Perhaps it was because his receivers were not getting open or were running the wrong route. But he looked very Danny Kanell- and Kent Graham-like to me in that he was dancing around back there instead of taking what the defense was giving him. Garrett needs to realize that he is not a scrambler and he needs to dump the ball off if the primary receiver is not open. Jason was also hurt by the fact that he might have had a big play taken away from him when WR Thabiti Davis fell down on his sideline route and the ball was easily intercepted by the safety. Garrett left the game early with a deep cut on his leg, but he should be fine.
Mike Cherry (2-of-3 for 30 yards) didn’t see much work at all. Indeed, it seemed as if the Giants’ coaching staff was more interested in running out the clock and not risking a loss with the ball in Cherry’s hands. And I get the sense that the coaches are correct. Cherry is a bust – plain and simple. He makes even the simplest throws to the running backs looks difficult and almost fumbled the ball away on the goal line by not controlling the snap properly. Mike has been so uninspiring that I would consider waiving him if some other developmental-type prospect becomes available during the final roster cuts.
Running Backs: HB Tiki Barber (7 carries for 83 yards; 4 catches for 27 yards) once again displayed his excellent versatility, quickness, and big-play ability. For all you Tiki detractors out there, you need to get one thing straight – Barber is one of the most explosive and best players on this team. Period. He may drop a pass now and then (like he against Jacksonville) or fumble (this element of his game still makes me a tad nervous). But he is a nightmare for linebackers to cover and once he gets into the open field, he has the speed and moves to go all the way. Sean Payton must be sure to get the ball into his hands about 10 times each and every game. Tiki’s big play of the night was his 55-yard scamper off the right side when he bounced an inside-run outside. Barber also looked sharp on draw plays between the tackles. He does need to be careful that he doesn’t dance too much after-the-catch and take the ball up the field.
HB Ron Dayne (17 carries for 66 yards) really started to scare me in the first half. My original impression was that he looked very sluggish and hesitant to me. But after watching the game tape, it was clear that he didn’t have anywhere to run the ball on his first few carries – the line wasn’t creating space for him. Dayne only picked up ten yards on seven carries in the first half. But in the second half, running against the Jaguar second-team defense and with the Giants’ second team offensive line, Dayne started pick up some decent chunks of yardage (56 yards on ten carries). It appeared as if his confidence was back and he ran much more aggressively when given some space to run through. This culminated in a bruising 16-yard run that is vintage Dayne: showing moves and power and punishing tacklers. “I guess I was running harder in the third quarter,” Dayne said. “I didn’t really get into a rhythm. Just getting into the speed of the game is something I need to improve on. Once I do that, I’ll be okay.” Still, I want to see him run as aggressively and confidently against a first team defense.
I felt Joe Montgomery (13 carries for 37 yards) ran pretty well when given some room to operate. He attacked the line of scrimmage when not forced to dodge tacklers in the backfield. It’s pretty clear that this “open competition” for the starting job is not really transpiring. Joe never got a shot to run the ball with the first team offensive line and it was obvious the major goal was to get Dayne untracked. But Montgomery will be needed this year and he provides quality depth. Interestingly, Joe saw some time at fullback. “There are a lot of things we can do with him there,” Fassel said of Montgomery. “He knows the plays and the blocking schemes, and we can keep him in the backfield and send the halfback out wide. Besides, it’s another way to get him on the field.” Montgomery and Collins didn’t appear to be on the same page on a 3rd-and-5 play inside the redzone. It looked as if Joe was supposed to cut his route short, but he kept going up the field.
Greg Comella did not play and Sean Bennett was a non-factor (they may be hiding him). He had a solid lead block on one Tiki run in the red zone in the first quarter. FB Craig Walendy is not a very athletic or agile player, but he looks like a tough, blue collar-type who made two catches for 16 yards – one a very good catch of a poorly-thrown ball by Mike Cherry. Walendy also seemed to do a nice job of lead blocking when I kept my eye on him. FB Mike Jones didn’t look bad blocking or receiving in his limited playing time.
Tight Ends/H-Backs: It’s painful to watch Howard Cross (1 catch for 3 yards) in the receiving game. When he does catch the ball (like his short reception in the first quarter), he moves as slow as molasses after the catch. Howard needs to turn the ball up the field as soon as he can because he’s not going to elude anyone. Cross also dropped a very easy third-down pass when he was wide open. Why he is even game on third-and-long is a complete mystery to me.
The guy who stood out in the receiving game was Adam Young (2 catches for 30 yards). Young made a great, diving reception of a slightly off-target Collins’ throw. He also made a nice open field block to help spring FB Mike Jones late in the fourth quarter.
Wide Receivers: Amani Toomer (2 catches for 41 yards and one touchdown) is simply on the top of his game right now. His rising confidence is palpable. Amani is a natural pass catcher and now he is using his fine athletic ability to make catches in traffic, catch errant throws, and do damage after the catch. On the “incomplete pass” where Amani was robbed, Kerry (due to pressure) threw the ball behind and on the wrong shoulder of Toomer’s. Amazingly, Amani twisted himself around while still running forward and made catch. It was one of the better catches that I have ever seen a Giants’ wideout make. Toomer was flagged with holding call on that brought back a good-looking Ron Dayne run off of the goal line.
Ike Hilliard (2 catches for 23 yards) had no problems getting open. However, he once again displayed inconsistent hands by dropping a perfectly throw pass from Collins. Neverthless, Ike and Amani present some serious problems for opposing defenses. Can you believe it? The Giants have a downfield passing game!
The other receivers were non-factors. Jurevicus did not play. The running game was the focus in the second half so Ron Dixon, Thabiti Davis, and Brian Alford did not get many chances. Davis (1 catch for 5 yards) fell down on a play where he might have set up the Giants for a score and the pass was intercepted. Garrett never threw at Dixon or Alford. Perhaps he tried to on one of those plays where he was spotted scrambling around.
Offensive Line: I didn’t realize how bad the Giants’ offensive line was last year until I saw this year’s unit. It’s early, but the starting line-up of Lomas Brown, Glenn Parker, Dusty Zeigler, Ron Stone, and Luke Petitgout looks like a very capable unit that does not get rattled – especially in the pass protection department. Kerry Collins wasn’t touched last week and this week he was only hit once on a passing play. Just as encouraging is the lack of penalties. The Giants are not making many mistakes up front and as long as everyone remains healthy, this unit should only get stronger as they become more cohesive.
My biggest concern right now is with the run blocking and whether this group is compatible with Ron Dayne’s style. Tiki does alright with this group because all he needs is a crease and he can use his lateral quickness to his advantage. Dayne needs a hole and he needs his line to generate some movement. The starting offensive line did not generate a great deal of movement for Dayne. The good news is that this group stays at it when run blocking and I spotted many of the linemen continuing to block guys down the field. I saw Glenn Parker take out two down field defenders this way on a Tiki run in the second quarter.
I was also pleased with the work of the second unit, despite the absence of Mike Rosenthal. Heading into camp, depth was a big concern on the line, but Offensive Line Coach Jim McNally seems to be doing a good job of developing guys like LT Pita Elisara, LG Mark Nori, OC Derek Engler, RG Jason Whittle, and RT Chris Ziemann. Chris Bober saw quite a bit of time at left tackle too, but Pita looks like a much more athletic player to me at this position. The second team line dominated the line of scrimmage against the second team Jaguar defense in the third quarter. Jacksonville knew Dayne was coming, but the Giants pounded them all the same. There were some breakdowns and penetration; that is to be expected of a preseason second unit. The run blocking was not as strong in fourth quarter and Montgomery suffered because of it.
Defensive Line: The starters were very strong against the run and flashed some pass rush. DE Michael Strahan gave the Jags’ right tackle problems with his power and he shared a sack with Cedric Jones. Jones picked up another sack and did a good job staying at home on a reverse. He played the run well to his side. He was well-positioned to defend the bounce out by Fred Taylor on the second play of the game, though he missed the tackle. Jones then made a great play later in the drive by taking on the double-team low and upending the back at the line of scrimmage.
Inside, DT Christian Peter continues to impress with tough run defense and an occasional pressure. He did a good job of reading a screen pass on the first drive. Christian did pick up a garbage sack when the QB was tripped up pulling away from the center. On the negative side, he was flagged for roughing the passer. DT George Williams made an incredibly stupid play by hitting the QB well out-of-bounds. This kept a drive alive that resulted in a field goal. Williams did make a very nice play by penetrating into the backfield and nailing the runner for a loss on the goal line at the end of the third quarter.
The reserves played well. I was very impressed with the run defense of DE Jomo Cousins. Cousins has a reputation as an athletic pass rusher, but it was his stoutness against the run on the strong side that stood out to me. He not only held the point of attack, but also made the play on a few occasions. DE Jeremiah Parker picked up a sack on a play where he was knocked down, but stayed with it and demonstrated a nice closing burst. Cornelius Griffin is a very active and quick disrupter who has a bright future if he stays healthy and focused. He made a number of plays against the run in the second half by quickly playing off the block and wrapping up the back. Lavell Ellis helped to collapse the pocket on an inside pass rush in the 4th quarter.
Linebackers: The guy who really surprised me here was MLB O.J. Childress. Childress played most of the game due to injuries to Mike Barrow (who was held out) and Pete Monty (who left early with a broken thumb). Childress, who did not impress me at all in NFL Europe, was spotted all over the field, flying to the ball, and making plays. There was one play near the end of the third quarter where the tight end got down the center of the field for a 21-yard reception and it looked like Brandon Short or Childress blew the coverage. Short didn’t get much of an opportunity to demonstrate his run defense as Jackonville was mainly throwing in the second half. Same story with Jack Golden (who gave up a short reception in front of him). Short did a good job of filling the hole with Griffin on one running play in the third quarter.
Defensive Backs: I was disappointed with the play of Jason Sehorn. To be fair, Jimmy Smith is a very good receiver and he will make his plays. Perhaps my expectation level is too high. But Jason gave Smith a lot of room to make catches in front of him. He also was shaky in the tackling department – as was CB Dave Thomas (ironically, this is supposed to be a strength of the two huge corners). Surprisingly, thus far in both preseason games, opposing starting quarterbacks have gone after Jason, not Thomas. Sehorn also got tangled up with Smith on the first play of the game and was flagged for interference. Thomas’ poor tackle on TE Kyle Brady led to big yardage. Keenan McCardell also caught a couple of passes in front of him on the Jags’ first scoring drive. But aside from those two plays, he wasn’t heard from and that is generally a good sign.
SS Sam Garnes was active in run support. FS Lyle West was fairly quiet and that is probably good.
As for the reserves, it is tough to tell. Was it the quality pass defense that made the Jacksonville passing game look so bad or was it the play of the back-ups on the Jaguars? CB Reggie Stephens was a couple of steps behind his man on the first drive, but fortunately the ball was overthrown – he does close well however. On Jacksonville’s first drive in the second half, Reggie whiffed on a sack chance and then was beaten inside on a 3rd-and-long for a first down. CB Emmanuel McDaniel made a real nice play on a very accurate deep pass to Jacksonville’s first round speedster, R. Jay Soward. He also made a good play in run support. Aside from the last drive, the reserves either covered well or the Jacksonville quarterback couldn’t find the open man because the Jaguars could not move the ball through the air. Jonathan Quinn, the third string QB, was not particularly sharp however. I didn’t see a pass thrown in the direction of Ralph Brown.
The guy who did not stand out was Fred Lewis. Fred played too far off the ball and gave up an easy completion on 4th-and-15 (inexcusable). Lewis was then beaten badly on what should have been a long touchdown on a fly pattern late in the game. He did intercept the last Jaguar pass of the game, but this was marred by his fumble when Jack Golden knocked the ball from his grasp in his attempt to keep him in the end zone. It was somewhat of an understandable play in that Lewis may have feared for being nailed for a safety (I’ve seen it happen in games – it’s a judgement call on the part of the official). Golden was only trying to keep him from running it out.
Special Teams: Not good. On the positive side, kick and punt coverage were improved. But the Giants gave up another huge kick return. Thabiti Davis looked good covering a couple of kicks. Blocking on kick and punt returns continues to be mediocre at best. Brad “Mr. Inconsistent” Maynard punted well until his once-a-game poor effort. Brad Daluiso missed yet another 40-49 yarder (a 42 yarder). Ron Dixon badly muffed two punts – one resulting in a turnover on the four yard line and three points for Jacksonville. Dixon made the muff even worse by trying to pick up the ball instead of falling on it. Just keep in mind that Dave Meggett had the same problem in his first preseason game.
Offensive Line Breakdown
by Chris Jacobs
Grading system – The lineman will be graded each week, the grading system I’m using is the same that we used when I coached. If the player gets the job done he gets a check, if he doesn’t get it done, or is penalized he gets a minus, and any extra effort or spectacular play gets a plus. So a player can actually grade out over 100%, with an outstanding game. (It’s rare).
Luke Petigout – 90% A
Did a great job pass blocking, only had one bad play with pass protection where the DE tried to speed rush around him and he didn’t move his feet resulting in pressure on Collins. Got his only + of the night on Tiki’s 59 yard run. Stayed with his block and after Tiki cut off his ass he left his man and got a piece of the LB. Did an ok job run blocking, I’d say at this point he’s better at pass protection than run blocking but did a good job overall. There was one toss sweep away from him that he had to block the DT lined up over Stone, Stone went after the LB and Luke tried cut the DT and missed him. It was a tough block to make but he missed him.
Ron Stone – 93% A
Played solid, didn’t do anything spectacular but rarely made a mistake. There was one toss sweep to Dayne that he missed the LB, and one pass play that his man got around him but Dusty Ziegler helped him out which I’ll mention more about below.
Dusty Ziegler – 100% A+
This guy is good. He didn’t play a perfect game, he had four – plays but four + plays made up for that. Twice in pass protection he abandoned his man to help out the guards (Stone once, Parker once). Seems like he has good football instincts, sees the guy next to him needs help and gets there. This is a sign that they are meshing as a unit. Also got a + on Tiki’s big run, stayed with the block and fought his guy hard, didn’t give up and gave Tiki just enough time to cut it outside.
Glen Parker – 84% B
I was tough on him, you’ll be surprised to know that he got a minus on the TD pass (he was too high and was pushed back into KC, that was also the play that DZ helped him out) and he got a minus on Tiki’s big gainer (he missed the backer, although it didn’t matter). Then there was a toss sweep that he and Stone both missed the LB’s and Parkers man made the tackle on a play that could have gone for 10+ yards. (I’ll mention more about this in Dayne comments). All around did a good job, his one plus came on an inside running play where he put his man on roller skates and drove him about 4 yards off the ball. Tends to get a little high on pass blocking.
Lomas Brown – 87% B+
Solid, no glaring mistakes, does a great job with influence blocks (pretending it’s a pass play and backpedaling off the snap causing the DE to head upfield taking him out of the play). Usually used on a sprint draw, which they ran successfully in the second half) . Did a great job pass blocking, I think he’ll do well with the speed rushers where Oben struggled last season. (e.g. Rice)
Some other thoughts –
Overall an upgrade over last years O-line, (although Gragg may be the worst tackle of the modern era so anything is better) if they stay healthy expect good things.
I like what Payton is doing, last week I mentioned the trips right formation that they ran a sweep to the strong side, well this week they ran weakside, I expect some play action out of it in the future keeping the defense off balance.
Kerry Collins – Looks very, very good, has to stop throwing off his back foot, I’m sure QB guru JF will put an end to that.
Ron Dayne – Don’t let the first half #’s fool you, the Jag LB’s were flying at him in the first half (that’s why play action was working so well). Plus there were 2 plays that were very poorly blocked when he got the ball, one being the toss sweep that Stone and Parker whiffed on the backers. Not only did he run the ball well in the second half, he threw some good blocks. I was hoping for Shawn Alexander but I’m starting to like him.
Joe Montgomery – Used as a fullback in the first half, did an ok job, but he’s no fullback. Did a good job running the ball in the second half, has speed to get outside, and runs tough.
Toomer – May be vacationing in Hawaii in Feb 01
Hilliard – Catch the damn ball son.
Corrections from last week’s comments – Two people were kind enough to point out some mistakes I made last week. One was a missed blitz pickup that I said Comella missed, it was actually Bennett. It was also pointed out to me that I said Comella was “manhandled” on 2 separate occasions, I went back and watched the tape, if I would have graded that game like I did this week, he would have actually got checks on both of the plays I mentioned. It was an unfair assessment.
Wide Receiver Breakdown
by Emil Thomann
After watching the game this weekend, despite our newest preseason version of “the fumble”, I have to say I am more than pleased with the play of our WRs so far. There is little doubt that for this offense to be effective Kerry Collins must play well and for him to do this he must have competent and threatening WRs. After Friday Night, there is little doubt in my mind that Amani Toomer and Ike Hilliard can be just that if they are not already.
Lets first start with Toomer. Amani opened the game with a great catch up the sideline for 19 yards. On this play Toomer changed his body position, and used his body to shield the defender away while catching the ball with his hands and getting both feet in bounds. A truly athletic play, showing great balance. The pass was not a perfect throw by Collins, but he got it to where only Toomer could catch it.
Toomer outdid his athletic first reception by catching a 22 yard TD pass on 3rd down. Again the Jags blitzed and Toomer was matched up one on one with the corner. If you saw the replay you could see that Toomer recognized the blitz and cut his route down appropriately. He was running a post corner route which is usually 8yards up 3-5 in and then out. You can see that Toomer shortened his first stem to 5 and his second to 2-3. The Corner was completely turned around and had it been a perfect pass by Collins it was a sure TD. However, Collins was under pressure again and while he did not put the perfect pass out there he put where only Toomer could get it. Toomer is looking over his inside shoulder (he should not be on a post corner) notices the ball is behind and outside, and turns his body to accept the pass, and shield the defender. Once he catches the ball he showed great awareness in getting to the pylon.
Unfortunately this where Toomer’s night pretty much ends. The deep pass, that definitely looked like a catch to me was a thing of beauty. Toomer had his man beat again, but Collins was hit as he threw. The ball was behind and on Toomer’s left (he was looking to his right). Toomer adjusts his body yet again turning to the reaching out and snaring the ball. I felt that he had it clearly tucked away and could not believe that the ref upheld his call. But props to Fassel for having the guts and doing the smart thing. Props to Payton for taking a deep shot, and to Collins for taking the opportunity to throw deeep in the face of a blitz and on another day that ball is caught for a highlight reel play.
The only down side of Toomer’s game was his holding penalty on Dayne’s best run of the first half. There is no excuse for a WR to hold ever, but on on the bright side when Toomer came back to the huddle the whole team and especially Hilliard lifted him up and let him forget about it. All in all if Toomer plays like this often this season, he is a shoe in for the Pro Bowl.
Ike Hilliard had a good game, really the only bad spot was the dropped ball. The pass was a perfect throw from Collins, but Hilliard let it hit him in the pads and it bounced off him. Ike’s only problem is confidence in his catching ability. Toomer has it, he reaches out for the ball every time. He trusts his hands. Ike is still a little hesitant, but it will come.
Hilliard had a great reception on a third down conversion. It was an excellent slant pattern against a blitzing Jags D. Personally this is the kind of route I would want Hilliard to run more in this situation. The Giants also kept Hilliard in motion much of the game which I would also do more often. Keeping Hilliard in motion keeps him from getting jammed and lets the offense run more smoothly. Also, it obviously keeps the D guessing. With Toomer and Hilliard I feel the Giants can convert those long third downs that have plagued them in the past, and they can also take it to the house. The most telling happening of the game was when the Jags D had to call a timeout because they did not recognize our offensive set. I know it is only preseason, but that tells me we are now less predictable.
Unfortunately the reserves did not have much of an opportunity to shine because the Giants were working on the ground game. But Davis made a nice catch in traffic for 5, and blocked very well. He totally took the legs out from under the DB one time. I like this guys chances to make the team. He is big, fearless, decent hands, and plays specials.
Sadly Brian Alford did not get much of a chance to rectify last weeks debacle. I saw that he went in motion often, which could be good for him too to let him get into his route easier, and he ran better routes. But I think the ball was only thrown his way one time. I really feel for Alford. He could help this team if he could put it together, but you can tell it is a mental thing with him and not a physical. I want Alford to succeed but it appears his days are numbered, and he is not seeing many chances in a game situation to change that.
Dixon had a terrible night that I think we all should forget. He did not see the ball in the passing game, and his punt returning is better left undiscussed. But it is plain to see this guy can play in this league and I wish they would give him the ball in the game. I would like to see a WR screen run with him, which would take advantage of his instincts and quickness and get him involved easily.
I consider Kevin Prentiss practice squad material at best. All in all the Giants WR played well last Friday. Well enough to win, but we all now what happened there. Toomer is stepping up and Ike gets better everyday is seems. There are many teams which would love our two starting WRs, and that is something the Giants have never been able to say. This season should see a re-birth of the running game, but an explosive passing attack is going to be a beautiful compliment to that ground attack.
Defensive Front Seven Breakdown
by Jim Jacobs
I do not have the coaching credentials that my brother (Chris Jacobs – who provided BBI with the offensive line breakdown) has but I have played both high school and college football and like my brother regularly tape and review Giants games. I mainly played middle linebacker, hence defense is my first love and the area that I am most knowledgeable in. I will say that I am not that familiar with coverages so I will mainly limit my comments to the front seven.
Christian Peter – Roughing the passer penalty not withstanding he played a very impressive game. He was is usual strong self against the run and showed more pass rushing skills than last year. Ran crossing stunts with George Williams throughout the first half which the Jags o-line had difficulty blocking. This stunt allowed him to come free on the roughing the passer penalty. It’s my belief that Cornelius Griffin is pushing him and he’s turning the engine up another notch to meet the challenge.
George Williams – Played fairly well except for the bonehead roughing the passer penalty. There were a couple of occasions at the point of attack where is played to high and got pushed off the line of scrimmage but made a great play on the goalline stand darting into the backfield to make the tackle.
Michael Strahan – Credited with half a sack with Cedric Jones. In my opinion it was more of a coverage sack. Brunell was looking to hit the WR on his right on either a slant or post pattern that Dave Thomas had covered. He made a great inside move where the Jag O-Lineman was called for a “hands to the face” penalty and flushed Brunell out of the pocket a couple of other times. Played well for his first game action coming off the back problems.
Cedric Jones – Played a great game against the run. He really controls his man at the point of attack. On a sweep outside he grabbed the tackle and turned him inside so he could see into the backfield and peeled off when the back got to him to make the tackle. I would like him to put more pressure on the QB’s but the majority of the time Brunell was taking only three step drops.
Cornelius Griffin – I have to admit that I didn’t watch a lot of the other reserves because I couldn’t take my eyes off this guy. When he first came into the game he flashed into the backfield on at least three separate occasions to get a hand on the RB or disrupt the play. The Jags then double-teamed him on almost every play. Even then he was able to push into the pocket on passing plays. He made an outstanding athletic play on the goal-line stand when his man cut him to the ground, he got up, moved to his left and made the tackle for only a 1 or 2 yard gain. Getting him in the second round was a steal. I will say that we are very lucky he did not blow out his knee when the fullback chopped blocked him while he was engaged with the guard. That could have been a huge loss.
Again, I didn’t see too much of the other backups but I do remember Jomo making some nice plays. Overall this unit has the potential to be very disruptive. I think they will be very good against the run and hopefully they’ll be able to generate a pass rush to protect the secondary a little. We will have a nice DT rotation with Hamilton, Peter, Griffin and Williams.
Jessie Armstead – I won’t say much about #98, we all know what he’s capable of but I will say that I didn’t see any effects of the ankle injury. On two occasions he took the lead block on dive plays and absolutely blew up the fullback. Big-time collisions.
Pete Monty – Was not in the game long. I remember more from the Bear game than the Jags game. He is very quick into the hole and takes on lead blocks very well. Hopefully he won’t be out an extended period of time. However, his replacement….
O.J. Childress – Wow. I didn’t know he had the capability to play like that. He was very active and was running sideline to sideline but there was one play that really stood out. Jax ran a dive off-tackle in Giant territory. Childress knifed thru the line and made the tackle for no-gain. Never hesitated. I hope all the pieces are starting to fall into place for this kid because with the mounting injuries to this unit we might have to rely him sometime during the season.
Ryan Phillips – I didn’t see anything different from him in this game than I have in other games, all things that have already been posted somewhere on BBI. At the point of attack he catches blocks instead of attacking them, doesn’t fight off blocks well once his man engages him. There was not one play where he stood out. Of the 11 starters I think this is our weakest point. Unfortunately I don’t think the backup is ready to step up…..
Brandon Short – He looks confused. I have read some things about Arrington and how he is struggling because he was allowed to free lance at Penn State and that may be the case with Short also. While his instincts look sound and he has speed to cover the whole field as evidenced by him chasing down the Jags QB on a scramble, I don’t think he’s ready to start.
Jack Golden – Looks more ready than Short. Forget the play at the end of the game. It’s was a preseason game and a learning experience for a guy with a lot of talent. I want to go back and look at him more (again I was trying to pry my eyes off of Griffin) but he has great speed and a knack for being around the ball. I will try to watch him closer in the Jet game on Friday.
It will be very interesting to watch this unit when Barrow is healthy. I will say that we are very solid in the middle and in my mind a significant upgrade over Widmer even without Barrow. However, we must stay healthy.
Overall the defense has played extremely well in both preseason games. We faced two potentially explosive offenses and the first team defense shut both down. We have been extremely good against the run, without Barrow and Hamilton so we should only get better. I am holding out hope that Sehorn is just getting his feet wet after missing almost two full years. Once 9/3 rolls around he can’t be giving the kind of cushions he was giving to the Jax WR’s. I haven’t seen anything from Dave Thomas yet that has me overly concerned although I can see how small darting WR’s will give him some trouble. He should get a good test against the small fast Jet WR’s on Friday.
THE NEW MILLENNIUM GIANTS
By David Oliver
The curtain is about to come up on the 2000 season NY Giants, with their shiny helmets, NY logo and red and white traveling outfits. They have been reskinned and reshaped in such a way that the players still need introductions to each other; the Coach has become a New Age Leader, taking the boys out on golf outings and to the movies. Well, at least they went to see GLADIATOR, which should have taught them a thing or two about leadership – stand together and we live. (BBI, listen up!!!)
Ernie Accorsi has graciously provided us with some rationale for the off season maneuvers, but in 10 questions it is difficult to gauge the soul of the man; there have been so many reviews of the Jax game and summer camp that on re-reading them all I am convinced that every player and coach we have is a bum and should be consigned to the Arena League immediately, or is a Pro Bowl caliber player or Coach – take your pick We have been enlightened as to the new spirit on the team and leadership in all of its many forms. But is there anyone out there who can actually say he or she knows and understands this team?
I watched the Jax game on TV as many of you and I was struck by the difference in vision from the telly and the field. You see things differently. There is a much better view of the line and backfield, but a terrible view of how the play develops down field. If you suffer from ADD, the second half can drive you crazy, and the incessant babbling of the commentators and commercial breaks can give you ADD. Although, I must confess that I enjoy Phil Simms, who brings a refreshing honesty to the booth.
I had a lot of time to think about that game and the coming season from my camper berth in Loudonville, Ohio, where I spent the weekend covering the Miller 200 at Mid-Ohio racetrack. Central Ohio is one of those places where it must be great to raise a family- but I don’t think I could ever live there. Towns like Hayesville, with flags on the porch, rolling fields and hay, creeks and quiet, quiet, quiet. I stay at the Mohican Reservation Campground which borders the Mohican Wilderness. The Mohican River wanders through it and days are filled with canoes up and down its length, then the campfires, and by 10, silence. I had to get up by 4 a.m. to drive to Cleveland to catch my flight home, and I was pretty hyper about getting up. I bought a travel alarm and set it, but I didn’t need it. I had one of those mystical experiences that occur in such places. At 3 o’clock in the morning, exactly three, I heard a short barking like noise right outside my door. At first it sounded like a deer. But it became more insistent and then piercing- it was either a screech owl or a hawk, it was right outside and it kept up until I was fully awake. Then, it just flew off. Keep in mind that I have been here several times and never heard such a creature. There are tents and campers throughout and usually these birds won’t come so close, and make such a racket. I felt its presence, and I was thankful.
Ok, Ok, I know, what’s that got to do with football, and there he goes again, wasting our time with this silly bullshit. Let’s set the record straight here and now and be done with it for the season. Eric, the reporter coaches and everyone else who “reports” for you on this site gives you damn good accounting of what went down in practice and the games. I am the columnist. I’ll add some Xs and Os, but for me the NY Giants is about the stories, not the words. So hear this! If you don’t like it, don’t read it. If you are a premature ejaculator, get therapy. If you don’t like foreplay and lovemaking, find yourself an 18 year old. As Christina Aguilera sings: “If you want to be with me, there’s a price to pay. I’m a genie in a bottle, you gotta rub me the right way.” Genie in a Bottle. What brought this about? Well, I’m sitting here in my little home office, surrounded by helmets, books and pictures and I glance up. There is a photo album from the glory days, Bill Parcells is the cover photo. I pick it up and page through and look at LT, Harry Carson, Gary Reasons, Phil Simms; they are in camp at Fairleigh. Then there are photos from a Giants/Jets game, deja vu all over again.
The I’m reading my local paper and a young lady who writes for the paper, well, young for me because 25 years ago I hung out with her parents, writes about stories. She says, “I’d be deluding myself if I were to assume that what catches folks’ attention is my prose…What matters are the stories. I reach into my pocket and pull out some tale…Then someone calls and pulls out a story…What triggers the response, I think, is the intensity with which people lay claim to their piece…To tell the truth, I am delighted whenever anyone calls to say a paragraph I wrote caused them to look out their window differently, linger a little longer in conversation…or recall…”
See, this is how I view BBI and the NY Football Giants. It is my link to something bigger, and I hope for a few of you, it is that same sense of community that brings you here. Lord knows, there’s plenty of pure football here, and elsewhere, and many of the whiners here are about as loyal as an iguana, here today, gone elsewhere tomorrow. This is a business, but it is a business built on family and community; we love our Giants, we remember the corner bakeries in Little Italy or the delis in Brooklyn, the Stage Plays, the porn shops, the subways, the Village and the Jersey suburbs and shore. The Giants are not just a football team, they are a bond, a link, a connection, and that’s what Ernie meant when he said NY Giants fans had intensity.
I’ve been to camp once, seen one game in person, and watched one on television, and to tell you the truth I am unsure of what I am seeing. Looking through my photo album, I see Phil Simms about to get knocked into next week, but holding the ball up in position, focused downfield, ready to throw and unconcerned about the whack. Then I close my eyes and I see Kerry Collins in the Jax game, he looks downfield, counts to two and he is backpedaling. But everyone raves over his talent, his new found leadership abilities. This is a 5th year player, with potential – kind of like me, he is in danger of becoming one of yesterday’s bright young men. Am I anti-Kerry? No. Someone in a thread following the game said, “Is this guy Oliver a Kent Graham man?” No, because he is a Steeler now. But he studied Phil, and for all his inadequacies, he was a leader because he would take one for the team. Forget him, he’s history. The question is this, has Kerry shown enough to convince you that he is more than potential? Maybe so for the premies among you, BUT FOR ME STATS ARE IRRELEVANT – scores count. I’m one of those orgasm guys, TDs are like orgasms, the rest is just build up. To date, KC has shown no ability to find the end zone and thus I question his sainthood.. When he consistently throws for 3 scores a game, I will vote for his canonization
Next up is the sense of urgency on the coaching staff. Well, excuse me, 8 points and what, 12 points, don’t seem to indicate urgency in my book. Like the old Star Kist add said, “Charlie…doesn’t want tuna with good taste, they want tuna that tastes good.” When is the team going to show the new offense; when are the coaches going to take off the wraps? Are they waiting for half the squad to hit the IR, and then tell us they couldn’t implement the schemes because of the injuries?
Jax – Toomer looks Pro Bowl throughout. He repeatedly makes nice catches, difficult catches and I’m beginning to hear these drumbeats, “just throw it up and let your receiver make a play.” So as sharp as KC looked, Toomer looked sharper. Strahan and CJ looked awesome. They were consistently in the backfield, forming a nice pincer tandem. OK so there was no Boselli and Searcy, but then, most teams don’t have Boselli and Searcy. CJ played his best game as a Giant. From my vantage point, he did not always go straight up field. He had some nice direct tangents into the backfield. Hopefully he can keep it up. The middle of the line is solid. You want leadership, look no further than Christian Peter, who is stepping it up. The man has intensity, grit. Cornelius Griffin looks ready to step in and step up. Look for these two guys to inspire the D and together with Mike Barrow and Jessie to give us a kamikaze front 7.
Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, what movie have the Giants been watching. The Tiki looks great, the Tiki has stepped up, the Tiki is spokesman for the offense. He loves JF, he loves his role, he loves KC, he loves the new harmony; he is so corporate, it makes me want to puke. But he is the Tiki Barber I remember at Wahoo U, he’s good, he’s damn good. Hey, if he gets 100 yards on his 15 touches, so what if he’s the poster boy for karma.
The second quarter was really interesting. Dayne stuffed in the backfield, Collins misses on deep out, Toomer looked unhappy about something; Then a punt, fumble, Giants special teams swarm to the ball. KC hits a nice pass down the middle, Toomer makes a beautiful adjustment, the zebras get in the act. JF has a challenge, loses again. Then Tiki up the middle, Tiki up the middle for a 1st down – there was a good hole in the middle, which leads to the line. Dusty Z may just be the real thing. He is active, moves laterally and clears space. Next a screen to Tiki, but no one blocked the end on the play, Tiki again for a few yards. Stone hands Cross strikes again; JF not happy with this drive. Even Brad D pulls a kick, no points. The Giants showed some new offensive formations, including the wing stacked receivers, but there wasn’t as much motion as I expected. Again, the commercial ad “Follow the evidence, there’s always a clue” What does this tell us about the offense 2000?
Cousins has a nice defensive stop. Jamie Martin makes the Giants look bad, roughing call on Peter, nice stop by Thomas, good pursuit by Cousins, nice defense on a draw (looked like Golden), drive stalled because of offensive interference. Jax downs punt on 5.
Now the Great Dayne begins to show some moves. My son is again heckling that he is slow, I say hmpph!, this is a freight train, give him time. Then Dayne pushes the pile. Toomer showed spirit on that play, running back and pulling guys off the pile – again leadership. Collins nice pass, Adam Young, nice catch, laid out for it. This may be a case of a guy stepping up, he wants it, good for him. Mark Thomas may have better hands, but young looks to be the more complete tight end. Dayne runs out of the deep I, not impressive. This play looks as if it will only work late in the game when the D has been beaten down. Dayne needs to run up closer to the line. Collins tried to force one in to Cross – Kerry, what are you thinking? Fortunately, it wasn’t intercepted.
Jax ball. CJ in the backfield again, Peter makes two nice tackles. Third-and-15, receiver wide open, no defender in the picture, Jessie is the closest cover guy. Cousins makes another nice hit and stop, Sehorn makes a nice tackle.
On the kickoff, Dixon carries back to the 25; he is around this area on his kickoff returns. Punt returns are awful, 2 fumbles, one lost. Middle hand off to Tiki, then Collins to Tiki, another Collins to Tiki, Collins to Hilliard, but Collins is starting to show happy feet. Even Phil Simms is tempering his praise and pointing out miscues which seem to be visibly disappointing Phil. Collins also showing some bad decision making. Good stats but he was losing intensity as the half ended.
In the second half, the Great Dayne came alive as our second team again bested theirs. Garrett threw to Thabiti Davis, then to Walendy, who did too much dancing, but did show some stuff. Dayne pushed for a 1st down. Then he got behind the big guys and pushes forward. Pita Elisara shows some nice blocking skills – could he be better suited to guard?
On D, Griffin shot in for a tackle, Quinn was flushed and chased out by Short, Cousins was in on the chase, but couldn’t close for the kill, then Jax hit up the middle on a 3rd- and-17. McDaniel made a tackle, then a great rush with push up the middle and pressure from the ends. Coverage by McDaniel for no catch. Dixon fumbles punt. Griffin was just mauling the Jax second unit line.
Dayne was rumbling now, running behind Elisara. JOMO made a beautiful run around end, then slammed in the backfield for a loss. Dayne again up the middle, Dayne again for nothing, Bober standing up looking around. Jax was yelling “run, run, run”, Dayne up the middle for positive yardage, Garrett sacked.
Jax next possession much better. Our second/third unit losing intensity, but stiffens on some good rotation and holds.
In the fourth quarter, players were getting a look. Adam Young is receiving some attention, JOMO and Walendy are out there a lot. Can JOMO be a fullback? An old style, belly carrying, dive fullback. I think, yes, but I wouldn’t want to see his talent wasted by making him a blocker. Reminds me a little of Kenyon Rasheed, or was it Rasheed Kenyon? Damn foggy memory. Walendy couldn’t handle his man on one play- looks like a better runner than blocker. On D, Jeremiah Parker showed his speed again and this young man will make the team. There was a safety blitz, great call. It didn’t get there, but it’s a nice wrinkle. Prentiss back on punt returns – someone is going to make the team as a punt returner. Cherry came in and looked decent until the fumbled snap. JOMO showed speed and power around end, then stopped short by 2 inches.
Chicago and Jax have shown that the offense can move the ball, but again has red zone-itis. The line looks solid, led by Ziegler – it is a blitzkrieg line, built for a mobile attack. But it is time for the QB to stand up and make his presence felt. Hell, Jonathan Quinn showed me more gumption. The running backs are a solid tripartite attack mechanism. Tiki is surprisingly effective up the middle, Dayne around the end. JOMO is just going to come in and pound the hell out of people. Howard Cross, poor Howard, is again totally ineffective as a receiver, great as a blocker. Young may have some talent, he certainly has will to succeed. The receivers – the Giants are deep in receivers, could easily keep 7 if they had room.
All past is prologue – the Jets game will provide a lot of the answers. Another statistically sound, points poor performance and it will be another lonely winter. It’s time to unleash the attack. Go, Giants!!!