New York Jets 17 – New York Giants 14
Game Overview: This was a strange game and after watching the tape, I wasn’t as ticked off after hearing of the results. But there is plenty for me to still worry about.
Since both teams had a few time-consuming, length-of-the-field-type drives in the game, there weren’t many drives. The four starters missing on the Giants’ defense were very much missed (more on that below). Offensively, the big areas of concern for me are Kerry Collins’ inconsistency and the play of the offensive line. Defensively, the cornerback situation opposite of Jason Sehorn is in a bit of a short-term mess. Special teams remains a disaster area.
Special Teams: P Rodney Williams had a very poor game, not withstanding the great athleticism he demonstrated on his impromptu fake field goal (he is the fastest punter I’ve ever seen). It seemed to me that almost all of his punts were line-drives with very little hang-time. I felt great about our punting situation after the Jacksonville game, but now I’m a bit more worried. Nevertheless, I still have a good gut feeling about Rodney. One thing to keep an eye on is that punt protection remains shaky as the Jets came close to blocking a punt.
Jaret Holmes missed a 44-yarder and has since been cut. John Markham has not attempted a field goal in the preseason. His kick-offs against the Jets were pretty good. One landed on the 2-yard line and the other went into the endzone.
Kick-off and punt coverage remains horrible. On one play, Dave Thomas didn’t maintain contain on the left sideline and allowed the returned to get up the field. There doesn’t seem to be any go kill ‘em, head hunter-types on this team. Oh how I long for the days of Larry Flowers and Reyna Thompson!
Blocking for punts and kicks is also bad. Opposing gunners are getting down field too easily. Phil McConkey remarked during the game that he thought it was a bad idea that the Giants were only blocking the gunners with one man each. The good news is that Will Allen looked pretty sure-handed fielding punts in fair catch situations.
Defensive Line: The lack of a pass rush on Saturday was a bit misleading. On many plays, the Giants would drop Cornelius Griffin off into coverage and only rush three (this was no zone blitz as no one was blitzing). Thus, you often had three rushers against five blockers. Incidentally, Griffin is pretty damn athletic for a defensive tackle – he broke up one pass.
DE Michael Strahan was pretty quiet. There was one play where he got pinched inside and this allowed the running back to pick up good yardage around the left side of the defense. DE Cedric Scott was disappointing. Last week, he had a good excuse as he was facing arguably the bet left tackle in football. But this week, he got very little pressure on the pass rush and got handled too often against the run. There was one play where he flashed chasing the ball carrier from the backside and making a play in the backfield.
Inside, Griffin flashed his power and quickness on the sack that was called back due to a bogus penalty on Jessie Armstead. I understand the Giants want to disrupt the timing of opposing offenses by occasionally dropping him into coverage. But I wouldn’t do it too much – he’s too much of an asset as pass rusher. Ryan Hale had an up-and-down night. There were times when he split the double team in run defense and made the play and there were other times when he got crushed by the double-team. He had a one decent pass rush that I spotted. The Giants also dropped him into coverage on one play – a big mistake. Having two back-ups on the strongside against a power running team like the Jets hurt. Keith Hamilton and Kenny Holmes were missed.
Frank Ferrara made a play in the backfield. Ross Kolodziej and Lance Legree were not as active as they have been.
Linebackers: Not a great night for this group though they may have been disadvantaged by the up-and-down performance by their teammates up front. Jessie Armstead has been invisible this preseason and continued to be so on Saturday. He was blocked too easily. In fact, on Curtis Martin’s big gain to the left early in the game, all three starting linebackers (Armstead, Brandon Short, and Dhani Jones) got taken out of the play with good blocks.
Brandon Short was up-and-down. He got badly suckered on Martin’s 3rd-and-10 draw play that led to a first down on the first TD drive. But then there was the play later in the game where he attacked the line of scrimmage and nailed the running back for a loss. He did a nice job of defending a pass on 3rd-and-short.
Dhani Jones was inconsistent too. He made a good play on the goalline. But there were a few plays where he got taken out of the play by a blocker.
Defensive Backs: My worst fears are becoming realized: the Giants are not going to be able to count on Emmanuel McDaniel and Dave Thomas against quality receivers. E-Mac was abused most of the night. The few good plays he made against the pass and run were offset by the times he was beaten like a drum. He had a lot of problems covering Laveranues Coles. He also got beat by the tight end for a first down on 3rd-and-7.
Dave Thomas also did not play well. He got beat by Wayne Chrebet a couple of times, including for a touchdown on a play where he never turned around to look for the ball.
The youngsters were up-and-down (like most of the team). Will Peterson got beat on a deep sideline pass to Coles that set up first-and-goal. But he also looked pretty darn good in coverage, including on a deep pass into the endzone. He was pretty aggressive as a tackler too. Will Allen looked pretty sharp in pass coverage, but missed a tackle on a short pass that led to a substantial gain after the catch. He also looked a bit confused (or Omar Stoutmire was) on one sideline pass while the Giants were playing a two-deep zone. These two may not be ready yet, but let’s hope they are soon.
I’ll tell you one thing. I wonder if the guy who should be starting opposite of Jason Sehorn should be Ralph Brown (at least for the short-term). He is more experienced than the rookies (he has two training camps and two preseasons under his belt) and has done nothing but impress me this year. He nicely defended his two chances – another deep pass and one over the deep middle of the field.
As for the safeties, Sam Garnes made a big hit in run support. Omar Stoutmire was very active and aggressive against the run. So was Clarence LeBlanc, who played a lot.
Quarterback: I don’t buy the argument going around in The Corner Forum that Kerry Collins is more prone than other quarterbacks to get nervous when facing severe pass pressure. Pass pressure makes ALL quarterbacks look pretty bad at times – even the great ones such as Dan Marino, Joe Montana, Dan Fouts, etc. Also, Kerry has proven that he can beat super-aggressive defenses such as the Eagles and Jaguars. But where Kerry still needs improvement is to not force the ball. There are times when he must accept that the play is busted and take the sack. He didn’t do that against the Jets.
Part of his problems resulted from poor play-calling. Let me give you an example. Last week, the Giants ran a play where they faked a left-side run to Dayne, rolled Collins to the right, and tried to hit an open receiver with the defense biting on the fake. On this play, the Giants counted on the strongside end and coverage to bite on the fake (the end remains unblocked). The play worked last week for a TD despite the fact that the end did not bite. Why? Because the coverage was fooled and Collins’ quick release allowed him to get rid of the ball before he was sacked. My problem was that this week they tried it on 3rd-and-5 – a situation where the defense is less likely to buy the fake. The end immediately was on top of Collins (unblocked as designed) and the coverage was not fooled and Collins got picked off.
The one play that makes me nervous with Collins is the screen. The screen is one of my favorites and the Giants often do execute it well. But when the defense does a good job of reading it, Collins tends to still try to force the ball in there. He did this against the Jets and only a drop by the defensive lineman prevent a pick returned for a touchdown.
Take away these plays and a couple of others and Collins was pretty sharp on the night. It still amazes me how much better the Giants passing game is with him at the helm as opposed to some of the other dogs the Giants have had the past ten years. 3rd-and-long no longer spells doom for the G-Men with Kerry at the helm. I also loved his toughness leading Ron Dixon on the reverse.
Jason Garrett was impressive except for two throws. He showed his vulnerability (lack of arm strength) when attempting a deep out (this is the one pass he can’t throw consistently well). He also made a poor decision when his pass was picked off near the goalline and returned for a TD (luckily, the Jets had too many men on the field). Other than those plays, he was accurate and composed. I liked it that he was spotted screaming at his offensive line in order to elevate their performance.
Running Backs: Ron Dayne’s stats are deceiving (see below). I thought he played a very strong game. There were three or four runs where I let out a “Wow!” when he carried the ball. His stats look bad because he was “credited” with a 19-yard loss after a fumble (his one big negative on the night) and there were more than a few plays that were poorly blocked and he got hit in the backfield. Indeed, even on one of these plays, Dayne managed to get away from the defender and turn a 3-yard loss into a 2-yard gain. I liked the fact that he was able to squirt through some small openings this week and carry defenders for extra yardage. His enhanced quickness and speed was demonstrated on the 4th-and-1 play that he bounced outside for a first down and he had a real nice cutback run for a TD on his last carry of the night.
Damon Washington looked sharp again both carrying the ball between the tackles and as a pass receiver. I like the way he explodes up the field after the catch and he has a bit of elusiveness in his game.
Greg Comella had a big night and looks primed for a good year if he can stay healthy. He caught a lot short passes and did a good job with the ball after the catch. He also looked sharp on an inside draw play that he bounced outside. His blocking was good when I kept an eye on him.
Wide Receivers: Ron Dixon had the kind of game that I have been expecting from him. He made a fantastic diving, fingertip catch over the middle for 36 yards. Then there was one series where he made three very strong plays in a row. He got open for a 25-yard catch-and-run on 3rd-and-10. Then he caught a short pass, broke a tackle, and picked up some good yardage after the catch. Then he flashed his speed and moves on a reverse. He finished the game with a touchdown catch in the back of the endzone. His route running is improving, though he failed to get inside position on one slant pass that was broken up.
Joe Jurevicius also played well. He got open for good yardage on a catch over the middle and was active on the Giants’ hurry-up on the first drive after halftime.
Quinton Spotwood dropped a pass and did not step it up in a situation where he needed to with all the receivers who are hurt. Pat Woodcock made two catches, including a nice sideline reception.
Tight Ends: Dan Campbell had one chance at a reception over the middle but was covered. He seemed to do OK as a blocker, but he still doesn’t seem to get much movement. I also spotted him missing a block early on. Marcellus Rivers made a nice reception on a crossing pattern despite tight coverage for a first down on 3rd-and-8. Adam Young couldn’t come up with a low throw from Garrett on what would have been a TD.
Offensive Line: Lomas Brown had better step it up soon because he is having a terrible preseason. His biggest problem is that he keeps getting bull-rushed right back into Kerry Collins’ face. But he also got burned to the outside once against the Jets. I actually thought Luke Petitgout didn’t fair too badly against a super-quality opponent in John Abraham. His biggest problem were the two penalties (holding and a hands to the face). Dusty Zeigler looked good on the move, including leading Dayne outside.
As for the reserves, I liked what I saw out of RG Rich Seubert. On one running play, he really went after the defender and kept going after him down the field. Chris Bober did a nice job at the left tackle spot, though he did get beat outside by Shaun Ellis on one play. Chris Ziemann had problems in pass protection on the strongside.
Offensive Line Review – The Annual Preseason Jet Debacle
by Chris Jacobs
I really never look forward to this game, as a matter of fact I down right despise it. I got that same sick feeling in my stomach when I saw Cornelius Griffin in the back of the golfcart/ambulance, that I did in 98 when Jason Sehorn tore his ACL. One of the other things I hate about it, is it always gives the Jet fans false hope that the Jets are better than the Giants. In recent memory (the last 20 years) it’s only happened once, and the Jets we’re knocked out of the AFC Championship in Denver. What scares me is that the Jets still haven’t recovered from that game and I fear that last years Super disaster will have the same effect on the Giants. They already appear to be going through the motions this preseason. I don’t see anyone playing with a fire in their belly, maybe Brandon Short, and Greg Comella always puts out 100%. But before I give my O-line preview for this game I want you fellow Giant fans to know that I’m worried. I think there are eight games on the schedule that they will win. The games I’m worried about are the four games that decide whether you go home in January or not. I know that everyone who reads this is thinking the same thing…Preseason doesn’t count, they don’t gameplan, half the starters are out, and those that are playing have their starting jobs secured. All true, but the same thing is true for the opposition. And the truth is the Jets dominated in all phases of the game. The Giants don’t look like the same team I saw last preseason. The one person on the team who does seem to have a fire in his belly is Jim Fassel. I hope he can get these guys going, he’s got two weeks.
The New Grading System:
This season I’m giving letter grades to the lineman based on how I feel they performed. It’s not easy to grade the line as a fan, last season I tried to be as impartial as possible but sometimes a guy grades out ok even though he didn’t play great. The perfect example was the Titan game last year, they all graded out ok because there were no blown assignments (as far as I could tell), but they only ran 17 plays in the first half and had 0 yards rushing, the line has to be partially responsible for that. So my grades will be less technical this year, but I will still try to be as fair as possible.
Lomas Brown – C:
Not terrible, but as I mentioned above, no fire in the belly. I give him the benefit of the doubt because of his age, and I hope with that much experience he can turn the switch on when the season begins. Here are some good things he did. His pass blocking is very good, he did get beat once or twice where Collins got hit just as he released, but the pass protection is his strong point. On the 4th-and-1, he threw a cut block and took out two Jet defenders. His run blocking was ok, he doesn’t really have the strength to drive guys off the ball but he’s good at turning and riding guys out of the play. Did a decent job when he was lined up against Abraham.
Glen Parker – C:
Certainly not close to as well as he can play, it seems as if he is still feeling the effects of missing the first two weeks of camp. Once again, only one or two blown assignments (one that really irked me) but just seemed like he was wearing cement shoes. Ok here’s the play that I wasn’t all too happy about – they run their bread-and-butter running play – the one in the Stone-Petitgout gap and where Parker pulls and seals inside. The TE then kicks out and Comella leads Dayne into the hole. Well Parker…let’s just say he never made it – his first step was very sloppy and his feet got tangled up somewhere and Marvin Jones makes a solo tackle for no gain. The thing was there if he would have made it out. It’s a mental error more than anything and I guess that’s what preseason is for.
Dusty Ziegler B+:
If you want everyone on offense to have one of those catchy nicknames, this guys nickname should be glue. He’s just very, very good at sustaining blocks, once he makes contact with a guy he sticks with it. Defenders seem to have a tough time separating themselves from him. The one that impressed me the most was on the Dixon reverse, he laid into a safety about five yards downfield and stayed with him till the play was over. Not easy for an O-lineman to do.
Ron Stone C+:
Again, like the other two guys, seemed to just be going through the motions, nothing bad. I did make a note here and there that he seems to struggle with sustaining blocks, but it is preseason so I won’t hold it against him. As far a percentage grade goes he scored about a 92% but I’m giving him a C+ because on the Dayne fumble it seemed like he took the play off and his man was in on the tackle. He also lost points on the 4th-and-1 toss away from him where he blocked no one. However, on the Dayne TD he did push his man about 10-yards downfield. So that tells me that he has it, it’s just if he’s willing to use it. I fear this contract thing is going to distract him in the long run…
Luke Petitgout B-:
Yeah I know, he had some bad penalties, there was another play where he held #95 but it wasn’t called. And I thought the hands to the face was bullcrap. Anyway, he got a better grade than he deserved because of the job he did against Abraham. The kid is a stud and every time he had to block him alone he got the job done. He had a bad first half and he came out in those first two drives of the second half and redeemed himself. He’s most likely going to be the left tackle next season (possibly this season) and that’s the kind of things you want to see from a guy.
A quick note on Dayne before I briefly mention the 2nd stringers…
He has his head up, he’s cutting to hole instead of running into blockers backs. It’s the first time I’ve seen this from him, they are working with him to run with patience and it showed in this game, I like what I saw.
I’m not going to grade them individually, but I’ll make some quick points. They looked atrocious in the first series against the Jets starting D-line, but that is expected. It’s tough coming off the bench and going against a guy who’s been playing for three quarters. Against the Jets backups, they dominated. I liked what I saw from everyone. Chris Bober was impressive, the only block I noticed he missed was on the first-and-goal from the 8, in the fourth quarter where his man just ran around him. Mike Rosenthal (Rosey) was solid as usual, he really looks more like a tackle than a guard, but he did a good job. He needs to stay put when they are running a twist stunt, as a matter of fact the entire 2nd string line seems to struggle with that sometimes. Jason Whittle is pretty good, I think he’s a solid backup who could be a starter in a couple of years. Rich Seubert did a good job also, pass and run blocking. One running play he drove his man 4 yards off the ball, nice job. Chris Ziemann struggled a little. I like him and I think they are grooming him for the right tackle job when Lomas retires and Petitgout moves to left tackle. There was one blown assignment that was a pass play and he ran about 5 yards downfield to get a backer, luckily Jason Garrett was chased out of the pocket and ran, no penalty. The other thing I noticed is that he struggles when the guy tries to speed rush around him. He needs to work on his foot work, he’s playing in quicksand a little and that scares me, but technically this is his first season so I think they can break him of that habit.
One last note….
Dan Campbell has to step up. He looks great on some plays and terrible on others. He needs to become a more consistent blocker, and has to find the open areas on his pass routes. He’s the one guy who is seriously disappointing me so far, I was hoping that with Mitchell gone he would have a breakout year. I’ll be keeping a close eye on him from here on out.
THE YO-YO FACTOR
by David Oliver
Your reporter waited until things got real quiet at the post game Press Conference and then asked, coach, were there any positives? Coach turned to glare at me (I was off to the side, near the door) and shot back “the game is over.” He continued to stare, as if waiting for a follow-up, or smart ass remark, but heck, if he didn’t see anything positive, I wasn’t going to beat the drum. The tone was the same in the locker. Many of the guys were talking about being flat, not making plays, etc. So I asked Brandon Short. I told him I would have thought that guys fighting for jobs would come out and make plays, but there seemed too little of that. Instantly the line changed and he pointed to the nice catch made by Marcellus Rivers, the good game that Ron Dixon had, the pass defensed by Ralph Brown and similar plays, and he told me these were all guys fighting for jobs, or game time.
Upshot – it was a bad game, very bad game, but not so bad that some things won’t be viewed positively on the film. So continues the yo-yo pre season of the Giants. At camp, on Thursday, everybody looked crisp and ready. Saturday night, the other guys, the doppleganger Giants showed up in the uniforms – my theory – it’s the lighting at the Meadowlands. Brandon Short told me that he “couldn’t tell me exactly what happened until we look at the film”, but he felt they came out a little flat. He said he could “only speak for himself and the teams that I play on” (defense and specials) and that “we can’t afford to do that when the regular season starts…it’s unacceptable.”
Damn straight it’s unacceptable. I wouldn’t want to be in that locker room this week with Coach JF. He is going to get someone’s attention. Jack Golden knows it and relishes it. Jack told me that Coach has “got to grab our attention before that first regular season game – because it’s a big game; that game can make or break the season.” Jack followed that up by telling me “you will see a different team next week, I promise you.” I chided him and Brandon a little and told them it had better be a different team because the Ravens were looking to lay a big one on their asses. Both shot up at once and said they were looking to lay one on the Ravens, and there would be none of that Raven smack in their minds. Well, one consolation, a small one at that, is the old cliché which Golden repeated for me “you are never as good as you think, and it’s never as bad as it looks.”
Which on Saturday night looked pretty grim. Just as I started giving Kerry his props, he comes out and throws a couple of, well, I don’t know what they were, but they were ugly. The Jets have a big, pressing defense and once again, the Giants line melted under the pressure. In defense of Kerry, his bad passes were thrown under heavy, break through pressure. That’s an explanation, not an excuse. He didn’t have to throw them to, or was it at, the onrushing Jets. He recovered, found Dixon a couple of times, Comella a couple of times and in the end, his performance was acceptable. Jason Garrett was happy all night and he was all smiles after the game. He had a gaudy 12-of-15 for 103 yards, but somehow never seems to look good doing the job.
The receivers looked fine, considering the absence of Ike and Amani. Dixon had 6-for-87 yards with one long beauty, some nice moves and almost made another tough catch on a high rocket. Greg Comella looked very good coming out of the backfield with 6 catches for 48 yards, but I was surprised that Damon Washington also had 6-for-49. Joe Jurevicius (JJ) was in the game with 5-for-66 yards. Woodcock (2), Rivers (1), Spotwood (1), and Wright (1) completed the receiving stats.
Rodney Williams boomed one, had none blocked and was down field all night. He also took a high snap and converted it into a first down with a nice end run. On the return side, Will Allen looks a little shaky, well, actually, a lot shaky. He was avoiding the ball like it had west Nile. Coverage on all kicks was porous. The Giants run down field and converge on the ball carrier. No one seems to stay out on the wing in prevent. One good block and one good move and a fast returner seems to turn the corner and go. As I said last week, the Baron is now deep in the Augean stables and this week he will feel the wrath of Jim. Maybe it wasn’t MacDuff after all?
The play calling seemed more diversified this week as Sean Payton is working on more of the play book. The running game somehow got 80 yards on the night, with Dayne amassing 13 of them on only 11 carries (hmmm). Dixon had the longest run and Damon Washington added 23 yards on 5 carries.
Part of the problem here is working back to a regular starting line. Glenn Parker is not ready. He looks pensive and that is understandable. Maybe the regular season is the tonic this warrior needs to get his mind off the other battle. Lomas has been blocking better this year than in a while. He is catching his man and riding him beyond the play. Several of my photos show him occupying a defender somewhere behind the line of scrimmage. This is very positive. Stone is obviously troubled by the contract thing. He is even telegraphing some of his blocks by an almost imperceptible lean on some plays. But here’s the thing. If the Giants ever get their starting unit on the field, the pace of the action and the misdirection are there. The offense rolled up a lot of yards even though undermanned, against a very tough defense – and it wasn’t all in the last quarter.
The defense was very interesting. A lot of guys were missing which gave a lot of guys an opportunity. Who stepped up? Clarence LeBlanc had 5 tackles and an assist, Dhani Jones had 2 tackles and 3 assists and Frank Ferrara and Cedric Scott each had 2 tackles and 2 assists. Shaun Williams and Sam Garnes were steady with 4 each, but having the safeties make so many tackles indicated that some guys were missing up front. EMac had 4 tackles and 1 assist, but started the game a little shaky. Jack Golden picked it up a little, with 1 and 1 and got his man upset on a kick return which was nullified when the refs threw the flag on the Jets. Did anyone win a job, or lose a job on this effort? Probably not, except for the swing position. If it’s between Ferrara and Legree, his effort on the night may have done it for FF. As he told me, “I try my best. I’m a kid from NY; NY Jets vs. NY Giants, if you don’t come ready to represent, what is it?…Tonight was a great opportunity, a lot of fun, a great night…I made some good plays out there; I played well; of course, you can always do better, but I had some fun.”
Ralph Brown made a nice play, reaching up and knocking a pass away. I’m now calling him Big Hands Brown. He’s having fun and that’s good to see. Last year, when he came in he was tighter than, well you get the drift. He told me, “I don’t know how many times in the preseason I’ll get in, so when they put me in, I try to take advantage of it; I took advantage of a football they threw at me; I just try to do my best, whenever they use me, I’m going to give 100%.” Even he acknowledged that the team came out flat and he sort of shocked me by saying “guys were relaxing all over the field, offensively and defensively.”
Greg Comella looked real good tonight, playing in front of a large family contingent. Unfortunately for them, most of his pretty plays were at the opposite end. Greg is about as straight forward as they come, in the locker and on the field. He is an inspiring kind of guy – effort and talent as a role player, who will deliver the goods. He is the ultimate team player and acknowledges that his touches are limited, but he never complains. He told me, “One of Sean’s (Payton) strengths is his ability to continue to recreate the offense, that includes spreading the ball around to different people. With the weapons we have on this team, I understand I’m only going to touch it a couple of times. When I am called on to touch the ball, I have to make plays.” He told me they were working on the 2-minute drill and that when a team goes 2 minutes, the defense often relaxes, which leaves open the underneath stuff. But, again, he said Tiki is the 2-minute back. I asked him if Sean was working on anything special for him. There was dead silence, then he said “again, with guys like Amani Toomer and Tiki and Ike Hilliard, I’m going to see my touches, but they will be limited when you have guys like that on the field.” Okay, Greg, and are they working on anything special for you?
So where does that leave us? This was the bounce of the yo-yo, but it was a strange game because there were so many “weapons” not in action. Seemingly outplayed, the team amassed some nice stats while looking at a lot of people. This is how good teams get it done. It reminds me of when I was a caddy. I was out with a pro one day, name, Charlie Harmon. He was Claude (Winged Foot) Harmon’s brother. He popped his drive onto a rock pile, walked over, asked me for his driver again, and whacked that thing off the rock and right up to the green. It wasn’t pretty. But he was a pro. No panic, no confusion, no fear, he just got the job done and he used the tools in his bag. It is possible and this Giant team just might have to do that. If all the weapons aren’t available, use the tools on the bench. The Super Bowl isn’t about style points, it’s about winning; just look at the current Champs.
I caught up with Dhani Jones and teased him about all the bad words he was using out there. He laughed as in yeah, how would you know. When I told him what I had heard, he believed I did hear. On the sidelines, we hear a whole lot. So Dhani said “that’s what happens when you don’t perform up to your expectations. My coach in college told me that expectations are for the position; an expectation for a linebacker is to make plays; I have to be more active, to make those plays that people don’t think I can make.” He went on, talking about the Mike position, telling me “that’s a responsibility that you carry, you have to be harder on yourself than anybody else can be.” He said he felt better than last week, but not as good as he should and that he hoped he never felt as good as he should because he always wanted to be reaching for the next level.
I teased him about Kevin Lewis (Klu) saying he was always yelling and Dhani told me, “I have to yell, I use my voice; you’re a field general, you have to command respect, that’s the position, like the QB, if you don’t get the defense up, that’s all on you.” He continued to tell me that the Mike linebacker is in control when the defense is on the field, that “when we make plays and when we don’t make plays, it’s on the Mike linebacker.” He said his field vision was improving each week and that with time and film study, he would continue to improve. I asked him if he had taken any positives from the game. He told me, “I have the ability but I have to work harder.”
That’s the moral of the game, of the yo-yo. The Giants have the ability, they just have to work harder. I hope that’s the message Coach Fassel has told us to bet our asses on. Because when I bet my ass, I won’t settle for anything less.
On a personal note, today is cut day. Most of the time around here there is good, reasoned discussion. But every once in a while, terms creep in which really get me; terms like camp fodder, or talentless, you get my drift. Now some of you are lawyers, some doctors, some teachers, some the finest computer specialists I have had the pleasure of knowing. But very few of you have ever played the game at this level. Some at college, some big time, some not since high school, but most, never. Me, I’ve never been really good at any damn thing and I admire everyone who is good at anything, anyone who has a dream, anyone who has ever done anything in their lives. I’m very fortunate in that I get to meet these kids on a personal basis. Many are like a son once removed for me and I feel fortunate to have shared some time with them They are white, black, Samoan, some come from families of means, some from the streets. But they have all done something that I wanted to do all my life – they have worn the uniform of the NY Giants. I was never big enough, or fast enough, and when I was younger I had other goals, but always in my heart, as my sister recognized about 10 years ago, I have never wanted to do anything, anything, other than be a linebacker for the NY Giants.
Last year I lived through the terror of Bashir Levingston, the night he was cut, following the Detroit game. It was tough for him, it was tough for me because I liked the kid. This year, I met a young man in camp that I had watched in another League. He didn’t have a good chance, at best, but he got hurt early, which gave him no chance. The media, for all intents and purposes, ignored him. But he was a good football player and a helluva guy, so I would interview him, talk to him and share a little of camp life. He was close to another player inc amp, another of my favorites. We laughed and joked on the field after the game Saturday night. In the locker room, he grabbed me and he said, “Thank you, for every thing.” Everything, folks, was the simple act of talking to him as if he were a human being. He’s got a future in a successful family business, but he’s got a dream, and I believe in his dream; he will be on an NFL team somewhere soon. He asked me to stay in touch and we promised to get together when he landed somewhere. He knew he wasn’t going to stick. His injury decided that and his only regret was that he never had an opportunity to “show us (you and me) how good he could play.” Today he was cut. I can only say Good Luck and God Speed. My prayer is that your dream becomes reality.
Next week West Nile comes to the Ravens.