August 4, 2009 New York Giants Training Camp Report (Morning Practice)

by Contributor Marty in Albany

Before the practice began, it was nice to see QB Eli Manning throwing to HB Andre Brown, because I don’t think any passes were thrown his way this morning.

It was another sunny day with the players in shorts and shells and it began with intensive kick off practice. K Lawrence Tynes didn’t do any kicking; it was done with the Juggs gun. There were 18 reps and another half dozen later on in the practice. HB Danny Ware and WRs Domenik Hixon and Sinorice Moss got the lion’s share of the kicks, but WR Hakeem Nicks and HBs Ahmad Bradshaw and Andre Brown also got a few. Clearly, this lengthy drill is a response by the Giants to the changes in the NFL rules regarding kick offs.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that WR Hakeem Nicks is not fast ENOUGH, it just seems that he is significantly slower than say, WR Domenik Hixon or HB Ahmad Bradshaw in getting up field with the ball. Nicks is clearly not a blazer.

DE Tommy Hill is now number 63 instead of 64.

OG Rich Seubert did not practice and Tutan Reyes filled in for him at LG with the starters. The second team O-line from left to right is now William Beatty, Andrew Carnahan, Adam Koets, Kevin Boothe, and Guy Whimper – basically all Tackles except for OG Boothe.

Adam Koets had been doing pretty well until late in the practice when he and QB Andre’ Woodson combined to put a snap on the ground. Koets came out and Tutan Reyes came in for one play. After that, Koets seemed to be okay. Tutan Reyes is also the third string Center.

The CBs had a drill where they attempted to stop the receivers at the line of scrimmage. I thought that the receivers did pretty well, with Sinorice Moss and Mario Manningham getting off the line with the most ease. Manningham, for the second straight year, has won the skinniest legs on the team competition. Ike Hilliard and Jonathan Carter would have been so proud of him!

CB Coach Pete Giunta and Safeties Coach David Merritt are non-stop talkers and are impressive in the way they teach their respective squads.

In the 11 on 11s QB Eli Manning hit WR Domenik Hixon in the gut for 10 yards over the middle. A handoff to HB Ahmad Bradshaw followed, and then another (which would not have counted because WR Steve Smith was illegally in motion).

QB David Carr began the day inauspiciously. His 15 yard sideline attempt to WR Mario Manningham was intercepted by CB Terrell Thomas. He then handed off to HB Danny Ware who would have been tackled in the backfield by DE Dave Tollefson. On the next play LB Clint Sintim batted away a pass intended for WR David Tyree. That was enought for Carr.

QB Andre’ Woodson came in next and after a handoff to HB Andre Brown, S Sha’reff Rashad (I believe) nearly intercepted his pass to WR Derek Hagan, but it bounced out of his hands. Woodson then took the safe route and handed off to HB Allen Patrick who ran with good speed and elusiveness. It is unfortunate for Patrick that he is a “good small man” competing with “good big men” for his roster spot.

QB Rhett Bomar was next in the 11 on 11s. He looked okay, but the defense was too much for his offense.

In the 7 on 7 drills, QB Eli Manning made a poorly timed/inaccurate deep throw to WR Sinorice Moss who was well covered by CB Terrell Thomas, but Eli followed it with a nicely executed over the middle pass to HB Ahmad Bradshaw who was running at top speed across the field.

Carr came in and his misfortune continued when TE Darcy Johnson, dropped an easy line of scrimmage pass that Carr put right in his gut. Finally, Carr connected with TE Travis Beckum who seems to make routine catches look exciting. After WR David Tyree made a diving catch, Carr threw to him again. This time it was high and hard and through Tyree’s upstretched arms and caught by LB Danny Clark for an easy interception. After that, TE Lee Vickers made an easy catch over the middle shielding the defender with his body.

QB Andre’ Woodson was next in the 7 on 7s. Most notable was a nice defensive play by feisty CB Kevin Dockery who was behind WR Shaun Bodiford and ripped the ball right out of his hands!

It was also eye-opening to see how open TE Travis Beckum got for an easy catch over the middle.

The Defense continued to dominate when QB Rhett Bomar came in. He was immediately intercepted by LB Jonathan Goff. CB Bruce Johnson then broke up his next pass. The best he could do was a completion to HB Allen Patrick at the line of scrimmage.

Back to the 11 on 11s. Eli tried a reverse to Sinorice Moss and DT Jay Alford almost tackled Moss in the backfield. Next, HB Brandon Jacobs took a handoff and showed a little wiggle along with his power running. WR Steve Smith could not come up with a poorly thrown (or intentionally low) pass. On the next play Smith got open and Eli probably saw it a bit late, but it was a tough over the shoulder catch that Smith juggled and dropped.

The first shotgun snap of the camp – a draw play, was a failure as the entire middle was clogged with players. This was followed by an ill-advised pass to Moss who was well defended by CB Terrell Thomas for an incompletion.

DE Tommy Hill, undoubtedly invigorated by his new number, batted down a Woodson pass. On the opposite side of the line, OT William Beatty was clearly planted on one play. It was one of the few times I saw a player on the ground today.

In the red zone drill Eli completed his bread and butter sideline pass play to TE Kevin Boss for 17 yards. He next made a duplicate to WR Domenik Hixon on the other side of the field.

I  was sitting on a hill rather than standing on the sidelines. This ties into the ongoing debate about Defensive Coordinator Bill Sheridan vs. former Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who is now a head coach.

Question: Will Sheridan be as good as Spags?

That would be a difficult task for any new DC, because Spags was excellent– good enough to become an NFL head coach. Sheridan can still become a damn good defensive coordinator for the Giants even if he never becomes quite as good as Spags was.

Sheridan has an advantage: by the end of last year, Tuck, Robbins, and Cofield were nicked up enough to prevent them from going full tilt for an entire game. With the return of Osi from injury, the continued development of Kiwi at DE, and the addition of veterans Canty, Rocky Bernard, Michael Boley, and CC Brown, the Giants have more defensive talent and more depth than last year. Assuming they are cleared to play, it allows stars like Tuck, Robbins, and Cofield to play hard on every snap and then come out of the game for a breather without lowering the quality of the defensive line.

We all know what the Giants need to do on defense: Pressure the quarterback on first and second down and blitz on third down. That defensive strategy does not take a rocket surgeon to figure out, so I’m guessing that Bill Sheridan knows it too. Luckily, it appears that the Giants have the defensive players to do that with éclat.

The whole Sheridan “in the box or on the sidelines” thing is a red herring – a meaningless distraction. If Sheridan is a poor DC, it is because he lacks ABILITY, not because of his LOCATION during the game. I am not worried about his ability and the Giants are not taking much of a gamble with him at DC. Sheridan has coached for more than 20 years and this is his fifth year with the Giants. That is more than enough time for Tom Coughlin to evaluate what Sheridan knows and for Sheridan to know his players. It is unlikely that Sheridan will be out of his depth at DC.

What about the “benefits” of the DC being on the sideline? If you could coach on the sideline from a lifeguard chair about 15 feet up, it would be perfect. Unfortunately, and I know this from experience, when you are standing at ground level, much of the time you absolutely cannot see what is happening on the far side of the field because the players nearest to you block your view.

I truly believe that last year when you saw Spags talking to his defensive players the conversation was NOT: Players to Spags: “Spags, what should we do?”

I think the conversation was more like: Spags to Players, “What happened on that last play? I couldn’t see a thing.”

Football players are not unthinking chess pieces who are completely controlled by the coaches. Of necessity, players must recognize what is happening and react reflexively without having to think. They practice this, they study films, and they learn the playbook. They go on the field knowing the team’s various defensive schemes and should not need to be instructed individually during the game as to what they are supposed to do.

In my opinion, the sooner the DC can spot an offensive strategy of the opponent, the sooner he can tell the defense what scheme they should be using to counter it. That is a plus for being in the booth and being able to see the entire field. If the players don’t know how to implement the various defensive schemes, that is the fault of the position coaches, not the DC.