Oct 312009
 

October 30, 2009 New York Giants Injury Report: Not practicing yesterday were WR Mario Manningham (shoulder) and CB Aaron Ross (hamstring). Manningham is officially listed as “questionable” for the game against the Eagles on Sunday; Ross will not play.

“The last play of practice (on Thursday Manningham) went down, hurt his shoulder,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “They thought it was better if he just not work today. So I’m going to list him as questionable, but hopefully he will make it.”

“My left shoulder,” said Manningham. “I’m good, I’m good. You all will see me out there on Sunday.”

Ross has been running, backpeddaling, and cutting on the sidelines in practice all week. If the doctors give the OK, he said he might begin individual drills next week.

HB Ahmad Bradshaw (ankle/foot), LB Michael Boley (knee), and DT Chris Canty (calf) practiced on a limited basis. Bradshaw is listed as “probable” for the game; Boley and Canty will not play.

When asked about how Canty and Boley did yesterday after finally practicing on Thursday, Coughlin replied, “They seemed to do okay. They ran around again today.”

LB Antonio Pierce (ankle) and RT Kareem McKenzie (groin) fully practiced. Both are “probable” for the game.

Article on TE Kevin Boss: Giants Tight End Still Searching For First TD by Dan Martin of The New York Post

Article on LB Danny Clark: Giants’ Danny Clark Chose to Go Green With a Smart Car by Joe LaPointe of The New York Times

Oct 302009
 

October 29, 2009 New York Giants Injury Report – Ahmad Bradshaw Has a Broken Foot: Not practicing yesterday were HB Ahmad Bradshaw (ankle/foot) and CB Aaron Ross (hamstring).

Bradshaw told the press that he has a partially fractured bone in his foot. “It’s a cracked bone in my foot and on the outside of my foot, which is probably the easiest bone to break,” said Bradshaw. “There is a chance of it breaking all the way through the bone…I just plan on going out there and giving it my all and if it breaks, it does. I’ll get surgery. If not, I’ll wait to the end of the season and hopefully at the end I won’t need it, but more then likely I plan on having surgery.”

When Head Coach Tom Coughlin was asked about Bradshaw, he responded, “Bradshaw went and had a second opinion. Dr. Anderson in Charlotte confirmed that the present plan of attack was the way to go…Rest and immobilization, treatment, rehab, limited amount of work each week…Just what he is doing; the same order of business that we are following.”

When asked about surgery being needed for Bradshaw, Coughlin replied, “Possible, but hopefully a long way off.”

LB Antonio Pierce (ankle), LB Michael Boley (knee), and DT Chris Canty (calf) practiced on a limited basis.

“(Canty) and Michael Boley did the individual part of practice,” said Coughlin. “And obviously what they want to do is assess where they are the next morning, see if they can do a little bit more, when can they do a little bit more. It is a good sign.”

“It felt pretty good to be able to put on the pads and get out there, move around with my teammates and get back to football,” Canty said. “I’m tired of being in the training room rehabbing. Looking forward to doing football movements and being able to get out there and help my football team in any way I can.”

“It’s pretty tough to have to deal with a calf injury when you have so much force on your lower extremities, especially down in the trenches,” Canty said. “It’s something you have to take very seriously and you have to treat it accordingly. Hopefully, I’ll be putting this behind me and getting back to the business of football.”

“Progress is going good,” Boley said. “Just coming in and taking it a day at a time. Doing what the training staff tells me, what the doctors tell me and try not to move too fast so I don’t suffer any setbacks. It’s getting closer. It’s been three weeks, so I am counting down the days. I am looking forward to getting back on the field. Being away from the game is tough, especially when I was starting to get in a groove a little bit.”

“When I’m ready I’ll be back,” Boley said. “If it so happens I’m not ready to go next week (against the Chargers) and I get an extra week (of rest at the bye), it’s a bonus. I’ll be even stronger when I get back.”

RT Kareem McKenzie (groin) fully practiced.

Article on General Manager Jerry Reese: Reese Keeps Faith Despite Giant Sputter by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Oct 292009
 

10/29/2009

By Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com

Approach to the Game – New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles, November 1, 2009: It’s not time to panic, but it is time to be somewhat concerned. A two-game losing streak will do that to you. This is especially when the upcoming opponent is a divisional rival that has beaten you twice in a row, including the playoffs.

Contrary to many, I do not consider this game a “must win” for the Giants. I think the Giants need to at least split their two games with the Eagles this year. Winning in Philadelphia would obviously reduce the pressure on New York and give them a 3-0 advantage in the NFC East. Losing would cause them to fall half a game behind the Eagles in the division.

Not to sound overly crude, but the Giants need to get their shit together. After an impressive 5-0 start, the defense played like crap against the Saints and the passing game (mainly Eli) and special teams played like crap against the Cardinals. The Giants need to get out of this funk and back on track. Now would be an excellent time to do so. But the Eagles may not be very accommodating.

Giants on Offense: The Giants are thinking too much. They are trying to be too cute…too perfect. This is on Tom Coughlin, Kevin Gilbride, and Eli Manning. Get back to your roots and run freaking Brandon Jacobs behind that talented offensive line. Eli and the Giants are spending too much time in their pre-snap reads, worrying about what the defense is going to do and trying to react to it. Screw that! Dictate to the defense! Get out of the huddle, snap the ball, and run the damn play! In fact, I would try to cross the Eagles up by doing just that. I’m not talking about a hurry-up offense or the no huddle (though the latter has worked against the Eagles in the past). I’m talking about getting up to the line of scrimmage quickly out of the huddle and quickly getting the ball snapped. The Eagles would not expect it and I think it would put them a bit back on their heels.

We know what the Eagles are on defense. They are all about bringing the house with blitzes designed to confuse and disrupt. They take chances in the secondary by playing aggressive man coverage. If the Giants play true to form, that means Coughlin, Gilbride, and Manning will “take what the defense is giving them” and start taking deep shots down the field. I would do this a couple times, but I wouldn’t get away from the ground game. Pound the Eagles by running right at them. Wear them down. It may not be pretty at first, but don’t give up the run. The Eagles are very athletic in the front seven, but they are not the biggest or most stout defense out there. Take advantage of that by being very physical in the running game.

When the Giants do put the ball up, they don’t NEED to always take big shots down field to make the Eagles pay for their aggressiveness. Screen passes, quick slants, tosses to the tight ends can expose an overly-aggressive defense. I’d love to see some quick slants to Mario Manningham or Hakeem Nicks. I’d like to see Kevin Boss or Travis Beckum used more in the passing game.

To me, this is a quarterback’s game. The Giants need Eli Manning to out-play Donovan McNabb. If he plays better and the Giants have fewer mistakes and turnovers, they will win.

The Giants’ offensive coaches have to do a better job of schemes and play calling in the red zone. For too long, the Giants have struggled scoring touchdowns and settling for field goals. Lawrence Tynes is leading the NFL in scoring this year because of it. There is too much talent on this team to leave that many points off the scoreboard. Fix it!

Giants on Defense: For the third game in a row, this is a bad time to be without Michael Boley and Aaron Ross, especially Boley. The Eagles have a lot of dangerous athletes at the skill positions and the Giants may have the least athletic linebacking corps in the NFL without Boley (the Giants really need to address this once and for all in the offseason). If the Eagles are smart – and they like to do this anyway – they will spread the Giants out and try to expose the linebackers and safeties in coverage.

The Eagles run a true West Coast Offense. What that means is they will stretch a field both horizontally and vertically in the passing game. In the last two losses to the Eagles, Donovan McNabb has helped to negate the Giants’ pass rush by quickly getting rid of the ball to his receivers, who are often the running backs and tight ends. It remains to be seen if Brian Westbrook (concussion) plays, but the Eagles have enough talent to survive with HB LeSean McCoy, TE Brent Celek, and FB Leonard Weaver. And watch out for quick tosses to the extremely dangerous DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Jason Avant can run too. There is a lot of athleticism in that group.

The Giants will have to play smart, fundamentally-sound football. Good athletes can make you look bad. Watch out for misdirection – plays designed to take advantage of the Giants’ over-aggressiveness. See how the Eagles exposed the backside pursuit of the Redskins with the reverse to Jackson on Monday night. Watch out for screens. Watch out for draws in obvious passing situations. And of course, the Eagles are one of the teams out there who have a variety of plays that they can run with the Wild Cat formation, including, but not limited to, the use of Michael Vick.

To me, this game is on the Giants’ defensive line. The line has not played as well as hoped this year. The Eagles’ offensive line is in a bit of a transition. Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, and Mathias Kiwanuka have to get to McNabb. Barry Cofield, Fred Robbins, and Rocky Bernard have to play much, much better (what a disappointment Cofield and Bernard have been in particular). Get to McNabb. Hit him. Sack his ass.

The Giants’ defensive coaches have to come up with better schemes and play calls in the red zone. The Giants have the worst red zone defense in the NFL. That’s unacceptable given the level of talent the Giants have on defense.

Giants on Special Teams: DeSean Jackson is exceptionally dangerous on punt returns, but also don’t forget about Ellis Hobbs on kickoff returns. Jeff Feagles needs a big rebound game after his worst game as a Giant. Don’t even give Jackson an opportunity to burn you. Punt and kickoff coverage will be crucial this week, perhaps even decisive.

And the Giants need a big rebound game from their own punt and kickoff return units as well. Domenik Hixon was held in check last week.

Giants need Lawrence Tynes to come through this week.

Oct 292009
 
Arizona Cardinals 24 (4-2) – New York Giants 17 (5-2)

by The Hack for BigBlueInteractive.com

Game Summary: The New York Giants suffered their second loss of the season on Sunday at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals. The loss leaves the Giants just a half game ahead of the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles, both 4-2, going into a first place showdown with the Eagles on Sunday. Two weeks ago, there were few people who thought the Giants grip on first place would be challenged so early.

This game was a textbook example of how to blow a game you should have won rather handily. The Giants committed several very uncharacteristic penalties. They committed four turnovers. They allowed a running game to a team that can’t run out of the locker room without tripping up over the sideline paint. They abandoned their own running game with more than a quarter to go despite beating the Cardinals with it the entire first half. Unbelievably, the Giants worked out of the shotgun on every snap save two short yardage running plays from late in the third quarter on.

In a word, this game was frustrating. The Giants had won their last 15 straight games when leading at halftime, and were in position to do so again in this one despite a lackluster passing attack in the first half that resulted in the Giants leaving points on the field at least twice.

After coming out for the second half with two straight three and outs and an interception on the third play of the third drive, the Giants still had opportunities in the fourth quarter to at least tie the game but were thwarted by turnovers. Incredibly, P Jeff Feagles could not execute the simple plan to angle his punts away from PR Steve Breaston and shanked two successive punts giving the Cardinals excellent field position.

Arizona capitalized on the first shank, and after the defense held them following the second, the offense made Feagles’ punts look grand as they gave the Cardinals the ball at the Giants 20 on Manning’s second interception. It was during this three possession span that the game was finally lost for good, as the Giants offense just couldn’t stabilize or gain any rhythm beyond a play or two here and there for the rest of the game.

Tale O’ The Tape: Although the totals were close, the Giants led in every major statistical category save two: Turnovers and Final Score. During the game, a stat was shown regarding the Cardinals and turnovers. Overwhelmingly, they won the majority of their games when they protected the ball and got turnovers, and overwhelmingly lost the games where they were either tied or lost the turnover battle.

Head Coach Tom Coughlin preaches day in and day out that penalties, turnovers, and the field position battle are what determines the outcome to football games. On Sunday, the Giants were doomed due to their failure to win any of these phases of the game.

The Cardinals defense dared the Giants to pass and beat their one on one coverages as they played man to man with a single high safety for the majority of the game. Even though they had a minimum of seven in the box and on several occasions as many as ten, the Giants ran the ball effectively in first half. HB Brandon Jacobs averaged 9.2 ypc at the half, but only carried five times. HB Ahmad Bradshaw was less effective, carrying eight times for just a 2.0 ypc average.

It’s puzzling as to why the Giants won’t stick with Jacobs longer than they do when they open the game. It would seem logical that instead of splitting series between Jacobs and Bradshaw, the Giants should have Jacobs in the game on first and second downs and bring Bradshaw in on third downs and for an occasional series. For some reason, even though Jacobs was running effectively on the two carries he got on the first two drives, they went to Bradshaw on the third series, where he had four carries for just 10 yards.

Then, on the first touchdown drive they went back to The Beast and he accounted for all 29 yards on his way to the end zone. So what happens next? Bradshaw comes into the game on the next series and we see Jacobs just once more until the third quarter. This boggles the mind. There seems to be no continuity between the running backs, and it’s becoming apparent that the Giants miss Derrick Ward. Ward wasn’t as shifty as Bradshaw, but his power helped wear down opposing defenses when Jacobs got a blow, and now that isn’t happening.

Here’s another interesting statistic. Considering the Giants had the number one rushing team in the NFL last season and they have what is widely regarded as the best offensive line in football, why did Eli Manning pass seven times on first down during the first half? Of those, only three put the Giants in a manageable down and distance on the next play.

Put bluntly, the Giants appear to be stubbornly set to win the one on one battles with their receivers instead of doing what they’ve done best for the past three seasons, which is run the damned ball down their opponents’ throats. An after effect of this strategy is that the opposing defensive lines are NOT worn down. Instead of being engaged and having to fight to get off blocks and chase the ball carrier, the defensive line is in attack mode as they go after the QB. This plays into their hands and keeps them fresh. The entire country knows that opposing defenses do not want to try to tackle Jacobs on a regular basis.

Offense: Inactive for the Giants were RT Kareem McKenzie (groin), HB Gartrell Johnson, WR Sinorice Moss, WR Ramses Barden, and C Adam Koets.

It’s very difficult to look at this game without thinking about what could have been with regards to the offense. Although the Cardinals made an all out attempt to stop the run, they weren’t doing it effectively in the first half (the Giants ran at a 4.7 ypc clip in the first half). Despite this, the Giants continued to try to exploit the man on man situations throughout the game, at the expense of getting Jacobs carries and controlling the tempo of the game. For the first time this season, it appears that second guessing and/or questioning the game plan is in order.

First and foremost, the Giants know they’re going to see a crowded line with at least seven, most likely eight, and at times nine or ten defenders in the box. Even though they know this and repeatedly see it, the Giants inexplicably lined up in bunch formation (double TE offset I with only 1 WR outside the hash marks), usually on the short side of the field, on several plays. This formation effectively eliminates the need to defend one entire side of the field, and against a stacked front there are just not going to be many holes for the halfback to attack. The Giants’ hand has already been tipped, which adds fuel to the fire of the defense. Early on, the Giants passed out of this formation to Mario Manningham and Domenik Hixon, and both were successful. Later, the Cards clamped down on the outside WR and it didn’t work. As for running out of this formation, there was only one successful play, the fourth down conversion by Jacobs with RG Chris Snee pulling and leading the way.

Second, the Giants never once spread the Cardinals out in the first half. They allowed the safeties to crowd the line time after time, never getting anyone with speed in the slot to try to counter the blitz. With guys like WR Domenik Hixon,  H-Back Travis Beckum, and Ahmad Bradshaw (Bradshaw saw a lot of time in the slot at Marshall) on the roster, you have the tools to blow out of the slot and over those safeties for quick 10-15 yard strikes that should be wide open. Instead, the Giants never went more than three wide and instead attempted deep passes against the one on one matchups out of double TE or single TE with a back in to block sets. To make matters worse, the WRs didn’t take any advantage of these matchups, as they continuously went to the sidelines, the CBs best friend in man coverage.

Finally, the Giants attempted just one screen all night, and that was blown up when C Shawn O’Hara decided to let the strong side backer run right past him to nail Bradshaw for a five yard loss.

The Giants have to find a way to get the ball outside the tackles quickly if they’re not going to try to pound the ball against these stacked fronts, and frankly, that’s not part of their game. Until it is, it appears we’ll keep seeing attempts to win the one on one matchups they’ve been losing regularly since the Saints game. It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact reasons they’re failing, but every Giants receiver is losing the battle to the ball. On Sunday night, every deep ball that was contested was won because the defender elevated sooner and higher than the receivers.

The Quarterbacks: Eli Manning had a bad game, and it wasn’t just his passing. He mismanaged the offense all night, checking in and out of coverages that resulted in two false start penalties and two delay of game penalties. That is inexcusable. As Head Coach Tom Coughlin said, “At some point you have to stop the chess game and execute the play.” It can’t be explained any better than that.

Manning finished with nearly identical statistics as his counterpart Kurt Warner, with the exception of throwing three interceptions to Warner’s one. Manning finished 19 – 37 for 243 yards, 1 fluke touchdown, and the 3 INTs. Manning’s rating on the day was a season low 47.5 and dropped his season rating to 92.5, good for 13th place in the league. Quite a drop from #2 just a scant two games ago, no?

Manning started off fine, as he hit two quick outs to his receivers in an attempt to keep the Cards honest. On 3rd and 6, however, apparently his calls weren’t conveyed to LT David Diehl, who’s false start put them in 3rd and 11. Manning then made a horrible read and nearly threw a pick six to SS Adrian Wilson.

On the next drive, actually on his next throw, Manning again tried to exploit one on one coverage by going deep to WR Domenik Hixon, but under threw the receiver slightly and was picked off by CB Rogers-Cromartie. Hixon didn’t help his QB, as he lost the battle to the apex of the ball, despite having position. Most disturbing about the play as it happened from the Cards 47 and right on the heels of a powerful 17 yard run followed by a nice 6 yard check down to Brandon Jacobs. That’s two drives halted due to mistakes.

Manning also helped derail the Giants third drive of the day. After eight plays saw the Giants go from their own 20 yard line down to the Arizona 39, Manning faced a second and six situation. On the next play, Manning was flushed out of the pocket and chased out of bounds for no gain. On third and six, he drew his first delay of game penalty and again put the Giants in a tough third down and 11 situation where the poorly executed screen mentioned above resulted in a five yard loss and a punt. Third drive derailed. That’s two by penalty and one by an interception.

After the teams traded touchdowns, Manning got a lucky break as his third pass of the day that should have ended up as an interception was batted across the field to Hakeem Nicks and resulted in a 62 yard touchdown. Blind squirrels and all that jazz…

The second half wasn’t any better. Another delay of game penalty changed a manageable third and two into a third and eight, and on that play Manning threw for Jacobs and the ball was deflected and intercepted at their own 20 yard line. Those mistakes led directly to the winning points.

Later in the half, in fact at the 1:08 mark of the third quarter, the Giants ran 25 of 27 plays from the shotgun formation and rushed only 9 times for 33 yards  in that time. The nail in the coffin was throwing into coverage to Steve Smith with the game on the line. The ball was picked off rather easily by S Antrel Rolle. On the play, Kevin Boss was wide open down the seam on the right hash that would have been an easy touchdown. He had at least three steps on the nickel back and there was no safety help.

On more than one occasion, Manning eschewed open receivers in the flats or curling under the CBs for the home run ball.

New Orleans 06. Minnesota 07. Washington 07. Cleveland 08. Now add Arizona 09. Hopefully this is that stretch that seems to come every year and it’s out of his system.

The Running Backs: So are the Giants a power running team or what? Brandon Jacobs had a fine quarter’s worth of work, carrying a mind-bogglingly paltry 13 times for a very respectable 76 yards. Seriously, what the hell are the Giants thinking when they’re manhandling the Cardinals attempt to stuff the run yet decide not to keep going right at them? Jacobs ran just 5 times in the first half, and despite having success, was removed from the game for great chunks at a time. After demolishing the Cards front seven for 29 yards and a bruising touchdown, establishing the will and momentum this team needs to have, he was inexplicably replaced on the next series by Bradshaw.

This was the game that Jacobs could have reestablished his dominance, and was well on his way to doing so, but for some reason Eli, Kevin Gilbride, or Tom Coughlin took that chance away. For most of the second half, Jacobs was relegated to pass protection.

Ahmad Bradshaw ended the game with 12 carries for just 32 yards, and that’s with his 14 yarder with a fumble as the cherry on top included. Clearly, this night was a night for pounding the rock with Jacobs and it’s truly a mystery why the braintrust went with Bradshaw so much more often than Jacobs while seeing the pattern unfold right before their eyes.

As mentioned above, the team sure looks as though it misses Derrick Ward. First off, absolutely nothing was lost going from Jacobs to Ward in the passing game, as Ward is extremely effective in pass blocking and has can catch as well as Bradshaw. What’s missing is that the power drop off from Jacobs to Ward wasn’t nearly as drastic as it is from Jacobs to Bradshaw. Danny Ware was supposed to be that Ward type, and once again, never saw the field on Sunday. As the results seem to bear out, the Giants should not be rotating backs by series but rather by down and distance. When you get a guy like Jacobs rolling, let him roll!!!

It needs to be said. FB Madison Hedgecock has regressed and is not opening holes the way he had been. On several occasions Sunday night, he actually blocked the wrong player or whiffed on the man he was supposed to take. It could be confusion as to where they think the pressure is going to come from or it could be that they’re overwhelmed by the numbers coming at them, but Hedgecock is guessing wrong way too often and is not leading the charge. Additionally, the Giants are not lining up with a fullback in the backfield nearly as often as they have in the past. On many double TE sets and all the three wides, the Giants are going without a FB. On the four or five occasions where the Giants did go with double TE offset I with Hedgecock in the backfield, they got their asses handed to them by the defense.

The Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: Sinorice Moss and Ramses Barden were healthy scratches.

Frankly, the receivers had a pretty rough night on Sunday. Eli Manning targeted the WRs 27 times but only completed 13 passes to them. As mentioned earlier, Hixon, Manningham, and Smith all had opportunities to get to balls that were either intercepted or knocked away. For some reason, over the past two weeks, the receivers have not been able to elevate and get to the ball over smaller defensive backs that they’ve had beaten.

Mario Manningham continues to be an enigma. Once again, he’s shown the ability to get deep but then can’t make the play. His crucial drop in the fourth period of a sure touchdown pass was really the point that assured the Giants of a loss. Instead of being down three points on their last two desperation drives, they were down seven and couldn’t be as conservative as they may have been had they only need the field goal to tie. Manningham is listed as having four dropped passes (Terrell Owens leads the league with seven) but that can’t be right as there have been at least twice that many dropped by him at this point. He was thrown to eight times and caught four for 47 yards. Manningham has serious talent but has a lot of work to do before he becomes a bona fide threat. In addition to his incredulous drop, Manningham also ran a horrid route on a crucial third and two play in which he was singled up on the corner but moved directly to the sideline, leaving Manning a tight window to fit the ball in and eventually catching the ball out of bounds and ending the drive.

Steve Smith continued his descent back to Earth this week, as he only caught four of ten passes thrown his way. He’s still among the league leaders, but now that the word is out on him Smith is seeing tighter coverage and more double teams over the top. Smith is still second in the NFL in receptions and third in yards. 34 of Smith’s 69 yards came on a crucial third and 14 play from the Giants three yard line that kept the final drive alive for a few more plays. Later in the drive, it appeared that Smith was interfered with but since he did not stop and allow the defender to run into him, he didn’t get the call. Finally, Smith couldn’t elevate to stop S Antrel Rolle from intercepting Manning’s last pass.

Although he’s obviously having a solid rookie season, Hakeem Nicks was the beneficiary of some serious luck when he happened to be in the perfect spot to corral the batted ball thrown to Manningham and turn it into a 62 yard touchdown. Nicks also caught three other passes out of the eight thrown in his direction, finishing with a total of 80 yards. Nicks also had a couple very nice blocks in the running game, one in particular on the 25 yard run by Jacobs.

Domenek Hixon caught only one pass for six yards, a quick hitter on the second play of the first drive. Hixon was targeted on Eli’s first interception, and although the ball was very slightly underthrown, Hixon should have been able to make a play on the ball but instead was out-maneuvered and out-jumped by the defensive back who came down with the interception. Plays like these have got to be made, and at the least, they have got to be broken up.

TE Kevin Boss caught three passes out of the four thrown his way, but was kept in to protect a lot more than you’d expect considering the Cardinals were bringing the safeties into the box for the majority of the game. Boss did have a sensational catch on the final drive which should have drawn a personal foul penalty for a helmet to helmet hit. Boss was also all alone down the seam but Eli didn’t see him and instead threw into coverage and was intercepted.

From a layman’s point of view, it would seem that H-Back Travis Beckum’s talents were tailor-made for this particular matchup. Beckum has been billed as “a nightmare for opposing linebackers to cover…he’ll create mismatches that can be exploited.” Yet there they were with the safeties playing at the line and the Giants never put the big, speedy target in the slot where he might have been able to do some damage against the linebackers. It’s an adjustment that was begging to be made and never was.

The Offensive Line: On Sunday night, the Giants had some problems on the line but mainly in pass protection. Other than the opening drive of the second half, the line did a superb job in the running game. Unfortunately, they weren’t given the opportunity to keep pounding the ball, and instead became pawns in the game of chess that Eli engaged in with the Arizona safeties and linebackers. Rookie Will Beatty, starting at RT for injured Kareem McKenzie, played a mostly good game. He was stout in the running game, and gave up just one pressure to his side on the night. He was ticketed with a false start penalty, but that’s to be expected by a rookie making his first start. What’s not expected is when David Diehl does it, which he did on the very first drive of the night turning a third and six into a third and eleven and eventually an incomplete pass. Diehl also made a huge mental gaffe on the Giants’ second drive of the half when he allowed DT Alan Branch go right by him on the first play of the drive and nail Eli for a 12 yard loss. It’s inexplicable on a four man rush as to why Diehl didn’t engage Branch. In fact, he engaged no one on the play. Essentially, that drive was killed before it ever began due to that play. All in all, Manning was sacked three times and hit another five times.

The Defense: This week, the Giants defense played a statistically solid game that belies the number of points that were given up. The Giants special teams and offense repeatedly gave the Cardinals offense outstanding field position. The four Arizona scoring drives started from the Giants 46 (TD), Arizona 37 (FG), Arizona 45 (TD), and the Giants 20 (TD). Arizona also started drives from their own 42, own 44, and the Giants 45 that didn’t net points. It’s a football tenant that you cannot surrender that much field position and come away unscathed.

The Giants got moderate pressure on QB Kurt Warner, but they didn’t blitz nearly as much as what was anticipated. The Giants attempted to get home mainly with their four down linemen and for the most part it worked, as the secondary did a good job of clamping down on the receivers for the majority of the night. Arizona never had a real sustained drive. Only four drives were more than four plays, two went for five plays and two went for seven. The Giants forced six three and outs and ended two drives after four plays by forcing turnovers. That’s eight highly unsuccessful drives. In fact, Arizona only completed 3 of 14 third down attempts. That should’ve been good enough to win this game.

Front 7: Once again, the front was still missing DT Chris Canty and OLB Michael Boley.

The Front 7 played a much better game this week, as the DE’s harassed Warner but only registered two sacks. Mathias Kiwanuka was the star of the group, and got better and better as the game went on. Osi Umenyiora is still struggling, but is showing signs of breaking out of his season long slump. As for Justin Tuck, he was extremely active and registered 5 tackles.

Unfortunately, the DT’s weren’t able to clog the middle as much as you’d expect and Arizona had an uncharacteristically acceptable day running the ball. Fred Robbins was the only tackle to get a hit on the QB, continuing a disturbing trend this year of the DT’s being unable to get to the QB. DT Rocky Bernard was nowhere to be found, and wasn’t in on a single tackle all night.

It’s very apparent that without Michael Boley, the Giants just do not have the athleticism needed at the linebacker. Chase Blackburn is all heart and a smart player, but he cannot keep up with skill players in space. Danny Clark is fundamentally lousy, as evidenced by the first down run by Beanie Wells that went for 13 yards. Inexplicably, Clark crosses the field and engages one of the Arizona linemen, running right across the face of Wells, allowing him to run right up the middle for the big gain! Inexcusable and bewildering. Antonio Pierce is the unquestioned leader of this defense, but he also gets caught up in the wash way too often, and was taken out of the play by the tight end on the middle screen that went for Arizona’s final touchdown.

It’s time to face facts. Jonathan Goff, Bryan Kehl, Gerris Wilkinson, and Zak DeOssie are abject failures at this point in their careers. Danny Clark (1 assist, no tackles) has not been the run stopper the Giants hoped he could be until someone else stepped up (which hasn’t happened anyway), and Chase Blackburn (1 tackle, 4 assists) is a solid back up and rotational player who plays well in spurts. Antonio Pierce (in on 10 tackles) gets by more on his intelligence than on his physical skills at this point in his career. Michael Boley’s return, if he can return at 100%, will help. But frankly this unit is the Achilles heel of the Giants defense and without dominant play from the defensive line, they are not getting the job done.

Defensive Backs: The Giants secondary had a much better game this week than last. CB Corey Webster had a tremendous game, forcing the Cardinals to find creative ways to get All World WR Larry Fitzgerald into the patterns unmolested. Fitzgerald was thrown to 13 times and only caught 6 passes for 80 yards. When Webster is locked down on a receiver, that receiver is essentially out of the game.

Terrell Thomas had an up and down game. He had an interception, but also allowed a couple of completions late in the game where he simply lost his man (once on Fitzgerald, once on Anquan Boldin). He also somehow blew containment and missed the tackle on Wells’ 11-yard touchdown run. All in all, the Giants secondary only allowed 11 passes to be completed to wide receivers. Against Arizona, you have to think you’re going to win the game if you do that.

Rookie Bruce Johnson was burned badly by a hobbled Anquan Boldin late in the second period that led to a field goal. The rook got caught peeking in the backfield and lost Boldin down the sideline for the huge gainer.

Safety C.C. Brown had a very good game attacking the run, but once again looked lost in coverage. He bit so hard on the throw to Fitzgerald from Rolle from the wildcat formation that he should forever be made to walk around with a hook in his mouth. It was obscene how wide open he left the most dangerous wide receiver in the NFL. Michael Johnson had four tackles and one QB hit, but once again had very little impact on the game. In comparing how disruptive and active the Arizona safeties were compared to the New York safeties, you come away with the feeling that the New York safeties are simply space fillers, tasked with tackling whatever comes their way rather than attack.

Special Teams: P Jeff Feagles had his worst day punting as a Giant. He repeatedly shanked his punts, giving huge field position advantages to the Cardinals in the second half. Hopefully, this was an anomaly and won’t happen again.

K Lawrence Tynes hit his two extra points and a short field goal. His kickoffs were adequate.

Apparently, the kick return team decided it no longer had to block because Domenik Hixon has returned. Hixon never had a lane open for him on the day, in either the punt or kick off return game.

Coaching: It’s time to question the offensive game planning of the Giants. It can no longer be glossed over that the Giants have not been able to find a way to get the ball downfield against a stacked front. The Giants are not going with quick reads and drops to use the opponents speed against them. They’re not lining up and pounding the ball to establish the running game. No rhythm has been established on offense, as they continue to switch up their running backs by series rather than by situation, ignoring the success or failure of the backs involved. If the Giants do not develop new wrinkles and get off their stubborn attempts to “take what the defense is giving,” they’re going to continue to lose. The Giants teams, when successful, are dictating TO the defense, not the other way around. It’s not clear who to blame here, but certainly Gilbride, Manning, and Coughlin are culpable in the design and execution of the poor plan seen on Sunday night.

Offensive Player of the Game: Brandon Jacobs was well on his way to a stellar game when the Giants inexplicably switched to Ahmad Bradshaw and then completely abandoned the run altogether despite being down less than two touchdowns with a quarter and a half to play.

Defensive Player of the Game:  Mathais Kiwanuka had a very good game. No explanation has been given, but Kiwi lined up at DT several times on Sunday and applied solid pressure up the middle, something the active DTs on the roster have not been able to do this season with any regularity. This is a wrinkle that should be used more often.

(Box Score – Arizona Cardinals at New York Giants, October 25, 2009)
Oct 292009
 

October 28, 2009 New York Giants Injury Report – Bradshaw Visits Specialist: Not practicing yesterday were LB Antonio Pierce (ankle), CB Kevin Dockery (personal reasons), HB Ahmad Bradshaw (ankle/foot), DT Chris Canty (calf), LB Michael Boley (knee), and CB Aaron Ross (hamstring).

Bradshaw traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina yesterdayto have his ankle and foot examined by a specialist.

“We’re close,” said Canty regarding his return. “So close it would scare you…Honestly, guys, I’m just telling you I feel really good. The confidence is coming back in my ability to be able to perform athletically. Now, it’s going to be a process of shaking off the rust. We got some work in today. I was doing some drills. I’m sure you guys saw a little bit of that. We just have to keep progressing, keep shaking that rust off and we’ll see where we’re at. It’s a day-to-day thing; it really is. I’m not blowing smoke.”

RT Kareem McKenzie (groin) practiced on a limited basis.

WR Hakeem Nicks Named “NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month”: WR Hakeem Nicks has been named the “NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month” for his performance during the month of October. In four games in October, Nicks caught 14 passes for 297 yards (a 21.2-yard average) and four touchdowns – one in each game.

Articles on QB Eli Manning and the Giants’ Passing Game:

Article on WR Steve Smith: NY Giants’ Steve Smith Looking To Make Big Plays Against Philadelphia Eagles by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

Notes: The 1986 Super Bowl champion Giants were honored prior to the Giants-Cardinals game. Players from that team in attendance included Lawrence Taylor, Mark Bavaro, Harry Carson, George Martin, Carl Banks, Joe Morris, Leonard Marshall, Bill Ard, Bart Oates, Brad Benson, Chris Godfrey, Karl Nelson, Gary Reasons, Terry Kinard, and Bobby Johnson. Phil Simms, who was in London broadcasting the Patriots-Buccaneers game for CBS, taped a greeting that was shown on the stadium’s television screens. Taylor, Carson, Bavaro, and Martin participated in the pregame coin toss.

The Giants have scored exactly twice as many points in the first half (130) as they have in the second half (65).

The Giants are 25-25 when QB Eli Manning throws at least one interception, 22-6 when he does not.

The Giants have the worst red zone defense in the NFL. Opponents have scored 18 touchdowns in 23 trips inside the Giants’ 20-yard line – a 78.3 percent success rate.

The Giants are 7-13 against teams that played the previous Monday night.

Oct 282009
 

BBI Online Live is an internet radio show dedicated exclusively to coverage of the New York Giants. The show is co-hosted by Eric Kennedy of BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) and John McDevitt of Side Kick Productions. This week’s guest was New York Giants Vice President of Communications Pat Hanlon. Topics discussed with Pat Hanlon included:

  • “Fooch” on Giants Online
  • Is it time to panic over the Giants’ recent performance?
  • What’s the mood in the locker room?
  • Views on the games against the Saints and Cardinals.
  • Views on Ahmad Bradshaw’s on-field temperament and health status.
  • Criticism about the defensive line not performing.
  • Criticism about Bill Sheridan.
  • Criticism about the offense taking too many low percentage deep shots.
  • Opposing defenses’ baiting the Giants’ offense to change the originally called play.
  • Giants and Eagles.
  • Chris Collinsworth’s criticism of Eli’s use of “Omaha”.
  • Risks of players’ use of Twitter.

Eric and John also reviewed the Giants 24-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals and discussed the upcoming game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Oct 262009
 

Giants Lose Second in a Row: The Giants fell 24-17 to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday night at the Meadowlands. It was the Giants’ second loss in a row and the defeat dropped their overall record to 5-2.

The Giants led 14-10 at halftime, but the Cardinals out-scored the Giants 14-0 in the third quarter. The Giants added a field goal in the 4th quarter, but it was not enough.

Arizona did not score on their first six possessions of the game, as the Giants’ defense caused two turnovers and forced four punts. But the Cardinals scored 10 points on their final two drives of the first half.

The Giants scored touchdowns on two of their seven first-half drives (not counting the kneel down before the half), but the offense struggled for the most part as the Giants only picked up eight first downs in the first half.

The Giants’ first touchdown was set up by an interception by CB Terrell Thomas that gave the Giants the ball at the Cardinal 29-yard line. Two plays after a 25-yard run by HB Brandon Jacobs, Jacobs scored from four yards out. The other touchdown was a 62-yard touchdown pass from QB Eli Manning to WR Hakeem Nicks. The play was a bit of a fluke as the pass was intended for WR Mario Manningham, deflected, and caught by Nicks on the rebound.

In the second half, the Giants could not get anything going in the third quarter. Their first two drives were three-and-outs and their third drive ended after three plays with an interception. Meanwhile, the Cardinals scored two touchdowns, with one drive starting at their own 45-yard line and the other at the Giants’ 20-yard line after the interception.

The Cardinals were shut out in the fourth quarter. The Giants’ best chance for another touchdown came when New York drove from the Arizona 44-yard line to the 2-yard line. But the Giants settled for a 20-yard field goal to cut the lead to 24-17.

The Giants’ last two possessions ended with turnovers. The first was a fumble by HB Ahmad Bradshaw. The second came after the Giants drove from their own 9-yard line to the Arizona 39. Manning’s pass to WR Steve Smith was picked off with just over a minute to play at the 21-yard line. Arizona kneeled on the ball to end the game.

Lowlights of the game are available at NFL.com.

Post-Game Notes: Inactive for the Giants were RT Kareem McKenzie (groin), HB Gartrell Johnson, WR Sinorice Moss, WR Ramses Barden, OC Adam Koets, DT Chris Canty (calf), LB Michael Boley (knee), and CB and Aaron Ross (hamstring).

Offensively, the Giants were limited to 15 first downs. QB Eli Manning was 19-of-37 for 243 yards, 1 touchdown, and 3 interceptions. HB Brandon Jacobs carried the ball 13 times for 76 yards and one touchdown; HB Ahmad Bradshaw carried the ball 12 times for 32  yards. The leading receivers were WR Hakeem Nicks (4 catches for 80 yards and a touchdown), WR Steve Smith (4 catches for 69 yards), and WR Mario Manningham (4 catches for 47 yards).

Defensively, the Cardinals were held to 15 first downs and 72 yards rushing. DE Mathias Kiwanuka and LB Danny Clark picked up sacks. CB Terrell Thomas had one interception. DE Justin Tuck and SS C.C. Brown forced fumbles and FS Michael Johnson recovered a fumble.

Oct 242009
 

October 23, 2009 New York Giants Injury Report – Ross and Canty Improving: Not practicing yesterday were DT Chris Canty (calf), LB Michael Boley (knee), and CB Aaron Ross (hamstring). All three players will not play against the Cardinals on Sunday night.

Ross was cleared to do some running this week. “It felt good,” said Ross. “Still not there yet, but it put a smile on my face.”

Meanwhile, Canty also spoke about his injury. “This is something that’s a little bit different of an injury, it’s something that’s a little bit new,” said Canty. “We’re trying to learn as we go along. I’m not going to give you the details, but it’s a little unique and the doctors have had to be creative in a way they treat this whole process. Thus far they have done a great job. This thing has made significant progress and we’re headed in the right direction. We went through a few different treatment processes to hasten the recovery time. I don’t think we’ve rushed anything, but we’ve tried to be smart about it. We’ve done our due diligence as well.”

HB Ahmad Bradshaw (ankle/foot) and RT Kareem McKenzie (groin) were limited in practice. Bradshaw is “probable” and McKenzie “questionable” for the game against the Cardinals.

QB Eli Manning (foot), LB Antonio Pierce (back), WR Mario Manningham (back), LG Rich Seubert (shoulder), and HB Danny Ware (elbow) fully practiced. All five players are “probable” for the game.

Article on WR Domenik Hixon:

Oct 232009
 

October 22, 2009 New York Giants Injury Report: Not practicing yesterday were HB Ahmad Bradshaw (ankle/foot), DT Chris Canty (calf), LB Michael Boley (knee), and CB Aaron Ross (hamstring).

“No (Bradshaw did not suffer a setback),” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “It is just the way it was supposed to be. He worked a little bit yesterday. And to be honest with you, it surprised me, too. But he wanted to work. And felt like he was good enough to do that. So he did. But today he was right back to where he has been for the last couple of weeks.”

RT Kareem McKenzie (groin) was limited in practice.

QB Eli Manning (foot), LB Antonio Pierce (back), WR Mario Manningham (back), LG Rich Seubert (shoulder), and HB Danny Ware (elbow) fully practiced.

Article on the Giants’ Defense: Giants’ Defense Joins in Some Group Therapy by Joe LaPointe of The New York Times

Article on Defensive Coordinator Bill Sheridan: After New Orleans Loss, NY Giants Defensive Coordinator Says He’ll Blitz More by Jenny Vrentas of The Star-Ledger

Article on DE Osi Umenyiora: NY Giants’ Defensive End Osi Umenyiora Plans To Be More Aggressive by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger