Aug 312011
 

By Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com

Approach to the Game – New York Giants at New England Patriots, September 1, 2011: I did not come away from the Giants-Jets game as panicked as some fans.  I was not pleased and there are some serious areas of concern, but I still am somewhat embarrassed that Giants’ fans overreact to what transpires in the preseason.  These are practice games.  There is no game planning against the opponent, things are kept pretty vanilla, and coaches are utilizing different personnel groups to see what they have at each position.

Also, the Giants just played two of the NFL’s final four teams from last season.  They killed the Bears, and the Giants’ first team out-gained the Jets 224 to 73 in net yards in the first half.  If I was a Jets fan, I don’t feel particularly good about my team’s performance against the “lowly Giants.”

Beyond all of that, I think my expectation level for this team is different than a lot of fans.  I think a lot of fans overestimate the talent on this team (while many in the media underestimate it).

The Giants put up 6,000 yards of offense last year and had the 5th best offense in the entire NFL in terms of yardage.  That’s tremendous production given all of the injuries to the offensive line and wide-receiving corps.  The Giants should have a productive offense again in 2011, perhaps top 10.

But there seems to be this unfounded fan belief that the Giants’ offense should be even better given its personnel.  Personally, I don’t see it.  My quick take on the offense is as follows:

Quarterback – Very good.

Running Backs – Good but not special.

Wide Receivers – One Pro Bowl caliber receiver in Hakeem Nicks and one very talented but inconsistent player in Mario Manningham.  An open debate at what the Giants have behind these two.

Tight Ends – Arguably, the worst group in the NFL.

Offensive Line – Good on paper, but in transition.

With that personnel, I think having an offense that ranks in the 4-8 range is perfectly acceptable and that’s where the Giants will probably be again.  The big problem for the Giants’ passing game right now is that Eli has no reliable, consistent intermediate threats.  I’ve talked about this all preseason.  Someone may develop, but right now, when it’s 3rd-and-6, there is not a lot of trust between Eli and young receivers.  Look at the first interception in the Jets game.  The Jets blitz, both Travis Beckum and Mario Manningham don’t read the blitz and adjust their routes.  Manning isn’t left with a lot of options when two receivers take themselves out of the play.  I’m not trying to make excuses; I’m just telling it like it is.  And stop this “the Giants’ offense is too complicated crap” – every team in the NFL has blitz/sight adjustments.  Until the Giants find the next Steve Smith (and that may not happen in 2011), some drives are going to end prematurely.

Folks also say the defense will be much better than the offense.  I would not make that bet.  The Giants should do very well against non-dynamic passing teams like the Panthers, Bears, and Jets (the Giants’ first three preseason opponents).  It’s the dynamic passing attacks of the Saints, Packers, and Eagles that may be a problem.  To be frank, the Giants don’t have enough cornerbacks.  They did, but when Terrell Thomas and Prince Amukamara were lost, the Giants lost half of their stacked deck.  The Packers and Eagles and Saints are going to force the Giants’ 3rd and 4th corner to cover.  The pass rush isn’t always going to get there and cover up weak spots.

With the brutal schedule the Giants have, the special teams must play more like it did against the Bears, and less like it did against the Panthers and Jets.  We’ve all seen how special teams can turn a game around.  The Jets did nothing against the Giants until the 68-yard kickoff return.

Finally, my advice would be to relax.  The Giants are going to lose some football games.  The Giants are a good, but not great, football team that will have to fight tooth and nail to make the playoffs.  They have talent but they are also a team that’s a bit in transition.  There are new faces on both lines.  Eli is going to have to find new targets.  Will they be good enough to make the tournament?  Who knows?  But the journey is what makes each season interesting.  Some Giants’ fans act like its their God-given right to have Super Bowl contender each year.  It doesn’t work that way.

Giants on Offense: People need to relax with Eli Manning.  He’s a very good quarterback who will still have bad moments and even a bad game or two.  Guess what?  That’s the NFL.  Watch some other games.  I don’t care if he is considered top 5 or not.  He’s the quarterback of my favorite team and he’s going to be here a long time and I’m going to get behind him and support him.  That’s what a fan does.  Personally, I think he is pretty darn good and I think he has the perfect demeanor for New York.  He exudes calm.

Manning was great at protecting the ball in the first two preseason games; not so great in the third preseason game.  His reaction?  “We’re ready,” said Manning calmly.  “I’ve never put too much on preseason.  Obviously, you want to go out there and perform well and move the ball and score touchdowns.  That makes you feel good, but I wouldn’t rely on what happens in preseason and what’s going to happen in the regular season.  We put a lot of effort into the regular season.  All of our preparation, put us in the right situations and plays and getting in and out of checks, studying all of the defenses.  Preseason, not as much is done.”

The media asks him is he concerned about the lack of intermediate threats over the middle and he responds, “We’ll be fine.”  Calm and confident.  What do want him to do?  Start screaming that Rome is burning?  The Giants have issues, but Manning isn’t one of them.

As a layperson with no coaching experience, I will mention two pet peeves of mine.  I don’t get the NFL’s (including the Giants) infatuation with the shot-gun.  Long-time readers will know this is something I’ve written about for years.  I love the shotgun on 3rd-and-8.  I don’t like it at all on 3rd-and-2.  I don’t like it most of the time on 1st-and-10 even though occasionally it could be used as a change of pace in a no-huddle.  When it’s 2nd-and-4 and the Giants are in the shotgun, if I’m an opposing linebacker, I read draw play all the way.  Who runs the shotgun more than anyone?  Probably the Patriots so I’m probably too old-fashioned and/or missing something.  But I don’t like it.

I also think the Giants need to sometimes just snap the freaking football.  All of this pre-snap chess playing as the play clock winds down drives me nuts.  Yes, it’s necessary at times, but sometimes I feel like, “just run the damn play…keep up the tempo.”  I really like it when the Giants go no huddle, but I think they sometimes minimize it with all this pre-snap stuff.

As for the game against the Patriots, the starters will see one or two series at most, and maybe not even that.  The real question marks are who the backups will be:

WR:  How many do the Giants keep?  Ramses Barden is on the PUP so he doesn’t factor into the equation until after Week Six.  It looks like Domenik Hixon and Victor Cruz are locks.  Devin Thomas and Mark Clayton have a lot of special teams value.  The Giants are not going to cut Jerrel Jernigan.  He may be their new Steve Smith in 2012 or 2013.  With Nicks and Manningham, that’s seven wide receivers and that’s a lot.  Do they keep them all?   Darius Reynaud was having a very good camp until he pulled his hamstring.

TE/FB:  Travis Beckum is actually starting to play a little better as a blocker and they are not going to dump him at this point.  Jake Ballard surprised me against the Jets with his downfield reception and we know he can block (he just needs seasoning).  I’m not a big fan of Bear Pascoe but he makes it unless someone else shakes loose.

I like Henry Hynoski.  He’s very green and isn’t there yet.  But there’s something I like about this kid.

HB:  After Bradshaw and Jacobs, it looks like the coaching staff trusts D.J. Ware the most and Ware has had a decent preseason.  Andre Brown may be caught in a numbers game despite flashing because the Giants are going to want to try to develop Da’Rel Scott (like Jernigan, it will be a redshirt year for him).

OL:  After the starting five, Mitch Petrus and Kevin Boothe are locks.  The Giants seem to want to develop Jamon Meredith as a swing tackle/short-yardage TE.  Stacy Andrews is head of James Brewer on the depth chart, but how can they keep all these linemen?

QB:  I thought David Carr played really well against the Bears and played like crap against the Jets.  He may have won and then lost a roster spot in span of a week.

Giants on Defense: I’m not buying this “Giants’ defense will be great” talk.  For one, I’ve heard that broken record before.  Secondly, unless Amukamara can somehow be anywhere near the player hoped for without the benefit of practice, the Giants are going to be desperately short of corners when they play passing teams.  I also think Perry Fewell has a lot to prove in stopping more dynamic passing teams.

One of my pet peeves about the defense?  Why are all our blitzes so poorly disguised?  You can see them coming a mile away.

DT:   The Giants usually only carry four defensive tackles and only three are usually active on game day.  It looks like the top three are Canty, Joseph, and Bernard.  I think Jimmy Kennedy and Gabe Watson are fighting for one roster spot.

DE:  The Giants are thin here until Osi Umenyiora returns.  I’m not a big fan of Dave Tollefson; he never seems to do all that much.  After Tollefson, do the Giants keep another end or go with an extra tackle or linebacker or defensive back?

LB:  The Giants carried a lot of linebackers the past couple of years when they had crappy reserves.  Now they have some really interesting prospects so I hope most of these guys make it.  I’ll be pissed if Spencer Paysinger, Greg Jones, and Mark Herzlich don’t make it.  I think Jacquian Williams has an upside.  Problem is that guys like Clint Sintim and Phillip Dilliard are technically ahead of them on the depth chart.  I wouldn’t keep Sintim over Adrian Tracy but I fear that’s what the Giants will do.

S:  The top three are obviously Phillips, Rolle, and Grant.  Do the Giants go with a veteran like Derrick Martin who also does well on specials or more youth in Tyler Sash?

CB:  As long as they stay healthy (big if), the Giants are fine with Ross and Webster.  The problem is depth.  If one of those two gets hurt or when teams go to 3- and 4-wide packages, the Giants may be in trouble.  Brian Williams should be decent nickel, but the Giants have to somehow et Amukamara up to speed quickly in October.   The other corners aren’t very good.  Waiver wire help needed here.

Giants on Special Teams: The good news is that there are flashes.  And I’ve got to think Domenik Hixon will be returning punts and maybe kickoffs again.  But there was a major breakdown on kickoff coverage against the Jets after a stellar game against the Bears.

The major question is who will the punter be?  Weatherford is the safer bet, but Dodge might have a tremendous NFL career with another team if you let him go.

Aug 312011
 

New York Giants Make Four Roster Moves: The Giants made the following roster moves yesterday:

  • Placed DT Marvin Austin (pectoral) on season-ending Injured Reserve.
  • Placed WR Ramses Barden (ankle) and OC Adam Koets (knee) on the Reserve/Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List.
  • Waived/injured WR Duke Calhoun (hamstring).

For Barden and Koets, the earliest they can return to the active roster is the day after the sixth regular-season game. When a player is removed from the PUP List, they are allowed up to 21 days of practice before a decision has to be made whether to activate, terminate, or keep them on the Reserve/PUP List.

Although most NFL teams were required to reduce their rosters to 80 players yesterday, the Giants and Jets are permitted to retain five additional players on their current roster until Friday because of the re-scheduled game caused by Hurricane Irene.

Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Tuesday Press Conference: The transcript of yesterday’s press conference with Head Coach Tom Coughlin is available at Giants.com.

Player Media Q&As: The transcripts of yesterday’s media Q&A sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Access Blue Training Camp Show: The video of the latest edition of “Access Blue,” the Giants’ training camp television show is available at Giants.com:

Article on QB Eli Manning: Giants QB Eli Manning’s Preseason Full of Struggles Up the Middle by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

Quotes: LB Michael Boley which young linebackers have impressed him: Spencer Paysinger has come in and worked his way to a pretty good backup role. He has down a pretty good job and turned some heads so far this preseason and also (Mark) Herzlich. He has come in and done pretty well also. They are both knowledgeable and came in and picked up the defense right away and stepped in and made some plays.

Aug 302011
 
New York Jets 17 (2-1) – New York Giants 3 (1-2)

by rnargi for BigBlueInteractive.com

Game Summary: The Giants and Jets squared off in their annual preseason game on Monday night at MetLife Stadium with “bragging rights” and the MetLife Trophy on the line.  As most of us know, the third preseason game is generally the dress rehearsal for Opening Day, which is now a scant 12 days from now.

Last week, we saw all three phases of the game work in concert with one another in a rout of the Chicago Bears and the Giants were hoping to oil the offensive machinery and get in sync while the other two phases, defense and special teams, hoped to build off their successful outings.

There were a lot of positives to come out of this game, but the negatives were quite glaring and a sense of foreboding seems to be settling on the Giants.  While the starting defense once again was outstanding, both Justin Tuck and Mathais Kiwanuka were nicked and had to leave the game.  Apparently neither is serious, but Tuck’s shoulder is worrisome due to past injuries and we all know Kiwanuka missed nearly the entire year last season.  The Giants can ill afford more injuries to their core defensive players.

The first string offense moved the ball extremely well, but could not finish drives.  The Giants ran 43 offensive plays in the first half on 7 drives, 3 of which were of 9 plays, amassing an impressive 224 yards and 18:20 time of possession.  Unfortunately, they only cashed that in for 3 points.  In the second half, following a promising but futile opening drive, the Giants were unable to get anything going and the Jets pulled away.

On defense, the Giants did a magnificent job in the first half, limiting the Jets to just one touchdown just before the half off a short field.  The Jets were forced into four 3 and outs, and their other 2 drives totaled 13 plays.  The second team defense faltered badly in the 4th quarter, allowing drives of 9 and 14 plays over 11:28 seconds resulting in 10 points for the Jets.

After a stellar effort against the Bears, the special teams crashed and burned.  We saw muffed punts, muffed kickoffs, fumbles, a blocked field goal attempt, shoddy tackling, poor lane discipline, and a big return for the Jets.

What it amounted to was an extremely frustrating night which raises many questions regarding this team’s chances for a successful season.  Take solace in the fact that this was a preseason game, and as Jets QB Mark Sanchez said after the game, neither team was willing to show too much of their actual schemes.  That said, the mistakes made in all phases of the game must be corrected soon if they have any aspirations of ending their 2 year playoff drought.

The Quarterbacks: QB Eli Manning had a particularly tough night.  Finishing a paltry 15 out of 30 for 200 yards with no touchdowns against 2 interceptions, Manning has yet to throw a touchdown pass this preseason and his cumulative QBR is a woeful 51.6.  Manning has completed just 49.1% of his passes this preseason.

On Monday night, Manning hit his first 2 passes for 35 yards and then seemed to lose his way, missing badly on his next 2 and throwing an interception on the next.  According to HC Tom Coughlin, the first interception was due to poor hot read adjustments by receivers Travis Beckum and Mario Manningham, but that’s still no excuse for trying to complete that play.  Manning has been around long enough to know it’s not there and to either take the sake or get rid of the ball out of harm’s way.

Manning’s second interception was all on him, as he again threw the ball into coverage under heavy pressure.  It is impossible to know for sure, but it appears that Manning is rattled in the pocket, possibly because he has yet to trust his revamped offensive line.  Point in case, Manning had Manningham open on a 3rd and 17 play outside beyond the sticks but after pumping left threw into the ground off his back foot when he had plenty of time to step into the throw.

Later, during the two minute drill, Manning severely overthrew a wide open Manningham for what would probably have been an 84 yard touchdown, again with no real pressure on him.

Again, this is preseason but it’s hard to believe that Manning is this out or sync with his receivers.  A case can be made that with 5 players in new positions and the loss of TE Kevin Boss and slot receiver Steve Smith, integral parts of this offense in the past, Manning has not adjusted to the changes and it will continue to be a work in progress.  Furthermore, though the Giants tried to go with a hurry up offense by getting to the line quickly against the talented Jets defense, Manning was constantly changing plays at the line and running the play clock dangerously close to exhaustion.  On a 4th and 6 play in the second quarter from the Jets 34 yard line, Manning didn’t get the play off in time and cost the Giants an opportunity to extend the drive as Coughlin chose to punt.  We’ve seen this drill before and it’s tiresome.

Backup QB David Carr, sitting on a golden opportunity to cement the #2 position, was arguably worse than Manning as he completed just 5 of 12 passes for a pathetic 36 yards.  Carr’s last 9 drop backs resulted in just 2 completions and a sack, including a 3 and out in which he threw 3 straight incompletions.

Sage Rosenfels did not play again, this time due to a back injury but due to Carr’s poor performance, he has another opportunity on Thursday to win the #2 position behind Manning.

The Running Backs: The Giants starting offense ran the ball effectively in the first half of the game and also were utilized via the screen for positive plays.  HB Brandon Jacobs, who started, ran like The Beast of the past, rushing for 51 yards on 10 attempts (5.1 ypc average).  On a fourth down on the first drive, Jacobs literally ran over Jets defensive tackle Mike Devito for 3 yards and the first down.  Unfortunately, Jacobs got into some jawing early in the game, and as it usually turns out, Jacobs is unable to control his emotions and later was tossed from the game after he got into a fist fight with Jets defensive end Muhammed Wilkerson.  That cost the Giants dearly, as Jacobs was unavailable for a 4th and goal attempt from inside the Jets 1 yard line later in the drive.  This has to stop.  Jacobs has been in this league for long enough, and if not for C Kevin Baas, Jacobs may have received an unsportsmanlike penalty or ejection earlier in the game.  No one is questioning the fire and intensity with which Jacobs plays, but he has got to learn to walk back to the huddle when the whistle blows, no ifs, ands or buts about it.

HB Danny Ware was also impressive on Monday night, rushing for 37 yards on 8 carries (4.6 ypc avg) and also gained 24 yards on 3 receptions.  Ware showed good vision and patience in setting up his blockers on two screen passes.

Ahmad Bradshaw, who was listed as unavailable due to a back contusion, saw action.  His stats were misleading, as an impressive draw play was nullified due to an illegal motion call on the Giants.  Bradshaw took a nice outlet pass from Manning and slipped the linebacker with a nifty move inside before cutting outside for a 29 yard gain.

Andre Brown didn’t get many chances due to the ineptitude of the second string offense, gaining 9 yards on 3 carries.  Brown also caught a slip screen pass but did not wait for his blocking and was dropped for a 2 yard loss.  On the play, had Brown waited a hair longer, had a chance for a big play.

Rookie Da’Rel Scott did not play on Monday night, and despite the hand wringing in The Corner Forum, people need to remember that this game was primarily for the 1’s and the 2’s.  Scott may well have a place on this team, but he has to learn how to be effective against the blitz before he can be trusted on the field.  Face it, folks, Scott is not ready for prime time and Monday night was a prime time tune up.

The Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: Once again, WRs Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham caught just half the balls thrown their way, but Nicks did manage to catch 5 of 7 for 71 yards.  From what we’ve seen so far this preseason, it appears that Manning isn’t looking for, or Nicks is not releasing deep.  Most of Nicks’ looks were in the middle of the field, while Manningham is being tasked with getting deep.  Manningham caught just 3 of 9 passes thrown his way.  One incompletion was completely on him, another completely on Manning.  The first was supposed to be a fade to the corner of the end zone, but after trying to go outside Jets CB Darrel Revis, Manningham broke his route inside.  Manning threw to his spot, but Manningham wasn’t there.  On the second, Manningham abused Jets CB Antonio Cromartie deep but was overthrown by 10 yards.

The other four receivers who saw action, Victor Cruz, Dominek Hixon, Mark Clayton and Devin Thomas had 4 receptions between them on 10 throws their way.  Rookie Jarrel Jernigan had no looks on Monday night and had a horrid night on specials which makes the 3rd round draft pick’s active roster spot tenuous at best.  People need to remember that this kid just got his playbook a little over a month ago and had no offseason to learn anything about the Giants’ offense.  His talent is there, but it remains to be seen if he can keep himself off the practice squad and contribute this season.

The tight ends were more involved in the passing game this week, as Jake Ballard ran a very solid route and corralled a 21 yard reception for a first down.  Ballard was again up and down in the running game, but he is progressing.

As for Travis Beckum, he did not play a bad game.  Beckum is going to be worked into this offense, and you can see his play develop from week to week.  His blocking has improved significantly this preseason, but it’s still not up to par with what the TE is expected to do in the Giants’ run offense.  One thing in his favor is that he has been effective in the screen game, and that should not be overlooked.  As for his pass catching, he caught 2 on the night but one was a dump off for 2 yards and the other was a 14 yard gain against the Jets prevent defense before the half.  The grade on him for the night is an incomplete, as Manning does not seem to look for him when he’s apparently open.

The Offensive Line: The Giants offensive line continues to improve but there are still breakdowns in pass protection leading to pressures on Manning.  The Giants are solid outside, as tackles Will Beatty and Kareem McKenzie are playing very well.  Beatty has done very well in both aspects of the game and it appears he’s on track to be an excellent left tackle.  The problems seem to be with the guards, where David Diehl had all kinds of trouble on Monday night and Chris Snee seemed to be caught flat footed and unable to get much push in the middle.  Diehl had a costly false start, which you cannot have at home.  He also failed to pick up a blitz on the first interception thrown by Manning.  Last week I mentioned that Diehl looked slow pulling, but on Monday he looked better.  As for C Kevin Baas, his game has improved radically since the first preseason game and he dominated on Monday night.

One problem the Giants have is bringing in tackle Jamon Meredith as a tackle eligible in the heavy TE package.  He was completely ineffective in that role on Monday night.  He was somewhat better at LT when he entered the game, but overall the second unit did not play well at all, as David Carr was running for his life against the second team Jets defense.  Kevin Boothe looked good, pulling and leading the backs well into the hole.  Like the rest of the team, this unit is a work in progress and one can only hope that they aren’t pressed into service anytime soon.

Part of the reason for the offensive line woes continues to be the up and down play of the tight ends and fullback, who are essential in the running game.  It may be safe to assume the line would show better with more consistent play from those positions.  On the night, the Jets managed 2 sacks (one at the end of the first half on a Hail Mary attempt) and 5 QB hits.  Last week, Chicago never touched a Giants QB.

Front 7: The entire starting front 7 played an outstanding first half, limiting the Jets’ running game to just 43 yards on the ground off 14 carries (just over a 3.1 ypc average.  Justin Tuck again played a great game and is becoming a monster against the run.  It doesn’t hurt, however, that he has emerging T Linval Joseph occupying two linemen in the middle and T Chris Canty providing excellent push.  The starting DE’s combined for 7 tackles.  The line didn’t register a sack or a QB hit, but did have sustained pressure on Sanchez for most of the half.  Canty and Joseph also combined for 4 tackles, meaning the starting linemen registered 11 of the 24 tackles made by the first team.

Joseph also did a great job of keeping QB Mark Sanchez from recovering his own fumble, allowing Chris Sintim to fall on it for the recovery.  Good stuff!

Jonathan Goff also had a good game, registering 5 tackles.  Michael Boley, finally healthy, looks like the player the Giants signed two years ago, registering 6 tackles on the night.   Before Mathais Kiwanuka was pulled with the groin injury, he was making his presence known as well.  On the 4th and 1 that the Jets converted, Kiwi had the runner stuffed but the officials missed a facemask penalty on a Jet who grabbed Kiwi and pulled him back, stopping his momentum.  At the least, it should have been called and it appeared if he hadn’t been fouled, Kiwanuka would have completed the play and stopped HB Shonn Greene.

Clint Sintim, subbing early for Mathais Kiwanuka, registered 6 tackles and played as well as he ever has.  If Sintim can continue to improve, the Giants linebacking corps could develop into a strength.

On the second team, DT Gabe Watson played well, including a nice stuff down near the goal line where he blew up the Jets LG and got into the backfield for the stop.  LB Spencer Paysinger continued to flash, recording 4 tackles including a nice run down of a Jets running back from behind the line.

Defensive Backs: CB Aaron Ross, subbing for the injured Terrell Thomas who is out for the year, got his first start and shined brightly for the Giants on Monday night.  Ross was in on just one tackle, but that’s because he completely shut down his side of the field, holding Jets WR Plaxico Burress off the scoresheet.  Ross looks tenacious, mixing it up with the receivers which resulted in blanket coverage for most of the time he was in the game.  The rest of the starting secondary also played well.  Corey Webster had very good coverage on Jets WR Santonio Holmes on the touchdown play, but was unable to extend his arms and get a play on the ball.  On the play, the Jets stacked Burress in the slot and when S Kenny Phillips got a minimal jam on him and then failed to get back to help Webster, it was an easy pitch and catch.  It appeared that no other Giant fell into coverage, leaving Phillips alone with Burress and possibly unable to give Webster the support.  S Tyler Sash made a very nice tackle on a Jets running back deep in Giants territory, sliding down the line and tackling him for a minimal gain.  Sash had 6 tackles on the night.

Special Teams: Whatever.  The clock obviously struck midnight early for the special teams on Monday night.  There were so many gaffes, it’s not even worth mentioning them all.  Jerrel Jernigan muffed 3 punts and fumbled a fourth.  Devin Thomas muffed a kicked off, allowing it to go out of bounds.  The Giants allowed a 68 yard kickoff return after Antonio Cromartie muffed the catch 5 yards deep in the end zone.  There wasn’t a single Giant outside the hash mark on Cromaritie’s left, and if not for a fine play by K Rhys Lloyd, it would have gone for a touchdown.

The return teams were not good at all save one decent punt return by Jernigan and one good kickoff return by Andre Brown.

The Giants suffered a blocked field goal attempt when end Jake Ballard got overloaded and couldn’t contain the man on the end of the line.

K Rhys Lloyd is making it very tough for Tom Coughlin to find reasons not to keep him on the team.  His kickoffs were deep, he’s been true in his FG and PAT attempts, and took a great angle to escort Cromartie out of bounds on his return.

The punters both did well, but the first punt by Matt Dodge was ineffective because of a very low snap.  It appeared Dodge panicked a bit and didn’t get the directional kick that he was supposed to attempt and instead just kicked it down the middle and into the end zone.  This race appears to be a dead heat.

Coaching: Tom Quinn has naked pictures of Tom Coughlin’s wife.  There is no other rational explanation for him keeping his job.

(Box Score – New York Jets at New York Giants, August 29, 2011)
Aug 292011
 

Eli, Special Teams, Second Teamers Struggle in 17-3 Loss: Despite statistically out-playing their crosstown rival in the first half of the game, the Giants fell 17-3 to the Jets on Monday night at MetLife Stadium.

“We did some decent things in the first half,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “The two interceptions and the long kickoff return but our defense played solid football. The turnover thing hurt us and the kick returns hurt us. We mishandled some punts tonight which we really haven’t been doing and that’s unfortunate. We got stopped on the goal line and obviously that was very, very unfortunate.

“We didn’t play very well with our twos at all. I didn’t think they played well at all and they are getting as many reps as everybody else. There has to be some improvement there no doubt. I thought we had some real chances and didn’t finish anything obviously offensively but we have some work to do no doubt. There were some positives in the first half and a lot of yards but no points.”

The Giants out-gained the Jets 224 to 73 in net offensive yards in the first half, but two drives ended with interceptions. And the Jets’ only score of the first half occurred after the Giants allowed a 68-yard kickoff return, setting the Jets up at the Giants’ 35-yard line.

The Giants had seven offensive possessions in the first half. On the opening drive, the Giants moved from their own 23-yard line to the Jets’ 27-yard line. Big plays included a 21-yard pass from QB Eli Manning to WR Hakeem Nicks and a bruising 3-yard run by HB Brandon Jacobs on 4th-and-1. But on 2nd-and-10, an errant Manning pass intended for WR Victor Cruz was intercepted.

“The first (interception) was a blitz and we didn’t get a sight adjustment by either the tight end or the Z,” said Coughlin. “Unfortunately there was no time for (Eli) to do anything about it and he threw the ball and it was picked off…The only thing he could do is throw the ball into the ground or near somebody or just take it down. When it is a pressure situation like that, where you are being blitzed, you have an issue and it is very difficult because it’s strictly a timing thing. The receiver is supposed to make a break. The quarterback is supposed to be confident in where they are going to be. They blew it, they didn’t make the proper break and he threw the ball because he was about to go down.”

“I just put a little too much mustard on it,” said Manning. “Tried to lead it out in front and just overthrew (Cruz), just by a touch. Those are some of the things we need to clean up and just get on the same page…We did a lot of good things tonight. I thought we moved the ball well. I thought guys made some plays. There are just enough things that are keeping us from finishing drives and putting points on the board. It’s just little things, but those things can add up. That’s what we have to continue to work on and get better on. That’s what preseason is for, to learn those. You have new guys in there, but we can work all of that out.”

The Giants also drove to the Jets’ 34-yard line on their next possession, the big play being a 21-yard pass to TE Jake Ballard. However, the drive stalled and the Giants were forced to punt. On the Giants’ next drive, a couple of good gains by HB D.J. Ware (an 11-yard run and a 15-yard reception) moved the ball into Jets’ territory again, but again the drive stalled and another punt. The Giants went three-and-out on their fourth possession.

On the Giants’ fifth drive, after a 14-yard pass to Nicks and two runs by Ware, Manning threw into double-coverage on 3rd-and-2 and was picked off. “That one’s on me,” said Manning, who completed 15-of-30 passes for 200 yards. “Just have to throw it away, make a better decision right there.”

The Giants did manage to take a 3-0 lead in the second quarter when the starters drove from their own 39 to the Jets’ 13-yard line. HB Ahmad Bradshaw caught a 29-yard pass on 3rd-and-7 and Nicks caught a 16-yard pass on 2nd-and-15. But the Giants were forced to settle for a 34-yard field goal.

Late in the first half, the Giants moved from their own 4-yard line to across midfield, but time expired before the Giants could put any points on the board. The Giants did miss a chance for a touchdown, however, when Manning overthrew, WR Mario Manningham on what could have been an 84-yard touchdown.

Meanwhile, the Giants’ defense did a number on the Jets until the end of the first half. The Jets only gained two first downs on their first six possessions of the game. LB Clint Sintim also recovered a fumble by QB Mark Sanchez. However, the defense could not make a play after the Jets’ returned a kickoff to the Giants’ 35-yard line. Six plays later, Sanchez hit WR Santonio Holmes for a 17-yard score against CB Corey Webster.

“Once we get to game planning a team like we will, watching them, for that first game, you’ll see us really get a whole lot more comfortable with our schemes, and fly around,” said DE Justin Tuck. “That’s the only thing I ask from my defenses, no matter what the call is, just make sure you’re running fast and I think in preseason we’ve done that.”

At the half, the Jets led 7-3.

It was a poor game for the Giants’ special teams. Aside from the long kickoff return that set up the Jets’ first score, the returners had problems securing the football. WR Jerrel Jernigan fumbled the ball three times on punt returns (two muffs) as did WR Devin Thomas on one kickoff return. The Giants also had a 42-yard field goal blocked.

“It’s important to keep in mind it’s the preseason,” said Zak DeOssie. “We have the young kids out there and we’re trying to learn it. It’s the preseason and we have to learn from it. The way we played last week and the way we played this week, it’s up and down and we have to be more consistent than that.”

In the second half, the first-team offense of the Jets moved the ball well against the Giants’ first-team defense, down to the Giants’ 35-yard line, until an unnecessary roughness penalty on the Jets bailed out the defense. The Giants’ first-team offense then moved the ball 69 yards on the second-team defense of the Jets, but was embarrassingly stuffed on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line.

The Giants’ first-team defense stayed in for one series against the second-team offense of the Jets. After that, with 5 minutes left to play in the 3rd quarter, both teams heavily employed their second-teamers. Neither the Giants’ offense nor defense played well in the remaining 20 minutes. The Jets gained 122 yards on their final two drives while the Giants only managed 34 yards on their final three drives.

Post-Game Injury Report: DE/LB Mathias Kiwanuka suffered a mild groin strain. DE Justin Tuck suffered a burner. “I got a little burner and I’m fine,” said Tuck.

Article on LB Jonathan Goff: Giants LB Jonathan Goff Passing Test as Man in the Middle by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

Aug 282011
 

Article on the Rescheduled Giants-Jets Preseason Game: Mid-Stream Adjustments by Michael Eisen of Giants.com

NY Post Q&A With LB Jonathan Goff: Serby’s Sunday Q&A with…Jonathan Goff by Steve Serby of The New York Post

Article on DE Justin Tuck: Giants’ Justin Tuck Uses Hustle to Lead Battered Defense by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

Article on  HB Da’Rel Scott: Tragedy Can’t Slow Down Giants Rookie by Ralph Vacchiano of The Daily News

Aug 272011
 

New York Giants-New York Jets Game Moved to Monday at 7PM: Because of approaching Hurricane Irene, the Giants-Jets preseason game has been moved once again. The game will now be played at 7:00PM on Monday, August 29th. The game will be nationally televised on The NFL Network.

Coughlin Says He’s Somewhat Concerned About Bradshaw’s Injury: Head Coach Tom Coughlin mentioned yesterday that he is somewhat concerned about HB Ahmad Bradshaw’s back injury.

“He’s doing all right,” Coughlin said Coughlin. “I’m a little bit concerned about this lingering business, but it’s not something that is a real issue I’m told. He got banged in the back. It’s like getting a hip pointer in the back. He got a knee in the back and it’s been real sore, but I expect that he’ll recover well. Whether he plays (against the Jets) I don’t know yet,”

Article on WR Victor Cruz: Cruz Again Taking Aim at Rex’s Jets by Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNewYork.com

Article on S Antrel Rolle: Giants S Antrel Rolle Expects to Play Nickel Cornerback by Zach Berman of The Star-Ledger

Aug 262011
 

By Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com

Approach to the Game – New York Jets at New York Giants, August 29, 2011: The third preseason game is the most important test run for the regular season. It is the game where the starters play the longest (at least the entire first half) and the one where the coaches want to see their team perform at its best.

The Giants have a number of concerns that could cause the team to miss the playoffs for the third season in a row: (1) extremely shallow depth at cornerback, (2) lack of talent at tight end that could negatively impact the running and passing game, and (3) no clear-cut “safety blanket” for Eli Manning on third down.

As for playing the Jets, I don’t get caught up in the “who owns New York?” crap.  The Jets can have their inferiority complex and the game if it makes them feel better.  I just want the Giants to get ready for the regular season and please, dear God, no more injuries.  This is a good opponent for the Giants because the Jets always take this game so seriously and that raised intensity will help the Giants prepare for the season.  The physical play of the Jets on both offense and defense will also help.  Keep in mind the intent of this game is to get ready for the season.  Who wins a Giants-Jets preseason game in August means jack squat.

Giants on Offense: Eli Manning seems out of sync with Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham.  The effects of all of those missed snaps from the mini-camp, OTA’s, and passing workouts may be showing up.  The Giants need to get that cleaned up and quickly.  I still wonder who the go-to guy or guys will be on 3rd down for Eli.  That used to be Steve Smith.  Who is that guy now?

The Giants may have the worst group of tight ends in the NFL.  Bear Pascoe (either at TE or FB) just isn’t doing it for me.  He’s just far too inconsistent.  Too often the man he is supposed to block makes the play.  I’m hoping Travis Beckum, Jake Ballard, and Henry Hynoski develop and develop quickly.  But I’m not overly optimistic.  The Giants have to continue to scan the waiver wire.

The good news is the Giants offensive line looked pretty good against a very good Bears’ defense last week.  There will continue to be up-and-down growing pains as the unit continues to build chemistry, but it’s starting to come.  I have also been pretty impressed with the back-up offensive linemen.  In years past, the second- and third-team offensive lines for the Giants were a joke in the preseason.  They’ve been pretty darn good.  Keep an eye on Jamon Meredith who has been playing well.  The Giants are going to have some tough decisions here as there seems to be good depth with Mitch Petrus, Kevin Boothe, Stacy Andews, and James Brewer.  Even guys like Chris White, Ike Ndukwe, and Jarriel King have not looked out of place.

At running back, my guess is that D.J. Ware has the lead on the third job since he’s been getting so much playing time.  I’d like to see a bit more of Andre Brown and Da’Rel Scott.  Scott’s 97-yard run was impressive, but the knock on him at Maryland was never his speed.  How tough, instinctive, and elusive is he in traffic?

Victor Cruz elevated his play against the Bears.  His 4th down reception was a big-time play.  This game is extremely important to Darius Reynaud who has flashed in camp but missed last week’s game with a hamstring injury.  I hope Devin Thomas can make some more plays in the passing game since he seems able to help on specials.

Giants on Defense: The loss of Terrell Thomas is devastating.  The Giants are obviously still a good team, but they just lost a player who I believed was one of their five most irreplaceable players.  Now, not only do the Giants need to pray Aaron Ross plays well, but they simply cannot afford ANY injury to Corey Webster or Ross.  Right now, the third corner is either Michael Coe or newly signed Brian Williams.  That’s not good.  Opposing teams are going to play a lot of multiple WR sets and force that third and fourth corner to make plays.  If Prince Amukamara was available and had a full offseason to work with the team, the Giants would be in better shape, but once again, injuries have come in clusters for the G-Men.

The defensive line for the Giants looks sharp and I’ve been impressed with Linval Joseph and Chris Canty inside.  Rocky Bernard had a very strong game against the Bears so the battle for the fourth DT job comes down to Jimmy Kennedy versus Gabe Watson.  Watson has been pretty quiet.  It’s a damn shame Marvin Austin is done.

At end, Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul are clearly the main men.  The coaching staff seems to really like Dave Tollefson but guys like Ayanga Okpokowuruk and Justin Trattou made some noise against the Bears.  And it is interesting to note that Adrian Tracy and Clint Sintim are still being used somewhat at defensive end on passing downs.

The Giants have some tough decisions to make at linebacker.  It’s pretty clear that Spencer Paysinger has impressed the coaches.  And Greg Jones and Mark Herzlich are making plays.  Jacquian Williams has a lot of athletic ability and Phillip Dilliard is still seeing a lot of time with the #2’s despite not getting a lot of love on BBI.  I’d like to see Clint Sintim have that breakout game.

At safety, I’m still waiting for some big time plays from Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips.  Deon Grant is back.  I was impressed with Derrick Martin against the Bears.  The clock is ticking for Jerrard Tarrant, Tyler Sash, and David Sims.  It’s interesting to note that CB/S Brian Jackson, who has missed virtually all of camp and the preseason with injuries, has not been waived/injured.  The Giants must still like his talent.

Giants on Special Teams: Wow!  The Giants actually dramatically out-played another team on specials last week.  The punting competition is red hot as both Matt Dodge and Steve Weatherford have been excellent.  The coverage teams were vastly improved both on kickoffs and punt returns.

And – finally – the Giants had some excellent blocking on returns.  Devin Thomas took advantage of it, but Jerrel Jernigan still danced around too much.  I still wonder if Hixon will be the guy on opening day.

Aug 262011
 
New York Giants 41 (1-1) – Chicago Bears 13 (1-1)

by rnargi for BigBlueInteractive.com

Game Summary

Well what can you say?  The goal of every preseason game is to get the players working together and executing their assignments.  Score be damned, wins and losses be damned, the entire focus is on player evaluation.

That and cross your fingers and toes while you pray the team avoids injuries as much as possible.

As it happened to be, the Giants played very well in all three phases of the game on Monday night against the Chicago Bears.  The offense, though still looking like the works are gummed up at times, put together some drives.  The defense, though still susceptible to the screen and misdirection plays managed to create turnovers and thwart promising Chicago drives.  The special teams played, in my opinion, the single best overall game I’ve seen since I can remember.

In other words, fans and coaches alike saw what they were hoping to see.  The Giants were for the most part crisp, working hard, and playing smart.

And then…

With less than 25 seconds to go in the first half, Pro Bowl caliber CB Terrell Thomas was injured on a freak play when he blitzed off the corner and was leg whipped by teammate DE Jason Pierre-Paul.  Just 25 seconds separated a man from his season, and in the wake sent panic throughout Giant Land.

It got worse.  Later in the game, the Giants lost another piece of the puzzle as intriguing and flashing CB Brian Witherspoon tore his ACL while returning a 4th quarter punt and is out for the season as well.   Witherspoon becomes the third Giants CB who has been lost for the season (Bruce Johnson tore his Achilles early in camp), and fellow CB and first round draft pick Prince Amukamara is out until October with a broken foot.

It’s hard to understand, but the Giants seem to suffer from “cluster injuries” – injuries that attack an entire unit.  Last year it was the WRs and the OL.  Two years ago it was the safeties and the year before that it was the defensive line.  It seems very odd that not only are these injuries season ending (you rarely see anyone who is part of the cluster injury come back at some point in the year), a lot of these are career threatening.  It’s as though every time a Giant gets hurt, it’s on the swing of the pendulum that points to “most severe.”

It got worse.  Late in the game, second round selection DT Marvin Austin tore a pectoral muscle and will require surgery, ending his year as well.  While the team can survive without Austin, it puts him another year away from football which will keep him from progressing as needed.  Let’s just hope and pray that this is NOT the start of another cluster injury situation along the defensive line.

Offense

On Monday night, the Giants did a whole bunch of good things that the coaching staff is going to be happy to review on tape.  The offensive line did a very good job of communicating and looked in sync, for the most part, for the first time this year.  The running backs made good reads and hit the holes hard that were opened up.  The quarterbacks made decisions that did not hurt their team, throwing the ball away on many occasions instead of forcing the ball into tight windows.  As a result, for the second preseason game the Giants did not turn over the ball.

After a couple of 3 and outs in which QB Eli Manning missed badly on a number of throws, the first string offense finally came alive and put together a couple of decent drives in route to a 20-6 halftime lead.  The first team offense generated a solid running game, and again if not for a few missed passes they’d have amassed a huge yardage number.

The second team rolled up more than 230 yards on just 5 possessions not including the kneel down on the final play of the game.  Of those 5 drives, 4 resulted in touchdowns.  Two of the drives were of 8 plays, another was a short 2 play drive, and the last was a 1 play, 97 yard touchdown run.

The Quarterbacks

Once again, Eli Manning started out slowly on Monday but on this night he rebounded and came alive on his last couple of drives.  For the game in little under a full half, Manning finished 8 of 16 for 78 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.  Manning seemed to have trouble with his touch, as at least 3 of his incompletes were throws that were not under duress and were to an open receiver, yet he couldn’t deliver the strike.

Manning’s best throw came on a 4th and 4 play from the Carolina 32 yard line in which he threw over the top to WR Victor Cruz who made a sensational catch for 21 yards and a first down.  Manning also impressed on a beautiful audible when he recognized that Chicago was bringing the left CB on a corner blitz, changed out of a pass play into a run which resulted in Jacobs’ 18 yard touchdown run.

Those are the things that people who don’t think Eli is a complete, elite QB miss.  Additionally, Manning told Suzie Kolber that he consciously is not throwing into harm’s way.  When he knew it wasn’t there, he either threw it away or checked down.  Hopefully this will help reduce the turnovers this season.

David Carr, fighting to back up Eli Manning as the number 2 QB, had a very good night.  Carr finished 9 of 11 for 84 yards and 2 touchdowns against no interceptions.  Carr’s first touchdown was a very well thrown fade to Domenik Hixon, and the second was a beautiful seam pass to TE Daniel Coats.

Longshot QB Ryan Perrilloux got in on only 2 series, the first being only one play thanks to a 97 yard run by Da’Rel Scott, and the second a kneel down to end the game.  It would be nice to see what this kid can do by giving him a full quarter next week against the Jets or maybe a half in the final preseason game.

Sage Rosenfels did not play in the game.

The Running Backs

After a slow start last weekend, both HBs Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs showed well on Monday night.  Bradshaw, the apparent starter, rushed 5 times for 15 yards, but also caught 2 screen passes that amassed 19 yards.

Brandon rushed for 48 yards on 6 carries, his longest being the 18 yard touchdown run in which he left Bears S Major Wright flailing in his wake with a nifty cut as he made his way to the end zone.  Jacobs was not thrown to on the night.

Both Jacobs and Bradshaw also helped out on pass protection, effectively picking up blitzers.

Many people on The Corner Forum are down on HB D.J. Ware and for the life of me I can’t see why.  Ware played very well on Monday, carrying 6 times for 23 yards and receiving 1 pass (a well-executed screen) for 13 yards.  Ware gets to the edge quickly and when he does, it usually means positive yardage in the range of 4 or 5 yards.  The only knock on Ware from Monday was his lunging haphazardly towards the goal line with the ball after nearly fumbling on the previous play doing the same thing.  Those turnovers, down deep near the goal line, are killers and he must live for another down or accept the field goal instead of taking that big a chance of turning the ball over.

Fan favorite Andre Brown again impressed with his burst and quickness through the line.  Though he didn’t get many yards, he was also playing with the third and fourth lines out there.  Brown needs time with the first group in order to really assess what his worth to this team can be.

Before anointing 7th round draft pick Da’Rel Scott for Canton, please remember that HB Sean Bennett caught a very long screen pass for a touchdown in preseason game a number of years ago that got a few people on BBI excited.   Scott’s touchdown was impressive, mainly because it was a miracle he kept his balance after running up the back of his left tackle, who was pushed back about 3 yards right at the snap.  Scott did a great job to cut up the middle and get free, but what many are missing is that if not for RG Ike Ndukwe staying with the play after his assignment was over, peeling back and leveling the Carolina safety, Scott settles for a 3-5 yard gain.  It was a complete hustle play on Ndukwe’s part, and though he might not make the team, he will always have that highlight to show his grandkids.  Stellar play.

The fullback position is troublesome for the Giants.  Too many times either Bear Pascoe or Henry Hynoski were either stood up at or near the line or were completely blown up.  As mentioned last week, this is a work in progress and it will get better.  Hynoski has a tendency to engage high.  He will learn how to get lower and use leverage.  With Pascoe, what you see is what you get.  At times he’s exactly what you’re looking for and does a great job and at others he’s embarrassing.

The Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham caught just 5 balls between them despite being targeted 11 times.  Manningham led the team with 4 receptions for 39 yards, but his QB didn’t help him much on a couple of throws.  Nicks caught just one poorly executed bubble screen that was scary from the start, and lost 1 yard in the process.

The battle for the 3rd and 4th receiver spots heated up significantly as Devin Thomas, Domenik Hixon and Victor Cruz all shined at certain times.  Although Thomas caught two passes, he was really outstanding on kick returns.  Victor Cruz caught 3 of 4 balls thrown his way for 40 yards, with the most impressive being the 21 yard hook up with Manning on 4th down in the first quarter.  Domenik Hixon caught a touchdown pass on a nice fade route as well as one other pass.

Rookie Jerrel Jernigan once again failed to distinguish himself on offense and will have to start shining on specials if he’s to have a role with the club this season.

As “The Tight End Turns” continued its saga on Monday night as the three players apparently vying for the top spot, Travis Beckum, Bear Pascoe and Jake Ballard, didn’t catch a single pass.  Travis Beckum actually had the best game of the group, and if Manning had not had an early pressure from his left side in which he threw the ball away he most likely would have found Beckum alone up the slot seam for an easy touchdown.  Beckum also got deep and pulled coverage off Manningham which resulted in a nice completion underneath.  Blocking was up and down, as it will be with Beckum.  He made a nice block on a screen to Ware and also had a nice seal on a run by Bradshaw.

Pascoe and Ballard did nothing that encouraged me in either the running game or the passing game.  Daniel Coats ran a nice seam route for a touchdown in the 4th quarter.

We have to say it guys, despite the fact that TE is not a focal point of the Giants’ offense, no catches from the heir apparent is troubling after two games.  With the blocking so-so at best, it remains to be seen if the starter is on this team as of yet.

The Offensive Line

A much better performance was turned in by the line on Monday night, but that truly was to be expected after being able to dissect the game film from last week and get in another solid week of practice.  Going up against a tough Chicago front, the line did not allow a sack nor a single quarterback hit.  That’s pretty impressive, as DE Julius Peppers was lining up against Kareem McKenzie or Will Beatty on nearly every play he was in the game.  Both had their troubles with the dangerous Peppers, but they also held their own.  A very good showing against a very stout defensive line.

It seemed that David Diehl had trouble pulling at times.  He’s not terribly quick or agile on his feet getting out in front.  C David Baas had a much better game, but his loss of contain cost the Giants four yards on the second play of the game when he could not stop his man from penetrating and getting to Bradshaw in the backfield.  Later, after nearly getting held up at the line, Baas delivered a crushing block and a 3rd and long screen to Bradshaw that led to a first down.  Baas quickly recovered to get into the play and just lambasted his man.

As mentioned earlier, it was a very impressive hustle play by OG Ike Ndukwe that sprung Scott for his 97 yard touchdown run.

The Defense

The Giants first team defense did a great job stopping the run in the first half on Monday, limiting the Bears to just 23 yards on 8 carries for a 2.9 ypc average.  Matt Forte, the Bears’ standout back, finished with just 7 yards on 4 carries.  The Giants did allow too many passing yards in the first half, 171 gross, as the defensive line got little pressure on QB Jay Cutler.  To be fair here, Cutler also missed a couple shots that could have dramatically changed the first half.

Just like last week, the Giants allowed a quick strike to Chicago after holding them to 2 consecutive 3 and outs to start the game.  A 37 yard strike to Devin Hester burned Corey Webster and then the Giants once again got caught looking on a quick screen to Forte that went for 42 yards.  So just that quickly, Chicago moved from their own 14 yard line to a 1st and goal at the Giants’ 7 yard line.  This time, however, the Giants’ defense held the opposition to a field goal and didn’t fall behind in the game.

The Bears had several sustained drives in the second half come up empty.  The first was cut short by a strong goal line stand and the last was negated by an interception off a great individual play by linebacker Mark Herzlich.

The Giants had just the 1 takeaway, only 1 sack which was technically a cover sack, but did manage 5 quarterback hits.

Another thing to keep in mind is the Giants first team did not allow a 3rd down conversion and on 5 occasions they forced Cutler to go to his hot read.  Though he was successful at completing the pass on 3 occasions, none resulted in a first down.  That’s what you like to see!

Front 7

The starting front seven were outstanding at shutting down the run.  Although there were no sacks, there was sustained pressure and Jay Cutler was forced to move often and he missed on several throws he should have made, possibly due to the pressure.  Jason Pierre-Paul was one that was getting pressure and forcing the ball to come out early.  Unfortunately, it was an accidental leg whip from JPP which caused the injury to Terrell Thomas.

Justin Tuck played an outstanding game, registering one of the QB hits and also chasing down Forte 40-some yards downfield on that screen after being on the ground, saving a touchdown.

Chris Canty, Rocky Bernard and Linval Joseph all played well inside. Bernard was all over the place, registering 5 tackles.  Maybe the Giants are about to get a little ROI on this guy after all!

The fly in the ointment on Monday was the loss of second round draft selection Marvin Austin for the year with a torn pectoral muscle.  It is not clear when it happened, but it will now be two full years away from football by the time Austin is back.  That cannot be good.

DE Ayanga Okpokowuruk was active in the second half and recorded 2 tackles, 1 in the backfield and he was also in on the stop of HB Marion Barber on 4th and goal at the Giants’ 1 yard line.

While Boley and Goff both made plays on Monday night (Goff had a beautiful pass defense and was credited with a sack that really was a give up play by Orton), two other linebackers shined brighter than they did.  First, undrafted rookie Spencer Paysinger is a football player.  The man seemed on a mission to make a name for himself, he just may have after being in on 7 tackles and seemingly all over the field.  Another undrafted rookie, fan favorite Mark Herzlich, made the play of the game with an incredibly athletic interception late in the game down deep in Giants territory.  All in all it was a good day for the linebackers, and even oft injured Chris Sintim made a couple of tackles.

Defensive Backs

As mentioned, the Giants have out cluster injuried even themselves this year as 4 out of 9 cbs are now out of action, 3 for the year.  No matter how you slice it, losing Terrell Thomas is a huge blow.  Many are confident that a healthy Aaron Ross can regain his form and become the player he was in 2007 and 2008.  Others are not.  On Monday, at least, Ross was actually good.  He was out of position on the play that was challenged, but was able to get back in to it and knock the ball away.  It’s Ross’ time to shine; we’ll see how it goes.

Corey Webster still seems to a bit off this preseason, as he once again got burned deep, and badly.  It’s probably just rust, but it bears watching.

Kenny Phillips played a much better game this week than he did against Carolina, but that’s still not saying a lot.  He had a great play on one of the plays where the Giants forced the Bears to throw to their hot read, coming downhill and meeting the tight end head on and dropping him in his tracks when he caught the ball.  Fourth down.  Phillips was left out to dry twice on plays where he was tracking in the middle of the field but had to go to his left to help out Webster who was beaten over the top.  The first time, he made a sure tackle.  The second, he nearly arrived at the same time as the ball.  A split second quicker and Phillips breaks it up.  Kenny showed good speed on the play, which is encouraging.

As for Rolle, it didn’t appear that his name was called all evening.  Tyler Sash played well in space while he was in there.  Michael Coe did not distinguish himself, and though Witherspoon was having a good game it’s time to forget about him for another year.

Special Teams

Whatever the hell Tom Quinn fed to the special teams units during the week, DO IT AGAIN!  The Giants looked like an above average to very good in every aspect of specials on Monday, with two exceptions on return coverage.  CB Michael Coe did himself no favors by failing to drop Earl Bennett at his own five yard line after getting both arms around him.  The other poor play was the long return by Johnny Knox, who danced around Paysinger (who was good on specials despite this one miscue).  The only other complaint about specials was noted by Eric from BBI:  It seems that, no matter what, the first person always misses the ball carrier.  After watching again, it was true.  The first contact did not bring down a returner all game.

As for the return game, it appears that the Giants have found their kick returner in Devin Thomas.  Now, since Brian Witherspoon injured himself returning a fourth quarter punt without even being contacted, one has to wonder if Thomas will be in the mix for that job.  Granted, Darius Reynaud is still in consideration, but he did not play.  Additionally, Jerrel Jernigan did nothing to help himself in the return game and continues to look tentative and indecisive.

One thing to note, however, is that the Giants seem to have found a 1-2-1 wedge technique that worked on Monday night.  The first man was about 4 yards in front of the two man wedge, and he took on the first guy he encountered.  The two wedge men moved past and continued to clear a path.  The man following up the wedge took care of any “leakers,” allowing a ton of room for Thomas to maneuver.  It will be interesting to see if they continue with this next week and how effective it will remain.

How about Greg Jones making a huge play, coming up with a clean blocked punt?  He almost managed the trifecta but fumbled the ball after it seemed he would be going in for the touchdown.  At any rate, he single handedly set up the Giants with a first and goal that they capitalized on.

Kickoffs were purposely hit short so the team could work on coverages, so don’t read into anything regarding Lloyd’s distance.  He also hit on both field goal attempts and 5 extra points.  Could a controversy be brewing?

The punting battle got intense on Monday.  Both Matt Dodge and Steve Weatherford had two punts, and both made the most of them.  The longest of the day was by Dodge, a 63 yard monster that put Chicago back after it appeared they’d get good field position on their first drive.

Coaching

Whatever Tom Quinn did this week, he needs to bottle it.  If the Giants play on specials like they did on Monday, they will be in better position to win week after week.  That’s simply a fact.

I’m not one for second guessing Head Coach Tom Coughlin, but it’s hard to understand why he had his 4th corner returning punts when he just lost his #2 for the year.

(Box Score – Chicago Bears at New York Giants, August 22, 2011)
Aug 262011
 

New York Giants-New York Jets Preseason Game Moved to 2PM: The start time of Saturday’s Giants-Jets preseason game has been moved to 2:00 PM because of the approach of Hurricane Irene.

“We moved the start time based on the weather forecast and to give everybody an opportunity to get home safely after the game,” said Giants’ President and CEO John Mara. “There are, obviously, many issues to consider. Our players played a game on Monday night, the stadium personnel has to secure the building post-game and, most importantly, the safety and welfare of Giants and Jets fans. We felt like this is the right thing to do.”

Injury Report: Missing practice yesterday were QB Sage Rosenfels (illness/back), HB Ahmad Bradshaw (back), HB Andre Brown (illness), WR Duke Calhoun (hamstring), DE Osi Umenyiora (knee surgery), CB Prince Amukamara (foot), CB/S Brian Jackson (hip), and PK Lawrence Tynes (quad).

“(Bradshaw) had a knee in the back from the game and he is still sore,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “He really can’t do what he has to do so they held him again.”

Both WR Domenik Hixon and LB Clint Sintim had scheduled days off to rest their surgically-repaired knees.

Both WR Ramses Barden (ankle) and OC Adam Koets (knee) remain on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List.

Thursday Practice Report: For highlights from yesterday’s practice, see the following report:

Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Thursday Press Conference: The transcript and video of yesterday’s press conference with Head Coach Tom Coughlin are available at Giants.com.

Player Media Q&As: The transcripts and video of yesterday’s media Q&A sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Article on HB Brandon Jacobs: Jacobs Out to Prove Himself Again by Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com

Article on WR Victor Cruz: Giants’ Victor Cruz Aiming to Make Progress in Critical Role at Wide Receiver by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

Article on CB Brian Williams: Brian Williams is Thrilled to be a Giant by Kieran Darcy of ESPNNewYork.com

Article on P Matt Dodge: Giants Punter Matt Dodge on Tom Coughlin Defending Him Against Boo Birds: ‘That’s Awesome’ by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

Aug 252011
 

Giants Sign CB Brian Williams, Waive LB Kenny Ingram: The Giants have signed unrestricted free agent CB Brian Williams (Atlanta Falcons). The Giants also waived LB Kenny Ingram.

“(Williams) is a veteran who knows how to play,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “He has been a good physical blitzer and we are in need of someone who can learn quick and go from there.”

Injury Report: Missing practice yesterday were QB Sage Rosenfels (illness/back), WR Mario Manningham (personal issue), OT Will Beatty (migraine), DE Osi Umenyiora (knee surgery), CB Prince Amukamara (foot), CB/S Brian Jackson (hip), and PK Lawrence Tynes (quad).

WR Darius Reynaud returned to practice after missing a week with a hamstring injury.

Both WR Ramses Barden (ankle) and OC Adam Koets (knee) remain on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List.

Koets apparently had his knee scoped this week. “He wasn’t making a lot of progress, so the doctor wanted to take a look at it to see what he could see and help him,” Head Coach Tom Coughlin said.

The Star-Ledger is reporting that Barden was running full speed on the sidelines at practices and “looked very, very good.”

Wednesday Practice Report: For highlights from yesterday’s practice, see the following report:

Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Wednesday Press Conference: The transcript of yesterday’s press conference with Head Coach Tom Coughlin is available at Giants.com.

Player Media Q&As: The transcripts and video of yesterday’s media Q&A sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Articles on DT Jimmy Kennedy:

Article on Cornerbacks Aaron Ross and Michael Coe: Coe & Ross Ready for Primetime by Michael Eisen of Giants.com

Article on Cornerbacks Joe Burnett and Darnell Burks: Unknown Giants CBs Joe Burnett, Darnell Burks Have Opportunity After Injuries by Zach Berman of The Star-Ledger