There are going to be many battles within this war on Sunday night.
WHEN THE GIANTS HAVE THE BALL:
1) Burress vs Samuel/Hobbs. There are two reasons why Plax opened his mouth with "23-17." One is because he has S*** for brains. The second is that he is genuinely pumped to be in this game and feeling about as well as he has felt in a long time. He has a 7" height advantage on these guys, played well against them before and he clearly has an.. EDGE NYG.
2) Steve Smith vs Randall Gay. I would normally say Gay has the advantage, but Smith is getting better every game and one would think he will make plays.
3) Giant OL vs Patriots DL. Wilfork is very important to this team, but the Giants have demonstrated time and again the ability to control the line of scrimmage. Pickup of Vrabel on the blitz is imperative... this is how they get to the passer. EDGE NYG.
4) Jacobs/Bradshaw vs Seau/Bruschi/Vrabel. Ability vs Experience. Jacobs has shown a tendency to fumble the ball after a layoff.. please protect the ball. Bradshaw's speed is a HUGE advantage over this aging group of experienced veterans if the Giants are smart enough to leverage it often. EDGE NYG.
5)Manning vs Belichick. Belichick is smart and will not let Manning sit back there with time. He will mix up coverages a lot more than the Packers did, and do his best to confuse and fluster Eli. The old Eli would not be up to the task. The new Eli has shown he is because Gilbride has smartly mixed up playcalling (when they are not ahead in Q4) and made the game shorter so that Manning is not back there so long that he can have that turnover. Manning does best with LESS time and MORE reflex. He is best when he has to throw to a spot before the WR is there. I see no reason why Gilbride will change this- it is a quicker game and Manning does best in it. The edge will go to Belichick in deference to his myriad # of SB successes, but Manning can control this outcome if he keeps doing what has gotten him here. EDGE PATS.
6) Giants offense vs Patriots defense summary- Bradshaw and Burress have the distinct advantage that must be leveraged. If the running game gets on track, then Manning's play action becomes lethal too. EDGE NYG.
WHEN THE PATRIOTS HAVE THE BALL:
1) Moss vs Webster/double team- Any need for discussion? The Giants need to be physical and force him inside. Webster has improved but this is in need of help(doubling) and that means EDGE PATS.
2) Welker vs Ross- The Giants must be very physical here and do the 1991 Super Bowl 'Andre Reed redux' by kicking the living snot out of this player. He lives near the line of scrimmage on short stuff, so you have to pound him and disrupt the timing. Welker likes coming back to the ball (as all good WRs must do), and then he curls around to break the first defender's tackle. It was really helpful that the Giants saw this guy already, because they know all about how he kills teams. EDGE PATS.
3) Pats OL vs Giants DL- Earth to Osi Umenyiora, Earth to Osi Umenyiora, come in please?!!! It is time for us to see Umenyiora make an impact. I know he is getting doubled, but he often gets singled too by Light, so GET TO BRADY please and cause havoc. This is the most pivotal matchup of the game. When Flozell Adams buckled in Q3 of the Dallas game, the Giants went from needing a miracle to win to getting that miracle and winning. Good pitching beats good hitting, good OLs beat good DLs. Strahan is going to play the game of his life. Will Umenyiora? I think not. The only hope for the Giants is Tuck on mismatches with a Guard. EDGE PATS.
4) Maroney/Faulk vs Pierce/Mitchell/Torbor. Maroney was held in check, but Faulk never is. Faulk must be blanketed or else he will kill you on those 3rd down conversions. EDGE PATS.
5) Brady vs Spagnuolo. Thank goodness for Spags. Otherwise this would not even be a contest and I would not be wasting my time typing this entire analysis. Brady is there with Montana and the great ones of all time. Spags and this Giant defense have seen Brady-Garcia-Romo-Favre the past 4 games, so the good news for the Giants is that they are not getting a shock to the system. Spags will put as much pressure on Brady as possible and Brady will still win. EDGE PATS.
6) Patriots offense vs Giants defense summary- The trick to beating the Patriots is to bend but not break here. They are going to score points. They just cannot score 35-40 points. EDGE PATS.
Tynes benefited greatly from making that big 47 yarder. Confidence is everything. Hixon and the kickoff unit put a great deal of pressure on the opposing team and they just get better and better every game. EDGE NYG.
Edge Belichick, EDGE PATS.
Objectively speaking, the edge that the Giants offense has over the Patriots defense is not as great as the edge of the Patriots offense over the Giants defense. Specials will give the Giants a shorter field than the Patriots, but will that be enough? My two keys to the game are: 1) GILBRIDE MUST ATTACK EARLY AND OFTEN AND KEEP PUTTING PRESSURE ON THE PATRIOTS DEFENSE FOR 60 MINUTES.. NOT FOR ONLY 50:33 .. NOT THE LETUP WE SAW IN W17 WHEN WE HAD A LEAD. 2) UMENYIORA MUST GET TO BRADY. I will go out on a limb and say that if either of these two things happen the Giants will win the game. I do not think that that happens because I have seen Umenyiora mostly quiet vs the better Offensive Tackles these past 4 games, and I have not seen Gilbride use Bradshaw as much as he needs to and use the offense in the 4th quarter (unless they are behind).
It is there for the taking for the Giants. How badly do they want it? No one gives you anything. Championships are won, championships are not not lost. There is an opening here for the Giants to be physical and win, but everything must go right. You must be bold and not be afraid to lose. I have my doubts about what the playcalling will be like in Q4. We know that if you fall behind vs the Patriots it is going to be hard to win, so what if the Giants actually have a lead in Q4? Do you want a 3-4 pt lead vs Brady in Q4 and have Gilbride put the brakes on and think that R-R-P-K is going to win you a Super Bowl? He needs to understand that the only way you are going to deny Brady a chance to win is with you running out the clock, and that means keeping up the attack offense, getting first downs and keeping the ball until the game is OVER. How much respect do you have for Mr. Brady, Mr. Gilbride? No lead is safe, and if the Giants did not understand that from playing him already, then we deserve to lose. But if the Giants are able to realize that the best defense vs Brady is an offense that stays on the field ALL the time, then we do have a very realistic chance.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
There are going to be many battles within this war on Sunday night.
I got a kick out of the poll asking people state by state about who would win the Super Bowl.
The 4 states that pick the Gmen? LOL... NY and NJ naturally, and Indiana and Mississippi. I guess that between the Colts, Peyton Manning, and then the Ole Miss legacy of Archie and Eli, we have a few friends in some biased corners. It is an impressive poll, it collected ~1/4 million votes, which is almost as many hits as ultimatenyg gets per day.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
As every day rolls by, the 1990 championship year seems to rhyme more and more with this year. Players such as Carl Banks, Matt Bahr and Ottis Anderson have certainly noted the similarities and agree about the comparison. Of course it is not exact, but the similarities are stark and noteworthy.
1) Neither team was expected to vie for a championship.
2) Both were heavy road underdogs in the NFC championship.
3) Both used FGs to win the NFC championship game.
4) Both teams are heavy underdogs in the Super Bowl and not given much chance.
5) Both teams are noted for a more physical style of play.
6) Both teams are playing a strong AFC team noted mostly for its potent and wide open passing game.
7) The long snapper is a guy named DeOssie.
8) Both teams had to face a team they lost to in the regular season in the NFC Championship and Super Bowl.
1) Plaxico was asked for a prediction- He replied "23-17." The NY Post sensationalized it with inference that obviously it meant the Giants would win by that score. Sounds to me like a Plaxijoke and more of that NY hype for a story.
2) MUCH MORE IMPORTANT, THE REAL STORY IS THAT PLAXICO BURRESS SAYS HE IS HEALTHY AND PRACTICING EVERY DAY.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
From Today's NY POST: "Patriots coach Bill Belichick mentioned rookie RB Ahmad Bradshaw as a key player to stop, which is quite remarkable considering Bradshaw barely played at all until the 15th game of the season."
This blog has had a fairly consistent message for a number of weeks now- (1) get the ball to Bradshaw as much as possible, and (2) get him on the field because he stretches defenses and enables THE GIANTS to dictate the terms of engagement. In August, despite a sloppy preseason, we spotted something to get excited about- a rookie named Ahmad Bradshaw. He fumbled in W2 on a kickoff and was sent to the doghouse. He came back in W16 versus the Bills when Jacobs was hurt, and the team has not been the same since. His minutes have risen. TOO SLOWLY. Gilbride, the great misuser of talent, is waiting for years from now to use him? If Jacobs did not get hurt we would not even know if Bradshaw existed! (He was not even dressed for a number of games in midseason.)
THE FUTURE IS NOW! Next season this budding star RB could tear his ACL and his career is over, a footnote in Giants history, a trivia question in the back of a sports almanac. WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP NOW WITH BRADSHAW.
BUCK AND AIKMAN ASKED ALOUD FOR THE WORLD TO HEAR IN H2 OF THE PACKER NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME- WHY ARE THE GIANTS NOT GIVING MORE TIME TO BRADSHAW?
AND NOW WE HAVE BILL BELICHICK SAYING THAT BRADSHAW IS A "KEY PLAYER TO STOP."
The Giants understand that you need to pitch a perfect game to beat the Patriots. The Giants have that perfect game, and it means maximizing your talents and playing Bradshaw as much as possible. This means playing Jacobs too, but it means 20+ touches for Bradshaw. Even when Bradshaw is on the field and not getting the ball, he is doing his work, pressing the Patriot defense to cover much more of the field due to his threat. BILL BELICHICK GETS IT. WHY DOESN'T COUGHLIN AND GILBRIDE?
Keep it simple- dictate the terms and win the game by playing Bradshaw.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Addition by subtraction, so the theory goes. Utter horsebleep. Pundits like Mike Vaccaro would have you believe that since these two Pro Bowlers went away due to retirement/injury, that the fact that the Giants are in the Super Bowl is damning evidence of how these guys were not really helping the team win. Ridiculous assertion. Sometimes you have to wonder how they can come to such conclusions.
I was quick to take a slap at Barber at the end of preseason (see Point #4 in link) when the former Giant took shots at the Giants. As a professional, he should have moved on and become more objective. Instead he got s'd into the role of former locker room news source. Too bad for him and too bad for the Giants. The fact that his contributions to the team have to be defended here is simply because of the misinformation being put out by guys like Vaccaro who fabricate a day's work off of the scantest evidence. What facts does Vaccaro use to support his conclusion? You got me! Read the article yourself, linked above. He says the record speaks for itself. He quotes three people, two of which are not saying anything at all about these players and the third who is merely giving an obvious report about the unity of the team. There is not one solid piece of concrete fact that demonstrates his conclusion.
I will do the opposite and list some points that perhaps can dispel this myth before it becomes accepted as reality:
1) Before the season began, I listed 7 questions the Giants were facing. Specifically NOT mentioned was the loss of Barber in the running game. The only thing mentioned was how the Giants running backs would do in pass-catching responsibilities. How could the loss of a 1500 yard Pro Bowl runner not be a question?... the answer was easy... the GIANTS WERE LOADED AT RUNNING BACK. In fact, in preseason I pointed out that the Giants had more depth at RB than I had seen in many years. And coincidentally, while everyone was bellyaching about the trade Reese made, giving up Ryan Grant for a 6th rounder, this blog has been putting out the word on the talents of Ahmad Bradshaw. DOESN'T REESE'S MOVE TO TRADE A PRACTICE SQUAD RB FOR A 6TH ROUND PICK OFFER AS EVIDENCE THAT THE GIANTS WERE NOT GOING TO SUFFER A LOSS FROM BARBER'S RUNNING PRODUCTION? That having Jacobs, Ward, Droughns and Bradshaw was going to fill the void? OF COURSE IT DID!
2) Evidence? 2006 Pro Bowl year by Tiki Barber. Giants get 134.8 yards per game in the rushing department. 2007 Jacobs and Ward carry the load. Giants get 134.2 yards per game in the rushing department. OTHER PLAYERS WITH TALENT STEPPED UP. The results were nearly IDENTICAL.
3) More evidence? ALL FIVE STARTERS ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE WERE HEALTHY THIS YEAR AND STARTED ALL SIXTEEN GAMES. With the exception of O'Hara missing the Tampa Bay playoff game, these 5 starters have started 5x19=95 -1 O'Hara miss = 94 starts out of 95 max! That is tremendous support for the team and tremendous support for the running game in 2007. This unit's continuity continues to pay huge dividends for the team, so to insinuate that the loss of a RB is why the team might be doing better now than then does not fit with the other contributions taking place.
4) Speaking of the Offensive Line, if you want to compare 2006 to 2007 and wonder aloud about maybe where the REAL explanation is for success, perhaps it was REESE CUTTING LUKE PETITGOUT. I will be fair here and point out that I was surprised and confused by the move when it first happened. I was concerned about the loss of depth that move created, as it forced Diehl over to LT and now we no longer had the luxury of Seubert as a 6th man. Indeed, Diehl has been the weakest link to the line in moving over to the difficult position at LT, giving up the most sacks of anyone on the line. But in perhaps THE BIGGEST ADDITION BY SUBTRACTION, the GIANTS LOST THE MYRIAD NUMBER OF PENALTIES CAUSED BY THEIR LEADING OFFENDER, LUKE PETITGOUT! In 2006 the Giants were 11th in the NFL, with 101 penalties, ~6.5 per game. In 2007 the Giants were 27th in the NFL, with 77 penalties, less than 5 per game. THAT IS HUGE. 1.5 penalties EVERY GAME. That is Luke Petitgout no longer being with the team. Penalties KILL offensive drives. That is 1 or 2 less drives per game being killed. And at 27th in the league, it speaks to how the team has been extremely competitive in this area and putting itself in better positions to win.
5) Bill Belichick commented about the NY GIANTS a few days ago (video linked). His FIRST item mentioned for recent improvement in the team?... SPECIAL TEAMS, where he pointed out how in all three of the playoff games the Giants outplayed their opponent. Special teams field position was probably the single most important reason why the Giants beat the Cowboys. We march down the field to score at the end of H1 because of a good kickoff. Without special teams, the Giants could easily be watching the rest of the playoffs instead of playing in them, but Vaccaro would have you believe it is the absence of Barber and Shockey?
6) And what about Eli Manning? If there is one statistic that could be damning of Shockey, it is that Manning got a lot better after Shockey went down. But to draw that conclusion, it would be to ignore other much larger facts already discussed in previous blog entries (two of which are linked). Did Manning's copious use of the pump fake during the Tampa Bay playoff game 3 weeks ago having anything to do with Shockey not being there? If anything, it would have helped Shockey AS WELL, giving that large TE more space and more of a target for Eli. Maybe some of this ascendency of Eli has more to do with finally getting a healthy 3rd quality WR in Steve Smith back, coincidentally right when Shockey WENT DOWN?!!!! Maybe it had to do with Plaxico Burress playing a lot better, having huge games versus the Patriots and the Packers. Was Shockey responsible for the 3 INTs and 5 fumbles in Buffalo by Eli? He was not even in that game!
7) Could this late season surge maybe be the HELP from Barber?!! Yes, it was Barber who bitched and complained about how late in the season players were fatigued. They had no legs left for the games because they were getting worn down by Colonel Coughlin's relentless practices. The players were no longer fresh, and the 2005 and 2006 swoons were probably a direct result of this. Coughlin would not listen to Barber. But the Giants administration did- they told Coughlin to start listening to the players, and he reluctantly changed to save his job and created his 'leadership council.' One of the things that council of players has told Coughlin about is going a little easier in late season practices to save the players' energy for the games on Sunday. Plaxico Burress SPECIFICALLY MENTIONED THIS when asked about the change in his head coach (video 1:20 time). Do you think that losing Barber and Shockey made this team the road warriors? Well, HAHA, maybe Vaccaro is right for the wrong reason- that Barber LEFT because he got tired of not being listened to by Coughlin, but that IN TURN forced changes to make the Giants a better organization... one which could now be competitive in December and January. So maybe we ought to THANK Tiki Barber for putting us on this road.
8) The best for last- rookie Ahmad Bradshaw.... could it possibly be that THE REAL CAUSE AND EFFECT was not Shockey going out in W15 vs the Skins, but W16 with Jacobs going out and Ward already on IR??? THAT, my blog friends, is when this offense really took off, when Bradshaw carried the second half offense in the winds of Buffalo when it could no longer throw a SINGLE PASS!
Maybe what we need to respect is the FACT that Football is an extremely complicated game with so many moving parts that it is impossible to assign differences in play to one or two variables. This blog could write a novella on the changes that have transformed this team. So to the Vaccaros of the world who want to take a quick and easy one at these Pro Bowl guys, either start giving us concrete facts or please stop with the wild throwing of paint on the wall and seeing what the public wants to see stick.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Stop being mesmerized by the 12 point underdog status. Wake up and realize that the Jets were 16 pt dogs to the Colts, the Giants were 8 point dogs to the Bills, the Broncos were 12 point dogs to the Packers, the Patriots were ~14 point dogs to the Rams. The Super Bowl betting line is the most inefficient thing out there. It is amateur hour. It is simply there to BALANCE THE MONEY. And since everyone and their grandmother wants to have action on the game, you get more sloppy money on this event than any other game the entire year.
The point is that this can be a very competitive football game, just like what was incorrectly implied by the Dallas and GB lines. If the Giants (despite what Wade said) had lost to the weaker Cowboys (or Packers), would the best team have been playing the Patriots? And what would the line have been? IT WOULD HAVE BEEN LOWER because the world (for whatever reason) respects the Cowboys and Packers more than the Giants! And the Patriots would have been less of a favorite vs a team they would have likely had more of an advantage over!
Remember what Phil Simms said about the Patriots' remarks about the Giants before they played the Jaguars? See a previous post, remark #11 linked. Belichick: "They're the best team we've faced all year." And please remember that Belichick did not see Ahmad Bradshaw.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Is the two week layover good or bad for the Giants?
They are the hot team, so conventional wisdom argues that they want to play this weekend. Nope. Incorrect.
They have been going full throttle for 11 weeks straight with their last 3 obviously on the road, and they could use a 'home game' this weekend. I am reminded of the Giants-Ravens Super Bowl 7 years ago. A #1 seed with the bye vs a wild card winner that played 3 playoff games, the last two games on the road. The Ravens needed some rest and (in retrospect) many felt that the week off benefitted the Ravens more. The Steelers also won the Super Bowl after winning 3 wild card games and getting the 2 week layover. So the precedent is there for the wild card winner to benefit more.
The only reason to think it will hurt the Giants is that you believe they will lose their edge and not have that focus which has gotten them into the big game. I can only counter that with a sense that this team is confident and they still feel they have a lot to prove. They know their job is not over by any stretch.
In the meantime, guys like Pierce, O'Hara, Burress, Madison, Ross and McKenzie all played through injuries and they will benefit from an extra week off. Seubert, despite having an MRI on a knee sprain, says he will play. Maybe they can get Dockery back. I do not think this layover does anything but help the gmen. Now if you are going to mention the TMZ report about Brady wearing a boot, his leg would have to be broken in 3 different places in order for him to be out of the Super Bowl if it were being played now, this weekend, or next weekend.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Deliverance from Corey Webster!
1) Ever wonder why Spagnuolo gets all the attention and buzz for a head coaching job and Gilbride gets none? Could it be the underutilization of Shockey to the point where his loss to IR is barely noticed? Could it be the underutilization of Ahmad Bradshaw, to the point where we now have Joe Buck and Troy Aikman even second guessing why he is not getting more playing time? Add "9:27 left" and the prosecution rests. Gilbride has done some nice playcalling this year, but then he hasn't.
2) Spags is the man. I am still wondering how Ryan Grant and the vaunted Packer YAC (they led the league, more than the Patriots) was stopped COLD. The Giants DL had enough push to force Favre to get rid of the ball, almost too quickly in retrospect. Ever notice the in-game adjustments by Spags to tighten up the defense?! It has been like that for most of the year.
3) Maybe he was playing hurt, or maybe I am just out to lunch for not noticing sooner, but Butler runs the 40 almost as fast as Marvelous. On a good day.
4) Re the Pats... "We know how good they are," Manning said. "But we also know what it takes to beat them. Hopefully we can make it happen this time."
5) I mentioned in an earlier post last night, and it is worth repeating with the ultimatenyg megaphone: AHMAD BRADSHAW DID NOT EVEN PLAY VERSUS THE PATRIOTS.
6) Road Warriors to the end: The gmen became the first NFC team to make it to the Super Bowl by winning three playoff games on the road. 10 straight, an NFL season record. Note that the Giants will be raising ticket prices so that we can see them lose at home next year.
7) I could not look at the two FGs that were missed. My Tynes-meter was scary. And when he went to go out for the 46 yarder, I thought he had a better shot at it because there would be a little less pressure to make this distance. And Coughlin said that the FG unit RAN onto the field (grateful for an oppty for atonement), which was a good sign.
8) "It's Giants football," added receiver Amani Toomer. "We want to make sure our fans have some good, healthy blood pressure going into our games."
9) When OT came, the Giants lost the toss and Favre got the ball. “That's what we wanted, trust me." Pierce said. For the job Pierce and the defense did last night, I think you have to trust him. The tackle he made busting up the screen pass to the left flat when there were 4 blockers and 1 Giant was one of the most inspiring efforts of the game.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
We outplayed the Packers. Time of possession 40 mins to 22 mins. Yardage 380 to 264. 3rd downs NYG 6-16, GB 1-10. We held Ryan Grant to 29 yards rushing.
Let's take a stab at some of the points left on the field which nearly put us all on heart medication:
*Hedgecock 5 yd penalty that gives us a 3 instead of maybe 7.
*Toomer drop right on his numbers that kills a drive.
*Diehl's holding call kills a drive deep (we had just run for 15 yds and a first down on 2 plays) in our own zone and sets up great GB field position for ensuing FG near end of half.
*Burress drop at the 4 yard line in Q2 (ruled incompletion) that cost us between 3 and 7 because we got zero from that.
*Personal Foul call on Madison that cost us a possible missed FG 3 and certainly another 4 points on Donald Lee's subsequent TD the very next play.
*McQuarters Fumble of the INT that costs us 3 points.
*McQuarters Fumble of punt return that costs us 10 yards near end of regulation and maybe we make the FG.
*Same drive Chris Snee holding call on Bradshaw's TD which would have ended the game.
*Tynes missed FG from 43 yds
*Tynes missed FG from 36 yds
POINT: THE GMEN COMPLETELY OUTPLAYED GB AND NEED TO FINISH WHAT THEY START. LOADS OF OPPTY FOR IMPROVEMENT, YES EVEN FOR THE VERY NEXT GAME.
Corey Webster our hero! Marvelous says he almost did not make it to his next Birthday. I think that goes for you, me and countless numbers of Giants fans. We completely outplayed this team and made so many boneheaded self-inflicted mistakes which nearly cost us this game, but Webster delivered us and Tynes finally got the job done!!!!
Ahmad Bradshaw once again the human spark plug which ignited this offense. Steve Smith great contributions. Eli Manning? He was the only QB who showed up BIG while the Hall of Famer could not get much of anything done. Game ball to Eli whether he got it or not. Plaxico Burress playing w a torn ligament- tremendous performance vs a terrific corner. The entire defense ACES AGAIN! Hixon on great returns and the fumble recovery. Toomer's 2 toes getting the pass completion in bounds.
I have a few questions...
How much money did McQuarters bet on Green Bay?
How much will we be favored over the Patriots?
FOOD FOR THOUGHT- We played toe to toe vs the Patriots at the end of the year and they did not even see AHMAD BRADSHAW!
We are outplaying the Packers everywhere but the scoreboard. That is good and bad. We need to capitalize on advantages, and mistakes are costly. Toomer's drop early costs us a drive. Burress's drop at the 4 yard line costs us a drive. Diehl's holding penalty costs us a drive and the ensuing 3 pts. Hedgecock's penalty perhaps costs us 4 pts when we have to settle for a FG. We can win this game but we must execute and finish. Manning is playing outstanding.
1) Favre and the GB WRs may make this a very long evening for the Giants
2) Our defensive line must pressure Favre early and often
3) The NYG Offense must score LOADS of points
The GB Offensive Line holds much of the outcome to this game. Let us remember that for almost 3Q's of last week's game, we were not able to get enough pressure to disrupt Romo. IF the Pack OL holds up better than that, Favre will have too much time and he will have his way with our secondary. You have to expect that. You have to expect a good OL to beat our good DL. This puts more pressure on our offense to score if you know that your defense will not be able to keep the Pack to something similar like 17-20 points.The conclusion here is that Favre/Grant/WRs will score between a minimum of 28-31 points and our offense needs to understand that. I have to believe that if Coughlin and Gilbride are in touch with our weakness in the secondary, then they will come to the same conclusion. I am heartened by some comments from Chris Snee made yesterday which indicate that the Giants have too much respect for Favre to go dillydallying at 9:27 left. That tells me the offensive thinking this week is to be as aggressive as they can possibly be. This is a start.
The Giants offense will need more speed in order to compete. Burress would normally have that but he is hampered. Jacobs has slowed as the season has progressed. Toomer is a possession receiver.
That leaves the kids. Steve Smith. Kevin Boss. Ahmad Bradshaw. Get the ball to these guys and spread the defense. Score points. Score more points. You will need every point in order to beat Favre and the Packers. These kids are not rookies anymore- get them as many snaps as possible.
With Jacobs it is IF he can get yards. With Bradshaw it is WHEN will he come in TO GET YARDS. The former is passive. The latter is active. ATTACK- BRING IT.
The Giants will need to score points. Blah Blah the weather- it will create turnovers or it won't, it will hurt BOTH qbs or it won't. No matter. Score points to win this game.
Summary: Assuming Burress is still not effective, we need the rookies to see more involvement. If we do not see that involvement, I do not think that the NYG offense will score enough points to win this contest. The only way that would change is if the defense is able to pressure Favre and make him make mistakes- which I do not see happening. I will be hopeful it can happen- I will hope to see Umenyiora earn that Pro Bowl bid, Tuck to earn that new contract, Strahan to earn that 4 week furlough this past August. If the Giants want to earn the title bid, this star-laden group must have impact and pay off the team.
Comclusion: Unfortunately the sober expectation is for a Packer victory. I believe in the Giants, but I think that the secondary is going to be asked to do too much. Maybe Ross and/or Madison surprise us. I am not counting on it. May the best team win, as long as it is the Giants.
Quick Summary- I believe Simms sees the Packers winning.
Longer Version: Sometimes it is what isn't said that is more important than what is said. Simms does not think the Giants will win because Francesa did not put him on the spot. That was by design. So Simms was a nice homer in giving the rah rah go get'm pitch. But his tone was less bold than last week when he firmly stated the Giants would be in it. He did not come off that way to me this time. That spoke volumes.
1) The place between the corner and the safety is where Favre is going to try to stick the ball in, and with the ball being harder to grip, this could be the place for a turnover.
2) If Favre has enough pressure and gets a little too aggressive, he can make mistakes. This point was echoed by Troy Aikman.
3) The Giants should use the same varied offensive game plan they have used the past few weeks.
4) With light winds, this favors Favre.
5) Since GB uses almost exclusively man-to-man, there are ways to attack that. (Not going to reiterate what he said, but there are formations and routes that can work.)
6) With Favre likely to go quick route against our pass rush, you use zone so that it takes him longer to figure out where to go with the ball. (When you go man, he just goes to his preferred WR.)
7) COMPLETE DISAGREEMENT. Simms liked the conservative playcalling at the end of the Dallas game. Simms might be my svengali, but we part company here. I emphatically disagree. And I will go down to the grave knowing that when the secondary is that stripped, you MUST get some first downs in that spot. They have tremendous field position and it is extremely fortunate that we are in the NFC Championship having lived to tell the tale.
8) The Giants need to avoid giving up chunks of yardage to the Packers. Make them drive the ball down the field and make a mistake which trips them up. Do not give them the huge catch and run. (This is easier said than done.. the pack are the #1 offense in the entire league in YAC.)
Notice how Simms spent little (if any) time discussing WHY the Giants could do all these things. He laid out a blueprint but by its absence, the implication is that it is an entirely different matter for whether the Giants can execute that.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Meat and Potatoes. We are going to run the ball. We know you know that we are going to run the ball. You try to stop us. This guy adds 1-2 yards per carry in value in a game that will come down to inches. That is called edge.
Here is a link to Carl Banks dissecting film of the Packers. Note how Banks (in the second play, a run) talks about going "fast and forward" and going "vertical" when running through the Packer DL and LBs. In the play chosen, the FB does not do a good enough job on the block. But if Hedgecock can seal the LB off, who do you think is getting through that hole faster, Jacobs or Bradshaw?
Friday, January 18, 2008
Plan A for Winning on Sunday:
1) Plaxico Burress needs to help this offense in a big way, bum ankle or no bum ankle
2) Manning needs to protect the ball well
3) The pass rush needs to get a lot of heat on Favre
4) Between Madison and Ross (both will play) they have to be able to play decently
5) Special teams need to dominate the weaker specials of GB
Plan B for Winning on Sunday:
1) Get the ball to Bradshaw
2) The rest of the team executes reasonably well
Plan A is a much bigger challenge. It means Ross, Madison and Burress need to contribute meaningfully and I do not think/know if that happens. If the last three games are any indication (a) Manning seems to understand the urgency (b) Manning seems to play better vs better teams (c) the carryover of good play will help him. The Packers have a very good offensive line and that tends to neutralize a good defensive line... just as last week, I have my doubts that our line can get pressure on Favre. I believe our specials will play better than the Packers, but I do not think you can expect any large advantage here.
Plan B is the simple way to win. It lets the edge of Bradshaw's speed and power take over this game. Our defense is hurt. It is going to give up points, more than the 17 miracle points it only allowed to the Cowboys (barring horrendous conditions causing turnovers etc..). Bet on that. So you need to make sure your offense scores a lot and keeps the Packer offense off the field. By now you should have gotten the message of this blog- Bradshaw is the key to the Giants' chances for going over the top and securing this win.
We can win this game w/o Bradshaw getting a lot of playing time. But everything else is going to have to go very right. And if the Packers execute well they can kill us too this way. But this is the passive Giants, the team that tries to win by methodical step by step progression, waiting for something good or bad to happen. If Burress is healthy and Manning is playing well, the two of them can take over a game, 100%. But without that, who is your guy to assert our team's will on them? The answer is #44. It does not have to be a complicated formula. Let him take over the game.
I always like listening to what Phil Simms has to offer, because he is about as honest and objective as any professional out there. He is also very smart too. He asks great questions, he sees the game through a good lense. Last weekend, for example, he thought the Cowboys-Giants game was too close to call, that it would go down to the end, and he did not know who would win. He felt the Giants could win, but would not definitively go that far. That forecast was probably as accurate as anything I heard.
People may say he is biased as a former Giant, but he certainly handles his announcing skills at games he covers slightly more balanced than other QB announcers I listen to. He caught some heat last weekend from a guy named Eggars. Same bs from people who do not listen to him enough to appreciate the value of his commentary and the length Simms goes to protect his integrity.
I will wait for Sunday to hear his comments on Westwood One's radio show with Francesa (~945AM EST), but prelim remarks are sampled by Serby.
"You're big and you're physical and you can run the football and you can rush the passer probably better than anybody in the NFL," Simms said. "What is there to complain about? You gotta like your chances."
The tone of his message on Sunday morning will be the most significant element. How forceful he is with his opinion will tell us a lot.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
This is very simple. Start Bradshaw and you win the game. Until that last "prevent offense" possession, Bradshaw was in for exactly TWO series. The Giants scored on BOTH series. So Bradshaw was in for 2 series when the team scored 14 points and Jacobs was in for 4 series where they scored once (the opening drive). Bradshaw completely opens up the offense to going inside, outside, dynamic passing (remember, it was a pass to Bradshaw finished up at the 1 yd line that set up the go ahead score). Play Bradshaw and win the game.
It is going to be single digits Sunday. Wind chills will be sub zero. No, NOT ICE BOWL conditions, but enough to make your team run the ball to win the game. Keep Manning's throws down to a manageable "changeup" and put the ball in Bradshaw's hands as much as possible.
Right now in Green Bay they are in love with their defense. They think they are in very good shape because they stopped Seattle. Seattle had no running game. Bradshaw changes our running game from good to GREAT.
Bradshaw enables you to do so much more with the ball than Jacobs. Jacobs has had a very fine season, but he is playing hurt, and has lost a half step from the wear and tear of multiple injuries. BRADSHAW ENABLES YOU TO BOUNCE PLAYS FROM INSIDE TO OUTSIDE. He will sustain drives by getting first downs and positive yardage out of plays where they were initially stuffed for no gain because of 8 men in the box. Bradshaw ran for a TD when there were 8-9 men in the box in Buffalo because he is so fast that he can break through the secondary if the Packers are not careful. EMPOWER THE OFFENSE. Take the game to them. Win the game on YOUR terms. You can be passive and predictable. Or you can be dynamic and unpredictable. Get the ball to Bradshaw and win the game.
Serby on Bradshaw 1/7/2008
The team that goes out and grabs the game is the one that wins this. No one gets handed a championship. If the Giants want to elevate their game to one which puts them not only past the Packers but past the (the slower and aging defense of the) Patriots also, you have to shoot the moon and play your rocket fuel. Go for it all. Do not leave anything behind. Leave it all out there on the field and WIN the game instead of asking questions on Monday morning about what could have been.
Sam Madison (abdominal) and Kevin Dockery (hip flexor) did not practice today. Aaron Ross participated in the workout on a limited basis. Ross wore a harness on his shoulder. He said he will wear a less-cumbersome brace in the game. “I can still move, I can still intercept the ball,” Ross said. “Things I need to do I can do. I’m getting treatment three times a day. It’s feeling a lot better. I have a good range of motion. By Sunday I should be a hundred percent.”
Single digits, Wind 10mph... (wind chill would be -10F assuming 5 degree temps).
I keep reading random stories from friends that are great to share. Andy L remarks that even his totally sports-ignorant wife was able to figure it out that the game was won when a roar was heard two flights up in his home. Charles says that apparently his reaction to the McQuarters INT was so delirious that the cat took a few hours to come out of hiding. My loudest reaction of the night? A yell that shook the house when Webster dropped that easy INT pick.
This one's for all of you out there who can't stand Dallas as much as I can't stand Philly. Giants Celebrate Win Over Dallas, Romo, TO, ... Thanks Mike. (disclaimer- some might find the content in this video immature, childish, stupid, classless, objectionable... AND YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!!)
Some raw Manning stats:
Games 1-15: 19 TD, 19 INT, passer rating 70
Games 16-18: 8 TD, 1 INT, passer rating 123
Also note that the last 3 weeks have been against the 4th, 2nd, and 9th rated NFL defenses. (fyi GB is the 11th ranked defense, the Giants are the 7th ranked defense.)
Manning has played in 59 games. In his first 56, he had TWO games this caliber. 2 out of 56. And now 3 excellent games in the past three starts. For ideas on what has happened to manifest this change, click on the link to an earlier post which discusses the Manning Pump Fake.
This is the story of why the Giants are here. Yes, there are 44 other guys that suit up each game, and football is a team sport. But Manning's contribution as QB has been volatile, from game to game, from quarter to quarter! In the past three games all of that has gone out the window. We have seen Manning lead his team down the field to score TDs before, but perhaps not in the same game that he also threw 0 INTs as well. The games are getting more complete.
Those who have been regular readers of this blog know that we think the change came from playing against people like Ronde Barber. They jump routes and get INTs, and Manning led the league in INTs and knew he had to do something. The pump-fake changed it all. On the 52 yard TD to Amani Toomer in Q1 of Dallas, Manning calmly looked to the right side of the field before going to the left side and getting the ball to him. He was not doing that regularly the first 15 games. If Toomer was his first target, that means he was looking off one side of the field. I do not believe that that was the case, but if it was then it was helpful in giving Toomer adequate space. More likely he was simply going through his progressions and found his safety blanket... but going down the list of his options was not done well by Manning either, so this is improvement too. (Last year he would have hurriedly looked to dump the ball off to Barber.) All I know is that Toomer got the ball with space, so he was already moving with the ball when he broke the pivotal tackle attempt of Henry and went the distance. If Manning is locked on him the way he seemed to be games 1-15, I do not think the play has a result the way it does. The smallest things in football are the difference between a play that works and a play that doesn't in the NFL. Fractions of a second. Manning is getting those fractions of a second right now and he needs to keep doing what he is doing. The best QBs (duh, Favre and Brady) do this ALL NIGHT LONG. They go through all of their progressions, they look off defenders, they pump-fake to get separation for their WRs, they telegraph as little as humanly possible.
Speaking of telegraphing, we have another safety to be wary of this weekend, Atari Bigby. He covered so much ground in the Seattle game that Daryl Johnston was almost lovestruck. The secret to his 'success' was a combination of good speed and playing centerfield with Hasselbeck's eyes. He closed in on pass plays because he knew where the ball was going and was seemingly everywhere. If you want space between your receiver and Bigby, you better look him off SOME of the time or else he is going to lean on that tendency ALL of the time, just like Landry and Sharper have done to Eli in the past.
"He studied and he's been able to utilize that to pull people out of position," Tom Coughlin said with a chuckle before adding: "You're seeing Tony Romo do the same thing if you look at tape." Any QB who wants to survive in this league MUST do that or else their numbers and performance will suffer.
"The old Eli would have just fallen down and took the sack," (Terence) Newman said. "But this guy is making smart decisions, dumping the ball off, keeping drives alive. He's playing a lot better. We sure hope we can make him be the old Eli." Sorry Terence Newman, you did not get old Eli. Let's keep seeing the new Eli.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Dallas hadn't won a playoff game in 11 years. TO told us to getcha popcorn ready. Jerry Jones put two tickets to the NFC Championship in the locker of every player before the game. Wade Phillips says that Dallas was the better team despite the loss.
HOW 'BOUT DEM GIANTS?!!!!
As an appetizer, here is one of the first previews of what we will see this weekend.
Monday, January 14, 2008
(1) The Giants played through vs the Pats and EVERYTHING has come from that game.
(2) How many of you remember Kenny Holmes? He was a defensive end signed as a free agent (from the Titans) to help us with the fact that Cedric Jones was a bust. Scene: my favorite game of all time, the 49er implosion of January '03. We are depleted at DL but we are winning 38-14. Out goes Holmes in Q3 with an injury. Problem? Nope. You have an offense that can score at will. We know the end of the story- the prevent offense kills us. (It is 5 years later and I still need therapy from this game!)
So why do I mention Holmes? Because SIMILARLY, when ROSS GOES OUT IN Q3 and depletes an injury-ravaged Secondary so that we now have Geoffrey Pope (of the famed Practice Squad, now our nickel back, having NEVER PLAYED A SINGLE DOWN IN THE NFL), who do you want out there to win the game? Your offense with a few first downs to seal it or your injury-ravaged (and may I remind you, overworked, exhausted, minutes-challenged) defense? History may not repeat, but history certainly rhymes. ROSS:COUGHLIN as HOLMES:FASSEL. Play your offense for 60 minutes, and if your defense is depleted, PLAY IT FOR 70. STOP WITH THE BULLSH*T and win a championship.
(3) This was a sweet win to savor. After spending the better part of a day going over the game in my head, I have come to the sad conclusion that Wade Phillips is simply a bigger loser than Gilbride/Coughlin. We tried unsuccessfully to blow the game twice, at 9:27 left and 3:46 left. I do not believe in retread head coaches for expressly this reason. For every retread that finds his way (Belichick/Cleveland) there are a zillion other former coaches like Schottenheimer/Green/etc... that do not resurface to win the big one. (LOL, if Turner faces Coughlin in the big dance, I will happily eat crow this coming Sunday night!)
(4) Thanks to Peter F. who reminds us that later in the game, Gilbride was the genius running Jacobs wide and Bradshaw inside.
(5) Marvelous points out the insanity now taking place with Bradshaw still running kickoffs. Hixon is doing just fine, thanks! And it is further proof that our coaches have no freaking clue what they have in Bradshaw. Should we remind them what happened to Jason Sehorn in August 1998?
(6) Does anyone see the irony in Coughlin repeating his predecessor's mistakes? I think TC has done a great job in so many ways, but he must wake up and realize that this championship is for the TAKING, not for the RECEIVING.
(7) Anyone notice that the two wild card teams which won this weekend were both the only ones which had seen their opponent before? I do not believe that is a complete coincidence, because one of the advantages of the bye team is more time to prepare... having played your opponent previously reduces the work and narrows the advantage.
(8) Consensus among Dallas fans is that Patrick Crayton's mouth and dropped pass made him the goat.
(9) Just heard that Wade Phillips says that he felt his team outplayed the Giants and were the better team. He in turn blamed himself and accepted responsibility for the loss.
(10) With Glenn and TO coming back from injury, as well as the entire team taking off at the end of the season, it is being suggested that the team tired.
Coughlin interview link
Any update on Aaron Ross or any other injuries from the game?
You ask about Ross, he is sore, but we will see day-to-day what is going to happen with that.
Can you talk about the status of Sam Madison, Kevin Dockery, and Aaron Ross for this week?
In terms of Madison and Dockery, progress is being made, but it is something that is going to be evaluated every day and really I don’t have any comment on it right now. I would like to see where we are on Wednesday before we comment on anything. I know that Aaron is sore but that kind of an injury has been controlled and is being controlled by a young man on our team right now in terms of Mike Matthews. Hopefully we can get the strength back where it belongs and we can do some things here to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. Aaron, who wants to play and has talked about it, we can get him right back on the practice field. We are looking to be able to do that first.
Latest GB Sunday Weather:
Wind Chill -5F to -15F
Perhaps a chance of snow showers or light snow.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
How much time was remaining when Coughlin went into the tank and rolled out the prevent offense (runrunrunkick)? 5 minutes left? How about 6 minutes? No, and no. Guess again.
He had a 4 point lead, be nice, he knew that it would hold up, so we were all wrong and he had it all measured up, it was okay to burn clock!
Fassel was a total meathead for going into the tank with 17 minutes left and a 24 point lead. This time it is 9:27 left and a 4 point lead. I am not sure which is worse. You play with fire and you WILL get burned. Try doing that with Favre next week, we'll see who needs a skin graft.
So many players gutted this one out. Webster on TO all game with man coverage. Wilson with shoestring tackle of Barber, and goal line broken up pass to force a FG instead of a TD. Umenyiora for going up against Adams all afternoon until the dam finally broke in the Q3. Strahan doing it all. Ross playing inspired, making great tackles until he had one too many injuries. McQuarters making special teams plays, passes defensed and the final INT to seal the win.
The rookies Boss/Bradshaw/Smith making key plays. Toomer all world with 2 TDs. The offensive line protecting Manning. Diehl having a great game vs Ware. Manning (brilliant in late Q2 drive) with 2 TDs and 0 INTs, held back by Gilbride but getting it done.
Special teams solid, and beat Dallas noticeably. Hixon with a return to midfield. McQuarters w a return to the Dallas 40.
3 penalties, yet again not beating ourselves with mistakes, contrary to Dallas racking up 11 and arguably costing them the game.
And now for some humor from the ailing NY Giants peanut gallery:
"Kevin Gilbride is an incompetent!! His offensive game plans and use of his players has sucked all year. He tried to run Jacobs outside and ran Bradshaw inside. Bradshaw would have made those first downs. He didn’t even try to pick up a first down in the Giants last two possessions. We were lucky that Dallas just crumbled. Bradshaw is a game breaker yet he hardly plays. He is, in my opinion, the find of the season maybe the decade. Chosen right at the end of the draft."
"If Giants lost game on that last pass intercepted by McQuarters, my plot is in Long Island--etc"
"Second greatest underdog win in (our team's) life. I hate to say it, but I really want to see this team beat GB. I am greedy now. These opportunities come so rarely and this one is a total surprise."
"What were the odds of Peyton watching his kid bro play & he was knocked out???!!!"
"HATS OFF TO THE GIANTS..AT THE AGE OF 69 I DID NOT KNOW THAT I AM NOW 87 YRS. AFTER WATCHING THIS ASTONISHING GAME..I`M STILL LOOKING FOR MY HEART WHICH FELL OUT SOMETIME IN THE SECOND HALF"
"I heard that Jerry Jones taped a pair of tickets to next week's championship game at (Texas stadium) to the locker of each of his players. Ha you smug pr*ck."
Outside of the PREVENT OFFENSE, which prevents you from winning, this was a great win.
Coughlin and Gilbride better kiss Spagnuolo's toes, because the two of them SHAMEFULLY WENT INTO THE PREVENT OFFENSE and did not have to make this game go down to the wire. The defense deserves accolades for playing 60 minutes. We are up 21-17 WITH THE BALL and we runrunrunkick. We are up 21-17 with the ball and we runrunpasskick. It is a minor miracle that we survived the last two Dallas possessions to live another week, two possessions that arguably were not even required to jeopardize a potential victory.
WHERE IS BRADSHAW? Do you realize that until the last offensive possession, Ahmad Bradshaw was in on only two possessions (which both netted TDs) and was part of 14 of the 21 points scored?!!!! THIS TEAM COULD HAVE SCORED AT WILL HAD HE BEEN IN THERE ALL GAME.
The defensive line had no pressure until late in Q3, and the game turned when they started getting to Romo. The secondary of this team played ACES, decimated by injury, held together with scotch tape and sticky glue. They shocked the world. They even shocked us diehard Giants fans. When Ross gets hurt, gets hurt again, all I am thinking is that our nickel back is Geoffrey Pope, who as of a week ago was on the practice squad! Maybe we can get Madison back next week. Maybe Ross is not seriously hurt. No matter- we are going to Green Bay!
Francesa went a full segment w Simms, and as usual we got plenty of insight from the master of our Giant universe.
1) No, Virginia, we are NOT hyped out of our butts for saying that the Giants are much improved these past 2 games. Phil Simms sees it too, says a lot of things have changed and gotten a lot better.
2) No great feel for the ending of the game.
3) NYG need to pressure Romo and he has doubts about them getting to him because the DAL offensive line... "is BIG, and they are good on their feet too."
4) The DAL offense wants to go deep every play and then when it is not there they go for something else. It is not big on deception the way the Colts and NE run theirs, and this is why people have caught up to what they are doing.
5) Francesa asked him if the NYG should use Bradshaw more, and Simms unequivocally said yes.
6) The Giants have used a varied offensive attack the past few weeks and it is what will be imperative again vs the Dallas 'pressure defense.'
7) The play-calling the past couple of weeks has been excellent, as good as it has been under Coughlin's entire time in NY.
8) Dallas falls off very hard from their 2 starting corners to their 3rd and 4th CB. (Attack these guys with Steve Smith.)
9) Simms will be surprised if the Giants do not go with Boss more, because "THEY MUST." Williams is "awful" in space and if Shockey had 12 receptions last game they should have thrown the ball to him even more!
10) The Giants are confident.
11) Simms was in NE covering the game, and when he prepares he speaks to a lot of players on both squads. The NE players had some unsolicited remarks on the Giants- the Giants were good, they were surprised at the talent level, 3 separate guys were very positive about them. The 4th? Bill Belichick, who (Simms laughing, 'Doom' humor) said the Giants were "not bad." ... with Simms tacking on that that is like the ultimatenyg comment you could possibly get from him.
12) Final score? No prediction--- the "game will go down to the wire."
There are so many crosscurrents in this game. I can see certain things that get us optimistic, yet there are many other things that can be very sobering.
1) 2 vs 6. Romo's sacks vs Manning's sacks. Despite a clear advantage of our defensive line, we only have 2 sacks on him... this needs to improve. Some of this is probably a holdover of the Kiwanuka experiment and Strahan's first game back. But just like in baseball, where good pitching beats good hitting, so does a good offensive line beat a good defensive line. THIS NEEDS TO CHANGE. UMENYIORA, STRAHAN, TUCK (and LB/SECONDARY BLITZ) NEEDS TO GET TO ROMO.
2) To say our secondary is banged up is an understatement. Webster is not getting a hurt Galloway today. Webster was one of the main reasons why the Giants got through TB and he will have to be the reason why we get through Dallas. Webster is going to get beat, that is not an issue. The question is how many times. If it is once, that means he is blanketing coverage MOST of the time, and we can live with that and win the game.
3) Against the best teams you need 60 mins. Against the best teams this year (Dallas twice, Packers, Pats) the Giants played with their opponent for 2-3 quarters and folded late. This is a hurdle the Giants have to get over.
4) Terry Glenn? Jerry Jones was talking him up Friday. But there is no way Jones would help the Giants by waking them up to an unforeseen threat... smokescreen? The Giants should and will single him until he can prove more than that.
5) DeMarcus Ware on David Diehl. As mentioned before, Diehl is a wonderful player but he is not an Offensive Tackle. Yes, he can sub there, he can play a game for you when someone else goes down, but today is when he is going to hurt you because he is going to require some help when (not if) Ware beats him.
6) Dallas knows us well enough to know that the key to disrupting Eli is not making him comfortable in the pocket and giving him lots of pressure/less time.
1) One of the reasons why bye teams do better against the wild card winner is that they have two weeks to prepare. Since the Giants and Dallas are division rivals who have played each other twice this season (contrast that with the other 3 games this weekend, where only SD and IND have faced each other once), it negates the preparation advantage that the Cowboys would normally have.
2) Bradshaw, Smith and Boss look to make strong contributions today. If it was me I would start Bradshaw because I think he matches up best against the speed of the Dallas defense. Boss will get a record number of receptions today (5+). Smith will continue to help move the sticks.
3) From Bob Papa- put the speed of Gerris Wilkinson on Jason Witten. Wilkinson has steadily improved and he gives the Giants secondary help in this way. If you can slide (double) coverage to Witten because TO is not an overwhelming threat, then use Wilkinson. In a perfect world, this is how the Giants are going to beat the Cowboys.
THE USUAL SUSPECTS (previously discussed positive themes reiterated):
4) Strahan started the season late and he has fresh legs, playing his best football.
5) Burress is playing better than the midseason injury swoon.
6) See the "Manning pump fake" entry earlier this week for continued ideas of his improvement.
7) Penalties are down this year.
8) ROAD WARRIORS.
9) Special teams have steadily improved as the season has wore on.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
1) Pierce vs Barber. Don't let this guy be Romo's version of 'Brady to Faulk.' Is Pierce getting healthier?
2) Boss vs Williams
3) Toomer vs Reeves.
1) Home (bye) teams are 14-6 the past 5 years. 30% chance for The Giants.
2) Team winning first two games is 11-6 in the third game when they play again in the postseason. 35% chance for the Giants.
3) Moneyline implies ~24% chance for the Giants.
If the Giants had a healthy Madison in there vs TO I would feel so much better and bullish the Giants. As the week wore on and Madison became more and more "doubtful," my optimism waned. There are plenty of variables which are simply not known- how effective are TO and Glenn? Does Bradshaw start? (That won't happen but if it did I would like the Giants more.) Does Dallas get a lot of pressure on Manning and give us old Eli? Do we get Eli the time for him to be the new pump-fake Eli? Too many questions for me. Last week I called for a Giant win vs TB, this week I cannot be that bold. I do think it is possible, and greater a chance than the oddsmakers give us. I like the confidence of the Giants, but as a reminder, what wildcard winner ever had a lack of confidence after a playoff win? If the Giants do everything right we win a close game. If Dallas does everything right we get killed.
Very close game with a respectable shot at winning the game. Dallas 30 Giants 26. GO GIANTS!
Friday, January 11, 2008
Last week Blezow had the Bucs. Not. This week he has jumped back on the Giants bandwagon, ugh. And to make matters worse, 9 out of 10 NYPost handicappers take the Gmen. Welcome to the party. For our sake let's hope they are not all too late. (Insert> saw that 6 out of 9 Daily News geniuses have the Cowboys, so that is a positive for the gmen.)
Saw another interesting remark from Ronde Barber on Ahmad Bradshaw.... “That kid is going to be great," Barber gushed. “We kept on hitting him and pounding him and he kept going forward, fighting for yards." Earth to Gilbride and Coughlin- Use him for pass catches out of the backfield. He handles the ball better than Jacobs and is much better in open space. Okay, he is much better in closed space too, but that is a matter for next season. What is truly remarkable about this Bradshaw kid is that everyone had this figured out EXCEPT the coaching staff. It took Jacobs getting hurt in Buffalo and Ward already on injured reserve for him to get a chance. If that did not happen they still would have him in mothballs.
And a final sober note. With Dockery officially out and Madison still ailing, this is going to be one big adventure Sunday in the secondary. Maybe if we just send 12 guys on the pass rush and sack Romo we won't have any problems.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Shockey has resurfaced in the media because the last game the Giants played against the Boys, he had 12 receptions for 129 yards. Yesterday Arthur Staple of Newsday stirred up the pot by theorizing that the Giants are doing just fine without Shockey, that maybe the outspoken tight end is all hat and no cattle. And then I got an email last night from one of the blog readers here who proposed that just maybe having "one less alpha male in the huddle" could be helping Eli and the offense.
In my humble opinion, it is incorrect to believe that any success is happening BECAUSE Shockey is out and was in some way hindering the team when he was playing.
Let's take a step back. On Sunday Dec 16 Shockey broke his leg in the Redskin game and is out for the season. On Monday Dec 17 I opined here (link) exactly what has taken place, that losing Shockey was not a news item at all! Coughlin and Gilbride TOTALLY WASTED THIS PROBOWLER'S TALENTS. And the proof is in exactly what HAS transpired, what has actually happened to cause this question to surface in the media. The simple MEDIA logic is that if we are doing the same or even better without Shockey, that he is not great, that he is not important. How can that possibly be? How can a Pro Bowl player NOT be missed? Easy! When you do not use him like a PRO BOWLER should be used. As I pointed out in the post almost a month ago, Shockey had one reception for FOUR FREAKIN' YARDS the previous week and two receptions for EIGHTEEN freakin' yards against Washington before getting hurt. He became a better blocker and was being used in the running game far more often than on pass routes. What a waste! Every time I watch a NYG game where Madden is providing color, I always seem to hear from him something like this: "You have to get Shockey involved early." The operative word here is early. Because if you get him involved late (or never, as a 1 or 2 reception game implies!), his production drops off and you are not utilizing his natural skills which make him such a force. You also allow the rest of the defense the numbers to press the rest of the offense.
Separately, Staple makes the error of assuming that the pick by Sharper vs Minnesota was about Shockey not going hot- wrong! The coaches pointed out that Manning was in error for going hot because the blitz did not happen. (And the fact that Manning telegraphed his pass to Sharper did not help either. Sharper went with Manning's eyes on the throw, NOT with Shockey's body.)
As far as the offense now hitting on all cylinders without him, I have already speculated that the Manning pump-fake might be partially responsible for that. Add Burress getting healthier and more productive, add Smith back as a viable 3rd WR, add Lightning Bradshaw... hmmm, I just wonder where the offense would be WITH Shockey?! I wonder where Shockey would be with a QB who used the pump-fake on his defender?!
BOTTOMLINE: Shockey's diminished role was the sin which we now do not feel because we were feeling it for so many weeks already.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
1) O'Hara more likely to dress/play this weekend, Madison still looking less likely.
2) TO is playing, although he did not practice. Kareem McKenzie dnp either, but will likely practice tomorrow.
3) The line has moved to -9. All 4 dogs are +9 or more this weekend.
4) Terry Glenn is expected to play.
5) There is interest in Jason Garrett (interviewed already by 2 teams) and there is alleged interest in Spagnuolo by the Falcons (not allowed to interview until season for Giants is over).
6) Wade Phillips: "Strahan plays the run as good as anybody that I have ever seen that is a quote ‘pass rusher.’ He really plays the run well, too. I am certainly impressed with him." Having Strahan on one side of the line almost shuts down running to 40% of the field.. he is that good. I am not sure if we win last weekend w/o him. He easily got the most pressure on Garcia of anyone.
7) Great interview with Ahmad Bradshaw linked. In 2000 they tried to name Dayne and Barber "Thunder and Lightning," but it was more like Thud and Lightning. Jacobs and Bradshaw are the real Thunder and Lightning.
8) Bob Popa points out that Gerris Wilkinson has the speed to match up against Witten.
9) Shannon Sharpe had nice praise for Kevin Boss... runs nice routes, blocking is getting better each week, can be a very good TE in this league.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Tom Coughlin on Eli Manning's performance vs Tampa Bay: "One of the best I've seen with regard to his utilization of his eyes and his pump-faking and pulling defenders out of position."
This is huge... is necessity the mother of invention? Could it be that the Giants coaches saw all of the cheating and the humongous turnover advantage of the Bucs and said to Eli- YOU MUST LOOK OFF DEFENDERS!...???...!!!
What took so long? Darren Sharper? LaRon Landry? Could it be that Ronde Barber and Company forced Eli Manning to get religion? If this is true, let's watch next game and see if he can look off more defenders and create more space for his targets. Of particular note is the play linked here (3:05 time) where the Giants go up 24-7 on the TD pass to Toomer. Manning fakes a throw to Boss, pulling away Barber long enough to give Toomer the lane for the catch. In watching the replay, what gets my attention is the crowded space of a 3rd and goal play from the 4 yd line with everyone breathing down everyone else's neck... w/o the look off, there is no way Toomer gets that ball- Barber is Toomer's ORIGINAL assignment!
In another play (0:46 time), Manning pump fakes, draws #26 to break in and commit to the pass too early, which then allows Smith to get clear for an extra few steps sideways so that he is able to make the catch. And you can certainly argue that the yards after catch are completely caused by the pump fake, because w/o it the play is either an INT, most likely a broken up pass, or at best a caught ball w Smith immediately brought down.
Jim Mora also remarks that was has impressed him about Manning is how he has done so well the past two weeks vs two very good defenses in the Patriots and Bucs. I do not believe yet, but I certainly see the first signs of improvement in a long while.
Monday, January 7, 2008
We spend all year following the team, the draft, the player moves, the holdouts, camp, the games... for this moment. Not the wild card round. The Divisional Playoff Round. You see, any piece of garbage can limp into or make the playoffs, as the Giants of 2005 and 2006 proved! This is where the playoffs really begin. This is where the dreams of a championship begin. Considering how many wild card teams have won the Super Bowl, it is not just about the bye anymore. If you use your momentum from the bye correctly, you can upend the #1 or #2 and shock the world. It can be done.
For the Giants, the (very close) loss to the Patriots makes it possible to believe. Without that game, there would be doubts lingering in all of us. But right now any Giant fan knows it is possible. Probable? No. Possible? Yes. The Giants are 3-1 underdogs this Sunday in Dallas. There is value there. If the Giants play this game 4 times, they will win it more than once. Maybe not twice, maybe somewhere between once and twice in 4 tries. It can happen. Lots of good things have to happen.
One of them may be happening right now. Click on Link. Yes, TO's status is questionable. Since it is the playoffs, I think he will play. But even if he plays, if he is only 90% that extra 10% lost could be the difference between him killing us and it going down to the wire.
When one thinks of the Cowboys, it is easy to see how the limo ride they took to the playoffs is hitting a few potholes. They were lucky to get out of the Lion game with a last second win. They were outplayed by the Eagles in a loss. They took most of the game off vs the Redskins. TO is not 100%. Romo hurt his thumb. Simms remarks that teams around the league have caught up to their offense. The Cowboys are an excellent team, but the point is they are vulnerable.
Contrast that with the Giants. A come from behind victory over Buffalo in horrendous weather on the road. The Patriots revelation game. Beating a Tampa Bay team which had one of the best defenses in the league, despite a slow start and the loss of a few starters to injuries. The Giants are playing their best football at the most important time of year. They are an improved team from when they played the Cowboys Week 10 and certainly from Week 1. Has Dallas improved since Week 10? If they have, they certainly are not as improved as the Giants.
And then there is Eli Manning. His passer rating the last two weeks is the highest it has been the entire season. (See Link) With a 119 vs the Pats and a 117 against TB, he is finding QB religion. If Eli looks off one side of the field, scrambles for a first down, or pump fakes to throw off defenders one more time I may have to find Eli religion.
Throw in Bradshaw, Smith and Boss.
Anything is possible.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Very nice all around performance. Video Link. Manning and Webster, the two most volatile players out there for the team, played very well and the game fell our way as a result. TB played to pick on these two players- (1) They picked on Manning by putting 8 and sometimes 9 men in the box to force Manning to throw the ball. (2) They picked on Webster by throwing to Galloway (despite reports of him reinjuring his shoulder... Gruden said in postgame press conference that "you need two arms to catch the ball"). Both players not only held their own but were the stars of the game.
Moments of note:
1) Early on, Gilbride is very conservative. To make matters worse, he calls for a run outside (twice in 1st half) that works horribly for losses. If you watched the video by Carl Banks and Bob Papa you would see that Banks specifically warned against this for reasons I will not elaborate for now.
2) TB gives Manning the underneath stuff and we went underneath. Breakthrough. Steve Smith and Amani Toomer made some big catches today. Boss and Burress did as well. Jacobs' catch for a TD was thrown low by Manning (Manning seems to have a habit of throwing too low or into the ground on these dump offs to his RB, the only negative in an otherwise great outing for Manning). Kudos to Manning, using the pump fake to negate the TB secondary from jumping the telegraphed routes. On the last TD to Toomer, Manning looked left and then went right to Toomer, keeping the route fresh.
3) Strahan had a key set of two plays where he singlehandedly got us off the field. On 2nd down he sacks Garcia (only time of the game). On 3rd down he is not deked by the screen, and tackles the RB from behind after simultaneously pressuring Garcia!
4) 3 turnovers for the Giants vs TB none. Huge. TB was supposed to have the edge statistically here, so go figure.
5) Pierce is playing hobbled. He looked mediocre at best, a step too slow. Watch out for this next weekend.
6) Our offensive line settled down after getting blitzkrieged early. Using the short pass to slow these guys up really helped keep them off balance.
7) Some penalties crept into the game for us but none of them cost us too much in this game. 15 yarder by Cofield a questionable call but as unnecessary anyway, so it is on him.
8) Beware the prevent offense and prevent defense. The 7 pt score to go up 24-7 with ~9 mins left in game was a dagger, but the playcalling from that point did get stale. One more first down by Eli and the game is over without requiring a late INT by McQuarters.
9) The Giants did not come into this game stoked emotionally. They took the Bucs' best shot early, withstood that onslaught, and then kept playing at a pretty high level thereafter. This is a good sign. I do not think that the Giants are fat and happy. When they play on the road they seem to dig themselves into the trenches and despite giving up these early scores (see earlier blog posts, ie to Bears, Bills, Eagles, Bucs, Boys etc...) they keep battling.
10) Bradshaw off the bench gives this running game some jukes, some cuts, some speed and plenty of grit too. He simply makes the first guy miss, and that means a loss of 2 becomes a gain of 4. Huge help in H2. No offense to Brandon Jacobs, but by the time Jacobs would be hitting the hole on the same type of play, Bradshaw would already be in the Bucs' secondary. As long as this RB can pick up the blitz and hold onto the ball, he needs to see more time.
You have just scored a TD to make it 28-23. You are Tomlin, 10:25 left in the game, what do you do? KICK THE EXTRA POINT MEATHEAD! Click on this link and read rule #6 if you do not know why. Instead, we watch Tomlin go for the 2, wrong! Penalty on the attempt, now it is at the 12 yard line. KICK THE EXTRA POINT MEATHEAD! Somehow, Tomlin becomes psychotic and delusional, thinking that he is only scoring one FG left in the next 10+ minutes (his team would touch the ball THREE more times, mind you!), so he goes for the 2 AGAIN from the 12! Incredible. We will erect a monument to this, maybe even rename rule #6 as the Mike Tomlin Rule... because what ensues is classic punishment for going for the 2. The Steelers score a TD on the NEXT DRIVE. But now they are up by only 1! And with ~ 6 mins left in this situation the difference between 2 and 3 almost forces you to go for the 2 now, which he does, and misses. If they had done the correct thing at 10:25 left, they collect the extra point BOTH times and are up by 3, which likely pushes this game to OT, because a late Jax FG seals the game at 31-29. Instead the Steelers lose. The only thing more insane than going for the 2 with 10:25 left down by 5 is going for the 2 when you are pushed back to the 12 yard line. There is simply too much time left and being on "4" points instead of 5 is an important number too.
Carl Banks breaks down 2 plays about TB
The loss of Madison hurts because Webster is vulnerable and makes a thin secondary even thinner. Manning needs to play with a sense of urgency because it does not get any more urgent than the finality of the playoffs. If the Giants cannot get past TB, then we certainly have no right talking about GB, DAL, NE, IND. WIN THE GAME AND MOVE ON.
Some remarks on the SEA-WASH game... you could use the video of this game as a clinic for all that is important to winning in the NFL. SEA is killing the Skins, but does not put them away and is only leading 13-0 midway thru 3 quarters. One drive for a TD and then an INT enable the Skins to steal the lead 14-13, and like that in a few minutes an entire game's advantage is gone! And that is when the game first got interesting... A special teams gaffe by SEA on the ensuing KO nearly blew the doors open for Washington when SEA was unable to field a kickoff and gave the ball to the Skins at the SEA 13 yd line. 4 plays later SEA had the ball back when Washington could not move the ball and the kicker had missed the FG! SEA drives the ball downfield, makes a 2 pt conversion, and what was looking like a meltdown for Seattle is now a 21-14 lead. And then in equally stunning fashion, the Skins battle back, drive the ball to the 46 yd line, Collins throws a long pass down the right sideline to Moss. Trufant INTs. No problem, this is like a quickkick, tackle the guy at the 20 yd line, stop them, you will still have field position and you are only down by a score. NOT. Santana Moss makes a delayed, half-hearted attempt to tackle Trufant (Collinsworth: "looks like he gave up on the play"), and the next thing you know he runs 80 yards down the sideline for a TD. The line of scrimmage was near the 50! So the entire offense is guilty of giving up on a single play, and this was the dagger. A game which could have been 21-13 Washington was now 28-14 Seattle in a matter of minutes. ONE MORE THING- LaRon Landry. He plays centerfield and made two picks of Hasselbeck by reading his EYES. He did the same thing to Manning. In the NFL if you do not look off the safety they will punish you. The final score may hide that in this game, but in games against better opponents who do not make mistakes you will lose because of that.
Friday, January 4, 2008
Mitchell may play, O'Hara and Madison still doubtful.
Pregame Playoff Video:
Baldinger and Sharpe break down the Bucs-Giants game
David Diehl talks about TBay, etc...
NFL Network preview of TB-NY
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
The Giants are +3. In some of our team's recent road games we have been favored correctly over teams like the Bears and the Bills. Of course the Bucs are not as weak as those two teams, but I am not impressed by them just the same.
1)I think that in a 16 game season with all the turnover of free agency you have to keep playing and keep improving every week. the Giants have historically had a poor record the game after a bye because they lost the speed of the game and need to keep playing to get better. So here it is the Giants came from behind with a spirited win over the Bills and played a lot of excellent football vs the Pats. This is a positive.
2) TB did the opposite. They went into hibernation, benched many starters and pissed away (2 weeks with) the 49er and Panthers games after sewing up their division. You lose speed and timing that way.
3) The Giants are getting more sane practices from Coughlin this year in the later months of the season (a la leadership council and Giants administration mandate to work better w the players), meaning they are more rested and fresh for games than ANY of the 3 prior seasons. Late last season they would show up for the first series and then be flat. Now they have legs underneath them and u r seeing 60 mins.
4) This team is playing for Coughlin.
5) The Giants are playing their best football of the year right now.
6) Secret weapon Ahmad Bradshaw. He was held out to rest his injured calf, but he is practicing this week and he has the speed to match the speed of the Bucs defense.
7) If you rush Garcia on the end he likes squeezing out and scrambling/passing on the run. Justin Tuck will be rushed up the middle and that is how you have to get Garcia.
8) The (mild FL) weather seems to help Manning.
9) The Giants loss helps... I do not see them coming out flat... they have not lost twice in a row since the beginning of the season.
10) I understand that Burress is practicing (he practiced today). He is better and the Giants' passing game is better. Other players like Butler, Moss and Dockery are practicing after being held out last week. O'Hara may play with a brace. I suspect if Mitchell needs a brace they would go with Wilkinson, who should benefit from getting snaps with the first team. Having that 8th day between games is a huge boost to all of these guys.
11) The Giants are 7-1 on the road and do not see that as an obstacle.
I like the Giants this weekend. Tell me how Eli plays and I will tell you with far more certainty what the outcome is. If Eli plays 3 quarters we win, if he plays 2 quarters we will be in a squeaker and likely lose. Either way, if we cannot get past TB we do not deserve the right to play Dallas or GB the following week anyway. After Game 10, I knew we would be right here on the road in the wild card game. What I did not know was whether we would use the last 6 games as a springboard... the Bills and Pats games answered that question and I therefore have to call for a victory on Sunday, for better or worse.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Team DL LB DB Total
1. Dallas Cowboys 5 1 6 12
1. Green Bay Packers 6 4 2 12
3. San Diego Chargers 4 2 7 13
4. NE Patriots 2 8 4 14
5. Indianapolis Colts 11 6 1 18
5. Seattle Seahawks 8 5 5 18
7. Pittsburgh Steelers 9 3 8 20
8. Tennessee Titans 3 7 11 21
9. New York Giants 1 10 12 23
10. TB Buccaneers 12 9 3 24
11. Jcksnville Jaguars 7 11 9 27
12. Wshngtn Redskins 10 12 10 30
Scouts Inc. ranked the best team 1 thru worst team 12. While the Giants defensive line was given a flattering recognition for tops rating, the LBs and Secondary were given weak ratings. What does this all mean? It means that the Giants defense needs young players like Ross and Wilkinson to step up, and it also means that whether we want to acknowledge it or not, Manning has to show up every playoff game because the defense will not be able to win it on its own.
Note also the lack of respect for the TB defensive line and respect for their secondary. The Giants need to pound the ball all day Sunday and set up playaction for Manning.
Scouts Inc. remarks on individual units:
DL: The New York defense started to gel during a Week 3 win over division rival Washington, and the Giants haven't looked back. They lead the league with 53 sacks, thanks in large part to the trio of DEs Osi Umenyiora, Michael Strahan and Justin Tuck. The overall talent of the group makes it hard for opposing offensive lines to concentrate on a single player. Many offensive coordinators have to adjust their protections and keep extra blockers in to counter this outstanding defensive unit. This front four also is stout against the run, yielding only 97.7 yards per game.
LB: The Giants are led by slightly undersized MLB Antonio Pierce, who can struggle when taking on blockers but knows how to get to the ballcarrier and is extremely active. WLB Kawika Mitchell moved from the inside to the outside when he arrived from Kansas City, and it is a more natural position for him. He is more effective going forward than he is dropping into space, but like SLB Reggie Torbor, he lacks premier instincts and technique.
DB: There is some young talent in the Giants' secondary, but overall, this area is a weakness for New York. The secondary would be exposed further were it not for the Giants' outstanding pass rush. First-round CB Aaron Ross looks like a keeper and is a great blend of size, toughness and speed. More seasoning, specifically in the playoffs, should do him a lot of good.
Pats = 3.99
Cowboys = 3.6
TB = 2.5
Take the # of quarters that Eli plays (well) and if that is greater than the opponent's team rating then Giants "can" win. In last week's game, for example, Eli played for 3 quarters, 3 < 3.99 so the Pats win. (Eli had to play 4 quarters for the Giants to pull off the win.)
Eli is simply inconsistent, so if you know whether he is showing up and for how long, that imo will dictate success of the team or not. In this weekend's game vs TB, if Eli plays 3 quarters vs TB (2.5), 3>2.5 so the Giants win. If Manning plays 2 quarters it rates to be insufficient. Obviously there is no magic formula, but the point of this is to highlight the acute nature of Manning as the weakest link in the Giants chain for winning and losing. His play is so volatile, and the team is dependent upon him to come through for success. It also articulates why predicting Giants performance this year is hit and miss. If Eli is there, the Giants compete; if he is not, the Giants are not there either.