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September 26, 2009

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Tampa Bay notes

September 26, 2009

Out:
Canty, Sintim, Ross, Nicks, Ware

Questionable:
Tuck, Hixon, Dockery, Koets

Probable:
Manningham

Garafolo’s Preview

Ultimatenyg (Burned Out, 5 stages of Grief Depression stage) Preview: Giants -7

Showtime Phil Simms:
Simms takes NY Giants
Simms praised the Giants, who “can do just about anything” (except score in the red zone), can still rush the passer and Leftwich holds the ball too long. Sapp does not understand what has happened to the DBs/defensive schemes of Tampa.

Kenny Phillips Fallout

September 25, 2009

Phillips is out for the year. I really did not want to even post today. Losing Osi last August was worse than this, but this is up there. Francesa said it is big, very big. He did not back away, kept on repeating how big a loss this is for the Giants. And he is right.

A quick word on Phillips- this injury could mean his playing days are in jeopardy. This is no layup. Good luck to him and may he successfully rehab his knee.

This blog is about one thing- championships. Can we win a title without Kenny Phillips. It will be much harder, but not impossible. It means we will need more help from the offense, and that means we’ll need Gilbride to remove his head from his butt and get this offense to operate at great efficiency while the defense gets out of intensive care.

Let’s list the problems that need to be addressed in order for the Giants to win a title in 2009-10:
1) GET HEALTHY
2) FIX THE RED ZONE
3) FIX SHORT YARDAGE
4) PATCH UP SAFETY
5) FIX THE RUN DEFENSE
6) FIX KICKOFFS
7) FIX KICKOFF COVERAGE

Safety is not, I repeat NOT, a critical position on the field. These guys are some of the lowest salaried people in the league. But go try telling that to the Steelers after they lost Troy Polamalu. Or the Colts w/o Sanders. When you have a player like Phillips who was coming into his own this year (See link above, Coughlin said he was on course for a Pro Bowl season) IT IS A BIG LOSS. But this loss is not a death blow.

HOWEVER> IF the other problems listed above are NOT addressed satisfactorily, the loss of Phillips WILL be a death blow.

There are simply too many things that need to be straightened out before the Giants can be considered contenders. Fwiw, Wonder still thinks the Giants will win the next 3 games with the B team. IF, IF the Giants can GET HEALTHY, IMPROVE THE RED ZONE EVEN MODESTLY, FIX THE GAP/LANE RESPONSIBILITIES ON DL, GET HIXON BACK ON KICKOFFS in time for the Saints, there is a reasonable expectation the team can be 4-1 at worst, or 5-0 and be in a position to move forward.

How many losses on Defense can the team get handed before the whole ship implodes? Alford, Phillips, … Canty, Tuck, Boley, Ross, Dockery. Folks, that is almost an entire unit! Let’s take care of TB this weekend, buy some more time, fix the problems, get people back healthy, keep improving and somehow get to the point where the team can legitimately vie for a title. The season is very early. That is the opportunity. Potential.

We saved the best for last. I am not going to link to everything that was said here on the blog, the regulars know this to be true. We asked for help at Safety 1) before the Draft 2) after the Draft 3) warned about it before Camp as one of 5 issues for the team 4) during camp when we saw CC Brown 5) after camp was over when the roster only had 3 safeties 6) again after seeing CC Brown vs the Redskins AND 7)THEN FINALLY WHEN IT WAS DISCLOSED THAT PHILLIPS WOULD POSSIBLY BE PLAYING INJURED ALL SEASON. Reese has done a great many things right, but he blew it here. There may have been slim pickings out around the league, but this was not a new problem. Now we have a guy named Aaron Rouse (Wonder: “decent fill-in, obviously no star”) as the PRIMARY backup on Sunday and he has never worn a Giants jersey. This was not handled well, not at all. Maybe in the next 3 weeks CC Brown will learn the defense well enough to at least be okay out there. If we were playing Brees this weekend, it would be a clinic.

Get the IVs ready

September 24, 2009

1) This sounds like fun:
a) Tuck possibly out (?) w/ a torn labrum. Vacch: “long shot.”
b) Canty likely out (?)
c) Derrick Ward and Cadillac Williams know how to run
d) AT Tampa Bay
e) 1PM start

“Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun.” Add Giants Defensive Linemen. Better have lots of those IVs ready at halftime. Will they be lucky enough to make it that far? These are the games where you love to have ALL of your linemen for rotation. For the Giants to be w/o two of them is nothing short of cruel… for the others that are left. This is where I get to segue to one of my favorite NFL video shorts, the one about Fran Tarkenton. When you get to the clip with Deacon Jones, you’ll understand. Merlin Olsen’s remarks weren’t bad either.

Back to this Sunday’s game, the Giants DL has my condolences. If they thought it was hot at the Palace in Dallas, wait’ll they get to Raymond James. Forecast- 89 degrees and a 40% chance of precipitation/scattered thunderstorms. Rain never sounded so good.

2) Garafolo is not sure how serious a shoulder injury is with Mario Manningham.

3) All injury issues aside, is there anyone in their right mind who could think that Hixon should be ahead of Manningham on the depth chart?

On Monday Russ drew extra attention to a comment by
Raymond Sultan: “I think that making (Hixon) a kick return specialist and, for a while at least, only a situational receiver might actually really boost his confidence and get him back to a place where he’s a serious every-game difference-maker for the team.”
Russ: “Brilliant! Sometimes we find our niche (like Joba Chamberlain when he was a reliever) and we don’t even know it. Time to resurrect the big-play Dominick.”

That is a really nice observation, Raymond. Simple and powerful. Hixon’s track record already shows him to be brittle anyway, so keep his plays down and he can come in and make some plays off the bench. And FOR GOODNESS SAKE, GET HIM BACK THERE RETURNING KICKOFFS PLEEEEEEZE! I do not know what was more insane, the Miami dive on 3rd down or (the emperor not having any clothes and) not having Hixon on kickoff duty. Frightening. Absolutely frightening.

4) Want a rookie LBer? Maualuga and former USC teammate Cushing have 4 starts, 30 tackles, a sack and 2 forced fumbles between them. Good thing these guys are only rookies.

5) They have these Weekly Power Ratings and they are mostly as useful as toilet paper. This week is no exception. Having the Ravens as the #1 team after beating two AFC West teams is a joke. Yes, beating the Chargers in SD is respectable, but let’s face it, it is Norv Turner. And Norv Turner is the same retread loser (think: Wade Phillips) we saw in other hotspots like Washington and Oakland. He is 78-96-1 in his career. My apologies in advance to Charger fans and Ravens fans, but there has to be more to it than that. The fact that they can have the Giants #2 is another joke. Not at the Giants or at #2, but the whole exercise is flawed because there are too few data points to even know enough about the team. I would classify many of the commenters on this site as extremely knowledgeable about this team and all of us would to a man agree that there are still so many issues and variables that remain to be settled before we can anoint this team. Health? Defense? Gilbride? Red zone? Short yardage? SHERIDAN? Special teams on kickoffs? To see the Giants even ranked is a joke- it should be “I,” as in INCOMPLETE. To be determined. Needs more games. Right now you could put the Giants #1 or put them #10 and I could make arguments for either. Which is why this Weekly ranking system this early is … toilet paper.

6) Nobody asked me, but I’ll tell you anyway.. the two teams at this moment who are impressive are the Saints and Jets. Brees has the same potent offense with a little more defense. And the Jets have given up spit on defense this year. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. Those two teams (and of course the Giants, to name just three) have the raw material to be contenders down the stretch. There is so much football to be played, let’s try to figure out who is even DRESSING this weekend! G-I-L-F!

7) Toni Monkovic of The Fifth Down asks for ideas or solutions for freezing of kickers with a few seconds left. Leave it alone, it serves one good purpose.. it is very good at identifying the loser head coaches who are desperate enough to be grasping at straws.

More observations

September 23, 2009

1) Papa and Banks reviewed the Dallas win with a 23 minute recap. Good stuff.

2) Vaccaro has a nice piece on how Manningham got to the place he is currently in. He mentions the Wonderlicht score; concerns about MM’s ability to learn the offense were there. What Vaccaro did not mention was how Manningham got hurt in training camp in 2008. That is a big setback for ANY rookie. They need to get up that learning curve. But for Manningham, it was a death spiral. He spent the rest of the year trying to play catchup, never learning the offense.

It wasn’t until the offseason that he had the opportunity to make progress- he needed TIME. Our first BIG clue was given by Gilbride, which was passed along on June 19th at Ultimatenyg. We saw in preseason how he was being coached on the field by Manning in where he needed to put his body. But just as importantly, we saw in preseason that beautiful separation he seemingly gets on EVERY play. Manningham’s ascendency to the X receiver will not be without some ‘growing pains.’ But the way this NY Giants blogger sees it- THE MORE HE PLAYS THE BETTER HE GETS. By the end of the season he will be much improved. And wait until he has another camp- I’ll go on record and say that as long as Mario Manningham is not injured, he will be a tremendous WR in 2010.

3) “THINK“- As Manningham plays more, he will be thinking less.. that is when it will get scary, because he just went for 150 yards and was actually thinking out there. Thinking takes time. Not sure who said it (Simms?), but the paraphrased quote is that in the NFL, you want (defensive) players to think because that slows them down before they can actually make the play. For offensive players like MM, you need their moves to be automatic. This game is not yet automatic for Mario Manningham. When his game becomes automatic, lights out, he’ll get even more open than now because he’ll be making the right reads.

4) What is good for Manningham should be good for Corey Webster (and the other CBs) too. Practice makes perfect.

5) It is nice to see Vacchiano talk so candidly about some items. Vacchiano is an example of a beat reporter who has a lot of things to say but holds back because he needs to appear unbiased and get his access. This was caught late yesterday and belatedly linked it to the Tuesday remarks on Phillips, which were similar in vain.

6) I concede. How many of you out there in football land saw the Dolphins vs the Colts on Monday night? I saw the end of the game, and my estimation of Tony Sparano just went down a peg, maybe two pegs. Here is the setup:

MIA has the ball and is driving, 3rd and 6 from the IND 30 (4:33 to go), score tied. What do you do?

To say the Dolphins ran was not correct. It was more like a dive to CONCEDE the end of the possession so that they could get a few yards extra to make the FG more manageable. WRONG WRONG WRONG. As soon as they did that, I was going nuts. If the Giants did this, you can bet your sweet buns that Nature and I would have been throwing a hissy. It is tantamount to Fassel kicking the FG on 3rd down. But there were 4:33 to go, an eternity for Peyton Manning. And what about that Herm (un)Edwards line- YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME. How about trying to actually get the FIRST DOWN???! What a radical concept. How about still trying to score SEVEN on that drive. Pathetic. They kick the FG, which incidentally would have easily been good from another 5-10 yards, having hit the back net. Peyton dissects the Dolphins (and Gibril Wilson, who got roasted multiple times) and scores 7 in a heartbeat, so amazingly the Dolphins actually have time to put a drive together, but clock management was abysmal and the Dolphins lost. The replays of the game all focused on the clock management, but the Dolphins sin was on the previous possesion when they conceded.

Enjoying this win one more day

September 22, 2009

I know a lot of you hate Dallas, making this a particularly sweet win. So let’s enjoy this one a little more before moving on.

So many great comments yesterday.. we’d need 3 blog posts to recap them all.

1) I liked Dallas to win the game on Sunday, especially if Kenny Phillips could not play. Thankfully we did not see a lot of CC Brown. Given how important Phillips was (even playing HURT!), is there anyone who thinks we win that game WITHOUT him?!

2) The two things that held me back from calling for a Cowboys victory were:
(a) the road warriors. One blog commenter emailed with a remark that Eli Manning’s 5 best games have come on the road. This is just a guess, but I’ll hypothesize that this is indeed logical because Eli is the un-QB, the guy who is so laid back that you have to check to see if he has a pulse. Maybe when he is on the road he has to focus more on running the team, crowd noise and all. Remember him playing the Chargers in Qualcom 4 years ago, to all of the venom and noise from the crowd that did not take well to being spurned at the Draft Altar? That was his first whale of a game. Lambeau field in the playoffs? He just seems to focus more in the hardest playing conditions.
(b) Wade Phillips. If you flipped a coin a week before the game and gave this guy his pick of either team to coach, he could lose it for either side you gave him. When was the last time you felt his team overachieved? Simply stated, you are never out of it when he is on the other sidelines. Right now he seems inexorably tied to the misfortunes of Romo, but maybe it is the other way around.

3. The crew at ESPN (Chris Berman, Tom Jackson, Ditka, Johnson and Carter) had a little bit of a lovefest for the Giants last night. But this is where you have to appreciate the national perspective. They noted how the Giants got ripped to shreds on both sides of the line of scrimmage, but were stepping over themselves to point out how the Giants know how to win. This was a hallmark of the Parcells teams. They talked about the “look” of Eli on that last drive, that you just knew he was going to take the team down the field. I’ll tell you who else “knew” … Marvelous. He sends an email to three people as the final drive is beginning: “We have 2 plays to make 6 yds. Giants will NOT kick if we are stopped on 3rd down. NOTE–Giants are GOING to WIN this game.” Sometimes you just know.

4) A few words on the good teams finding a way to win. How many times were we on the losing end of that kind of game where we win everything EXCEPT the game? You take these games and YOU MOVE ON. How many of you remember a game the 1990 Giants played against the Cardinals in Week 6? The Dominant Giants were 5-0, playing the 2-3 scrubs of Phoenix. Except the Giants came out as flat as a pancake, working so hard to be 5-0 and then about to lose to schtick dreck, at home no less, 19-10. It was ugly, pathetic. But out of nowhere with very little time left the Giants drive down the field and score to make it 19-17. They need the ball one more time, somehow they get their hands on it and make a 40 yarder with ~no time left on the clock to win the game. The Giants had NO BUSINESS WINNING THAT GAME, yet they did. The Giants got whooped for the first ~55 minutes and somehow pulled it out. Far be it for us to draw too many parallels between that game and this one two nights ago. We’ll leave it with the understanding that teams that win championships will win games like this along the way.

5) Defense wins championships. Is Sheridan going to be able to fix it, coach these guys up? As long as you are winning now and improving, you can get into the playoffs and hopefully be playing the best football at that time. The Indianapolis Colts in 2006 had a garbage defense but won enough with Peyton to get to the playoffs.. then Sanders came back just in time to help fix the defense and the rest is history. We need our players back/healthy and then we’ll see if they can gel.

6) The play-as-you-go payment plan is still in effect. We now play 3 teams that are 1-5 (and the one win coming from 2 of the teams playing one another). If anyone saw the destruction that the Saints delivered to the Eagles, you’ll know that Week 6 is where this season really begins and we can start truly assessing what is under the hood.

7) The question posed by Nature on (who is all around better than Osi at) Defensive End is answered by Wonder:
Justin Tuck, Mario Williams, Julius Peppers, Jared Allen, Schobel (BUF)…REAL underrated…John Abraham, WHEN HEALTHY, is a STUD…Ogunleye (CHI), and so far Odom (CINC) has been a BEAST…Avril is “on his way” in another year or two…love Freeney’s motor… Ty Warren MUCH BETTER RUN STUFFER and can pash rush if in a 4-3…still like SEYMOUR better all-around…also, Vandenbush is REALLY GOOD…and Jason Jones is Titans’ “next up and coming stud DE.”

Abraham is not my guy, he disappears too much. Schobel was on TV last Monday night vs NE, he is stuck in that no-name market; if he were in NY he would be Knighted. So interesting to see Wonder single out the 3-4 DEs who would have such an easier time as a 4-3 end. Playing anywhere on the DL in a 3-4 is the most thankless job. Speaking about DL, did you guys see how NT Jay Ratliff roasted us alive on Sunday night? He could not be stopped, he took our OL to school. The Giants have trouble with these disruptive NTs. If it starts at the DL, then the DL starts at NT.

8) Eli brilliance was worth revisiting. Wonder asks us- how many times did Brady get sacked on Sunday? Zero. How many times did Eli get sacked? Zero. But look at how Eli had no happy feet, completely calm, confident. Wonder could not stop raving about how well Manning played. In this blogger’s opinion, some of the Eli over Brady comparison from W2 is a Wade Phillips vs a Rex Ryan blitz. Ryan has that unpredictable ‘Ravens’ scheme. Mike Martz broke down the film and compared Eli’s calm leadership of the offense to that of Kurt Warner. We’ll throw one last bone to Bradshaw- look at how he picks up the blitz perfectly on this drive.

NY Giants 33 Dallas 31

September 21, 2009

This was a great win, warts and all. Yes, there are a multitude of problems that need fixing, but there were MANY positives gained from this victory. We have been saying since the middle of preseason that the defense needed time to come together- they are buying time with wins. Phil Simms said before the game that the Giants defense gives up the big play and that that would cost us the game. Well, he was right, but he did not know that the Giants would have a +4 turnover ratio. Dallas beat themselves with those turnovers, so DO NOT try giving back this win with all the warts we had. Collect a nice win, move on to next week, fix the problems, get PEOPLE BACK HEALTHY and improve the defense.

The GOOD
1) The Giants have their #1 Wide Receiver, his name is Mario Manningham (10 catches for 150 yds) and to quote Al Michaels, he is their “budding star.” Look over to the right side of the blog and give yourselves a pat on the back- you saw Mario Manningham as the breakout WR for the Giants this year, LONG BEFORE ANYONE ELSE. (Okay, let’s throw a bone to Peter King, he was there too.)
2) Eli Manning (330 yds, 2 TDs) was tremendous. Cool as a cucumber in the 2 minute offense. Evaded pressure with poise in the pocket all night. He did it all.
3) Steve Smith (10 catches for 134 yds) is the Rock of Gibraltar. You can lean on him, clutch, reliable, money. Did you see that move he put on Scandrick for the TD? He left him in a different zip code.
4) The Bruce Johnson INT for a TD is how you win on the road. Make impact plays and make the home team pay for their mistakes. That was a huge lift for the team because this game could have been a rout early, the way that Dallas was dominating. Antonio Pierce is slowing down on defense but he changed the defense when Romo audibled and that set up Johnson.
5) Pass protection was good. Wonder and I disagree on this one. Wonder felt the protection was not good and that Eli Manning’s pocket presence did it all, that there were plenty of times Dallas guys were getting through. There were no sacks, that is GOOD enough for us.
6) PLUS FOUR TURNOVER RATIO.
7) Ahmad Bradshaw was a jack of all trades. Picked up blitzes, pushed the pile, got respectable yardage when Jacobs was having trouble.
8) The defensive secondary did enough things well to be on the other side of Romo going for 13 for 29 with 3 INTs. Romo may have been tied with Eli for the Giants MVP, but the DBs played well in pass coverage. Phillips was playing hurt or else this unit will look better in run coverage. We could have used Gibril Wilson out there to clean up all of the run defense mistakes.

The Bad
1) OL run blocking did not get the surge. Wonder asks aloud if these guys have lost something from last year. Jacobs likes getting the handoff about 28 yards behind the line of scrimmage so that he can have a running start and a head of steam, but the problem is that he was getting greeted at the line of scrimmage too often and the plays look too slow-devloping.
2) Kickoff returns
3) Kickoff coverage

The Ugly (aka “warts”)
1) RUN DEFENSE was GASHED repeatedly. The DL was blown off the ball, Osi overpursued (creating wide gaps), our LBers are too slow. Boley was gassed and was out there far longer than he should have been, considering it was his first game back. Yes, it was hot and hurt both DLs, but there is no excuse for 251 yards. Would we have been aided by rotation with Tuck and Canty? Yes. But it has to improve.
2) This game, like the Redskins game, could have been over much earlier in the evening if the Red Zone offense could do better that 0 for 3 for 2 FGs.
3) Gilbride did not call Kevin Boss’s number ONCE in the red zone. Instead, in this mission critical area, we get balls thrown to Hedgecock and pitchouts to Bradshaw
(See Rule #5, AGAIN!). Brilliant. NOT.
4) If Tuck’s injury is serious.

Yes, the Giants were dominated at the line of scrimmage. When you have difficulties running the ball AND you give up 251 yards at the point of attack, you will not survive for very long if that does not get straightened out.

We have been complaining about the inadequacies of Kevin Gilbride for over a year now, but it has gotten so bad that even Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth now are talking about it on National TV.

Re kickoffs, each team was getting a runback of ~22 yards per kick. But their kicker makes us start from 2 yards inside the endzone while ours (thanks to Tynes’ weak leg) makes our coverage of kicks start from the +10 yard line. So we get out to the 20 and they are at the 32. Bad.

With all of this, the game is still in the WIN column. GOOD FOR THE GIANTS. COLLECT THE “W” and move on to the next game. Thankfully the playoffs do not start for another 16 weeks, so there is PLENTY OF TIME TO IMPROVE. We need time to heal. We need time for Boley to get his legs. We need time for Canty, Ross, Dockery and Sintim to get back. This win was well deserved and well earned in a great fight. The most exciting part of the game is watching Mario Manningham grow up before our very eyes. This has very good long term implications for the team.

NYG-Dallas Intragame comments

September 21, 2009

Phillips will start. Look at the list of inactives.. they are almost all hurt:
Ross, Dockery, Canty, Nicks, Sintim, Ware. Koets also inactive (hurt?). I believe Whimper is the only inactive player who is not hurt.

Phil Simms 9/20/09

September 20, 2009

1) NYG vs Dallas: The Boys got pushed around on defense when they played TB. (Gilbride said the heat had a lot to do with it.) That is the game. You can push around that Dallas DL. The Giants can and need to do that. On offense, the Dallas pass protection was not up to the standards they are used to. On both sides of the ball the Giants have the advantage and you would think that the Giants can win. BUT, the new stadium, the Giants have shown they are capable of giving up the big play on defense.. “Cowboys will find a way to win a close game.”

2) Chi-Pitt: Steelers w/o Troy Polamalu is a big deal. His speed and versatility are the essence of why the Steelers defense can confuse a team. He has such big range that you do not know where he will end up on the field. Similarly, Urlacher is a big loss for the Bears because of his PASS defense. Urlacher is one of the few LBers who is tall with long arms- he does a lot in the middle of the field. The Bears were missing 2 DBs or else they beat the Packers last week. Cutler grief is in this moment.. he’ll work out well for the Bears by the time the season is done. The Bears already racked up 6 BIG plays on offense last week, how many big plays did they have ALL SEASON?!! #1 key to the game: can the Bears “average” (at best, he was being kind) protection stop the pressure from the OLBers of the Steelers.

3) NE-NYJ: NE not a fast defense, and unlike the Ravens (and now the imported Jets defense a la Rex Ryan) and Steelers, they do not disguise their looks. So Sanchez will not be facing a tough defense. Sanchez should do well vs the Pats today.

4) Phil Simms the teacher (this is why Ultimatenyg loves listening and sharing his thoughts, keep learning): when you are playing against a team that disguises their looks, you need to spread out your formations. This forces the defense to declare their intentions. (Think about that also on 3rd and 1 when the Giants are going into a very tight formation, where Banks gets to the same conclusion in reverse.. that it is harder to pass out of that formation, so it gives the defense an advantage because they can crowd the box and then go into coverage if needed.)

Wonder NFL predictions

September 20, 2009

Short version: Wonder sees all else equal, that the Giants lose 27-20, but does NOT rule a win out by ANY means. He sees the Saints beating the Eagles EASILY in the Linc, assuming Kolb starts.

These picks for division winners are not a surprise

WEST- Seattle
South- Saints
East- Jints
North- Minn

Wild Card: Phil, Atl, GB (2 of 3)

SLEEPER TEAM: 49er’s or ARIZ

West- SD
South- Colts maybe!
East- Pats
North- Pitt

Wild Card: Jets/Balt/Tenn (2 of 3)

Sleeper: NONE….IF FORCED, Jags

Back to today’s games: “I have Brees…they have Kolb..?? What’s that you say ?? But 2-7 on the road ?? and Phila is a REALLY good team, right ?? True, but that’s why they make this RIDICULOUS LINE*….the NFL is about QB’s !!!! and Saints’ D is getting better…this MAY be a rout after the iglets’ pack it in after Kolb’s 4th turnover….soooooooo, If jints can HANG IN THERE until after their adrenalin dies down, they may be the only unbeaten team in the NFL EAST after the day is out.”

* Ultimatenyg ridiculous line warning. Thanks Wonder, just saw what you were referring to, the Eagles are ONLY laying 2 points? Whaaattt?! This is a classic TRAP game if I ever saw one. So easy to take the Eagles at home. This is why the Saints should win the game outright.